Iskcon Bhakti Kuti is situated beside the sea, near Haridas Thakura’s samadhi, in the well-known area of Swargadwar, in Jagannath Puri. ‘Bhakti Kuti’ is the original name that Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur gave to his bhajana Kutira. This is the same area where the sapta-rishis (seven celestial sages) had performed severe austerities and hari-bhajana millions of years ago. The place is now administered by Iskcon who have founded a beautiful temple at the site. Radha Giridhari jiu and an enchanting deity of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu bless all who visit this sacred place. A pure Sattvik restaurant is now located on the ground floor of the temple premises. Deities of Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur grace the simhasana in the temple hall.
A marble name plaque is fixed to the temple wall next to the entrance of Bhakti Kuti. This is a hundred years old plaque that has survived through the years and the below verse composed by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur is imprinted on its right –
gauro prabhoh prema vilasa bhumau
niskincano bhaktivinoda nama
kopi sthito bhakti kutira kosthe
smrtvanisam nama gunam murareh
In this land, Lord Gauranga relished His love-filled ecstatic pastimes. One desireless sadhu named Bhaktivinoda stays in a small room in his Bhakti Kuti, continuously remembering the holy name and qualities of His Lord Murari throughout the night.
In the year 1908, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur took Babaji vesha from Srila Gaura Kishore das Babaji Maharaj. He then confined himself to his residence here at Bhakti Kuti executing solitary bhajan. He absorbed himself in uninterrupted meditation upon the eternal pastimes of the Lord and mentally rendered menial service unto the divine couple Sri Radha and Krishna.
Who is Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur ?
Sri Kedarnath Datta, who came to be subsequently known as Bhaktivinoda Thakur, was born on 2nd of september, 1838 in the ancient village of Birnagar, situated in Ula (Nadia District). Kedarnath was born of rich and illustrious parents, Sri Ananda Chandra Datta and Jagat Mohini Devi. In his book Datta-vamsa-mala, Srila Bhaktivinoda explains that he was born into a family who had descended from Purushottama Datta, foremost of the five renowned kayasthas who had come to the Gauda region on invitation of the king Adisura.His family lineage has also been graced by the birth of the great vaishnava acharya Sri Narottama Das Thakura, whose devotional compositions are glorified all over the three worlds.Sri Govinda-sarana Datta ,one of the cousins of Narottam Das Thakura, was once granted a huge piece of land on the bank of the Ganges, by the sultan of Delhi.This piece of land was named after him and came to be known as Govindapur.It was this land of Gobindapur that was later merged with Sutanuti and kolikata, to form the modern city of Calcutta (kolkata) as we know today. Such is the great lineage of our dear thakura.
On the 23rd of June, 1914, on the disappearance day of Sri Gadadhara Pandit, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur left his body at Bhakti Bhavan, his residence in Kolkata, and entered the eternal pastimes of Lord Gaurasundara. The remains of his body were taken back to his beloved ‘Svananda Sukhada Kunja’ in Godrumadvipa where they were placed in samadhi.
Sri Saccidananda Bhaktivinoda Thakur, who is sometimes also referred to as the seventh Goswami, is an eternal associate of the Supreme Lord. His contribution to the Brahma-Madhva Gaudiya Sampradaya is invaluable. At a time when the science of pure devotional service (Bhakti) had almost become lost due to the cultural and religious chauvinism of the ruling British, and the essence of Vaishnavism largely discredited due to the perverted actions and lifestyles of a few non bonafide Vaishnava sects, Srila Bhaktivinoda was largely responsible for rescuing and unearthing the timeless teachings of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. In Fact it was he who ,after conducting a painstaking research, had rediscovered the long lost birthplace of Sri Gaurasundara. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur, was not only a magistrate, but also a renowned and recognised scholar in his days, with vast knowledge in english,bengali,hindi,oriya and sanskrit.
He was also a member of the royal asiatic society of London. Such was the degraded state of affairs during those days, that Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur could not find a bonafide copy of Sri Chaitanya Charitamrta, the most important literature for understanding Lord Chaitanya’s life and teachings, anywhere. It was only after several enquiries and a long wait, that he received a copy of this book. He subsequently published it along with his commentaries (Amrta-pravaha-bhasya). Likewise, he was instrumental in unearthing several ancient manuscripts like Caitanyopanishad ( portion of Atharva Veda) ,Sri Krishna Vijaya, etc. ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ considers itself an insignificant servant of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur, whose causeless mercy has enabled us fools to get a glimpse of his elevated stature and pen a few lines in his glorification.
What to See :
- Enchanting deities of Radha Giridhari jiu and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
- Seek blessings from Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur.
How to Reach :
Iskcon Bhakti Kuti is situated near Haridas Math Lane at Swargadwar in Jagannath Puri. The place is a stone’s throw from the samadhi of Srila Haridas Thakur.
Accommodation – One can choose to stay in any of the prominent hotels of Jagannath Puri.
Nearest Railway station – Jagannath Puri Railway Station
Nearest major airport – Biju Patnaik International Airport, Bhubaneswar.
At the time of writing this article, there is another airport presently being constructed at Jagannath Puri. However, this airport at Puri has not yet become operational.