With an introduction by Babu Sarada Charan Mitra, M.A., B.L., Ex-Judge of the Calcutta High Court.
I love to study biographies of great men. They generally contain true stories and not mythical, and they are far better instructors than dry moral and religious precepts. They inspire us.
“Lives of great men all remind us We can make our lives sublime”.
Whatever the department of thought, feeling or work, a colossal spirit stands as a hero, he commands our admiration and attracts us to a goal. Such was Thakur Kedarnath Bhakti Vinode, and the painting of his character, and exemplification of his piety, self-abnegation, devotedness and the earnestness with which he worked for impressing on his countrymen the principles of Bhakti as a means of salvation, cannot but be interesting.
The following pages give a sketch only which I think is insufficient for a grasp of a true ideal but there is much in it to inspire us, to attract. I knew Thakur Bhakti Vinode intimately—as a friend and a relation. Even under pressure of official work as a Magistrate in charge of a heavy subdivision, he could find time for devotional contemplation and work, and whenever I met him, our talk would turn in a few moments to the subject of Bhakti and Dwaitadwaitavad and the saintly work that they lay before him. Service of God is the only thing he longed for and service under Government, however honourable was to him a clog. The sketch that we have is worth careful perusal. It gives bones—a structure which every thoughtful reader should be able to clothe with flesh and blood. He will find a truly sacred life.
– SARADA CHARAN MITRA M.A., B.L.
(Ex-Judge of the Calcutta High Court)
Calcutta, the 1st August, 1916
A GLIMPSE INTO THE LIFE OF THAKUR BHAKTIVINODE
A Glance Behind
It has truly been observed by a well known English writer that “the life a man in this world is for the most part a life of work.” Our Thakur Bhaktivinode led a life which was of incessant labour and activity, for Divine Sri Krishna and which produced such immense real good to the world as in the days of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, His Divine spiritual self, by the united efforts of His well-known disciples commonly known as Goswamis, Pandits and Thakurs.
Birth Of A New Faith
It was the spiritual attempt and divine writings of this individual that turned the scale and led the intelligent and educated community to believe in the noble precepts and teachings of the noblest and the highest, who made His appearance in the 15th Century in the heart of Bengal. If we look half-a-century back, we cannot but be astonished to find how degraded was the condition of the then Vaishnava faith which had its origin in so wide and masterly a spiritual philosophy as could not easily apprehended by the common run of so-called pandits. Incredulity born of the ignorance of uncultured men was at the root of the degradation of society to such an extent. It was by his sheer love for Divine Godhead that Thakur Bhaktivinode expounded the deep philosophy which remained concealed in of the Vedas and the Puranas and Bhagabat as taught in the school of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and gave it to the world by his action towards Divine service and also by his words in simple language to be easily understood by the readers in general. It is his writings and his divine unparalleled character that have helped to produce a class of educated and enlightened men who are now proud of their Vaishnava faith and of their acquisition of the spiritual knowledge of pure and sublime philosophy of Krishna on which the stern teachings of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu are based. Great souls like Radhikanath Goswami, Charan Das Babaji, Shishir Kumar Ghosh and others, who are known as writers and preachers of the Vaishnavas of the present day, owe their spiritual inspiration to him and him alone, either directly to him or through his divine character and writings. Inspired by the fountain-head, they have on their part, brought to light, by their untiring endeavours and writings, the tenets of Vaishnava religion, which were hidden in unfathomed obscurity, but the mightiest soul, the source of spring, should not on that account be allowed to be effaced from the memory of truth-seekers but should be placed at the head of all. An account of his life will naturally be of interest to our readers, but as this is not the place to depict it elaborately, a short sketch of the life of that saint is given below.
Though born with a silver spoon in his mouth, on the 2nd of September, 1838 A. D., Thakur Bhakti Vinode, who was given the name of Kedar Nath Dutt, had to meet many a vicissitude in his early life.
Birth & Ancestry
He was descended from the well-known Hatkhola Dutt family of Calcutta being eighth descent from Govinda sharan Dutt, the founder of Govindapur (1) one of the three clusters of villages that helped in the growth of the second city of the British empire and fourth in descent from Madan Mohan Dutt, (2) the illustrious and pious member of that family, whose noble, glorious and generous exploits are now household words in Bengal. It was to him that many a noble and wealthy family in Calcutta (3) and its environs, like that of Ram Dulal Sarkar, the father of famous Chhatu & Latu Babus, of Diwan Nanda Kumar Bose and others owed their rise and success. His mother’s side was equally illustrious.
His maternal grand father Ishwar Chandra Mitra Mustafi of Ula, a scion of the Rameshwar Mustafi family of noble fame, was a man of immense wealth and generous disposition and was, held next in esteem to the Nuddea Raja, as a munificent Zaminder of that district. His father’s mother was the daughter of Ray Rayan Jagannath Prasad Ghose the cousin of the well-known Maharaja Rajballabh of Murshidabad. (4)
(1) Vide Census report of 1901, Vol VII Part I (Calcutta foot note (b) at p. 12 (Published by Government); and Dutta-Vamsha Mala, 43 sloka of canto V, 226 P. of Edn. 1899.
(2) Madan Dutt, contemporary of Lord Clive-Merchant and Zamindar in Calcutta. His immortal work is the construction of stairs at Pretsila at a cost of several lakhs of rupees.
(3) Vide Girish Chandra Ghosh’s printed Lecture on the life of Ramdulal De delivered in the hall of the Hooghly College on the 14th March, 1868.
(4) Maharaja Rajballah-Diwan of the khalsha and was addressed as Ray Rayan of Bengal. He was the son of Maharaja Durlabh Ram Mahindra, commonly known as Ray Durlabh, the chief revenue officer at Murshidabad under Nawab Siraj-ud-Daulah. Durlabh was for a time subah of Orissa and his father Maharaja Janakiram Mahindra was the Nawab of Bihar.
His childhood was spent in his maternal grandfather’s house, from where he came to Calcutta, at the age of thirteen, sometime after the demise of his father, to get his education under the direct guidance of Kashi Prasad Ghosh(5), the literary luminary of the time, in whose atmosphere rose many a literary genius among who may be mentioned the names of Sambhu Chandra Mukherjee (6) and Krishna Das Paul. (7) Kashi Prasad was the common centre of the literary sphere of his time and the “Hindu intelligencer” (8) of which he was the Editor, drew many a writer to learn from him the art of writing English correctly. Major Richardson, commonly known as Shakespeare Richardson, (9) often met Kashi Prasad at his residence in Cornwallis Square and discussed literary subjects. It was our Thakur’s business to read to Kashi Prasad the articles which were presented to him to be passed as fit for publication in the magazines and newspapers. Within a short time he studied all the works in Kashi Prasad’s library and freely availed himself of the use of the “Public Library”. (10)
Early Literary Efforts
He began to contribute articles to the “Literary Gazette” and to the “Intelligencer” and composed the first two books of “The Poriade” in English verse, which he had a mind to complete in 12 books. These two books were written before he was eighteen. We are sorry to note that the first book of “The Poriade” is not available except in the British Museum, London. Daring his stay with Kashi Prasad Ghosh, he did not lose an opportunity to join the debating clubs and to exchange freely thoughts on spiritual and literary subjects with Maharshi Devendra Nath Tagore, with his sons Dwijendra Nath and Satyendra Nath, Keshab Chandra Sen, Tarak Nath Palit, Krishna pal and other eminent men who always valued and esteemed his discussions. It is a curious fact that each of the above group shone in his own sphere.
(5) Kashi prasad Ghosh, (1809-73) Poet and journalist.
(6) Shambhu Chandra Mukherjee, (1839-94) A journalist. Held appointment in several states and for a time was minister to the Tippera state.
(7) Krishna Das Paul, Rai Bahadur and C. I. E., (1838-84) orator and journalist. He was a prominent figure in political sphere of this time.
(8) The Hindu Intelligencer-weekly journal established by Kaliprasad Ghosh in Nov.1846. Discontinued in 1857 on passing of Lord Canning’s ‘Gagging Act.
(9) Major D.L. Richardson, (1801-65). A.D.C. to Lord Wm. Bentinck. Afterwards held various educational appointments. Literateur and journalist.
(10) Public library – now converted into The Imperial Library in “Metcalf-Hall”.
Visit To Ula
He had an occasion to go to Ula to see his mother when he vas much aggrieved to find the changed condition of that once wealthy and populous village, the place of his birth. It was then deserted, as it had been visited by an epidemic which bad taken away most of its inhabitants and the luxuriant pomp and grandeur which had once been a common feature of that village, had become a mere thing of the past. After his return to Calcutta, he had to start for Orissa, having been asked by his grandfather Rajballabh Dutt to be present at the time of his death. That gentleman had once been a conspicuous figure in the “city of palaces” and retired to a lonely place in Orissa to spend the rest of his life as an ascetic. He could predict the future and knew when he would die. He could commune with supernatural beings. Thakur Bhaktivinode was present at that eventful time when that great soul passed away, and received his instructions. Just after this occurrence, he entered the educational service and introduced English education into that tract of the land of the Oriyas which was still buried in darkness and after having worked in that capacity for sometime in Cuttack, Bhadrak and Midnapore, he came to to be employed there in the Collectorate with a better income.
The Maths Of Orrissa
While at Bhadrak he wrote a discourse on the “Maths of Orissause of which was made by Sir William Hunter (11) in his work called “Orissa”… Our Thakur’s habit of research from his very early age was marked by Sir William as he found him visiting all the large monasteries of Orissa at that early age. Sir William also observed our Thakur’s innate morality and religion, and thought them to be very prominent in him. We may quote here the words of that great Scholar.
“In 1860 a pamphlet was put forth by a native gentleman (Kedar Nath Dutt) who had visited all the larger monasteries of Orissa and who was himself a landholder in that province. With regard to a little monastery in his own estate, the author adopted an even more vigorous procedure. “I have a small village,: he says in the country of Cuttack of which I am the proprietor. (12) In that village is a religious house, to which was granted, by my predecessors, a holding of rent-free land. The head of the institution gave up entirely entertaining such men as chanced to seek shelter on a rainy night. This came to my notice; and I administered a severe threat to the head of the house, warning him that his lands would be cruelly resumed if in future complaints of inhospitality were brought to my knowledge.”
The above remarkable notice was made by a genius of Sir William Hunter’s calibre sometime prior to 1872, the year of the publication of his work “Orissa”. When he was staying at Midnapore he made acquaintance with Raj Narayan Bose as a fellow teacher.
(11) Sir, Willam Hunter (1840-1900) Bengal Civilian Appointed Director General Statistics in 1871. Compiled the Imperial Gazetteer and wrote many other works, .Vide pp. 118-19 of Orissa Vol I by W. W. Hunter (1872)
(12) Chhotimangalpur, six miles from Kendrapara on the Patamundi canal.
