Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, the guru of Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, appeared in Sri Ksetra Dhama.(Jagannatha Puri) on 6 February 1874 as the son of Srila Sacidananda Bhaktivinoda Thakura. In his childhood he quickly mastered the Vedas, memorized the Bhdgavad-gita, and relished his father's philosophical works. He became known as "The Living Encyclopedia" for his vast knowledge.
He preached convincingly against casteism and philosophical deviations from Gaudiya Vaisnavism. He tried to unite the four Vaisnava sampradayas by publishing their teachings. Srila Sarasvati Thakura earned the title Nrisimha Guru for his fearless and powerful delivery of the Vaisnava siddhanta. Mayavadis would cross the street to avoid confronting the "lion guru." Besides being a courageous preacher, he was ornamented with all divine qualities and full of ecstatic love of God. He established 64 Gaudiya Math temples in India and centers in Burma, England, Germany.
Srila Sarasvati Thakura excavated Lord Caitanya's appearance place at the Yogapitha in Sridhama Mayapur, despite heavy opposition from the money-hungry caste Goswamis of Navadvipa. He built a beautiful Gaudiya Math temple there.
His three "Brhat-mrdangas" (printing presses) in Madras, Calcutta, Krishna-nagara used to pump out books, magazines, and newspapers to spread the message of Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu.
When asked why he printed a daily spiritual newspaper entitled Nadia Prakash, Srila Sarasvati Thakura replied, "If an insignificant city can produce five daily newspapers, then why can't we publish a newspaper every 'Second about the eternal, ever-fresh transcendental activities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead in His unlimited spiritual planet, Goloka Vrindavana?" Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur
Sri Chaitania Gaudiya Math, Mayapur.
Apart from his father's writings, he published many authorized sastras: Bhagavad-gita, Srimad Bhagavatam, Caitanya Bhagavata, Caitanya Mangala, Prema-bhakti-candrika, and his favorite book Sri Caitanya-caritamrta. He predicted that foreigners would learn Bengali to relish the nectar left by Srila Krishna Dasa Kaviraja in the Caitanya-caritamrta.
He introduced many innovations to expand preaching. All over India he staged free theistic exhibits and dioramas depicting the pastimes of, Sri Krishna and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Employing the latest technology, he even had animated dolls. To commemorate the many holy places visited by Lord Caitanya he installed marble impressions of the Lord's lotus feet. Breaking tradition, he let his sannyasis wear tailored kurtas and overcoats, ride in cars and motor-boats, and carry Mahaprabhu's message across the sea to Europe.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saravati's revolutionary preaching ideas sprang from the sastrie principle of yukta-vairagya set forth by the rasa acarya, Srila Rupa Gosvami. Being an eternally liberated soul, Srila Sarasvati Thakura knew how to perfectly engage Maya (the illusory energy) in the service of Lord Krishna.
Following Srila Thakura Bhaktivinoda's footsteps, he preached daivi varnashrama to harmonize society and provide spiritual fulfillment for all. Advocating the teachings of Sri Rupa and Sri Raghunatha Dasa Goswamis, he taught the science of devotional service, and showed thousands how to attain pure love for Sri-Sri Gandharvika-Giridhari (Radha-Krishna).
Srila Prabhupada was ordered by his Guru to preach Krishna Consciousness in English. And he fulfilled that desire.
Aside from his phenomenal preaching success in India, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura's greatest. contribution was Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, whom he initiated and inspired to distribute Krishna consciousness all over the world. When Srila Prabhupada was asked to describe his spiritual master Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, he said, "What can I say? He was a Vaikuntha man."
In Radha-Govinda's eternal pastimes in Goloka Vrndavana, Srila Sarasvati Thakura serves as Nayana-mani manjari. His pushpa samadhis are at Radha-kunda and Radha Damodara.
Srila Prabhupada has said a lot about his dear spiritual master, here are some excerpts:
"We wish that this mass of our body of flesh and blood may be sacrificed at the altar of preaching the Samkirtan Movement (congregational chanting of the Holy Name of Godhead) propagated by Lord Chaitanya. We are not desirous of becoming a hero of work or a reformer of religion, but our reality may be identified with the dust of the Lotus Feet of Sree Rupa and Raghunath for that is our everything. The flow of the transcendental tide of the attraction of devotion will never be blocked, and you with your all energy shall devote yourself for fulfilling the desire of Sreela Bhakti Vinode Thakur. There are many amongst you who are well qualified and able workers. We have no other desire whatsoever."
Spoken a few days before His Divine Grace passed from this world, December 23, 1936."....So his method of preaching is just according to the, strictly according to the rules and regulation of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. And as Caitanya Mahaprabhu was called by Advaita Prabhu, similarly, Bhaktivinoda Thakura, when he saw this condition of pseudo Vaisnava all over the country, he also prayed to Lord Caitanya that "You kindly send somebody from Your personal staff so that I can start this movement." You see? So by the grace of Lord Caitanya, as we pray, sri-gaura-karuna-sakti-vigrahaya namo 'stu te. Gaura... He is mercy representation of Lord Caitanya. And he appeared as the son of this Bhaktivinoda Thakura. At that time he was known as Kedaranath Datta. Ken Datta. And he appeared in 1867 as the child of Bhaktivinoda Thakura. And the house is still preserved in Jagannatha Puri. At that time Jagannatha Puri, he was magistrate in Jagannatha Puri, and he was... The system in the Jagannatha Puri, the manager, the official manager, is the district magistrate. So he was district magistrate. And in February 1867, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura appeared. And when he appeared, his, this what is called, the intestine?
