OM VISHNUPAD PARAMAHANSA
108 Sri Srimad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur
About 513 years ago, the Supreme Lord Gouranga appeared on earth at the call of Srila Adwaita Acharya and disseminated Divine Love through Nama-Sankirtan. After some time the spread of Lord Gouranga’s ideas suffered a set-back due to the influence of the age. This sight pained the devotees of the lotus-feet of Lord Goursundar and they cherished the desire that the flow of Goursundar’s mercy should never be stopped. About 400 years after the appearance of Lord Chaitanya, a person of Goloka (the Absolute Realm) came down to earth at the will of the Lord and His Associates in order to reawaken that latent force. This person appeared among the human beings and assumed their appearance and revealed his leela as His Divine Grace Om Vishnupad 108 Sri Srimad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur.
In 1874 this eternal associate of the Supreme Lord, Sri Chaitanya, descended in the holy place Narayanchhata just near the Temple of Sri Jagannath Deva, Puri, as an accredited Vaishnava son of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur, the pioneer in preaching and propagating Sri Chaitanya’s Bhakti Cult in modern times. Six months after his appearance, the Car Festival took place. The Car of Lord Jagannath stood still for three days before Thakur Bhativinode’s house. One day his mother took him to Lord Jagannath and lo! a garland slipped down form the Lord’s neck as a blessing on the baby.
From his very childhood, he was taught to chant the Holy Name of Sri Hari by his great Vaishnava Father of revered memory. In his early young age, he showed his versatile genius in Vaishanava Philosophy and travelled far and wide, visiting many sacred places of India to acquaint himself with different philosophical schools. During this period he was initiated in Mantras by the well-known Sri Gourkishore Das Babaji Maharaj of Sri Navadwip Dham. Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur ordered Srila Saraswati Thakur to take initiation from Srila Gourkishore Das Babaji Maharaj. Srila Saraswati Thakur was a strict celibate, great savant and staunch moralist. But when he first asked for initiation, Srila Babaji Maharaj answered, “Without asking Mahaprabhu, I cannot say anything.” Next day Srila Saraswati Thakur again approached him, and Babaji Maharaj replied, “I forgot to ask Mahaprabhu”. On the third day Srila Babaji Maharaj answered, “I asked Mahaprabhu, but He said—Good moral character or scholarship is very insignificant in comparison to devotion”. Srila Saraswati Thakur replied: “You are serving the greatest of deceivers, Lord Krishna. So you are trying to deceive me. Sri Ramanujacharya, after being rejected 18 times, was able to get initiation. I do promise, in the same way I will get your mercy one day or other.”
Srila Babaji Maharaj was very pleased with his determination and that very day Srila Saraswati Thakur was initiated at Swananda-Sukhada-Kunja. Srila Saraswati Thakur completed his sacred vow of chanting one hundred crore Names in the holy land of Mayapur with unprecedented devotion, dedication and meditation. He was blessed with a transcendental vision of the Supreme Lord Sri Gouranga, surrounded by His Eternal Associates Who showered Their affectionate blessings on him and ordered him to preach the Principles of Pure Devotion.
He took Sannyas at the age of 44 in the year 1918 to propagate the Divine Gospel of Lord Sri Chaitanya all over the world. He is the founder of Sri Chaitanya Math at Sirdham Mayapur and Sri Gaudiya Math in Calcutta and is the pioneer in establishing preaching centres in the name of Gaudiya Math throughout India and abroad under the Gaudiya Mission. He spared no pains to preach the blissful gospels of Divine Love as propagated by the Supreme Lord Sri Chaitanya. He established 64 Gaudiya Maths in India and abroad. The Headquarters were situated at Baghbazar, Calcutta, where a wealthy devotee of Barisal, Mr. Jagabandhu Dutta, built a large temple of marble-stone and dedicated the temple as well as himself to his Divine Master, Srila Saraswati Thakur. Srila Saraswati Thakur ushered in a true renaissance of unalloyed devotion in the whole world.
