Excerpts from OBL Kapoor’s “The Saints of Bengal” (Srila Prabhupada’s Godbrother)
Vamsidasa Babaji was a siddha-mahatma in the disciplic succession of Sri Narottama Thakura. The name of his diksa-guru was Harilal Vrajavasi and the name of his vesa-guru was Ramananda Vrajavasi. But it was difficult to know that he was siddha, because he lived far away from the world in a solitary place on the bank of Ganga near Baral Ghata in Navadvipa, as if he was renounced by the world, as an idiotic and worthless destitute. But the fact is that it is not the world that had renounced him, but he, who had renounced the world as worthless. He hardly had any worldly possessions. His only possessions were an old kaupina, karanga and kantha. Once Sripada Haridasa Gosvami asked him why he did not wear bahirvasa. He replied, “I live only with ka, which means kaupina, karanga and kantha. I have nothing to do with ba”, which means bahirvasa or outer garment. Bahirvasa brings relationship with the outer world and the people, who are bahiranga, that is those, who are attached to the outer world. My Gaura has asked me not to wear bahirvasa and mix with people who are bahiranga.”
Vamsidasa Babaji lived in a world of his own. His world centered round his deities-Gaura-Gadadhara, Nitai, Radha-Krishna and Gopala. For the service of these deities he had two brass pots, some earthen pots, one plate, one glass, some small cups, panca patra, bell and conch-shell and nothing else. Baba passed day and night in the service of the deities and in sweet talks with Them. Early in the morning he went out from his kuti to collect flowers. Then he went for bhiksa. He returned to the kuti about noon and made garlands from the flowers for each of the six deities. After that he started cutting vegetables. He washed each vegetable a number of times. Then he cleaned rice. He examined each grain of rice. If he found any grain from which the husk was not removed, he removed it with his own hand. He did everything slowly, contemplating all the time the lila of Radha-Krishna or Gaura-Nitai, and singing or talking to Them. It was only late in the evening that he could cook and offer bhoga to the deities. He had no consciousness of time. Morning and evening, day and night had no meaning for him. Almost the whole night he kept awake, talking and singing.
Once Sripada Haridasa Gosvami was surprised to see him cooking for the deities at about 9 a.m. He said to him, “Baba! It would be fine, if you prepare bhoga for the deities like this in the morning everyday.” He replied, “I do not know morning or evening. Am I their father’s servant so to feed them at appointed hours? If They want to eat like that, let Them make Their own arrangements for cooking. Let Gadadhara cook for Gaura. Nitai is avadhuta. He has no caste. He can go and eat anywhere. I do not worry about my Gopala. A milch-cow comes here everyday and gives Him milk. He can live on that. I have to worry about Radha-Krishna. For Them I will have to cook a little rice and vegetables. If I don’t, They will go to Vmdavana and do madhukari. ”
Vamsidas Baba never locked the door of his kuti when he went out for bhiksa or to bathe in the Gariga. If someone asked him why he did not lock the kuti, he said, “If the owner of the house Himself does not keep a watch and has a soft corner for the thief, what is the use of locking the house? I do not even keep the keys of the lock with me. The lock has three keys. All the three are with the three boys. One is with Gaura, one with Nitai and one with Gadadhara.” After entrusting the lock and the keys to the three boys, Baba used to be free from anxiety. If while he was out a cow entered the kuti and turned everything topsy turvy, he would be angry with the boys. If some one stole something from the kuti he would say, “Gaura has a soft corner for Nadiyavasis, the residents of His own Dhama. Therefore He gives things away to them. I am after all an outsider.” Once a gold necklace, given by someone to Gaura, was stolen, when he had gone out for bhiksa. On returning to the kuti he kept on scolding Gaura and asking Him whom He had given away the necklace, for about two hours. Towards the evening he got a hint. He then went to the house of the theif and asked him for the necklace. The thief pushed him down the verandah of his house. He was hurt. But he did not say anything. But how could Gaura tolerate this? The thief soon died as well as all the other members of his family.
