[Translated from Śrīla Gurudeva’s Hindi Publication on the Life of the Four Vaiṣṇava Ācaryas: Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Prabhupāda, Śrīla Gaura-kiśora dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, and Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja]
jagannāthāya te namaḥ
I offer obeisance to Vaiṣṇava Sārvabhauma Śrī Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja. He indicated the pastime place of the appearance of Śrī Gaurasundara, and he is very dear to the devotees.
Appearance and Introduction
In approximately 1764, Śrī Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja appeared in a Sambhrānt family in a Maṇḍalākāra village within the division of Ṭāṇgāil in the district of Mayaman Siṁha in present day Bāṅglādeśa. Some have the belief that he manifested his appearance pastime in the Taḍāsa village within the Pāvanā district of Bāṇglādeśa in a Varenda Kāyastha family. Up until now we do not have a definite account or acquaintance of his previous āśrama’s mother and father, or of the year, date and so forth of his appearance.
Whichever place or whatever family Śrīla Jagannātha Dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja may have appeared in; in reality he is Bhagavān’s eternally perfected associate and the manifested form (prakaśa-vigraha) of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. He is fully realized in the current of the conception of Śrī Śrī Svarūpa-Rūpanuga; he is the sārvabhauma (emperor) of the empire of śuddha-vaiṣṇavas; he is the eternally worshipable of Śrīmad Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura; he is greatly enthusiastic in preaching the message of Godhead; he is the general in the army of nāma-saṇkīrtana, and he is a Bhāgavat Paramahaṁsa goṣṭhānandī (one who takes delight in preaching). Śrī Vraja and Śrī Navadvīpa Dhāma are his eternal places of residence.
While staying in his previous aśrama, Śrīla Jagannātha Dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja acted out the pastime of accepting pāṇcarātrikī dīkṣā and becoming the dīkṣā disciple of Śrī Rāsa Bihārī Gosvāmī, a descendent of Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu, and a resident in the provincial district of Puruliyā. That Śrī Rāsa Bihārī Gosvāmī had one other disciple—Svādhīn Tripurādhipati—Svadhāmagata Īśānacandra Māṇikya Bāhādura. Even today, Śrī Rāsa Bihārī jiu, the worshipable Lordship’s of Śrī Rāsa Bihārī Gosvāmi, are being served in his royal palace.
Coming to Śrī Vraja Maṇḍala
Understanding and seeing the life history of Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja, it is recognized that although he was a topmost devotee of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu before coming to Śrī Vraja Maṇḍala, still, following the completely pure ācāra-pracāra, out of greed to obtain the devotees transcendental association, he came to Śrī Vraja Maṇḍala.
Association with the Viśuddha-Rūpānuga-Ācārya
Out of destiny, Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja came to Śrī Vraja Maṇḍala and received the association of the Bhāgavata Śrīla Madhusūdan dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja, who was acting out the pastime of being ācārya, taking shelter of the method of rūpa and rūpānuga, and preaching in this way. Obtaining the association of Śrīla Madhusūdan dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja, Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja’s heart, which was burning in enthusiasm for the association of rūpānuga vaisṇavas, was cooled. From him, Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja received the deep process and tattva of bhajana in the line of the Śrī Gauḍīya-Vaiṣṇava-sampradāya.
Day and night, Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja began to perform honest service to his Gurudeva, looking after everything. He stayed under the complete guidance of Śrīla Madhusūdana dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja for a long time; residing on the bank of Śrī Sūrya-kuṇḍa and showing the perfect example of sādhana bhajana. Seeing his honest service as well as unfathomable love for Śrī Gaurāṇga Mahāprabhu, and his desire for the supreme auspiciousness of the residents of the world, Śrīla Madhusūdana dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja gave him paramahaṁsa-vesa.
A Brief Life History of Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja’s Veśa-guru, Śrīla Madhusūdana dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja
When Śrīla Madhusūdana dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja was only 12 years old, one devotee gave him the śrī-harināma-mahāmantra along with the 18 syllable śrī-kṛṣṇa-mantra. Although Śrīla Madhusūdana dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja began chanting the mantras at that time, still, in his adulthood he lamented again and again, “How unfortunate I am! I do not know the method of chanting śrī-harināma and śrī-kṛṣṇa-mantra! I don’t even know the name of my Gurudeva who gave me the mantra! I never saw him again in my life! I never got the opportunity to serve him, what to speak of receiving any instructions from him. Due to the absence of guru-sevā and instructions from him, my human life will pass uselessly. What will be my destination, not knowing the purport of my mantras and guru-paramparā?”
