Bhaktivinoda Thakur's meat eating - the complete story

Bhaktivinoda Thakur's meat eating has been a subject of some interest on this blog. The article I wrote in 2007 has been one of the most read on this site and still regularly attracts readers. As I have been revising the translation of Sva-likhita-jīvanī, I have been asked by certain people to censor any mention of meat-eating in the book. I have said emphatically, "absolutely not," because it is my feeling that this would completely destroy one of the principal themes of the book itself.

Bhaktivinoda Thakur's autobiography is an extremely interesting work, especially to one who is directly in disciplic succession from him. It was written as a letter to his son and disciple, my guru Sri Lalita Prasad Thakur, when he was only a boy of 15. It is hard to understand what the purpose of such a confession would have been in that context. Lalita Prasad was born and brought up in a household where there was a shuddha sattvika diet of prasad. He had feelings of hero-worship for his father that he never gave up. Why then did his father endanger that mood in his son by confessing to something that would have been considered reprehensible in the society of pure Vaishnavas?

In part, I feel, it is because Bhaktivinoda wished to present a realistic picture of his own spiritual development as a part of his "modern" approach to spiritual life, and also to warn against discrimination based on dietary considerations alone, which is indeed a fundamental cause of caste consciousness and discrimination etc.

People said to me that a Vaishnava's life prior to his conversion and purification are not to be considered, and that is indeed true, but in this case, Bhaktivinoda Thakur himself has raised the subject, so we need to look at how it is an underlying theme through the work and directly connected to his spiritual development.

Sensitivity about diet is something that the Thakur himself was no doubt quite aware of and his statement at the beginning of the Autobiography, where he warns his son "not to misuse this work," was no doubt connected to this very issue. He knew there were people who would find fault and hold the character flaw of meat and fish eating over his head to diminish his stature and undermine his legitimacy as a speaker of Vaishnava dharma or a bona-fide Vaishnava. It is indeed true that the previous character of a convert is not held to account, but the teaching of the shastra is that one cannot commit sins enough to challenge the power of the Holy Name to absolve them.

In Bṛhad-viṣṇu Purāṇa, it is said:

nāmno hi yāvatī śaktiḥ pāpa-nirharaṇe hareḥ
tāvat kartuṁ na śaknoti pātakaṁ pātakī naraḥ
"Lord Hari's name is invested with infinite potency to relieve us of our sins. Even the most sinful person is incapable of committing more sins than the Holy Name can eradicate." (Bṛhadviṣṇu Purāṇa, quoted in Bhakti-sandarbha)
Let's look at some of the places where the Thakur mentions meat eating. Of course, without stating it explicitly, it is obvious that in his childhood, the family ate meat and fish. They were Shaktas. Ula Birnagar was heavily populated with Shaktas and there were several temples to Kali and Durga in the house and in the town, which after all was named after a shrine to Ula, a form of the goddess. The festivals of Durga Puja and especially Kali Puja featured goat sacrifices galore. One has to assume he participated in the prevailing dietary habits.
Starting from the Shashti [the first day of the Durga Pooja], the noise of the kettle drums would shake the whole building. On Nabami many goats and buffalo would be sacrificed to the goddess. The ladies of the house would carry burning frankincense on their heads and participate in the worship of the goddess in their own way.

A deity made of stone known as Deendayamayi Kali was worshiped in a nine-spired temple. On the actual night of Kali Pooja there would always be great fanfare. Everybody used to enjoy this occasion, but it was doom for the goats. Most of the brahmins and pandits used to come solely out of lust for the taste of mutton. [page 10 of the MS]
The first negative incident related to meat eating takes place when the seven-year old Kedar and his nine-year old brother Kaliprasanna were sent to Krishnanagar to a newly established college to study. He recounts the following story:
One day our Diwan [estate manager] Govinda Auch came to our residence and had mutton cooked for dinner. Later that night my brother Kali Dada started vomiting and having diarrhea from eating the mutton. A doctor, Kali Lahiri, said it was cholera and his situation was very serious. It was decided that Kali and I should go immediately back to Ula, so the two of us set out on the palanquin early the next morning. Kali Dada was getting more and more dejected as time passed.

