|Vender||RasBihari Lal And Sons|
By Jayapataka Swami
The Godruma Kalpāṭavī (The Desire-tree Groves of Godruma) was a newsletter produced by Śrīla Bhaktivinoda ṭhākura to guide the leaders and members of his new preaching movement. I was able to secure five issues of this newsletter. I do not know if any more are extant. I obtained these five issues when, at the beginning of our preaching in West Bengal, His Holiness Bhakti Cāru Swami gave me a copy of the Gauḍīya
Patrikā, a magazine that had been edited by “Abhaya Carana Bhaktivedanta.” The magazine contained an article that cited five issues of the Godruma Kalpāṭavī. I translated those issues into English and, in 1979, presented the work as a small book. Coincidentally, at the time I had been considering to call our congregational preaching movement the “ISKCON Saṅkīrtana Organization,” but when I discovered that the name “Nāma Haṭṭa” derived from Bhaktivinoda ṭhākura and Lord Nityānanda, I realized that this same traditional name was applicable also to our initiative. Consequently, I considered that this name Nāma Haṭṭa was actually given by Śrīla Prabhupāda himself, since he had been the president of the Gauḍīya Patrikā magazine.
From the Godruma Kalpāṭavī newsletter, we have gathered that Bhaktivinoda ṭhākura established at least five hundred Nāma Haṭṭa groups and was actively preaching amongst gṛhastha devotees. By his personal guidance and preaching example, he was able to revive Lord Nityānanda’s Nāma Haṭṭa preaching program. In the Godruma Kalpāṭavī, Bhaktivinoda ṭhākura dealt with the practical circumstances encountered in the course of his preaching. Therein he gave his followers various practical instructions, most of which are still relevant today. His purpose was practical in principle—such as his authorizing any kind of music provided that the lyrics were Kṛṣṇa conscious. Similarly, in ISKCON we have writers of music, art, and so on, all of which can be used in devotional service if the end result is Kṛṣṇa consciousness. We see how those instructions of Bhaktivinoda ṭhākura’s were applicable not only for his time but also for the future. It is significant to witness the direct guidance and words of one of our Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava ācāryas to the devotees of that day, regarding how they should apply Kṛṣṇa consciousness in the preaching field. This is the speciality of the Godruma Kalpāṭavī.
Written approximately 120 years ago, these Godruma Kalpāṭavī newsletters describe a transcendental market wherein the Lord’s holy names are systematically distributed to faithful customers who are willing to accept such a spiritual product. Based upon the “currency” of one’s faith and devotion for the Supreme Lord, everyone—regardless of cast, creed, color, or religion—is eligible to purchase the holy name. Specific descriptions of roles and duties, as well as cautions and guidelines, are provided by Bhaktivinoda ṭhākura to his Nāma Haṭṭa “employees,” the distributors of the holy name amongst the general populace.
By the mercy of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda and the previous Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava ācāryas, Lord Caitanya’s message of service to Lord Kṛṣṇa is certainly spreading far and wide all over the world—and this was predicted more than a century ago by Bhaktivinoda ṭhākura. Today we are witnessing the fulfilment of that prediction, for Kṛṣṇa consciousness is reaching to people in every country and is tangibly benefiting their lives through the chanting of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra and the practice of devotional service. Attempting to follow in the footsteps of our spiritual predecessor Bhaktivinoda ṭhākura, who was the great–grand–spiritual-master of ISKCON’s founder-ācārya, Śrīla Prabhupāda, we most sincerely desire to share Bhaktivinoda ṭhākura’s instructions regarding Nāma Haṭṭa preaching.