Absorbed in these thoughts, he came to Śrī Vraja Maṇḍala searching for his Gurudeva. He stayed for some time in Kāmyavana, then he traveled throughout many places in Śrī Vraja Maṇḍala searching for his Gurudeva; however, not being able to fulfill his desire, he was despondent. Finally, being deprived of the acquaintance of his Gurudeva and knowledge of the process of his mantra, with the intention of taking his life, he tied a very large śilā of Girirāja Govardhana around his neck and jumped into Śrī Rādhā Kuṇḍa. However, at that time, the supreme ruler of Śrī Rādhā Kuṇḍa, Śrīmatī Rādhikā and Her beloved Śrī Kṛṣṇa lifted him up with Their hands and placed him on the banks of the pond. They wrote on tāla leaves the name of his Gurudeva, his guru-parampara, the process of chanting his mantras, as well as many other subjects, and placing them near him, They disappeared. By the causeless mercy of Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa he became aware of all these subjects: his Gurudeva was a follower in the line of śrī-rūpānuga-vaiṣṇava-pravara Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇ Prabhu—Śrī Uddhava dāsajī, who was engaged in śrī-rūpānuga-bhajana following the disciplic succession and doctrine of the Śrī Brahma-Madhva-Gauḍīya-Vaiṣṇavas.
A short time after, Śrīla Madhusūdana dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja began to reside at the supremely pure pastime place on the banks of Sūrya-kuṇḍa, in the kuñja named ‘Madana-raṇa-vāṭikā’ situated five miles north of Śrī Rādhā Kuṇḍa. Once, when Śrīla Bābājī Mahārāja was sitting in his bhajana-sthalī, ‘Madana-raṇa-vāṭikā,’ the pastimes of holī in Vraja manifested upon the screen of his transcendental vision. While watching, Śrīla Bābājī Mahārāja entered into the pastimes with his perfected form. People nearby saw that many different colors were on his clothes as well as an unprecedented fragrance; hearing people murmuring, Śrīla Bābājī Mahārāja came back to his external senses. Since this occurrence, Śrīla Madhusūdana dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja is famous in Sūrya-kuṇḍa as ‘Siddha Bābājī.’
There is a common saying or rumor that when Śrīla Madhusūdana dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja explained the Śrīmad-Bhagavāta in his bhajana-kuṭīra at Sūrya-kuṇḍa, a python would come daily with a fixed routine and hear his explanations. When they were completed, the python would offer daṇḍavat-praṇāms and then go away.
Śrīla Bābājī Mahārāja bathed in Śrī-Sūrya-kuṇḍa every day. One night Śrīmatī Rādhārānī appeared in a dream and told him, “In this kuṇḍa there is a Giridhārī śilā with My crown printed on it. Take this śilā out and worship it.” Śrīla Bābājī Mahārāja woke and sat up from his dream, and in the morning, being extremely pleased at heart, followed the order of Śrīmatī Rādhārānī, and took the śilā out of Sūrya-kuṇḍa. Even though the śilā appeared to be approximately 2 to 2 ½ maṇas or 80-100 kilos, when Śrīla Bābājī Mahārāja lifted it, it became lighter then a flower. Since then, Śrīla Bābājī Mahārāja worshipped the śilā every day.
Up to the present day, the śilā worshipped by Śrīla Madhusūdana dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja, as well as the worshipable nāma-brahma, or names of Bhagavāna such as Śrī Hare Kṛṣṇa’ and ‘Śrī Haribol’ written upon wood, are served in a temple on the banks of Śrī Sūrya-kuṇḍa. Śrīla Madhusūdana dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja’s samādhi and his ancient worn out bhajana-kuṭira are also present.
At Sūrya-kuṇḍa, the disappearance day of Śrīla Madhusūdana dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja is followed on agrahāyaṇa śuklāśṭamī.
Śrī Gaura Bhakta, Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja
After taking paramahaṁsa-veṣa, Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja wandered in different places within Śrī Vraja Maṇḍala and Śrī Gauḍa Maṇḍala for the welfare of the world, increasing the beauty of those places. Bābājī Mahārāja perceived Śri Gauḍa Maṇḍala to be non-different from Vraja Maṇḍala. In the same way that all of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s qualities are showered upon the devotees of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, similarly, all the qualities of Śrī Gaurahari such as deep honest taste for chanting śrī-nāma following—‘tṛnad api sunicena, tarorāpi sahiṣṇu, amānina mānadena’ were manifest in Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja. Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja obtained all good qualities and became the most fortunate of the fortunate.
Śrī Madhusūdana dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja’s Departure
When the time came, by the will of Bhagavān, Śrī Madhusūdana dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja performed his disappearance pastime. Along with his other godbrothers, Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja placed his Gurudeva in samādhi on the banks of Sūrya-kuṇḍa. Although he spent most of his time at Sūrya-kuṇḍa, still, he would sometimes go to Śrīdhām Navadvīpa for some days and then again returned to Sūrya-kuṇda.
