Bhaktivinoda Thakura (1838–1914) was the father of Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura (Srila Prabhupada’s spiritual master). He wrote almost one hundred books on Bhakti.
He was a pioneer in sending Bhakti yoga beyond the borders of India. In 1896, McGill University in Montreal placed in their library his book Lord Chaitanya, His Life and Precepts.
He raised ten children and had a notable career as the Deputy Magistrate under British rule from 1866 to 1894.
From an early age Bhaktivinoda Thakura was religiously inclined. He studied Brahmoism (a Hindu reform movement), the Bible, and the Koran. He preferred Christianity to Brahmoism because of the idea of a personal God. As he continued his religious studies, he discovered Chaitanya-charitamrita, the biography of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and was convinced of the superior teachings of Bhakti.
During and after his professional career he wrote, traveled, and taught the message of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, inspiring hundreds to take up the path to pure Bhakti. He established five hundred nama hattas, or associations (some attended by thousands), for chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra.
In Bhakivinoda’s time, Sri Chaitanya’s teachings had become adulterated. Bhaktivinoda Thakura almost single-handedly reestablished the true, pure form of Chaitanya’s teachings, taught them to the intelligentsia, and proved their relevance to modern society.