Yesterday I had to travel to the city and I came back later than usual, by the time I got to sit down and type this blog entry my head had simply shut down, as if it ran out of batteries, so I resume this the first thing in the morning.
Before leaving the house yesterday I prepared all the materials about Srila Gaurakishora Dasa Babaji I could lay my hands on and I read about half of it, thus Gaurakishora’s pastimes were playing in my mind all the way through, until the hustle and bustle of the city took over. When I was back, finally, I felt drained of any spiritual enthusiasm and that was another reason I didn’t have the presence of mind to type this blog when it was due.
But here I am, ready to restore myself and record some of my thoughts on his amazing life.
First, let’s start with the sources – they are mostly anonymous, in a sense that “I heard it from the authorities such as my guru or senior devotees.” There’s, however, English translation of the official Gaudiya Math biography compiled by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati’s disciples in 1934 that was based on the series of articles written under the guidance of Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati himself, those were published in 1919.
Other sources of stories and facts from Gaurakishora’s life that are not mentioned in the official version could be memories of Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati that didn’t make it to the publisher or maybe they were handed down by other people who knew Gaurakishora. They appear to be safe and reliable but we should be aware of the split in the Gaudiya Vaishnava community that was caused, let’s face it, by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati relentless preaching effort.
One way or another the “traditional” babaji communities in both Vrindavana and Mayapur felt as being under fire and they stroke back. Bhaktisiddhanta’s own brother, Lalita Prasad, split, too, and they left in transcendental acrimony, not to be comprehended by mere mortals like us but up to this day there are rumors based on Lalita Prasad’s evidence that Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati wasn’t properly initiated by Gaurakishora Dasa Babaji. That’s a whole another controversy that modern day cyber warriors are trying to flame, mostly to justify their leaving the shelter of Srila Prabhupada and getting initiated at Radha Kunda, I suppose.
Short clearance on the names – Srila Prabhupada means AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, not Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati, not the way Gaudiya Math followers use this title. They have their rights, we have our own.
Full names of our acharyas are meant to inspire respect and devotion and so should not be shortened but they often break the flow of the story and so occasionally, as little as possible, I feel I have no better way than shorten them up to one word. Terribly sorry, no disrespect meant in any way. Maybe one day I will finally develop a different value system to judge my posts where I could dismiss all the bla bla bla and only count Krishna’s names in between, the system Srila Bhaktisiddhanta used when his disciples asked him to comment on their writings, but until that day comes I still think that the story should be readable and thoughts should not be broken, hence the name shortening, only when I feel it’s absolutely necessary.
Anyway, the babaji community has their own “rights” on Gaurakishora Dasa Babaji, he was one of them in every respect. If their modern day followers bring up some facts missed by Gaudiya Math they could be tainted with spite stemming from that hundred year old split but it seems that in this particular case this is not an issue. I should also mention that Navadwipa had it’s own set of babajis and traditional goswamis who had no love for Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati and, at one point, even conspired to have him assassinated.
Some of them laid their claims to Srila Gaurakishora Dasa Babajii’s body after he passed away and there’s a story of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati chasing them away with a stick. In another rendition he reminded them that any brahmana who had sex with a prostitute in the past twenty four hours should be considered unclean so those contaminated should step away. When they complied no one was left to argue any further. Modern day followers of those folks dispute this story, of course, and they also claim to have found the evidence that Gaurakishora Dasa Babaji had four disciples, including a married couple, but Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati was not on the list.
I’m saying that there’s lots of stuff floating around that an objective researcher should give some weight. We are not objective, however, we are extremely partisan. Objectivity will not grant us the mercy of our acharyas and it will not grant us devotion to Krishna, partisanship will. Let’s also keep in mind that, in the end, partisanship will also clear up all our misgivings and doubts and let us see the events as they actually happened, without any controversies left. Objectivists hope they will reach that same vision by careful research, we will reach that vision by being steady in our devotion to the words of our gurus. As a bonus we will also develop love of God, what will they develop?
Also I should mention that the introduction to the official biography gave my mind a couple of reasons to think some parts of it were written as a snub to ISKCON devotees. Shame on my devious mind, it is clear from the site’s mission statement that they want to focus only on positive sides of Gaudiya Vaishnava legacy. Maybe the execution is not perfect yet, maybe it’s just my mind searching for conflicts where there aren’t any. Either way, what I’m trying to say is that there still exists a great deal of animosity between various branches of Lord Chaitanya’s tree. Some of it might be unjustified but we should always be aware of the potential contamination when we do any cross-readings, because much of the fighting has very solid reasons behind it.
I don’t believe in “kumbalaya”, all of us holding hands and singing. As much as it was Lord Chaitanya’s goal we should also be aware that there’s no equality in this world. Some people make more mistakes in their spiritual lives due to our different grades of material contamination and until we reach the stage of paramahamsas, the stage of not seeing any material inequalities at all, we shouldn’t try and imitate it.
Basically, we shouldn’t be chanting and glorifying the Holy Names or the memories of our acharyas, as is in this case, in a company of people who refuse to recognize their offences, we could do so only on the occasions when the sincere desire to purify ourselves is clear in the hearts of all participants. Anyone joining the kirtan with the attitude of moral and spiritual superiority is just wasting everybody’s time, such chanting is only for show, there’s no unity in pride, it won’t become a sankirthana, translated as either complete or as congregational chanting.
Perhaps we should take lessons on this from the life Srila Gaurakishora Dasa Babaji himself who was often accompanied by less than honest, wannabe devotees pretending to be his close associates. He didn’t chase them away, he was mostly indifferent to their presence and didn’t display any enthusiasm for their association.
And just as I turned to the actual life of Gaurakishora Dasa Babaji I run our of space for my one day contributions. I will continue later on today, as this article was me paying my debt for the previous day.