His Preaching Pastimes as Ācārya
For those who renounce everything and take the one-pointed shelter of Śrīman Mahāprabhu, taking a vow to preach His message, then Bhagavān Śrī Gaursundara accepts his bhajana. By thinking, “I am a low and destitute Vaiṣṇava; however, by making disciples, my so-called humble bhajana, which is actually full of pride, will be destroyed.” Leaving this powerful arrogance of being a great devotee aside, and taking śuddha-nāma with humility, both showing by one’s own personal example, as well as preaching śuddha-nāma and taking the responsibility of being guru, then the waves of sense enjoyment in the form of material prestige will be diminished. Śrīla Rūpa, Śrīla Sanātana, Śrīla Jīva and Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa, as well as other great pure devotees gave instructions by the method of composing scriptures, while Śrīman Narottama, Śrīla Madhvacārya, Śrīla Rāmānujacārya and others accepted many disciples. Many foolish people became offenders at the lotus feet of the actual akiñcana devotees by thinking that such preaching activities were obstacles to the limbs of bhakti and were merely waves of sense enjoyment. Following the above-mentioned Vaiṣṇava-ācāryas’ magnanimous and lofty moods, Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja followed the instruction of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu:
yāre dekha, tāre kaha ‘kṛṣṇa’-upadeśa
āmāra ājñāya guru hañā tāra’ ei deśa
Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 7.128
[Tell everyone you meet the instructions of Kṛṣṇa. Under My order become a guru and deliver everyone in this land.]
Thus, when any person would naturally come to Śrīla Bābājī Mahārāja, he would immediately begin to deliver viśuddha-hari-kathā. Seeing the incomparable anurāga of Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja towards Śrī Gaurasundara, and the unfathomable enthusiasm towards Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s practice and preaching, many devotees were attracted to the shelter of Śrīla Bābājī Mahārāja, and passed their lives with great renunciation in his care, thus making their lives fortunate and successful. Many householders also followed Śrīla Bābājī Mahārāja’s instructions.
Strictly Following the Method of Śrī Rūpānuga-bhajana
Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja’s chastisement was nirapekṣa (neutral or indifferent), his strong instructions for the welfare of the soul were poignant. Śrīla Bābājī Mahārāja stayed for a long time in the shelter of the banks of Śrī Rādhā-kuṇḍa. Following the method of Śrī Rūpānuga-bhajana, he would perform Śrī Rādhā-Govinda’s eternal service with an attentive mind through the medium of nāma-bhajana. Śrīla Bābājī Mahārāja stayed in this world for 142 long years, continuously performing śrī kṛṣṇa kīrtana and inspiring others to also perform śrī harināma. Bābājī Mahārāja never accepted any siddhānta or conception other than the one and only method of following all other limbs of bhakti through connection with kīrtanākhyā-bhakti. With mind absorbed intently in moods of separation, he would perform hari kīrtana himself, and he gave instruction for others to do the same. He never patronized the pretense of full absorption in nāma bhajana with an enjoying mentality, or hypocritically following solitary bhajana. Apart from chanting the 16 name, 32 syllable mahāmantra that emanated from Śrīman Mahāprabhu’s lotus mouth, he never patronized the nāma-āparādhi’s who performed speculative, imaginary modern mantras full of rasābhāsa and opposed to siddhānta.
Under the guidance of Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja’s instructions, the followers of Śrī Rūpānuga never performed any rāsābhasa singing or any type of nāma-āparādha in the place of ‘śuddha nāma’ and ‘śrī nāma kīrtan.’ Frivolously performing harināma with śraddhā is one thing, but not giving up nāma-āparādha, yet rather thinking it to be pure ‘nāma’ and protecting or maintaining one of the nāma-āparādhas amongst them all with such a foolish conception, thinking, “my śrī harināma kīrtana is going on nicely”—such patronizing self-deception is another thing completely. Śrīla Bābājī Māhāraja never tolerated anything opposed to siddhānta or anything with the fault of rāsa-ābhasa.
Śrīla Bābājī Mahārāja’s Instructions to Businessmen Reciters of the Bhāgavat
When Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja and his one-pointed associates devoted to nāma-bhajana in the family of paramahaṁsas were absorbed in the bliss of bhajana in Śrī Vṛndāvana, one learned scholar of the Saṅskrit language, a famous hired orator from the place of Mahāprabhu’s sannyāsa pastime in Katwa, who had the occupation of reciting the Bhāgavatam for a quantity of wealth, came to Vṛndāvan with the desire to reside in the tīrtha with brahmaṇas. But there he started explaining the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam for collecting material wealth, worship, and fame. In other words, through reciting the Bhāgavata, he became absorbed in filling his belly and other activities. Seeing that, Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja and other bhajanānandī-vaiṣṇavas were indifferent to hearing his explanations on the Śrīmad-Bhāgavata, which is the crown jewel of all scriptures. The gentleman asked why Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja was disinclined to his recitation, to which Bābājī Mahārāja replied, “that person who makes a business out of the Bhāgavatam is a nāma-āparādhī; what comes out of his mouth is not the glories of the transcendental personality Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Such a person who sells his kīrtan or Bhāgavata recital to fill his body or tongue is more contemptible than an ordinary vaiśya or merchant. By hearing from such a businessman orator, rather than the jīvas getting any form of auspiciousness, the jīvas will become more fallen. To have faith in objects of enjoyment in the place of faith in Kṛṣṇa, and to perform hypocritical bhakti instead of honest bhajana, is the cause of inauspicious destinations for the jīvas.”
