Vrindavan, 2021.08.20 (Sakhicharan Das): Today is the disappearance day (tirobhav tithi) of Sri Sri 108 Siddha Manohar Das Babaji Maharaj of Govind Kund. His life was a remarkable celebration of intense vairagya coupled with jap and lila-smaran. The famous Siddha Mahatma Sri Sri 108 Kishori-Kishorananda Das Babaji (Tinkudi Baba) took shelter of him and was taught the process of bhajan by him. Both of them were great jewels in the Vaishnav Samaj of Vrindavan illuminating the path of pure raganuga bhajan by demonstrating it themselves in their thoughts, words, and deeds. I have put together a brief history of the life of Siddha Manohar Baba for the pleasure of the Vaisnavas while praying for his kripa so I can meet with success in my bhajan.
Siddha Manohar Das Babaji was born in Madhavpur in the district of Nadia in 1847 and was named Mahendra. His father was Sri Bholanath Adhikari and mother was Pyari Sundari. His mother died when he was six years old and his father died when he was thirteen.
When he was six years old he had a dream that a saint came and took him to a forest, then set the forest on fire on all sides. This dream awakened in him a distaste for material life. After the death of his father he took diksha from Sri Nandkishor Goswami, a decendent of Advaitacharya, and went to Nabadwip to study Sanskrit grammar, alankar, and nyay.
Siddha Manohar Das Babaji
He took bhek (Babaji vesh) from Sri Swaroop Das Babaji of Nabadwip and was given the name Manohar Das. While in Nabadwip he had the good fortune of enjoying the association of Siddha Chaitanya Das Babaji of Nabadwip and Siddha Bhagavan Das Babaji of Kalna.
In 1881, Manohar Das Babaji went to Vrindavan and for five years he studied bhakti scriptures under Prabhupad Sri Gopilal Goswami, the sevait of Sri Radharaman Temple. At that time he enjoyed the association of great siddha mahatmas like Balaram Das Babaji of Jharu Mandal, Jagdish Das Babaji of Kalidah, and Nityananda Das Babaji of Madanmohan Thaur.
Afterwards he practiced bhajan in solitude at Kusum Sarovar, Kamyavan, and Nandagaon. Once he went to do Braj Mandal parikrama with Siddha Ramakrishna Das Pandit Baba and some other mahatmas. Though he eventually selected a secluded spot for his place of bhajan, he was forced to leave the place out of fear of Muslim troublemakers. In 1893, after receiving an instruction in a dream, he went to Govind Kund to settle for good and live at the base of Giriraj. Siddha Ramakrishna Pandit lived in nearby Pucchari at the time, so often they would get together for Hari-katha. During this time, many Vaishnavs came to sit at his feet to learn Srimad Bhagavatam.
In 1915 Manohar Baba built a cave in Govind Kund in which he lived and performed his bhajan. He came out only in the evening for madhukari. He slept for only one or two hours per day. The rest of the time he spent doing jap and lila-smaran. It is said that he did no less than seven lakhs of jap daily (over 400 rounds of mahamantra jap per day). He avoided the company of people and spoke very little. He was very humble and bowed to all and never allowed anyone to touch his feet. He was so absorbed in his bhajan that he was mostly unaware of his body at all. Sadhus would sometimes suggest that he use a mosquito net at night, but he said, “mosquitoes don’t do any harm to us. They help us in bhajan by keeping away sleep.”
Once it became extremely cold at night in Braj with the temperatures nearing the freezing point. Baba used to wear only rags to cover his body. His body began to shiver and shake which created an obstacle to his bhajan. Getting angry with his body, he removed his clothing and jumped in the icy-cold waters of Govind Kund. A sadhu living nearby checked on Baba to find out what all the commotion was about. Baba replied, “The body was asking for more clothes. It’s always demanding something, it needed to be disciplined.” The sadhu told Baba that the cold is very severe and that he needed to use a blanket, but Baba said, “Vairagis who have renounced the world have no business using blankets.”
Manohar Das Babaji’s wholehearted and determined application to bhajan and his complete indifference to worldly affairs was profound and proverbial. Demonstrating intense vairagya and deep absorption in jap and lila-smaran he set an example, particularly for renounced sadhaks, of how bhajan is to be performed.
“Manohar Das Baba used to say that bhajan is not possible without the complete surrender at the feet of the Lord and total dependence upon Him. It is only in the state of utter dependence on Him that one enjoys the calmness of mind which is necessary for bhajan: A mind that is disturbed by various kinds of worldly anxiety is not fit for bhajan.”
He defined bhajan as: “A state in which the mind is constantly absorbed in meditation of the Lord and revolts at the thought of everything else as poison”.
He also said: “One must be firm in bhajan. To a man who practises bhajan steadfastly and with all his heart and soul, staking for it his life and everything else, obstacles begin to appear as illusory as the ‘horns of a hare.’ The Lord Himself makes the path of bhajan smooth for him. But this does not happen in a day; both perseverence and patience are necessary.”
He wrote two books. One pertaining to Krishna-lila titled vaidagdhi-vilaas, and a book about Harinam titled, naam ratna-mala.
In 1947 , on the 13th day of the bright fortnight in the month of Shravan (July-August), Siddha Manohar Das Babaji entered nitya-lila.