Shri Ramakrishna Das Pandit Baba gave instructions to his disciples not to have elaborate celebrations on his Disappearance day, instead, he instructed them to sit together and eat the madhukari (offerings) that they had collected by begging.
One evening, when all those, who were close to Baba were sitting round him, he said, “When I leave the body, you leave the Bagici and go elsewhere.” Perhaps he said this to ensure that none of his attendants took possession of the Bagici after him. Someone asked, “Baba, your samadhi?”
“No samadhi. Your bhajan will be my samadhi.”
“And what about a festival?”‘
“No festival. That day all of you bring madhukari, sit together and eat.”
On Dwitiya, the second day of Krishna-paksha of the month of Ashwin, Baba suddenly spoke out. He said to Kripasindhu, “See, See Priya and Priyatama (Radha and Krishna) have come.”
“Are Priya-Priyatama alone, or are you there also in your manjari svarupa (siddha body)?” asked Kripasindhu.
Baba replied, “My manjari svarupa is also there.”
On the Ashwin Chaturthi (of 1940), Baba asked Kripasindhu to prepare a bed of Vrindavan raja (holy dust) for him. Everybody was shocked to hear this. The bed was prepared and Baba was laid on it. Just then, Kusala Sinha Ji and Hari Sinha Ji arrived from Jaipur. Kusala Sinha Ji had the desire to see Baba ji before he died and had sent a mental message to Baba on his previous visit asking to be informed when Baba was preparing to leave his body. Baba requested a month long kirtan and requested an associate to send a telegram to Kusala Sinha. Sinha had brought Govinda Ji’s prasadi mala (garland) with him. The instant he put the mala round Baba’s neck, Baba left his body. Govinda Ji had come to him in the form of the garland and taken him away.
Ramakrishna Das Baba was deeply admired by his disciples as throughout his life he was the highest ideal of Istanistha, Vairagyanistha, nistha in Akincana-Bhakti, nistha in guru, Vratanistha and Sampradayanistha. As a result of his bhajan, he was revered as guru by all Gosvamis, Brajavasis and Virakta Vaishnavas.
Baba was generally respected by the Acaryas of all the sampradayas of Vraja, because of his devotion, learning and broad-mindedness. He was well-versed in the sastras of all the sampradayas and was also conversant with the modes of their religious practice.
Pandita Amolaka Rama Sastri and Baba Hamsadasa of Nimbarka Sampradaya, Sri Sudarsanacarya, Sri Dulari Prasada Sastri and Ganapati Sastri of Ramanuja Sampradaya, Sankarsana Dasa Ji of Ramananda Sampradaya and Sri Purusottama Bhatta Ji, the famous scholar and katha vacaira of Pusti Sampradaya – all came to him for advice on matters relating to the sastras or religious practices, and Baba always advised them according to the philosophy and practice of their own sampradaya.
Baba was in the line of Gadadhar Pandit Goswami. He gave vesh to Vinode Bihari another formidable scholar of vedic and Vaishnava literature of Gadadhar heritage. He achieved fame despite never trying to achieve greatness in this world. He was a great scholar in his youth but later became completely disinterested in the external world. For many years he lived in a cave and would only come out every two or three days.
Born in 1857 in Jaipur, Rampratap Mishra was given the name Ramakrishna Das Pandit by his guru Nityananda Das Babaji, but, out of respect for his erudition, people soon began calling him Pandit Baba. Pandit Baba learnt scripture from several of Vrindavan’s prominent scholars from different sampradayas and memorized several scriptures including Govinda Lilamrita. At one stage of his life, he would read fifty chapters of Srimad Bhagavatam in front of Gopeshwara Mahadev daily. His biography has been included in OBL Kapoor’s work, The Saints of Braj.
At the age of nine Rampratap completed his study of Sanskrit grammar at Panini. It is said that at this time Rampratap came in contact with Nrsimhananda Bhatta in Jaipur. Nrisinghananda was a Karnataka Brahmin who had become a disciple of Siddha Nityananda Das Babaji. He had taken vesh from him and was known as Nrisimha Das. Nrsimha Dasa was an erudite scholar of the six branches of Indian philosophy and an accomplished musician.
After coming in contact with Nrisingha Das, Rampratap was so overwhelmed by his qualities that he began to wonder how magnanimous Nrisingha Das’s guru must be. At a later date he went to Vrindavana and took shelter at the feet of his shikhsa guru’s guru, Shri Nityananda Baba.
At this time he also came in contact with Radhacarana Gosvami Kakaji of Govinda temple and started learning Bengali from Professor Kanticandra Sen. At the age of ten, Rampratap acquired command of the Urdu language. At the age of eleven he underwent the Sacred Thread Ceremony. The priest who initiated him into Savitri mantra instructed Rampratap to repeat the mantra.
After performing Savitri Puruscarana at the age of 11, Rampratap received a divine command from Savitri Mata to go to Vrindavan. He attempted to run away to Vrindavana on three occasions, but each time he was caught and held by his mother and the royal government. Shortly afterwards, while Rampratap was studying the Vedas at the age of thirteen, he finally reached Vrindavana.
In Vrindavan, he stayed with the Goswamis of Govindaji Temple and studied Nyaya under Sudarsan Sastri of Rangaji temple, six sandarbha under Nilamani Gosvami, Srimad Bhagavatam under Nrsimha dasa, and Haribhaktivilasa under Gopilal Goswami.
Having acquiring a sound command of smarana-manana (contemplation) Pandit Baba was directed by Siddha Baba to approach Krishnadasa Babaji for further instructions. Afterwards, Nityananda Baba, instructed Ramakrishna Das Baba to go to Barsana to practice bhajan.
