Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur, who appeared in this world in the year 1838, pioneered single-handedly the revival of the bona-fide vaishnava culture of Krishna consciousness. He wrote many famous devotional works and discovered the actual birthsite of Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. His son, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur, become the greatest vaishnava scholar of his time and was the spiritual master of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder-acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)
(The following is the story of Srila Thakur Bhaktivinode's divine revelation and discovery.)
Late one December night in the year 1887, while sitting on the roof of the Rani Dharmashala in Navadwip, Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur was concentrating on chanting the Hare Krishna mantra on his japa beads. Suddenly his meditation was disturbed by a divine vision appearing toward the north across the river Ganga. He looked up and saw an unusual illumination in which he noticed a very tall palm tree. Just near the tree he saw a small house which was producing this brilliant effulgence. Srila Bhaktivinode immediately understood that his long search to uncover the factual birthsite of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was drawing to a successful close.
For centuries the followers of Lord Chaitanya were uncertain of the exact location of Sri Chaitanya's birth as the place had been inundated by flood soon after His disappearance. Srila Bhaktivinode had long cherished a dream to reestablish the true birthplace and erect a glorious temple for Lord Chaitanya. He had studied old manuscripts of Chaitanya Bhagavata, Narahari Sarkar Thakur's Navadwip Dham Parikrama, 18th century maps by the British surveyors, gazettes and old government records, and ascertained that ancient Nadia was previously on the eastern bank of the Ganga -- from where the wonderful illumination was coming.
He soon discovered that the site of the wonderful illumination had many rumors and stories attached to it. The area contained seven large dirt mounds on which nothing would grow except tulasi plants. On different nights strange sounds and lights emanated from the spot and the superstitious Muslim villagers would keep a respectful distance.
After speaking with many respected saintly persons, Srila Bhaktivinode decided to bring his spiritual master, Srila Jagannath das Babaji, to that spot. Srila Jagannath das Babaji was at that time very old and infirm; he could not walk and had to be carried in a basket. His vision was obstructed because his eyelids had grown so loose over the years that he could barely open them. They crossed the river Jalangi in a small wooden boat and gradually made their way to the spot. At once Jagannath das Babaji Maharaj discerned that this was indeed the birthplace of Lord Chaitanya and in great transcendental joy he leaped from the basket and jumped high in the air shouting the names of the Lord, even though minutes before he was incapable of even standing on his weak and aged limbs. Srila Bhaktivinode and Srila Jagannath das Babaji both wept tears of ecstasy. Lord Chaitanya's birthplace had been found!
Soon, by the single handed efforts of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur, a beautiful temple was erected on the spot and Srila Bhaktivinode's vision began to expand. He predicted in his Sri Chaitanya Sikshamrita a day when people of foreign lands would join with their Indian brothers at the holy land of Sri Mayapur chanting "Jaya Sachinandana, Jaya Sachinandana" and dancing in the ecstasy of Sri Krishna Sankirtan. And he wrote of a great personality who would soon appear to fulfill this prediction. Pure vaishnava devotees of the Lord know without doubt that this empowered personality appeared as His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder-acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). By Srila Prabhupada's determination and pure devotion alone ISKCON has spread successfully to practically every country of the world and is still spreading faster than ever. In his Sajjana-tosani, Srila Thakur Bhaktivinode wrote:
"Lord Chaitanya did not advent Himself to liberate a few men of India. Rather his main objective was to liberate all living entities of all countries and throughout the entire universe and preach the eternal religion".
One evening, Srila Bhaktivinode was sitting peacefully in his house in Godrumadvipa, Surabhi Kunja, looking toward Sri Mayapur over the clear waters of the Jalangi river. Pausing briefly from his devotional writings, he again saw a brilliant effulgence shining out in all directions from the holy land of Sri Mayapur. It was a vision of a wonderful golden city, a spiritual city - the final fulfillment of the dreams of the vaishnava acharyas - from where the entire world would one day become inundated with pure love of Godhead.
(This article is reprinted from Sri Mayapur Magazine Number 1 p.7 )