Once Baba had to punish Gaura-Nitai for Their connivance in a theft. The two brass-pots, in which Baba’ used to cook for Gaura-Nitai were stolen. How could this happen without the connivance of Gaura-Nitai? So They were punished. Baba scolded Them and did not give Them anything to eat that day. The punishment had its effect The next day someone came quietly and delivered one of those pots. Baba said, “This small pot is Nitai’s. He will be fed today. If Gaura wants to eat, He must also bring His pot.” Baba always did what he said. He cooked and offered bhoga to Nitai. Gaura drew a long face as He kept looking at Nitai eating. In the meantime another man came and delivered the other pot. Baba then cooked in that pot and offered bhoga to Gaura. When Gaura also had eaten, he said with tears in his eyes, “Do I ever want to punish You? But both of You are so naughty that You must always tease me. You do not know that I have now become old and cannot bear it all. What can I do?”
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura also received the blessings of Srila Vamsidas Babaji Maharaja in Navadwip. Seeing Srila Sarasvati Thakura, Srila Varmsidasa Babaji Mahasaya would say, “Someone very close to my Gaura has come to me.”
Vamsivat Babaji was a Gaudiya sadhu who lived at Swarupa Gunj during the time of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati’s mission. He was respected by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, and he used to see to it that Vamsivat Babaji was provided with grains and so on by Gaudiya Matha brahmacaris, whom he’d send to Swarupa Gunj from the Yoga Pitha Mandir.
One day, a lady selling fish approached Vamsidasa Babaji, offering him some choice from the type of catch. Somehow or other, Babaji’s mind got attracted to taste the fish. But he immediately checked himself, and became very angry. He first of all shouted at the woman to get away. Then he was shouting, “How could this happen? How could this happen? I’ve surrendered my life to Radha Krishna, I’m under They’re protection, and still this happens! Why You are not protecting me?”
He went storming into his bhajan kutir. People gathered while he fussed and fumed at his Deities inside. Then he came out, bringing the Deities tied by rope, and threw Them into the Ganga. He kept the end of the rope under his foot. When one man inquired why he was doing this, the Baba threw a rock at him.
When this news reached the Gaudiya Matha Mandir, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta called his brahmacaris together and forbade them from visiting this baba again, save for one who would just deliver supplies. After a few days, he again called them together and said, “Some of you think I’ve stopped you from visiting babaji maharaja because he is in maya. That is not so. But you are not able to understand this bhava. So stay away.”
Later, when that one brahmacari visited, Vamsidas babaji maharaj threw a stone at him and told, “If you want to please me, then never return here again!”
Previously his reception had always been unpredictable. Sometimes the Baba would welcome him. Sometimes he would accept the gifts without saying a word. Sometimes he would just sit and stare. Sometimes he would take the gifts and angrily throw them in the river.
It is difficult to understand what bhava Vamsidasa Baba had towards Gaura. It sometimes appeared to be sakhya (friendly), sometimes vatsalya (parental) and sometimes madhura, like that of a Nadiya-nagari (lady of Nadiya) towards Gaurariga as Nadiya-nagara (an attractive citizen of Nadiya). If it was basically madhura, it is easy to understand that he sometimes exhibited vatsalya-bhava towards Him and sometimes sakhya, because madhura-bhava includes all other bhavas. According to Haridasa Gosvami his bhava was of Nadiyanagari type, because he used to compose songs of this bhava and sing. He has quoted some of these songs. Two of them are reproduced below:
kena giya chilama ganga-tire o nagari |
nyana kataksa bane gaura kaila mana churi ||
ami ekhana ki kari o nagari ki kari ||
“O Nagari! How I repent having gone to the bank of Ganga.
Gaura cast a side long glance at me and stole my heart
What shall I do now, O Nagari! What shall I do?”
bala go nagari gaura kallena ki ||
grha gela kula gela mana kela curi |
sajani! ekhana ami ki kari ||
nayana kone, kane kane gaura kallena ki |
ami je prana mari gaura kallena ki ||
“Tell me O Nagari what Gaura has done to me, He winked and whispered and did, I do not know what to me. O Sakhi! Now I know not what to do, Life is running out of me. O! What has Gaura done to me?”
