Performing Research Activities on ancient manuscripts and artifacts to reveal the art and culture prevailing during the time of Bhakti Movement in India 550 years back. Eminent scholars from different relevant domains have participated to perform this noble work. Read More
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Prabhupad, founder of Gaudiya Mission and the most illustrious follower of his mentor-father Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur, was a Vaishnava-saint in the truest meaning of the term. Not only was he a great scholar and organizing genius, he was blessed with all the Vaishnava virtues like compassion, humility, magnanimity and divine love. The more one learns about him and his achievements in the field of revival of true Vaishnavism in his short life span of sixty three years, the more astounded one becomes of his versatile genius and unparalleled spiritual stature.
Born as the fourth child of Keder Nath Dutta, later known to the world as Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur on 6th February, 1874 at the Purushottama Kshetra (Puri), he was named Bimala Prasad, meaning “the mercy of the transcendental potency of Lord Jagannath”. Miracles occurred at various phases of his life. People were struck with wonder and admiration when a garland from the neck of Lord Jagannath fell on him during the chariot festival. He was then only six months’ old. The convoy of chariots had somehow remained stalled in front of Bimala Prasad’s home at Narayanchhata for three days. On that very spot, his father offered him Mahaprasada to perform his “annaprasana” (first rice) ceremony. It was as early as nine years when he was given “mantra” by his father and taught how to follow the ritual of worship for the Deity of Sri Kurma Devi who had manifested herself in the house of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur at Rambagan in Calcutta (Kolkata).
Bimalaprasad was an exceptionally brilliant student and his teachers marvelled at his mastery of Sanskrit and Bangali. Mathematics and Astrology were his favourite subjects. He was conferred the title Sri Sriddhanta Saraswati by his teachers in recognition of his scholarship in different subjects including holy scriptures. Bimalaprasad was given “Harinama” (the holy name) the ‘Tulsimala’ (rosary) as well as Sri Nrisinha Mantra. From then on Srila Saraswati Thakur started assisting his ‘Guru’ and father in preaching the holy name of Lord Krishna and participating in the deliberations of “Visva Vaishnava Raja-Sabha” (the great assembly of Vaishnavas from all over the world.
In 1892 Srila Saraswati Thakur enrolled himself in Sanskrit collage, Calcutta, and shortly became famous as a debater. The tug of spirituality weaned him away from academic activities, but his reputation as an astrologer earned him the chair of Astronomy at Calcutta University at the instance of the then Vice-chancellor Asutosh Mukherjee. He also served the princely state of Tripura as a tutor of the royal family.
Finally the devotional life started manifesting itself fully. He had his Bhagavati Diksha (Initiation) from Gourkishor Das Babaji, a Vaishnava Saint of a very high order, in 1900 at the instance of Bhaktivinode Thakur. Shortly after he went on a pilgrimage to Remuna via Baleswar to have a “darshan” of Khirchora Gopinath and then to Puri. In 1902 when Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur established his “Bhajan Kutir” near the ‘Samadhi’ of Srila Haridasa Thakur, Srila Saraswati Thakur used to read and explain the Chaitanya Charitamrita to the audience. He also started compiling materials for Vaishnava Manjusa, a Vashnava encyclopedia.
Following his pilgrimage to holy places like Himachal, Rajmahendri, Madras, Perumvudur, Tirupati, Kanjivram, Kumbhakanon, Sri Sangam, Madurai etc, Srila Saraswati Thakur began preaching Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s message at Mayapur. He was instrumental in effecting a change in the 19th century elite Bengali mindset which strictly followed the “Vasnashram dharma” and establishing the principle of “daivivarnashramadharma” which placed a devotee above caste and class.
In 1918 Srila Saraswati took ‘Sanyas’ (renunciation) on March 7, 1918. On the day of Advent of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu at Sri Mayapur, strictly in accordance with vedic rites. It was on the same day Srila Prabhupada set up Sri Chaitanya Math where the images of Sri Radhagovinda and Sri Chaitanya were installed. In November 1918 Srila Prabhupad established Bhaktivinode Asan at Ultadanga in Calcutta a year later, Visva Vaishnava Raja Sabha was established in the city.
