Early Pastimes of
His Divine Grace Om Vishnupad
বন্দে ভক্তিবিনোদং শ্রীগৌরশক্তিস্বরূপকম্ ।
vande bhaktivinodam sri-gaura-sakti-svarupakam
I offer my obeisance unto Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur, the embodiment of Sri Gaurasundar's potency. He is the king of all knowers of the scriptures of pure devotion and an ocean of the nectar of devotion to Srimati Radharani.
গুরুদং গ্রন্থদং গৈরধামদং নামদং মুদা
guru-dam grantha-dam gaura-dhama-dam nama-dam muda
"I perpetually offer my obeisance unto Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur. Guru-dam: he is the bestower of Sri Guru (Bhagavan Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur). Grantha-dam: he is the author of numerous commentaries, treatises, articles, novels and songbooks. Gaura-dhama-dam: he is the revealer of the abode of Sriman Mahaprabhu. Nama-dam: he is the giver of the Name. Bhakti-dam: he is the granter of pure devotion. Bhuri-dam: he is the bestower of an abundance of divine fortune."
মূকং করোতি বাচালং পঙ্গুং লঙ্ঘয়তে গিরিম্ ।
mukam karoti vachalam pangum langhayate girim
"The dumb can speak, the lame can climb a hill—all it takes is mercy from Gurudev."
First, I am giving my obeisance to my beloved Gurudev Om Vishnupad Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj, to all his associates, all his godbrothers and godsisters.
Today is a very auspicious day—I am paying my full obeisance at the lotus feet of Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur whose appearance day is today. Wherever he is now, I pray to him, "We are a fallen soul. Please, grant us an opportunity to serve your associates, to serve your guru-parampara, all your godbrothers, godsisters, all the guru-varga." We need such qualification and we can get it through him—by his mercy. We only pray for his mercy so that he may grant us some seva (service) opportunity.
Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur was born in Puri, Odisha, but Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur was born in Bengal, in Nadia district (the same district as Nabadwip). Sometimes, when we drive down the highway towards Ranaghat, we pass Badkulla, Taherpur, etc. and we also pass the place where Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur was born—it is near Govindapur, in a village called Ula (present Birnagar). Actually, Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur's birthplace is not occupied by Gaudiya Vaishnavs, it is occupied by some sahajiya group, that is why we do not go there so much. Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur also did not take care of that place properly because he was thinking not about that. If sahajiyas want to serve that place, let them serve it. He did not pay attention to that—he gave all his attention to Yogapith and preaching, going to temples, etc. In his life, Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur established sixty-four temples of Gaudiya Math, but he did not give so much attention to Ula. Anyhow, Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur appeared in the village of Ula, or present day Birnagar. The question is how Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur was born.
Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur's family actually came from Odisha. His father's name is Ananda-chandra Dutta. He was a very pious, religious man, and he got married here in Nadia district to a daughter of a big landlord named Sri Ishwar-chandra Mastauphi—his daughter's name was Srimati Jagan Mohini (Gurudev also gave one devotee the name Jaga Mohini, or Jagan Mohini—Jagan Mohini is actually the name of Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur's mother and it is also Radharani's name). When a man and a woman get married, the wife usually goes to live in her in-laws' house, and in Indian culture, especially here in Bengal, the tradition is such that when the girl becomes pregnant, they bring her to her parents' house. This culture is still going on.
So, Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur was actually born in his material uncle's house (his mama's house—'mama' means 'mother's brother' in Bengali). It happened today, on this date—the 18th day of Bhadra month in 1245. The current Bengali year is 1425, so it means it happened 180 years ago. When the baby was born, an astrologer told his parents that this baby would be a great scholar and a big personality. The father gave him the name Kedarnath Dutta.
When Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur was eleven years old, he lost his father and after that was brought up in his maternal uncle's house. At that time his grandfather (his mother's father—in Bengali there is 'pitamoha', paternal grandfather, and 'matamoha', maternal grandfather, but in English it is the same) lived in a big building and was an important zamindar (landlord); many people would always come to see that building. Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur had two elder brothers, but they also died. When Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur was five years old, he started to study, and he studied very well. When he was nine years old, he started to study astrological sastras, and by the time he was eleven-twelve years old, he knew all Ramayana and Mahabharata. When he was twelve years old, he was married—his wife's age was five years old at that time.
In his childhood, everybody would often scare him with ghosts. There was a mango garden house near the place where he lived, but he could not even go there to pick the ripe mango because everybody told him there was a ghost there. One day, he asked a lady, "Why cannot I climb the mango trees? I want to pick some mangoes, but they say there are many ghosts there." The lady advised him to take the name of Lord Rama. Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur went to the mango grove chanting, "Ram, Ram" and he was not afraid. From that time he started chanting and worshipping Lord Rama's Name. As a boy, he also once asked a pujari, "Why does the Deity not talk?" The pujari said, "It is Kali-yuga, Deities do not speak in Kali-yuga." Sometimes, he would also go to the temple of Lord Siva—he would put his head on Lord Siva's head (on top of a Siva linga) and quickly run away. Sometimes, he would also shout something and when the echo reverberated, he would say, "Oh, the Deity is talking!" He was very attached to Deities and spiritual life from his childhood. Later, he moved to Kolkata. He stayed with one of his relatives named Kashi Prasad Ghosh and studied at a college. At that time, Ishwar-chandra Vidyasagar, a very prominent educated person of the time, treated him with very much affection.
In 1858 Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur went to Odisha, after that he got a job of a head teacher in Midnapore disctrict. His monthly salary was 45 rupees at that time. He also lived in Bhadrak, a city that we also pass on the way to Puri. There, he wrote an English book called 'Maths of Odisha.' He visited Saksi Gopal, Bhuvaneshwar, and all the places in Odisha. When he and his family were in Midnapore, his first wife got very ill and died leaving him a ten-month-old son. His mother, who was quite old at that time, was with him too, so Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur thought, "Who will take care of this child and of my mother? I have to get married again." He got married again—his second wife's name is Sri Bhagavati Devi, she was the mother of Sri Bimal Parasad who appeared in 1874 (he was the sixth son)...
So many pastimes happened in Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur's life, it is a very long history. We can speak about it more later. He also composed so many songs, so many books...
Jay Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur ki jay
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