108 Sri Srimad Gourkishore Das Babaji Maharaj

Srila Gourkrishore Das Babaji Maharaj was the most beloved Preceptor of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur. After renouncing the world he came to Vrindavan and took the Babaji dress from Srila Bhagabat Das Babaji Maharaj, a prominent disciple of Srila Jagnnnath Das Babaji Maharaj. He spent about thirty years in various villages of Vraja-mandal. While staying in Varshana, he made Sri Radharani very happy by stringing garlands regularly. He came to Navadwip in 1894 in accordance with the order of Srila Jagannath Das Babaji Maharaj and spent the rest of his life in various places of Navadwip. From 1906 he gave up the life of a wanderer and agreed to live in a cottage. Before that he would roam about from one village to another in Sridham Navadwip and move from door to door, singing the sweet names of Gadai-Gouranga and Radha-Govinda. He would never allow anyone to serve him in any way.

The severe austerities revealed in his character would remind everyone of those of Srila Raghunath Das Goswami Prabhu, the eternal intimate associate of Lord Goursundar. Their renunciation was not something negative. It was transcendental, eternal and absolutely positive. It was the acme of eagerness to gratify the divine senses of Krishna in all ways. The sublime ideal of his positive austerity could melt even stony hearts. He was fully detached from worldly things, as he was fully attached to the Supreme Lord. Srila Acharyadeva described Srila Babaji Maharaj as “Hard shell without, but mellow juice within.”

He was a great ‘Abadhut’ (an independent devotee beyond scriptural regulations). Mysterious were his manners. Sometimes he could be seen in a proper Vaishnava dress with Sri Narottam Thakur’s Prarthana and Premabhakti-chandrika in his hands and chanting on Tulasi beads. Sometimes he was seen without any Tulasi neck-beads, wearing almost nothing, speaking harshly, and expressing causeless disgust. He would collect the rejected clay pots of the householders of Nabadwip and use them for cooking for the Lord after washing them in the water of the Ganges. He made his loin-cloth from the dispelled clothes of the dead bodies at the crematorium after washing them in Ganga-water.

While Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur was staying at Godrum Swananda-Sukhada-Kunja, Srila Babaji Maharaj would come to him very often. He used to listen to the discourses on Srimad Bhagavatam from the lips of Thakur Bhaktivinode. Sometimes he used to spend the night there in a small room. Srila Babaji Maharaj was always very enthusiastic about discussing the principles of unalloyed devotion with Thakur Bhativinode.

Srila Saraswati Thakur has written—”Srimad Bhaktivinode Thakur was merciful enough to show me my Divine Master, Srila Babaji Maharaj”. (Sri Sajjantoshani 19/5/6). When he met his Preceptor for the first time, Srila Babaji Maharaj was singing a melancholy song of Divine Love-in-separation— “Kothay go premamayi Radhe, Radhe !’ (O Radharani ! O My Goddess full of Love! Where are you now?) Srila Saraswati Thakur prayed to him for initiation. Srila Gourkishore Prabhu examined Srila Saraswati Thakur three times and being pleased to see his determination, bathed him with the dust of his lotus-feet. He was initiated and the wish of Thakur Bhaktivinode was fulfilled.