After crossing the river Anjana I made more and more effort to calm his mind. The palanquin arrived at Ula by eight o'cock in the morning. An hour later Kali Dada gave up his life. When I heard the women of the house begin to wail and lament, I knew that a disaster had befallen us. My uncle had arranged to feed brahmins at his house that day. Along with it, the Kayastha community was also supposed to have a feast, but now the whole affair had to be called off. (pages 29-30 of the MS)
Clearly being such a close witness to his brother's rapid and horrible death made a deep impression on him as the siblings were very close.

A more significant event yet takes place a few years later, when Kedar is already in Calcutta studying. He falls ill and is brought back to Ula Birnagar in the hope that the country environment will be salutary. This story is of greater interest than merely the meat eating issue, but I am abridging it in the interest of keeping to the topic at hand, since the Thakur's account is fairly lengthy. The "Gurudeva" in question belongs to the Kartabhaja sect, one of the heterodox Vaishnava groups, though his actions seem to go beyond the religious sect's teachings.
After thinking a good deal about my complicated illness, Mother spoke with a woman from the leather worker caste (Muchi) whom we called Kala's mother [Kalar Ma]. She said he would bring a fakir the following morning and that he would cure me by means of exorcism. I waited in the morning and a very dark-skinned man of the leather-working caste named Fakir Chand arrived. I had previously seen him playing the dhol drum. He performed the exorcism by dusting me with the leaves of the bakash plant, and then gave me a powder to take. Immediately after that, he gave me a mantra and told me to repeat it regularly. [He told me] all would be revealed in a dream.

He asked that my mother cook only vegetarian food for me. He told me to eat rice cooked with ripe tamarind. I followed his prescriptions and after two days, while I slept, I dreamed that a black snake was leaving my body. I related this to the fakir the very next morning and he told me that all danger had passed. He said, "Now you do not have to follow the rules any more. Go and take a bath and eat. But continue to recite the mantra.” Within just two or three days I felt that all my troubles were going away.

I then went and ate heartily, but the fakir declared, "You must not eat any meat, and you should call upon the Satya Purusha [the Supreme Person as Truth] with all your mental strength. You must not eat any other god's prasad, nor believe in any other god."

As I started to get better, the fakir said, "Come with me, we will visit my gurudeva!" I went with a happy heart. The fakirs resided in the Muchi neighborhood of Beledanga. The fakir's Gurudeva was also a Muchi by caste, and had previously worked as a cobbler as well. He had several huts in his compound, one of which was designated for worship. That is where he was sitting when we arrived.

I paid my dandavat obeisances on the ground in front of him.. He bestowed his blessings on my body with his merciful hand and gave me four pieces of murkhi [puffed rice with molasses], which I ate reverently. He then asked me, "Have all your illnesses been completely cured?" I answered, "All the other illnesses are gone, but the itching is still there."

Gurudev then gave the order, "Beat Kalu Rai and Dakshin Rai." [These are folk deities from the Sundarbans and likely have no direct connection to the Kartabhaja sect.]

Immediately upon hearing this order, another fakir took a brand new broom and started to beat Kalu Rai and Dakshin Rai, represented by large stones. Some emotion arose in Gurudeva and he started to sing with great feeling:

eka dina maniṣera caraṇa gheme chila
tāi dravamayī gaṅgā hala
"Once upon a time the feet of man began to sweat
and so the liquid Ganga began to flow."

When his emotional state had subsided, he commanded me as follows, "Today your itching will become better. You must come and tell me whatever dreams you have at night the very next morning."
Amazingly, my itching stopped almost completely that very night. I dreamed that I was putting lime powder on the sores. When I related my dream to Gurudeva in the morning, he ordered me to do as I had seen in the dream. I used the powder and within three days my sores were all gone.

