Gaurakisora dasa Babaji
He was the guru of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami, the founder of the Caitanya Mathas and Gaudiya Mathas. This Vaisnava saint's life was an example of utter humility and poverty, the true attributes of a Vaisnava. Gaurakisora never accepted any material object from anyone. For his clothing he used the discarded loin cloths from corpses left on the bank of the Ganges. For food, he would collect rice by begging, soak it in river water, and garnish it with salt and chilly. He never asked favors from anyone and lived a fully detached life, devoid of all possessions.
Very little information is available about the past life of Gaurakisora except that he was born in a Vaisya family in the village of Bagjana near Tepakhola on the bank of the Padma. As a householder, Gaurakisora was known by the name Vansidasa. At that time he was engaged in some agricultural trade and from the income took care of his wife and family honestly. After the passing away of his wife, Gaurakisora renounced his home and went to Vrndavana, where he was initiated into Vairagi Vesa by Bhagavata dasa Babaji, one of the foremost disciples of Jagannatha dasa Babaji.
Gaurakisora lived on madhukari and slept beneath a tree. He would lie prostrate, offering his humble obeisances to the residents of Vraja, considering them as embodiments of Lord Krsna. He even offered his obeisances to the flowers, trees, and land around him. He spent about thirty years at Vrajamandala serving the deities there. Afterwards he left for Navadvipa.
During his stay at Navadvipa, Gaurakisora underwent various transformations of spiritual moods. Sometimes he danced on the bank of the Ganges chanting, "Gaura, Gaura", while at other times he would lie on the ground in an unconscious state. He joyfully moved throughout the groves located on the bank of the Ganges, considering them sites of the divine sports of Radha-Govinda. His only clothing was a strip of cloth around his waist and often went totally naked. He chanted japa on beads or sometimes knotted a cloth and used that as a substitute for japa beads. Occasionally, he went to Godruma to listen to Bhaktivinoda Thakura recite Srimad Bhagavatam.
Every virtuous person looked forward to rendering service to Gaurakisora. However, he rarely allowed anyone the chance to serve him. Once Manindracandra Nandi, the Maharaja of Kasimbazar, sent a distinguished messenger to escort Gaurakisora to the former's palace. Gaurakisora, however, did not accept the Maharaja's invitation saying that if he visited the palace he may feel tempted by the wealth of the Maharaja which may result in a strained relation between the two. Hence, Gaurakisora suggested that instead of him visiting the palace, let the Maharaja free himself completely from the shackles of wealth by donating everything he owned to his relatives and then come to live with Gaurakisora in a specially prepared shed where both of them could practice Hari Bhajan in peace.
Gaurakisora was very selective about accepting invitations for food knowing it could adversely affect the spiritual life. Once a devotee name Harenbabu partook of prasada offered at the festival held at bhajan kutir at Navadvipa. For this Gaurakisora stopped communicating with Haren for three days. On the fourth day Gaurakisora explained that the prasada of the above festival had been financed by a woman of questionable profession.
Once, on the eve of Sanatana Gosvami's disappearance day, Gaurakisora decided to celebrate the occasion. The devotee attending him asked who would provide them with the materials for the celebration. Gaurakisora replied: "Remember not to speak to anyone about it. We shall miss a meal and continue around the clock chanting the holy name. This could be the typical festival for those of us who have taken the vow of poverty."
Narendra Kumar Sen, a resident of Agartala (Tripura), once approached Gaurakisora to learn about guru-pranali or siddha pranali. Gaurakisora told him, "The Supreme Lord cannot be realized through worldly knowledge. Only through the chanting of the holy name can the true nature of the Lord be revealed. As the Lord is revealed from the letters comprising the Nama, the devotee gradually begins to understand his own nature and becomes acquainted with seva.
Once a physician told Gaurakisora that he intended to move to Navadvipa and take up charitable practices. Gaurakisora advised the physician that if he truly desired to live in Navadvipa then he should give up the plan for a charitable practice because it would only encourage materially minded people to save money. Those who sincerely practiced Hari bhajan should never get distracted by the chains of welfare activities.
A young seeker wearing a kaupina once stayed with Gaurakisora for some days. Later he arranged, through the agency of an employee of a female estate owner, to obtain five kathas of land as a donation from the woman. When Gaurakisora heard about this he was extremely annoyed: "Navadvipa dhama is beyond this material world. How can a worldly land-owner dare to hold land here and even think he can donate five kathas out of it? A mere grain of sand of the transcendental Navadvipa is more valuable than all the precious gems in this world put together. Moreover, how advanced could this young kaupina-clad devotee be if he dares to collect so much land in lieu of his bhajan merit?"
Once a devotee offered some sweets to Lord Gauranga and then took the offering to Gaurakisora, urging him to partake of it. Gaurakisora told the devotee, "Those who are non-vegetarian, those who commit adultery, or offer food to Lord Gauranga with a particular motive, their offerings never reach Lord Gauranga and are never sanctified as prasada."
Gaurakisora regularly begged for rice, after which he would cook the rice, offer it, and partake of the prasada. He never touched any foodstuff offered by someone else. Once during monsoon, Gaurakisora stayed in the rest-house at Phulia Navadvipa. Some prasada was left in a vessel for him to respect later. Meanwhile a snake passed by the vessel and a woman there happened to notice it. When Gaurakisora sat down to take prasada the woman appeared there and informed him about the snake. Gaurakisora, however, firmly stated that he would not touch the prasada until the woman left. After the woman left, Gaurakisora said, "Look how maya works! Taking the form of compassion, maya attempts to hit deep into her target slowly. Maya can assume countless forms. She always prevents a mortal being from practicing Hari bhajan."
Giribabu and his wife once ardently requested Gaurakisora to stay in their house at Navadvipa. Gaurakisora was moved by their sincere devotion and finally agreed to oblige them on the condition that he would live only in their toilet room where he would perform Hari bhajan. Giribabu tried to persuade him to change his mind but Gaurakisora remained firm. Giribabu reluctantly arranged to have the toilet thoroughly cleaned and Gaurakisora used it for Hari Bhajan. A realized soul can practice Hari bhajan anywhere in an unconcerned manner, and wherever he resides, that place becomes Vaikuntha.
Gaurakisora was a highly spiritually advanced soul. He never allowed deceitful practices or any discussion which was not within the purview of the holy books. One day when a devotee questioned Gaurakisora about a well-known reciter of Srimad Bhagavatam who was in the habit of chanting "Gaura, Gaura", Gaurakisora remarked, "He doesn't say "Gaura, Gaura". Rather what he means to say is, 'Money, Money.' Those who recite Srimad Bhagavatam for payment are not entitled to chant the name of the Supreme Lord."
Gaurakisora never delivered discourses openly, yet his spotless character drew everyone to him. Upon meeting Gaurakisora, even a staunch materialist would become inclined take up Hari bhajan.
In November 1915 AD on Ekadasi day, Gaurakisora dasa Babaji breathed his last. Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati himself arranged to bury the mortal remains of his revered guru.