Burdwan Days, A Poet
During his stay at Burdwan he wrote two Bengali poems, viz: Vijanagram & Sanyasi the style of which highly admired by Michael Madhusudan Dutt, A criticism of these two works appeared in the Calcutta Review of 1963, vol. 39, which is reproduced here for our readers. The time was full of bad taste and Bengali writings were generally considered as full of vitiating ideas and style which could hardly be read by chaste readers. The editor was really glad to see Bengali Books written in a good style and an exceptionable moral tone, and in spite of the fact that the Calcutta Review was not suitable for dealing with vernacular literature he unhesitatingly criticised them. He seemed to take a delight in finding a means for enlightening Hindu ladies by giving to their hands a work which is free from objectionable licenses of thought and expressions. The Review as follows:
“We have glanced at this little volume of Bengali verse, which we have no hesitation in recommending as suitable especially for Hindu women. We do not expect that such will read the Calcutta Review, but many, we trust, of our readers will be interested in knowing what books maybe safely recommended as good in style and exceptionable in moral tone, and with that object we intend, if duly assisted, to take an occasional survey of the field of vernacular literature. The Vijanagram, the first poem in this book, is an account of the desolation of the once populous village of Ula, near Ranaghat in consequence of the ravages of the late epidemic. It is pleasing in style and evidently on the model of Goldsmith and we would rather see a Bengali using his English studies to purify and improve the style of vernacular words rather than him composing imitation English epics about Porus and Alexander. The Sanyasi in two chapters is an abler production, and reflects much credit on the author. Of the minor poems, the description of spring and the translation from Carlyle are very fair specimens. We hope the author will continue to give his countrymen the benefit of his elegant and unassuming pen, which is quite free from those objectionable licenses of thought and expression which abound in many dramas recently published. The want of the day is the creation of literature for Hindu ladies; and we trust that many more educated natives will have the good sense to devote their time and abilities to the attainment of this most desirable end”.
One of the speeches he delivered at Burdwan drew the attention of Mr. W. L. Heiley I. C. S. who rendered him much assistance afterwards. He was first acquainted with that officer at Cuttack. It was through that gentle-man that he came in contact with Mr. H.I. Dampier and Sir Ashley Eden. The latter part of his stay as Burdwan was not a happy one for him as he had soon to meet adversity.
Becomes One Of The Great Unemployed
Ups and downs of life again made him to be employed temporarily for a year and a half as Head Clerk of the Judge’s Court at Chuadanga on a pay of Rs.150 p. m. and when that period was over he was actually thrown out of employment, but his energy and activity, which was a marked feature throughout his life, was not to be overlooked by the Govt. and he was offered shortly after an appointment as Sub Registrar of Assurance with the powers of a Magistrate, on Rs, 200/-p.m., in Saran and subsequently in Kishanganja and Purnea. On the re-organisation of the Provincial Civil Service in 1866 he was permanently transferred to that service and in that capacity, was employed in different districts of Bengal, Bihar & Orissa till his retirement in 1894 with a pension of Rs 4000/- a year. He was first stationed at Chapra in Saran where he had to crush the clique formed against him by the tea-planters for not having complied with their unjust requests.
A School For Logic
While at Saran he visited Gautamasram at Godana (13). This place attracted his attention as fit for the establishment of a school for teaching “Naya-shashttra“. With this noble object in mind, on returning to Chapra, he called a mass meeting where he delivered a speech on Gautam and gained the good wishes of the people of that place. Though subsequently he did not himself take any part in the movement of which he was truly speaking, the originator, his expectation was fulfilled sometime later with the public aid, and the foundation stone of the School was laid in 1883, by Sir Rivet’s Thompson, the then Lt. Governor of Bengal, after whom it was named. As he was not keeping good health at Chapra he obtained a transfer to Purnea where he recovered his health to some extent. His next station was Dinajpur.
(13) Godana-Revelganj— The native name of the town is Godana apparently derived from the name of Gautama. A Sanskrit School was established here by public subscription between 1883-87. (Saran District Gazetteer, 1908, pp. 160.63)
Lecture On The Bhagabat
Here he delivered a speech on the Bhagabat which attracted the attention of many. He made the world know what hidden treasures pervade through every page of the Bhagabat which should be read by all persons having a philosophical turn of mind as it is the outcome of the deep philosophical thoughts of the maturest brain of Badarayana Vyasa and is the production of his old and ripe age. He was sorry that the Bhagabat did not attract the genius of Ram Mohan Ray. whose thought, mighty though it was, had unfortunately branched off the main line from the barren station of Shankaracharya and did not attempt to be an extension from the terminus of the great Bhagabat reformer of Nadia. We quote below a few lines from his speech showing how our Thakur himself became an admirer of that monumental work of philosophy which contains the doctrines of the Dwaitadwaita School:
“The Bhagabat has suffered alike from shallow critics both native and foreign. That book has been accursed and denounced by a great number of our young countrymen who have scarcely read its contents and pondered over the philosophy on which it is founded. It is owing mostly to their imbibing and unfounded prejudice against it when they were in school. The Bhagabat as a matter of course, has been held in derision by those teachers, who are generally of an inferior mind and intellect. This prejudice is not easily shaken when the student grows up unless he candidly studies the book and ruminates on the doctrines of Vaishnavism. We are ourselves witnesses of the fact. When we were in college, reading the philosophical works of the West and exchanging thoughts with the thinkers of the day, we had a real hatred towards the Bhagabat. That great work look like a repository of wicked and stupid ideas scarcely adapted to the 19th century, and we hated to hear any argument in its favour. With us a volume of Channing, Parker, Emerson or Newman had more weight than the whole lot of the Vaishnav works. Greedily we poured over the various commentations of the Holy Bible and the labours of the Tattwabodhini Sabha, containing extracts from the Upanishads and the Vedanta, but no work of the Vaishnavas had any favour with us. But when we advanced in age, and our religious sentiment received development, we turned out in a manner unitarian in our belief and prayed, as Jesus prayed in the garden. Accidentally we fell in with a work about the great Chaitanya, and on reading it with some attention in order to settle the historical position of that mighty genius of Nadia, we had the opportunity of gathering his explanations of Bhagabat, given to the wrangling Vedantist of the Benares school. This accidental study created in us a love for all the works which we find about our Eastern Saviour. We gathered with the difficulties the famous Karchas in Sanskrit written by the disciples of Chaitanya. The explanations, that we got of the Bhagabat from these sources were of such a charming character that we produced a copy of the Bhagabat complete and studied in texts (difficult of course to those who are not trained up in philosophical thoughts) with the assistance of the famous commentation of Sridhar Swami. From such study it is that we have at least gathered the real doctrines of the Vaishnavas. Oh what a trouble to get rid of prejudices gathered in unripe years”.
Emancipation Of A Ghost
From Dinajpur he went to Champaran. Here he freed a Brahmadaitya from bondage. This spirit, it was believed, lived on a banian tree and used to be worshipped by the people of the locality. One day the father of the famous Pandita Ramabai with the girl came to Thakur Bhakti-vinode for alms. He at once employed him in reading the Bhagabata under the shade of the banian tree which was proverbial as the abode of that spirit. Just at the end of a month, when the reading of the book was over, the main stem of the tree fell crushingly at the spot and it was perceived by all that the spirit was saved for good, and every one was thankful for this action, although a few, who used earn through dishonest practice in the name of that spirit, became dissatisfied.
Regulates The Puri Shrine
His next move was to Puri. The Commissioner Mr. T. E. Ravenshaw was much pleased to get him in his Division and asked him to watch the affairs of the temple of Jagannath from the side of the Government. It was through his exertion many bad practices at the temple were checked and the time for the offering of food before the Deity was regulated to its extreme punctuality. The measures he took during his stay there reduced the epidemic to nil. and he gave every comfort to the visitors that could possibly be given on behalf of the Government. The Raja of Puri was at that time also brought to his senses for obstructing him in the execution of his public duty.
A Religious Fanatic
He was specially entrusted by Mr. Ravenshaw to quell the rise against the Government, of one Bishikishen who declared him self as an incarnation of Maha-Vishnu. During the course of investigation he found him to be an unbeliever of God and a culprit of the charge brought against him and after the trial of his case sentenced him to imprisonment for year and a half, and it is said that the poor fellow died shortly in the Central Jail at Midnapur. This man was really possessed of unnatural powers as they were the outcome of something other than heavenly purity he had to submit to the Thakur Bhakti-Vinode when he wanted him do so. Bishikishan was held in dread by the common people and every one warned Bhakti-Vinode not to admonish him even far the sake of justice, in view of the serious consequences likely to follow. Bhaktivinode was not a man of ostentation and did not allow people to know of what mettle he really was and easily curled the mighty power of Bishikishan, under whose feet rested the heads of many chiefs. With the rise of Bishikishan as Maha-Vishnu, rose another Balaram at Khandagiri and other incarnations of God whose plans were similarly frustrated by Mr. W. C. Taylor, Deputy Magistrate and Deputy Collector at Khurda. Daring his stay at Puri Bhakti-Vinode devoted much of his time to the discussion of religious works and prepared notes of the Vedanta, the use of which was made by Sri Shyamlal Goswami in the edition which contained the Govinda Vashya. He also composed the Kalyan Kalpataru which may very truly be termed as an immortal work and stands on the same level as the Divine writings of Narottom Thakur.
He left Puri in 1857 for Arraria whence he was transferred to Maheshrekha (Uluberia) and thence to Bhadrak. From the last named place was transferred to Narail where he started the well-known Vaishnav monthly periodical “Sajjan-toshani”. He also published here one of his best works “Sri Krishna-Samhita” which revealed to the world the underlying philosophy explaining the spiritual existence of Krishna. This book helped to open the eyes of the educated people and to teach them their true relation with God. It even attracted the attention of highly educated men of far off lands.
A Scholar’s Appreciation
The following is an extract from a letter from Dr. Reinhold Rost (14) dated 16th April, 1880, to our Thakur:
“By representing Krishna’s character and his worship in a more sublime and transcendent light than has hitherto been the custom to regard him in, you have rendered an essential service to your co-religionists, and no one would have taken more delight in your work than my departed friend Goldstucker (15) the sincerest and most zealous advocate the Hindus ever had in Europe”.
(14) Dr Reinhold Rost C.1.E, L.L.n, Ph.n. 1822-96). A great oriental scholar and one of the greatest linguist of his time.
(15) Theodore Goldstruker (1821-72). A great authority on ancient Hindu Law and literature.
