The Disappearance Day of Jagannatha Dasa Babaji is observed on March 5th.
gauravirbhava-bhumes tvam nirdeshta bhagavat-priyah
vaishnava-sarvabhauma shri-jagannathaya te namah
I offer my obeisances to you, Jagannath. Because you were the foremost Vaishnava of your time, you received the title Vaishnava Sarvabhauma. You are very dear to the Lord and through your divine vision designated the place where Mahaprabhu appeared in this world.
Jagannath Das's position in the disciplic succession
Throughout the world, any devotee who comes in the disciplic succession following Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur daily remembers Sri Jagannath Das Babaji Maharaj and prays for his mercy.
vishvanatha bhakta satha, baladeva Jagannath
tanra priya bhakativinoda
maha-bhagavata vara, shri-gaura-kishora-vara
hari-bhajanete yanra moda
shri-varshabhanavi-vara, sada sevya-seva-para
tanra dayita-dasa nama
[I offer respects to] Vishvanath along with his devotees, to Baladeva and to Jagannath, whose dear disciple is Bhaktivinoda. Sri Gaura Kishora Das, the great devotee, whose great pleasure is the worship of the Lord. Radharani is the daughter of Vrishabhanu and is always fixed in service to her Lord. I am the servant of him who is dear to her.
The disciplic succession has also been written in Sanskrit. Jagannath is mentioned there in the following way:
vaishnava-sarvabhaumah shri-Jagannath-prabhus tatha
shri-mayapura-dhamnas tu nirdeshta sajjana-priyah
Next in the line is Jagannath Prabhu, known as Vaishnava Sarvabhauma. Very dear to the saintly, he designated the dham of Sri Mayapur.
There were four dark periods in the Gaudiya sampradaya: (1) the period preceding the appearance of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu; (2) the period which followed the disappearance of the Six Goswamis; (3) after the disappearance of Srinivas Acharya, Narottama Das Thakur, Shyamananda, and Rasikananda Deva Goswami; and (4) the period following the disappearance of Vishvanath Chakravarti Thakur and Baladeva Vidyabhushana.
One should not think that the Madhva-Gaudiya disciplic succession following in the spirit of Rupa Goswami has been disrupted on account of these periods of darkness. Sometimes spiritual masters in the disciplic succession are individual performers of solitary bhajana (viviktanandi), and sometimes preachers who delight in increasing the size of the congregation. It may appear to the untrained eye that one is a weaker or stronger acharya by measuring his potency in terms of the number of disciples he makes, but this is not an appropriate measuring stick.
Baladeva Vidyabhushana's disciple was Uddhava Das or Uddhara Das. He had a disciple also named Uddhava Das, who had a student named Madhusudana Das. This Madhusudana Das was famed throughout the Vaishnava world as the Siddha Babaji from Surya Kund. Madhusudana Das gave the paramahamsa-vesha (babaji initiation) to Jagannath Das Babaji. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur has described his disciplic succession as follows: "Sri Uddhava Das or Uddhara Das was the follower of the author of the Govinda-bhashya, Baladeva Vidyabhushana. He was followed by Uddhava Das, Madhusudana Das and Jagannath Das Babaji, all of whom adopted the lifestyle of the paramahamsa, preaching the path of pure devotion by their example. In the Gaudiya Vaishnava sampradaya, they are the objects of the greatest faith and reverence."
From this statement of Srila Prabhupada, we learn that all these bhajananandis not only practiced the anchorite life of solitary worship, but engaged in preaching activities as well, serving as acharyas.
Jagannath Das's life in Vrindavan
Jagannath Das was born in a respectable family in Tangail district in what is today Bangla Desh, in around 1780 AD. According to some people he was born in Tarias village in Pabna district in a family of Varendra-kayasthas. The names of his parents are unknown.
After taking the paramahamsya-vesha, Jagannath Das Babaji set the exemplary standard of intense bhajana in Nabadwip and Vrindavan, so much so that he was accepted by all the bhajananandi Vaishnavas as their leader. He remained in this world for more than a century and a half.
While Jagannath Das was engaged in bhajana in Vraja, a certain professional speaker on the Bhagavat from Katwa decided to move to Vrindavan to make his living, looking for gold and glory. Even though he gave an excellent discourse on the Bhagavat, the renounced Vaishnavas showed no enthusiasm to come to listen to him. When he inquired into the reasons for this, Jagannath and the other Vaishnavas told him any discourse on the Bhagavat by someone who has other goals in mind cannot be called a true explanation of the Bhagavat. He is unable to have a beneficial effect on anyone, not even himself. Indeed, such discourses have a negative effect on the consciousness of the listener. They advised the professional speaker to give up the business of giving Bhagavat discourses as a means of making his living. By the grace of the Vaishnavas led by Jagannath Das, this money-minded Vaishnava was completely transformed and he gave up his false pride in his learning and high birth. He became a great devotee with such humility that he paid prostrated obeisances to every creature living in the holy dham.
