Srila Bhaktivinoda’s Grief

We are now sitting in our bhajana-kutira in Sri Purusottama-ksetra. Why have we abandoned the capital of scholarship, the crowded and busy Calcutta, to escape to this far-off place? Some time back, when we had just started the publication of Sajjana-tosani, our heart was enlivened with hope: the more an unadulterated Vaisnava-dharma is promoted throughout the world, the more benefit its people would get. We took up our work with such honest intentions. Many learned gosvamis and babajis started coming from all different parts of Bengal to offer help. One impersonalist, a renowned scholar, joined us and, captivated by the beauty of suddha-bhakti, started manifesting pure Vaisnava behavior. On hearing the charming instructions on Vaisnava-dharma even mundaners were enchanted by suddha-bhakti. Those fond of music and song who were previously averse to God now submerged themselves wholeheartedly in the waves of suddha Hari-kirtana, continuously rejoicing at their good fortune. In towns and villages, devotional societies were established one after another. The pure Vaisnava faith manifested its glories in the hearts of almost every person in Bengal, astounding and delighting all by its natural splendor and sweetness.

Seeing such changes, beyond our boldest expectations, in the life of Bengal, our enthusiasm in preaching suddha-bhakti increased day by day. Unfortunately, at this very point the times and course of events suddenly altered. All those false religions that had hidden themselves hither and thither from the powerful rays of Vaisnava-dharma, just as glowworms hide from the rays of the sun, suddenly started crawling out from their hiding places, taking on new forms. Mayavada, the religion of the demons that for the time being had sunk into the abyss of forgetfulness, emerged once again in people’s conversations and discussions, this time camouflaged by the words of smrti and having taken refuge on the boat of brahmana scholars’ logic.

Following them, Mayavada’s accomplices, the yogis, appeared both in this country and abroad, causing confusion in the entire religious domain. From the other side, sensualists began causing harm to the world by taking the form of varied pseudo-religious groups such as sahajiyas, baulas, and the like. A few worms swarming in the stool of pratistha displayed the utmost impudence by posing before the ignorant public as avataras of Bhagavan. Others took attractive Vaisnava names, decorated themselves with acarya titles, and started promoting non-Vaisnava ideas in the guise of Vaisnava-dharma.

Our heart shattered on seeing this drastic turn of events. While we were looking for the underlying cause of what was happening, the following words of Srila Prabodhananda Sarasvatipada suddenly unfolded in our heart:

kalah kalir balina indriya-vairi-vargah

sri-bhakti-marga iha kantaka-koti-ruddhah

ha ha kva yami vikalah kim aham karomi

caitanya-candra yadi nadya krpam karosi

It is Kali-yuga, and our enemies the senses are powerful. The path of bhakti is strewn with millions of thorny obstacles. Where shall I go? What can I do? O Caitanya-candra! I am helpless unless you show mercy on me today![i]

Tearfully chanting these words, we reached the place of our Lord’s appearance (Sri Mayapur), yet even there our sorrow did not subside. Having forsaken our homeland in search of the Lord, we finally came to Sri Ksetra, the place of the His disappearance. Here we rolled in despair on the golden sands, and then the Lord revealed the following message in our heart:

“O Sajjana-tosani! May thou be in peace. In this samsara, the nature acquired by the jivas according to their karma in unlimited rebirths pushes them to assume more karma again and again. Unless they are freed once and for all from nondevotional desires, whatever saintly instructions you give them will bounce off their ears and not penetrate their hearts. Thus no matter how well you preach bhakti, they will remain indifferent because of their karma.No matter how well you explain its importance, all your speeches and discourses will prove to be in vain. Now hear My command: Stay in the place where after burying My beloved Haridasa I performed loud kirtana. Reside here and pray for the welfare of the burdened souls by constantly chanting the glories of sri-nama. Hearing these glories will bring them the sukrti that will give them confidence in the name’s power. This in turn will bless them with faith in suddha-bhakti, birth after birth.”

In obedience to the order of Sri Krsna Caitanya, the Lord of our heart, here we set up a

bhajana-kutira where the heaving waves wash onto the seashore.[ii]

[i] Caitanya-candramrta 49.

[ii] Sajjana-tosanni 15.1, quoted in Sri Bhaktivinoda-vani-vaibhava, ch. 13.

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