by Sri Arjuna Das

Certain occasions on the path of human life, such as birth, marriage and parenthood,  demarcate important turning points and are still to a large extend connected to ritual. Among these �rites of passage�, as one might call them, initiation by a genuine spiritual master stands foremost. The only way we can hope to leave the prisonhouse of exploitation and enter the realm of dedication, is by the merciful connection with the realized souls: the devotees of the Lord. Even Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Krsna Themselves accepted a spiritual master. So in a way we can say that everybody is a disciple, even our own gurudeva. Of course we do not see our most beloved master as such, but we always feel very astonished and humble when we see a great soul prostrating himself in all humility before another great soul. So we cannot feel but astonished when we hear our great param-guru of the Visva-Vaishnava-Raj-Sabha, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Thakur Prabhupad, glorify his own gurudev. The true glorification of the guru is not only to glorify the guru himself, but the guru principle, the guru-varga, as well. So let us make our prostated obeisances to Srila Gaura Kishore Das Babaji Maharaj, pearl among Vaishnavas, and listen with attention and reverence to the following narration.

Srila Prabhupada wrote a few articles in Sajjatoshani (19th volume), with the title �Amar Prabhur Katha� [talks on my master]. Srila Prabhupada discussed the supramundane characteristics of His divine Spiritual Master in these articles. He explained as follows...
 �I was busy to occupy many things in this world --from grass up to Brahmalok [abrahmastambha]-- in order to fulfil my needs. I nourished the idea that material wealth could fulfil my dearth. I got many things which are not easy to obtain, but my needs were not getting their fulfilment. I met many great personalities in the world, but because they were also suffering from scarcity, I was not able to respect them. In those hard days, seeing the miserable condition of my life, Lord Gaurasundar permitted His two dearmost associates to be pleased with me. Being intoxicated with material false ego, I lost all auspiciousness in my life. But due to my previous sukriti [devotional pious activities] I got Thakur Bhaktivinode as my best well-wisher. My divine master used to come to him very often and sometimes he used to stay there. Srimad Bhaktivinode Thakur, being merciful unto me, showed me my master. After I met him, my material ego started to reduce. Before, I had the idea that everybody in this human form was contemptable and inferior, like me, but when I observed the supramundane character of my Divine Master, gradually I came to the understanding that an ideal Vaishnava can also be found on the face of this earth.�

Om Visnupada Srila Gaurkishore Das Babaji Maharaj appeared almost 160 years before at a village named Bagjan, in the district of Faridpur [at present in Bangladesh]. He appeared in a Vaisya family and his previous name was Bamsidas. His parents arranged for his mariage in an early age, and he stayed in household life up to the age of 29. While at home, he used to work as an agent in the grain market. After his wife expired, he left business and accepted paramahansa sannyasa [babaji initiation] from Srila Bhagavat Das Babaji Maharaj, a disciple of Srila Jagganath Das Babaji Maharaj. After accepting the sannyas order of life, he spent almost thirty years in different villages of Vrajamandal and performed devotional services. Sometimes he used to travel to different Holy places in North-india and Gauramandal. Out of his few friends in Srikshetra there was Srila Swarup Das Babaji Maharaj, and in Kalna there was Srila Bhagawan Das Babaji Maharaj, and in Kulia there was Srila Caitanya Das Babaji Maharaj. He knew almost all famous personalities of Vraja-mandal of that time, who were known as great devotees. He knew all of them, but he never allowed even a slight hidden effort of material enjoyment in them. Remaining aloof from all such association, he always used to render pure devotional service.

The deities of Sri Sri Gaura-Visnupriya were installed at Mayapur -Yogapitha on 1300 bangabda [Bengali Era]. On that year, at the time of Gaur- Purnima, by the instruction of Srila Jagannatha Das Babaji Maharaj, Srila Gaurakishore came to Gauramandal, and until his disappearance he stayed in different villages of Nabadwipa Dham. In his transcendental vision, there was no difference between Sri Gauramandal and Sri Vrajamandal. Considering the citizens of Nabadwip as non-different from the Brijabasis, he used to beg dry grains from their houses to cook bhoga [offerings] for Lord Gaurasundar. The scattered wooden logs were the source of his fuel. At the time of  solar or lunar eclipse, householders threw all their used clay pots away in order to make room for new and pure ones. Srila Babaji Maharaj collected these in order to cook the bhoga. Only before using them he used to wash them in Ganga water. After washing in the Ganga, he made his koupin [lion-cloth] from the dispelled clothes of the dead bodies at the crematorium. He was independent in the real sense.

Without any identification he used to wonder all over Nabadwipa Dham. Sometimes one could see him in a proper  Vaisnava dress, with Tulasi neck-beads, chanting on Tulasi chamting-beads, having two Bengali books of Srila Narottama Das Thakur, Prarthanaad Prem Bhakti Chandrika. These two books were his only properties. Sometimes he could be seen having nothing around his neck and wearing torn clothes, almost naked, speaking harshly and expressing a disgusted mood.