Babaji Maharaj was himself a dedicated and intense bhajananandi, but he did not believe that disciples who were unqualified and filled with material desires should be allowed act in ways detrimental to service to Vishnu and the Vaishnavas on the pretext of engaging in the service of the Holy Name. He engaged his less qualified disciples who had taken the renounced order in working the garden next to his cottage, so that he could offer vegetables to the Deity and the Vaishnavas. If the senses are not engaged in the service of Vishnu and the Vaishnavas, then it is impossible to experience the power of the Holy Name and one does not develop the qualifications necessary to chant properly. When the senses and sense objects of an individual are engaged in relation to the body and bodily relations, then naturally attachment arises for these. When one is fixed in the consciousness that one's self and one's senses belong to the Lord, and then engages his senses in the service of the devotees and the Lord, then one's feelings of love and possessiveness for him increase.
Jagannath Das meets Bhaktivinoda Thakur
Jagannath Das Babaji met Bhaktivinoda Thakur for the first time in 1880 AD. Their second meeting took place in the village of Amalajoria in Burdwan district in 1891. On this occasion, they spent the entire night (it was Ekadasi) discussing Krishna-katha. Jagannath Das Baba encouraged Bhaktivinoda Thakur to preach Gaura's name and abode.
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur gave an account of this eventful night in his Sajjana-toshani magazine as follows: "After spending the whole night in the Ekadasi vigil, at eight in the morning, people from the entire village gathered together to go on the nagara-sankirtan through its streets. Placing the venerable Jagannath Das Babaji Maharajji at the head of the group, they made their way to the Prapannashrama. It is impossible to describe Babaji Maharaj's ecstatic transformations during this kirtan. Though he is over a hundred years old, he dances like a lion, sometimes singing out the couplet,
nitai ki nama eneche re
nama eneche namer hate,
shraddhara mule nama diteche re
‘What a divine name Nitai has brought! He has brought the name to the marketplace of the Name and is selling it for the price of faith!'
"As he sang, he cried and fell to the ground in ecstasy. I then saw something transpire which I had never seen before. All those who were present were affected by his mood: their eyes filled with tears and their hairs stood on end, and even though they could barely sing, they remained absorbed in the kirtan and danced wildly."
In his autobiography, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur has also written: "In 1892, Jagannath Das Babaji and many other Vaishnavas participated in the sankirtan festival in Godruma and then in Sri Mayapur. In the month of Magh in 1299 (Bengali), Babaji Maharaj came from Kuliya-Nabadwip with his associates to Bhaktivinoda Thakur's residence, Surabhikuïja, in Godrumadvipa. A great sankirtan festival was held there on Wednesday, the 27th of Magh."
Babaji Maharaj designates Mahaprabhu's birth site
A physically powerful Vrajavasi named Vihari Das Babaji was Jagannath Das Babaji Maharaj's personal servant. He used to place Babaji Maharaj in a large wicker basket and carry him from place to place. Even though Babaji Maharaj was very aged, his sight was still good. His eyelids drooped, however, covering his eyes, and he had to lift them in order to see. It is said that Vihari Dasji carried Babaji Maharaj in the wicker basket as far as the birthplace of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Upon arrival, Babaji Maharaj got out of the basket and began to dance madly, singing the names Jaya Sachinandana Gaura-Hari. Everyone was amazed to see the old babaji dance in this way. Through his divine vision, Babaji Maharaj pointed out the site of Mahaprabhu's birth and then later the site of the breaking of the mridanga by the Qazi. This place is now known as Khola-bhangara Òanga and is, of course, the same as Srivasa Angan..
In Sajjana-toshani, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur has described this event as follows: "At eleven o'clock in the morning on Thursday, the 20th of Phalguna in 1299 Bangabda (1892 AD), devotees filled three boats on the west bank of the Ganges in Nabadwip town. The great devotee Jagannath Das Babaji Maharaj was carried in a palanquin. By the time the party reached Mayapur it was impossible to count the number of people who had gathered. Dvarika Babu and a party of devotees carrying colorful flags was waiting for the renounced Vaishnavas with a joyous kirtan at Mahaprabhu's Janma-sthana. When all these devotees had gathered in the raised area where Mahaprabhu was born and started to dance, it was such a wondrous sight as had likely not been seen in Nabadwip-dham in four hundred years. Later the devotees sat down and after discussing the matter, decided that deity service should be established both at the birthplace and at Srivasa Angan. Jagannath Das Babaji Mahashaya proposed that Jagannath and Sachi Devi should be worshiped in one building and Mahaprabhu with Lakshmi Devi and Vishnupriya standing on his either side in another. On the other hand, deities of the Pancha Tattva should be consecrated in Srivasa Angan."
