Today, worship in the house of Bhaktivinoda is supported by Vaishnavas from the Gaudiya Math. Here a temple is opened, on the main altar of which the murtis of Thakur himself are installed, as well as his personal Deities, Sri Sri Gaura-Gadadhara. Inside the entrance gate, to the left, is the deity of Kshetrapal Shiva and his bull Nandi.
To the left of the main altar is the honorary seat of a student of Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Krishnadasa. On the right is the place that used to be the bhajan-kutir of Gaurakishora das Babaji. Here he enjoyed the chanting of the holy name for hours when he came to the house of Bhaktivinoda. Previously, the entrance to the bhajan-kutir was in the back wall of the room - this was the humble wish of Babaji Maharaj. But now the entrance has been made from the main courtyard, for the benefit of the pilgrims.
The house itself is located on the left. In order to get into the room of Bhaktivinoda himself, you need to climb the stairs. There are still some of his belongings. In this room, he wrote many of his books and articles. From the veranda that the door leads to the room, Bhaktivinode Thakur has a vision of the Golden City and Adbhuta Mandir - a huge, wonderful temple on the opposite bank of Jalanga. The Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati room is next to the Bhaktivinoda room.
In 1887, at the age of 49, Bhaktivinoda Thakur began to think about resigning. He writes in his autobiography: “Now that the time has come to resign, I will settle somewhere in the groves of Vrindavan on the banks of the Yamuna.” Shortly after making this decision, Thakur went on a business trip to the city of Tarakeshwar. On his first night upon arrival, he had a strange dream. Lord Caitanya appeared to him and said: “You will definitely go to Vrindavan, but first you have to go to Navadvipa”. Returning from a business trip, Bhaktivinoda tried to secure an appointment with his superior in Navadvipa, but he refused. Thakur was offered several more places (in Assam and Tippere), then he tried to resign - but he was refused. Finally, to his delight, he received the consent of Justice of the Peace Krishnanagar to swap places with him - the judge received a post in Srirampur, and Bhaktivinoda moved to Krishnanagar, which is 40 kilometers from Navadvipa. After several months of serious illness, he finally arrived in the holy land of Navadvipa.
“When, upon arrival, I looked around, the hair on my body stood on end. We crossed the Ganges and stopped at the inn. There I ordered to cook dinner and offer it to Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Having received the Lord's darshan, for the first time in a long time, I tried rice, lentil soup with green jackfruit, stewed vegetables with banana flour and other dishes. I’ve never eaten anything tastier in my life! ”
From that time on, Bhaktivinoda began to visit Navadvipa every Saturday. The purpose of his trips was to find the place of appearance of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. The search was successful, and in early 1888, Jagannatha das Babaji confirmed the validity of his discovery.
Thakur soon began to have severe tonsillitis in Krishnanagar. He asked for a two-month vacation and at that time he bought a house in Surabhi Kunja, on Godrumadvip. This house became a sacred place of worship and worship of the Lord until the end of his days. Here he lived for a long time, interspersing periods of literary retreat with long preaching and research trips. Here, around this time (in 1890), he wrote the famous book on the glory of Navadvipa - Sri Navadvipa-dhama-mahatmya, which was the result of Thakur's thorough research to discover places associated with Lord Caitanya.
In August 1891, Bhaktivinoda Thakur received a two-year vacation and decided to devote this time to preaching. His headquarters at that time was the very house in Surabhi Kunja. In the company of his friends Ramesevak, Sitanatha and Sital Bhritya, he traveled around the neighborhood, gave lectures, preached the glory of the holy name and opened new branches of the Nama Hatta, the “Holy Name Market” he opened, with its center in Svananda Sukhada Kunja.
In February 1892, Bhaktivinoda Thakur founded the Society for the Restoration and Development of Old Navadvipa, which was joined by many famous and respected people of Bengal. His lectures in Krishnanagar on how the site of the appearance of Sri Caitanya was discovered were very successful.
In October 1894, at the age of fifty-six, Thakur, despite protests by officials and relatives, nevertheless resigned. Retiring, he moved to his house in Navadvipa to devote himself completely to preaching, chanting the holy name and writing. Worldly duties no longer distracted him. He collected donations for the construction of the temple of Lord Caitanya in Mayapur (on March 21, 1895, the Gaura-Vishnupriya temple was inaugurated), wrote books (among them: a commentary on the Caitanya-caritamrta, essay on The Life and Teachings of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the book Sri Ramanuja-upadesa ”, as well as translations of the works of holy Vaishnavas: Raghunatha dasa Goswami, Vallabhacarya, Kulasekhara and many others), preached (in 1896, his sermon for the first time in the history of Vaishnavism went beyond India) ...
In 1897, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur opened an ashram here, which included a low-key wooden house itself, several small outbuildings and a walled courtyard. This courtyard became a meeting place for exalted souls. Here Thakur recited and explained the Srimad-Bhagavatam and spoke of devotional service.
In 1900, in the same place, in Svananda-Sukhada-kunja, Bhaktivinoda Thakur wrote “Sri Harinama-cintamani”, one of his most famous books, which explains the spiritual nature of the holy name and tells about the rules for repeating it.
In 1908, Bhaktivinoda decided to renounce the world, receiving initiation from Gaurakishora dasa Babaji. But Babaji, even though he had lived for many years in renunciation of the world, he himself considered himself an unworthy disciple of Thakur. Therefore, he refused. But Bhaktivinoda did not change his decision and a few days later came to him in Navadvipa. Babaji Maharaj hid in a prostitute's house, knowing that his teacher would never allow himself to go to such a place, and he left with nothing.
