|NITAAI-Veda.nyf > Other Scriptures by Acharyas > Biographies of Acharyas > Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati > Prabhupada Sarasvati Thakura > Gaur Kishore Das Babaji|
Shrila Gaura Kishore Dasa Babaji
Shrila Gaur Kishore Das Babaji Maharaja, the spiritual master of Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur Prabhupad, was the personi?cation of pure devotion in the mood of Shrimati Radharani. He was the embodiment of Vipralambha, the intense mood of separation from Krishna. Everything we know about his life points only to to this one central theme; all other details have been lost to us.
The exact date of his appearance is not known, but it was in the early part of the nineteenth century. He was born in the village of Bagjan in the district of Faridpur in East Bengal (now Bangladesh) near a place called Tepakhola on the bank of the river Padma. The names of his parents are not known. But they named him “Vamsidas”. He earned his living as a grain merchant. Although he was married early, probably when he was a teenager (according to the prevailing social custom of the day), he was not attracted to family life and spent most of his time in devotional practices, in an introspective mood of devotion. After the death of his wife he left his family and his village and went to Vrindavan. He became completely absorbed in his bhajan and, while living in great austerity and renunciation, rendered devotional service to his Lord in the mood of pure devotion. Shortly after coming to Vrindavan, he took shelter of Shrimad Bhagavat Das Babaji, who was an intimate associate of Shrila Jagannath Das Babaji Maharaj, and received the Vesh, the garb of a Babaji (a reclusive renunciate Vaishnav), from him. Henceforth he was known as Shrila Gaurkishor Das Babaji. For thirty years he lived in different places in the Vraja-mandal and intensely practiced his bhajan. He used to beg for alms (madhukari) and spend his nights under trees. He considered all Vrajavasis as eternal associates of Krishna, and would bow down to the trees and animals of Vrindavan. From time to time he went on pilgrimage to different holy places of North India and the Gaur-mandal. During these pilgrimages, he met with Shri Swarup Das Babaji in Puri, Shri Bhagavan Das Babaji in Kalna, and Shri Chaitanya Das Babaji in Kuliya.
Around 1894, when by the divine effort of Shrila Bhaktivinod Thakura, the true birthplace of Shriman Mahaprabhu, Shri Mayapur Dham, manifested itself, Shrila Gaurkishor Das Babaji Maharaj came to reside in the Gaura-mandal at the instruction of Shrila Jagannath Das Babaji Maharaj. From then until his disappearance he stayed in different places in Shri Navadwip Dham. He looked at Shri Navadwip Dham with his transcendental vision and considered its residents Dhamvasis. He would collect the abandoned clothes of dead people who were cremated on the banks of the Ganga, and then he would wash them and wear them. He would cook plain rice in abandoned clay pots, offer it to his Lord, and take prasadam. Day after day he would just live on plain rice and a few green chilis. Sometimes he would live only on the water of the Ganga, and sometimes he would just fast. But day and night he would chant the holy name. He was completely detached from any kind of mundane association, and most of the time he would be alone in a deep mood of divine love. Sometimes he would chant on Tulasimala, and sometimes he would chant on some rag that he had knotted himself. Sometimes he would dance on the bank of the Ganga, crying “Gaur! Gaur!”, and then faint. Sometimes he would wander around the different places of the Dham, remembering Mahaprabhu’s pastimes in an ecstatic mood.
Seeing Shrila Babaji Maharaja’s extraordinary renunciation and pure devotion, Shrila Bhaktivinod Thakura was always amazed. Sometimes Shrila Babaji Maharaj would come and visit Shrila Thakura Mahashay in his residence, called Svananda-sukhada Kunja, in Godrumadvip and discuss Shrimad Bhagavatam with him. Together they would spend many hours discussing hari-katha. Shrila Babaji Maharaj was especially fond of two books, Shrila Narottam Das Thakura’s Prarthana and Prema-bhakti-chandrika. Like that of Shrila Raghunath Das Goswami, his renunciation was colored with his deep love for Krishna.