Now I began to eat good quality food and my body began to fill out. Gradually my strength and courage increased. My faith in Gurudeva also grew steadily. One day, Gurudeva showed me his mercy by changing the mantra he had given me and giving me a more subtle one. I chanted this mantra with devotion day and night. I had many kinds of dreams. I would dream about whatever had been on my mind during the day. Gurudeva gave me the order to heal others' illnesses, which I started to do.

I would go to Gurudeva daily, at no particular time. His name was Goloka. [Here he gives some explanation of the Kartabhaja sect's history and doctrines].

Even though Gurudev was a Muchi I had no lack of reverence for him..One day he said to me, "Soon the village of Ula will be almost completely destroyed. Its people will die from fever and disease. In fact It will be so bad that there will be no one remaining in the village."
[In Calcutta that same year] During the rainy season I again got blood dysentery. This time also I had it in my mind to go to the fakirs in Ula to get cured, but I had been a little at fault in breaking the rules and so I was ashamed to go to them. I had been eating fish and meat, and moreover taking prasad from other gods, so the power of the mantra had diminished. As a result I no longer made any effort at chanting my mantra as it would be just like the bathing of an elephant. (pages 61-66 of the MS)
This story is interesting for many reasons, not the least one being that a wealthy zamindar's son who was studying in Calcutta with youth of elite society, living in an exclusive neighborhood with his uncle Kashi Prasad Ghosh, a famous literary man, had such innocent faith in someone from the lowest category of society. But in terms of our subject, one can see that the the miraculous nature of the cure and his subsequent shame at failing to keep the rules he had been taught made a deep and lasting impression.

Writing about the period following 1861, when Bhaktivinoda Thakur was living in Midnapore as a teacher under Rajnarayan Basu, a well known leader of the Brahmo Samaj. At this point, although in Calcutta he had been closely related to the Brahmos at their very source, namely Joro Sanko, the home of the Tagores in Calcutta, he was differentiating himself from them. In his budding appreciation for Vaishnavism -- which he still did not know very well -- the meat eating issue played a role significant enough to be mentioned.
In those days my thoughts on religion were to the effect that the Brahmo religion was dominated by dry knowledge and thus not good. I thought that the universal brotherhood taught by Jesus Christ was the best of all. Of all kinds of worship, only that of devotion filled with relish was good. While still in Calcutta I had read all the books written by scholars of Unitarianism, Theodore Parker and others. Because of that, I had a bit of faith in Jesus.

I had also had some faith in bhakti which had begun in my childhood. While in Ulagram I used to feel great bliss on hearing Hari kirtan. One day, one of my maternal grandfather's servants chastised some Jati Vaishnavas [caste Vaishnavas] for fishing in a pond. He told them that it was very lowly behavior for Vaishnavas to kill any living entity. I overheard this conversation and concluded that it was not right for Vaishnavas to kill living beings. Shaktas sacrifice to the Goddess, kill the animal and eat its meat; they also kill fish and eat them. In this world, the Vaishnavas have the wiser position.

Moreover, I recall going to the house of Jaga Vaishnava, where Nam kirtan would be held with much dancing, and torrents of tears poured from some of the devotees' eyes. All these incidents created in me a great faith in bhakti. Moreover, the Kartabhajas had cured me when I was ill, and that too made me realize the strength of the Vaishnava religion. (pages 105-106 of the MS)
This makes it quite clear that Bhaktivinoda Thakur considered non-violence and vegetarianism to be among the attractive and superior moral features of the Vaishnava religion.

While in Chapra in 1866, Bhaktivinoda Thakur became quite ill with an ulcer, which he blamed on his diet.
At that time I used to eat a lot of fish and meat. I had known that killing animals was bad for a long time, but I still had a strong desire to enjoy fish and meat. Chapra had very large fish, but I did not like them. So I ate more mutton. After prolonged eating of food of this kind combined with red chillies and mustard pickle, I developed a bleeding ulcer. (page 127 of the MS)
The illness took a long time to cure. The Thakur even goes so far as to write out the Ayurvedic recipe he followed that cured him of the illness.

