Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura

Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura

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Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur Prabhupada,
(February 6, 1874 – January 1, 1937), was a preacher of Gaudiya Vaishnavism
Gaudiya Vaishnavism
Gaudiya Vaishnavism is a Vaishnava religious movement founded by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in India in the 16th century. "Gaudiya" refers to the Gauḍa region with Vaishnavism meaning "the worship of Vishnu"...

 throughout India in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. He was born as Bimal Prasad Dutta in the seaside pilgrimage town of Jagannath Puri
Jagannath Temple (Puri)
The Jagannath Temple in Puri is a famous Hindu temple dedicated to Jagannath and located in the coastal town of Puri in the state of Orissa, India. The name Jagannath is a combination of the Sanskrit words Jagat and Nath...

, Orissa
Orissa
Orissa , officially Odisha since Nov 2011, is a state of India, located on the east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. It is the modern name of the ancient nation of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Maurya Emperor Ashoka in 261 BC. The modern state of Orissa was established on 1 April...

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

. His father was the Vaishnava scholar Sri Kedarnath Dutta, later known as Bhaktivinoda Thakur
Bhaktivinoda Thakur
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur , a prominent figure among the Gaudiya Vaishnavas of Bengal, was born Kedarnath Datta in the town of Birnagar, Bengal, India. He was the son of Raja Krsnananda Datta and Jagat Mohini Devi...

, the first to present the teachings of Chaitanyite
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was a Vaishnava saint and social reformer in eastern India in the 16th century, believed by followers of Gaudiya Vaishnavism to be the full incarnation of Lord Krishna...

 Vaishnavism to the English speaking world and was a notable Gaudiya Vaishnava Theologian. Bimal Prasad was well-known for having a fiery preaching spirit and especially acute intellect.

Background


By the time he was twenty-five years old, Bimala Prasada had acquired an impressive reputation as a scholar of Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

, mathematics, and astronomy. Editing the publication of an ancient astronomical treatise, Surya Siddhanta
Surya Siddhanta
The Surya Siddhanta is one of the earliest siddhanta in archeo-astronomy of the Hindus by an unknown author. It describes the archeo-astronomy theories, principles and methods of the ancient Hindus. This siddhanta is supposed to be the knowledge that the Sun god gave to an Asura called Maya. Asuras...

, won the title Siddhanta Sarasvati in recognition of his scholastic achievements. In 1905, following the advice of his father, Siddhanta Sarasvati accepted spiritual initiation from Gaurakisora dasa Babaji
Gaurakisora Dasa Babaji
Gaurakisora Dasa Babaji is a well known acharya from the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition of Hinduism, and is regarded as a Mahatma or saint by followers of his lineage...

. Although Gaurakisora dasa Babaji was renowned as a saintly person and great devotee of Krishna
Krishna
Krishna is a central figure of Hinduism and is traditionally attributed the authorship of the Bhagavad Gita. He is the supreme Being and considered in some monotheistic traditions as an Avatar of Vishnu...

, he was illiterate and left no scriptural additions to the tradition of Vaishnava Theology. Satisfied with the humility and dedication of his highly educated disciple, Srila Gaurikisora gave him his full blessings and requested him to "preach the Absolute Truth and keep aside all other work." Siddhanta Sarasvati then proved himself a capable assistant in the missionary work of his father. Here, one has to understand the secret of his divine birth. His father was praying desperately to Lord Jagannatha to send one who could help him in preaching the message of Lord Chaitanya. His birth and preaching activities were predicted in the Padma Purana long ago.