In 1898 Shrila Saraswati Thakura ?rst came in contact with Shrila Babaji Maharaj in Svananda-sukhada Kunja. At that time Shrila Saraswati Thakura heard Shrila Babaji Maharaj singing a song dedicated to Shrila Raghunath Das Goswami in a deep and earnest mood of love. Hearing that song sung by Shrila Babaji Maharaj, Shrila Saraswati Thakura became overwhelmed with love. The theme of the song was the way in which Shrila Das Goswami was looking for Shrimati Radharani and asking for Her mercy. Shrila Prabhupad wrote down that song and made it available for devotees of later times.
In 1900, Shrila Saraswati Thakura got initiated by Shrila Gaurkishor Das Babaji, at the instruction of Shrila Bhaktivinod Thakura. Shrila Saraswati Thakura was Shrila Babaji Maharaj’s only disciple. Shrila Babaji Maharaj was absorbed in his pure devotional bhajan and had had no desire to make any disciples. But due to the exclusive devotion and sincerity of Shrila Saraswati Thakura, Shrila Babaji Maharaj had to change his mind. It has been said that after being repeatedly requested by Shrila Saraswati Thakura for initiation, Shrila Babaji Maharaj told him he would give him initiation only if he received Mahaprabhu’s permission. Then the next time Shrila Saraswati Thakura approached him he said he had forgotten to ask Mahaprabhu for His permission. Instead of being discouraged, Shrila Saraswati Thakura came again and humbly submitted his request. Then Shrila Babaji Maharaj said, “Morality and scholarship are not the prerequisites for being favored by Krishna. One does not become quali?ed for initiation, through having those qualities.” Being repeatedly rejected in this way, Shrila Saraswati Thakura did not give up his determination to receive Shrila Babaji Maharaja’s mercy. Shrila Ramanujacharya had been rejected by Shrila Goshthipurna eighteen times before ?nally being accepted by him. When Shrila Saraswati Thakura requested Shrila Babaji Maharaj again and again with great humility and sincerity, Shrila Babaji Maharaj became very pleased with him, and with great affection gave him initiation. Shrila Babaji Maharaj never allowed anyone to touch his lotus feet. If someone tried to take the dust of his lotus feet he would curse them: “Everything will be ruined for you.” So insincere materialistic people were afraid to touch his lotus feet. But at this time he himself gave Shrila Saraswati Thakura the dust from his lotus feet. Shrila Saraswati Thakura’s initiation is reminiscent of Shrila Narottam Das Thakura’s initiation by Shrila Lokanath Das Goswami. Shrila Babaji Maharaj instructed Shrila Saraswati Thakura to preach Mahaprabhu’s message all over the world.
Many good people were very eager to render some service to Shrila Babaji Maharaj. But it was almost impossible for anyone to get an opportunity to do so. Once the king of Kashim Bazar, Raja Manindra Chandra Nandi, sent a distinguished gentleman to invite Shrila Babaji Maharaj to come to his palace. Shrila Babaji Maharaj responded, “If I go to the palace of a king I may become greedy for money. Then my relationship with the Raja will become unfriendly. Therefore it will be better if he leaves his wealth and family and friends and comes here to stay with me. I will build a home for him here like mine, out of another chhai (the covering of a boat), and together we will spend our time in hari-bhajan with great ecstasy.”
Even during cold winter nights, Shrila Babaji Maharaj slept outdoors, on the bank of the Ganga, under his chhai—the semi-cylindrical wooden covering of a boat, open at both ends. One can imagine how the cold night wind from the river would pass through the chhai. Thinking of this hardship someone insisted on leaving a quilt for Shrila Babaji Maharaj. But instead of covering himself with the quilt, Shrila Babaji Maharaj hung it on the inside wall of the chhai. When asked the reason for this, Shrila Babaji Maharaj replied that just by seeing the quilt, he would not feel cold.
Sometimes some sincere Vaishnav would come and stay with Shrila Babaji Maharaj as his servitor. Once he told his servitor, “Tomorrow we will observe the festival of Shrila Sanatan Das Goswami s disappearance day (tithi).” The servitor asked, “Where shall we ?nd the paraphernalia for the festival?” Shrila Babaji Maharaj said, “Do not tell anyone anything. Instead of eating our meal tomorrow, we will just chant Harinam all day, without interruption. That is a festival for destitutes like us.”
