The Divine Character of Bhaktivinoda Thakura
By Stephen Knapp
In his Sri Caitanya-shiksamrita he predicted a day when people of all nations, castes, creeds and colors would come under the banners of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and dance together hand in hand in the universal church of the chanting of the Holy Name of God. He believed strongly that the sankirtana movement of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu would bring eternal peace and harmony to the whole world and for this reason he stressed the preaching of Sri Caitanya’s teachings, particularly through the medium of the English language in the world today.
By studying the character, life and literary works of a great Vaishnava acharya, one can derive deep understanding of how to lead one’s life in such a way that devotion to God becomes manifest in the heart. Although in the beginning of Thakura Bhaktivinoda’s life he seemed to display the activities of an ordinary mortal man, one should not wrongly think him to be so, for he is the dearly beloved associate of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna and it was by the Lord’s divine wish that he appeared on this mundane plane of existence, for the spiritual reformation of fallen humanity of the nineteenth century was in a miserable plight. There were so many off-shoots from the main stem of religion, each sect preaching its own philosophy, that people were thrown into utter confusion and did not know what the pure religion was. It then became a necessity for a leader to save the good souls who were hankering for their real welfare. To quench their thirst a bhakta-avatara was badly needed and that avatara appeared in the form of Thakura Bhaktivinoda. His religious disposition was observed from his very childhood and as he grew older he studied all the religious books of the world and appreciated the doctrines preached by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu as the most sublime of all and the surest path to lead the fallen souls to the feet of God. The enlightened and cultured men of the present age have now learned to honor this most sublime philosophy which the Thakura brought to light and which would have lain buried in darkness, had he not opened their eyes.