During a visit to Kendrapara, Orissa, 28th Sep 1993 on the 155th anniversary of the Divine Appearance of Sri Srimad Acarya Thakura Bhaktivinoda, Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja spoke of the spiritual significance of Choti and how it is sripat, the native place of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura. Though relatively unknown at the time, Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja had predicted the establishment of Choti as a very important holy Vaisnava Tirtha, a very sacred place. Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja concluded that the establishment of Choti and revealing it to the world, would not be possible without the causeless mercy of Sri Srimad Acarya Thakura Bhaktivinoda.
Sri Sri Radha-Madhava Comes to Orissa
Five hundred years ago when Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu launched the sankirtan movement of the congregational chanting of the holy names of the Lord, He commissioned His closest associates to spread the movement everywhere. On the order of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Sri Nityananda Prabhu travelled extensively throughout Bengal, humbly begging everyone He met to chant Hare Krsna and worship Sri Sri Radha-Krishna. Many Bengalis surrendered at His lotus feet, becoming His disciples and adopting the Gaudiya Vaisnava way of life. Among these disciples was Krishnananda Dutta, a wealthy landowner residing in Andul, not far from present-day Calcutta. Krishnananda Dutta worshiped deities of Sri Sri Radha-Madhava in his home in Andul.
After his retirement from family affairs, Krishnananda Dutta, taking Sri Sri Radha-Madhava with him, moved to the holy place Puri, Orissa, home of the famous temple of Lord Jagannatha. In Puri, Krishnananda lived a pious and simple life, not speaking to anyone, but chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra the whole day and night, and worshipping Sri Sri Radha-Madhava. After living in Puri for some time, he met the feudal king of Ali State, about two hundred kilometers from Puri. Impressed with Krishnananda’s spiritual qualities, the king invited him to live in his state, where he donated an entire village, named Choti (formerly called Choti Mangalpur), to the worship of Sri Sri Radha-Madhava.
The Ninth Generation - Sri Srimad Acarya Thakura Bhaktivinoda
The descendants of Krishnananda Dutta worshiped Sri Sri Radha-Madhava in Choti from generation to generation. Eventually the worship passed into the hands of his descendent Kedaranath Dutta (1838-1914), who is well-known to all Gaudiya Vaisnavas as Sri Srimad Acarya Thakura Bhaktivinoda, the great Vaisnava Acarya who was the first to present the teachings of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in the English language and in a modern context. He was the first to think of presenting these teaching for the English speaking world by writing many books. In particular, he presented the vaisnava siddhanta in easy to understand song and poem form. Therefore it is said, Sri Srimad Acarya Thakura Bhaktivinoda is the first founder of ISKCON and the seventh Goswami. He predicted that the day will come when both the devotees from the Western countries and Eastern countries will all assemble in Mayapur and chant, Jaya Sacinandan! His words have come true.
Srila Prabhupada Always Sings the Song “Jaya Radha-Madhava”
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura wrote hundreds of songs glorifying the Supreme Lord in Bengali, Sanskrit, and Brajaboli (a dialect that combines Bengali, Sanskrit, and Oriya). His songs capture the essence of Gaudiya Vaisnava philosophy. One song, “Jaya Radha-Madhava”, was a favourite of Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who would sing it every day just before his public lectures. This song paints a beautiful picture of the Vrndavana pastimes of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s beloved Lordships Sri Sri Radha-Madhava.
Sri Sri Radha-Madhava and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura Maharaja Prabhupada
After the departure of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, the worship of Sri Sri Radha-Madhava was handed down to his son, Bimala Prasad Dutta, also known as Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura Maharaja, the spiritual master of Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada. Because Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Maharaja was a great Acarya Vaishnava and a dedicated sannyasi travelling preacher, whenever he visited Choti he didn’t like to stay in his family house; instead he would visit the temple of Sri Sri Radha-Madhava and stay in the nearby Dassahera Mandap.
Unfortunately, after the divine disappearance of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Maharaja from this world, the worship of Sri Sri Radha-Madhava became neglected. The local family in charge of the daily worship, schemed a plan to lay their own claim on the lands belonging to Sri Sri Radha-Madhava. In approximately the year 1950, they secretly buried Sri Sri Radha-Madhava under the ground at a temple in another village. Claiming that the murti of Sri Sri Radha-Madhava had become broken and thus, according to traditional practice, had to be submerged in the nearby Birupa River. Then they removed Sri Sri Radha-Madhava from the ground and secretly gave Them to a poor brahmana family. Sri Sri Radha-Madhava resided in the house of this brahmana for about fifty years, unknown to the whole of the Gaudiya Vaisnava community.
