namo gaura-kishoraya sakshad-vairagya-murtaye
vipralambha-rasambhode padambujaya te namah
I offer my respectful obeisances unto Gaura-kishoradasa Babaji Maharaja [the spiritual master of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati], who is renunciation personified. He is always merged in a feeling of separation and intense love of Krishna.
Renunciation is one of the most important principles to follow for any enlightened soul who aspires for pure devotion to Lord Krishna. This is because engagement in worldly affairs leads to entanglement and bondage that drag one away from the path of devotion. Such is the nature of the material atmosphere – alluring and intensely binding.
His Divine Grace Gaurakishor Dasa Babaji Maharaja was the very epitome of renunciation. His life utterly dedicated to the service of Lord Krishna and Lord Gauranga, Srila Gaura Kishore had renounced anything that had even a trace of worldly enjoyment linked to it. He had no worldly possessions, adopted no means of bodily sustenance, accepted no service from anyone and led a life absorbed solely in devotional activities of chanting and hearing about Krishna.
Being fully renounced he could clearly distinguish genuine devotees from imposters and would bluntly expose charlatans. Although he was much sought after by people, he shunned the association of the general masses, sometimes closeting himself in public latrines to prevent people from approaching him. This degree of renunciation is indeed rare.
His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura was the sole disciple of Sria Gaurakishore Dasa Babaji.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura humbly describes his realizations after his first meeting with Srila Gaurakisora dasa babaji. “For so long I have been living in this material world, trying to bring sense gratification within the grasp of my hand. I often thought that the sense objects would fulfill all my shortcomings. I even attained different facets of enjoyment that were indeed rare, but my personal needs were never met. I had the association of aristocratic persons, but seeing their different faults, I could not praise them. The most merciful Lord, Sri Gaurasundara, seeing me in this lamentable condition of adversity, permitted His two most intimate associates to bestow their blessings upon me.”
“I was always intoxicated with worldly false ego and the desire for name and fame, I deprived myself of my real benefit. But because of the influence of the devotional service rendered in my previous lives, I came into the association of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, who is my spiritual well-wisher. My spiritual guide, Srila Gaurakisora, would come and visit Srila Bhaktivinoda many times and often live with him. Srila Bhaktivinoda, out of his compassion for me, pointed out my spiritual master, Srila Gaurakisora. After glancing upon the divine figure of my master, the extent of my false ego was diminished. I knew that all the other souls who have taken birth as humans were also fallen and low like myself. But by gradually observing the wonderful spiritual qualities of my master, Srila Gaurakisora dasa babaji, I realized that a Vaisnava could live in this material world and be of exemplary character.”
Srila Gaurakishore Dasa Babaji was born in the village of Vagyana, Faridapura district, East Bengal present day Bangladesh somewhere in the 1830s. He was born into a family of grain merchants. His parents named him Vamshi Dasa. After being married at an early age, he pursued the family trade. Always of spiritual proclivity, he left for Vrindavan after the demise of his wife.
In Vrindavan, Vamshi Dasa accepted the renounced order by taking babaji initiation from Srila Bhagavat Dasa Babaji, who was a disciple of Srila Jagannatha Dasa Babaji. He travelled village to village in Vrindavan for 30 years, occasionally travelling to other places like Navadvipa. He became a famous bhajananandi (solitary worshipper) devotee of Radha and Krishna in Vrindavan. Despite receiving great honour, Srila Gaurakishore Dasa Babaji remained completely unaffected by dint of his perfect renunciation. He never allowed the slightest material gratification to enter his life. He held all the inhabitants, the trees, the creepers, the cows and other animals and insects of Vraja in the highest reverence, often prostrating himself before them.
In the year 1894, after the discovery of yogapitha (the birthplace of Lord Chaitanya), Srila Gaurakishore Dasa Babaji shifted to Navadvipa dhama from Vrindavan dhama under the instructions of Srila Jagannatha Dasa Babaji Maharaj. He was now in his sixties. Here, in different villages, Srila Gaurakishore Dasa Babaji spent the remainder of his years.
He would beg dry foodstuffs from the householders of the holy dhama and offer them in his hand to the Lord. To cook, he would collect dry wood from the pathways and wash discarded pots he found along the roadside near the Ganga. For clothing himself, he would collect and wash the discarded cloth used for corpses burnt on the shores of Ganga. Living off discarded materials, Srila Gaurakishore Dasa Babaji achieved independence from all worldly means of sustenance.
In Navadvip Srila Gaurakishore Dasa Babaji would associate closely with Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura at Godruma Dvipa. He would hear discourses on Srimad Bhagavatam from Srila Bhaktivinoda and engage in discussions. Although illiterate, Srila Gaurakishore Dasa Babaji was revered as a vastly learned and greatly realized personality. He did not accept any disciples on account of his deep humility, but on the request of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura he agreed to consider Srila Bhaktivinoda’s son Bimala Prasad for acceptance as disciple. Only after repeated entreaties from Bimala Prasad did Srila Gaurakishore Dasa Babaji finally initiate him. He named his only disciple, Sri Varshabhanavi-devi-dayita Dasa
In his dealings with a different people in society, Srila Gaurakishore Dasa Babaji underscored the need for directing all energies for the service of Lord Krishna without getting deviated by any selfish motives. He was quick to identify fallacies in the approach of neophytes to devotional practice. He insisted on complete dedication to chanting of the holy name to anyone who came to him for advice. In this way Srila Gaurakishore Dasa Babaji upheld the highest tenets of Lord Chaitanya in word and deed.
This great Vaishnava saint, entered into the eternal pastimes of Radha and Krishna on the auspicious day of utthana ekadasi, which fell on November 17th in the year 1917. In his humility he had asked that after demise his body be dragged through the streets of Navadvip. Some misdirected babaji’s were preparing to do so and then claiming his body to be offered Samadhi at their own mathas with the motive of attracting funds from the public. The police commissioner had arrived at the scene to resolve the dispute. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura on learning of this rushed to the spot. He said, “I am the only disciple of Srila Gaurakishore Dasa Babaji. Only someone of pure character can touch his body. Even though I have not yet accepted the sannyasa order, but I have strictly observed the rules of brahmacharya. If anyone who has had an illicit connection with any woman in the last 6 months, nay in the last month, nay in the last fifteen days, nay even within the last 3 days, and touches my Guru’s divine body, he will be subjected to severe suffering.” The police commissioner said “How will you ascertain their claims?” Srila Saraswati Thakura said “I will accept them for their word.”
To the commissioner’s surprise, all the babajis contending for Srila Gaurakshore Dasa Babaji’s body slid away from the place leaving Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura to perform the Samadhi rites of Srila Gaurakishore’s transcendental body by burying it in a newly formed sandbar on the banks of the Ganga. Later when floods disturbed the Samadhi, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura had the Samadhi shifted to Sri Chaitanya Matha in Mayapur.
The exemplary renunciation of Srila Gaurakishore Dasa Babaji and his transcendental mood on the highest platform of devotion are inspirational bulwarks in the history of the world to stem the influence of maya on the souls and elevate them to the ultimate state of being – Krishna Consciousness. The earth is blessed for having supported such a great personality for the liberation of souls.