Friday, 27 June 2014

Portrait - Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur appeared in 1838 in an aristrocratic family of Calcutta. He entered the Hindu School in 1856 at the University of Calcutta, where he studied the philosophical works of Kant, Goethe, Hizel, Swedenburg, Schopenhuer, Hume, Voltaire and others. Becoming first a school teacher, and then a Deputy Magistrate at the age of 28. Absorbed in the Caitanya-caritamrita and the Bengali translation of the Bhagavata, he became seriously engaged in the study of Lord Caitanya's religion in the company of the Vaishnavas at Dinajpur. In Puri he studied Jiva Goswami's Sadsandarbha, Baladeva Vidyabhusana's Govinda Bhasya, Prameyaratnavali, Rupa Goswami's Bhaktirasamrita Sindhu and Hari Bhaktikalpalatika, and other important Vaisnava literatures. Having mastered the philosophy of Gaudiya Vaishnavism, he wrote additional books in Sanskrit on Gaudiya Vaishnava philosophy. While taking charge of the Jagannath temple and teaching the philosophy. Thereafter he was posted to Bengal, and became known as a great Vaisnava Magistrate. Taking initiation, and strictly following the Vaisnava practices, he began the first Vaisnava newspaper.
While staying at Krishnager, he had a vision of a luminous building that filled him with wonder. With old maps and records in hand, he explored it the next day, and discovered there the birthplace of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, which was marked by a large mound covered in Tulasi plants. Shortly afterwards, he authored one of his most famous manuscripts, "Navadvipa Dhama Mahatmya", which glories all the holy sites within the circle of Navadvipa.
Bhaktivinoda Thakur re-established the pure Vaisnava doctrine by expounding the teachings of Lord Caitanya, which had been lost or forgotten over time. Those purporting to be follows of Mahaprabhu had come to think that Smarta ritualistic practices aimed at sense enjoyment were actually devotional service. Srila Bhaktivinoda overturned these practices, along with voidism grown from Buddhism and Shankar's teachings.
Before disappearing from this world in 1914, His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur had firmly re-established the mission of Lord Krsna Caitanya through the ongoing efforts of his son, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, who was the second in this succession of three nitya-siddha, maha-bhagvata shaktaveysa avataras in the Gaudiya Sampradya.