Gaura Kishora Dasa Babaji Maharaja
In 1849, Shrila Gaura Kishora Dasa Babaji left grihasta life after the death of his wife. He moved to Vrindavana and took initiation from Shri Bhagavata Dasa Babaji, a disciple of Shri Jagannatha Dasa, Babaji. For over thirty years Gaura Kishora Dasa stayed in Vrindavana performing bhajana under the trees at Giri Govardhana, Nandagrama, Varshana, Radha-Kunda, Surya-kunda, Raval, Gokula.
Sitting in seclusion, he chanted 200,000 names of Krishna every day (128 rounds of japa). He felt painful separation from Radha-Govinda and cried profusely. As he wandered through the dvadasa vana (12 forests) of Vraja, he would loudly chant the Holy Names in a deep voice full of lamentation. He would also relish the following bhajan:
kothay go prema-mayi radhe radhe!
radhe radhe go jaya radhe radhe!
dekha diya prana rakho radhe radhe!
tomar kangal tomay dake radhe radhe!
radhe vrindavana-vilasini radhe radhe!
radhe kanu-mano-mohini radhe radhe!
radhe astha-sakhir siromani radhe radhe!
radhe vrsabhanu-nandini radhe radhe!
Oh Radhe Radhe! Please show Yourself to me and thereby maintain my life. Your most despicable fallen servant calls out to You, 0h Radhe Radhe! Oh Radhe! Oh artful enjoyer of Vrindavana. 0h Radhe Radhe! Oh Radhe! Oh enchantress of Kanu's (Krishna) mind. 0h Radhe Radhe!
Oh Radhe! Oh crest jewel of Your eight main girlfriends. 0h Radhe Radhe! 0h Radhe! Oh delightful daughter of Maharaja Vrishabhanu. 0h Radhe Radhe!"
Shrila Babaji Maharaja's mood of renunciation was unparalleled. Sometimes he ate mud from the banks of Radha-Kunda or the Yamuna. Other times he took madhukari from the Vrajavasis. Madhukari is a babaji's daily practice of begging a little food from one to seven houses, just as a bee collects a drop of honey from each flower. He saw all the Vrajavasis (residents of Vrindavana) as being the direct personal associates of Radha and Krishna. As a result of this vision, he would pay respects to every person, cow, animal, bird, tree, creeper, insect, ant in the holy dhama.
While staying in Varshana he made a flower garland everyday for Rai and Kanu (Radha-Krishna). After thirty years of rendering intimate services to Radha and Krishna in Vrindavana, Babaji felt inspired by the Divine Couple to see Shri Navadwipa Dhama. He visited all the lila sthanas of Lord Gauranga in Gaura Mandala. In Navadwipa, he used to sing one bhajana which means, "By receiveing Nitai's mercy one gets Gauranga's mercy, which makes one eligible for Krishna prema. With Krishna prema one can attain the service of Shrimati Radharani and the gopis."
Gaura Kishora Dasa Babaji was the embodied form of Shri Rupa-Raghunatha's renunciation. Completely detached, he would wash discarded cloth to cover his body. He drank from a rejected clay pot. Parched rice mixed with Ganges water or simply some mud from Ganga's bank sustained his life.
He carried two books written by Shri Narottama Dasa Thakura; Prarthana, Prema-bhakti-candrika. On Ekadashi he didn't eat or drink a drop of water. Recognizing him to be a mahabhagavata, many tried to serve, but he never accepted.
Regularly, he associated with and heard Shrimad Bhagavatam from Shrila Thakura Bhaktivinoda in Svananda sukhada kunja in Godrumadwipa. Constantly absorbed in bhajana, Shrila Babaji Maharaja had no desire to make disciples. On the request of Bhaktivinoda Thakura, however, he reconsidered. Upon seeing the true humility and deep attachment of Thakura Bhaktivinoda's son for bhajana, Shrila Gaurakishora Dasa Babaji accepted one disciple–Shri Varshabhanavi-dayita Dasa (Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura).
To keep mundane people from approaching him for material boons he once resided in the lavatories at the Kuliya Dharmashalla (in Koladwipa) for six months. When public officials came offering to build him a proper bhajana kutir, Babaji Maharaja locked himself inside and said he already had one. He believed that associating with materialistic people was much worse than the smell of stool in the latrine.
Gaura Kishora Dasa Babaji advised a Calcutta doctor who wanted to open a free health clinic in Navadwipa Dhama: "If you really want to live in Navadwipa Dhama, then give up your desire to run a free clinic for healing sense enjoyers. If you want to render substantial service, then renounce everything except what promotes Hari bhajana. All other kinds of duties and services simply bind one to the ghastly cycle of karmic reactions."
Babaji Maharaja spoke gravely to a newly married man: "A Vaishnava wife is extremely rare and difficult to find in this world. If one has the good fortune of having one, he should see it as a benediction from Krishna. The wife worships the husband as her lord and master. Similarly, the husband should worship the wife because she is Krishna dasi, a servant of Krishna. In this way, the husband can protect his devotional enthusiasm by not considering his wife to be his maidservant, but she is always the maidservant of Krishna."
"One who wants bhojana (eating palatably) will spoil his bhajana," was a favorite quote of Shrila Babaji Maharaja. In other words, eating here and there simply to gratify the tongue (bhojana) destroys any attempts to worship Krishna (bhajana). Once a Devotee ate some festival Prasadam in his bhajana kutir. Babaji Maharaja would not speak to him for three days. On the fourth day he said, "You accepted "festival Prasadam" given by low class harlots and beautiful women. Because you took food without considering its origin your bhajana is useless."
The essence of Shrila Gaura Kishora Dasa Babaji's instructions: "The Divine Name of Krishna offers the one and only shelter. One should never try to remember Radha-Damodara's transcendental pastimes by artificial methods. Constant chanting of the Divine Names will purify the heart. By chanting Hari Nama the syllables of the Maha-mantra (Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare) will gradually reveal the spiritual form, qualities, pastimes of Shri Krishna. Then you will realize your own eternal spiritual form, service, and the eleven particulars of your spiritual identity."
In pursuance of Babaji Maharaja's statement, "drag my dead body through the streets of Navadwipa," a group of so-called advanced Devotees proposed to commit the said sacrilege. Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura, however, challenged them: "According to shastra, one who has had carnal association with a loose woman within the last twenty-four hours is contaminated, and therefore not qualified to touch my Guru Maharaja." Hearing this bold statement, the black-hearted brahmanas made a hasty retreat.
On 19 November 1915, Shrila Gaura Kishora Dasa Babaji Maharaja joined the eternal blissful Pastime of Gandharvika Giridhari. His beloved disciple, Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura, established his samadhi on the banks of Shri Chaitanya Matha's Radha-Kunda, near Lord Chaitanya's Yogapitha in Shridhama Mayapur.
In Vraja lila he serves Shrimati Radharani as Guna-manjari. His pushpa samadhi stands besides the Radha-Kunja Bihari Gaudiya Matha near Radha-kunda.