Sri Krishna Modernised
After a short stay at Jessore he was transferred to Barasat where he relieved the well-known Novelist Bankim Chandra. This gentleman had at that time just finished his discourse on Krishna, and it was an opportune moment for him to show his work to one who was possessed of such talent as to pass authoritative opinion on his writings. It was full of Europeanised ideas and accordingly Thakur Bhakti-Vinode explained to Bankim Chandra the incongruity that inadvertently cropped up in his writings and after 4 days of discussion the whole book was modified; but, to his surprise, Thakur Bhaktivinode found when the book came out to the-public that his suggestions were not accepted in toto. The public functions in which he took part at Baraset brought an unjust criticism against him in the Reis Rayyat of which no notice was taken by Government and the man who caused this mischief was simply forgiven by the Thakur. During the last year of his stay at Baraset our Thakur undertook at the request of Babu Sarada Charan Mitra, Ex-Judge Of the Calcutta High court to publish a good edition of the Srimad Bhagabad-gita with the commentaries of Sri Bishwanath Chakravarti and his own translation. This work when published was received by the people with the greatest delight and all the copies were soon exhausted. The great Novelist Bankim Chandra in the preface to his Srimad Bhagabad-gita acknowledged his own indebtedness to our Thakur’s edition of the book with the remark that Bengali readers were specially indebted to Thakur Bhakti-vinode.
More Literary Productions
From Barasat, he was transferred to Serampore. Here he composed and published his masterly writing “Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu”. In 1883 he received in English the work “Nityarup Sangshapanam”. By Pandit Upendra Mohan Goswami which he published in an extra English issue of the Sajjan-toshani. This work has tried to prove the eternal spiritual form of the Diety. The reviewer translated the following slokes which created a short thrilling sensation in his heart.
Let crowded sins repeat my trial scenes!
And lead me on from woe to woe!
Care I for that? If Love of God alone!
Would bless my heart wherever I go!
The Holy seat of love is Vrindavan,
Where matters laws have no domain!
Ah! when my painting soul shall find its rest!
In that eternal real again!
He closed the review by giving table showing the general ideas of God explaining how man in his progression from gross nature to pure spirit has to pass through these ideas. In 1883 he started in the heart of Calcutta a society under the name and style of Sri Bishwa Vaishnava Sabha for the propagation of Pure Hari Bhakti. Many eminent persons in the city joined this society whose sittings were in Sarkar’s Lane, and committees were formed with assigned duties. As he was anxious to visit the land of his Lord he was trying for a transfer to the head-quarters of the Nadia District, to gain this end he declined to accept the offers of the Personal assistantship to, the Chief Commissioner of Assam and the office of the Minister of Tiperrah State, both the offices bearing a very high emolument for any Indian officer of his time. Such was his eagerness to see the birth place Of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu that he even applied to Government for pension with a view to retire from the service, but his application was not accepted. Thus failing in his effort to be relieved of his official duties, he at last arranged for a mutual exchange with another officer of his position to go to Krishnagar, and he effected this in December 1887 to his great rejoicing. Having once been stationed at a place close to Nabadwipa, he did not allow any holiday to pass without making a local enquiry of the different Lila-kshetra of Sri Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. It was to his great astonishment that he found the present site of Nabadwipa to be a town of less than a hundred years standing and there were people still living then who declared that in their boyhood they re-moved to this new town from the old site which was at Bablaari. He at once commenced a vigorous enquiry to find out the truth of the matter but could not easily escape from the hands of the people of the place who tried to make him believe that ‘the birth-place of Chaitanya was at that town; but on careful enquiry they came forward to convince him that the birth place was lost in the bed of the Ganges. Not satisfied with this explanation he himself set out to discover the Yogpitha. After experiencing great difficulties he came to know a place which was being adored by Siddha Babajis as true birth place of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and which was then in possession of Muhammadans.
The True State
Local enquiries from the Muhammadan population and corroborative statement from the quinquennial map of the time of Gunga Govinda Singh (16) showing the name of “Sri Mayapur” at last helped him to discover the real site of the birth place. The result of the enquiry led to the production of his valuable work “Nabadwipa Dhama Mahatmya.” As he was not keeping good health at Krishnagar he requested the Government to transfer him to a good healthy station, and he was moved early in 1889 to Netrokona and Tangail where from he came to Burdwan and for a time to the and the Kalna Sub divisions.
(16) Gangagobinda Singh-Naib Diwan of the Khalsa and the founder of Paikpara Raj family. Flourished in the latter part of the eighteenth century.
Foundation Of Namhatta
During his stay at Kalna he, with a view to settle in Nadia after his retirement, acquired by purchase a plot of land at Sri Godrooma Dwipa, commonly known as Swarapganj, where he established Namhatta in 1890. The next year when he was transferred to Dinajpur he took up writing annotation of Srimad Bhagabad-gita with the commentaries of Sri Baladeva Vidyabhushan and published it.
In 1891 he took furlough for two years with the object of preaching Harinam to mankind for their welfare and worked for Namhatta at Sri Godrooma. Many branches were also opened in different centres in various districts of Bengal to preach Harinam regularly, and the name of God rang loudly where in the ears of the people. It was a grand object and it proved a great success for the tide continued for many years, even long after the period he was called back by Government to do the responsible public duties and when he could himself devote little attention to his own mission, in spite of his strong desire to do so.
During this period he undertook to write annotations of Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita, in which work he put his hands sometimes in 1886 at the special request of the well-known patron of learning, Srijukta Rai Yatindra Nath Chaudhuri, M. A. B. L. Zamindar of Taki, but could not complete it at that time. Now the work was complete, within a short time and the publisher was able to put in the market the best authoritative edition of that work. In April 1883 at the request of Sir Henry Cotton the then Chief Secretary to the Government, he rejoined the office at Sasaram where he had to tide over political difficulty, which then appeared in the province, in quelling disturbances which arose out of animosity between the Hindus and the Muhammadans for killing cows by the latter. He had to try that case under trying circumstances but finally he obtained thanks from the Lieutenant Governor and was reposted to Krishnagar during the cold weather of that year.
The next year was a memorable year in the history of the Vaishnava world, and Thakur Bhakti-Vinode was the prime-mover of the event which recorded in golden characters in the history of Vaishnavism in India.
A Fitting Ceremony
It was in this year that the birth place of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, which was up for lost, by the world for many generations and which was discovered with great difficulty by Thakur Bhakti-vinode, came to light and was commemorated. Thousands of visitors were present at the spot on that eventful day and the gathering was no less but even greater than the congregation which met at Kheturi some 400 years ago. Just after his retirement from Government service Thakur Bhaktivinode went from to door, in a spirit of perfect humility with a view to giving this enterprise a firm footing. What did the “Amrita Bazar Patrika” say of him in their daily issue of the 6th December, 1894?
“Babu Kedar Nath Dutt, the distinguished deputy magistrate who has just retired from the service is one of the most active members. Indeed, Babu Kedar Nath Dutt has been deputed by the committee to raise a subscription in Calcutta and elsewhere and is determined to go from house to house, if necessary and beg a rupee from each Hindu gentleman for the noble purpose. If Babu Kedar Nath Dutt, therefore really sticks to his resolution of going around with a bag in hand, we hope, no Hindu gentleman, whose house maybe honoured by the presence of such a devout to Bhakta as Babu Kedar Nath Dutt, will send him away without contributing his mite, However humble it maybe, to the Gaur Vishnupriya Temple fund”.
Truly Thakur Bhakti-Vinode honoured the houses of many persons for the fulfilment of the noble object undertaken by him. He went to such persons to whom he would not have gone but for this mission, as he had himself plenty, to live on and spend his days in the devotion of God with as good a position as any worldly man of honour can have. His labour was not without its fruits and sum which he raised, contributed much to the erection of a pucca structure on the holy spot at Sri Mayapur. The institution which he started at the Yogapitha has been a great boon to the world and is now maintaining its own position by public subscription, with H. H. The Maharaja of Tippera, at the head.
The work of Nam Prachar was also in full swing and it spread fast into the distant corners of the globe. The Smaran Mangal Stotra with preface in English containing the life and precepts of Sri Chaitanya, came out from his pen soon after and found its place in all the learned institutions of both the hemispheres. The following remarks appeared in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, London:
“Under the title of Sri Gauranga Lila Smarana Mangal Stotram, the well known Vaishnava Sri Kedar Nath Bhaktivinode, M. R. A. S. has published a poem in Sanskrit on the life and teachings of Chaitanya. It is with a commentary, also in Sanskrit, in which the subject further elucidated is preceded by an introduction of 63 pages in English in which the doctrines taught by Chaitanya are set out in somewhat full detail; this position more especially as against Shankar and the Advaita Vedantists, is explained at length. The little volume will add to our knowledge of this remarkable reformer and we express our thanks to Bhaktivinode for giving it to us in English and Sanskrit rather than in Bengali, in which language it must necessarily have remained a closed book to European students of the religious life of India.”
The above remarks produced, on its publication, a great effect on the mind of many educated and enlightened persons, and shortly appeared several editions on the life of Chaitanya in English. Of these the “Lord Gauranga” by our ablest follower, Shishir Kumar Ghose, was appreciated by the people and even distant America hailed it with rejoicing. Thakur’s “Life and Precepts of Chaitanya” though in itself a little bit of work, continued to be admired by the western thinkers and writers. This is evident from the following comments made in discussing the claims of the mighty reformer of Nadia to a universal place, by that erudite scholar Mr. R. W. Frazer, late of the Madras Civil Service:
“Five Hundred years have passed away since the time Chaitanya spread a faith in the saving grace of Krishna throughout the land, nevertheless down to the present day, the same spirit that inspired Chaitanya continues still to dwell among his followers. In an interesting account of the life and precepts of Chaitanya lately published by his devout and aged follower, Sri Kedarnath Dutt Bhaktivinode, it can be read how this spirit preserves its vitality undiminished amid the changes that are sweeping over the land. This exponent of the hopes of the present followers of the teachings of Chaitanya declares his firm faith, that from a devoted love to Krishna, a love like that of a girl for a loved one, shown by constant repetition of his name, by ecstatic raputerus, singing, calm contemplation and fervours, a movement will yet take place to draw to the future church of the world, all classes of men, without distinction of caste or clan to the highest cultivation of the spirit. This church it appears, will extend all over the world, and take the place of all sectarian churches, which exclude outsiders from the precincts of the mosque, church or temple. The spirit that is to animate this new church is to be founded on the principle that spiritual cultivation is the main object of life. Do everything that keeps it and abstain from doing anything which thwarts the cultivation of the spirit. A devoted love to Krishna is to be the guiding light as preached by Chaitanya. Having a strong faith that Krishna alone protects you and none else. Admit him as your only God can do everything which you know Krishna wishes you to do and never think that you do a thing independent of the holy wish of Krishna. Do all you do with humility. Always remember that you are a sojourner in the world and you must be prepared for your own home. The simple piety of this latest preacher of the teachings of Chaitanya holds that Chaitanya showed in his character, and preach to the world, the purest morality as an accompaniment of spiritual improvement. Morality as a matter of course will grace the character of a bhakta (one who has faith). The perplexing question of idolatry receives its usual explanation in the following manner: those who say that God has no form, either material or spiritual and again imagine a false form for worship are certainly idolatrous. But those who see the spiritual form of the deity in their souls eye, carry that impression as far as possible to the mind, and then frame an emblem for the satisfaction of the material eye, for continual study of the higher feelings are by no means idolatrous”. (A Literary History of India pp.349–51)
The more the name of Chaitanya with that of Hari was preached, the merrier was our Thakur. He thereafter made annotations of the “Sri Brahma Samhita”, the “Sri Krishna Karnamrita” and gave to the world his immortal and most precious works “Sri Hari Nam Chintamani” and “Sri Bhajan Rahashya”. He also edited, with annotations “Srimad Bhagabatarka Marichimala” containing – all the slokas of the Srimad Bhagabata pertaining to the Vaishnava philosophy. His pen was never tired and produced other Vaishnava philosophical works. He also made annotations and translations of many works written by Goswamis. Most of his works were published in his well-known periodical “Sajjan-toshani”. As on the one hand, he was busy with his pen, so on the other, he was equally engaged in preaching Harinama and Vaishnava philosophy by making circuits of several districts. His personal appearance in the villages produced marvellous effects on the people who showed little scruple in believing the noble doctrine preached by him.
