The Biography of HDG Srila Gaurakisora Dasa Babaji Maharaja
BY: SUN STAFF
Sri Srimad Paramahamsa 108 Srila Gaurakisora Dasa Babaji
May 31, CANADA (SUN) A serial presentation of the life and pastimes of our illustrious Sampradaya Acaraya.
vihaya sangam kuliyalayanam
pragrhya sevam dayitanugasya
namo namo gaura-kisora tubhyam
O Srila Gaurakisora, you abandoned the association of worldly people and went to live alone at Kuliya in the island of Koladvipa, where you accepted the service of Sri Dayita dasa. Your effulgent personality illuminates the temple of Sri Dayita dasa in the sacred abode of Sri Mayapura dhama. I eternally offer my obeisances unto you, Srila Gaurakisora.
Srila Gaurakisora's Internal and External Identity
Srila Gaurakisora dasa babaji appeared over one hundred years ago in the district of Pharidapura, next to the place called Tepakhola in the village of Vagyana, which is situated on the shore of the Padma River. Srila Gaurakisora was born in a mercantile family, and was nicknamed Vamsidasa by his father (not to be confused with Vamsi dasa babaji). During boyhood, his mother and father arranged for an early marriage. He remained in household life until he was twenty-nine years old. As a householder he worked as a broker in the grain business. After the death of his wife, Srila Gaurakisora left his business and approached Srila Bhagavat dasa babaji in order to accept the traditional Vaisnava babaji dress.
After taking babaji initiation from Srila Bhagavat dasa babaji, who was a disciple of Srila Jagannatha dasa babaji, Srila Gaurakisora travelled from village to village in Vrndavana, continually performing solitary worship of Lord Krsna for thirty years. During this time he would sometimes travel to the holy places in northern India as well as in the nine islands of Navadvipa. He associated with other famous devotees such as Sri Svarupa dasa babaji in Jagannatha Puri, Sri Bhagavan dasa babaji in Kalana, and Sri Caitanya dasa babaji in Kuliya. Srila Gaurakisora dasa babaji became very famous among the paramahamsa devotees in Vrndavana during that period, and was recognized as a bhajananandi, or solitary worshipper. Although Srila Gaurakisora dasa babaji received such exalted honor, he never secretly endeavored for even a drop of material sense gratification. Babaji Maharaja entirely rejected such inclinations and simply performed his pure, unalloyed devotional pastimes in the deepest mood of renunciation.
In March, 1894, when the Yoga Pitha in Mayapura was revealed, Srila Gaurakisora dasa babaji took the permission of Srila Jagannatha dasa babaji to go to Navadvipa Dhama from Vrndavana Dhama. From this time until his disappearance, Srila Gaurakisora stayed in the area of Sri Navadvipa Dhama, living in different holy villages, realizing them to be non-different from Vrndavana. He would gather dry foodstuffs from the householders of the holy dhama by begging, and offer them in his hand to the Lord. To cook, he would often collect dry wood from the pathways and wash discarded pots he found along the roadside near the Ganges. To meet his practical necessities such as clothing himself, he would go to the shore of the Ganges River and collect and wash the discarded cloth that had been used to cover the corpses in the burning grounds. In this way he always remained independent of others by using rejected items that served no purpose for anyone.
Srila Bhaktivinoda often related the behavior of Srila Gaurakisora dasa babaji as an example of "nirapeksa", or total indifference to worldly existence. He often discussed the matchless renunciation, pure dedication, and spontaneous attachment to Krsna that Babaji Maharaja displayed. Sometimes Babaji Maharaja would visit Godrumadvipa, one of the nine islands of Navadvipa where Srila Bhaktivinoda spent his last days in retirement. Srila Gaurakisora dasa babaji would often go there to the charming garden known as Svananda-sukhada-kunja and hear discourses on the Srimad-Bhagavatam and other topics concerning the intimate conclusions of devotional service. This enhanced his mood of dedication. His entire wealth included a necklace of Tulasi beads and a set of Tulasi mala he kept in his hand for counting the Lord's names. He also cherished a few Bengali literatures, such as Narottama dasa Thakura's Prarthana and Prema-bhakti-candrika.
Sometimes Srila Gaurakisora would not even wear Tulasi mala around his neck, but instead would be seen undressed, holding a torn knotted cloth in his hand for chanting, and uttering harsh sounds in disgust for no apparent reason. Although externally Srila Gaurakisora was not a learned Sanskrit grammarian, the purport and conclusions of all the scriptures radiantly illuminated his heart and character. It was impossible for anyone to secure an opportunity to serve him. He was never eager to accept any manner of service from anyone. Whenever anyone saw his genuine state of renunciation, they could only remember the exemplary life of Srila Raghunatha Dasa Gosvami.