The fortunate orator was not displeased to hear the strong and truthful speech of Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja, even though it was unpleasant; rather, he realized this as the mercy of Bābājī Mahārāja, and from that time he renounced the tendency of making a business out of the Bhāgavat, understanding it to be contemptible. Accepting the mercy of Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja, the fortunate orator became a parama-bhāgavata-vaiṣṇava in the future. While staying in Śrīdhāma Vṛndāvan he would even offer obeisance to donkeys, dogs, and dog-eaters. By the mercy of the detached devotees, his arrogance of caste, class, and learning were all dissipated.
Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja’s Deities
By the help of Śrī Bihārī dāsa (his sevaka), the residents of Sūrya-kuṇḍa built a room for Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja to stay in, as well as a small temple. Seeing the temple, Śrīla Bābājī Mahārāja told Bihārī dāsa, “Bihārī! In this temple, we should establish Ṭhākurjī. Make arrangements for Deities.”
On the order of Bābājī Mahārāja, with the help of one landowner, Śrī Bihārī Dāsjī brought the deities of Śrī Gaura-Nitāī from the place called Ḍāṅīhāt, and delivered them into the hands of Śrīla Bābājī Mahārāja. Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja established the Deities in the new temple and held a very large festival.
The powerful Vrajavāsī Śrī Bihārī dāsa was born in a Gopa’s home. He served Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja for approximately 40 years. Śrī Bihārī Dāsa was not highly qualified in reading and writing from the perspective of worldly people; however, by the mercy of his Guru-pāda-padma, he obtained the result of real learning—the great opportunity to be absorbed in constant practice of Śrī Kṛṣṇa bhakti. He would take Śrīla Bābājī Mahārāja in a basket on his head, and carry him from one place to another. Because of his great strength, he would go eight to ten miles at a time without any conveniences. He sat Śrīla Bābājī Mahārāja on his head in a basket and carried him to Navadvīpa-dhāma. Arriving in Śrī Navadvīpa-dhāma, he built a kuṭīra for Śrīla Bābājī Mahārāja with his hands, a spade and so forth, and also built four walls in the four directions surrounding the kuṭīra. He was a witness of the transcendental affection of Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja towards Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura and Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura ‘Prabhupāda.’ Ease, power, and simplicity were manifest in whatever he did.
One day, some thieves came to Śrīla Bābājī Mahārāja’s kuṭīra to steal the Deities, thinking them to be made of gold. Although, by the will of Bhagavān, the thieves could not steal the Deities, nonetheless, Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja gave his servant Bihārī dāsa the order to take the Deities and leave Them in Śrī Vṛndāvan. Śrī Bihārī dāsa did so, following the order of Bābājī Mahārāja. In the present times, those Gaura-Nitāī deities are situated in Śrī Vṛndāvan at Gopāla-Bhāga Dhopāpāḍ, and are known by the name, ‘Sonāra Gaura’ (Golden Gaura).
The Sting of One Rupee
Once, as Śrī Bihārī dāsjī was carrying Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja on a pathway, a devotee gave Bābājī Mahārāja one rupee and Bābājī Mahārāja gave it to Bihārīdāsa to keep. Two or three miles ahead, Śrīla Bābājī Mahārāja suddenly told Bihārī Dāsa to return it. After arriving at his Kuṭī, he called that devotee and gave him back the rupee, saying, “Brother, keep your rupee, I heard that you have many rupees. I don’t know how you can tolerate the biting sting of so many rupees, I am not able to tolerate the sting of even one rupee.”
Śrīla Bābājī Mahārāja’s Instructions to Those Unqualified for the Path of Rāga
Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja always gave instructions to perform hari-bhajana through one’s body, mind, and words. Some people among those with the desire to be his followers, taking loin cloth, or the dress of a bābājī, thought that they would now not have to perform fatiguing physical work as householders do, for they were now bheka-dhārīs, (wearing the dress of renunciation). Consequently, they simply circulated their beads without care, trying to complete their regulated number of rounds by any means, thinking that then their daily activities would be finished. However, Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja mercifully engaged all those nāma-āparādhis in exhausting physical activities for the service of Kṛṣṇa. Without keeping one’s senses absorbed in the service of Viṣṇu and the Vaiṣṇavas, Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s names will not manifest on the tongue, and one will not get the qualification to perform Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s names. For as long as one’s senses are present with the body and their sense objects, as well as those persons related to the body, until then the living entity will be attached to sense enjoyment, this is certain. “I am Bhagavān’s servant”— situated in this mood, one will have possessiveness towards the objects related to Bhagavān, thus one will engage his own body and the objects related to the body in the service of Bhagavān and the devotees, and the tendency of love and possessiveness will be towards them. Seeing the unperfected and foolish persons laziness in regards to Śrī Kṛṣṇa anuśīlana, for they were busily engaged in their own sense enjoyment, and to stop them from proceeding on the pathway to hell, Śrīla Bābājī Mahārāja engaged them in honest hari-bhajana, in such a way that finally their consciousness would be cleansed and they would obtain the qualification to perform śrī-kṛṣṇa-anuśīlana.
Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura Meets Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja
In the month of śrāvaṇa 1880, when Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja was staying in the kuñja of Śrī Rūpa dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura came to the kuñja of Śrī Rādhā Ramaṇa Vasu, with the intent of having daṛśana of Śrīdhāma Vṛndāvana. When Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura was searching for some rare scriptures, he came to the kuñja of Śrī Rūpa dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja, and had darśana of Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja for the first time. The pastime of the eternal vrajavāsī guru and disciple meeting together in the Vraja of this world was manifest. In this place, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura authored the ‘dāśa ślokī’ in the name of Śrī Nimbāditya.
Along with hearing the powerful hari-kathā of Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura realized him to be a great bhajanānandī-mahāpuruṣa, and offered himself for all time at his lotus feet. Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura realized that the actual result of his pilgrimage had been obtained:
“tīrtha-phala sādhu saṅga, sādhu saṅge antaraṅga, śrī kṛṣṇa bhajana manohara”
[The actual result of going to the holy places is to obtain sādhu-saṅga, because in sadhu-saṅga one gets ‘antaraṅga,’ or the opportunity of receiving confidential instructions for Śrī Kṛṣṇa-bhajana, which steal the mind.]
Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura’s travel to Śrīdhāma Vṛndāvana was successful. In the same way that Śrīman Mahāprabhu spoke the feelings of His heart when He had darśana of Śrī Īśvarapurī in Gayā, saying:
prabhu bale gayā yātrā saphala āmāra
yatra kṣane dekhilāṅ caraṇa tomāra
saṁsāra-samudra haite uddhāraha more
eī āmi deha samarpilāṅ tomāre
kṛṣṇa-pāda-padmera amṛta-rasa pāna
āmāre karāo tumi ei cāhi dāna
Śrī Caitanya Bhāgavata, Ādi 17.50-52
Receiving the darṣana of Śrī Īśvara Purī’s lotus feet, Śrī Gaursundara said, “That moment I obtained the darśana of your beautiful lotus feet, My pilgrimage to Gayā was successful. Please save Me from the ocean of material existence, I have offered My body unto you! Please make Me drink the transcendental nectar of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet; this is all I beg from you!”
In this same way, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura’s mind became agitated, and prayers appeared on his tongue. Seeing a person so learned and well versed in the scriptures, with such a powerful natural enthusiasm to preach śrī-nāma-saṇkīrtana as practiced and preached by Śrīman Mahāprabhu, Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahāśaya was pleased, and encouraged Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura to more widely and strongly preach śrī-gaura-nāma, śrī-gaura-dhāma and śrī-gaura-kāma (Gaura’s desires) throughout the world.
Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura returned from Śrī Vṛndavān and began preaching extensively to fulfill the heart’s desire of Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahāśaya. If one reads the autobiography of Ṭhākura Bhaktivinoda, one will understand from that time how he greatly preached the holy name, pure bhakti, and gave many eloquent lectures related to dharma in many places throughout Bengal.
Meeting again at Āmlā-Joḍā
After this first meeting, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura had the great happiness to obtain the association and instructions of Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja many times. Among these, Śrīla BhaktivinodaṬhākura wrote about some of the prominent meetings himself.
One time, Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja was staying in the place called Āmlā Joḍā within the district of Vardhamāna, preaching the spotlessly pure śrī-rūpānuga-bhakti. At that time, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura was going place-to-place preaching hari-kathā and hari-kīrtana with the plan of going to Vṛndavān for sadhu-saṅga and residence in the dhāma. Going through the practice of this plan, when it was Ekādaśī on Wednesday in the month of Phālguna, February-March on the 22nd day in 1891, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura decided to pause in Āmlā-Joḍā, where by the desire of Bhagavān he received the good fortune of the darśana of Śrīla Jagannātha Dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja.
The Ideal of how to Follow Ekādaśi-tithi, Śrīla Bābājī Mahārāja’s Ecstasies, and Establishing Prapannāśrama
Although Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja and Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura followed every Ekādaśī-tithi excellently according to the account of Śrī Ambarīṣa Mahārāja in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, still, in Āmlā Joḍā, they stayed up all night doing hari-kīrtana, and showed the unprecedented example of how to follow Ekādaśī to all the general people. Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura explained the occurring’s in Āmlā Joḍā in his magazine ‘Śrī SajjanaToṣaṇī’ as follows:
“After staying awake all night on Ekādaśī, at eight in the morning all the devotees in the village gathered and went out on nagar-saṅkīrtana. With Paramapūjyapāda Siddha Śrī Jagannātha dāsa bābājī Mahāśaya in front, everyone arrived at Prapannāśrama.
(Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura was highly respected and the recipient of great honor from the residents of Āmlā Joḍā. By the combined efforts of the protectors of the Śrī Nāma Haṭta, Śrī Yukta Kṣetranātha Bhaktinidhi, Vipaṇipati, (Vikretā), and Śrī Yukta Vipin Vihārī Bhaktiratna’s, one aśrama, ‘Prapannāśrama’ was constructed in the village of Āmlā Joḍā in the middle of a garden.)
