The value of Chhoti
Chhoti is the śrīpāt of Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura. Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava scholar Dr. Fakir Mohan Dās defines the word śrīpāt as the native place where a great saint stayed with his deities and family. Such places are sacred and thus considered worshipable by all followers of that saint.
According to Indian tradition, the village where one’s paternal ancestors resided is considered to be one’s native place. Chhoti does not only hold the dust of Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura’s lotus feet, but also those of Krishnananda Dutta and Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī. Thus, this place is extremely sacred.
Another name of Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura’s native place is Baluadiha or Babughora which means the house of the landlord. Near to the Baluadiha is a large open field called Kantanapadia. At the time of Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, Hari-hāṭa (Nama Hatta) and Dola-yātrā were conducted in this open field regularly.
Re-establishing awareness about Chhoti
After the physical departure of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī, Chhoti became unnoticed to the entire Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava society. It was only after a public speech* by Śrīla Gour Govinda Swami that awareness was re-established about this sacred village. He mentions in this context:
“Chhoti is the śrīpāt, native place, of Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, and he resided there. Having been decorated with the dust of Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura’s lotus feet, this is a very sacred place. But most people have not known about it. This place is now coming to everyone’s notice because of the blessings of Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura. Getting the strength of that blessing, the research scholar Dr. Fakir Mohan Dās has been working to reveal this place to the world. Without such blessings, no one can do this work. Śrīpāda Dr. Fakir Mohan Dās may face much opposition, but after resisting this opposition strongly, he will surely establish the real truth.”
This speech inspired numerous devotees to start visiting Chhoti and sing there together for the pleasure of the Lord and his associates.
Dr. Fakir Mohan Dās’ unique and unparalleled contribution
As predicted by Śrīla Gour Govinda Swami, Dr. Fakir Mohan Dās would surely establish the real truth about Chhoti. Not only did he research the vast amount of literary works left by Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, he would also regularly visit Chhoti to do the necessary research. This intensive and challenging journey started in 1982. After approximately 15 years of research Dr. Fakir Mohan Dās bundled all his findings about the history of this sacred village and manifested a book titled Choti; The Native Place of Śrīla Ṭhākura Bhaktivinoda (1999).
*In 1993 Śrīla Gour Govinda Swami held a speech at a public meeting organized in the Dina-bandhu Sahoo Law College located in Kendrapara (Odisha) on the occasion of Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura’s 155th birth anniversary. Also during this meeting a ceremony was performed to honor Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura as the first ever law graduate of Orissa. To acknowledge this achievement a portrait of him was installed in the college building.