Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur
Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur

From the preface of Shri Upadesamrita
by Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja

Shri Sach-chid-ananda Bhaktivinoda Thakura,
Author of the Piyusha-varshini-vritti Commentary

By composing hundreds of books on bhakti, Bhaktivinoda Thakura re-established in this modern era, which is degraded by excessive sensual pleasure, the flow of pure devotion (shuddha-bhakti), which had temporarily stopped. He is an intimate, eternal devotee of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Due to his having propagated in different ways the pure philosophy of divine love (prema-dharma) exhibited and preached by Shriman Mahaprabhu, he is famous as the Seventh Gosvami. Because he manifested Mahaprabhu’s holy names (shri gaura-nama), Mahaprabhu’s holy land (shri gaura-dhama), Mahaprabhu’s innermost desire (shri gaura-kama) and the narrations of Mahaprabhu’s pastimes (shri gaura-lila), he is considered the incarnation of Vyasa in Mahaprabhu’s pastimes.

He appeared in an educated and cultured family on 2nd September, 1838, in the village of Viranagara, which is near the place of Mahaprabhu’s appearance, Shridhama Mayapura, in West Bengal. His childhood name was Shri Kedaranatha Datta. He was a scholarly and ingenious student. During his household life, he held a high position as a government official under the rule of the British Raja. During that time he served the innermost desire of Shri Gaurasundara by translating the Upanishads, the Brahma-sutra, Shrimad-Bhagavatam, Bhagavad-gita and the commentaries of the Gosvamis, by composing his own devotional books, and by publishing weekly and monthly spiritual journals. In addition, he established nama-hatta programmes for the distribution of harinama-sankirtana and hari-katha from village to village and town to town, and he revived many forgotten holy places.

In the end he renounced his wealth and family and took up permanent residence at Shri Svananda-sukhada-kunja, a garden in Shri Godruma that is situated on the banks of the divine Bhagirathi River within the boundary of Shridhama Navadvipa. There he remained possessionless and established the ideal of the system for practising spontaneous devotional worship (raganuga-bhajana). If he had not appeared in this world, Mahaprabhu’s birthplace, the places where Mahaprabhu performed pastimes and Mahaprabhu’s instructions would still be concealed. Today, in all corners of the world, harinama-sankirtana is being joyously celebrated and the very high waves of shri gaura-krishna bhakti are inundating the entire world. Thousands of educated Western youths are drinking the mellows of devotion (bhakti-rasa) and dancing, being overcome with spiritual joy. It is none other than Bhaktivinoda Thakura who again inaugurated this flow of bhakti.

He composed approximately one hundred books in Sanskrit, Bengali, Hindi, English, Oriya and other languages. The names of a few of them are as follows: commentaries on ancient scriptures such as the Brahma-sutra, Bhagavad-gita, some of the Upanishads, Shrimad-Bhagavatam and Shri Chaitanya-charitamrita; and his own compositions such as Jaiva-dharma, Shri Chaitanya-shikshamrita, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhura Shiksha, Datta-kaustubha, Shri Krishna-samhita, Tattva-viveka, Shri Bhajana-rahasya, Dasha-mula-shiksha, Sharanagati, Gitamala, Kalyana-kalpataru, Harinama-cintamani, Prema-pradipa and Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu – His Life and Precepts. He disappeared from this world on 23rd June, 1914.

Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, author of the
commentary known as Shri Bhajana-darpana

(from the preface to Shri Manah-siksha by Shri Shrimad Bhaktivedanta Narayan Gosvami Maharaja)

Shri Sach-chid-ananda Bhaktivinoda Thakura, the eternal associate of Shri Gaurasundara, reinitiated the current of pure devotion in this modern age, wherein almost everyone is addicted to material enjoyment steeped in the glitter of mundane knowledge. He has written a commentary on the verses of Shri Manah-shiksha that is rooted in deep philosophical conclusions and full of rasa, the liquid mellows of devotion. In this commentary he has very carefully analyzed every verse in relation to raganuga-bhakti or rupanuga-bhakti. Supported by quotations from Shri Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu, Ujjvala-nilamani, Stava-mala, Stavavali and other Gosvami literature, he has indicated the essential method of bhajana for the benefit of raganuga-sadhakas. All raganuga-sadhakas will remain forever indebted to him for this extraordinary gift.

Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura is an intimate associate of Shachinandana Shri Gaurasundara, who is adorned with the complexion and bhava of Shri Radha and who delivers the fallen souls in the age of Kali. Shri Bhaktivinoda appeared in this world in order to spread shri harinama-sankirtana and to propagate pure bhakti and in particular rupanuga- (raganuga-) bhakti, thus fulfilling the inner longing of Shriman Mahaprabhu. He appeared on 2nd September, 1838 in a highly educated and respected family in a village named Viranagara near Shri Mayapura within the district of Shri Navadvipa-dhama, West Bengal. He disappeared from this world on 23rd June, 1914 in the city of Calcutta. He wrote approximately one hundred books on bhakti in Sanskrit, Bengali, Hindi, English, Oriya and other languages. For this reason enlightened persons have called him the “Seventh Gosvami” and the Bhagiratha1 who initiated the mighty flowing river of bhakti in the modern age.

He revealed the place of Shri Gauranga’s appearance at the yoga-pitha in Shri Mayapura and also begot Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati. Furthermore, by his influential and impeccable discourses, articles and books about pure bhakti, and by his establishing shri nama-hatta, or the marketplace of the holy name, in every town and village, he laid the foundation for widespread distribution of rupanuga-bhakti throughout the world. Today the outcome of this is directly visible everywhere. The sound vibration of congregational chanting of the holy names of Gaura and Krishna resounds in every corner of the world, and even in far off Western and Eastern countries enormous, opulent temples have been built.

My most worshipful spiritual master, Shri Shrimad Bhakti Prajnana Keshava Gosvami Maharaja, is a guardian of the Shri Gaudiya sampradaya and the founder-acharya of the Shri Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti as well as the Gaudiya temples that operate under the jurisdiction of that society. In addition to the books that he personally wrote, he republished the books of Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and other previous acharyas in the Bengali language. Now by his heartfelt desire, inspiration and causeless mercy, Jaiva-dharma, Shri Chaitanya-shikshamrita, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhura-shiksha, Shri Shikshashtaka and other books have been published in India’s national language of Hindi, while others are still being published.

The present director and acharya of the Shri Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti, my most worshipful godbrother Shri Shrimad Bhaktivedanta Vamana Maharaja, is deeply immersed in transcendental knowledge and is an intimate servant of the lotus feet of our spiritual master. I humbly pray at his lotus feet that he may kindly offer this precious book, Shri Manah-shiksha, into the lotus hands of our beloved gurudeva, thus fulfilling the inner longing of his heart.

I am fully confident that devotees who have a deep yearning for bhakti and particularly practitioners of raganuga-bhakti who covet the dust of Vrindavana will have tremendous appreciation for this book. Faithful persons who study this book will obtain qualification to enter into the prema-dharma of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. In conclusion, may our most worshipful spiritual master, who is the concentrated manifestation of the Lord’s compassion, pour down a profuse shower of mercy upon us, thus enabling us to attain greater and greater eligibility in fulfilling the inner longing of his heart. This is our anxious, heartfelt prayer at his lotus feet, which bestow krishna-prema.

An aspirant for a particle of mercy
of Shri Hari, Guru and Vaishnavas,
humble and insignificant,

Tridandi-bhikshu Shri Bhaktivedanta Narayana