Over the next few years, Bhaktivinoda became more familiar with Vaishnava philosophy and practice in Dinajpore (1867-1869), Puri (1870-1875) and Narail (1878-1880). In Puri he was associating with the renounced Vaishnava babajis and speaking on the Bhagavatam in Jagannath Vallabha gardens and in the Kurma Bedha near Mahaprabhu's lotus feet. He had even begun writing in Sanskrit, his first work in that language being Datta-kaustubha in 1874. Despite this, he still had not given up meat and fish. His association with Bipin Bihari Goswami began while he was still in Puri, and continue on until he was in Narail. Then in a very brief comment, the Thakur says,
While I was living in Narail I took diksha along with my wife. I had been searching for a suitable guru for a long time but without success. I was very unhappy on that account. It seemed that if I had faith in anyone, upon examining his philosophical ideas and character, I would lose that little bit of faith. I had done much anxious thinking, but the Lord erased my unhappiness by appearing to me in a dream. In the dream I got some indication of what was to happen and when morning came, I felt joyful. One or two days later Gurudeva wrote to me saying, "I will come soon and give you initiation." When Gurudeva came and performed the initiation rituals, it made me very cheerful. From that very day the sinful desire for eating meat was removed from my heart and I began to feel some compassion towards all living beings.  (page 175 of the MS)
My only point in compiling these excerpts here is to show that this was a significant issue for Bhaktivinoda Thakur and that his faith in his guru's mercy was enhanced by what seemed like a miraculous transformation. He had really liked eating meat and fish even though he thought it was detrimental spiritually and he considered it morally wrong. So, in effect, the entire book kind of leads up to this point. Despite his knowledge and learning, it took the mercy of his spiritual master to get him to be free of this anartha.

In a country like Bengal, where people are generally extremely attached to fish and to a lesser extent mutton, to the point that even most Vaishnavas consider the "fruits of the water" to be part of a vegetarian diet, perhaps Bhaktivinoda Thakur felt that his story was one that would inspire others to give up this unwholesome habit. To excise the account of this transformation in Bhaktivinoda Thakur is, to a great extent, to emasculate the story of his spiritual development. That is why I would never try to do so.

As Prem Prakash said not so long ago in response to another article on this same issue, which is worthy of reading in this context, this story is meant to increase the aspirant's faith, not to hamper it. Those who are vegetarians from their birth and who would lower Bhaktivinoda Thakur in their esteem on account of this are not aware of the philosophy of devotion, which considers all sin to be remediable. They should take note of the verse quoted above.


Anonymous said…
I always wondered what name did Bipin Bihari Goswami give to Bhaktivinode at his initiation (i though that 'Bhakti Vinode' was a title bestowed upon him later), and also when he accepted vesha, was his name changed at all, or did he simply become known as Bhakti Vinode Dasa Babaji?
Jagadananda Das said…
It is a good question I have just been wondering about, since BVT says he wrote Kalyana Kalpa Taru and published it in 1880, nearabout the time he was initiated. But in the current edition there is a lot that indicates a close connection to Ananga Manjari/Jahnava Mata, and the use of "Vinoda" and "Bhaktivinoda" in the signature of many songs.

I don't think that the giving of names at initiation was such a thing in traditional Vaishnava circles, except in the case of taking the renounced order. I don't have access to a first edition of KKT, so I am unable to proceed further in settling the question. The Bhaktivinoda title was given on the occasion of the 400th appearance day of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in 1886.
Jagadananda Das said…
There is also the name "Saccidananda" which BVT himself used as an alias ("Saccidananda Tarkalankar") for a time when making his first Vaishnava related publications in around 1869. But somehow that is now frequently used along with Bhaktivinoda as a name. I don't know whether it is simply from that early pen-name type of use to anything more official.