The wife of Girish Babu (“Babu” is an honori?c), the owner of the Navadwip Dharmashala (guesthouse for pilgrims), wanted to build a cottage for Shrila Babaji Maharaj. Shrila Babaji Maharaj said, “I have no problem living under the chhai. My only problem is some insincere materialistic people always come to me and ask for my mercy. They do not want what is good for them, they only disturb my bhajan. If you let me live in one of your outhouses then these people will not go there and bother me.” Since Shrila Babaji Maharaj insisted on living in one of their outhouses, Girish Babu ?rst puri?ed it, then demolished it and had a new room built in its place.
Some people praised the interpretations of a famous speaker of Bhagavatam to Shrila Babaji Maharaj. But Shrila Babaji Maharaj knew in his heart that the speaker was accepting money in exchange for bhagavat-katha. So he said, “No, he is not interpreting Bhagavatam, he is talking about sense enjoyment. He is not saying ‘Krishna, Krishna’ or ‘Gaur, Gaur’, he is saying ‘money, money’! Krishna-katha does not manifest in one s mouth, when it becomes a means of earning a living.”
One person dressed as a Vaishnav came with a companion to see Shrila Babaji Maharaj. The companion started praising this person to Babaji Maharaj. He said, “My prabhu here goes from one place to another to deliver the fallen souls. If he does not go to some place then what will happen to those people?” Shrila Babaji Maharaj became irritated and said, “If he travels to get some name, fame, power, position, and money in the name of delivering the fallen souls then he himself will become fallen. Instead of delivering the world, he will deceive the world.”
Once Shri Narendra Kumar Sen of Agartala came to Babaji Maharaj and begged for Siddha Pranali (revelation of one s eternal identity in the spiritual world). But Shrila Babaji Maharaj said, “One cannot know the Supreme Lord through imagination. When devotees sincerely chant Hari-nam, gradually the Lord reveals His real identity to them through the syllables of the holy name. At that time the devotees also come to know their own identities, and their favorite service also becomes manifest in their heart.”
One time a newly renounced person dressed in a loincloth succeeded in collecting a quarter of an acre of land in Shri Navadwip Dham from an employee of a rich landlady. Hearing this, Babaji Maharaj became very angry and said, “Shri Navadwip Dham is a transcendental place. How is it possible for a materialistic landholder to own so much land here that this renunciate can be given a quarter of an acre? All the wealth of the world is not equal to one grain of sand in Navadwip. What is the spiritual asset of this person that he could acquire so much land in Shri Navadwip Dham?”
Shrila Babaji Maharaj had great insight, intuition, and vision. He could see inside people’s hearts, and he could also see, with his transcendental vision, things happening in far-away places. Once, as he was chanting and meditating on the bank of the Ganga, he suddenly started shouting, “Hey! Hey! Look what is happening! A dog is entering the Madan-mohan Temple!” Later the devotees there found out that a dog had indeed entered the Madan-mohan temple in Vrindavan that day!
One day one renunciate Babaji, Padmanabha Das, came to Shrila Gaurkishor Das Babaji Maharaj and asked for his permission to read from Shrimad Bhagavatam to the general public. But Shrila Babaji Maharaj remained silent. When Padmanabha Das saw that Babaji Maharaj did not give permission, he thought in his mind, “If I can study Bhagavat from someone who is dear to him, then perhaps I will get his permission.” So he approached Shrila Saraswati Thakura Prabhupad and humbly requested that he teach him about Bhagavat. Shrila Prabhupad said, “I cannot say anything without asking Shrila Babaji Maharaj first.” Then Shrila Prabhupad asked Shrila Babaji Maharaj about this, and Shrila Babaji Maharaj said, “This person is an insincere businessman. Even now he keeps a plate for collection when he reads from Shri Chaitanya-charitamrita. Then after he learns Bhagavat, he will start his Bhagavat business. This will be very harmful for him. You keep your door closed.” So Shrila Prabhupad did not give Padmanabha Das any instruction about Bhagavat. Eventually Padmanabha Das went away. Shrila Babaji Maharaj called Shrila Prabhupad and told him, “Siddhanta Saraswati Prabhu, come and sit near me. I wasn’t angry with you. If Padmanabha Das had gotten instruction from you and become a businessman, he would invite inauspiciousness to himself and to others. I did not want you to support that. That is why I asked you to keep your door closed.” Hearing this, Shrila Prabhupad was very happy and offered his obeisances to Shrila Babaji Maharaj. Shrila Babaji Maharaj gave Shrila Prabhupad the dust of his lotus feet and blessed him with great happiness.
