About the Bhaktivedanta Research Centre

A Brief History

T

he creation of BRC was the culmination of several ideas going back to His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada, for whom the Centre is named.

As early as 1972 Prabhupada instructed his followers to make film records of the original writings of the most prominent 19th century Gaudiya Vaisnava acarya Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura which were found at his birthplace Ula Birnagar. He expressed a strong desire to preserve these ancient manuscripts and texts, describing it as a“treasure trove of Vaisnava lore”and stated his willingness to spend substantially to achieve this purpose.

In 1975 Prabhupada had discussed with one of his early folllowers, Dr. William Deadwyler, the possibility of opening a Vedic University in Sri Mayapur, WB. A preliminary requisite for that would be a firstclass library.

In August 1976 Srila Prabhupada told his Bombay Juhu managers to create a Vedic library for the temple there. He said it should contain all his own books, those of all the acaryas, including other Vaishnava sampradayas, as well as the Upanisads, Puranas and other bona fide Vedic texts.

Srila Prabhupada also discussed in detail about his biggest and boldest project, the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium (TOVP) in Sri Mayapur and again this would require an extensive cosmology library containing all available works on Puranic and Siddhantic cosmography and astronomy.

I

n 2008 Pranava das, at the time doing doctoral research, met with Vedic cosmology team coordinator Hari Sauri dasa about the creation of a major center for the study of all aspects of Vaishnava culture and philosophy.

Thus an amalgam of the various projects was formed under the umbrella of the Bhaktivedanta Research Centre.

A building in South Kolkata was donated to ISKCON Mayapur in 2000 by Sri Madanchand Shamsukha and Geeta Mukherjee Shamsukha for the purpose of creating a library and studies center. Consequently ISKCON Mayapur gave full use of the facility to the BRC and on 30 June 2009 the library, along with a guesthouse for visiting scholars and students, was officially opened by ISKCON acaryas HH Jayapataka Swami and HH Bhakti Charu Swami.

The core holdings of the library are over 2,500 items from the private library of Sri Sundarananda Vidyavinoda, one of the main secretaries of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. Pranava das discovered the existence of the library while pursuing his doctoral studies in 2004-2009 and negotiated the transfer of the library to the BRC. The BRC wishes to extend special thanks and recognition to the current acarya of Sri Gopinath Gaudiya Matha, Sripad BB Bodhayan Goswami, who so kindly agreed to place in the care of the BRC this very rare collection comprising many unique documents and texts from the early times of the Gaudiya Math and Mission.

Aims and Objectives

  • To perform extensive research work in Sanskrit and Bengali literature of historic texts of Vaishnavism, such as Bhagavad-gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam, Caitanya Caritamrta, Bhakti Rasamrtia Sinduh, etc., and to distribute this research throughout educational institutions all over the world, regardless of race, color, creed, or religion;
  • To promote research in the area of agriculture and animal husbandry, and alternative energy sources according to historic Vedic texts, for the sound and healthy development of body, mind and soul;
  • To perform research into ancient Vedic educational systems such as gurukula, as well as the development of the individual through yoga and to promote and distribute this research throughout India and the world;
  • To develop a comprehensive library of books on Indian astronomy from the classical to the modern period. The purpose is to explore the development of Indian astronomy and the perspective of Vedic, Puranic, and Siddhantic cosmology, particularly of Srimad Bhagavatam, based on original sources in various Indian languages;
  • To develop a Bhagavad Gita library, consisting of translations and commentaries by Vaishnava acaryas from all over India and the world, both in English, Sanskrit and vernacular languages like Bengali, Hindi, Tamil, and Gujarati. The collection will also include all translations of Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada's Bhagavad Gita As It Is in all available languages of the world.
  • To collect, preserve and disseminate literature of Gaudiya Vaishnavism from the period of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to the present. This effort includes location of old manuscripts in the libraries, homes and mathas of Bengal, Bangladesh, Orissa, and other centers of Gaudiya Vaishnavism such as Vrndavana, Jaipur etc.
  • To collect, preserve and disseminate literature from various Vaishnava traditions such as Ramanuja, Madhva and other sampradayas.
  • To facilitate research according to the following aims:
    • To encourage and carry out research, study, and translation on the above texts, and to publish literature of high academic and devotional standard, both physically and by electronic means;
    • To create good facilities for scholars, researchers, and its members to stay at the Centre and study at the library;
    • To hold seminars, courses and lectures by whatever means available on the content of the library, thus publicizing the value of the knowledge collected.

The BRC’s Aims and Objectives were also inspired by the Aims of the Vishva Vaishnava Raja Sabha, an organization set up by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and later revived and incorporated into the structure of the Gaudiya Matha by its Founder-acarya, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura.

Aims of Vishva Vaishnava Raja Sabha

In the charter of the Sabha mentioned in Sajjanatoshani, here quoted from the Sarasvati Jaya Sri, six areas of service (seva) were to be developed by respective working committees (mandali), a plan that could be applied on a global scale:

  • Manada Mandali, making arrangements for worship of images (murti) and caring for Krsna bhaktas;
  • Sri Krishna Caitanya Pracara Mandali, (missionary activities), a committee with three divisions:
    • Nama (sacred name),: Travelling around the world and performing nagar sankirtana—literally 'community kirtana in the village'—speaking from Bhagavata Purana to the masses, and serving the gurus of the movement. The members of this subcommittee would go to far off places for missionary purposes, lecturing and publicly singing the names of Sri Sri Radha and Krsna;
    • Sastra Pracara,: Collecting the texts of the Caitanya line and publishing, distributing and preserving them. This subcommittee works to keep old writings in a safe condition and reprint them, as well as research the history of these books and their writers;
    • Sastra Siksya,: Systematic study of bhakti literature. This subcommittee will give regular lectures to students about Vedanta, the art of devotion, and hold regular examinations as well;
  • Jijnasa Mandali,: To evaluate character, background, and nature of a person before assigning them service in the movement;
  • Pasandadalan Mandali,: Defending bhakti from arguments which are against the general conclusions presented in the canonical Caitanyaite texts;
  • Utsava Mandali,: Arranging large festivals on particular occasions related to sacred images, prominent Vaishnava personalities, etc.;
  • Bhaktyanusana Mandali,: Maintaining ancient sacred places and opening new temples and other facilities. This committee also supervised travelling for the sake of opening new Vaishnava centers.

Hari-Sauri Dasa
Pranava Dasa
Co-Directors BRC (Bhaktivedanta Research Centre)