Since BVT gave himself vesh, he perhaps gave himself that name. But since he spent the latter part of his life after taking vesh at home in Calcutta, the entire question might be moot.
Prem Prakash said…
Jagadananda Das, Reading this and the related posts, this may be among your most valuable contributions. Anyone who holds that you are demeaning BVT could not have really read your writing. For me, Thakurji's actual life, not the mythology, makes Krishna bhakti something truly accessible. He may be a superhero of devotion, but he is not a superman born on another planet who came to Earth from outer pace. Because he rose above the flawed life of the Western lifestyle, well, perhaps there is some hope for me, too.

I wonder why some might feel threatened by the reality of his life. I think, perhaps, his example truly challenges us to become bhaktas. His realm is not a peak of accomplishment forever beyond our reach. I also think the truth about BVT requires disciples of Prabhupada to look at their guru's own life. It seems that for many of them, his life didn't begin until he stepped onto the Jaladuta. None of us would likely even know about Krishna Consciousness without him, and he deserves our respect and appreciation. Still, his early life of family and career is not something that ISKCON seems willing to confront.
Jagadananda Das said…
From Facebook:

Madan Gopaldas Marcus Vinícius it is very funny how the publication of a 'fact' causes different reactions in different people;

this 'meat-eating' issue that BT reveals in his autobiography;

in my particular case, the discovery of these details in BT's life had a positive effect;

for the first time I began to really believe in the process of krsna consciousness; I thought to myself; [then it is possible, by the power of the singing of the holy names; by the force of being blessed by a bonafide gurudeva; by the force of the practice of bhajan and sadhan; it is possible for all to purify their hearts; receive the grace of 'prema-dhana' in the mood of the heart of mahaprabhu;]

but for some people, this becomes a TABU where discussion is avoided; because you can get to the point of this truth [the fact that BT has eaten meat in his time of sakta]; can mean the destruction of the bhakti heritage that these people have built;

these revelations only made the beauty of the process of consciousness of krsna 'stronger' and further increased my 'nistha' in the process of bhakti presented by sri krsna caitanya mahaprabhu, his parsadas and goudiya-param-para;

the publication of these 'truths'; I feel like having the 'soul' washed, purified; and the more open and optimistic heart in treading the process of bhakti;
Facts are stubborn things.

Some Gaudiya "Math" personalities dismiss Bhaktivenoda Thakur's autobiography as a mere "ISKCON thing" or fabrication.

I found it tremendously inspiring when I first read many years ago that BT had eaten meat, even in Puri.
Jagadananda Das said…
Uttamashloka Das posted a link to this article on a FB group for Prabhupada disciples, which immediately attracted the attention of people who wished to minimize anything I say because I "rejected" Prabhupada.

This article makes it clear that Bhaktivinoda (1) felt that Bipin Bihari Goswami was someone whom he felt had both knowledge of the correct siddhanta and at the same time (2) was empowered to produce in him "mercy to all living beings" which was manifested by his giving up meat eating.

Bhaktivinoda Thakur was 42 years old at the time and already very knowledgeable in the scriptures, already having written several books on Vaishnavism, including songs of a devotional nature. To think that his assessment of his guru were insufficient undermines the authority one invests in him.

So the Gaudiya Math opinion that BVT at some time rejected Bipin Bihari is a serious charge that has no foundation in any written materials anywhere.

My gurudeva says that Bhaktivinoda Thakur did not approve of his son's critical attitude towards his own Guru. This is why Bhaktisiddhanta did not take initiation from his father. There is no other reason.

The entire edifice of the Gaudiya Math is built on Bhaktivinoda Thakur's writings. The main books published by the Gaudiya Maths, with a few exceptions, are all his contributions. In other words, Bhaktisiddhanta's primary shiksha guru was Bhaktivinoda Thakur. Jiva Goswami says clearly in Bhakti Sandarbha that the shiksha guru in most cases becomes the diksha guru. But something did not allow that to take place.

