Honoring Srila Jagannatha dasa Babaji Disappearance Day

Honoring Srila Jagannatha dasa Babaji
compiled by; The Prabhupada Connection

Srila Jagannatha dasa Babaji Maharaja was respected by all the Vaisnava community and was thus known as Vaisnava Sarvabhauma, or chief amongst the Vaisnavas.

Srila Jagannatha dasa Babaji Maharaja (1776–1894) spent many years in Vrindavan where he became famous as a perfect devotee, though more than this is not known of his early years and pastimes. What we do know, however, is that he was particularly enthusiastic in serving the Lord’s devotees and performing kirtan. In later life his servant, Bihari Lal, used to carry him on his shoulders in a basket, though when he would hear a kirtan or himself be engaged in kirtan, his body would extend itself out of the basket like a beautiful banyan tree and he would loudly shout, “Nitai ki nam eneche re! Nitai, ki nam diteche re!” “O Lord Nityananda, what a wonderful name you have brought! O Nitai, what a wonderful name you have given!”

Srila Jagannatha dasa Babaji Maharaj was such a great devotee that the famous Bhaktivinoda Thakura (Kedarnath Datta) called him the commanding chief of the devotees. When Srila Bhaktivinoda was looking for the actual place where Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s birthplace was, he asked Jagannatha dasa Babaji Maharaja to go with him. During the many changes in the course of flow of the mighty Ganges River, some parts of the sacred dhama of Navadwipa (nine islands) had changed. The Ganges had revealed old and lost places and reclaimed new ones. To his surprise Bhaktivinoda Thakura discovered that the modern day city called Navadwipa was not more than 100 years old and therefore wasn’t the Navadwipa of Sri Caitanya. Some said the birth site was on a place now in the Ganges, while some said it was in the city of Navadwipa. Dissatisfied, Bhaktivinoda pushed on looking. He found some antiquarian maps and government records, and authentic books written at the time of Lord Caitanya, all of which agreed that Mayapur Navadwipa Dhama is situated on the east bank of the Ganges. To Bhaktivinoda’s amazement he found several large mounds covered with sacred Tulasi plants on land owned by Mohammedans. It was shrouded with local rumours of strange lights and sounds, so the owner, believing it to be haunted, would not go there. Many old babajis of the time, however, believed this to be the actual birthplace of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Convinced it was true, Bhaktivinoda, inspired by Jagannatha dasa Babaji, went there to the spot, with Jagannatha dasa Babaji being carried in his basket.

Due to his old age, Srila Jagannatha dasa Babaji couldn’t open his eyes, but had to forcibly open them with his fingers, what to speak of walk. If he went anywhere he was carried in his basket by Bihari Lal, but upon arriving at the transcendental site, he leapt out of the basket and danced in ecstasy shouting, “Haribol!” and “Gauranga!”, definitely establishing it to be the very same birthplace of Lord Caitanya.

gaurāvirbhāva-bhūmes tvaṁ
nirdeṣṭā saj-jana-priyaḥ
vaiṣṇava-sārvabhaumaḥ
ṣrī-jagannāthāya te namaḥ

“I offer my respectful obeisances unto Sri Jagannatha dasa Babaji Maharaja, who is respected by the entire Vaisnava community and who discovered the place where Lord Caitanya appeared.”

(Srila Jagannatha Pranati)

Click here to listen to Srila Prabhupada sing the above pranam mantra (mp3).

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