I was greatly disturbed today to learn from my godbrother Hari Gopal Dasji Maharaj, the current president of the Bhaktivinode Gosthi, that the Birnagar birthplace of Bhaktivinoda Thakur is under attack. Some neighbors are claiming that they have ancestral rights over the land, even though the property was clearly given to our Gurudeva, Sril Sril Lalita Prasad Thakur, in the 1930’s and the ashram has the papers to prove it.
It happens that the town of Birnagar has grown up around the Dwadash Mandir property, making it extremely valuable real estate. Dwadash Mandir for the most part is unchanged from 40 years ago before greed and development had become the de facto religion of this country. In the last few years, the population of the ashram has dwindled and made it vulnerable to this kind of attack. Land Mafias everywhere in India take advantage of such situations to their profit.
When it became clear to the trustees of the Goshthi that the ashram was in danger, they invited Hari Gopal Dasji to leave his bhajan in Radha Kund and come back to Bengal to protect the land and rebuild the ashram as a fitting place representing Srila Lalita Prasad Thakur’s wing of the Bhaktivinode Thakur legacy.
On accepting this responsibility, Hari Gopal Dasji first began by having a protective wall built around the property. The neighbors filed a case to stay construction, claiming that it was intersecting their own property. Apparently, though, it is now clear that they have their sights set on taking over the entire property, as they have now started putting up buildings on the pukur across from Bhaktivinoda Thakur’s shrine.
The legal papers and so on are all in the Mandir's favor, but it appears that underhanded tactics are being used to prevent the court from making a decision while encroachments are constructed so that will more and more become difficult to remove the squatters, until their occupation becomes a fait accompli.
In this case it appears that local politicians from the Trinamul Party are supporting these people. Hari Gopalji even went as far as getting an audience with Mamta Bannerjee, the CM of West Bengal, thinking that she would be able to rein in the miscreants in her own party, but no action has been taken by her.
Hari Gopal is feeling the pressure as he has no support from any powerful people and has inadequate funds to fight the case. The cards seem to be stacked against him. At any rate, he is on the defensive and in danger of losing, and is very unhappy and disturbed by the situation.
He is even talking of ceding a part of the property to ISKCON, in the hope that they can use their power and influence to protect Bhaktivinode Thakur’s birthplace from falling into the hands of those who are too greedy to recognize the spiritual and ecological value of this property. It may be necessary to lose a village to save the country.
This is really a time for the worldwide nembers of ISKCON, the Gaudiya Math, the World Vaishnava Association, and others in the world-wide Bhaktivinoda Thakur family to put aside any institutional or doctrinal differences and come forth to protect their common heritage, this memorial to the inspiration for the preaching of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s message to every town and village. Indeed, any religious Hindu should be shocked that a place with this kind of religious importance can be so callously turned into just another real estate development to enrich greedy and selfish people.
How can those who love Bhaktivinode Thakur’s contribution to the world-wide prema bhakti mission allow the lovely Dwadash Mandir ashram to be decimated or destroyed by the forces of Kali Yuga?
As to the town of Birnagar itself, even if its people are not Vaishnavas, they should know that its greatest claim to fame is that it is the birthplace of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur. Greed has destroyed many a thing of value in this world. Let this not be one of them.
I ask everyone of my Bengali friends to help fight this injustice. Jai Radhe.
যদি কোনো বাংগালী বন্ধু আমাকে সাহায্য করিয়া এই প্রবন্ধের অনুবাদ করিতে পারে, তিনি ধন্যবাদার্হ হইবেন. ঠকুরের কৃপাপাত্র হইবেন.