We have heard many stories, but none of them adequately explains this better than that Bhaktivinoda refused to give him initiation because of the disagreements -- whatever they were -- between BSST and BBG.

Rejecting a diksha guru is not an easy matter. People in ISKCON do not look upon me as anything other than a traitor and apostate. They think of me as an aparadhi. I say that the way that they think of me is exactly the way that Akinchan Lalita Prasad Thakur looked at his older brother.

Bhaktivinoda never rejected his guru, nor did he replace him with Jagannath Das Babaji as a "shiksha guru." The Bhakti Sandarbha says that if one's diksha guru is alive, he should take a shiksha guru with his permission. Is there ANY possibility that Bhaktivinoda Thakur would not have gotten such permission from Bipin Bihari Goswami, when Jagannath Das Babaji was universally accepted as a siddha by ALL Vaishnavas? In other words, there is no conflict. And anyone who claims that Bhaktivinoda replaced one with the other is committing guror avajna.

The only reason given in Bhakti Sandarbha for rejecting a guru is that he has become a "hater of Vaishnavas" (vaiSNava-vidveSI). If such a thing were the case, I believe that this would have been made abundantly clear somewhere. But there is no evidence of such a thing. Personal animosity might have existed but being a vaiSNava-vidveSI is seriously heavy stuff and indicates a complete abandonment of bhakti.

So, does that mean that I reject Prabhupada because I thought that he was a vaiSNava-vidveSI or that BSS was?

No. I made an adjustment, considering that my initiation from that sampradaya was illegitimate because it was not a diksha line, but a so-called shiksha sampradaya. In other words, it is a new sampradaya that does not have the kind of connection to the original associates of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu that Bhaktivinoda Thakur had. The only remedy for this was to link with BVT through my guru Lalita Prasad Thakur.

Inasmuch as Bhaktivedanta Swami and Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati led me to my guru, they are my shiksha gurus and worthy of my eternal respect. No matter what the people in Iskcon say.

Jagadananda Das said…
The concept of a shiksha sampradaya is not altogether without foundation. There is a great importance to teachings, But since the shiksha of Rupa Goswami included initiation (See BRS 1.2.74) and Bhakti-sandarbha also argues that though in theory there is no need for diksha, since it is stated frequently that the Holy Name does not depend on initiation, it is still advised.

For the most part Gaudiya Vaishnavas do not accept self-appointed gurus, and that is one reason why the Ritvik doctrine is unlikely to achieve success, even though the Ritviks try to use the shiksha sampradaya concept as an excuse for "jumping over" as Prabhupada himself called it.

The fact is that just as Bipin Bihari Goswami would have approved of Jagannath Das Babaji, he also would have approved of everyone in the so-called shiksha parampara. What is missing from that shiksha parampara is that every one in it had a diksha guru in a diksha parampara. So if one rejects the diksha parampara, then what is the meaning of shiksha parampara?

So is diksha of no importance other than a kind of confirmation of the shiksha? In Bhagavatam, diksha is equated with anugraha, or mercy. The special nature of our sampradaya is that diksha is a way of connecting to the avatar generation. Since we have a very high concept of Chaitanya as the incarnation of God who descended with his eternal associates, the diksha parampara is very much a way of connecting to that avatar generation.

Does it make a difference that I belong to a line that culminates in Ramai Thakur of Baghna Para and Jahnava Mata, Nityananda's shakti? Why does Bhaktivinoda Thakur himself show such special affection for Jahnava? Why is that affection not detectable in the Gaudiya Math or Iskcon? Because they don't have that connection.

I say that yes the power of the Holy Name goes on within the Gaudiya Math and ISKCON, in large part due to the mercy of Bhaktivinoda Thakur. After all Bhaktisiddhanta was his son and received a great deal of love from his father, as well as all the other benefits that came of being the son of a great knowledgeable and influential saint. But the rejection of the Guru parampara means that there is a defect in the entire GM and ISKCON, that ultimately will show itself when devotees seek entry into the higher reaches of bhakti.

