The Disappearance Day of
Śrīla Gaura-kiśora dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja
(From Sri Prabandavali by Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja)
We cannot touch Śrīla Gaura-kiśora dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja’s renounced lifestyle and high standard of bhajana, but we can at least accept and follow whatever lower principles that he established for us and practised in his own life. After making sufficient spiritual progress, we may be able to accept the higher things, but we should not desire to follow them in our present condition. Who can possibly follow his extreme renunciation, such as eating the clay of the Yamunā and Rādhā-kuṇḍa and remaining completely dependent on Bhagavān? He felt that if he lived in a mandira many people would come and disrupt his bhajana, so instead he lived in a latrine. People would come seeking his blessings for the purpose of attaining some material benefit, but he considered the stench of the latrine to be preferable to the stench of those people’s words. For us this is impossible, even for one minute. Therefore a kaniṣṭha-adhikārī will not easily be able to understand the life of this great uttama-bhāgavata Vaiṣṇava. The higher things have been prohibited for us, but we should accept from his life whatever will be favourable for progress in the madhyama-adhikārī stage.
As long as we have not attained the mercy of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, Nityānanda Prabhu and Navadvīpa-dhāma, we will not be able to enter into Vraja. Therefore most of our previous ācāryas who were performing bhajana in Vṛndāvana left there and went to Navadvīpa to attain prema. Only after submerging themselves in the Gaṅgā of Mahāprabhu’s prema in Navadvīpa did they return to Vṛndāvana to drown in the ocean of kṛṣṇa-prema. First they performed the bhajana of Gauracandra, and from that what did they attain? The prema of the amorous pastimes of Śrī Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. Therefore, in the beginning Gaura-kiśora dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja performed bhajana in Vṛndāvana at Sūrya-kuṇḍa, Rādhā-kuṇḍa, Nandagrāma, Varṣāṇā and many other places; but in his heart came the feeling that, “The type of prema that I desire is not being attained here.” He was performing kīrtana with great prema, calling out “Rādhā, Rādhā! Where have You gone? Protect my life because I will die without You! Rādhā, Rādhā!” Although he cried out with extreme vipralambha-bhāva, he felt that his yearning was not being fully satisfied, so he left Vṛndāvana and went to Navadvīpa. There, to avoid having to come in contact with worldly people, he lived in a latrine. He was such a mahātmā that he didn’t even construct himself a hut.
Once, the aristocratic landholder of Kasima Bazar was organising a conference of all the prominent Vaiṣṇavas, and he approached Bābājī Mahārāja to request him to preside over this conference. He said, “Bābājī Mahārāja, I am organising a conference of Vaiṣṇavas, and everyone desires that you be the president of this assembly. Being merciful, please give sukṛti to us by accepting this entreaty, and I will take you there and bring you back in my own car.”
Bābājī Mahārāja asked him, “For what purpose are you organising this conference? What is the necessity of doing it?” The man replied, “It is for the preaching of vaiṣṇava-dharma, so people will hear talks describing Bhagavān and be inspired to take up bhajana.”
Then Bābājī Mahārāja said, “Alright, then you do one thing: first you do bhajana and forget about others. Leave your home, wife and children, and come to me. I will furnish you with a pair of kaupīnas and then you do bhajana. First make your own life meaningful, and then worry about others. Otherwise your conference will only be for your own self-aggrandisement, and there will be no benefit in it for others anyway. First you should come to me and do bhajana for some time; then you should organise your conference.” Hearing this strong answer from Bābājī Mahārāja, the man was rendered speechless and went away.
Another time, one man went to Bābājī Mahārāja and said, “Bābājī Mahārāja, please be merciful to me! Please be merciful to me!” Again and again he said it. Bābājī Mahārāja became a little annoyed and said, “You want mercy? Then here - take mercy!” and he handed the man a pair of kaupīnas. What is the purport of giving the man a pair of kaupīnas? When a guru gives sannyāsa to someone, what does he give him? A pair of kaupīnas and the mantra. Then that person will at once become renounced, leave all worldly attachments and fully apply his body, mind and words to the service of Kṛṣṇa. If the guru gives this to someone, what greater mercy could there be? “Here - take mercy!” Hearing this from Bābājī Mahārāja, that man became frightened, ran away and never returned.
On another occasion a young boy from a wealthy family ran away from home and came to Bābājī Mahārāja. He said to Bābājī Mahārāja, “I want to stay with you and just do bhajana.” Bābājī Mahārāja did not reply, so the boy began staying with him. He would bring water for Bābājī Mahārāja and do other services for him also, and he began telling the people, “I am a disciple of Bābājī Mahārāja.” But in reality Bābājī Mahārāja had no disciples other than Prabhupāda. This boy stayed with Bābājī Mahārāja for some time but didn’t attain what he expected, so he thought, “I should return to material life.” Many people go to live in a maṭha, stay for one or two months, and then return to material life, get married and become busy in household duties. Some men leave renounced life even after ten or twenty years, but only because they desired to attain the same things as worldly people: kanaka (wealth), kāminī (women) and pratiṣṭhā (prestige). They apparently leave their homes to engage in bhajana, but they are really only interested in material gain.
Feeling that he had attained nothing by staying with Bābājī Mahārāja, the boy left and after about two weeks returned to Bābājī Mahārāja with a beautiful young girl from a wealthy family whom he had married. He offered praṇāma to Bābājī Mahārāja and said, “Bābājī Mahārāja, I have entered the saṁsāra, the material world. Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura has written in his Gītāvalī: kṛṣṇera saṁsāra kara chāḍi’ anācāra we should give up our offences and perform bhajana as family men.’ Therefore I have collected a kṛṣṇa-dāsī. Please be merciful to her and to me also so we can engage in bhajana and have a successful material life as well.”
