On February 21 we are celebrating the 148th birth anniversary of Om Vishnupada Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaja. This is the 100th year since our dear Srila Prabhupada met his guru maharaja on the rooftop of the building at 1 Ultadanga Junction Road. The Gaudiya Matha was there for twelve years, beginning in 1918, and it is from there, joined by his sannyasi disciples, that Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati preached. Only three people lived there with him—I think Bhakti Pradip Tirtha Maharaja and Kunjabihari (later Bhakti Vilasa Tirtha Maharaja) and one other. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati’s bhajana-kutira, where he lived, was on the rooftop, and everybody else lived on the ground floor—that’s all there was. Because the house was so small, he would give his main lectures on the rooftop too, and that is where Srila Prabhupada first met him and got the order that changed the whole world—the seed of our movement.
The Gaudiya Matha then moved to Bagbazar (the building on Ultadanga Junction Road was taken over by four or five families), but Srila Bhaktisiddhanta stayed there for only four years, and he regretted what transpired during that time. “When we were living in a rented house,” he said, “if we could collect two hundred or three hundred rupees, we were living very nicely at Ultadanga. We were happier then. But since we have been given this marble palace in Bagbazar, there is friction between our men. Who will occupy this room? Who will occupy that room? Who will be the proprietor of this room? Everyone is planning in different ways. It would be better to take the marble from the walls and secure money. If I could do this and print books, that would be better.”
In a room conversation on July 26, 1976, in London, our Srila Prabhupada said, “My guru maharaja was lamenting that ‘These men did not publish any number of books. They are simply after this stone and bricks.’ He condemned. He was very, very sorry. So, I thought that I must take a risk. And he’s pleased. . . . I never stressed on temples. I was engaged in publishing Back to Godhead. Whatever I could do, I did it, because I took it very seriously that he is very sorry that these things were not done. He said that ‘There will be fire in this Gaudiya Math.’ Aguna jvalabe, he said. Amari iccha chila kichu bai kare jaoya: ‘If I can, I shall sell the marbles of this temple and convert them into books.’ That was his ambition. He started a very nice press.”
A year and a half ago, we got possession of the whole building on Ultaganga Junction Road. We had to seal parts of it, but we got possession, and last year we started renovation. Devotees got as many photos as they could, interviewed people, and worked to make the building exactly the way it was when Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati lived there. It was an effort, because the building was totally dilapidated. But now it really is exactly the same as it was originally, and devotees will be able to sit in the very place on the rooftop where Srila Prabhupada sat when he was only twenty-five years old.
It is a glorious, historic occasion.