Srila Jagannatha Dasa Babaji Maharaja, a prominent spiritual master coming in the line from Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, was the disciple of Srila Vishvanatha Chakravarti Thakura.
Srila Jagannatha Dasa Babaji Maharaja, or Babaji Maharaja, as he was known, was born in West Bengal in 1776 but later moved to Vrindavana, where Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura met him in 1880.
Because of his pure spiritual vision, Babaji Maharaja was able to reveal many holy sites of Navadvipa, including Lord Chaitanya’s birthplace, Sri Srivas angan etc. It is said that although Babaji Maharaja was old and invalid, on finding Lord Chaitanya’s birth-site he danced jly.
When Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s son, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, was twelve years old, Babaji Maharaja, aware of the boy’s expertise in astrology, asked him to prepare a calendar for Vaishnavas (devotees of Lord Krishna). The boy pleased Babaji Maharaja by producing the Navadvipa Panjika, a calendar of festivals and appearance and disappearance days of devotees that is still used today.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura as a young boy
Main Teachings of Srila Jagannath Das Babaji Mahraj
(1) “You must avoid women, men who associate with women, or with a man who in any way associates with a man who associates with a woman.
(2) “To realize the supreme goal of life you must repeat Harinama regularly and steadfastly(in a resolutely or dutifully firm and unwavering manner).
Steadiness is so important that it must be maintained even at the cost of one’s life.
(3) “Never forget Gaura who is more merciful and benevolent than Krishna. Krishna is like a just ruler who takes into account your offenses in His administration of justice. Gaura does not take your offenses into account. Whereas Krishna is more interested in the dispensation of justice, Gaura is more interested in the distribution of mercy. From this point of view, Gaura-kirtan is more useful than Krishna-kirtana.gaura-kirtana means Sri Krishna Caitanya, Prabhu Nityananda, Sri Advaita, Gadadhara, Srivasadi Gaura bhakta vrinda.
(4) “Krishna is the avatara of Dvapara-yuga. Gaura is the Kali-yuga avatara. We should sing the name and glories of the avatara in whose age we live, just as in a kingdom we praise the ruling king.
The Sonar Gauranga Temple in Gopal Bagh, Vrindavana houses Gaura-Nitai Deities once worshiped in Surya-kunda by Sri Jagannatha Dasa Babaji. In Krishna lila he serves as Rasika-manjari
He did bhajana for many years at Surya Kunda in Vrindavana. His practice was to live six months in Sri Navadwipa dhama and six months in Vraja mandala. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura said that during his time, Sri Jagannatha Dasa Babaji was the most advanced rasika Vaishnava in Gaura and Vraja mandalas and purushottama kshetra(Jagannatha Puri). Hence Bhaktivinoda Thakura gave him the title Vaishnava Sarvabhauma, the chief of the Vaishnavas.
While Jagannath Das Babaji was very old, and nearly blind, many people came to visit this great devotee and they would give some donation some money to him. His servant kept it carefully in a bag. One day he asked his servant, “Bihari, how many rupees have I got?”
Bihari gave some rupees to Srila Jagannath Das Babaji, but he kept twelve rupees aside. He wanted to use the money to do something for his master. But Jagannath Das Babaji, even though he was nearly blind, knew twelve rupees were missing and said: “Bihari!, why did you keep twelve rupees aside? Give me all the rupees!” Bihari smiled and gave his master all the rupees. It was about two hundred rupees. He then told Bihari to go to the sweet-shop and buy rasagullas, and to give them to the cows in Nabadwip Dham.
Once in Vrindavan Jagannatha dasa Babaji asked his servant Bihari to locate a Deity to install there. Nitai-Gaura looked so beautiful when they were installed that it appeared as if They were made of gold. On the occasion of the installation ceremony a sum of Rs. 3000 was spent to feed the Vaishnavas of Suryakunda and Radhakunda.
One day a band of dacoits broke open the temple door and quickly gathered up everything they could find, including the Deities. However, in rushing to make their escape they stumbled on the door step and dropped the Deities. Seeing that the sun had risen outside the dacoits left the Deities and rushed off with rest of the booty. After this incident he asked Bihari to arrange for the Deities to be cared for by someone else. Bihari handed Them over, along with Rs. 2000 to Mother Goswamini. At present these Deities are residing at Gopal Bagh in Vrindavan and are known as “Sonara Gaura”