Then, one after anther the Gaudiya Math at Dacca, Sri Purushottam Math at Puri were established Preaching continued all over the country including Vraja Mandal, West and South Inida, Nabadwip Calcutta and East Bengal, not in that order Though. Under his guidance and inspiring leadership, publication of Vaishnava scriptures, magazines and journals started at regular intervals. Srila Prabhupad Sent a preaching mission to the West in the 1930s.
Srila Prabhupada was not only an intellectual and spiritual giant. He was also a great teacher who trained his disciples in the nuances of scriptures and how to preach them among the people at large. He was the living example of austerity and inmates of Gaudiya Math imbibed the spirit of austerity, simplicity, humble service to all beings and adherence to strict devotional regime under his tutelage.
The members of the elite and the common people were equally inspired by his presence and elevating speeches and discourses. Vice-chancellors, university professor civil servants, lawyers and the upper classes of society sought his advice on spiritual matters. He was one of the busiest persons of his time, yet the among the most serene and composed. He was against wasting time and urged his disciples to expend every iota of energy to serve at the Lotus feet of the Lord. It was the first day of the year 1937, that Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Prabhupad left this mundane world to be united with his Creator, Lord Krishna, It was 5.30 AM. and a Thursday. His mortal body was interned in his Samadhi at Nabadwip as devotees chanted his favourite pronam mantra—“Nama Om Vishnu—padaya Krishna Presthaya Bhutale Srimate Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswathi Namine.”
Prabhupada may not be physically among us, but his ever shining examples of living, loving, teaching and making steady progress to the realization of the Godhead continue to guide the Gaudiya Mission and its legion of monks, brahmacharis, devotees and disciples striving for ever to live up to the teachings of universal love and compassion for all which Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, propagated.
For the vaisnavas, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is the reincarnation of Lord Krishna, manifesting the “Madhuryya” aspects of Srimati Radharani. Even among the non-Vaisnavas, his stature is virtually unequalled. While some scholars have described him as the greatest son Bengal has ever produced, to some others he remains the tallest figure of the ‘bhakti’ cult in his contemporary India and even beyond till date. He was a scholar extra-ordinary, starting his own ‘tole’ or teaching centre at an astoundingly early age of sixteen years. But he did not take a moment to shake off the baggage of dry knowledge when the all-consuming passion for Lord Krishna swelled in his heart after his visit to Gaya and initiation with “dashakshar Gopal mantra” (ten-letter mantra in the name of Gopal to be repeated with every breath) from Iswarapuri. His taking ‘sanyas’ (renunciation of the world to embrace the life of a monk) from Keshabananda Bharati at Katwa at the age of 23 years and 11th months was the most defining moment of his life as he left Sachimata and wife, Vishnupriya, at the dead of night to seek out his beloved Krishna and unite with him.
Mahaprabhu’s “leela” was evident at several locations including Nabadwip, Srikshetra, Puri, the Deccan and Sri Vrindavan. At Nabadwip he would take out Harinam Sankirtan in the company of his close associates (Parshads) including Nityananda Mahaprabhu, Advaita Acharyya, Sribas Acharyya and others. The flow of pure devotion gradually developed into a strong surge and engulfed thousand of fallen souls to deliver them of the impurities and imperfections and lead them in the derection of the Godhead. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu spent sixteen years of his life at Puri where he would befriend intellectual and devotional stalwarts like Basudeva Sarbabhouma, Kashi Mishra, among others. The King Pratap Rudradev himself came to regard him as the Lord Krishna reappeared.
Sri Chaitanya would sing hymns in praise of Lord Jagannatha and sing and dance ecstatically during the festivals like Chandanyatra, Rathayatra etc. it was as the ‘Tota’ or garden of Kashi Mishra that he had his holy residence.