Bābājī Mahārāja replied, “You have done so well! I am so pleased! You have collected one kṛṣṇa-dāsī? Then you should do one thing: you should offer pūjā to this kṛṣṇa-dāsī. Every day you should cook an offering for her and offer her praṇāma and some flowers saying, You are a kṛṣṇa-dāsī and very dear to Śrī Kṛṣṇa.’ But beware: don’t try to enjoy her, otherwise everything will be destroyed for you and you will descend into hell! Beware - don’t try to enjoy her!”
Hearing this, the boy was astonished and was rendered speechless. Frightened, he called his “kṛṣṇa-dāsī” and quickly left. Was deceiving Bābājī Mahārāja an easy thing? It was not possible to deceive him.
Bābājī Mahārāja vowed that he would never accept any disciples, but it was Prabhupāda’s resolution that, “If I accept a guru, it will be him only.”
Prabhupāda wrote in his Gauḍīya Patrikā, “At that time I was very proud. I was thinking that there was no scholar equal to me, that there was no tattva-jñānī equal to me, no speaker equal to me and no philosopher equal to me. This paramahaṁsa Vaiṣṇava, Gaura-kiśora dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja, understood this; so he ignored my requests for initiation. Three or four times he told me that he would not accept disciples. He said, "What? You are the son of Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura! You took birth in such a high family that you are worshipful to me! You are such a big scholar, your appearance is so beautiful and you possess all good qualities; so what is the necessity of you becoming my disciple?’ In this way he pulverised my pride. People said that he was illiterate, but he possessed all real knowledge and was a jagad-guru.”
Three or four times Bābājī Mahārāja ignored him, but Prabhupāda had vowed that he would accept initiation only from Bābājī Mahārāja. In the end he was performing severe austerities to attain Bābājī Mahārāja as his guru, and seeing that his son’s face was withered as if he would die, Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura requested Bābājī Mahārāja, “Please be kind to him.” After this, Bābājī Mahārāja finally accepted Prabhupāda as his only disciple.
Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura’s āśrama was situated on the banks of the Gaṅgā, and upon hearing “Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare, Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare” being chanted very loudly, Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura would know that Bābājī Mahārāja was coming. He would chant so loudly that his voice could be heard across the Gaṅgā, and upon arrival at the āśrama, he would hear Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and other kṛṣṇa-kathā from Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura.
Bābājī Mahārāja didn’t associate with other bābājīs very much. Generally he would only wear a laṅgoṭī and nothing more, but one day he begged a good quality dhotī, a kurtā, a walking stick and a nice turban from someone. Wearing these, he went to Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura’s āśrama, and upon seeing him, Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura thought, “See how Bābājī Mahārāja’s appearance has changed! He has taken the ordinary dress of a gṛhastha. He is wearing nice clothes now and is carrying a walking stick like a landlord. What has happened to him?”
Bābājī Mahārāja offered praṇāma and sat down, and Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura asked him, “Bābājī Mahārāja, today I see that your appearance is of a different type. Why is this?”
Bābājī Mahārāja replied, “These days there are so many bābājīs, and many of them are such hooligans that if one even mentions their names it will be sinful. They are engaged in such misconduct that a gṛhastha is thousands of times superior to them. In the name of parakīya-bhajana they engage in mundane activities and they will all go to hell for it. When a bābājī obtains some rasagullās or any good quality foodstuff, he should just offer it to a cow. Bābājīs should not go to any festival, but people invite them and off they go to these festivals simply to enjoy a good meal. Feeding the dogs of the dhāma is more beneficial than feeding them. Therefore I think that I shouldn’t remain a bābājī. I will wear the cloth of a gṛhastha, and then people will not look upon me as one of these bābājīs.”
Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura said, “You have spoken correctly.” At that time the misconduct of these bābājīs was so widespread that people hated to even hear the good Vaiṣṇava name, so there was a necessity for a great personality who could preach the pure prema-dharma of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu in the world. Then came such a great personality, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Prabhupāda. He preached saṅkīrtana in such a way that in no time the world opinion had changed, and scholars, gentlemen and everyone began to accept vaiṣṇava-dharma. If there had been no Gaura-kiśora dāsa Bābājī, then there would have been no Prabhupāda. And if there had been no Prabhupāda, then the pure prema of Mahāprabhu would not be preached all around the world as it is now. Therefore the original great personality was our father’s father’s father, our great grandfather, Gaura-kiśora dāsa Bābājī. Today with great pride we declare that he was the guru of our parama-guru, and it is our supreme good fortune that he came to this world.
According to our qualification we will follow the instructions for bhajana and renunciation that he gave, and those who sincerely follow them will be offering the real puṣpāñjali to his feet. Otherwise, if we don’t offer this real puṣpāñjali, then we will be just like those people that he sent away. We should not desire to have material pleasures and at the same time beg for mercy as they did. For really achieving his mercy, we should offer this genuine puṣpāñjali to his feet, follow his instructions in a pure manner, and then we may be able to enter into real bhajana. He is never far away from us; he is with us at all times, and he will certainly bestow his plentiful mercy upon us. Calling out his name, our gurujī would cry and say, “He took all of my hardships away.” Similarly he will remove all of our hardships so we will be able to perform bhajana, and to really engage in bhajana there must be no other desire whatsoever in our hearts. But if we leave sādhu-saṅga, all will be lost. Therefore, remaining in the association of devotees we will perform bhajana and always remember the ideal that Gaura-kiśora dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja showed in his life. Then our lives will be meaningful, and from our bhajana we will get the real benefit. So today we offer a prayer to his feet that he will always be merciful to all of us.