Marriage and Devotion
One gentleman called Shri Shambhunath Bandhopadhyay, or Shambhu Babu, used to come to Shrila Prabhupad and listen to his hari-katha. After Shambhu Babu got married, he asked for Shrila Prabhupad’s advice on how he could practice his devotional life while married. Shrila Prabhupad told him there would be many obstacles to devotional practice for a married person. Hearing this, Shambhu Babu seemed very saddened. A few days after that, Shrila Prabhupad came to see Shrila Gaurkishor Das Babaji Maharaj along with some of his disciples such as Shrila Paramananda Vidyaratna and Shambhu Babu. When Shrila Babaji Maharaj heard about Shrila Shambhu Babu’s marriage, he said, “Well, it is good that Shambhu Babu got married. Now every day he himself should cook for Krishna, and after offering it to Krishna, he should serve that prasadam ?rst to his wife. Thinking of his wife as a Vaishnav, he should accept her remnants. Instead of thinking of her as someone to be enjoyed or exploited by him, if Shambhu Babu thinks of her more or less as his worshipable guru, then it will be very bene?cial for him. The whole world—all the money, wealth, men, and women—only exists for Krishna’s enjoyment. He should use Krishna’s property for Krishna s service. He should not think of his wife as his servitor. But he should respect her as the servitor of Krishna.”
Shrila Babaji Maharaj was very much against any kind of insincerity or deceitfulness on the part of a devotee. He would call insincere devotees monkey renunciates (markat vairagi). A monkey eats fruit and vegetables and roams in the forest wearing no clothes. So he bears some similarity with a renunciate. But actually he is very aggressive, greedy, and lusty. Those who take the garb of a renunciate and, forgetting how Shriman Mahaprabhu punished Chhota Haridas, secretly engage in sense grati?cation and debauchery are called monkey renunciates . Seeing so many monkey renunciates in the places of Vaishnav pilgrimage, Shdila Babaji Maharaj became very unhappy. As if to express his own feelings about this, one day Shrila Babaji Maharaj wore a very fancy and expensive dhoti and chadar and appeared in Shrila Bhaktivinod Thakura’s residence. Seeing Shrila Babaji Maharaj in these fancy clothes, Shrila Bhaktivinod Thakura was very surprised. Shrila Babaji Maharaj said, “It is better to wear fancy clothes than to wear the garb of a renunciate and secretly engage in sense grati?cation. Just see how these monkey renunciates have so much power and position. They are oppressors of the real Vaishnav practice.”
How to See the Vaishnava
Shrila Babaji Maharaj usually would not give any instruction. But just by seeing him people felt their hearts were puri?ed. He preached by his own conduct or devotional practice (achar). But sometimes he would deceive those materialistic people who would go to him with some ulterior motives; because they were not interested in hearing hari-katha, he would not deliver hari-katha to them. Instead he would let them speak about mundane things and they would leave without realizing that they had not received his mercy. Shrila Saraswati Thakura Prabhupad wrote of him:
Even after seeing Shrila Gaurkishor Das Babaji, many people—the immature and the clever, the young and the old, the scholarly and the foolish, those lacking devotion and those proud of their devotion—did not have the proper transcendental vision to see him. This is the transcendental power of a pure devotee. Hundreds of people came to him for his instruction, to ful?ll their material desires. But that instruction was actually deceiving them. Many people take the garb of sadhus, and many people outwardly act like sadhus, but in reality, not only are they not sadhus but they are very far from any sadhu. But there was no such impurity in my lord. By his own example he demonstrated that purity was truth. His genuine affection was incomparable to anything in this world. One who received that affection would consider the eight kinds of yogic perfection to be of no value. He had no dislike for his competitors or his enemies. Even to those who received his mercy, he did not demonstrate any external favor. He used to say, “In this world there is no one who is the object of my liking or disliking. I consider everyone to be respectable.” Another inconceivable thing was that some deceitful, materialistic people, whose mood was unfavorable to pure devotion, always used to surround my Gurudev without understanding his real position, and considering themselves objects of his affection, kept their attachment to petty things. But he did not outwardly make any effort to get rid of them, nor did he accept them in any way.