At the time of kīrtana, all the bhāvas that manifested in Bābājī Mahārāja are impossible to describe. At an age beyond 100, he would dance like a lion in premānanda, and sometimes in the middle he would shout out:
“nitāī ki nāma eneche re, nāma eneche nāmera hāṭe śraddhāmūle nāma diteche re”
Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu appeared on this Earth with what wonderful names! He opened the marketplace of the holy names and distributed this wonderful prema nāma for the price of faith.
He would sing lines of poetry like this and others, shed incessant tears, and tumble in the dust of the Earth. Such an amazing scene occurred that cannot be found anywhere else. Seeing the ecstatic emotions of Śrīla Bābājī Mahāśaya and becoming submerged in the bliss of his kīrtana, almost all present wept with hairs standing on end, and all danced ecstatically in kīrtana for a long time with voices choked with emotion. When kīrtana was completed after a long time, there was a brief lecture on the subject of nāma-haṭta. Being very pleased, that day Bābājī Mahāśaya gave the order for ‘Prapannāśrama’ to begin. Vipaṇi Pati Mahāśaya, taking the approval of Bābājī Mahāśaya, completed the project to establish Prapannāśrama. A school and medical dispensary were established, and the leader of the society picked by Śrīla Jagannātha Dāsa Bābājī Mahāśaya was qualified for the task in all ways. In whichever villages the Prapannāśrama is constructed, they should be established in this manner.”
(Sajjana Toṣaṇi 4th Year, 23rd Prṣṭha)
Śrīla Bābājī Mahārāja Absorbed in Singing the Qualities of Śrī Hari
In this village called Āmlā Joḍā, day and night Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja spoke with Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura about Gaura and Kṛṣṇa, explanations on kīrtana, Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, and Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta.
Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja Coming to Reside Permanently in Śrī Gaura Dhāma
In the manifested lifetime of Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja, the Viviktānandī-sādhus were propagating that Śrī Vraja dhāma is the place for perfected personalities and sādhakas; that Śrī Vraja Dhāma is superior to Śrī Navadvīpa-dhāma, and that just by arriving by any means in Śrī Vraja Dhāma one will get perfection. Considering Śrī Gaura Dhāma and Śrī Kṛṣṇa Dhāma to be different, these offensive conceptions were prevalent. Vaiṣṇava Sārvabhauma Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja took a firm vow to uproot this offensive conception completely and throw it far away. Hence, although being an eternally perfected Vrajavāsī absorbed in transcendental pastimes, he, as well as Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura and Śrī Gaura Kiśora dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja, went and resided in Śrī Navadvīpa. Showing the brilliantly pure (ujjvala) nature of Śrī Gaura-Dhāma, by staying there and giving the perfect example of performing hari-bhajana to their many followers. The previous Acārya Śrīla Narottama Ṭhākura sang—śrī gauḍa maṇḍāla bhūmi, jebā jāne cintāmanī, tāra haya vraja bhūme vasa.
Following this conclusive truth, Śrīla Bābājī Mahārāja stayed in Śrī Gauḍa Maṇḍala and entered into the transcendental pastimes here, performing kīrtana of this siddhānta with a loud voice.
Staying in Kuliyā Navadvīpa
The place Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja stayed and did bhajana in Kuliyā Navadvīpa has become famous as ‘Bhajana-Kuṭī’. At the time when Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura stayed in Kṛṣṇanagara, considering him to be his dear associate, Śrīla Jagannātha Dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja told him to construct the compound called ‘Bhajana-Kuṭī’. Taking this order on his head, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura used his assets to have this compound made. Now, Śrīla Bābājī Mahārāja’s samādhi is present in the compound of this bhajana-kuṭīra. Many times Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura came to this place to see Śrīla Bābājī Mahārāja and hear kathā of Gaura and Kṛṣṇa.
Giving the Giridhārī śilā to Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura
When Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja came from Navadvīpa to Calcutta, he would usually go and meet Śrīla Bhaktivinoda in the Bhakti Bhavan, following the advice of Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura, “gṛhe vā vanete thāke, ‘hā gaurāṅga’ bale ḍāke, narottama maṅge tār saṅga.” At the time when Śrīla Bhaktivinoda was performing the pastime of a householder, he would go for his direct meeting. To establish the perfect ideal of good behavior for the family members of Paramahāṅsa Śiromaṇi Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja gave them Śrī Giridhārī (Govardhan Śilā).
In 1893 Baṅgābda, when Śrīla Bābājī Mahārāja came to Bhakti Bhavan, for the satisfaction of Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, Śrīla Vipina Bihārī Gosvāmī took the caraṇāmṛta of Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja. At that time, the photo taken of Śrīla Bābājī Mahārāja on the roof of Bhakti Bhavan has become worshipable in the present times for the viśuddha Śrī Rūpānuga Vaiṣṇavas.