Towards the end of his life Baba once went to his birth place Majitpur in district Maymansinha. He carried the deities with him. On the way he neither ate, nor slept, nor passed stool or urine. On reaching Majitpur he stayed in a dilapidated temple. After that he went to Vrndavana and Puri. In Vrndavana he stayed on the bank of Yamuna, in Puri on the bank of Narendra Sarovara. He never went inside a temple for darsana. During these travels the sadhus of the Gaudiya Matha rendered great service to him.
Nothing is known about Baba’s life as a householder, except that he was married at an early age and his son Haracandra was nine or ten years old when he renounced the world. He went to Navadvipa about the year 1906. The author once tried to see him in 1932, but could not, because the door of his kuti was closed, though he could hear him talking to the deities in Maymansinha dialect. He left the world in 1944.
(Excerpts from OBL Kapoor’s “The Saints of Bengal”)
Disappearance Day on Caturthi
Vamsi das Babaji:
“You must weep for Krishna!”
by His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Maharaj
The following is an excerpt from the chapter “What is Bhakti?” in the book “A Taste of Transcendence” by Srila Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Maharaj. For more information about this book, click here.
The great Vaisnava saint, Vamsi dasa Babaji Maharaja, was no ordinary sadhu. Outwardly, he had his advent in what is now known as Bangladesh, in Majidpur Village, Maimansingh district, near Jamalpur. But later, he came to Navadvipa-dhama, accepted the babaji order and performed his bhajana under a tree. The order of sannyasa is given for preaching, but a babaji will perform bhajana in a holy, secluded place. A babaji will not go outside for pracara (preaching). Many people would come to Babaji Maharaja and offer to build him a cottage, but he chose to remain always beneath a banyan tree. He would not move from there. He was surcharged with krsna-prema. He was a very tall figure. He never shaved, but remained like a madman. Many people would offer him various things, but he would pay them no attention. Whatever he might receive, he would distribute to others. He was an anchorite. Nobody could understand his behavior. He had only two big cloth bags—he had no temple. In one cloth bag was Gaura-Nitai and, in the other, Radha-Krsna. Sometimes, he would take the Deities out and perform puja. So, is his bhakti less because he had just small Deities, and ours greater because we have a big temple? Gaura-Nityananda were most satisfied by his service. Our Parampujyapada Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura used to bow down to him from a distance. He prohibited his disciples from visiting Babaji Maharaja. His disciples asked, “Shall we not have darsana of the sadhus?” But Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura replied, “You will not be able to understand his behavior and you will commit offenses. He is not within this world, but is moving in the transcendental realm. If I commit an offense, it will be anti-devotional. For this reason, I am bowing down to him from a distance. Only a suddha bhakta can understand his wonderful behavior. An ordinary novice of bhajana will be unable to understand, so he should not go there. Babaji Maharaja is always surcharged with krsna-prema!”
There was a person from Navadvipa-dhama who used to come to Babaji Maharaja. One day, he thought, “I have the desire to obtain the Supreme Lord. How can I get Bhagavan?” He was only murmuring, speaking to himself, so Babaji Maharaja did not reply. This person came back repeatedly to see Babaji Maharaja. Finally, one day, he approached Maharaja directly.
“What do you want?” Babaji Maharaja asked him.
“I want to see Bhagavan,” the man said.
Babaji Maharaja replied with only one word: “Weep!”
We might supply so much scriptural evidence to try to explain, in so many ways, how to obtain the Supreme Lord, but what did Vamsi dasa Babaji Maharaja say? “Weep for Him!” If you can weep for Him, then you can get Him. If there is want for Him, then He will come. We are uttering His Names, but we do not want Him. So, we are uttering the Names of Krsna—“hare krsna, hare krsna, krsna krsna, hare hare, krsna rama, hare rama, rama rama, hare hare”—and Krsna appears before us. He says to us, “Come along!”
We say to Him, “No, I cannot go now. Right now I require a million dollars to save my business. I have my children. I have just bought a building. I cannot go now.”
“So, why have you called Me?” Krsna asks.
“I have called you to give me a million dollars,” we reply. “Remove my difficulties. I do not have time to go now.”