At Barsana Pandit Baba heard kirtana performed by the famous kirtaniya Gauracarana dasa Babaji and began taking music lessons from him. During this time he neglected his lila smarana practice (remembering of the Lord’s pastimes) and spent most of his time learning music. Eventually Nityananda Baba called Ramakrishna Das Baba back to Vrindavana and advised him to devote more time to lila smarana.
Ramakrishna Das Baba never spoke with his guru directly, but carried on conversations through his elder God-brother, Siromani. As directed by Siddha Baba, Pandit Baba did Gopal Mantra puruscarana for seventeen days and was finally blessed with the vision of Lord Krishna with Radha beneath a Kadamba tree at Uddhava Kyeri.
When he was asked to seek a boon, Pandit Baba said, “I do not know what I want; I pray for the grace of Yugalakisora.” He was commanded to practice bhajan in the cave of Mahaprabhu’s associate Raghava Pandit. Pandit Baba immediately went to the cave, which was filled with wild animals, and for six years practiced intense bhajan without paying any attention to his physical needs.
By the grace of Radha-Krishna he had now become siddha in lila-smarana. From 2 o’clock in the morning to 2 o’clock in the afternoon he used to do lila-smarana inside the cave. After that he would come out of the cave. At this time there used to be a crowd of sadhus in front of the cave. They sought his advice in bhajana. Baba removed their doubts and difficulties. Then patha and kirtana were performed. This continued till evening. In the evening Baba went out for madhukari. After some time, Baba’s absorption in lila-smarana became so deep that it became impossible for him to follow any routine. No one knew when he would sit down for smarana and when he would come out of the cave. Sometimes he remained lost in smarana for two or three days continuously and did not go out even for madhukari. The sadhus who used to collect In front of his cave were deprived of his company.
One day Ramakrishna Das Baba’s mother came to Vrindavana in search of her son. After finding out where her son was from some Vaishnava’s, she waited at the door of Raghava’s cave for three days. Pandit Baba used to come out of the cave once in two or three days. One day he came out dressed in tattered clothes and carrying a vessel which was full of holes. He walked straight past his mother, who was standing at the entrance of the cave. His mother followed behind him calling out to him but he did not respond, thus she left for Jaipur in tears.
However, soon after his mother left, Ramakrishna Das Baba’s flow of bhajan was interrupted. Thus be began to think that perhaps he had unknowingly committed some offense. Some local Vaishnavas informed him that his mother had come in search of him but finding no response from him, she left in great disappointment. Fearing that displeasing his mother would seriously hamper his bhajan, Ramakrishna Das Baba wrote to his mother and brought her to Vrindavana. There he arranged for her to stay at Puchari and served her with devotion. Soon he was torn between devotion to his mother and devotion to bhajan.
Around that time one Oriya Brahmin boy named Krishnacaitanya dasa came from Orissa and took shelter of Pandita Babaji. The boy was given spiritual initiation and bheka by Prabhu dasaji, as well as training in bhajan. Ramakrishna Das Baba engaged this boy in serving his mother. Within three years, Krishnacaitanya attained bhava siddhi by practicing bhajan. Madhava dasa of Puchari was a disciple of Krishnacaitanya. After seven-eight years passed, Ramakrishna Das Baba’s mother passed away, thus he was able to devote himself entirely to bhajan.
Some years later a strong controversy arose within the Gaudiya Vaishnava Sampradaya involving the mantra of Gauranga. Defenders of this mantra were Kakaguru Gutikavala Krishnadasa Baba, and Gopilal Gosvami, the sevait of the Deity Radharamana. The opponents were Jethaguru Siddha Balarama dasa Babaji, Vidyaguru Nilamani Gosvami – the Nyaya scholar, and Jagadananda dasa – the Mahanta of Radhakunda. Since Ramakrishna Das Baba had gurus on both sides, he faced a great dilemma. He left his cave and went to Barsana to live in Mayurkuti. He spent eight years living quietly there in association with the Radhavallabha devotee Priyadasaji and Swamicarana Baba.
As soon as the controversy ended, Ramakrishna Das Baba came back to Raghava’s cave and practiced bhajan with deep concentration for ten years. At this time some remarkable incidents occurred:
One night Ramakrishna Das Baba went inside his cave carrying a coal fire and closed the door, not knowing that the poisonous gas emanating from a coal fire could take one’s life. He lost consciousness due to the gas, but someone invisibly took Ramakrishna Das Baba out and placed him on the bank of the Govardhana. Early in the morning Ramakrishna Das Baba woke up and found that he had been shifted from the cave. For two days he lay there immovable.
One morning a venomous snake coiled around the throat and chest of Pandit Baba. Babaji continued his bhajan undisturbed and after sometime the snake uncoiled itself and slithered away. That night Ramakrishna Das Baba heard a voice which said, “You must leave this cave and go elsewhere.” He then moved to Syamakuti at Kusum-Sarovara.
During the Vrindavan flood of flood of 1925, Pandit Baba was forced to take shelter in the Mirjapur Dharmashala, but after six months fell seriously ill with malaria and was almost at the point of death. Seeing his condition, Kripasindhu Dasji was greatly distressed. In a dream he received a divine command from Lord Chaitanya and brought Pandit Babaji to Dauji Bagicha, the present site of the Vrindavan Research Institute. There he recovered and he and Kripasindhu began to concentrate on bhajan together.
Pandit Baba’s Disappearance day is celebrated every year at Bhagavat Niwas, opposite the Vrindavan Research Institute. This year, in the days leading up to the occasion, Radharaman temple’s Pundrik Goswami gave Katha. The program was low-key, as Baba would have wanted. The program was not advertised, so mostly only locals attended. After the completion of this Katha, Pundrik Goswami was in Vrindavan for this very special tribute to a great saint. He is currently in Amritsar giving katha along with Sharananad Maharaj.