In The Madness of the Saints, University of Chicago Professor June McDaniel writes of Shrila Babaji Maharaja,:
“Although he wore his begging bowl as a hat, did his worship in an outhouse, and would beat with an umbrella Vaishnavas who wanted initiation from him, he was greatly respected by the Vaishnava community for his detachment and devotion. He spent thirty years in a state of intense love for Krishna, roaming about the various groves of the heavenly Vrindavan as a confidante of Shri Radha. He became well known as a perfected renunciant (siddha babaji) and liberated soul (paramahamsa) in Vraja and Navadwipa.
He wandered for many years through the villages in Vrindavan, continuously worshiping Krishna in the mood of raganuga bhajan (spontaneous devotional love).
In the year 1894, Jagannath Das Baba ordered him to leave Vraja and go to Bengal. He lived in Navadwipa from that year until his death. His behavior was considered unusual in Navadwipa. He would beg dry foods from householders and offer it as ritual food to Bhagavan. He would cook in used and rejected clay pots and would cover himself with the clothing of corpses left on the banks of the Ganges. He ignored the opinion of others (who felt this behavior to be impure) and would use rejected and unwanted things. Sometimes he would wear a rosary of tulasi beads around his neck or have it in his hands for counting the Holy Name; at other times he would use a rosary (mala) made of torn cloth with knots. He often roamed about naked or with his loincloth half untied.
In his ecstatic moods (bhavas), distasteful foods became delicious to him. He would eat raw rice, or other grains, soaked in water or in Ganges mud. Shrimati Lalita Didi of Radharamanbagh witnessed him at worship:
“One day he picked up an unripe eggplant from the market and sat down at the base of a jhao tree at Baganbari. He cut the eggplant into pieces and dipped them into Ganges water and put a tulasi leaf on them. He offered them to his istadevata [personal deity] and sang a song of offering: “Bhaja patita uddharana, Shri Gaura Hari.” He then said, “I don’t know the right method of cooking this, but please eat a little of this food.” As soon as he said this his voice became choked, and his body turned bright red and began to swell, while tears flowed from his eyes in streams, soaking his face and chest. Seeing these signs of love, Lalita-didi was amazed. When the bhava subsided nearly an hour later, he again sang a song. Putting Shri Gaura to sleep, he ate the unripe eggplant. His faced showed expressions of great pleasure and happiness, more intense than one would make if tasting pancamrita (nectar).”
He would roam around Navadwipa with an iron pot, begging for food. Often he wore the pot on his head. He went along the road saying, “Jaya Radhe!” and the local people thought he acted like a madman (unmatavat). Little boys would run along behind him, and he would play with them: “When he saw a boy who was dark, he would think of him as Krishna, and the fair boy he thought of as Gaura. When the children would touch him, he would say, ‘Look Ma Yasoda, your Gopal has punched me!’ or ‘Look Ma Saci, your Gaura is making a face at me!’”
13 Days of Ecstasy
He would often fall into trances, madly calling out the name of Krishna. Once when he was living at the Ranis dharamsala (shelter), he began to shout loudly, “Ha, Krishna Chaitanya.” Other Vaishnavas heard him yelling only these words for hour after hour. They thought that, unless they could change his mood (bhava), his throat would become torn and bloody. Several of them got together and began to shout, “Naraharir prana Gaura.” This changed the mood of Siddhababa, who began to shout, “Raghunandan, Raghunandan!” and then calmed down. Another time in that bhava, he locked the door of his meditation hut from within, and he stayed for thirteen days yelling, “Ha, Krishna Chaitanya,” crying continuously, slapping himself on the chest, and tearing at this hair.
When he went for his bath, he would tie up, in a cloth, about or ten kilos of Ganges dust, and would do ritual worship while keeping it on his head. One day, Shrijukta Radhadasi Mata of Baralghat asked him, “O Baba, what is that on your head?” He smiled and replied, “Just see, Ma your crazy child. It is not certain when or where he will die, and for that reason, he keeps this Navadwipa Ganges dust on his head. If the body goes in any other place, then this dust of Gaura’s Ganges will be there.”