The Necessity of Service According to Qualification
While Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja was staying in his bhajana-kuṭīra in Kuliyā Navadvīpa, some household renunciants (gṛha-tyāgīs) came to him with the purpose of obtaining some instructions on bhajana. Considering their qualification, Śrīla Bābājī Mahārāja instructed them to give water to eggplant vegetables planted for serving Kṛṣṇa. Having the false ego of being fully ripened in bhajana, they were displeased with this instruction of Śrīla Bābājī Mahārāja. They considered that since they had left their houses to become detached from this sort of sensual work, having come to Śrīla Bābājī Mahārāja, why should they again be made to do the materialistic work of householders? Some thought that if, after leaving material life, they had to perform this sort of work, then it would be better to return again to their homes. Śrīla Bābājī Mahārāja understood the mood of their hearts and from Daivakrama he brought all his disciples face-to-face with Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura. After telling Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura in brief about their subject matter, he said, “You are the best deliberator, please consider the situation here.” Among those with the false ego of being detached loincloth renunciants, some had a lethargic nature and were full of anarthas, some were secretly vyabhicāris, performers of illicit activities, some kept independent desires, and some were anyābhilāṣīs, full of ulterior desires. Considering all their different qualifications, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura advised one person among them to go on pilgrimage to the four holy places, some others he told to go back to their homes and perform authorized marriages, and he instructed other simple persons, who were nonetheless weak with the disease of anyābhilāsa, to fully follow the instructions of Śrīla Bābājī Mahārāja without any consideration, and to fully surrender unto him. In this way, Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja gave mercy to those in the grip of unwanted desires through Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura.
Śrīla Bābājī Mahārāja’s All-knowing Nature
Many people would go for the darśana of Śrīla Jagannātha Dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja and give him a lot of donations at their departure. He would keep all the donations in a small jug. Every fifteen days he would have the money counted and most of it spent. If the servant of Bābājī Mahārāja ever took out 10 or 15 rupees and put it in another place without telling him, Bābājī Mahārāja would become very sober and speak in a loud voice, “Oh! Where did the 15 rupees go?” Although Bābājī Mahārāja kept his eyes closed in the presence of his servant, because due to advanced age his eyelids would always be falling down, and only by holding up the eyelids with his hands could he see, and even though he didn’t count the money, Bābājī Mahārāja still knew everything. The servant would fearfully take out all the money and put it back.
Śrīla Bābājī Mahārāja’s Disdain for the Hypocritical Residents of the dhāma
Whatever donations Śrīla Bābājī Mahārāja received, he would spend according to his desire. One time, Bābājī Mahārāja told his servant, “Go! Take 200 rupees of the collected donations and exchange them for rasagullas. I will feed rasagullas to all the cows of the dhāma.” When the servant asked, “Why do you want to feed rasagullas to the cows of the dhāma instead of feeding the Bābājī Vaiṣṇavas of the dhāma?” Bābājī Mahārāja said, “You don’t know, most of the Bābājīs here associate with women. Taking the cloth of Bābājīs, they are having intercourse with women. Therefore, I am not feeding them rasagullas, but am rather giving the rasagullas to the cows.”
Sometimes Bābājī Mahārāja would give someone five or ten rupees. Sometimes he would give someone a shawl, blanket, or clothes; however, for those who desired their real auspiciousness, he would always give strong chastisement.
Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja would take prasāda on a large plate. One time, while staying in Kulīya Navadvīpa, a female dog from a nearby hut gave birth to five puppies. When Bābājī Mahārāja would sit down to take prasāda, the puppies would start eating from his plate, standing on all four sides. Because his eyes were closed, he would count them with his hand to see if all of them had come or not. If the servant was upset and tried to chase one or two of them away, then Bābājī Mahārāja would angrily say, “Go! Take my plate. Today I will not eat. They are all dhāmavāsīs and you are always running behind them!”
Then the servant would bring back the puppies, feeling ashamed, and left them near the plate of Bābājī Mahārāja. When Bābājī Mahārāja counted that all were present, then he would happily take prasāda with them from one plate.
Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja is a mahā-bhāgavata. If an ordinary person imitates his practices then it will be inauspicious for them. The independent mahā-bhāgavata is beyond all rules, regulations, logic, and thoughts. They always perceive the dhāma and guru; however, if an ordinary unqualified practitioner imitates them, they can commit offenses.
Protecting the Etiquette of the Paramahaṁsa dress
Many dishonest people would come near Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja to accept a loincloth or the dress of a Paramahaṁsa from him. One time, a bābājī by the name of Gaura Haridāsa was very insistent on taking veśa from Bābājī Mahārāja. However, Śrīla Bābājī Mahārāja didn’t want to give him veśa under any circumstance. Gaura Haridāsa lay three days outside Bābājī Mahārāja’s hut without eating or drinking. In the end, Śrīla Bābājī Mahārāja didn’t give him veśa personally, but ordered his servant Bihārī dāsa Vrajavāsī to give him.
Being Incapable of Tolerating Rasābhāsa or Anything Opposed to Siddhānta
Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja could never tolerate even a drop of anything opposed to siddhānta or anything that was rasābhāsa. He said, “Just by having the arrogance of being the disciple of a great personality, one can’t actually be a real disciple. Those who don’t have the same character or mindset and who don’t fully accept chastisement and authority are disciples in name only.” Those with the arrogant self-conception of following Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja could never actually preach the message of Śrī Rūpa and Raghunātha. Śrīla Bābājī Mahārāja would become very angry seeing their independent nature. One time, a famous so-called bābājī was coming near the hut of Bābājī Mahārāja singing a speculative imaginary song full of the fault of rasābhāsa and accompanied with his group, Bābājī Mahārāja took a stick in his hand and shouted, “Forbid them from coming this way!” Seeing this, someone quickly told them not to go there.