Mahaprabhu’s ‘leela’ was manifested in his acts like “Kaji Dalan” (facing up to the diktat of Chand Kazi, the Nabadwip ruler, to stop Sankirtana), ‘Jagai-Madhai Uddhar’ or winning over rogues like the brothers, Jagai and Madhai, who ware also influential Government officials. Mahaprabhu’s influence in Bengal was so great that two senior officials in the court of Gauda’s ruler Hussein Shah—Davir Khas and Sakar Mullick—who were rechristened Rupa and Sanatana Goswami—became his disciples. These two brothers later led the revitalization of vaisnavism at Sri Vrindavan through writing, preaching and meditating. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu preached love and universal brotherhood which in one stroke broke down the barriers of castes creed and religion. Haridas Thakur, born a Muslim, was one of his greatest followers and he occupies a high place in the Vaisnava pantheon.
Harinam Mahamantra is the greatest gift of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to the mankind, as he said, ‘In this age of Kali, the name of Hari is the only say to salvation’.
Gaudiya Mission caries forward this legacy of Sri Chaitanya through humility, and totally dedicated service to the Lord and service to the suffering humanity.
A momentous event is going to take place in the annals of the city of Kolkata. Of course, it is of significance only to those who believe in God , his various incarnations, spirituality, and above all, in the sweet and all-pervading philosophy of “bhakti” or pure devotion and love for the Supreme Lord.
For the first time after more than four decades the streets of Central and North Kolkata will be reverberated with the soul purifying sound of the -
“Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krisha Hare Hare
Hare Ram Hare Ram Ram Ram Hare Hare.”
-mahamantra in the morning of 8th March, 2015. Devotees will go in the Sankirtan or procession with the Name (of God) from Sahid Minar maidan to Baghbazar Bhagini Nivedita Udyan via Lenin Sarani, Raja Subodh Malick Street , Bidhan Sarani and Baghbazar Street. The occasion is the celebration of the 529th Advent Anniversary of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Gaudiya Mission Baghbazar in association with ISKCON and People’s Forum for Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, is organising this great event which was a regular annual feature in the city in the 1960s and early 1970s when morality, spirituality or words of this genre had really meant something for the people.
On 9th March a two-day National Conference will begin at Bhagini Nivedita Udyan on the Subject “ Contribution of Sri Chaitananya Mahprabhu on Indian Philosophy and Culture”. The two day conference will be graced by senior monks from Gaudiya Mission ISKCON, Ramkrishna Mission, Bharat Sevashram Sangha, some other Gaudiya Sects as well as a galaxy of intellectuals and scholars.
Hon’ble Governor of West Bengal, Sri Keshari Nath Tripathi, is scheduled to address a special session as Chief Guest on 10th March. There will be an exhibition of books, paintings and artifacts as well as a fair where both devotees and common people will intermingle and enjoy some memorable time.
For the people of Kolkata the occasion is going to gift them an opportunity to take a fresh look at life and make a choice between crash materialism and devotion for God or at least to soak in an atmosphere of bliss and pure happiness.
The vaisnavas, whenever and wherever they meet, greet one another with just two words, “Hare Krishna”. These are for the vaisnavas, the most revered, most powerful and about the only meaningful, words they can think of. It we split the words, just for the sake of etymology, we will get ‘Hare’ which is the eighth from of declension (sambodhan or address) of the word “Hari”, the all-powerful, the all-knowing, the all-encompassing Supreme Being. It is from Hari that everything emanates—from the lowest of the life forms or inanimate objects to the mightiest of gods including Brahma, Shiva, Indra and the rest and everything disappears into. “Krishna” is also Hari in all his magnificant aspects, but above all, in the form of the one who loves most and is loved most. “Harekrishna” thus encapsulates the quintessential vaisnava philosophy of worship coupled with sublime love. This love again is best reflected in the form of Radharani, or ‘Radhe’ in which form her name is lovingly and reverentially chanted by vaisnavas in recognition of her unique status as the consort of the Lord. If Hare Krishna symbolizes the life breath of vaisnavas, “Radhe Radhe” brings home to them the ultimate devotional prayer form, for they all aspire to taste the love of the Paramapurusha Krishna in the Radha manifestation.
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who was Lord Krishna Himself taking on the aspects of Radharani to taste the indescribable spiritual yearning of Her to be united with Krishna, gifted this ‘Hare Krishna’ mahamantra to all and Sunday. He personally led the Harinam Sankirtana in the streets of Nabadwip and in such congregation everybody could take part from the high-caste Brahmin to the lowly so-called untouchables. Biographical accounts of Mahaprabhu suggest that he knew himself to be Lord Krishna reappeared, but would not let it be known publicly. He would, instead, propagate “Hare Krishna” Mahamantra for the deliverance of the fallen souls.