From where are we uttering the Name? Not from the heart! We are chanting, “hare krsna” but, if Krsna were to come, we would be unable to go.
A certain Svamiji gave an illustration. It is an illustration involving the ordinary day-to-day life of a householder but, nonetheless, there is something very impressive about this illustration. In a town in Bengal, there was a man who worked in an office. He lived with his wife and two children. One of the children was only three or four months old and the other was seven years old. One day, the man told his wife, “You will have to prepare breakfast early today because I have to go into the office early. After I eat, I shall leave right away.” When the wife went to cook, she first put the baby on the bed and then went into the kitchen. But, whenever she would enter the kitchen, the child would cry. She thought, “With the child in my lap, how will I be able to cook? It is very difficult.” She was thinking what she should do. Then she thought of a way she could manage. She called the seven-year-old child.
“Darling, come here!” she called. “Do you know that red toy in the shop?”
“Yes, I know it,” the child answered.
“Go and buy that toy, but be sure that it makes a nice jingling sound.”
The child took some money and went off to buy the toy. He brought it home and gave it to the mother. The mother laid the baby down on the bed and hung the red-colored toy with the jingling sound above him, at the end of a rope. The baby saw the toy and immediately started to play with it, hitting it from side to side. The child was most delighted as he continued to slap the toy and hear the jingling sound. For one hour he played like that, and the mother went to do her cooking. After that, the child started to feel hungry. For the entire time that the child was playing, he did not remember his mother. But, now that he felt hungry, he thought, “Oh, where is my mother?” But his mother did not come. Then, he started crying, signifying, “I am hungry! Come!” He could not speak, so he beckoned his mother by crying. “Come to me and suckle me! I am hungry!” His mother, however, was busy cooking. “No,” she thought, “let the child cry.”
After some time, the child stopped crying and went back to playing with the toy—jingle, jingle, jingle. After playing like that for a while, the pangs of hunger returned. His hunger increased and increased and he became more and more unhappy. He began to cry for his mother even more loudly than before.
His mother heard the crying of the baby, but thought that she should first finish her cooking.
Finally, the hunger became unbearable for the child. The child thought, “I don’t want toys!” All he could think about was his mother.
His crying became louder and louder until he was screaming. He started to throw his arms about and kick his legs, in a tantrum.
Then the mother thought, “Oh, I cannot stay away any longer!” The mother ran toward the child, embraced him and suckled him.
Like this, the Supreme Lord has given us toys—the toy of a wife or husband, toys of children, toys of buildings, toys of radios, toys of videos, toys of computers. Seeing this, Krsna thinks, “They are absorbed in their toys! I have no worries. I am engaged in My pastimes in the transcendental realm. They do not want this. They want those things instead. Here, take this computer! Take that video! Take this! Take that!”
Upon the awakening of his real self (atma), a man feels the want of the sweetest affection of the Supreme Lord. He cries, “Oh Supreme Lord! In this world, nothing gives me happiness. Everything is temporary. Everyone is selfish. You are my most beloved! Where are You? I have forgotten You! Come! Come! I am in a furnace! Come! Come!” Weeping, he calls, but Krsna does not come. “I am engaged in My pastimes,” Krsna says. For some time, the man then becomes absorbed in the affairs of his family and relatives, and forgets Krsna. Time passes and he cries again, “Where is My beloved Supreme Lord? Where is He?” Crying, crying. But, the Supreme Lord still does not come. Ultimately, he shouts, “I do not want a house! I do not want anything! Nobody is mine—You are mine! Oh beloved Supreme Lord! Come! Come! Come!” He cries and weeps, tossing his arms and legs about. Then Krsna cries, “Oh!” and comes to him. This sort of perturbation of the heart, extreme eagerness for getting Bhagavan, must be there.
Vamsi dasa Babaji Maharaja said only one word: “Weep!” But that single word has great significance. When we associate with the suddha bhakta who is crying for Krsna, then the eternal nature of atma will be awakened. You have love for God. Love is there in your soul. It exists, but it is presently enveloped by the external potency of the Supreme Lord and you have become averse to Sri Krsna. Passing through different species, our minds have become enveloped by so many evil desires…