In those days, there was a large kadamba tree at the Janmasthana in Mayapur. Babaji Maharaj came and danced under this tree. Sri Gaura Kishora Das Babaji used to sit under that tree chanting the Holy Name in deep trance. Jagannath Das Babaji had stayed a long time in a place named Bhajana-kutira in Koladvipa. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur had a concrete veranda built for this cottage. Babaji Maharaj's samadhi tomb is situated there. Babaji Maharaj used to visit Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur in his house, Bhakti Bhavana, in Ram Bag in Calcutta. There he met Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur upon whom he showered unlimited affection. When he learned that Saraswati Thakur had achieved incomparable expertise in astrology, he asked him to make an almanac based on the Vaishnava calendar. Later, the Chaitanya Math began publishing the Nabadwip-Païjika in accordance with Babaji Maharaj's wishes.
Babaji Maharaj's disappearance
When approaching the end of his sojourn in this world, Babaji Maharaj became hunched and tiny looking. Nevertheless, when he danced in kirtan, he would look six feet tall, a magnificent specimen of humanity, with long arms reaching down to his knees. He would sometimes jump five or six feet into the air when absorbed in the ecstatic mood of kirtan.
Jagannath Das's disappearance took place on the Shukla-pratipad of the month of Phalguna, Monday, February 25, 1895. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur wrote the following about this in Sajjana-toshani (22,2): "At ten o'clock in the morning, in the Bhajana-kutira in Koladvipa in Nabadwip town, the old general of the Vaishnavas went to his eternal abode. The Siddha Babaji went to the spiritual world, but left this world in darkness. We will no longer be able to see his ecstatic dancing in kirtan with these mundane eyes. May he bestow his blessings on us from his place in the eternal home."
Rasavihari Goswami of Puruniya in Burdwan district was Jagannath Das's initiated disciple. Rasavihari Goswami initiated the independent King of Tripura, Raja Ishanacandra Manikya Bahadura. Rasavihari Goswami's deity, Rasaviharijiu, is worshiped to this day in the Raja's palace.
rupanuganam pravaram sudantam
vande jagannatha-vibhum varenyam
I venerate great Jagannath, the best of the Vaishnavas, the foremost of the followers of Srila Rupa Goswami, the king of Gauranga's dear devotees, who takes pleasure in remembering Radhika and Madhava.
vande jagannatha-vibhum varenyam
I venerate great Jagannath, the best of the Vaishnavas, who was the dearest associate of the most merciful resident of Surya Kund, Sri Madhusudana Das Babaji.
vande Jagannath-vibhum varenyam
I venerate great Jagannath, the best of the Vaishnavas, who stood out from the rest of the devotees of Sri Dham Vrindavan just like the moon amongst the stars. He was the protector of the association of Vaishnavas who are uniquely dedicated to the chanting of the Holy Name.
vande Jagannath-vibhum varenyam
I venerate great Jagannath, the best of the Vaishnavas, aglow with devotion to Hari combined with knowledge and renunciation, a veritable thunderbolt to those who are wicked and pretenders and ever affectionate to the faithful.
samprerito gaura-sudhamshuna yash
cakre hi taj-janma-griha-prakasham
devair nutam vaishnava-sarvabhaumam
vande Jagannath-vibhum varenyam
I venerate great Jagannath, the best of the Vaishnavas, who was directed by Gauranga himself to point out the place where he appeared on this earth. He is worshiped by even the gods as the sovereign of the Vaishnavas on this earth.
saïcarya sarvam nija-shakti-rashim
yo bhakti-purne ca vinoda-deve
tene jagatyam hari-nama-vanyam
vande Jagannath-vibhum varenyam
I venerate great Jagannath, the best of the Vaishnavas, who infused the devoted Bhaktivinoda Thakur with all of his own potency, and through him unleashed the flood of Harinama throughout the universe.
vande Jagannath-vibhum varenyam
I venerate great Jagannath, the best of the Vaishnavas, always immersed in the ocean of sacred rapture and engaged in forcefully preaching the Holy Names and the Lord's abode. He danced ecstatically in the Yoga-pitha at Mayapur.
gaura-prakashena ca moda-yuktam
vande Jagannath-vibhum varenyam
I venerate great Jagannath, the best of the Vaishnavas, who is totally attached to the Holy Dhama of Mayapur, who is joyful from the vision of Gauranga, whose eyes flow with tears from the chanting of the Holy Names.
he deva he vaishnava-sarvabhauma
vande muhur bhaktivinoda-dharam
O Lord! O sovereign of the Vaishnavas! Through your devotion you have overcome even the heavens. I constantly venerate the most pious line of Bhaktivinoda Thakur which has developed from your body and works.
