Birth…(As told by Srila Prabhupada)
He (Bimal Prasad) was the son of a very big government officer, Bhaktivinoda Thakura. He was magistrate, government officer. In those days a magistrate is a big officer in the government, practically next to governor. And Bhaktivinoda Thakura was in charge of the Jagannatha temple. That is the system in Jagannatha Puri. The manager in charge of the temple is the district magistrate. So there was a Ratha-yatra festival, and the car was passing in front of Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s house. Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s name was Kedaranath Datta. When he was magistrate, he was known as K.N. Datta. Kedaranath Datta. So the car stopped before his house, and at that time, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura,(Bimal Prasad) a child in the lap of his mother. So, the mother took the opportunity of rising on the car. She was magistrate’s wife, so she had the facility. Immediately, people gave her way to go on the top of the car and place the child on the lotus feet of Jagannatha. And there were many garlands. One garland fell upon him, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, blessings. This was one of the… There were so many other things.
As a boy, Bimala Prasada delivered his oldest brother Acyutananda from an offense he’d made in his last life. Acyutananda had a nervous disease, and once became very sick. Bimala Prasada took karatals (cymbals) and chanted the Hare Krishna mantra constantly for 6 days without eating. Then Ramanuja sampradaya tilaka appeared on Acyutananda’s forehead. He said, “I am a Ramanuja Vaishnava. I committed an offense to a Gaudiya Vaishnava in my last life and therefore had to take this birth. Now I am relieved”. Then he left his body.
The Mango Incident! (As told by Srila Prabhupada)
When he was a child two, three years old, he ate one mango fruit which was kept for offering to the Deity. So his father mildly rebuked him, “Oh, you have done very wrong thing. It was meant for Deity, and you have taken it. You should not have done it.” The child was two or three years old. He took it so seriously that never after that he took mango. Whenever we offered him mango he said, “No, I am offender. I cannot take mango.” He was thinking like that, you see. Never in his life he took a mango. He was thinking that “I offended in my childhood by taking the mango of the Deity.” This is the characteristic of acarya. They teach by their life’s action that one should be so much determined, that one should not be… A child took the mango, there was no offense. But he took that vow.
In Krishna’s Service
Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati used to “install” the printing presses that were acquired by the Gaudiya Matha for literature publication. Once he gave a heavy class on detachment from material life. Then later, while writing, he saw a monkey stealing bananas from the godown (storage shed) which was just next to his study. He ran out with a stick to chase the monkey away, overturning his writing table and spilling ink on the pages of his manuscript. When the cook saw this, he inquired, “Today you instructed us that one must become detached. But I cannot understand your behaviour… just now for only two bananas you jumped from your writing to chase a monkey, and even ruined your work in the process?” Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati answered, “These bananas belong to Srimati Radharani, because they are to be used in Krishna’s service.”
Once Bhaktisiddhanta went to take a bath in a pukkur, (pond) and when he was seven steps above the surface of the water, the water rose seven steps and touched his lotus feet. Then all the brahmacaries (students) jumped in, to bath in the carnamrta (sanctified water) At the Yoga Pith temple there was a cook who was very passionate. He fought with every devotee there except for Srila Bhaktisiddhanta himself. Then he died. After the funeral ceremony was completed, the Gaudiya Matha brahmacaris (students) were sitting together and talking about how much trouble they’d had with the cook each was telling stories about the fights he’d had with him. Suddenly Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati appeared at the doorway and said, “He always washed his dhoti nicely and was very clean.” From then on nobody dared say anything negative about that cook.
When one mayavadi (impersonalist) sadhu was preaching his oneness philosophy in the presence of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati and his disciples while they were riding on a train from Calcutta to Puri, Bhaktisiddhanta ordered his brahmacaries to feed the sadhu some rotten mangos (after all – it is all ‘one’ …ripe mangoes or rotten mangoes) which had been donated to his party earlier (they were ripe when donated, but had got rotten because Bhaktisiddhanta would not take them due to his childhood vow, and therefore no disciple would take either). After being obliged to eat four of the rotten mangos, that sadhu fell at Bhaktisiddhanta’s feet and swore he’d never preach oneness philosophy again.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta’s kirtana (street chanting of the holy names) procession (with him personally at the head) would stop all traffic wherever it went in Calcutta; in Puri even the Brahmins (caste priests) accepted his nam-sankirtana as fully authorized.
Srila Bhaktisiddanta was called Nrsimha (lion) Guru. He would sometimes even raise his danda (Sanyasi walking rod) in transcendental anger as if to strike his opponent if he didn’t accept his preaching!
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta stayed in Puri in his last days. He lectured for some days at the place known as “Govadhana” in Puri, and before and after his talk he would recite prayers praising Govadhana Hill and requesting shelter in some corner there. He would sometimes comment to his disciples, there’s not much time left. They could see something was going to happen soon, but weren’t sure what.
He got very sick ten days before he left his body. Two days later he wrote his last instruction: “Somehow we must become qualified to attain the shelter of Rupa and Raghunatha. Always chant Hare Krishna, always preach Krishna consciousness, and stay away from Vaishnava-aparadha (offences to devotees). In this way become qualified to get the shelter of the lotus feet of Sri Rupa and Raghunatha.” Two days after that he wrote in his letter to Srila Prabhupada ….
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta in his letter to Srila Prabhupada… “I am fully confident that you can explain in English our thoughts and arguments……I have every hope that you can turn yourself into a very good English preacher.” Srila Prabhupada knew this was to be his life’s mission, and he began to prepare himself.
All the big intellectuals of Calcutta had a memorial gathering upon hearing word of his death. One (an atheist), in his eulogy, exclaimed: “Who will we argue with now?”