The Ideal Example of Practice
When Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja was coming from Śrī Vṛndāvana to stay in Navadvīpa Maṇḍala, a gentleman of Calcutta came to Bābājī Mahārāja and propitiated him strongly, “Please mercifully be situated in Calcutta and place your lotus feet in my home.” There he wanted to accept the holy name from Bābājī Mahārāja. Śrīla Bābājī Mahārāja’s instruction was that even being invited, one should never accept any grains from an enjoyer. He was always unwilling to go to Calcutta. This person stayed outside Bābājī Mahārāja’s hut for fifteen days praying, showing how fixed he was. Finally, it was decided that Bābājī Mahārāja would not go to the gentleman’s house in Calcutta but would rather go to his garden in Kāśīpura, and there he wouldn’t take anything. Śrīla Bābājī Mahārāja went by boat with his servant Bihārī Dāsjī to the person’s garden, and there sat and spoke lengthy hari-kathā to him, giving him the instruction to chant śrī harināma. That person tried very hard to give some donation or food to Bābājī Mahārāja, but he wouldn’t accept anything from a sense enjoyer. Then independently Bābājī Mahārāja went with his servant in the afternoon time to ‘Bhakti Bhavan’ (Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura’s place of residence in Calcutta). Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura was amazed to see Bābājī Mahārāja. Śrīla Bābājī Mahārāja begged and accepted food at the home of a pure Vaiṣṇava. Śrīla Bābājī Mahārāja wouldn’t accept the grains of an enjoyer, even upon being begged to a thousand times by the materialistic devotee, he wouldn’t accept any object from him. In this way, Śrīla Bābājī Mahārāja showed the perfect example to protect the sādhakas’ bhajana.
Hearing of the character and practice of Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja, the meaning of the instruction of Śrī Caitanya Caritāmṛta becomes apparent.
bhaktera dravya prabhu kāḍi-kāḍi khāya
abhaktera dravya prabhu ulṭī nāhi cāya
[Prabhu snatches away and eats the foodstuffs of the bhaktas, but He will never take the foodstuffs of a non-devotee.]
Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda’s Preparation of the Śrī Navadvīpa Calendar by the Direction of Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja
When Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja went to ‘Bhakti Bhavan’ he showed great affection to Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. Bābājī Mahārāja would be very satisfied seeing Śrīla Prabhupāda’s truthfulness, one-pointedness, brilliance (tejasvitā), eloquence or frankness, understanding of bhakti-siddhānta, firm vow of abstinence from bad association, and his love and attachment for harināma. Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda went many times with Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura and took darśana of Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja at his Bhajana Kutīra in Kuliyā Navadvīpa and he would hear the discourses between Bābājī Mahārāja and Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura. When Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Ṭhākura was merely 12 years old, he was greatly accomplished in knowledge of astrology and could perfectly discourse on the subject. Hearing of this amazing transcendental talent of the boy, Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja set in motion through Śrīla Saraṣvatī Ṭhākura the Śrī Caitanyābda, Navadvīpa calendar, and the Viṣṇu named months, Vār and Parva, festivals and dates approved by the Vaiṣṇava conclusions. To this day, all branches of the Rūpānauga Vaiṣṇava Bhakti line follow according to the rules of dates and parva that came about through Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja. Vaiṣṇava Sārvabhauma Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja, who is in the disciplic line of Bhāgavat paramparā from Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura and Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhuūṣāna, told that the appearance of Śrī Viṣṇupriyā devī was on the fifth day of the bright half of the lunar moon in the month of Māgha (January/February). Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura preached this news from Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja first in the world. With great care and effort Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja compiled dates of the appearances and disappearances of other associates of Gaura and gave them to Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, and they were then preached throughout the world by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura.
Śrīla Bābājī Mahārāja Placing His Lotus Feet in Surabhi Kuñja at Śrī Godruma
In 1893, in the month of Māgha, the best of Paramahaṁsas, Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja, went with his associates to Surabhi Kuñja in Śrī Godruma and accepted a seat. On Wednesday of the 27th of Māgha, Śrīla Vaiṣṇava Sārvabhauma Jagannātha Dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja and Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura met and an unprecedented festival of hari kīrtana and dancing manifested. Śrī Godruma is the island of kīrtana. Everyone was shook and immersed in the flood of prema by the reverberation of the festival of kīrtana that arose. From then on Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura would go almost daily for kīrtana with the devotees, or would send devotees, showing the perfect example of following the ‘śrī ājñā ṭahal’ (Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu and Śrīla Haridās Ṭhākura would follow the order of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and go to every house praying for all to sing Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s names, worship Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and follow the instructions of Śrī Kṛṣṇa.) Properly following this instruction of Mahāprabhu and giving the holy names to the people is called ‘śrī ājñā ṭahal.’