Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura (1838-1914) is a prominent preceptor acharya in our succession of spiritual masters and disciples coming from Lord Krishna. He was a pioneering spiritual leader, a householder, a magistrate working in colonial India under the British rule, a prolific preacher, writer, and poet. He wrote volumes of books reintroducing the pure teachings of Lord Chaitanya at a time when those teachings had practically become lost. He composed hundreds of devotional songs glorifying Krishna to uplift the consciousness of the suffering people of this world. He corresponded with philosophers, theologians, leaders, scholars, and professors of his time and sent books, including The Life and Precepts of Lord Chaitanya, to university libraries in foreign countries, planting the seeds for a worldwide movement of Krishna consciousness. Bhaktivinoda Thakura discovered and excavated the birthplace of Lord Chaitanya. Along with his devoted wife, Bhagavati Devi, he raised ten children, including the illustrious Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura, who would become a great spiritual leader in his own time and the spiritual master of ISKCON's founder-acharya, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
Above all, Bhaktivinoda Thakura taught devotion to Krishna by his personal example. His life story, excerpted below, demonstrates a tremendous amount of courage, character, and perseverance in the face of many difficulties and gives hope to those of us who may be wondering just how to find the time to serve Lord Sri Krishna, His holy names, and His devotees in our ever so busy lives.
In many ways, aspiring devotees of Krishna today owe a significant debt to Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura for charting the course and laying the foundation for the modern-day Krishna consciousness movement.
Once, as he looked out from his window across the river towards the birthplace of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Bhaktivinoda Thakura had a vision that people from all nations would soon come together there in harmony through the blissful chanting of the holy names of Krishna, sankirtan.
His great-grand-disciple, Srila Prabhupada, who humbly and fearlessly spread Krishna consciousness to the far corners of the world, thought it significant that he was born in 1896, the year the Thakura sent copies of The Life and Precepts of Lord Chaitanya to universities across the oceans.