Paramahamsa Srila Gaura Kishore Das Babaji Maharaj was born into a vaishya family on the banks of the Padma River in Bagayan village in Faridpur district in what is now Bangladesh. His given name was Vamsi Das. He was born sometime in the middle of the nineteenth century. He is important to us because he was the diksha guru of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Prabhupada. Vamsi Das’s parents had him married at an early age according to the custom of the time, but he always remained detached from householder life. His main interest was always worshiping the Lord.
In 1849, Shrila Gaura Kishora Dasa Babaji left grihasta life after the death of his wife. He moved to Vrindavana and took initiation from Shri Bhagavata Das Babaji, a disciple of Shri Jagannatha Dasa, Babaji. For over thirty years Srila Gaura Kishore Das Babaji stayed in Vrindavana performing bhajana under the trees at Giri Govardhana, Nandagrama, Varshana, Radha-Kunda, Suryakunda, Raval, Gokula. He also travelled outside of the Vraja area, visiting northern India and Bengal. Sitting in seclusion, he chanted 200,000 names of Krishna every day (128 rounds of japa). He felt painful separation from Radha-Govinda and cried profusely. As he wandered through the dvadasa vana (12 forests) of Vraja, he would loudly chant the Holy Names in a deep voice full of lamentation.
He would always relish the following Bhajan:
kothay go prema-mayi radhe radhe!
radhe radhe go jaya radhe radhe!
dekha diya prana rakho radhe radhe!
tomar kangal tomay dake radhe radhe!
radhe vrindavana-vilasini radhe radhe!
radhe kanu-mano-mohini radhe radhe!
radhe astha-sakhir siromani radhe radhe!
radhe vrsabhanu-nandini radhe radhe!
“0h Radhe Radhe! Where are You, 0h Goddess of ecstatic love? Oh Radhe Radhe! All glories to You, 0h Radhe Radhe! Oh Radhe Radhe! Please show Yourself to me and thereby maintain my life. Your most despicable fallen servant calls out to You, 0h Radhe Radhe! Oh Radhe! Oh artful enjoyer of Vrindavana. 0h Radhe Radhe! Oh Radhe! Oh enchantress of Kanu’s (Krishna) mind. 0h Radhe Radhe!Oh Radhe! Oh crest jewel of Your eight main girlfriends. 0h Radhe Radhe! 0h Radhe! Oh delightful daughter of Maharaja Vrishabhanu. 0h Radhe Radhe!”
In 1893, when the birthplace of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was inaugurated at the Sri Mayapur Yoga Pith, Sri Jagannath Das Babaji Maharaj ordered Srila Gaurakishore das babaji to stay in Nabadwip. This is where Srila Gaura Kisori das babaji remained for the rest of his life. He saw all the residents of Nabadwip with transcendental eyes, considering them to be divine beings. He thus accepted madhukari from them, cooking everything in a rejected clay bowl. It is said that sometimes he would subsist on nothing but Ganges water and mud. Sometimes he would go for long periods without eating, chanting the Holy Names constantly. He set the standard for those in the renounced order who live the life of solitary worship, remaining completely independent of others.
Although Bhaktivinoda Thakur was a grhasta with ten children, Srila Gaura Kisori Das babaji would often go to Bhaktivinoda’s home in Godrumadvipa, Svananda-sukhada-kunja, where he would listen to him give readings of the Bhagavat and discuss Vaishnava theology with him, Gaura Kishore Das babaji was very fond of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur was extremely impressed by Gaura Kisora’s extraordinary renunciation, his pure devotion and his attachment to the Lord.
Srila Gaura Kishore Das Babaji left this world in 1915 but before then, Srila Bhaktivinoda decided his son Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Prabhupada who was then known as Bhimala Prasad, to take diksha from Srila Gaura Kishore Das Babaji. When Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Prabhupada asked Babaji for initiation, Babaji who was so humble and he has never taken any disciple in his life and was determined not to take any disciple, simple addressed Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Prabhupada saying that it was impossible, you are so highly qualified how can I be your guru you should go find someone else. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur told Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Prabhupada that he must accept Srila Gaura Kishore Das Babaji, repeatedly again and again he was requesting from babaji but Babaji si ple said no. Ultimately Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Prabhupada approached him with tears in his eyes he said this human form of life is only meant for self realisation and without a bona fide spiritual master it is impossible for anyone to attain love of Krishna. If you do not accept me as a disciple then I have no reason to live, I am determined to commit suicide. Babji could see that he was sincere and was speaking from the core of his heart, so babaji accepted him as his disciple and he never accepted another disciple till the rest of his life.
On the 30th of Karttik in 1322 (Bengali ’ 1915 AD), Paramahamsa Srila Gaura Kisora Das Babaji entered the eternal pastimes of the Lord. At the time, he was residing at Ranira Dharma-sala in Kuliya. When Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur received the news of his disappearance, he was overcome with feelings of separation from his guru and immediately hurried to the site of his departure.
On the first day of Agrahayan in Kuliya’s Nutana Cara, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Prabhupada performed the samadhi rites for Srila Gaura Kisora Das Babaji according to Vaishnava Smrti injunctions. A certain Poddar Mahasaya of Lohagara in Jessore district gave the land for the samadhi, renouncing any claims on the property. Later, however, he reneged on his promise and came to live there himself and engaged in various illicit activities on the site. During the Ganges floods one season, the samadhi temple was washed into the river. On the 5th of Bhadra, 1339 Bengali (1932 AD)Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur retrieved some of his remains from the Ganges bed and took them to the Chaitanya Math where he established a samadhi temple on the banks of Radha Kund. The site was consecrated on the 2nd of Asvina, 1339 and in the course of time, a small temple housing a murti of Gaura Kisora Das Babaji was constructed there. The murti’s nitya-seva has continued ever since.
Jai Srila Gaur Kishore Das Babaji Ki Jai!