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Bhaktivinoda Thakur and Bipin Bihari Goswami
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anadi
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2011 7:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Did Bipin Bihari Goswami reject Bhaktivinoda Thakur? I

More significant and troubling for disciples in the line of Bhaktivinoda is the so called evidence
that Bipin Bihari Goswami rejected Bhaktivinoda because of "preaching untruths"
about the birthplace of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

As mentioned above, Bipin Bihari was one of the first directors of the committee to
oversee the worship of Sriman Mahaprabhu, newly established at the Yogapith in
Mayapur
by Bhaktivinoda Thakur in 1891. However, though many significant
personalities in the Vaishnava world participated in these events, not everyone
accepted this as the true birthplace of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
.

Not long afterward, controversy arose when a certain Vraja Mohan Das Babaji, an
engineer in his life before renunciation, declared that the so-called Yogapith in
Mayapur was false and that the real one was in Ranichora, a suburb of Nabadwip
that had recently been reclaimed from the receding Ganges.

With modern methods, it should be possible to trace the history of the Ganges
bed
, on which both sides of this argument hinge. It seems to my layman’s eyes that
the Ganges has tended to move eastward over the past several centuries, making the
more westerly birthplace more likely. See Shukavak Das, p. 107-108, particularly the
note on page 108. See also Chakravarti, 396.

Here is some more information, based on Carita-sudhA, volume 4, pp. 65-71. The
original temple on Mahaprabhu's birthplace was built by Bir Hambir of Vishnupur,
who ruled from approximately 1586-1621. This small shrine was claimed by the
Ganges. Gaur Govinda Singh, the diwan of the East India Company temple, was an
important Vaishnava. He built a second temple on the site in 1780-5, a sixty foot
high building with nine pinnacles in red sandstone. This building was submerged in
floods in 1876
. Clearly, then, Bhaktivinoda Thakur must have been exaggerating
somewhat when he said that nobody had any idea where the birthplace had been.

As a result, a few years after Bhaktivinoda established the Mayapur site, in 1304
Bangabda (1897), Sashibhushan Bandyopadhyaya wrote in Pallivasi Patrika the first
article claiming that the Janmasthan was somewhere in Ramchandrapur. This
started the Janmasthan wars. The Mayapur faction started a court case, which
ultimately refused to reject the Mayapur claim, but did conclude that Gaura Govidna
Singh's temple had indeed been built on the site of Mahaprabhu's birthplace and if
anyone could find the ruins of that temple, that would be the deciding factor in
establishing the birthsite
.


Last edited by anadi on Fri Dec 16, 2011 7:19 pm; edited 2 times in total
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2011 7:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Did Bipin Bihari Goswami reject Bhaktivinoda Thakur? II

Premananda Bharati, well-known as the first preacher of Vaishnavism in the West,
took up the cause in the early 20th century, enlisting the aid of the leaders of the
various Vaishnava communities both in Vrindavan and Gauda Desh. Finally, these
Vaishnavas decided to find a qualified person to establish the exact site. They
engaged Vraja Mohan Das Babaji, who in his householder life had been a
government engineer and had recently taken responsibility for rebuilding the steps
around Radha Kund and Shyam Kund.

Vraja Mohan Dasji started his research in 1916. He walked all over the Dham as well
as investigating the available records, including the British survey maps that had
been conducted from 1757 onwards
. Apparently, he was on one occasion beaten up,
his sikha cut off, his mala cut and thrown naked into the Ganges by the Mayapur
faction. This probably when he entered the Mayapur compound. I have myself seen
the vitriolic literature written by Paramananda Brahmachari at around this time,
accusing Vraja Mohan Dasji and his backers of all manner of licentiousness in an
effort to discredit his efforts. This evidently did not help Bhaktivinoda Thakur's
cause with Bipin Bihari Goswami.

At any rate, through his research Vraja Mohan pinpointed the Ramachandra Chora
land as the likeliest site of Gaur Govinda Singh's temple. He proceeded to dig more
than 700 holes in the ground there before finding a large piece of red sandstone thathad been a part of it.
He exhibited the piece of stone to an assembly of Vaishnavas
and work was begun building a new temple there.

Even so, the effort had exhausted him and he died not long after, turning the temple
service over to Charan Das's sakhibhekhi disciple Radhavinodini Dasi. The area was
officially named Prachin Mayapur in 1928. The temple was turned over to Ramdas
Babaji in 1953.



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Clearly, the timing of the Prachin Mayapur birthsite roughly coincides with Bipin
Bihari's rejection of Bhaktivinoda's (idea of the birth place in Mayapur), so it is not unlikely that the two are related.
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anadi
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2011 7:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Did Bipin Bihari Goswami reject Bhaktivinoda Thakur? III

After the disappearance of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur in 1914 these controversies
became quite shrill, and nasty exchanges went on between the followers of
Saraswati Thakur
and the Nabadwip adherents. This time, however, Bipin Bihari
Goswami sided with the Nabadwip Goswamis and in 1919 rejected the claims of
Bhaktivinoda and his son in a small newspaper of his own called Gauranga-sevaka
Patrika.