Last Days In Nadia
To maintain the Nadia centre he built a house at Sri Godrooma which he styled “Sri Swananda Sukhada Kunja”. Here in this abode the preaching of Harinam continued in full swing.
Residence Of Puri
It was in the beginning of the present century that he chose to live at Puri and built a house on the sea beach there. Though this place is the most sacred one in India in the eyes of the Hindus on account of its being the seat of Jagannath, godless persons can be found here in any number. Such impious men tried to disturb our Thakur but happily their efforts proved futile. Many good souls got spiritual inspirations from him and were saved.
Men with honesty of purpose sought his blessing which they readily obtained and when he retired to the fourth or the last stage of life by abnegating the world in 1908 he entertained the solicitations of several persons whom he made his disciples. Among these the most note-worthy was Babaji Krishnadas who was admitted to be our Thakur’s constant attendant and to serve him in all respects till the last day.
Though he was leading the life of a Sanyasi he could not avoid men of all descriptions who constantly visited him; but we dare say none of them had to return without receiving his blessings.
A Paramhamsa, Four Years In Samadhi
Seeing that his works were complete, he shut himself up in 1910 and spent about four years in the perfect state of Samadhi. These days were very happy for him as he could thus shun the turmoil and bustle which are the concomitant parts of human life in the material world.
The Great Ascension
Thus having satisfied himself that his mission bore at least some good to the world, he passed away for the eternal bliss of Golaka, by casting a gloom on the Vaishnava world, on the day of the commencement of the Dakshinayan in 1914, according to the solar calendar, and the day which is observed by Vaishnavas as one on which Sri Sri Gadadhar made his disappearance in the calculation of the lunar calendar. His absence was deeply felt by all true bhaktas at first but when they found that they were unceasingly carrying his holy influence with them, since his departure, they no more had any cause of sorrow. Here we quote a stanza written by our Thakur sometime in 1871 on the samaj of Haridas on the seashore at Puri, to explain what influence a Vaishnava carries in this world even after his departure from it:
“He reasons ill who tells that Vaishnavas die
When thou art living still in sound!
The Vaishnavas did to live and living try
To spread a holy life around“
Our Thakur’s immortal work will no doubt spread around a holy life for the human welfare. As the Dakshinayan fell in, his samadhi ceremony was naturally delayed till the Uttarayan came when his last remains were placed at his Nadia seat, “Sri Sri Swananda Sukhada Kunja,” in the midst of Sankirtan made by his disciples.
A Suitable Memorial
It was a pleasant clear day and a grand Vaishnava mahotsbab was held with the greatest solemnity in which thousands took part and our Thakur’s presence amidst them was perceived by all. On that day a committee was constituted under the style of ”Sri Thakur Bhakti-Vinode Memorial-Committee” with the object of undertaking the following:
The construction of a suitable Samadhi temple.
2. The publication of his complete philosophical works.
3. The circulation of the precepts and teachings of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu which prepared the way of all devotees for the attainment of spiritual existence, this being the sole aim and end of our Thakur’s life and the maintenance of the spiritual institutions established by him.
4. The establishment of a chair for the teaching of the deep philosophy of the school of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
It is now the business of the Committee to fulfil the above objects with the utmost sincerity and it is expected fervently that the aid and cooperation of all persons having noble views and generous hearts for the spiritual welfare of their brethren will not be withheld. Having got glimpse into the life of the saint we may now see his character from various aspects and study him from social, political, moral, literary and religious points of view.
A Social Benefactor
Thakur Bhakti-Vinode as a social man has shown to the world the true interpretation of the aphorism “Society friendship and love.” Divinely bestowed upon man,” by his personal example. As a social man he left no stone unturned to alleviate the position of his own people in society and was the first and foremost to open the eyes of countrymen to see the hidden passages in the Shastras relating to society in India. He was a great lover of his own people as of others and spent a large sum of money and devoted much of his valuable time in publishing a genealogical table of the family to which he belonged, with a descriptive account of his forefathers and of his race in general in plain Sanskrit verse. Here he had to meet opposition from unscrupulous persons, but the arguments set against his writing having no foundation on the Shastras and merely based on unreliable sources, were of no avail and finally he won the day when the Bangadeshiya Kayastha Sabha followed the line of his argument about a dozen of years ago. He was never a miser in showing respect to the Brahmans and always held that esteemed class with that amount of veneration which is to be found in any other man of honour among the Hindus. It was never heard that any Brahman ever went away from him disheartened; and he who once called on him, was sure to be seen meeting him again with a smiling face. He equally befriended the other castes and especially when he preached Harinam every one however high or low he might have been, in society or in wealth was nearest and dearest to him. He had practically no enemy in the world. as he did not cherish any kind of animosity against others. Rather those who tried to be enemy out of jealousy or with a view to thwarting him from his righteous path, were in the long run ashamed of their conduct and in most cases craved his pardon which was never refused. His universal brotherhood made him the friend of the needy and he was ever eager for procuring the greatest welfare of the people of the world. Whoever once came in contact with him, could not but go without some sort of good to himself. To speak of him in concise language is to call him an ideal man in society. He was never proud and his amiable disposition was a characteristic feature in his life. He never uttered any word to any body, which wound one’s feeling. He did not chastise any one unless and until he was perfectly confident that he had a right over him to do so for his welfare, and on the other hand he who received a warning from him always thought himself gratified. He had not the least shadow of vanity and was totally devoid of quarrelling habit. Being a scion of an opulent and well-known ancient family of Calcutta and having held an office of position and good emoluments, under the benign Government, he was not wanting in friends and acquaintances among men of light and leading throughout the length and breadth of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. His profound knowledge of philosophy endeared him to all educated men and his devout bhakti made him the friend both of the highest and the poorest classes of people.
A Political Thinker
Thakur Bhakti-Vinode as a political man – we cannot say that our Thakur was ignorant of politics and that he only restricted himself to the fringed area of religion. He meddled in politics since the days of his youth, and was ever a staunch supporter and admirer of the British rule. In his official capacity he was always taken into confidence by the superior officers of Government, as he was himself well Conversant with the policy of Government. He had witnessed the hard days of the mutiny and while in office, he assisted the Government in quelling all sorts of unprincipled disturbances and especially rendered the most valuable assistance in suppressing a general rise of the Oriyas under one Bishikishan in most trying circumstances and regardless of his own life. His administrative ability was marked even by the ruling chief of Tippera. His Highness Maharaja Birchandra Manikya Bahadur and his son H. H. Maharaja Radha Kishore Barma Manikya Bahadur always esteemed his counsels on political matters and respected him as a friend and an honorary adviser of the state. The Government of Bengal also on more than one occasion wanted to vest him with honours and titles but he humbly declined the same each time on the ground that such honours would, instead of doing good, stand against his holy mission. Even so late as 1897, when the epidemic known as plague raged furiously in the heart of Calcutta, his advice was valued and adopted by Sir John Woodburn. Our Thakur never swerved from the path of duty entrusted to him by the Government and had ever been a loyal, faithful and devout public servant.
A Saint In Morals
Thakur Bhakti-Vinode as a moral man — Never was a man found more strict in the observance of the moral duties than our Thakur. From his very infancy till his last day he was a great advocate of truth and never allowed his associates to deviate from the path of duty, which he himself observed with more than strict accuracy. He avoided companies whenever he had the least suspicion of evil motives in them and never harboured them so long they did not come to repentance. He had to encounter unpleasantness on many occasions in the execution of public duty under the Government, by refusing to accept any present from any person. Similar difficulties he had to face in refusing unjust requests from persons though they were nearest and dearest to him. He was above corruption. He never supported the least shadow of immorality and never crossed the threshold of any place which he knew to be immoral. He had great dislike for theatres as these were places where public women were brought in to take part in the play. He knew that common people, who cared little for religion and who had generally happy-go-lucky days to spend, were apt to go astray in the broad wilderness of the world if he himself refrained from showing them the proper way by his own example. Example is better than precept and so his absolute distaste for anything immoral helped many good souls to open their eyes and also persons already in confusion to correct themselves. When the well-known dramatist, Girish Chandra Ghosh, came to request him for presiding over the gathering on the opening day of his well-known play “Chaitanya lila”, he had to politely decline the offer. He was a complete abstainer and a perfect teetotaler and never chewed even a betel. In other words he was completely devoid of luxury which is everyday enjoyed by ordinary men. He had for him very little want and led most simple life throughout his career. The word “debt” was, as it were, unknown to him and he was very prompt in making payments. He was always true to his word, and punctuality was at all times specially observed by him. He always showed a brave front in every thing and was never a coward. He never countenanced any underhand work in business, and whatever he did, he did openly for the good of his fellowmen. We may without hesitation call him morality incarnate, as his was an exemplary character. He came to the world with a moral obligation to it and on his passing from it, he fully repaid that obligation.