Choti is the Sripat, the Native Place of Sri Srimad Acarya Thakura Bhaktivinoda
In the terminology of Gaudiya Vaisnavas, the native place of a great Vaisnava is called a sripat, and such places are considered worshipable, holy tirthas. But just as the village of Choti was deprived for five decades of seeing its proprietors, Sri Sri Radha-Madhava, the village – the native place of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Maharaja – became forgotten by the spiritual descendants of these two great Vaisnava Acaryas during that time. However now the ISKCON devotees from Bhubaneswar, under the guidence and instructions of Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja, go every year to Choti to perform sankirtan.
A Dedicated Researcher
Fortunately for us all, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura left information about his connection with Choti in his autobiography. Dr. Fakir Mohan Das, a research scholar and professor at Utkal University in Bhubaneswar and one of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s spiritual descendants, came across this information. Starting in 1982, Dr. Fakir Mohan Das visited Choti whenever he had the opportunity, and through painstaking research he eventually uncovered and published the facts about the history of the place for the benefit of the Gaudiya Vaisnava community. Re-establishing the worship of Sri Sri Radha-Madhava in Choti is developing under the guidance of the "International Thakur Bhaktivinode and Thakur Bhaktisiddhanta Memorial Trust".
His Divine Grace Srila Gour Govinda Swami Srila Gurudeva
On the 28th September 1993, on the 155th anniversary of the divine appearance of Sri Srimad Acarya Thakura Bhaktivinoda, a public meeting was held in Kendrapara, Orissa, to glorify Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, whose portrait was being installed in honor of his being the first law graduate of Orissa. In his speech, His Divine Grace Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja, declared the following: “Choti is the sripat, native place of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, and he resided there. [The village of Choti] having been decorated with the dust of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s lotus feet, is a very sacred place. But most people have not known about it. This place is now coming to everyone’s notice because of the blessings of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura. Getting the strength of that blessing, the research scholar Dr. Fakir Mohan Das has been working to reveal this place to the world. Without such blessings, no one can do this work. Sripad Fakir Mohan Das may face much opposition, but after resisting this opposition strongly, he will surely establish the real truth.”
Dr. Fakir Mohan Das was never fully satisfied with the story of how Sri Sri Radha-Madhava had been submerged in the river, and he continued to make inquiries. He found two witnesses who, after hearing the story about the broken vigraha forms of Sri Sri Radha-Madhava, declared that Srimati Radharani’s murti form was made of brass. And brass cannot break, so how was it possible that Sri Sri Radha-Madhava murti form had became broken? So, it became clear that the story told by the neighbours was not true. In 1999, a supercyclone destroyed many villages in Orissa, and Choti was also severely affected. In one of the houses, a murti form of Sri Sri Radha-Krishna became visible. Someone informed Dr. Fakir Mohan Das about it. When he saw the neglected vigraha forms of Sri Sri Radha-Krsna he understood that They were the ancestral deities of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura. Presently Their Lordships are being worshiped in the Sri Radha Nikunja Bihari Ashram in nearby Isvarapur part of Kendrapara, the district headquarters, pending the construction of a new temple for Them in Choti. Now, every Kartika month, Sri Sri Radha-Madhava appear out of Their causeless mercy on the altar of Sri Sri Radha Shyamsundar in the ISKCON-temple Sri Sri Krishna Balarama mandir in Vrndavana Dhama.
Jaya Rādhā-Mādhava (from Gītāvalī)
(jaya) rādhā-mādhava (jaya) kunja-bihārī
(jaya) gopī-jana-vallabha (jaya) giri-vara-dhārī
(jaya) yaśodā-nandana, (jaya) vraja-jana-ranjana,
Sri Krishna is the lover of Srimati Radharani. He displays many amorous pastimes in the groves of Vrindavana, He is the lover of the cowherd maidens of Vraja, the holder of the great hill named Giri Govardhana, the beloved son of Mother Yasoda, the delighter of the inhabitants of Vraja, and He wanders in the forests along the banks of the River Yamuna.
Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada was very fond of this song and sang it just before his lectures. In Allahabad and Gorakhpur Srila Prabhupada fell into a trance after singing the first two lines, and after some time he came back into external consciousness and said, “Now just chant Hare Krishna.” Srila Prabhupada said that this song is “A picture of Vrindavana. Everything is there — Srimate Radharani, Vrindavana, Giri Govardhana, Mother Yasoda, and all the cowherd boys.”
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