“What one attains by travelling to all the holy places is attained just by remembering the transcendental abode of Navadvipa”
– Navadvipa Dham Mahatmya
Srila Jagannatha Das Babaji,was born around the year 1750 AD ,at the remote village of Tangail, in the district of Mymensingh (situated in Bangladesh).Srila Jagannatha Das Babaji Maharaja, was the most advanced Rasika devotee of his times in all of Vrindavana, Navadvipa and Jagannatha puri.He lived for about 150 years and was a disciple in the line of Srila Visvanatha Chakravarti Thakura and Baladeva Vidyabhusana. He used to initially reside at Surya Kunda in Vrindavana, where he used to perform his Bhajana, but towards the end of his manifested pastimes, he shifted to Navadvipa dham. He was famed as Siddha Baba (perfectly realized soul) and used to chant for days altogether ,going without food, water or sleep.In the pastimes of Sri Krishna, Jagannatha Das Babaji eternally serves as Rasika Manjari.
His prominent disciples were Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Sri Bihari das Babaji, Sri Bhagavata Das Babaji, Sri Ramdas Babaji, Sri Nityananda Das babaji, Sri Hare Krishna das Babaji, Sri Ramhari Das Babaji to mention some. By the initiative of Bihari das ,the residents of Surya Kunda constructed a permanent room for Siddha baba at that place.The deities that are presently being worshipped at Gopal Bagh in Vrindavana (renowned as ‘Sonar Gauranga’), are actually the worshipable deities of Srila Jagannatha Das Babaji, who had originally brought them from the Sonarundi village of Bengal (a place about 15 kms from Katwa).The six armed deity (sadbhuja) of Lord Caitanya, that is presently being worshipped at Nidhuvana (in Vrindavana), was also once worshipped by Jagannatha das Babaji. Towards the end of his manifested pastimes, Siddha baba, had become bent due to old age, and could hardly keep his eyelids open.However ,with the assistance of his disciples ,he used to daily offer Tulasi leaves unto the Saligrama Sila.Due to his advanced age, he could not see or walk and had to be hence carried within a basket by his disciple Bihari Das ,from one place to the other. Yet inspite of severe physical challenges, he would dance in ecstasy on hearing sankirtana.
Some of his Pastimes:
There are innumerable pastimes of Siddha baba that ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ would have loved to describe. But keeping in mind the length of this article, we are narrating only a few of them below . At the age of 115 years, Srila Jagannatha Das babaji ordered his servant Bihari das, to carry him to Navadvipa. Taking the instructions of his guru to his heart, Bihari put Sri Jagannatha Das inside a basket and lifted him upon his head. While lifting Babaji, he could feel his heavy weight, but once Baba was inside, Bihari felt as if he were just carrying a towel. This was perhaps a manifestation of Baba’s mystic powers.
After traveling day and night they reached Navadvipa on the 9th day. On their way they had to cross over the forests of Bhagalpur. While traversing through these forests, Bihari encountered a tiger. Sensing imminent danger, Bihari started retreating. Just then Babaji, called out from his basket and enquired about what had happened. On hearing that there was a tiger standing in their way, he assured Bihari that those were not ordinary creatures but were instead the attendants of Mahaprabhu.He further explained that those tigers had come over to ensure that Babaji and Bihari could pass safely through the jungle. His words proved to be true.Bihari resumed his journey, while the tigers followed them silently till the end of the forest.
Once while residing in Vrindavana , Srila Jagannatha das babaji, begged a sweeper to hand him over a bread to eat. The lady sweeper felt exceedingly ashamed and considered it an offense for such a low born to offer foodstuffs to such an elevated saint.However Babaji kept insisting. Finally, feeling compelled, the sweeper gave him the bread, which babaji subsequently relished. This created a commotion in Vrindavana and people started questioning as to why such an advanced transcendentalist, would want to accept food from a lowborn.On being asked, Srila Jagannatha Das babaji explained that before adventing to Vrindavana, Lord Krishna had ordered 88,000 saints to take birth in the various families of Vraja. Since their births, these saints have engaged themselves in serving this holy dham, with a keen desire to obtain the dust of the Lord’s lotus feet. This sweeper from whom Siddha baba, had accepted the cake was one such saint. Being engaged as a sweeper, she continuously served the dham, and had easy access to the sacred dust of this transcendental abode.She was no ordinary sweeper and hence deserved to be worshipped. The words of baba clarified all doubts and the people came to realize of his elevated stature.
