Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Pradīpa Tīrtha Gosvāmī Mahārāja
[December 8, 2022 is the disappearance day of Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Pradīpa Tīrtha Gosvāmī Mahārāja in Vṛndāvana, India. The following is the bhāva anuvāda of the kathā given by Śrīla Bhakti Vijñāna Bhāratī Gosvāmī Mahārāja on December 25, 2015 and December 13, 2016, on the disappearance tithi of Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Pradīpa Tīrtha Gosvāmī Mahārāja. Editors’ input: Additional text has been included in square brackets to facilitate the flow of content.]
Today is the disappearance day of Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Pradīpa Tīrtha Gosvāmī Mahārāja – the first sannyāsa disciple of Śrīla Prabhupāda.
THE FIRST SANNYĀSA DISCIPLE
In 1918, when Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Ṭhākura accepted the renounced order himself and began preaching at 1, Ulta Danga Junction, Kolkata he would not travel much. But just like bees are automatically attracted to a fully blossomed lotus, one by one, various disciples, being inspired by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, started becoming attracted to and joining his mission.
After Jagadīśa Bābū joined the maṭha, he accepted dīkṣā from Śrīla Prabhupāda. [He had received harināma earlier from Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura.] In 1920, he became the first sannyāsa disciple of Śrīla Prabhupāda and came to be known as Śrī Bhakti Pradīpa Tīrtha Mahārāja.
PREACHING IN THE WEST
After joining the maṭha, Śrīla Bhakti Pradīpa Tīrtha Gosvāmī Mahārāja became the head-master of the Śrī Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura Institute and also taught there. As the institute expanded and grew famous, staff also increased, giving him the liberty to start writing for Śrīla Prabhupāda. In the maṭha, he would engage various devotees in reciting verses, asking the next devotee to recite a verse beginning with the last letter of the earlier verse recited.
In 1932, Śrīla Prabhupāda desired to spread the message of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu outside of India, so that the western world would not be bereft of this knowledge. He approached Rabindranāth Tagore to discuss about the international preaching and where he could send his preachers first. Rabindranāth Tagore, who was initially reluctant at the prospect, after much deliberation concluded, “Only if someone like you goes, some positive impact can be achieved.” Śrīla Prabhupāda asserted, “Yes, I will send someone just like me.”
Initially Guru Mahārāja (then Śrī Hayagrīva Brahmacārī) and Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Hṛdaya Vana Gosvāmī Mahārāja were shortlisted. Hearing this, the Secretary of the Gauḍīya Maṭha and Śrī Śaradendu Nārāyaṇa Rāya, both said, “Firstly, they are both young. Śrī Hayagrīva Brahmacārī is very handsome and hence some of the western ladies may try to attract him. Secondly, out of our sixty four maṭhas, half are sustained by the collections done by Śrī Hayagrīva Brahmacārī alone. All those would have to be shut down, if he were to go abroad. So it is better not to send him.” Thus Śrīla Bhakti Pradīpa Tīrtha Mahārāja, who was older and qualified, was sent in his stead. It is evident that Śrīla Prabhupāda saw these devotees as non-different from himself.
THE DIVINE COINCIDENCE
Perceiving Śrīla Bhakti Pradīpa Tīrtha Gosvāmī Mahārāja to be a cultured and educated person, Śrīla Bhakti Vinoda Ṭhākura had requested him to address the assembly during the first Viśva-vaiṣṇava-rāja-sabhā held at Māyāpura. At that time, there was just a thatched hut, with all the Yogapīṭha deities installed. During that address, some prophetic words were uttered by Śrīla Mahārāja (then Jagadīśa Bābū), “From this very place, in the future, the message of Mahāprabhu would be broadcast all over the world.” Preaching in the West was not even conceived of then. Nevertheless, it came to pass in 1932, when he himself went to the West to fulfill that prophecy.
NIṢṬHĀ IN SCRIPTURES
Śrīla Bhakti Pradīpa Tīrtha Gosvāmī Mahārāja translated the Bhagavad-gītā into English, based on the commentary of Śrīla Śrīdhara Svāmī.
In his advanced age, when he could not travel to preach anymore, he would, as a regulation, daily hear verses of a chapter of Śrī Caitanya-bhāgavata. On this tithi of Pūrṇimā, he became unmanifest from this world, while hearing Śrī Caitanya-bhāgavata itself.
I pray at his lotus feet for his mercy. The ideal of his service and preaching is so inspiring. He taught and inspired by his precept more than by his words.