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Disappearance of Srila Gaurakishora dasa Babaji Maharaja



We are very fortunate that on this day, from our guru-parampara (disciplic succession of spiritual masters), we celebrate the disappearance day of Srila Gaurakishora dasa Babaji Maharaja. I am honoured to glorify him on this most auspicious occasion.


namo gaura-kiśorāya sākṣād-vairāgya-mūrtaye

vipralambha-rasāmbhode pādāmbujāya te namaḥ


(Pranama-mantra of Srila Gaurakishora dasa Babaji Maharaja)


[“I offer my respectful obeisances unto Gaurakishora dasa Babaji Maharaja, who is renunciation personified. He is always merged in a feeling of separation and intense love of Krishna.”]


Srila Gaurakishora dasa Babaji was the embodiment of vairagya (renunciation). Actually, it is impossible for any ordinary human being to attain such a level of vairagya. Srila Gaurakishora dasa Babaji Maharaja performed his bhajana (devotional activities) in complete renunciation. Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu stressed how renunciation is one of the main points and showed just how much He valued this quality in His devotees. Rupa and Sanatana Gosvami both performed their bhajana with similar high levels of renunciation— again, these levels of renunciation are impossible for ordinary, conditioned souls. Therefore, it is very difficult for us to observe chaturmasya-vrata (a four month vow of austerities) and maintain this high standard set by our Gosvamis.


Srila Gurudeva, Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja said, “Preaching has two results— people will come and so will money. However, do not care about the money as you will receive everything needed by the mercy of the Lord. Success in preaching is not measured by the amount of money attracted, rather, in the quantity of people who were really attracted, and received harinama (initiation to chant Hare Krishna mantra) and diksha (initiation to recite diksha-mantras).” These are Gurudeva’s words, not my own. He clearly explained that success in preaching is defined by the number of people who received initiation, abandoned their material lives and adopted the path of bhakti. Your preaching has been very successful even if only one person leaves their material life and takes to the path of devotional service. 


When we observe the bhajana of Srila Gaurakishora dasa Babaji Maharaja, we realise how powerful and impressive it was. The more powerful our bhajana is, the more impressive our preaching will be. Some preach using political tricks, yet there will be no change in people’s hearts. When Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupdada spoke on Srila Gaurakishora dasa Babaji Maharaja he said, “I was impressed by the extent of his devotion, rather than by his renunciation.”


Srila Prabhupada approached Srila Gaurakishora dasa Babaji Maharaja for initiation on three different occasions, and in a very humble way, Babaji Maharaja refused him by saying, “How can I be your Guru? I do not know anything.” You see, Srila Prabhupada was very scholarly, he was even offered the post of department head in  astrology in Kolkata University, and was titled Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati because of his extensive knowledge of siddhanta (perfect conclusion of all knowledge). 


One time, Srila Gaurakishora dasa Babaji Maharaja told Prabhupada, “How can I give you initiation? I am not educated and do not even know how to write. I simply use my fingerprint as a signature. However, you are a scholar.” After hearing this, Srila Prabhupada took a bold vow and declared, “If I ever accept a guru, it shall only be Srila Gaurakishora dasa Babaji Maharaja.” After stating this, Srila Prabhupada began to observe this vrata (vow). 


Srila Gaurakishora dasa Babaji Maharaja always stayed in very close contact with Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura. They would often meet and discuss hari-katha (narrations of the Lord's glories). Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura once told Babaji Maharaja, “If you do not offer initiation to Bimala-prasada Brahmachari (Srila Prabhupada’s name at the time), he will leave his body.” After hearing this, Srila Gaurakishora dasa Babaji Maharaja replied, “Okay, I will first ask Gaura-Nitai. If They will allow, I will give him initiation.” The very next day, Srila Bhaktivinoda met with Srila Gaurakishora dasa Babaji Maharaja and asked, “Have you asked Gaura-Nitai?” “I forgot to ask. I will ask and give you Their response soon,” answered Srila Gaurakishora dasa Babaji Maharaja. And, the next time Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura inquired, Srila Gaurakishora dasa Babaji Maharaja answered, “Yes. Gaura-Nitai allowed me to give initiation to Bimala-prasada Brahmachari.”  


