Bhaktivinoda Thakur’s Influence On The Establishment And Development Of Iskcon

Bhaktivinoda Thakur’s Influence On The Establishment And Development Of Iskcon

 

This paper aims to present the contribution of Bhaktivinoda Thakur to the establishment and development of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). It regards his personal life as the role model for the practitioners of Vaisnavism, and it considers his input in expanding preaching techniques, both innovative and traditional ones.

Bhaktivinoda Thakur: A role model for ISKCON members

Being born in a non-Vaisnava family, educated in Christian and Westernized Hindu schools and colleges, Bhaktivinoda Thakur, more than many other spiritual teachers in Gaudiya tradition, is the reference point for ISKCON, many of whose members have been born in and molded by the Western civilization. The historical context in which Bhaktivinoda Thakur commenced his spiritual quest can be portrayed as a time of serious encounter and conflict between Hindu traditionalists and a Westernized and secularized Bengalis intelligentsia. Because of his studies in and appreciation for Western ideologies, Bhaktivinoda Thakur experienced profound religious doubts and did not take for granted the philosophical and theological doctrines of Vaisnavism. This disproves the claim that ISKCON represents a merely incongruous transplant in Western civilization. On the contrary, Bhaktivinoda’s example shows how acceptance of Vaisnavism is a meter of personal conviction and not geographical and cultural conditionality.

Another point which makes Bhaktivinode Thakur the role model for ISKCON members is the way in which he has practiced his sadhana (spiritual discipline). Like most ISKCON members, he was a family man with many worldly responsibilities. Nevertheless, he had very intense sadhana. And despite having demanding a post as a deputy magistrate in government service, and a big family, he always found enough time for writing books on Vaisnavism and organizing preaching activities.[i] His life showed that becoming practitioner of Krishna consciousness does not mean to exclusively become a renouncer (tyagi). Rather it showed how to be responsible in worldly duties and engage them in service to Krishna.[ii] Shukavak (1999, 258) notes that ‘In the scarcity of viable role models for Gaudiya-Vaisnavas in the West, Bhaktivinode presented an excellent example of responsible worldly engagement and Vaisnava practice.’ His personal example can guide ISKCON devotees how to be in this world but not of it; and thus facilitate ISKCON’s integration into the society and help it avoid identification as a sect.Saragrahi Vaisnava

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Shrivasa Pandit Biography

srivas-pandit-05-300x225 Sri Shrivas Pandit

Shrivasa Pandit, the fifth member of the Panca-tattva, Shri Krishna Chaitanya, Prabhu Nityananda, Shri Advaita, Gadadhara, Shrivasadi, Gaura Bhakta Vrinda lived in Navadwipa before the advent of Lord Chaitanya. Shrivasa leads his brothers Shri Rama, Shri Nidhi, and Shripati in their devotional lives of singing Krishna's names, worshipping the Lord, and bathing thrice daily in the Ganges. Meeting with Shri Advaita Acharya Prabhu, they studied Bhagavatam and prayed for an incarnation of the Supreme Lord. Why did they pray? Because only an avatara of Krishna could reestablish Vaishnavism among the staunch atheists, logicians, and proud pandits harassing Nadia at that time.

Malini, wife of Shrivasa, was a constant friend of Sachi Devi. She served Nimai as a nurse. When Lord Vishvambhara appeared, the hearts of all the Devotees were filled with parental affection (vatsalya bhava). Gaurachandra loved Malini and Shrivasa as a second mother and father.
Shrivasa Angan was located two hundred yards north of Nimai's bari (house). Shrivasa Pandit's palatial home had large comfortable rooms, a high protective boundary wall, and lush densely foliated gardens and groves. Every night Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu and His dearest friends would enjoy ecstatic kirtans here and taste the mellows of Vrindavana.

Here, the raging Muslim Kazi broke the sacred mridanga in his foolish attempt to stop Shri Krishna's Sankirtana Movement. Henceforward, Shrivasa Angan was known as Khol Banga Danga (the place where the mridanga was broken).

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Timings of the Four Yugas: The Shastric Evidence

Timings of the Four Yugas: The Shastric Evidence

By Sri Nandanandana das (Stephen Knapp)

When describing the length of the yugas or ages, and which yuga we are in and how far along we are in it, there is sometimes confusion about how to calculate them. Some people think we are already in the next Satya-yuga, known as the Golden Age. The problem is when the yugas are figured only according to the years in earth’s time, in which case any calculations will never be accurate. They are described in the Vedic literature according to the celestial years, or years of the devas, not according to the time we experience here on earth. This is where we have to make adjustments. Nonetheless, there are specific references in the Vedic texts which make it clear how to calculate them. For starters, the Mahabharata (Shanti Parva, 231.12-20) explains it in detail:

“The rishis, measuring time, have given particular names to particular portions [of time]. Five and ten winks of the eye make what is called a Kastha. Thirty Kasthas make what is called a Kala. Thirty Kalas, with the tenth part of a Kala, make a Muhurta. Thirty Muhurtas make one day and night. Thirty days and nights form a month, and twelve months form a year. Persons well-read in mathematical science say that a year is made up of two solar motions, meaning the northern and southern. The sun makes the day and night for men. The night is for the sleep of all living creatures, and the day is for work. A month of human beings is equal to a day and night of the departed manes [ancestors who have gone on to the subtle worlds]. That division consists in this: the light half of the month is their day which is for work, and the dark fortnight is their night for sleep. A year (of men) is equal to a day and night to the gods [devas or celestials]. This division consists in this: the half year for which the sun travels from the vernal to the autumnal equinox is the day of the gods, and the half year for which the sun moves from the latter to the former is their night. [Thus, an earth year is but a day for the devas.] Calculating by the days and nights of human beings about which I have told you, I shall speak of the day and night of Brahma and his years also. I shall, in their order, tell you the number of years, that is for different purposes calculated differently, in the Krita, the Treta, the Dvapara, and the Kali Yugas. Four thousand celestial years is the duration of the first or Krita age. The morning of that cycle consists of four hundred years and its evening is of four hundred years. [Note: This says celestial years or years of the demigods on the higher planets. Such years are much longer than those of planet earth. So 4000 celestial years, with the morning or Sandhya of 400 celestial years and the evening or Sandhyansa, or intermediate period, of another 400 years, equals 4800 celestial years or 1,728,000 human years.]

“Regarding the other cycles, the duration of each gradually decreases by a quarter in respect of both the principal period with the minor portion and the conjoining portion itself. These periods always keep up the never-ending and eternal worlds. They who know Brahma, O child, regard this as Immutable Brahma.” (Mb, Shanti Parva, Chap.231, Text 21-22)

This means that as each age appears, from the Satya, Treta, Dvapara to Kali, each yuga decreases by a quarter of the previous yuga, in addition to the conjoining Sandhya and Sandhyansa periods with each yuga. In this way, it is roughly calculated that a whole cycle of the four yugas, namely Krita, Treta, Dvapara, and Kali-yuga together, total about 12,000 celestial years in length.

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