That is why I say the "sins of the father are visited on the children." The guror avajna ultimately is passed on like an original sin or a particular DNA sequence.

Naturally, ISKCON people look at me as the one in the wrong because they cannot believe that Prabhupada and Bhaktisiddhanta are not completely without any defect. No matter how highly elevated anyone is, I don't believe that anyone is beyond critique, even while one may recognize the work of the Divine Samashti Guru in them. One has to be a sara-grahi.

If there were faults in Bipin Bihari Goswami -- I have heard several candidates for such defects -- that does not mean that his role as the one who gave BVT a connection to the avatar generation and as such he was a father to him. The birth-giving father cannot ever be rejected in real terms.

I don't expect ISKCON people to understand where I am coming from. How could they? And they for the most part don't need to. Let them function at their level of adhikara and they will do fine. It is wrong of me to go on their territory to tell my Truth. If they want to read what I have to say, there is plenty of it on this blog. And there will be more, as I have found that one of my major articles on this subject was never published here. So that will be coming soon. It is a 20-year-old article, so I may have to make a few changes and additions, but it was an important article at the time. Published in JVS. Radhe Radhe.
Jagadananda Das said…
Put another way, paramparA means "tradition." You can have all kinds of traditions, like a popular tradition, it is a popular tradition to take bath in the Yamuna on certain days of the year.

Different kinds of teaching tradition exist. The Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition was that one takes initiation in a line of gurus and their disciples that continues up to the avatar generation.

Bhaktisiddhanta broke with that tradition. But in doing so, he implicitly accepted it by restarting a new diksha parampara that starts with him. Gaura Kishor's relation to him is like that of Madhavendra Puri or Ishwar Puri to Mahaprabhu. There is nothing beyond that.

[And here you find me disagreeing with Bhaktivinoda Thakur because he did accept the Madhvacharya connection and the four sampradayas "tradition." That was a new tradition that only came into existence around 1700 a.d. I wrote about this and their is something on my blog. I just saw something from the Shyamasundar temple in Vrindavan where the sevait there is arguing that since the Shyamanananda line has no tradition of a connection to Madhva, that Baladeva Vidyabhushan could not have had one either.]

Bhaktivionda Thakur himself says in Krishna Samhita that he did not consider his view of history to be final and that with new evidence people might correct him and he did not oppose that. So I feel that he has given me the right to adjust my understanding with the finding of new evidence. And in the case of the Madhva sampradaya, there seems to me to be overpowering evidence to show that this was something that was a move based on political expedience.]
Anonymous said…
the main problem that people have with the "meat eating" is the nitya siddha concept
Anonymous said…
Bhaktivinoda wrote in 1880 (?) that diksha had removed the "desire" of eating meat - which is not evidence that he was still eating meat at the time , ie at Puri
Jagadananda Das said…
He was writing in 1896. The point of this article is to show that BVT was eating meat all the way up to 1880 and that he felt it was his guru's mercy that freed him of this anartha. Why would he mention all these meat-eating related incidents otherwise?
Unknown said…
Are Gaurakishore das babaji and Jaggannath das babaji maharajas born in pure Brahmin caste?
bruce said…
Wonderful essay. I used to read you a lot 20 years ago Jagat and we briefly corresponded. This brings back to me how inspired I've been by your insights.

It reminds me of St Paul and Martin Luther, the kinds of problems they wrestled with and the insights they had*. The real Bhaktivinoda is so much more inspiring than the idol they have created, although his personality even shines through that if you read his books like Jaiva Dharma carefully without assumptions, As He Is.

I read parts of the letter 20 years ago but it was too much to take in. Good to have you studying it and pointing out insights. Surely it is authentic. Why would anyone go to so much trouble except Bhaktivinoda the prolific writer himself? A forger would only write a few pages or copy someone else's story. The the voice in this sounds much like the voice in his other works. Anyway some of us get it, the majority probably never will.
Jagadananda said…
Thank you for your kind remarks, Bruce. Jai Radhe.

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