A Great Literateur
Thakur Bhakti-vinode as a literary man – For the brain was the main food of his life. Literary habit he had from his very early age. Before he was eighteen he was author of, “Poriade” a work in English verse describing the wanderings of Porus who met Alexander the Great in pre-Christ days. The Style and rhyme in which those books were written, were very lucid and clear and most melodious. His earlier writings appeared in the “Literary Gazette” and the “Hindu Intelligencer“. Even the clubs and the British Indian Society found him, in the fifties, discussing various subjects. Before he was twenty five came out from his pen two Bengali poems “Vijanagram” and “Sanyasi” which were composed in a style which enabled Byron to eclipse Scott. The rhyme and style in which these two books were written showed a complete departure from the then existing mode of writing and it gave birth to a new way of writing poetry in the Bengali language. Before he was thirty, he delivered long speeches, of one on “The Bhagabat” in English at Dinajpur, drew the mind of many enlightened persons to the philosophical teachings inculcated in that mighty book. A Sanskrit work entitled Datta Kaustuva, a treatise on philosophy, came to light soon after. He also prepared an Urdu translation of the Manual of the Registration Department which was gladly accepted by the Government and circulated throughout the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh. He wrote at that time a few other works assuming the name of Sri Sachchidananda Premalankar, and these books, we know had a huge circulation. A few years after he styled himself as a Saragrahi Vaishnava and contributed much to the Vaishnava literature under that style. A specimen of his writings of that period can be seen from the following stanzas:
Alas, for those that spend their days
In festive mirth and joy!
The dazzling deadly liquid forms
Their heart for ever employee!!
The shining bottles charm their eyes
And draw their hearts embrace!
The slaves of wine can never rise
From what we call disgrace!
Was man intended so to be
A brute in work and heart?
Should man the Lord of all around
From common sense depart?
Man’s glory is in common sense
Dictating us the grace,
That man is made to live and love
For thee thy sire on High has kept
A store of bliss above,
To end of time, thou art, Oh! His
Who wants but purest Love.
Oh love! Thy power and spell benign
Now melt my soul to God!
How can my earthly words describe
That feeling soft and broad!!
Enjoyment-sorrow,-what but lots
To which the flesh is heir?
The soul that sleeps alone concludes
In them it hath a share!!
Ah then! my friends no more enjoy
Nor weep for all below: –
The woman, wine and flesh of beasts
No love on thee bestow
But thine to love the brother man
And give thyself to God,
And God doeth know your wages fair;
This fact is true and broad!!
Forget the past that sleeps, and never
The future dream at all,
But act in times that are with thee
And progress the shall call!!
But tell me not in reasoning cold,
The soul is made alone
By earth’s mechanic, lifeless rules
And to destruction prone!
My God who gave us life and all
Alone the Soul can kill,
Or give it all the joys above
His promise to fulfil!
So push thy onward
March O Soul!
Against an evil deel
That stands with soldiers-hate and lust!
A hero be indeed!!
Maintain thy post in spirit world
As firmly as you can,
Let never matter push thee down,
O stand heroic man!
Sharagrahi Vaishnav soul!
Thou art an angel fair;
Lead, lead me on to Vrindavan
And Spirit’s power declare!!
These rests my soul from matter free
Upon my Lover’s arms,
Eternal peace and Spirit’s love
Are all my chanting charms!!
The above stanzas not only show us how melodious were the writings of our Thakur but they do something more. Each line in the above stanzas is fully fraught with ideas conveying a world of philosophy. These lines are very simple in appearance but practically not so to a man of meditation. They not only throw light on morality but help people to make progress in the spiritual world too.
List of Works
A list of works of him which we have already seen is given below in chronological order of their publication.
1850 – HARI KATHA, (Bengali verse)
1851 – BATTLE BETWEEN ADYASAKTI AND SHUMBHA & NISHUMBHA, (Bengali verse)
1855 – Contributions of articles to the Periodicals and Magazines commenced from this year
1857 – PORIADE, BOOK I (Book in English)
1858 – PORIADE BOOK II (Ditto)
1860 – MATHS OF ORISSA, (Prose in English) |
1863 – VIJANAGRAMA, (Poem in Bengali), SANYASI, Ditto, OUR WANTS, (Prose in English)
1866 – BALIDE REGISTRY, (in Urdu), SPEECH ON GAUTAMA, (Prose in English)
1869 – SPEECH ON BHAGABAT, (Prose in English)
1870 – GARBHA STOTRA VYAKHYA or Sambhandhatatwa Chandrika, (in Bengali Prose)
1871 – REFLECTIONS, (Poem in English) Stanzas on the samaja of Haridas on the Sea-shore at Puri and several pamphlets in English such as “The Temple of Jagannath at Puri” and “The Akhras in Puri” &c.
1874 – DATTA KAUSTUVAM, (A philosophical work in Sanskrit)
1876 – DATTA VAMSHA MALA, in Sanskrit slokas and a geneological table of the Datta family of Bali Samaj
1878 – BUDDHA VIJAYA KAVYAM, in Sanskrit verse (incomplete in MS)
1880 SRI KRISHNA SAMHITA, (in Sanskrit slokas with introduction, translation and the slokas and conclusion in Bengali)
1881 – KALYAN KALPATARU (in Bengali verse),
SAJJANA TOSHANI, (A monthly periodical in Bengali: began to be published from this year. There are 17 volumes of this work).
1883 – Review of Nitya Rupa Samsthapanam (in English Prose)
1886 – Srimad Bhagabat-gita with commentaries of Shri Bishwanath Chakravarti, his annotation Rasika Ranjana in Bengali.
Sri Chaitanya Shikshamrita (in Bengali Prose).
Shikshastaka, his Sanskrit annotation “Sanmodan”
Manas-shika, his translation in Bengali Poetry.
Bhabali, with his Sanskrit annotation
Prema Pradipa (a philosophical novel in Bengali Prose.
Edited by Sri Vishnu Sahasranama with commentaries of Sri Baladev Vidyabhushan.
1887 – Edited Sri Krishna Vijaya by Gunaraj Khan,
Sri Chaitanya Upanishad with his Sanskrit annotation
1888 – Vaishnava Siddhanta Mala in Bengali
1890 – Srimad Amnaya Sutram in Sanskrit with his own annotation in Bengali,
Sri Navadwip Dhama Mahatmya (in Bengali poetry)
1891 – Srimad Bhagabad-gita with commentaries of Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusha, his annotation Bidwat Ranjana in Bengali.
Started the work of Namhatta for preaching Harinama by lectures and etc., and published in transactions in Dramas of which five pamphlets came out one after another.
1892 – Being the guts of Vaisnava Siddhanta Mala published in connection with the work of Namhatta – Hari-nama, Nama, Namatattwa Shikshastaka, Nama Mahima, Nama Prachara
SRI MAHAPRABHU’S SHIKSHA-In Bengali prose
1893 – TATTWA-VIVEKA- or Sri Sachidanandanubhuti in Sanskrit with his own explanations in Bengali.
SHARANGATI (in Bengali Verse)
JAIBA-DHARMA (in Bengali Verse)
1894 – Tattwasutra-in Sanskrit with his own annotation in Bengali. Istopanishad- his own annotation “Vedharkadidhiti” in Bengali Tattwa Muktavali- or Mayavada Shatadushani, his translation in to Bengali.
1895 – Sri Chaitanya Chartamrita,- his Amrita Prabaha Bhasya in Bengali.
1896 – Sri Gauranga Smarana Mangala Stotram- in Sanskrit with the life and Prospects of Sri Chaitanya in English Ramanuja Upadesha- and ARTHA PANCHAKA, his translation into Bengali.
1897 – Sri Brahma-samhita,- his annotation “Prakashini” in Bengali.
Sri Kalyan Kalpataru (revised)
1898 – Sri Krishna Karnamritam- by Sri Billwamangala Thakur, his annotation in Bengali.
Sri Upadeshamritam-by Sri Rupa Goswami, his annotation Pijusha Varshini Vritti in Bengali.
Edited Madhwa Bhashya of Srimad Bhagabad-gita,
Sri Bhagabaddhamamritam-by Sri Sanatana Goswami, his annotation in Sanskrit and Bengali.
Sri Bhakti-Siddhantamritam-by Sri Sanatana Goswami, his annotation in Sanskrit and Bengali.
Sri Bhakti-Siddhantamritam-by Sri Sanatana Goswami, his annotation in Sanskrit and Bengali.
1899 – Sri Bhajanamritam-Sri Nrahari Thakur, his annotation in Bengali.
Nabadwipa Bhaba Tarangrini (in Bengali poetry).
Datta Vamsha Mala (thoroughly revised and enlarged)
1901 – Sri Bhagabatarka Marichinmala, his annotation in Bengali.
Sri Sankalpa Kalpadruma, his Bengali translation.
Edited Padma Puranam-(complete in Sanskrit).
1902 – Sri Bhajana Rahasya – in Bengali poetry with references of Sanskrit slokas).
Vijanagrama and Sanayasi (thoroughly revised)
1904 – Edited Satkriya Saradipika by Gopala Bhatta Goswami – a Vaishnava Smriti.
1905 – Sri Chaitanya Shikshamrita (thoroughly revised and doubly enlarged)
1906 – Edited Premabibarta by Jagadananda.
1907 – Swaniyanama Dwadasakam,-a voluminous work left unfinished.
Besides the works mentioned in the above list he wrote numberless articles in his own periodical “Sajjantoshani” as well as in other periodicals. He was also editor of the “Vishnupriya Patrika” when that saw the light. We can even trace many of his works, which are existing without any acknowledgement of his authorship. His pen was never idle and many a night saw him engaged in his library after he had performed a hard laborious midday duty in the office, which latter alone makes one easily exhausted. He had a fine mode of delivering speeches and his lectures were so greatly attractive that he could keep the audience, whatever be their number, absolutely dumb-founded. His speeches were all very fluent and argumentative from the philosophical point of view, and he had a nice way of joining the links of their subject matter.
He was a linguist and knew English, Latin, Urdu, Persian and Oriya besides Bengali and Sanskrit. He had also a taste for history and a keen habit of research. This made him a voracious reader of all the Puranas and Shastras of the Hindu religion as well as the writings of numerous authors of repute in Europe, both of ancient and modern days. He was a member of the Royal Asiatic Society of London. He had thoroughly gone through the Shastras of foreign religions, such as the Holy Bible and the Koran, and he could easily cite any passage occurring in those books whenever there was an occasion to do so. His nature was to leave no stone unturned in mastering whatever subject he took up and he did his duty in that respect to the fullest extent. The works he has left to the world are most precious will no doubt supply materials for the improvement of many thinkers.