For the benefit of those devotees who wish to know more, we include here the contents of an article by His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Promode Puri Goswami, the chairman of the editorial board of Chaitanya-vani magazine, which summarizes some important information about Vaishnava Sarvabhauma Jagannath Das Babaji's life found in the book Shri-Saraswati-Jayashri, published by the Bagh Bazar Gaudiya Math in 1948.
Siddha Jagannath Das Babaji was devoted to the Mahamantra composed of sixteen words and thirty-two syllables. He never tolerated the chanting of any new-fangled mantra produced by someone's imagination to cross his lips, especially as these mantras oppose the doctrines of the Six Goswamis and are full of conflicting sentiments, thus leading to offenses.
The most venerable Babaji Maharaj would not allow anyone to take his photograph. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur once made arrangements to have his photo taken at his Maniktola home in Calcutta, known as Bhakti Bhavan.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur had the desire to reinstitute the Vishva-Vaishnava-raja-sabha or World Vaishnava Association on the occasion of Vishnupriya Devi's appearance day. This took place in the midst of a kirtan at the Ultadanga matha, also known as the Bhaktivinoda Asana, on Feb. 5, 1919. Srila Prabhupada explained the history of the Vishva-Vaishnava-Raja sabha. The following article appeared in Amrita Bazar Patrika, a Calcutta English-language daily, on the following 10th of February:
"On Wednesday last (5th instant) was celebrated with great eclat the Advent Ceremony of Sree Sree Visnupriya Devi at the same Asana (1 Ultadanga Junction Road). The occasion was solemnised by the reinstitution of Sree Viswa-Vaishnava-Raj asabha as inaugurated by no less a Personage than Sree Jeeva Goswami Himself eleven years after the passing of Sree Sree Mahaprabhu and as given a fresh impetus by Sree Bhaktivinod Thakur 33 years ago."
A full historical account of the Vishva-Vaishnava-Rajasabha was given in Sajjana-toshani, vol. 21, no. 9.
Srila Prabhupada's Svapna-samadhi
After the disappearance of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur and Srila Gaura Kishora Das Babaji Maharaj, the grief-stricken Srila Prabhupada stayed in Mayapur in the place called Vraja-pattana (now a part of the Chaitanya Math grounds). He wondered, "How can I fulfill the desires of my gurus by preaching the pure doctrine of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu throughout the world. Where will I find the power to do so? I have no followers to help me, no money to speak of, I have no great learning by which I can enchant the mundane. In short, I have no assets of any kind which qualify me to perform this difficult task. It seems that I will not be able to fulfill the desires of my gurus."
Srila Prabhupada went into an apparent state of deep depression, thinking that it would be impossible for him to continue the preaching mission. His work on writing a commentary on Rupa Goswami's Upadeshamrita came to a halt after only eight verses.
One night, however, Prabhupada had a dream-like vision in which he saw all the members of the Pancha Tattva, being led by Mahaprabhu in sankirtan, dancing toward his own birthplace at the Yoga-pitha in Mayapur, approaching the Natamandira from the east. They were followed by the Six Goswamis and by Vaishnava Sarvabhauma Jagannath Das Babaji, Bhaktivinoda Thakur, Gaura Kishora Das Babaji and other members of the disciplic succession, all appearing in effulgent, divine forms. They consoled Prabhupada, saying, "Why are you worrying? Get the task of preaching pure devotion underway. Preach Mahaprabhu's message everywhere: spread service to Gaura-dham (Mahaprabhu's abode), Gaura-nama (his name), and Gaura-kama (his desire or work). All of us are at the ready to support you at every turn. We will help you at every moment in your efforts to preach pure devotional service. Countless people, unlimited wealth and extraordinary scholarship are all standing in wait for you to call for them. Whenever you need anything at all, it will come to you to be engaged in the service of the preaching mission. Simply go forward to preach the message of love of God as given by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, giving it your total effort. No worldly force will be able to disrupt this effort. We are with you always."
The following morning, Srila Prabhupada came and told Paramananda Prabhu and some other faithful followers about his dream. From that day onward, he displayed an enthusiasm without limit for the worldwide preaching of Mahaprabhu's message. He completed his Anuvritti of the Upadeshamrita, and started making great efforts to publish books on bhakti. These efforts have borne fruit inasmuch as those seeking service to the divine throughout India have been washed up in the flood of pure devotional preaching he started. The flood has even begun to inundate the West. It thus seems to me that Srila Prabhupada is constantly repeating Mahaprabhu's instructions to all of us:
yare dekho tare kaho krishna upadesha
amara ajïaya guru haïa taro ei desha
ihate na badhibe vishaya taranga
punarapi ei thaïi pabe mora sanga
Instruct whomever you see in the religion of Krishna. Become a spiritual master on my order and deliver everyone in this land. Do this and you will never again be entangled in the waves of materialistic life. Indeed, you will have my company again, here in this very place."
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 2.7.128-9)