Sunday, February 26, 2017

Postscript to Bhaktivinoda Janma Sthan threats

Postscript to Bhaktivinoda Thakur's birthplace under threats from Land Mafias.

I am thinking a little bit more about the idea that ISKCON might have a permanent presence in Birnagar.

I will be quite frank, my gurudeva never wanted Dwadash Mandir to "fall into the hands" of the Gaudiya Math or ISKCON. He was not an ambitious man, my gurudeva, in the sense of wanting to become a great guru. He wanted a simple life that was reclusive in style. If he was a guru, he was a rural guru in the traditional Vaishnava manner. Totally Bengali Vaishnava, but with the stamp of Bhaktivinoda Thakur. He wanted to preserve Bhaktivinoda Thakur's tradition in the way that he himself did it, saw it, and wanted it.

If this were to happen, the fear is that by running from the lion one will fall into the mouth of the tiger. If we run to ISKCON as our protector, will they turn into predators themselves, in their high-minded idea of appropriating some kind of monopoly on his legacy.

I can see the positive possibilities but negotiations will be needed. I would rather that other options be found, but I there is a certain inevitability about it. I don't know that we will be able to pull this one out of the hat ourselves. Let's see what Bhaktivinoda Thakur himself wants. All is Bhagavan's lila. I don't think he is unhappy that his teachings have been spread to all parts of the world.

And Prabhupada's work is a good reminder to the people of Bengal that their contribution to the world is not just an eternal game of playing catchup to the West.

The coming of Kali Yuga means that the reclusive bhajan style becomes harder and harder to maintain. To the rajasik, it appears like tamas. And in the unevolved mind, sattva does easily deteriorate into tamas. It seems that we no longer have the luxury of sacred cows. Do we need, in order to protect the soul of our Krishna consciousness, which is bhajanananda, to take shelter of the rajasik? The rajasik must protect and serve the sattvik, which is the life of bhajan.

Bhaktivinoda Janma Sthan is meant to be a window into another age. Nowadays, for show, everyone wants to put up a marble temple and a big gate and have impressive deities and so on. Lots of high class musical devotional entertainment. The externals have taken precedence. It is no one's fault, it is the nature of the age.

But the task of the devotee is still to turn inwardly. And this is what Lalita Prasad Thakur taught. Being the younger son, he was more influenced by the latter part of Bhaktivinode Thakur's life when he was more devotee than philosopher or intellectual. Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati, being older, took the more externally-oriented thought and went with that. The two sons represent two legitimate paths that originate with Bhaktivinoda Thakur -- the goshthyanandi and the bhajananandi.

These two are like two wings on a bird. You sacrifice one and it is the bird who can no longer fly. So the thought that the purest tradition of bhajanananda will not be preserved in the Bhaktivinoda Dhara is, in a very real sense, committing a kind of suicide.

It is very much like worshiping your mother. Birnagar is a place of the Mother Goddess, Ula Chandi. The Dwadash Mandir consisted of ten Shiva temples, and a temple to Durga and one for Kali. Though these temples have been converted to other use -- one Shiva linga is there, and the Durga temple is now the home of Gaur Gadadhar, and the Kali temple has been left unused due to concerns about the appropriateness of its use for anything, since animal sacrifices held there had rendered it not so. But the presence of the Mother nevertheless stands guard and also influences the overall mood of the ashram.

This is where the mother of Bhaktivinoda Thakur, brought forth that soul into Prakriti. Let his entire legacy be protected, not just the externals of Bhakti for the Material World.

What I am trying to say is that homogenizing Vaishnavism is a danger to Vaishnavism. All spiritual discoveries come from the inner path.
This is the shrine to Bhaktivinoda Thakur's birthplace by the kund. The image is taken from the spot that is claimed by the encroachers.

1 comment:

Ed Yazijian said...

Happy Birthday, old man! Hope you have many more happy years ahead.