Babaji Maharaja, was respectful towards all living entities, especially those who resided in the dhams. While in Navadvipa, a dog gave birth to five puppies, who roamed about near his bhajana Kutira (where he chanted the Lord’s holy names). When Siddha baba sat down to honour his prasadam, these puppies would also sit around his plate. Bihari would try to chase them away, but Babaji would rebuke him, expressing that he would not eat if those puppies also did not eat along with him. Babaji would then explain to Bihari that those were the fortunate dogs of the Dham (where the Supreme Lord manifests His eternal pastimes).
Once Srila Jagannatha Das Babaji Maharaja requested His servant Bihari Das to recite from Sri Caitanya Caritamrta. Bihari Das expressed his helplessness as he was an illiterate.Babaji then requested him to simply look at the stanzas and start reciting. Within a short time, Bihari was indeed able to recognize the letters and soon began narrating the enchanting pastimes of Lord Caitanya. Anything is possible for one who has received the mercy of Sri Guru and Gauranga.
Meeting with Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura:
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura came in association with his eternal Gurudeva, Srila Jagannatha Das babaji in the year of 1880, while visiting Sri Vrindavana dham. During this time, the thakura received many valuable instructions from babaji maharaja.Later when Siddha baba, visited the town of Burdwan, in Bengal, and performed his kirtana, Bhaktivinoda Thakura received his association for the second time. Srila Bhaktivinoda even constructed a small ashrama at the Amalajoda village in Burdwan, to help his Guru. During our project visit to katwa(Burdwan),‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ learnt that Srila Jagannatha das Babaji had performed his bhajana for several days ,residing at the Baradanga Dham. It was here at the holy site of Baradanga, that Srila Locana Das Thakura had once composed his ‘Caitanya Mangala’, under the instructions of his Guru,Sri Narahari Sarkara Thakura. The bhajana Kutira of Sri Narahari Sarkar is also present at Baradanga.We have covered these pastimes at length in our article entitled – ‘Baradanga (near Srikhanda,Katwa) – Where Srila Locana Das Thakura composed Sri Caitanya Mangala’ .
Whenever Srila Jagannatha Das Babaji visited Calcutta, he used to stay at Bhakti Bhavan, the residence of Srila Bhaktivinoda in Calcutta. Babaji once gifted a govardhan Sila to Bhaktivinoda Thakura who worshipped it with due diligence at Bhakti Bhavan.The thakura also received association of Babaji Maharaja at his residence in Navadvipa – Svananda Sukhada Kunja and Surabhi kunja. In the year 1890, Srila Bhaktivinoda constructed a concrete verandah surrounding the bhajana Kutira of Siddha Baba at Navadvipa, which helped Babaji Maharaja to meet and associate with his disciples.This Bhajana Kutira and the full samadhi of Srila Jagannatha Das babaji Maharaja is preserved till this day here at Navadvipa.
Discovery of Lord Caitanya’s birthplace :
One day while he was meditating upon the holy name,sitting on a rooftop in Navadvipa, he noticed a tall palm tree in Mayapura emitting remarkable effulgence. Later he intensively searched old manuscripts, authorized scriptures,old maps and held detailed discussions with elderly people of the area.He finally came to the conclusion that the place he had seen emitting effulgence the other day, was actually the long lost birthsite of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
Navadvipa madhye mayapura name sthan
Yathaya janmilen gauracandra bhagavan
In the center of navadvipa, there is a place called Mayapura. It was here at Mayapura that the Supreme Lord Gaurachandra took His birth.