This pastime resembles the story of Srila Narottama dasa Thakura, who also approached Srila Lokanatha dasa Gosvami many times, requesting to accept him as his disciple. However, Srila Lokanatha dasa Gosvami rejected him every time— some may have heard how Srila Narottama dasa Thakura earned the mercy of his Guru, Srila Lokanatha dasa Gosvami, by secretly cleaning his latrine each night. 


Chaitanya-charitamrita explains that if you are a devotee of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, then renunciation should be your main objective. And when Sachinandana Gaurahari notices your renunciation, He will become pleased. Different people have provided various arguments regarding renunciation— but, what is renunciation really? 


One who progresses in bhakti (devotion to Krishna), naturally attains jnana (knowledge) and vairagya (renunciation) somewhat like Srila Gaurakishora dasa Babaji Maharaja. We see how he performed his bhajana and lived on the banks of the Yamuna, sometimes even consuming its clay. If someone offered him rasagullas (Indian sweet), he would simply request, “Please give it to the cows.” Sometimes, he would consume very bitter neem leaves. In order to chastise his tongue, he would say, “You always want to enjoy sweetness. Here, take neem instead.”  


One time, people who were still attached to sense gratification, offered him a blanket and Srila Gaurakishora dasa Babaji Maharaja said, “If I accept this blanket from them and use it, I will no longer be able to perform my bhajana.” He was well aware that if he accepted something from a vishayi (materialist), his mind would become contaminated — as you can see, I wear a sweater. How can I speak on this? I am not as renounced. However, Srila Gaurakishora dasa Babaji Maharaja was extremely renounced and lived simply on the banks of Yamuna, in a hut constructed from an old, wrecked boat.


Also during some Ekadashis, Babaji Maharaja would perform nirjala (full fast from food and water) on other Ekadashis he would unpredictably, consume food. Some would tell him, “Please, you should eat.” He would simply respond, “Today is Ekadashi.” And the next day, he once more rejected food, again saying, “Today is Ekadashi.” In this way, four to five days would pass and Srila Gaurakishora dasa Babaji Maharaja just kept saying it was Ekadashi. On some occasions, he ate something on Ekadashi, however, during those moments, he was not actually in his body.


When people would ask him for any benediction, he would give them his own kaupina (undergarment). One time, a man approached him and said, “I have just gotten married. Please bless me and my wife, so we may have a happy marriage and life.” After hearing his request, Babaji Maharaja threw his kaupina at him. The meaning of this was that this newlywed groom should abandon his wife and accept babaji-vesha (cloth of the renounced order) instead. 


Another day, one devotee approached him and said, “I married Krishna-dasi. Please give your blessings to her.” Babaji Maharaja replied, “Well, okay, you have married Krishna-dasi. Now, stop enjoying and serve her as your deity— cook an offering for her, treat her as a pure Vaishnava and never even touch her,” causing that man to leave immediately.


Srila Gaurakishora dasa Babaji Maharaja would also say, “I do not perform bhajana. I reside in chinmaya-dhama (transcendental abode), yet, I cannot touch its divinity and therefore, I cannot realise its spiritual nature. Shame on me!” Once, in an assembly, he said, “After I leave body, tie it to a horse and drag me around Navadvipa-dhama— so my body will be covered in its dust.” And when he left his body, some babajis-sahajiyas (those with false initiation into false renunciation and false spiritual perfection) from apasampradayas (pseudo-devotional groups) actually attempted to do just that. 