Unhappy with the Miapur controversy. In order to show his commitment to the
Nabadwip, [Bipin Bihari] held a festival in honor of Vamsivadanananda Thakur in
Kuliya in 1919. He disappeared the same year. (K. B. Goswami, 542)

Since this rejection took place after Bhaktivinoda’s disappearance, it may well be
that Saraswati and his disciples’ heavy-handed approach to the debate contributed
to Bipin Bihari’s making a break of this sort.
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2011 7:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bhaktivinoda Thakur and the three books

In the 1890’s, the Thakur wrote a Bengali verse work, Nabadwip-dhama-mahatmya,
which he published under his own name. This book is a pretty typical "Sthala
Mahatmya" style of text. Most Sthala-puranas introduce many puranic or Vedic
personalities and ascribe to them activities and words that glorify the place in
question. The events described in Nabadwip-dhama-mahatmya are quite radical:
Madhva and Ramanuja are not the only names that are dropped in this book – there
are also demigods, Vedic rishis, and other historical figures like Jayadeva, all of
whom spend time in Mahaprabhu’s Dham and have premonitions of His future
appearance there.

Had Nabadwip-dhama-mahatmya been written in Puranic Sanskrit two or three
hundred years earlier, it may have been insinuated into the Skanda Purana or
Padma Purana and achieved canonical status. But as it is, the Thakur decided to
publish it in Bengali and in his own name. This could only mean that he was either
sufficiently confident of his own position as a "realized Vaishnava" who could claim
to have mystic visions of this sort and be believed, or that he never intended for it
to be taken literally as history, but as a fanciful work in glorification of Mahaprabhu.

The Gaudiya Math and others who believe in the divine status of Bhaktivinoda take
this work as literal "truth," but to those who do not share in the vision of a
Nabadwip which has its center in Mayapur, it is a gratuitous fabrication.
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2011 8:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Vaishnavas no doubt believe that in some dimension or alternate reality these
events were not only possible, but historically true, even if they were not
necessarily so in our universe. In this sense, we can compare it to his other works
like HarinAma-cintAmaNi, which Bhaktivinoda Thakur wrote as a conversation
between Haridas Thakur and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in Jagannath Puri, or Jaiva
Dharma, which includes characters like Gopal Guru Goswami and Dhyana Chandra –
a kind of historical fiction, as it were.

There is a certain literary license that has been
taken here and is not problematic as long as we recognize the genre.
However, three books that the Thakur published as ancient works were almost
certainly composed by him. These three -- CaitanyopaniSad (1887), Prema-vivarta
(1906) and Navadvipa-satakam (n.d.) have certain common characteristics – they
were all connected to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and the glorification of his birthplace.

The motives are fairly clear: the Thakur was trying to promote Mahaprabhu’s
birthplace and he did it in a fashion time-honored in India. He simply wrote the
material he needed and attributed it to someone who had historical credibility.
Rather than attributing his works to Vyasa or Narottam Das Thakur as did the
counterfeiters of the past, he used the names of Jagadananda Pandit and
Prabodhananda Saraswati.


Bhaktivinoda Thakur did in fact publish many rare manuscripts of genuine
Vaishnava literature, such as Sri Krishna Vijaya, many padyAvalis, etc. He was not the
only one in his time who yielded to the temptation of counterfeiting.

Nevertheless, I
personally find it problematic that someone who contributed so much to the
Vaishnava religion, who worked so hard to instill a spirit of morality and honesty
into Vaishnavism, whose life was in general a monument of commitment to service
to Mahaprabhu and His principles, who in his worldly life was a justice and so
presumably knew a thing or two about ethics and the law, saw fit to take such a
chance.

Furthermore, in view of his familiarity with scholarly historical method, it is hard to
understand how he thought that he could get away with it. Perhaps he thought his
personal probity put him above suspicion.

But did he really think that a single
manuscript found by chance in mysterious circumstances only to disappear again
after its publication would not cause people to examine the published text more
carefully
? And if that text contains elements of language and content that not only
point to a modern origin, but to the very person who claims to have found the
manuscript, will our suspicions not be confirmed?

I can only say that in his enthusiasm to see Mahaprabhu’s birthplace be glorified
and become a center of pilgrimage – as it has indeed become – the Thakur took a
chance with his personal reputation and that of his religion. He succeeded in
making Mayapur a magnet for pilgrims from around the world. His disciples, granddisciples
and great-grand-disciples have succeeded in creating an environment that
is quite extraordinary.

Nevertheless, one cannot help but wonder at the masi-bindu
that stains his otherwise sparkling white cloth. Can we not expect people to ask the
question that naturally arises: How can a religion that needs lies to spread its
message make any claims to be the truth?

It does not give me pleasure to remind us, who are accustomed to thinking
negatively of Bipin Bihari Goswami as someone who was rejected for his caste
consciousness and bad habits like tobacco smoking, that he publicly renounced
Bhaktivinoda Thakur as his disciple shortly before dying in 1919. The reason he gave
for this drastic act was precisely for "preaching falsehoods" connected to the
birthplace of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. It is easy to condemn Bipin Bihari Prabhu for
having some self-interest in this matter, but the doubts that have been brought up
in this article tend to give justification to the Goswami.

I find it rather painful to bring the matter up, and I do so in the full expectation of
being heartily condemned, but I would like to see those who love the Holy Name
and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu face this problem head on, much in the way that Roman
Catholics have decided to accept the terrible things in their history – things which
are many times worse than those we have mentioned here – and still find a way to
justify their faith.

Faith has to be honest to be genuine, and such honesty has to extend to our
forefathers, even those to whom we have attributed the highest spiritual perfection.
It is a shock to accept that our divinities may have had human failings, but I think
this is a necessary step in facing our own failings.
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