Because he was disturbed by the people around him, he took to doing his meditation in unlikely places. For some time he stayed in the outhouse of Girishbabu and did his worship there. He also did his worship in the Rani’s outhouse, and purified it:
Bricks and Stones Singing Krishna’s Name
A devotee went to do his worship where Gaura Kishore did his—in the outhouse of the Rani’s dharamsala [a shelter for religious practitioners]. He perceived [anubhava kore] that the bricks and stones were all singing Krishna’s name [harinama]. Seeing that by the power of Babaji’s chanting the name of Krishna, consciousness [chaitanya] had been infused even into unconscious objects, he left in amazement.”
Gaura Kishore spent much time avoiding persons who wished to be disciples. He refused to have servants, and he cursed at his visitors, he would hit people who wanted to take initiation from him. Kedarnath Bhaktivinoda greatly desired initiation, and Gaura Kishore would hide from him—often in the veranda of a prostitute’s house near the bazaar. He considered it great fun to elude his pursuers.
Gaura Kishore could not tolerate unsuccessful bhajana: “When there was no nama-spurti [manifestation of the name in meditation], he would often go to throw himself into the Ganges. He entered the water up to his neck and would only come out again when the name would appear.”
He would also threaten suicide when his readings of sacred text were disturbed by outside noises. He was intensely emotional, with moods of strong joy and sorrow.
In Navadwipa, at times he would worship with Thakur Bhaktivinode at the birthplace of Chaitanya, which had been recently found by Bhaktivinode and restored with images of Mahaprabhu Chaitanya and his wife, Vishnupriya. They would sing and dance, with their bodies undergoing the eight sattvika bhavas:
My dear mind, sing aloud
The blissful names of Nitai and Gaur
Delight O my mind
In the vision of Radha-Krishna’s
Sport in Vrindavan
Revealed to us through the mercy of Shri Gaur.
Everyone chant, Nitai-Gaur!
Gaur Kishore’s divine madness was not recorded during childhood and adolescence—it is only described after he joined a renunciant Vaishnava order. His purity was proved by his immunity to impurity, or even his conquest of it (such as causing an outhouse to resonate with krishna-nama). He had inborn devotional love, like Krishna’s gopis, and its spontaneous nature was shown in his asastriya (not according to sastras or rules) behavior. He reversed many Vaishnava rules about purity and proper worship techniques, but thought constantly of Radha and Krishna, so he was a pure devotee and a liberated soul (paramahamsa), beyond the rules of even Vaishnava society, and his madness was a participation in Radha’s state of divine passion (divyonmada).
Gaura Kishore Das Babaji did not discuss his inner experiences. The reality of his handmaiden identification was deduced by the experts in the science of rasa and sometimes exhibited as his irrational and peculiar actions, which were seen as divine madness because of their focus on Krishna and Chaitanya. Unlike many sahajiya imitationists, he also had traditional Vaishnava initiations and was part of an accepted lineage; thus behavior not specifically Vaishnava (such as wearing his begging bowl on his head) was interpreted as eccentric rather than mad. Even his apparent impure behavior shows only the detachment of the liberated paramahamsa.”’
There are two types of Vaishnavas, the viviktakanandi who lives the life of a recluse, internally absorbed in Krishna consciousness with few or no followers, and the gosthyanandi who extends his inner conception outward and as a result may inspire thousands of disciples. It is a question of inspiration and inspiration. Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur considered himself a humble servant of Gaur Kishore Das Babaji and viewed his disciples as extensions of his guru come to help him in his guru’s divine service.
