Vrindavan’s dedicated painter of Radha naam has merged into the lotus feet of Srimati Radha Rani. Painting the name of Shri Radha was his principal devotional service. He painted the words “Shri Radha” in countless places including on tree trunks, on the walls of ghats and temples, indeed, he put Radha’s name wherever he found a place. His work became one of the attractions for those who adore Vrindavan and the spiritual ambiance of the town.
Shri Radha Sarveshawar Das ji Maharaj, better known as Kirtaniya Baba, passed away at Harivyas Nikunj, Raman Reti in Vrindavan. He was 86 years old when he took his last breath at 6 am this morning.
The news of Baba’s entering the nitya lila (eternal pastimes) spread like wildfire across the entire Vraja. Saints, Brajwasis and Vaishnavas gathered outside the ashram in large numbers to participate in the procession carrying Kirtaniya Baba’s mortal remains to the Yamuna banks for cremation.
The mukhagni ritual during the cremation was performed in the presence of many prominent saints of Vrindavan by Shri Murari Das, the mahant of Harivyas Nikunj, amid pad gayan and sankirtan.
With the news of his demise, the saints of Vraja began to mourn the loss. Whoever heard said that it was a great loss for Vraja.
Not many people recognized Baba, but many knew him through his work of drawing attention to the holy name of Radha with his paintings. Vrindavan is almost defined by the name of Radha which appears everywhere, but especially on the trees on the Parikrama Marg.
Baba came to live in Vrindavan in 1977 when in his early forties. He took initiation from Shri Sanat Kumar Das ji Maharaj, Gaddi Acharya of Mukund Devacharya Dwara (Topi Kunj, Vrindavan). He lived on madhukuri (charity given to sadhus) from the Brajwasis.
Shri Tulsi Sharan Upadhyay who became Baba’s disciple at the tender age of 13, said, “Kirtaniya Baba grew up in an opulent and educated Khanal family of Singri village in the undivided Darrang District of Assam. He graduated in science and obtained a diploma in Fine Arts from Guwahati. He became famous in Assam for his ecstatic kirtans. He traveled all over the state with his kirtan band for the promotion of Harinam Sankirtan. He was known as a master of kirtan among all the Vaishnava communities in Assam. Later, he established a Radha Krishna Temple in Dhaula in Tinsukia district. He moved to Vrindavan in 1977.”
Shri Dev Sharan ji, another of Kirtaniya Baba’s disciples, who is continuing the tradition of painting Radha’s name everywhere in Vrindavan, told a Vrindavan Today correspondent, “The purpose of writing the name of Radha on the walls and trees of Vrindavan is to make the ambiance of Vrindavan filled with Radha.”
He said, “Radha Rani is the Queen of Vrindavan, and so there should be an overwhelming presence of her name everywhere.”