A Rigid Religionist
Thakur Bhakti-Vinode as a religious man – The religious condition of the Bengali knowing people in the beginning of the 19th Century was in a miserable plight. There were so many from the main stem of religion, each preaching doctrine in its own way, that people were thrown in utter confusion and did not know what the pure religion was. It then became a necessity for a leader to save the good souls who were hankering for their real welfare. To quench their thirst a Bhaktaabatar was badly needed and that abatar appeared in the form of our Thakur Bhakti-Vinode. His religious disposition was observed from his very childhood and as he grew older he studied all the religious books of the world and appreciated the doctrines preached by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu as the sublimest of all and the surest path to lead the fallen souls to the feet of God. It is said that he obtained divine inspiration for the welfare of mankind and his fellow brethren, at Dinajpur in 1868 from which time he employed himself vigorously to propagate the religion, the cause of which he had espoused sometime before on a maturer discussion of all the religions of the world. From that time he began to write a number of philosophical books containing the teachings of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and began, to deliver speeches on philosophical themes for the good of mankind. His mission was fulfilled on his starting the “Nam-hatta” at Nadia and the of Hari was preached in every house in every village of the province of Bengal. The discovery of the birthplace of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu by our Thakur in the Gaudamandal was one of his acts, which history repeated in the action of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu himself in discovering the lila-kshetra of Sri-Krishna in Vrindavan. The establishment of an institution on that discovered Yogapitha, with aid of the public and the Vaishnava world, was also a grand object nobly performed by the Bhakta–abatar. The enlightenment and cultured men of the present age have now learnt to honour the sublimest philosophy which he brought to light and which would have lain buried in darkness, had he not opened their eyes. He was first to start a religious magazine in Bengal so far back as 1880, turning the minds of educated men to the path of religion. He gave to the world the gist of the doctrine of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabbu the following sloke. We would do better to quote here the precepts of Sri immortal Chaitanya Mahaprabhu which our Thakur precepts wrote in brief:
“Chaitanya teaches us in the first place that the rational attributes of men are not capable of approaching the divine sphere of spirit. Jukti as he styles reason, is quite incompetent in such a matter. Ruchi as he styles the religious sentiment in man, even in a very small quantity, has the power to comprehend it. It is inspiration which can alone give light to spiritual matters. Inspirations coming down from Heaven through purified and blessed souls have exhibited themselves in the form of the Vedas. The Vedas, together with their explanatory notes, the Puranas, are therefore the only evidence in matters of spirit and are eternal in nature. Vedic truth should, therefore be accepted as the only truth in higher matter. Reason, while sincerely helping the inspired truth, may be accepted as auxiliary evidence. The Vedas teach us according to Chaitanya, nine principle doctrines, that is: – 1. Hari (the Almighty) is one without a second 2. He is always vested with infinite power. 3. He is ocean of Rasa. The souls in his Vibhinnangsha or separated part 5. Certain souls are engrossed by Prakriti or his illusory energy 6. Certain souls are released from the grasp of Prakriti 7. All spiritual and material phenomena are Bheda-bhed prakasha of Hari the Almighty 8. Bhakti is the only means of attaining the final object of spiritual existence. 9. Prem in Krishna is alone the final object of spiritual existence.
- Hari the Supreme Being is one without a second. In Aryan theology the creative principle of the Deity is personified in Brahma and the destructive principle in Shiva. Indra is the head of some lower elements of administration. Hence they are not the Almighty Himself but are different representations of different attributes. They have obtained their powers from an original Fountainhead. Hence they are subordinate beings in the service of Hari or Bhagavan. Then again there are three distinct philosophical ideas of the Deity i.e. (i) the idea of the negative Brahma of the Pantheistic School, (ii) the idea of a universal soul, Paramatma of the Yoga School and (iii) the idea of a personal Deity with all His Majesty, might, glory, beauty, wisdom and supremacy combined in the person. The ideas of Brahma and Paramatma are therefore included in the idea of Bhagavan. Spiritually, therefore, Bhagavan is Hari the Supreme Being. Human ideas are either mental or spiritual. The mental idea is defective as it has relation to the created principle of matter. The spiritual idea is the nearest approach to the Supreme Being. Then again the spiritual idea of Bhagavan is of two sorts. In one sort, the person of the Deity is overpowered by His own majesty, and in the other, the personal beauty overpowers all His Majesty. The first idea is represented in the great Narayana of Vaikuntha, who is the Lord of Lords and God of Gods. The second is represented in the All-beautiful Krishna with Radhika, the representative of His Hladini or superior ecstatic energy. Krishna appears as man amongst men and is again generally accepted as God above Gods. Krishna attracts, loves and produces ecstasy in all souls. His person and personal attachments are all purely spiritual and have no relation to the material world. The material senses of man cannot approach Him. It is the spirit in man which can see him direct and commune with him. The soul fettered in matter, has from its own degradation lost its right to see Krishna and his spiritual lila in the spiritual world, but Krishna out of His own supreme Power and prerogative may appear with all his Vrindaban Iila before the eyes of all men. The rational man can hardly conceive and believe Krishna and his lila. As his spiritual essence improves, he sees Him and loves Him with all his heart. In our small compass, we can hardly treat this subject fully and exhaustively. We, therefore, leave this point to our readers with these words:
“Give up the shackles of matter slowly. Cultivate your spirit inwards. Give up prejudices which you have acquired from the so-called rational thinkers, who deny the existence of spirit. Be humble in yourself and learn to respect those who work towards spiritual attainments. Do this with your heart, mind and strength in the company of spiritual people alone, and you will see Krishna in no time. Krishna is not an imaginary Being, nor you have a right to think that is a material phenomenon fancied to be the supreme Being by the fools. Krishna is not understood by the process of distinguishing the subjective from the objective, nor He is to be accepted as an imposition on the people set up by designing men. Krishna is eternal, spiritually true, reflected on the human-soul when relieved of all pressure of gross matter and is the subject of love which proceeds from the soul. Accept Him as such and you will see Him in your soul’s eye. Words fail to describe that transcendental Being. The highest, best and most spiritual idea of the Divinity is in Krishna. To bring arguments against him is simply to deceive one’s self and deprive himself of the blessings that God has kept in store for man. Hence all descriptions of his name, person, attributes and lila should be accepted spiritually giving up the material portion which words must necessarily convey’.
- Hari is always vested with infinite powers. By infinite powers must be meant powers which know no bounds either in space or in time; as His powers alone created space and time. His powers are identified with His person. In material objects, there is a difference between the person and its powers, between the thing and its attributes, its name, its form and action; but it is a spiritual truth that in spirit the thing is identical with its name, form, attributes and action. This truth cannot be subjected to dry reason which deals with gross matter alone. Krishna is Supreme Will in Himself and He exercises His supreme power at His pleasure, which submits to no law, because all law has proceeded from His Will and Power. Power is known from its exercise. In this world we have experience of only three of the attributes of His power. We see the material phenomena and we understand that His power has the attribute to create matter. This attribute is styled in the Vedas as Maya-shakti. We see man and we understand that the supreme power has the attribute to produce limited and imperfect souls. The Shastras call that attribute as Jiva-shakti. We conceive of One who is spiritual and supreme in his realm of eternal spirits. We understand that His power has an attribute to exhibit perfectly spiritual existences. The Vedas call that attribute by the name of Atma-shakti or chit shakti. All these attributes together form one supreme power which the Vedas call as Para-shakti. In fact power (shakti) is not distinguishable from the person of that Being. Still the powers are separately exhibited in their separate actions. This is styled Achintya bhedabhed-prakash or inconceivable simultaneous existence of distinction and non-distinction. Hari being Will above law, excercises His infinite powers, while He Himself remains unaffected. This is not understood, but felt in the soul as an intuitive truth.
- He is the ocean of Rasa. Rasa has been defined to be that ecstatic principle which comprehends sthayi-bhab, bibhab. anubabh, satvic and sanchari. Bibhab is divided into Alambana and Uddipana. Alambana is subdivided in to Vishaya and Asraya. Asraya is that person who has in himself the principle of Sthayi-bhab and Vishaya is that person to whom the sthayi-bhab directs itself. Sthayi-bhab has been explained to be rati or tendency of the pure spiritual heart. By a connection of Asraya and Vishaya the sthayi-bhab arrives at its stage of action. When it obtains its active stage, certain signs are exhibited in the person which are called the Anubhabs. These are theirteen in number. Eight other bhabs exhibiting on the mind are styled satvik-bhab such as tears, shivering, &c. Thirty-three other bhabs such as harsha, Vishad &c., have been shown to sanchari bhabs. These combined in soul form the rasa. This process of exhibition of rasa relates to exhibition of Rasa in man still enthralled in matter. But Rasa itself is an eternal principle identified with the Supreme Hari. Hari is the Ocean of Rasa and in the human soul a drop of the ocean could only be conceived. Rasa naturally is spiritual but in man subjected to Maya, the progenitor of matter, it has been identified, in a perverted state with the sensual pleasure of man in connection with objects, the soul losing itself in mind and the mind acting through the senses enjoying the perverted Rasa in five different objects of the five senses.This is the soul’s going abroad with avidya or ignorance of the spiritual self. When the soul looks inward, it obtains its spiritual Rasa and the perverted Rasa wanes off in proportion to the development of the spiritual Rasa. In spiritual Rasa the souls are towards each other and all towards the All-beautiful, have their unfettered action in Vrindaban, rising above material time and space. Hari or Infinite Supreme Free Will has eternal ecstacy in His Spiritual power or Chit-shakti. The Hladini attribute of Chit-shakti gives Him infinite pleasure. The Sambit attribute of Chit-shakti (spiritual wisdom) produces all bhabs, relations and affections. The Sandhini attribute of Chitshakti produces all existence (other than the free will) including the dhams (abodes), individualities and other substances in connection with the action of the spiritual Rasa. All these exhibitions are from Chit-shakti or the spiritual power. Mayik or material creation including time, space and gross objects, has no place in Chit-jagat or the spiritual world which is all same as Vrindaban. “Maya-shakti” is a perverted reflection of the Chit-shakti. Hence the particularities in the Mayik (material) world have semblance with the particularities in the Chit-Jagat or (spiritual universe), but are not substantially the same. The Chit-Jagat is the model of the Mayik-jagat but they are not identical. We must guard ourselves against the idea, that man has imagined Chit-jagat from an experience of the Mayik-jagat. This idea is pantheistic and it may also be styled atheistic. Reason, not spiritualised, has a tendency to create such a, doubt, but one who has a wish to enjoy spiritual love must give it up as misleading. The eternal Rasa of Krishna exists spiritually in Chit-jagat. To us who arc in the nether there is a screen between our eyes and the great spiritual scene of Krishna lila spiritual scene of Krishna lila. When by the grace of Krishna that screen is drawn up, we have the privilege to see it, and again when it pleases the Almighty to drop the screen the great Vrindavan lila disappears. Taste the subject and your conviction will be the same as mine. Brethren! do not give up, such an important object without due and liberal examination.