He was a versatile scholar—a veritable living encyclopedia. A prolific writer, he wrote many authoritative books on Vaishnava Philosophy. He published monthly, weekly, even daily devotional journals, edited and annotated rare books of devotion, organized exhibitions and seminars, held big meetings attended by scholars and elites, spent gallons of divine blood in devotional discourses and sent well-trained preachers to all quarters of India and abroad. His charismatic personality, extra-ordinary character and incredible scholarship drew many worthy souls to him who dedicated themselves to his lotus-feet. The aristocratic, learned and wealthy section of the society specially received his causeless mercy. Srila Saraswati Thakur revived the dormant, loving relationship of everyone with the Supreme Lord Krishna. He reinstated the people of the world in the eternal service of the Supreme Lord. In one word, he fulfilled the divine desire of Lord Gouranga and His eternal intimates before disappearing in 1937. Srila Anantavasudeva Paravidyabhusan Prabhu (Srimad Bhakti Prasad Puri Goswami Thakur) assisted him in all sorts of ways in fulfilling his transcendental mission.
Srila Saraswati Thakur sacrificed his entire life for the eternal good of the suffering humanity. He would discourse upon Sri Hari for hours together. When asked to take rest, he would answer, “To talk about Krishna is my rest.” He would shatter into pieces all anti-devotional doctrines with his logical arguments of unalloyed devotion. He exposed the camouflage of pseudo-devotees and established the truth that pure devotion is neither intellectualism nor emotionalism, but the eternal spontaneous function of the soul in the unconditioned state. The anti-devotional hooligans threatened and tortured him in Town Nabadwip and elsewhere, but he continued to preach the Truth with indescribable tolerance and indomitable courage. He observed that neither fruitive action (i.e. karma—good or bad deeds done for one’s own pleasure) nor empiric knowledge could yield any good to our souls. He taught the whole world the art of utilizing every creature and every object of this universe for the loving service of the Absolute Person Sri Krishna. The whole Vaishnava world will remain ever grateful to this great Preceptor for his magnanimous mercy and unparalleled teachings.
Srila Saraswati Thakur was kind enough to reveal the luminous service of Mayapur Yogapith, the Birthsite of Lord Goursundar. Specially the devotees deeply attached to the Supreme Lord Sri Goursundar have come to realise the fact, at the heart of their hearts that the way in which Srila Saraswati Thakur revealed, preached, established and enhanced the glory of the holy place of the Lord’s appearance is simply singular and splendid.
Among the innumerable contributions of Srila Saraswati Thakur, the introuduction of the circumambulation ceremony of the holy Nabadwip-Dham deserves special mention. Through this cricumambulation of Gourdham he has wonderfully brought about the eternal and highest good of all persons of all places. Today by his grace, thousands of people throng in Gourdham at the time of the holy Advent Anniversary of Lord Goursundar and move round the nine islands of the holy Dham of Nabadwip. At the root of this lies the supreme mercy of Srila Saraswati Thakur.
The comparison of all these gifts of Srila Saraswati Thakur is not possible with those of any other devotee of the Supreme Lord Sri Goursundar. Specially in the context of the modern age the analogy of these extra¬ordinary achievements of Srila Saraswati Thakur is hardly available. The processes through which he made his Lord happy were diverse. These included the construction of temples, foundation of Maths, the popular ways of holding meetings and seminars, the deliverance of lectures, the arrangement of exhibitions, the training up of preachers, the publication of books and journals, the distribution of those publications and so on. This glory of his dissemination of the Divine Love of Lord Gauranga will remain ever-written in golden letters in the spiritual history of the world. It is by the mercy of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur that even the people of foreign countries have been fortunate to hear the Voice of Lord Goursundar. This is, indeed, due to the wonderful spiritual power—the magnificent divine device of Srila Saraswati Thakur.