It is this panacea against all the worldly and evils that Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur Prabhupad had rediscovered and re-affirmed in the early parts of the last century through the establishment Gaudiya Mission. His father, Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur, had sown the seeds by clearing the jungles of distorted and harmful forms of religiosity in the last part of the nineteenth century. ‘Hare Krishna’, Srila Thakur and Prabhupad, had forecast would one day emerge as the most cosmopolitan spiritual ‘mantra’ and unite the world as the citizens of one abode: the Lotus feet of Lord Krishna.
The temple that is at the centre of all ritual and spiritual activities at Gaudiya Mission, Baghbazar, is called Sri Sri Gaur Radha Binodanandaji Temple. It was founded by Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Prabhupad in 1930. Built in the typical Vaisnava temple architecture of “Garbhagriha” (Sanctum sanctorum) made of marble with eight side spires and a main central spire, this temple is a visual treat. As one stands facing the three deities of Lord Krishna in the middle, flanked by Srimati Radharani to the left and Sri Goursundar at the right, one is struck with indescribable joy and serenity at the sheer effulgence of the beauty of the deities. The ‘Bigrahas’are worshipped almost throughout the day, starting with ‘Ushakirtan’ and ‘Aarati’ at 4 A.M. The ‘Aarati’ at midday and in the evening and the Kirtana in the evening are open to public. The devotees congregate at the Natyamandra during the ‘Aarati’ sessions and take part in various activities relating to “Archan” (worship) like making garlands. The morning session of pathas or reading of Vaisnava Scriptures attended by the monastic members, the rhythmic dance along with ‘Kirtan’ during “garatis” are a really treat for the devotees.
Various Vaisnava festivals like Janmastami, Dolyatra and Chandanyatra are celebrated at this temple. All the basic purposes Srila Prabhupad wanted Gaudiya Mission to serve like totally dedicated service to the Supreme Lord and to spread Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s teachings are being fully implemented in the activities of the Sri Gaur Radha Binodanandaji temple.
Gaudiya Mission is now setting up the World’s first museum on Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu with all modern communication methhods. It will showcase the life and times of Mahaprabhu, detailed accounts of his pan. India pilgrimage and spiritual attainments, the memorabilia pertaining to him and his close associates as well as digital panoramic presentation of Gaudiya philosophy and art forms. Read More
“Jive Daya” or mercy for all beings, is one of the main tenets of the Vaishnava cult. This is a virtue which is assumed to be natural in a Vaishnav. One cannot be termed a vaishnav without this attribute despite all the external marks of a devotee he may display. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has expounded the theory of “Jive Daya”, “Name Ruchi”, “Vaishnav Sevan” (Mercy for all Beings, Taste for Nama and Service to Vaishnavas). There is however, one important thing to remember. “Jive Daya” applies only to “Baddhajiva” or the one who is circumscribed by the apparent reality. Even among the “Baddhajivas” there are those who have been blessed with the association of Sri Krishna. It has been advised that they may be treated with a feeling of friendship. Therefore, only those among the “Baddhajivas” who are devoid of any sense (Mudha) should be shown mercy. Mercy or kindness is the name of that soft feeling which is aroused in the heart of a Vaishnav at the sufferings of ‘Jiva’. A being suffers when he discriminates in the forms of the material world. Want, ailments, punishments and compulsions are all the sufferings of the ‘Sthuladeha’ (material body) of the “Jiva”. The ‘Jiva’ who looks up to Krishna, gradually shakes off all the shackles of such sufferings and enjoys being in the company of Krishna.
The more he finds himself in a position of advantage, the more he commiserates with the agony of other suffering beings. He feels within himself an urge to rid the other Beings of such sufferings. He then makes every effort to arouse other’s devotion in ‘Krishnanama’. It is in the nature of every Vaishnava. A being longs for Krishna only when his destiny takes him along the divine path. To help ‘Jivas’ in that direction is the real meaning of the phrase “Jive Daya”.