- The soul is His Vibhinangsha or separated part. By soul is meant all sorts of souls—whether animal, human or celestial. It must be understood that Mahaprabhu believed the very liberal theory of transmigration of the soul. Certain readers may reject the idea on the ground that certain forms of faith do not support that theory. It is not liberal to reject a theory because it is in antagonism with the dogmas of certain sectarian creeds. Indeed it is a matter which reason can not dare to meddle with. Candidly examining we do not see any strong reason to disbelieve the theory of transmigration. On the other hand, our unprejudiced mind is inclined to stand for it. The belief that the human soul has only one trial in life is evidently illiberal, unjust and contrary to the belief that God is all good. When our spiritual sentiment supports the theory and the Vedas, the receptacles of inspirations; have taught us the fact of continual existence of the soul in different stages in creation we cannot but give up the idea of disbelieving in the theory of transmigration of the soul. However educated and scientific a man maybe, he is always liable to a creeping error. That which holds good regarding a man holds good also regarding a nation or a sect. The soul, according to Chaitanya, is an atomic part of the Divine soul. It is a sort of God’s power to produce beings who are spiritual in essence but liable to be enthralled by Maya when they forget their position as eternal servants of the Deity. God here is compared with the Sun and the souls are said to be the atomic portions of that sun’s ray, unable to stand freely unless they are protected by another competent attribute of God’s power. By the word part is not meant to be portions cut out of a piece of stone by the axe, but is meant to be like one lamp lighted from another, or gold produced from an alchemic stone as believed by the ancients. The souls are also compared with separate atomic emanations of the burning fire. Each soul has drawn from its fountain-head a proportionate share of the attributes and consequently a small proportion of the free will. These souls are naturally located between the Chit-jagat and Mayik-jagat. Those who chose to serve their God were protected from fall by the interference of the hladini attribute of the supreme chit-shakti. They have been admitted as eternal servant of the Deity in various ways. They know not the troubles of Maya and her Karma-chakra or the rotative principle of Mayic action and its result. Those who wanted to enjoy were grasped by Maya from the other side. They are in Maya’s Karma-chakra ending only when they again see their original position as servants of the Deity. These souls whether liberated from Maya or enthralled by her are separate responsible beings depending on the Deity. Hari is the Lord of Maya who serves Him at His pleasure. The soul or Jiva is so constructed as to be liable to be enthralled by Maya in consequence of want of power when unassisted by the Hladini Shakti of the Deity. Hence there is a natural and inherent distinction between God and Jiva, which no pantheistic maneuver can annihilate. Please avoid the misleading question when were these Jivas created and enthralled? The Mayic time has no existence in spiritual history because it has its commencement after the enthralment of Jivas in matter and you cannot, therefore, employ Mayic chronology-in matters like these.
- Certain souls are engrossed by Prakriti or illusory energy. Prakriti, God’s Maya, Pradhan, Prapancha and Avidya are different names of the same principle on account of its different phases and attributes. Maya is not an independent shakti from the Svarup Shakti. She is simply a reflected and outward Phase of the power serving God in executing His penal orders on those who become ungrateful to Him. In fact Maya is in charge of God’s house of correction. Those Jivas in abusing their free will, forgot that they were eternal servants of the Deity and thought of enjoying for themselves were grasred by Maya for their penal servitude and correction. Maya has three attributes Satwa, Raja and Tamas. Those attributes are just like chains used to tie up ungrateful souls. Maya then applied a double case on the spiritual of the soul. The double case is described by-the words linga and sthul. The Mayik existence has twenty four substances: the five elements:— the earth, the water, the fire, the air, and the firmament; the five properties the sound, the touch, the sight, the taste and the smell, and ten Indrias i. e. the five senses; the eye, the ear, the nose, the tongue and the touch and five working organs such as hands, legs etc. These twenty form the sthul or outer case. The mana, the buddhi, the chitta and the ahankar i. e. the mind, the understanding, the attention and the perverted ego, compose the linga deha or the inner case. Then after encasing the spiritual form of the soul Maya employs the fallen souls to work, Mayik work is composed of Karma, A Karma and Vikarma. Karma is conventionally good action done to obtain punya or virtue such as performance of duties enjoined by the Varnasrama dharma of the Smartas. Akarma is ommission to duty. Vikarma is sin or crime. Karma procures heavenly elevation upto the Brahma-loke. Akarma gives an unpleasant state on earth. Vikarma hurls down souls to hell. The fallen souls travel from body to body with their linga deha doing Karma or Vikarma, rising up to the heavens and again coming down at the exhaustion of their virtues, going down to hell and after suffering punishment, again rising up to the platform of work. Thus the state of the fallen souls is deplorable in the extreme. There they enjoy and suffer, massacre and murder, and go on in this state, sometimes smiling as princes and sometimes ruing as sufferers. The world is, therefore, a prison or a house of correction and not a place for enjoyment as some people assert.
- Certain souls are released from the grasp of Prakriti. Jivas are travelling in the path of Mayik existence from time out of mind experiencing all sorts of pleasure and pain. How to get rid of this unpleasant state of existence? No, dharma, performance of duty, yoga, development of powers of the sthul and the linga, sankhya, or the division of substances under their categories and simple knowledge that one is a spiritual being, and vairagya (abnegation) giving up all enjoyments in the world, are not the proper means by which one can actually get what he wants. A man comes in contact with a Vaishnava, whose heart has been melted by Hari-bhakti rasa, it is then that he loves to imbibe the sweet principle of Bhakti by following his holy foot-steps, by constant study of Krishna-Bhakti. He slowly washes off his mayik condition and in the end obtaining his true nature he enjoys the sweetest unalloyed rasa which is the ultimatum of the soul. Satsanga or the company of the spiritual people is the only means to obtain the ultimate object of man. Bhakti is a principle which comes from soul to soul and like electricity or magnetism in gross matter, it conducts itself from one congenial soul to another. The principle of Bhakti is sincere and entire dependence on the Deity in every act of life. The principle of duty is no part of Bhakti as it acts as gratitude for favour obtained and it works like an obligation which is contrary to natural love. The principle of morality in the mortal world, though good in its own way does scarcely give spiritual consequence in the end. Faith in the supreme beauty of the Deity, a desire for the eternal unselfish service of that Being and a consequent repulsion of every other thought of pleasure or self-aggrandizement are the three principles which constitute Shraddha or actual hankering after Bhakti. Bhakti by nature is ananya or exclusive. Is it chance then which brings Bhakti? No Sukriti or good work is the prime moving principle. Good work is of two classes. One class, passing as morals, includes those works which bring virtue and aggrandizement. The other class of good work includes all acts which have a tendency to bring spiritual culture. This latter class of good work or sukriti brings one in contact with a sincere Vaishnav from whom the man at first imbibes sraddha or faith in spirit and being then capable of receiving Bhakti obtains a flash of that principle from the Vaishnav who is the actual Guru of the man.
- All spiritual and material phenomena are Achintya Bhedabhed prokash of Hari the Almighty. Metaphysical discussions are perfectly useless. The Vedas go sometimes to establish that Jiva is distinct from the Deity and sometimes that Jiva is the same as the Deity. In fact the Vedas always tell the truth. Jiva is simultaneously distinct from and identical with God. This is not understood by the rationalist. Hence it must be said that in exercise of his powers beyond human comprehension. God is distinct from Jiva and the world and again identical with them at all times. The Vedanta teaches us the Shakti-parinamvad and not the erroneous Vivartavad of Shankaracharya. Shankar’s teachings are explained in different ways. Some say that the world and Jiva have emanated from God and others establish that Jiva and the world are but developements of the God-head. Sankar inorder to avoid Brahma parinam i.e. transformation of the God-head into the world establishes that Vyas teaches us Vivartavad which is this, that God undergoes no change whatever, but it is Maya which covers a part of the Deity, (Just as a pot encloses a part of the firmament) creates the world; or that God is reflected in avidya or ignorance, while in fact nothing else than God has yet come to existence. These are worthless and abstruse arguments. It is plain that the Vedanta teaches us that God is unchangeable and is never subject to modifications. His power alone creates Jiva and the material world by its own parinam (modification). The example is in the action of the Alchemist’s stone the power of which comes in the form of gold while the stone remains unchanged. Chit-shakti goes in the form of the Chit-jagat with all its particularities of eternal rasa and Jiv-shakti goes in the form of innumerable Jivas, some staying in Vaikuntha as parshadas or angels and others moving in this world in various shapes and forms and under very different circumstances. Mayashakti creates numerous world for the habitations and entertainments of the fallen souls. Vibhartavad is no doubt an error and is quite oppossd to the teachings of the Vedas. Now Shakti parinamvad alone is true and supports the fact that spiritual love is eternal. If Vibhartavad were true the natural consequence would be to declare spiritual love to be a temporary principle.
- Bhakti is the only means of attaining the final object of spiritual existence. Karma as it is, cannot directly and immediaely produce spiritual result. When it does, it does by means of Bhakti. Hence Bhakti is independent and Karma and Gyan are dependent principles. Gyan or the knowledge, that man is a spiritual being, cannot directly bring the ultimate object. When it does, it does with the assistance of Bhakti. Bhakti, therefore, is the only means to obtain the ultimatum. Bhakti is thus defined. Bhakti is cultivation of a friendly sentiment for Krishna, free from all desires other than those for its own improvements, unalloyed by such other ingredients as Karma and Gyan &c.. It will be seen that Bhakti is itself both a feeling and an action. Bhakti has three stages, viz., Sadhan bhakti, Bhab bhakti, and Prem Sadhan bhakti is that stage of culture when the feeling has not yet been roused. In Bhab bhakti the feeling awaken, and in Prem bhakti the feeling is fully set to action. Bhakti is a spiritual feeling towards the spiritual object of love. Sadhan bhakti is of two sorts, one is called the Vaidha sadhan Bhakti and the other is Raganuga Sadhan, bhakti. The word Vaidha is from Vidhi or rule. Where Bhakti is to be roused by the rule of the Shastras, there the Vaidhi bhakti works as long as the feeling is not roused. Where one out of natural tendency loves Krishna. there is a principle called Rag, which is no other than a strong desire to serve the lord of the heart. One who is tempted by the beauty of this process to follow him, has a tendency to cultivate his feeling for Krishna. This is Raganuga Sadhan bhakti. This latter class of Sadhan is stronger than the ‘Vaidhi sadhan.’ Cultivation of the friendly feeling for Krishna is performed in nine different forms.