But a few days later Gaurakishora das Babaji changed his mind and, at the request of one of the sons of Bhaktivinoda, came to his house. After spending several days there, he conducted the rite of passage. Thakur put on his old loincloth and apron for alms belonging to his spiritual master, and then, with the consent and presence of Srila Gaurakishora, received him as his vesha-guru.
Accepting the renunciation, Bhaktivinoda Thakur continued to chant the holy name and engage in literary creation, sometimes living in Godrumadvipa, and sometimes in Bhakti-bhavan, in Calcutta.
On June 23, 1914, at exactly noon, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur entered the Lord's eternal pastimes, inaccessible to the eyes of the conditioned souls of this world. His ashes were transported from Calcutta to Godrumadvipa and, to the sounds of a deafening kirtan arranged by his students and friends, they were placed in a silver urn and put to earth in Yogapitha. A few years later, in 1919, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati established his father’s murti in Svananda-sukhada-kunja and laid the foundation for his worship.
Bhaktivinoda Thakur called his home Svananda-Sukhada-kunjey. This place is not different from Vrindavan Svananda-Sukhada-kunji - groves on the bank of Radha-kunda, owned by Lalita-sakhi. The songs of Bhaktivinoda Thakura reveal to us the hidden truth associated with his eternal service:
“My little hut in the wonderful garden of Svananda-Sukhada-kunji radiates radiance. Having settled here, I will sing the holy name of Krishna and look forward to the time when I will personally serve Him and His associates ”(Gita-mala, 5.5.2).
“Rupa Manjari and Ananga Manjari will take me to the grove of Lalita, the beautiful mistress of Svananda-sukhada-kunja” (Navadvipa-bhava-taranga)
“This maid with body color is like lightning and is dressed in a sari with a star-like pattern. My name is Kamala Manjari. I am always twelve years old, and I constantly live in a place called Svananda-Sukhada-kunja ”(Gita-mala, 5.8.1).
In 1898, Srila Gaurakishora das Babaji Maharaja came to the newly rebuilt Svananda Kunja. Walking there, he sang in a sad voice. Babaji Maharaja was wearing a hat made of tiger skin, and he himself carried a basket with various items that he used in devotional service. Arriving in kunja, he presented Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati with four or five pieces of rope designed to count the Harinama circles read, a tilaka stamp with the initial letters of the words “Hare Krishna,” a tiger-skin cap and other accessories necessary for worshiping the Lord. Babaji Maharaj once received a basket and hat from his spiritual master, Srila Bhagavata dasa Babaji. In the same year, during the month of Magha, Babaji Maharaj gave spiritual initiation to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur.
This great Vaisnava often came to Svananda Sukhada Kunju to listen to Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura explaining Srimad-Bhagavatam. He usually arrived at three in the afternoon, and left at about five. Several times he spent the night in Svananda Kunja, in a small hut, covered with tin and standing in one corner of the kunja.
In 1908, Srila Gaurakishora finally lost his sight and stopped traveling, and since then he has always remained in Navadvipa, living either in Pradyumna-kunja (owned by Sarachchandra Vasu from South Calcutta), or with Thakur Bhaktivinoda in his house. When he lived with Thakur, he usually chanted japa and performed his internal service to Lord Krishna. Sometimes, when his consciousness was estranged from everything external, he ceased to realize even the existence of his own body. He did not realize whether he was dressed or not, and went swimming in Jalanga in open clothes. After that, he entered his little kutir and began to chant the names of the gopis of Vrindavan with an unusually loud voice.
Several great stories are connected with the stay of this great saint.
When it became clear that the vision of Gaurakishora dasa Babaji was deteriorating, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur asked him to go to Calcutta to see a doctor. Thakur Bhaktivinoda also repeatedly asked him to do this, but Srila Gaurakishora always refused.
Once Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur told Babaji Maharaj that his servant, Srila Saraswati Thakur, would live with him in Calcutta, and therefore he would not suffer any inconvenience there. To this, Babaji Maharaj replied:
“I will never allow Prabhu to serve me, it is better that I drown myself.” But if I drown in the Ganges, I will become a ghost, so I will drown in Jalang.
Repeating these words again, Srila Gaurakishora quickly rushed to the shore of Jalanga, which flowed near the entrance to Svananda Kunja. Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur ran after him, trying to dissuade him and humbly asking him to return. After this incident, Gaurakishora dasa Babaji could not be found for forty-five days. Then, just as suddenly, he appeared in Svananda-Sukhada-Kunja and declared:
“I cannot reach Sri Krishna by killing myself.” But I still can’t allow anyone to serve me.
They also tell such a story.
In Navadvipa there lived a certain babaji pandita from Kuliya who wore only a loincloth. He was a respected man, but the immoral acts he secretly committed offended Srila Gaurakishora Prabhu's feelings. And once Babaji Maharaj took off his loincloth and outer clothing and put on a beautiful dhoti with a border and a chadar. Having dressed like materialists who love sophisticated clothes, he went to Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura in Svananda-sukhada-kunju. Thakur, seeing him in such an unusual way, asked him why he dressed so much. Babaji Maharaja replied:
“We dress like Sri Caitanya dressed, but we do not stop secretly committing adultery.” Therefore, it is better to dress like the husbands of prostitutes than to wear the clothes that Sri Caitanya wore and secretly commit adultery. So at least we will not be hypocrites.
Translated from dhama.dayalnitay.ru