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25. Acceptance of Babaji-vesha
SUNDARANANDA Vidyavinoda has described how Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura gave up household life and accepted initiation into the renounced order from Shrila Gaura Kisora dasa Babaji Maharaja. One day in 1908 the Thakura followed the Babaji as he went from the Thakura's house in Godruma-dvipa to the boat ghata, where he would cross the Ganges and go to Navadvipa. As he followed him, the Thakura repeatedly asked him to give him initiation into the renounced order of life as a babaji. Gaura Kisora dasa Babaji felt that he was very fallen and unqualified, seeing the Thakura as his spiritual master, and thus, with great humility, he refused to become the Thakura's vesha guru. Soon after this, the Babaji, by mystic intuition, could understand that the Thakura was very determined and was coming to Navadvipa to ask him again. In order to avoid him, the elderly Babaji went to the house of a prostitute, near a marketplace in Navadvipa, and sat on her veranda for a while. He reasoned that if he had gone anywhere else, including the Ganges, he would have been discovered by the Thakura, but he would never be found in the house of a prostitute, for the Thakura would never enter such a place.
Meanwhile, the Thakura, not finding Babaji Maharaja, could understand his uneasiness, and so he returned to Godruma. Babaji Maharaja then came out of hiding and went to the Radha-ramana Gardens where he began to laugh uproariously. When questioned by a devotee who was present as to why he was laughing so much, he replied, "Today I have outwitted Kedaranatha Babu. I sat in that mataji's house over there and not being able to find me, Kedaranatha Babu returned home."
A few days later, the Thakura sent one of his sons to Navadvipa to bring Babaji Maharaja to Svananda-sukhada-kunja. The Babaji agreed to come, and after a few days' stay, he consented to initiate the Thakura as a babaji. According to Gaura Kisora dasa Babaji Maharaja's direction, the Thakura, in his presence, put on the old loin cloth and bahirvasa (begging apron) of Shrila Jagannatha dasa Babaji, his siksha-guru, who had departed from the world some years earlier. By his verbal consent and his physical presence as a witness, Shrila Gaura Kisora dasa Babaji Maharaja became the vesha guru of Thakura Bhaktivinoda. Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura followed the example of Shrila Sanatana Gosvami, who took the renounced order of life in the presence and with the consent of Lord Chaitanya by putting on the old white cloth of Tapan Misra. In this way everything was done wonderfully, following the historical Gaudiya Vaishnava precedent. After this, the Thakura continued his chanting and writing, sometimes living in Godruma-dvipa and sometimes in Calcutta at the Bhakti Bhavan.