Grandeur and opulence of every kind was always waiting with folded hands to serve him. He was always able to expose the cheating tendencies lying within the hearts of the imitationists. Although a person may have lived far away, Srila Gaurakisora could scrutinizingly reveal the falsehood which they perpetrated in the name of the Lord's service, and save others from the hands of insincerity. But the ability to communicate with the Lord in the heart was not Srila Gaurakisora's principal virtue. Babaji Maharaja exhibited the highest mood of pure dedication to the Supreme Lord because his perfect character was the personification of deep separation realized in Lord Krsna's service. This mood of separation actually distinguished him from the other Vaisnavas, and is what eternally spreads the luster of his lotus feet.
The Vaisnava Impostor
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura has written as follows in connection with Srila Gaurakisora :"Many types of persons---clever, judicious, young, old, foolish, scholarly, and proud---came into contact with Srila Gaurakisora, yet could not realize his real identity. This is the mystic opulence of the Lord's pure devotee. Hundreds came and consulted with Srila Gaurakisora about their insignificant material desires. He would always give them suggestions which were in fact meant to deceive them. Innumerable men accepted the babaji dress and pretended to be exalted devotees of the Lord.
However, my master, Srila Gaurakisora, never accepted a devious mode of life, as the sincerity in his activities were self-evident. His affectionate nature was matchless, and whenever he would obtain opulent offerings, he remained fixed in his renunciation."
Srila Gaurakisora never displayed any distaste for his rivals, nor did he exhibit any special affection for those who were attached to him. He would often say, "I am not inimical or overly affectionate towards anyone. Everyone is worshippable by me." Another noteworthy point is that many foolish and devious materialists, who were in opposition to the conclusions of pure devotion would come and surround him, considering themselves the dearmost objects of his affection. Although they engaged themselves in the pursuit of worldly things, Srila Gaurakisora never displayed any intention of driving them away, yet at the same time he showed no symptoms of compromise.
The Charming Garden of Svananda-sukhada-kunja
In 1898, when Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura was staying in Godrumadvipa, just after the garden of Svananda-sukhada-kunja had been built, he first met his spiritual master, Srila Gaurakisora. One day, humbly following the direct instruction of Srimati Radharani, and chanting in a sad voice, Srila Gaurakisora, the chief of the followers of Srila Rupa Gosvami, arrived in the beautiful garden of Svananda-sukhada-kunja. This transcendental crown jewel of the renounced order was wearing a tigerskin cap and carrying a basket containing various paraphernalia used in his personal bhajana. Srila Gaurakisora had previously received the basket and cap from his spiritual master, Srila Bhagavata dasa babaji, in Kalana. After his arrival, he offered Srila Bhaktisiddhanta four or five sets of Tulasi beads, a wooden stamp with the words "Hare Krsna", the tigerskin cap, and his other personal items which he used when worshipping. In January, 1900, Srila Gaurakisora initiated Srila Bhaktisiddhanta in Svananda-sukhada kunja.
The great devotee, Srila Gaurakisora, often came to the garden Svananda-sukhada-kunja to hear Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura's explanations of the Srimad Bhagavatam. He usually arrived at around three o'clock in the afternoon and left at five. On several occasions he spent the night in a corner of the garden in a small hut, and sometimes he would stay at Pradyumna-kunja in Bardhaman at the home of Sri Ksetranatha Bhaktinidhi and Sri Bipina Bihari Bhaktiratna. Cattopadhyaya Bhakti Bhrnga would also regularly come to Navadvipa to hear Srila Bhaktivinoka's lectures. Sometimes Srila Gaurakisora honored prasadam from Svananda-sukhada-kunja and sometimes he fasted, while other times he cooked for himself. Sometimes he acted as if he was afflicted by a disease called 'siroroga', insanity and blindness. Srila Bhaktivinoda arranged a proper diet for him, but to his dismay, Babaji Maharaja continued to remain couched in a grave mood of renunciation, refusing to pay any attention to the diet.
By 1908 Srila Gaurakisora had seemingly lost his external vision. The following year he stopped travelling and decided to reside in a bamboo hut in Navadvipa for performing his solitary bhajana. Srila Gaurakisora would live in Pradyumna kunja, which was previously owned by Saratcandra Vasu of South Calcutta, and from there, visit or stay at Svananda-sukhada-kunja, where he would remember the Lord's holy names in solitary worship. Being free from gross physical consciousness, Srila Gaurakisora often failed to recognize whether he was dressed or not. Thus, he often went unclothed to bathe at the Sarasvati River. After bathing, he would enter his small bhajana kuthira and begin calling the cowherd maidens of Vrndavana in a deep voice.
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