- To hear of spiritual name, form, attribute and lila of Krishna. 2. To utter and sing all those. 3. To meditate on and reiterate all those. Service of His Holy feet. 4. Worship. 5. Bowing down. 6. Doing all that pleases Him. 7. Friendship. 8. Resignation. Of all these forms Kirtan or singing the name etc. of Krishna is the best. Humble knowledge is necessary in these forms of worship and fruitless discussions must be avoided. There are some who start at the theory of worshipping “Srimurti”! Oh they say It is idolatry to worship “Srimurti”! Srimurti is an idol framed by an artist and introduced by no other than Beelzebub himself. Worshipping such an object would rouse the jealousy of God and limit His Omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence. We would tell them, Brethren! Candidly understand the question and do not allow yourself to be misled by sectarian dogmas. God is not jealous, as he is without a second. Beelzebub or Satan is no other than an object of imagination or the subject of an allegory. An allegorical or imaginary being should not be allowed to act as an obstacle to Bhakti. Those who believe God to be impersonal, simply identify Him with some power or attribute in nature, though in fact He is above nature, her laws and rules. His Holy wish is law and it would be sacrilege to confine His unlimited excellence by identifying Him with such attributes as omnipotence, omnipresence and omniscience, attributes which may exist in created objects such as time, space His excellence consists in having in Him mutually contradicting powers and attributes ruled by His Supernatural Self. He is identical with His All beautiful person having such powers as omnipresence, omniscience and omnipotence, the like of which cannot be found elsewhere. His Holy and perfect person exists eternally in the spiritual world and at the same time existing in every created object and place in all its fulness. This idea excels all other ideas of the Deity. Mahaprabhu rejects idolatry as well, but considers Srimurti worship to be the only unexceptionable means of spiritual culture. It has been shown that God is personal and All- Beautiful. Sages like Vyas and others have seen that beauty in their soul’s eye. They have left us descriptions. Of course word carries grossness of matter, but truth still is perceivable in those descriptions. According to those descriptions one delineates a Srimrti and sees the Great God of our heart there with intense pleasure! Brethren! is that wrong or sinful. Those who say that God has no form either material or spiritual and again imagine a false form for worship are certainly idolatrous. But those who see the spiritual form of the Deity in there soul’s eye, carry that impression as far as possible to the mind and then frame an emblem for the satisfaction of the material eye for continual study of the higher feeling are by no means idolatrous. While seeing a Srimurti do not even see the image itself but see the spiritual model of the image and you are a pure theist. Idolatry and Srimurti worship are two different things; but my brethren you simply confound one with the other out of hastiness. To tell you the truth, Srimurti worship is the only true worship of the Deity, without which you cannot sufficiently cultivate your religious feelings. The world attracts you through your senses and as long as you do not see God in the objects of your senses, you live in an awkward position which scarcely helps you in procuring your spiritual elevation. Place a Srimurti in your house. Think that God Almighty is the guardian of the house. The food that you take is His Prasad. The flower and scents are also His Prasad. The eye, the ear, the nose, the touch and the tongue all have a spiritual culture. You do it with a holy heart and God will know it and judge you by your sincerity. Satan and Beelzebub will have nothing to do with you in that rather all sorts of worship are based on the principle of Srimurti. Look into the history of religion and you will come to this noble truth. The Semitic idea of a patriarchal God both in the pre-christian period of Christianity and Mohammadinism is nothing but a limited idea of Srimurti. The monarchic idea of a love amongst the Ariyan Karma-kandis is also a distant view of the same principle. The idea of a force and Jotirmaya Brahma of the meditators and a formless energy of the Shaktas is also a very faint view of the Srimurti. In fact the principle of Srimurti is the truth itself differently exhibited in different people according to their different phases of thought. Even Jaimini and Comte who are not prepared to accept a creating God, have prescribed certain phases of the Srimurti, simply because they have been impelled by some inward action from the soul! Then again we meet with people who have adopted the cross, the Salgram Shila, the lingam and such like emblems as indicators of the inward idea of Srimurti. Furthermore, if the Divine compassion, love and justice could be portrayed by the pencil and expressed by the Chisel why should not the personal beauty of the Deity embracing all other attributes be portrayed in poetry or in picture or expressed by the chisel for the benefit of man? If words could impress thoughts, the watch could indicate time and sign could tell us a history, why should not the picture or figure bring association of higher thoughts and feelings with regard to the transcendental beauty of the Divine Personage? Srimurti worshipers are divided into two classes, the ideal and the physical. Those of the physical school are entitled from their circumstances of life and state of the mind to establish temple institutions. Those who are by circumstance and position entitled to worship the Srimurti in mind have, with due deference to the temple institutions, a tendency to worship usually by Sraban and Kirtan, and their church is universal and independent of caste and colour. Mahaprabhu prefers this latter class and shews their worship in his Shikshastak, printed as an appendix to Precepts. Worship then without intermission with a feeling of resignation and in a very short time you will be blessed with Prem.
- Prem in God is the final object of spiritual. The Karma-margis declare that enjoyment in this world and in the hereafter is all that requires. Karma or action is of two sorts i.e. Karma done with a view to obtain material result and Karma done with a view to please God. With the Karma-margis both sects of Karma have the object of procuring enjoyment. Here is the line of demarcation between Bhakti and Karma. Bhakti aims at procuring the principle of Priti or prem Bhakti as the final result of all action; while Karma aims at self-enjoyment as the ultimate , action. The Gyan-Margis on the other hand cultivate Gyan or spiritual knowledge to obtain Mukti or salvation as the final aim of cultivation. Mukti is defined to be of two sorts. In one sort of Mukti total absorption lof the soul in God is effected i.e. annihilation of the separate existence of the soul from God. In the other sort of Mukti the soul stands eternally separate from God and when salvation ensues, the soul goes to “Chit-jagat” obtaining salokya or residence in the Chit region of the Deity, sarupya or residence closely by the Deity, sarupya or attainment of a spiritual form like that of God Himself, and sarsti or attainment of powers similar to the powers of God. The latter class of mukti is inevitable when it pleases the Almighty to grant us that State. But then after obtaining that Mukti we serve with priti or pure Love. The first sort of mukti is rejected by the Bhaktas as not worth taking in consequence of its tendency to annihilate the highest principle of love. The second class of mukti cannot be the ultimate object as it acts like an intermediate condition of the soul, Priti there acting as the ultimatum. Mukti therefore, must be treated an intermediate result of our spiritual disenthrallment. Besides that a hankering after mukti spoils the action of spiritual cultivation, being a strong desire for something else than the improvement of “Bhakti”. It has a tint of selfishness which is not in keeping with the unselfish principle of pure “Bhakti”. We must therefore cultivate Bhakti being always from the two contending principle i,e. a desire for Bhakti or selfish enjoyment and desire for Mukti or salvation. We must depend on Krishna to give us mukti or not as it pleases Him. We must pray for continual development of our religious sentiment bhakti alone. Priti or pure love is the final object of our own existence. Rati as explained above is the unit of the principle of pure spiritual love of Krishna. Mixed up ullas (zeal) it becomes priti. Priti creates exclusive love in Krishna and repulsion for things and persons other than Krishna and His connections. When the idea that Krishna is my own is added to priti it becomes prem. Here commences the idea that God is my own Lord and I am His servant. Add confidence to prem and it becomes Pranaya. Here arises the relation of friendship with Krishna. In pranay the idea of respect loses its hold. Add to pranay the idea that Krishna is my exclusive and dearest object of love and it curiously turns out into man. Krishna with all his gratefulness and power exhibits a sort of submission to it. Excessive melting of the heart being added, prem turns out to be sneha. Here ensues the relation of a son and parents, between Krishna and the worshiper. In this stage too much weeping for Krishna, want of satiety with communion and a desire to watch the interests of Krishna naturally occur. Desire added to Sneha is Rag. In this stage a moment’s separation is unbearable. Here commences the relation of husband and wife between Krishna and the worshiper Distress attending upon want of mutual interview is happiness. Rag again seeing its object as new at very moment, and being itself new at every moment converts itself into anurag. In this stage reciprocal subjection and a strong desire to accompany the lover everywhere are the principal features. Anurag infinitely rising in an astonishing state, amounting as if to madness, becomes mahabhab. This is indescribable! From rati to mahabhab, the whole principle is what we have called sthayi-bhab. Added to vibhab anubhab, satwika, and samchari the sthayi-bhab becomes Krishna-prem rasa the eternal ecstasy or beatitude. We have a perverted picture of this noble rasa in human life, as human life in the thraldom of maya is but a perverted reflection of the spiritual life. When the soul alone acts towards its proper object, the spiritual hero Krishna, the rasa is pure , when the mind and the senses act upon a wrong object, rasa is degraded and becomes hateable. The perverted rasa gives clue to the idea of the noble spiritual rasa to man in general; hence these arguments and descriptions have been attempted in words which correspond with words directly meaning the features of the perverted rasa. We ask our readers to take care to make a nice distinction between spirit and gross matter, otherwise a fall is inevitable. One who studies the name, forms, attributes and the lila of Krishna as described in the Srimad Bhagabat with a sincere heart, mind and strength in the company of one who has realized the spirit, is expected to know it by the influence of bhakti. One who is apt to rationalize everything closely does scarcely acquire the truth in matters of spirit, as by law of God reason in its present state can never reach the sphere of the spirit. It is needless to go further on this subject. Those who will have the opportunity to go as far as we have stated, will make a further enquiry from their heart and the All Beautiful Lord will then help them to realize the spirit and to rise higher and higher in its realm. But as long as the mind is confounded with spirit there is no way to rise beyond matter and its relations. The great mistake that most of the western philosophers have generally made is to identify the mind, the perverted ego (ahankar) with the soul or spirit. We are sorry for that.
To summarise, man in his present state has three different principles in One sthul principle or gross matter composing his body. The linga principle or sublimated matter appearing in the form of mind, attention, rationality and the perverted ego by which one confounds himself with the material world. This state has been caused by the influence of Maya or the illusory energy with the object of correcting the soul in his wrong intention to enjoy, in consequence of forgetfulness of his nature as God’s servant. Man in fact is solely independent of Maya and her connections. The only way to get rid of the present difficulty is the influence of pure bhakti imbibed from a true bhakta. Bhakti as a means elevates the man upto the All-beautiful Krishna and again, as an end, maintains him with eternal Krishna-prem. While located in the Mayik world man must live peacefully with the object of cultivating the spirit. In his society he must lead a pure life. Avoid sins and do as much good as he can to his brother man. He must be himself humble, bearing difficulties of life with heroism, must not brag of any goodness or grandeur, he has and must treat every one with respect due to him. Marriage with a view to peaceful and virtuous; life and with a view to procreate servants of the Lord is a good institution for a Vaishnab. Spiritual cultivation is the main object of life. Do everything that helps it and abstain from doing anything which thwarts the cultivation of the spirit. Have a strong faith that Krishna alone protects you and none else. Admit him as your only guardian. Do everything which you know that Krishna wishes you to do and never think that you do a thing independent of the Holy wish of Krishna. Do all that you do with humility. Always remember that you are a sojourner in this world and you must be prepared for your own home. Do your duties and cultivate bhakti as a means to obtain the great end of life, Krishnapriti. Employ your body, mind and spirit in the service of the Deity. In all your actions, worship your Great Lord.”
To enable our noble readers to get a glimpse into the life of Thakur Bhakti-Vinode, and to form an idea of the philosophy of the school of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, we place this account in their esteemed hands and rely on them to help us in the further propagation of religion, which our Thakur proved to mankind to be the supreme of all the religions of the world and the only religion of the soul.