Madhudvisa: Umbilical cord?
Prabhupada: Cord, cord. What is it called?
Prabhupada: Embryo cord. That embryo cord was like this. Yes. That means brahmana from the beginning. You see? So when he was a child... He appeared in February. Then... When the Ratha-yatra takes place? In July. So February, March, April, May, June, July. So when he was six months old, the Ratha-yatra festival was held. And by chance the big cart stopped in front of that house. That is generally in the Jagannatha car stops. Just like our car also stops somewhere. And you have some difficulty to push it again? That's nice. That also happens in Jagannatha Puri. It was stopped, and some people were... Caitanya Mahaprabhu used to push with His head. So that was wonderful. So anyway the car stopped, and mother of our Guru Maharaja, the child Guru Maharaja, so she took the opportunity, and because she was manager's wife, so everyone respected with the child. So she put the child on the leg of Jagannatha. And as there are so many garlands, one garland immediately fell on the child. Yes. Automatically. So in this way Bhaktivinoda Thakura could understand that "This child is not ordinary child," and he knew that "I prayed to Gaurasundara to send me somebody. So this boy, this child, is sent by Him." So he took care of him very carefully. And in this way his name was Bimala Prasada, Bimala Prasada Datta.
"So when he was three years or four years old, he took one mango from the Deity room and ate it. So Bhaktivinoda Thakura said, "Oh, you have done a great wrong thing. You have taken the mango of the Deity before offering Him? It is a great offense." The child took it very serious, and my Guru Maharaja never took mango throughout his whole life. Whenever mango was offered, he would say, "Oh, I am a offender. I cannot take that." You see? So there was a big meeting. What is this sound? Somebody's sleeping? All right. (laughter) In Midnapur district, when he was young man, he was holding meeting. He was a great astrologer, and he opened an astrological school when he was young man. And there are many big students still practicing. They are all students of my Guru Maharaja. And there was a meeting in Midnapur district. The subject matter "Brahmanas and Vaisnavas." So in that meeting Bhaktivinoda Thakura was invited. At that time he was not very in healthy condition, indisposed. So he asked Sarasvati Thakura that "You go and speak there." So he spoke on the distinction between brahmanas and Vaisnavas, and he defeated so many learned panditas. Then the whole audience began to take, touch his lotus feet and touch with water and drink it, in this way, when he was young man. That book is also available in Bengali, Brahmana- Vaisnava."
Srila Prabhupada Lecture on Appearance Day of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami, 02-07-69, Los Angeles
"Devotee: "His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati accepted both Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Srila Gaurakisora as his spiritual master."Prabhupada: Gaurakisora dasa... Bhaktivinoda Thakura was his father, and Gaurakisora dasa Babaji was treating Bhaktivinoda Thakura... Although he was householder and Gaurakisora dasa Babaji was renounced order, still he used to offer great respect to Bhaktivinoda Thakura, and Bhaktivinoda Thakura saw him a pure devotee; therefore he recommended his son, Bimala Prasada. His former name was Bimala Prasada, and he got this title Siddhanta Sarasvati by writing one thesis on astronomy, astrology, astrological calculation according to solar system. So he got this title Siddhanta Sarasvati. So this Siddhanta Sarasvati, Sarasvati title also accepted by sannyasa. Sarasvati, Bharati, Puri, Aranya, Bon, Parvat--there are ten names of sannyasa according to Mayavadi school, and according to Vaisnava school there are 108 names. So this "svami" and "gosvami," they're also included within that 108 names. So he accepted Gaurakisora dasa Babaji Maharaja his spiritual master. Yes?
"Devotee: Does our line of succession go directly to Gaurakisora dasa Babaji or to Bhaktivinoda Thakura?
"Prabhupada: No. Because he was treating Bhaktivinoda Thakura as his siksa guru, preceptor guru, so it is in the line.
"Devotee: But is Bhaktivinoda Thakura directly in succession from Lord Caitanya?
"Devotee: And Gaurakisora dasa Babaji also?
Srila Prabhupada, Questions & Answers, 08-62-68, Montreal
"My Guru Maharaja was very great scholar, and his Guru Maharaja, from literary point of view, he could not even sign his name, Gaura-kisora dasa Babaji Maharaja. And Bhaktivinoda Thakura asked Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura to accept Gaura-kisora dasa Babaji Maharaja as his, as his spiritual master, that "You go and take your initiation from Gaura-kisora dasa Babaji Maharaja." So he thought that "I am a great scholar, and I am son of a magistrate, Bhaktivinoda Thakura, and great Vaisnava. He'll be very much pleased to accept me." Of course, he was very much pleased. But in the beginning he refused. He refused. Because... Of course, that is only show. He was not proud. Just to teach us. Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati explained that "I was little proud. So I was thrice refused by Guru Maharaja," although he was the only disciple. So the scholarship is not a qualification of becoming devotee. That is Caitanya Mahaprabhu's teaching. Scholarship may help, but it is not necessary. Real necessary is that one should be humble and meek and follow the instruction of the spiritual master. This is real qualification."
Srila Prabhupada Lecture on Caitanya-caritamrta, 03-13-74, Vrindaban