Guru Sees Disciple As Guru
Maharaj had inconceivable love and respect for his only disciple, Shrila
Saraswati Thakura Prabhupad. He told Shripad Jagadish Bhaktipradip (later
Shrila Bhaktipradip Tirtha Maharaj), who received his Harinam initiation from
Shrila Bhaktivinod Thakura and his Diksha initiation from Shrila Prabhupad,
“You should always associate with Saraswati Prabhu. He is my spiritual master
and an ideal Vaishnav. Just see what kind of example of renunciation he has
set, despite being the son of a wealthy person. Abandoning all kinds of bad
association, he is earnestly serving the holy name, taking refuge in Shridham
Mayapur. His renunciation is incomparable. He is an intimate associate of Shri
Rupa and Shri Sanatan and my Mahaprabhu. You should also serve the Vaishnavs
with body, mind, and words. Always engage in nam-sankirtan—chant the holy name
very loudly.” He referred to Shrila Prabhupad as “my master” (amar prabhu). If
anyone came to him with an offering of some fruit or vegetable from Shrila
Prabhupad, Shrila Babaji Maharaj would accept that with great happiness and ask
the devotee about Shrila Prabhupad with great reverence and affection. One of
Shrila Prabhupad’s most dear and intimate disciples, Shripad Paramananda
Vidyaratna Prabhu, has left the following account: One day in 1911, by the
order of Shrila Prabhupad, I went to the Nutan Chada [on the bank of the Ganga]
of Shri Navadwip Dham to have darshan of Om Vishnupad Shrila Gaurkishor Babaji
Mahashay, with some green chilis to offer him. Babaji Maharaj was an effulgent
personi?cation of intense renunciation in the mood of pure love for Krishna. He
would soak some rice or beans one day and eat that for up to seven days with
some green chilis. When he heard that I had come from Shri Mayapur, he asked
me, “How is my master? Please offer him my dandavat. Please tell my lord he
should set aside everything else and preach about Shat Sandarbha.” At that time
I saw Vanamali Babu in his association. In the afternoon many people came for
his darshan. I heard that every day at that time many people would come to have
darshan of his lotus feet. He would sit in front of his chhai and grant
everyone the good fortune of having his darshan. I saw Babaji Maharaj chanting
Harinam on a rag that he had knotted himself and turned into a mala. He chanted
Harinam loudly for some time and ordered everyone present there to do so as
well. Being so ordered by him, everyone chanted Harinam loudly. Before evening
I bowed down at his lotus feet and came back to Shridham Mayapur. Translated
from Saraswati Jayashri, Vol. I, p. 154 The songs written by Shrila Narottam Das
Thakura were very dear to Shrila Babaji Maharaj. He used to sing one of them
all the time. The essence of all instruction is in that song: that song:
gora pa hu na bhajiya mainu
prema-ratana-dhana helay harainu
gora pa-hu na bhajiya mainu
prema-ratana-dhana helay harainu
adhane yatan kari dhana teyaginu
apana karama-doshe apani dubinu
sat-sanga chhadi kainu asate vilasa
te-karane lagila ye karma-bandha-pha?sa
vishaya vishama-visha satata khainu
gaura-kirtana-rase magana na hainu
kena va achhaye prana ki sukha lagiya
narottam dasa kena na gela mariya
“I am dying due to not worshipping Gora (Shri Gaura–ga Mahaprabhu). Due to my negligence, I lost the great wealth of prema (Divine Love). Trying to take care of useless things, I lost my wealth. I am being drowned due to the reaction of my own bad karma. Giving up good association, I was enjoying sense pleasure in bad association, and for that reason the entanglement of karmic reaction became a noose around my neck. All the time I drank the terrible poison of material life. I did not absorb myself in the sweet nectar of Gaura-kirtan (songs glorifying Shri Gaura–ga Mahaprabhu). Why do I still have life? In the hope of what happiness am I still living? Why didn’t Narottam Das just die?” Leaving the eternal glory of krishna-prema in this world through his own unforgettable pastimes, Shrila Gaurkishor Babaji Maharaj disappeared from this world in the year 1915 (on the 30th of Karttik) at the predawn hour to enter his eternal pastime.
Das, Shri Hari-kripa, Param Gurudev Prabhupad Shri-shrimad Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati. Bombay: Shri Gaudiya Math, 1980.
Das, Shri Hari-kripa, Shri-shri Gaura-parshad Charitavali. Bombay: Shri Gaudiya Math, 1977.
Maharaj, Shri Bhaktikusum Shraman, Prabhupad Shrila Saraswati Thakura. Mayapur, Nadiya: Shri Gaudiya Math, 1940.
Maharaj, Shri Bhaktivallabh Tirtha, Shri Gaura-parshad o Gaudiya Vaishnav-acharya-ganer Samkshipta Charitamrita. Calcutta: Shri Chaitanya Gaudiya Math, 1992.
Saraswati Jayashri, edited by Shri Sundarananda Vidyavinod. Calcutta: Shri Chaitanya Gaudiya Math, 1935.
McDaniel, June, The Madness of the Saints: Ecstatic Religion in Bengal. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1989.