Saturday, August 14, 2010
Srila Vamsidas Babaji Maharaja
Yesterday was the tirobhava of Srila Vamsidas Babaji Maharaja, a great saint the Gaudiya Vaisnava tradition. Tirobhava, is translated as disappearance, because saints do not die like ordinary mortals. They wrap up their lila, or pastimes on the mundane plane. "He reasons ill who say vaisnavas die, while still living in sound. Vaisnavas die to live and living try to spread the holy name around."
Vamsidas Babaji was born in 1859 in a small village located in what is now known as Bangladesh. He grew up in family of fishermen. Nothing more was expected of him in life than to become a fisherman. Life at that time was very rough due to intense poverty.
He was initiated by the family guru who was from the line of Narottama das Thakura. He began to disassociate himself from this material world. He started spending more time at his guru's ashram. He then took initiation from Narottam das Babaji.
Vamsidas Babaji, like most paramahamsa babajis in Gaudiya Vaisnavism, did not follow certain rules and regulations meant for sadhakas. Rather his love of God flowed naturally that materialistic people cannot understand.
Vamsidas stood six feet tall, never cut his beard or hair, which was disheveled and matted, he never took a bath, and was prone to go on fasts for many days. His eyes looked wild and he only wore kaupins, or loincloths.
Even though he appeared dirty, he was always healthy and very strong.
He always spoke of Krishna and devotional service, but due to his intense devotion he could rarely be understood. He spoke in an unintelligible manner with little apparent connection between one sentence and the next. Sometimes he would start shouting the names of Krishna over and over again in ecstatic love.
Vamsidas always thought of Radha's and Krishna's pastimes or Mahaprabhu's and Nityananda's pastimes. He always sang songs about Them and always served Them with great love.
He mostly stayed in Navadvip where he lived in a small bhajan-kutir. There he had deities of Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai, Radha-Krishna and Bal Gopal. He would often carry Bal Gopal around in his right hand. He would spend hours talking to the deities. Srila Prabhupada gave a lecture in Los Angeles stating: "If you think this deity is a brass-made idol, then it will remain a brass-made idol to you forever. But if you elevate yourself to higher platform of Krishna consciousness, then Krishna, this Krishna, will talk with you. There is a Vamsidas Babaji Maharaja, he was talking with his Deity."
There are many beautiful pastimes of Babaji Maharaja. I'm very sorry that I cannot properly describe all of them now.
One time during his stay in Jagannath Puri, during Ratha-yatra, Lord Jagannnath's cart stopped where Babaji Maharaja was staying. Whatever they tried to do they could not move the cart. After Babaji Maharaja had some intimate conversations with the Lord the chariot started moving again.
Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura revered Vamsidas as a great saint and were very eager to serve him and receive his association. They first met him in 1903. In later years Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati sometimes crossed the river from Mayapur to visit Babaji Maharaja in Kuliya. Seeing him coming Vamsidas would claim, "Oh, a manjari has come, so won't Radha also come? She will come! She will come!" Bhaktisiddhanta always had three brahmacaris stay with Babaji Maharaja just to get his food remnants. They would then send the remnants to Mayapur and Vrindavan. The Goswamis in charge of Radha-Raman would eagerly take the foodstuffs.
It is very difficult to try and understand the great souls from an intellectual and mundane point of view. Attempting to glorify them is great purification. I sincerely seek Babaji Maharaja's blessings.