Dispite having any knowledge of grammar, he knew all the conclusions of the scriptures by heart, and his behaviour was also exemplary and in accordance with these scriptures. Nobody ever had any chance to serve him. He was not ready to accept any service from anybody. His spontaneous renunciation always reminds one of Sri Raghunatha Das Goswami. He was completely detached from material objects because he was completely attached to Lord Krsna.


Sri a Raghunatha Das Goswami  offering dandavats to Sriman Nityananda Prabhu and His associates at Panihata.

Srila Thakur Bhaktivinode very often used to speak of his extraordinary renunciation, pure devotional services and extreme attachment to the Lord. When Srila Bhaktivonode Thakur lived at Godruma Svananda-Sukhada-Kunja, Srila Babaji Maharaj used to come to him every day at 3 P.M., and they were having Srimad Bhagavatam discussion till 5 P.M. Sometimes he used to spend the night right there in a small room with corrogated iron roof on the top. Sometimes he used to take prasadam there, other times he fasted the whole night. He was always very much enthousiastic to discuss the pure Bhakti-siddhanta.

Srila Gaurakishore Das Babaji Maharaj had many mystical powers. Actually these Powers Personified [bibhuties] were always ready to serve his lotus feet. He could detect the inner motive of any hypocrite; he could say from far away that such and such person, in the name of serving Lord Hari, was busy in material enjoyments. In such a way he tried to save that person from such hypocricy. These were not of course the real cause of his greatness. His real magnanimity was that he set an wonderful example of pure devotional service and love of godhead in separation [vipralambha].

Srila Prabhupada wrote about his spiritual master after seeing him, �urchins, clever persons, youngs, olds, scholars, illiterates and pseudo-devotees never got his real darsan.� It happened due to the divine power of  the pure devotee of Lord Krishna; according to their free will, they can either reveal themselves or conceal their real identification. Hundreds of people used to come to him with material purposes [anyavilasha] and material problems. He would suggest to them accordingly, to fulfil their trifle purposes. in such a way that he would deceive them.

Many take the robes of a sadhu, but in real sense, they remain far away from being real sadhu. My divine master was not that kind of hypocrite. by setting examples, he proved that sincerity [nirvyalikata] is the truth. His ingenious affection was incomparable; one who got it will even think the mystic yogic powers as insignificant. Srila Babaji Maharaj never expressed aversion to the adverse group, or outwardly he never used to whom show any favour to those to whom he bestowed his mercy. He always used to say, �I have nobody in the world to hate or to favour; for me everybody deserves respect.�

Another super-natural characteristic of Srila Babaji Maharaj was truly amazing. Many materialistic people without knowing anything about his real nature, always used to surround him.  They thought themselves as his object of affection and at the same time remained intoxicated with material enjoyments. But Srila Babaji Maharaj neither outwardly rejected them, nor did he grasp them as his own disciples.

In 1898, The Swananda-Sukhada-Kunja of Godruma was reconstructed. Srila Prabhupada was living there at the time. He saw his spiritual master here for the first time. Srila Babaji Maharaj, wearing only a  cap  which  was  made  of tiger skin, and with one bag, containing different articles of his bhava-seva [worshipping in spontaneous devotion] was entering in Swananda-Sukhada-Kunja. He was lamenting and calling Srimate Radharani. He was singing one song which seemed to be in the remembrance of Srila Raghunatha Das Goswami. Srila Prabhupad wrote down this song immediately and later on gave it to his disciples.

Mahabhagavat Srila Gaurakishore Das Babaji Maharaj very often used to come at Swananda-Sukhada-Kunja to hear Srimad Bhagavatam discussions from Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur. Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur ordered Srila Prabhupad to take initiation from Srila Gaurakishore Das Babaji Maharaj. Srila Prabhupad was a strict celibate, educated scholar, and had a very good moral character. But when he first asked initiation, Srila Babaji Maharaj answered, �without first asking Mahaprabhu, I cannot say anything about this matter.� Next day Srila Prabhupad again asked him, and Babaji Maharaj replied, �I forgot to ask Mahaprabhu�. Srila Prabhupad said, �Unless I get your mercy, I will give up this useless life.� Srila Prabhupad again came to him, and this time Srila Babaji Maharaj answered, �I asked Mahaprabhu, but he told, �good moral character or scholarship is very insignificant in comparison to devotional service.� Srila Prabhupad replied: �You are serving the greatest of all cheaters, Lord Krishna. I think for this reason you are trying to cheate me. Srila Ramanujacarya, after being rejected for 28 times, was able to get initiation. I do  promise, in the same way I will get your mercy in one day or another.�
 Srila Babaji Maharaj being very pleased with his determination bathed Srila Prabhupada with the dust of his Lotus feet and that very day Srila Prabhupada was initiated at Swananda-Sukhada-Kunja.


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