Who can be called a real disciple? Not one who merely receives initiation, rather, one who always follows his guru’s instructions. Disciples in this Kali-yuga are foolish; they even try to find faults in their own gurus. Thus, when Srila Gaurakishora dasa Babaji Maharaja left his body, those babajis who considered him to be their guru said, “We are the disciples of Srila Gaurakishora dasa Babaji Maharaja and he wanted us to tie his legs to a horse and drag him around Navadvipa-dhama.”


The moment Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada, who at the time was in Kolkata, heard of his guru’s departure, he immediately travelled to Navadvipa via train. And when he saw those babajis, who actually prepared a rope already, Srila Prabhupada went forward and boldly proclaimed, “Hey, you are foolish men! Better you tie this rope to your own necks! You can only touch the feet of Srila Gaurakishora dasa Babaji Maharaja if you spent at least one full year as brahmacharis (celibates). If you tell a lie, you will surely be burned!” 


Upon hearing his proclamation, half of the babajis quickly left. When they departed, Srila Prabhupada continued, “Okay, if some of you were a brahmachari for at least half of a year, you can touch Babaji Maharaja’s feet.” Then, around half of the remaining babajis also left. 


After, Srila Prabhupada said, “If some of you observed a vow of celibacy for at least one month, you are allowed to touch his feet.” Then, only ten percent of the babajis remained, ninety percent had left. “Okay, at least one day…,” added Srila Prabhupada. Now, all of them left and Prabhupada began crying while thinking, “The Lord gave them this pure devotee and they only want to drag him along the ground.” 


Try to understand that Navadvipa-dhama is a transcendental abode and its dust is also transcendental and, therefore, highly relishable. Finally, Srila Prabhupada took the transcendental body of Srila Gaurakishora dasa Babaji Maharaja and placed him into samadhi (the tomb in which a pure Vaishnava’s body is laid after his departure from this world). At times, we cannot understand the humble requests of pure devotees and can commit these types of offences. One who is not able to realise the humility of a Vaishnava, can easily commit offences. 


So, today we glorify Srila Gaurakishora dasa Babaji Maharaja, and other speakers will surely glorify this great personality as well as he was such a nice speaker of Bhagavatam that all the panditas (learned scholars) from Navadvipa would come to hear his hari-katha. There once was a very learned scholar, a Sanskrit pandita, who was reading Bhagavatam and explaining it in many different ways. One day, Srila Gaurakishora dasa Babaji Maharaja went to hear this pandita and after hearing the misconceptions in his katha (speech), he simply said, “You are wrong,” and humbly offered more clarifications on the topic.  


Some of us have witnessed how Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja organised festivals in Sri Rupa-Sanatana Gaudiya Matha and invited many learned scholars. However, whenever any speaker was mistaken, Gurudeva quickly interrupted their speech and said, “No. This is not true.” 


In this way, Srila Gurudeva boldly established proper siddhanta. Whenever any one of us made a mistake while speaking hari-katha, Gurudeva chastised them. Gurudeva even chastised highly-esteemed and honoured academics. This is a unique speciality of our acharyas (previous spiritual preceptors)they can never tolerate mistakes in siddhanta.  


Thus, Gaurakishora dasa Babaji Maharaja was not educated externally but his heart was full of renunciation and the deepest extents of devotional service. I pray for the mercy of Srila Gaurakishora dasa Babaji Maharaja.

 

May all Vaishnavas be merciful upon me and I gain renunciation in some life. May all Vaishanavas give me the power to awaken vairagya within my heart. I do not have even a single drop of devotion, this is why I pray for the mercy of Srila Gaurakishora dasa Babaji Maharaja.


Srila Gaurakishora dasa Babaji Maharaja ki jaya!


[Jaya jaya Sri Radhe!]

Date: 11 November 2016 Location: Govardhana



 

Translator: Sundara-gopala dasa (India) Transcriber: Anima dasi (Russia) Editor: Sanatana dasa (USA) Second Editor: Sanatana dasa (USA) Proofreading: Chandrika dasi (UK) Integrity check: Divya-premamayi dasi (Slovakia) Image: Navina Krishna dasa (Holland)



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