Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣak Śrīdhar Dev-Goswāmī Mahārāj remembers his dear friend Śrīpād Kṛṣṇa Dās Bābājī Mahārāj
We know that Kṛṣṇa Dās Bābājī Mahārāj has left this world. We would like to remember his life and activities as much as possible. I first met him in 1926 or so. I found him shortly after I joined Gauḍīya Maṭh. He returned from a preaching tour with Bhāratī Mahārāj at that time. He was young, smart, beautiful, jolly, and very firm in his principles, especially towards Nām-bhajan. He came from a respectable, high family from Dacca, [Munchi Ganga?], which at present is in Bangladesh. At that time it was all part of Bengal in British India. I next saw him when he came back with a preaching party from Naimiṣāraṇya and western parts of India with Bon Mahārāj. Some natural friendship grew between us. Perhaps our similar high social rank, similar education, similar simplicity, and similar earnestness for Kṛṣṇa consciousness brought us together, gradually and intimately. I had closer connection with him in the later part of ’27 in New Delhi. For a few weeks we were allowed to work together there and our intimacy grew. Then, towards ‘29 or so, he was in [Bali Hati?] in Bengal in a village Maṭh going on with his Nām-bhajan. I made a request to Prabhupād, “He is an educated young man. His service may be very useful at present for preaching in New Delhi. If you allow, I will ask him to come and join me in my activities.” I was then Maṭh commander in New Delhi; through me the Maṭh was founded there. Prabhupād gladly gave his consent: “If you can take him and engage him in preaching service for Mahāprabhu, then you will do the work of a great, a real, friend to him.”
Then Kṛṣṇa Dās Bābājī Mahārāj, at that time he was Sādhikānanda Brahmachārī, came to me in New Delhi. For a long time we had a very intimate friendship and worked together. He had much appreciation for me, and I also had appreciation for him in his sincere search after Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
He had mostly a scriptural nature. What he found to be the advice of the scriptures, he tried his best to adhere to that. But about the application of scriptural advices into practical life, as our Guru Mahārāj wanted us to do, there he was a little miserly.
tāra madhye sarva-śreṣṭha nāma-saṅkīrtana
[“Amongst all forms of devotional practice, Nām-saṅkīrtan is the best.”]
This is clear scriptural advice from Mahāprabhu, and he tried his best to stick to that.
Always, to his last day, he maintained his pure, moral, social, educated character. He was a very good man and very strict. He was firm in his practice, very sincere, and very jolly. He tried to be satisfied under any circumstances.
When there were differences amongst the trustees in some way or other, and we could not stay in the Mission, I left and he also did at the same time. I went to Vṛndāvan, and after staying there for a month, I came back here [to Nabadwīp] to live permanently by the grace of Nityānanda Prabhu and Mahāprabhu. He decided to live in Nanda Grām at that very time. We both retired from the missionary life, and I chose this place for the last days of my life, and he chose Nanda Grām. There is a place called Nanda Bagicha a little way from Nanda Grām towards Yāvaṭa and Kadamb Kandi. He wrote a letter to me from there. I found in his language that he was very satisfied, that he had attained full satisfaction in his present life. It was very conspicuous to me that he was now very happy—fully surrendered. What he was searching for, he got that, and he was fully satisfied. I found this in his letter. I was then here in a rented house for two rupees a month and living alone. After a long time, only two or three years ago [after about forty years later], he suddenly told me, “In my whole life, I had the greatest satisfaction when I lived in Nanda Bagicha.” He lived there at the beginning of ’41, and after so many years of bhajan, he appreciated his life there as the highest satisfaction. I could detect that from here then through his letter, that he had found full satisfaction in his life. I could feel it. I could feel he was śuddha-sattva: completely surrendered, detached from everything, and wholly dependent on Kṛṣṇa—his life was wholly dependent on Kṛṣṇa’s will. No worry, no aims, no objects in life. As though completely vacant and there only for Kṛṣṇa to approach. He came to approach fully prepared for that. No prejudice, even prejudice, thoughts, and suggestions of one’s own design to acquire Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Not even that. Full surrender, “Whatever He likes, He may do. I am prepared for that.” Such attitude.
Generally we find in the scripture that śaraṇāgati, surrender, is the basis, the foundation on which so many variegated structures may be constructed for the service of Kṛṣṇa. This is said in general, but I have also noted another remarkable thing, “Simply śaraṇāgati can give us everything, even without taking the form of a devotional activity.”
His letter and example reminded me of that type of śaraṇāgati. It is also mentioned in my Prapanna-jīvanamṛta that simply śaraṇāgati can give us the highest desired result, even without śravaṇ, kīrtan, smaraṇ, vandan, and so many other forms. Mere śaraṇāgati. Śaraṇāgati means surrender, and there are different types of surrender. If we can examine closely the qualities of surrender, we may find even the element of different rasas. The highest type of śaraṇāgati is possible in the highest type of rasa (service), and that is madhura-rasa. Madhura-rasa has been accepted as being able to open up the fullest śaraṇāgati. Every atom of one’s spiritual body cries for the corresponding atoms of the spiritual body of the Lord. This is not possible in any other rasa. It has been expressed in a Bengali verse by one of the great devotees,
prati aṅga lāge kānde prati aṅga mora
“Every part of every one of my limbs is crying for the corresponding part of the limbs of the Lord.”
