Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura (Kedarnath Datta) and family ca. 1900 (click to enlarge)
From left to right:
Back row: Bimala Prasad (Srila Bhaktisiddhanta), Barada Prasad, Kedarnath Datta,
Krishna Vinodini, Kadambini, and Bhagavati Devi (seated).
Second row: Kamala Prasad, Shailaja Prasad, unknown grandchild, and Hari Pramodini.
Front row: two unknown grandchildren.
"So 1922 I met my Guru Mahārāja through the exigency of my intimate friend Mr. Narendranath Mullik. And I would not go. He told me information, 'There is a nice sādhu. Let us go and see.' I did not like very much these sādhus in those days, national spirit. So I said, 'I have seen many sādhus. They come at my father's care. I was not very much pleased with their behavior.' So he dragged me forcibly: 'No, I have heard this person is very exalted.' So I went. And his first opening version was that 'You are educated young men. Why don't you preach Caitanya Mahāprabhu's gospel in the Western countries?' I did not know. So this was his blessing in the first meeting. I did not know, but I... Because we belonged to a Vaiṣṇava family, we were very much worshiper of Lord Caitanya and Nityānanda, our family Deity. So I was very much pleased that 'Here is a personality who is going to preach Caitanya Mahāprabhu's gospel.' I was very much pleased.
So anyway, from 1922 to 1933, yes... Practically I was not initiated, but I got the impression of preaching Caitanya Mahāprabhu's cult. That I was thinking. And that was the initiation by my Guru Mahārāja. Then officially I was initiated in 1933, because in 1923 I left Calcutta. I started my business at Allahabad. So I was always thinking of my Guru Mahārāja, that 'I met a very nice sādhu.' Although I was doing business, I never forgot him. Then, in 1928, these Gauḍīya Maṭha people came to Allahabad during Kumbha-melā. As the Kumbha-melā is going to be held this year, a similar big Kumbha-melā was held in 1928. In those days they came to open their branch in Allahabad, and somebody recommended that 'You go to...' At that time I was running on my big pharmacy, and I was very well known man in Allahabad as the proprietor of the pharmacy. So somebody recommended them that 'You go to Abhaya Babu. He is a very religious man. He'll help you.' So when they entered my shop I was very much pleased that 'These men I met in 1922, and now they have come.' In this way, we become reconnected. And in 1933 I was officially initiated, and my only qualification was... When I was introduced to my Guru Mahārāja for initiation, so Guru Mahārāja immediately said, 'Yes, I shall initiate this boy. He is very nice. He hears me very patiently. He does not go away.' So that was my qualification. The high standard of philosophy which he was speaking, speaking at that time... Practically I could not follow what was, he was speaking, but still, I liked to hear him. That was my hobby. Whenever... I was asking that 'When Guru Mahārāja will speak?' So he took it very seriously.
And then, in 1936—it's a long history—during this Vyāsa-pūjā day, this Vyāsa-pūjā day, whatever I studied about our relationship with my Guru Mahārāja I expressed in this poetry, and since that day my Godbrothers used to call me 'poet.' And Guru Mahārāja also very much appreciated this poetry. Now somehow or other you have found it. I thought the poetry is lost, but I do not know how it was found out by some of our disciples. I think it was found out in London museum or somewhere else by Guru dāsa. They had a stock of Harmonist, and from the Harmonist, my Guru Mahārāja's paper, this poetry was found. Otherwise I thought it was lost. So anyway, this poetry is 'Adore, adore ye all the happy day, blessed than heaven, sweeter than May.' So I heard that the month of May is very pleasing in the Western countries, so I compared the happiness of this day with the May Day. They call May Day?
Prabhupāda: Yes. 'When he appeared at Purī, the holy place, my lord and master, His Divine Grace.' So Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura appeared as the son of Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, his fourth son. Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura has, he was family man. He has several children, sons and daughters. So Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, known in his previous life as Bimala Prasāda Datta, son of Kedaranath Datta... His father, Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, his name was. He was magistrate and he was manager also, the managing board of Jagannātha Purī. The system is the local magistrate becomes the official manager of the managing board of Jagannātha Purī. So at that time he was situated in Jagannātha Purī, and Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura appeared at Purī. And the Ratha-yātrā, the Ratha-yātrā ceremony takes place, and sometimes the big ratha stops at interval. So the house in which Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura appeared, in front of that house the ratha stopped. So his mother took the advantage and... Because Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura was magistrate, so the son, the little baby, was brought before the ratha, and the pūjārīs allowed him to bring the child before the Deity, and the child was placed before the Deity and a garland was offered by Jagannātha. So that was the first sign of his becoming the ācārya. In this way there are many incidences. So therefore his birthplace is mentioned, 'the holy place, my lord and master, His Divine Grace.' 'O my master, the evangelic angel, give us thy light, light up thy candle. Struggle for existence, a human race, the only hope, His Divine Grace.' "
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Hyderabad, December 10, 1976)
Click here to see a young Bimala Prasad (Srila Bhaktisiddhanta).