Gaudiya Math


From the very beginning of Chaitanya's bhakti
Bhakti
In Hinduism Bhakti is religious devotion in the form of active involvement of a devotee in worship of the divine.Within monotheistic Hinduism, it is the love felt by the worshipper towards the personal God, a concept expressed in Hindu theology as Svayam Bhagavan.Bhakti can be used of either...

movement in Bengal, Haridasa Thakur
Haridasa Thakur
Haridasa Thakur was a prominent Muslim-Vaishnava saint, instrumental in the early appearance and spread of Hare Krishna movement. He is considered to be the most famous convert of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, apart from Rupa Goswami and Sanatana Goswami themselves, and the story of his heroism in the...

 and others Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 or Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 by birth were the participants. This openness received a boost from Bhaktivinoda Thakura's broad-minded vision in the late nineteenth century and was institutionalized by Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati in his Gaudiya Math in the twentieth century.

Upon the death of Bhaktivinoda Thakura in 1914, Siddhanta Sarasvati became editor of his father's journal, Sajjana-tosani, and founded the Bhagwat Press for publication of Vaishnava literature. Then in 1918, Siddhanta Sarasvati accepted the renounced order of spiritual life, assuming the title Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Goswami Maharaja. For the purpose of propagating Krishna
Krishna
Krishna is a central figure of Hinduism and is traditionally attributed the authorship of the Bhagavad Gita. He is the supreme Being and considered in some monotheistic traditions as an Avatar of Vishnu...

-bhakti
Bhakti
In Hinduism Bhakti is religious devotion in the form of active involvement of a devotee in worship of the divine.Within monotheistic Hinduism, it is the love felt by the worshipper towards the personal God, a concept expressed in Hindu theology as Svayam Bhagavan.Bhakti can be used of either...

 throughout India, he organized the Gaudiya Math
Gaudiya Math
The Gaudiya Math was formed on 6 September 1920, about 30 months after Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura took sannyasa, the renounced order of life. On 7 March 1918, the same day he took sannyasa, he established the Sri Chaitanya Math in Mayapura, later recognised as the parent body of all...

, with sixty-four branches throughout the country. The headquarters of his mission, the Caitanya Gaudiya Math, was located in Sridhama Mayapur
Mayapur
Mayapur is located on the banks of the Ganges river, at the point of its confluence with the Jalangi, near Navadvip, West Bengal, India, 130 km north of Kolkata...

, the birthplace of Lord Caitanya. He would later send disciples to Europe for missionary work.

Teacher of A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada


Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur is also the spiritual master of world renowned A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. It was A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada who set out in 1965, at the age of 69, to America to try and fulfil the admonition of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Goswami Maharaja of preaching to the West. Within 12 years A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada had set up a world wide society of devotees of Lord Krishna and Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (called ISKCON)- and fulfilled the prophecy of Lord Chaitanya. Not only that, A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada established 108 centres world wide (personally traveling to USA, England, Scotland, Germany, France, Hawai, Russia, Australia, South Africa, Nigeria, Japan and many other countries.) He also made "Hare Krishna" a house-hold term in the USA, translated texts into English and gave purports to various Sanskrit Vedic texts (approaching 70 volumes) such as the Bhagavad-Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam - allowing thousands to benefit from learning these valuable ancient teachings. A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada had accomplished what Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Goswami Maharaja and his father Bhaktivinoda Thakur had so long desired - an international society of Krishna conscious devotees.

Modern application of Bhakti


Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati adjusted the traditions of Gaudiya Vaishnavism to conform with the technological and social conditions of the twentieth century. He considered the printing press
Printing press
A printing press is a device for applying pressure to an inked surface resting upon a print medium , thereby transferring the ink...

 the most effective means of spreading Krishna Consciousness throughout the world and was himself the author of many important translations, commentaries, and philosophical essays.

Further reading

  • Bhakti Vikasa Swami, "Sri Bhaktisiddhanta Vaibhava". Bhakti Vikas Trust. Print Edition (3-vol. set) ISBN 978-81-908292-0-5 Electronic Edition (3-vol. set) ISBN 978-81-908292-2-9
  • Ferdinando Sardella, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati: The Context and Significance of a Modern Hindu Personalist. Dissertation, Göteborg 2010. ISBN 978-91-88348-33-3.

External links