To confirm his findings, Srila Bhaktivinoda requested his siksa guru, Srila Jagannatha Das babaji Maharaja, who was 142 years old at that time, to come and verify the site of Mahaprabhu’s appearance.Due to his advanced age, Babaji Maharaja could not see or walk and had to be carried within a basket by his servant from one place to another. When Srila Jagannatha das babaji was brought to Yogpeeth, he however leapt up from his basket, jumping high in the air and began to dance in an ecstasy of Gauranga prema, thereby confirming the findings of the Thakura.Srila Jagannatha Das Babaji began joyously singing – “Ei to Nimai Janmabhoomi !”(This is the Birthplace of Nimai !).Thereafter Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura re-established this ancient site of Yogpeeth in the year 1893 AD and constructed the suitable shrines that adorn the eternal home of the Supreme Lord. ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ has covered the life and pastimes of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura in a separate article entitled – ‘Remembering Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura at Svananda Sukhada Kunja & Surabhi Kunja, Navadvipa (Godrumadvipa)’.Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura used to refer Srila Jagannatha das Babaji Maharaja as Vaishnava Sarvabhauma, the “Commander-in-chief” of the Vaishnavas.
Gauravirbhava bhumes tvam nirdeshta saj-jana-priyah
vaishnava-sarvabhaumah sri-Jagannathaya te namah
I offer my respectful obeisances unto Jagannatha das Babaji, who is respected by the entire Vaishnava community and who discovered the place where Lord Caitanya had appeared.
Bhajana Kutira & Samadhi :
After serving at his Bhajana Kutira in Koladvipa (one of the nine islands of Navadvipa) for 32 continuous years ,Sri Jagannatha Das Babaji Maharaja wrapped up his earthly pastimes ,in the month of Phalguna (February-March) , 1897 AD. The remains of his bhajana Kutira and his full-body samadhi are preserved here at Koladvipa till this day. We worship the lotus feet of our spiritual master ,whose causeless mercy has empowered us ineligible fools ,to gain entrance and take up service in this transcendental abode of Navadvipa.We seek shelter of this holy land, and pray that its glories remain forever imprinted in our heart.‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ offers millions of obeisances and humbly prays to Sri Jagannatha Das Babaji Maharaja that we advance in our Krishna consciousness, and be able to serve Sri Guru & Vaishnavas, by our honest and sincere efforts. We seek his blessings and compassion , in successfully rendering this humble service of reciting the pastimes and revealing the pastime places of the Supreme Lord and His beloved associates.We shall consider ourselves greatly fortunate and our existence meaningful if Lord Gaurahari and our dear spiritual master are kindly pleased with our endeavours.
What to See:
- Srila Jagannatha Das Babaji’s samadhi
- Srila Jagannatha Das Babaji’s bhajana Kutira
- Srila Jagannatha Das Babaji’s worshipable Gaura Gopal and Giridhari deities
- The place, under bakula tree, where he used to perform his japa in the afternoon.
During the visit ,‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ had observed that the samadhi tomb and the large dancing hall of this temple were reconstructed with the help of funds from ‘Bhaktivedanta Swami Charity trust’.
How to Reach:
Srila Jagannatha Das Babaji’s bhajana kutira is located in Koladvipa (one of the nine islands constituting Navadvipa dham), an island located on the western side of the Ganges.This place is also renowned as ‘aparadha bhanjaner path’ (a place where offenses were excused) as it was here in this island that Lord Caitanya had once excused the offenses of Capala Gopala and Devananda Pandita, both of whom had offended Srivasa Thakura, His dear associate. Some of the ancient scriptures refer Koladvipa as Kuliya.
One travelling from kolkata is advised to board a Krishnanagar local train from the Sealdah station. On reaching Krishnanagar, one can book a toto (auto) to take him to the Krishnanagar Ghat. Arriving at the ghat, one can avail a ferry to reach Navadvipa. Reaching Navadvipa, one can book an autorickshaw to reach the bhajana Kutira of Jagannatha Das Babaji Maharaja.
Alternatively, one can board a train from the Howrah station and get down at the Navadvipa station itself. On reaching Navadvipa, one can book an autorickshaw to directly reach the bhajana Kutira of Siddha baba.
Accommodation – One can choose to avail the good facilities of Iskcon Mayapur where one can honour nice prasadam as well.Please make sure to book your rooms well in advance.
Nearest major airport – Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport (Kolkata)
Nearest major Railway station – Navadvipa
(Please note that we neither necessarily recommend these hotels/accommodation centers mentioned above nor do we guarantee that they will provide the required facilities/services to the visiting pilgrims. We are not in any way related to the governance of these hotels/accommodation centers. The visiting pilgrim is advised to choose an accommodation as per his own discretion)