Śaraṇāgati means preparedness for this sort of service to the autocratic Lord. No rhyme, no reason, no room for any aspiration—good or bad. Simply śaraṇāgati proper can satisfy our desired end.
This ideal of surrendered life I saw in Bābājī Mahārāj beginning in Nanda Grām, Nanda Bagicha, and he expressed in that in his letter, “I feel very happy that I have taken the right course and am in the right position in my life: I have given myself exclusively to the Lord, surrendered at the sweet will of the Lord.” After that time, he passed so many years, so many nights on Ekādaśī staying awake and going on with his Nām-bhajan and scriptural discussion. He very deeply engaged himself in all the forms of bhajan, but his remark lastly was, “I felt the highest blissfulness in my life when I was in Nanda Bagicha at the beginning of 1941.” Śaraṇāgati.
He was fond of sakhya-rasa, though he used to read all types of śāstra and rasa. He also used to hear all types kīrtan and representation, even sahajiyā kīrtan. But they could not make him sahajiyā, though he attended the sahajiyā school. So firm was his faith in Kṛṣṇa consciousness proper.
yaḥ kaumāra-haraḥ sa eva hi varas tā eva chaitra-kṣapās
vana dekhi’ bhrama haya ei vṛndāvana
śaila dekhi’ mane haya ei govardhana
(Śrī Chaitanya-charitāmṛta: Madhya-līlā, 17.55)
“Whose aim is firmly established, who is very earnest, very sincere, about realisation of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, his association with objectionable things cannot attract him to the black way, but make some contribution towards his own direction.” Mahāprabhu said about Nityānanda Prabhu,
madirā yavanī yadi nityānanda dhare
tathāpi brahmāra vandya kahila tomare
(Śrī Chaitanya-bhāgavat: Antya-līlā, 6.123)
“If Nityānanda Prabhu is seen to visit the house of a wine shopkeeper and seen to enter the house of a prostitute, still you must know for certain that He is worshippable to Brahmā and Siva himself. If He goes there, He is not going to take anything, but to give to those fallen souls, to deliver them from their position. He is not going to take anything from them.”
So, Kṛṣṇa Dās Bābājī, although he mixed apparently with the so-called sahajiyā section, he did not deviate from the real conception of Kṛṣṇa consciousness of the Āchārya of the Gauḍīya Maṭh and what he came to give to us. Lastly also, with firmness, we saw him stick to his faith. He made his final selection for shelter in Nanda Grām, Pāvan Sarovar, near the bhajan-kuṭir of Sanātan Goswāmī. And there, from the visible world to the invisible, he entered surely into the invisible aspect of Vṛndāvan.
He told plainly that he had much attraction to sakhya-rasa. He considered his leader, his next guide, to be Subal, who has connection with madhura-rasa. Amongst all the friends of Kṛṣṇa, Subal is considered to be the highest because of his intimate connection with madhura-rasa. So, he considered his guide in the form of Subal.
He had a very liberal heart, and he used to mix with all the contending parties of Gauḍīya Maṭh. He went almost everywhere, and with his smiling face, he used to mix and associate. But still he had some special attraction for a particular quarter. He was an intimate friend of mine as I have already told. He had much appreciation, especially for my Sanskrit poems. I once asked him, “Why do you have such special affection for me?”
“Your poems are the cause. I am captured by the ideas, the language, and the style of your poems.”
He was very strict, and not a man who would submit to anyone and everyone by the pressure of circumstances. He was not of that type. That was also one of his characteristics. So, he used to sing the poems of the goswāmins about Kṛṣṇa-līlā, not ordinary ones, selected ones. But his affection towards me was such that when he used to chant on the night of Ekādaśī here, there, and everywhere, he preferred to chant my more modern verses. So, in heart-to-heart relation, he was very intimate to me.
Today’s function is also showing something of that. It was not predesigned, but still I have been entangled with [engaged in] some such function in his connection by divine arrangement. So, our connection was something above the conscious area of our experience; it was a causeless connection. In many other ways also, we had many things in common. Sometimes also, I myself dealt with him in a rough way. But he did not mind that. His friendship for me was so deep that he did not care. Such happenings also took place here. So, today, I pray to him, “Whatever wrongs I might have done to him, may he forgive them all and accept me as his sincere friend, with the help of you all.”
Spoken 30 April 1982.
śravaṇa-kīrtanādīnāṁ bhakty-aṅgānāṁ hi yājane
akṣamasyāpi sarvāptiḥ prapattyaiva harāv iti
(Śrī Śrī Prapann-jīvanāmṛta: 1.40)
“Everything is accomplished by surrendering unto the lotus feet of Śrī Hari, even for one who is unable to execute the integral practises of devotional service based on hearing and chanting.”