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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A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

 

chanting with hippies

Srila Prabhupada in New York's Topkins Square Park, 1966.

Under Srila Prabhupada's pure guidance the Krishna consciousness movement quickly flourished. Within months ISKCON Radha-Krishna temples opened in New York, San Francisco, Boston, Los Angeles, Montreal and London. In the 1970's, he traveled around the world fourteen times, establishing 108 Radha-Krishna temples in all the major cities of the Americas, Europe, Africa, India, Asia, and Australia. He initiated a total of five thousand sincere disciples from different nationalities.

He opened ashrams and pure vegetarian "Govinda's" restaurants. On every continent he started Vedic gurukulas and goshalas.

He opened ashrams and pure vegetarian "Govinda's" restaurants. On every continent he started Vedic gurukulas and goshallas. Srila Prabhupada was the first spiritual master to introduce both elegant Deity worship of Radha and Krishna and the annual Ratha-yatra festival of Lord Jagannatha in the western countries. ISKCON's Jagannatha Ratha-yatra festivals, complete with three beautiful wooden carts carrying Lord Jagannatha, Lord Baladeva, and Lady Subhadra, a thunderous sankirtana procession, and massive prasadam distribution, take place every year in over two-hundred cities worldwide.Though constantly traveling and preaching to priests, princes, politicians, philosophers, scientists, and his disciples, Srila Prabhupada kept translating the Srimad Bhagavatam. He wrote over eighty books about. Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The Teachings of Lord Chaitanya, Nectar of Devotion, The Science of Self-Realization, and English translations with commentaries on Srimad Bhagavatam, Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Isopanisad, Upadesamrta, Narada Bhakti-sutras, Mukunda mala-stotra, and Caitanya Caritamrta are some of his works. Prabhupada's books have been translated into fifty languages such as French, German, Italian, Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Japanese, Swahili, Hindi, Bengali. Almost a billion copies have been distributed worldwide.

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