Ashwini Kumar had all the opportunities of material enjoyment. He had little interest in all the material opulence available to him. Since his childhood he was attracted to the Divine. He yearned for something higher and sublime than anything the world could offer.
Life of Shri Krishna Chaitanya Das Babaji
Painting of Shri Krishna Chaitanya Das Babaji
Samadhi in diplated condition at Chandra sarovar
Sadhu holding image at his samadhi
There have been many saints in Braj, who dedicated their lives to become union with the Divine. They are considered holy because of their loving surrender to Krishna. Their dedication towards the ‘prema – bhakti’ and profound realizations allowed them interacting with the ‘Divine Couple of Vrindavan’.
Shri Krishnachaitanya Das Babaji was one of such saints who came to Braj from Bengal and absorbed in the ‘Lila Sadhana of Shri Radha and Krishna’.
Babaji’s early name was Ashwini Kumar Nandi (Ashwani Babu), who was born in 1861 in Chandan Nagar of ‘West Bengal’. His father was a wealthy man businessman. So Ashwini Kumar had all the opportunities of material enjoyment. He had little interest in all the material opulence available to him. Since his childhood he was attracted to the Divine. He yearned for something higher and sublime than anything the world could offer.
His father Braja Kumar Nandi noted the change in his son, who was always lost in some Divine thought. As soon as Ashwini Kumar had passed the Entrance Examination, his father put him in business and got him married.
The Maya began affecting him and he became father of five children. But soon he realized the purpose of life with the mercy of the Divine energy. He took initiation from his family guru and began to lead a well disciplined spiritual life. He was regular in his daily routines of taking bath in the Ganges, reading devotional books, performing Kirtan and doing his daily rounds of japa. Simultaneously he continued his business to take care of his family.
The routine of regular devotional practice slowly ingrained deep bhakti in his heart. With each passing day he was getting desperate to devote himself to bhajan completely. It was impossible to remain in ‘grihastha’ for him. One day he decided to renounce the world and go for pilgrimage.
With the permission of his father he travelled to Puri for Shri Jagannath Rath Yatra, then he walked to South India for pilgrimage. He walked 15 – 20 miles every day by doing japa. Until the required numbers of rounds were completed, he continued walking. After completing the complete rounds of japa, he bathed and performed his daily routine of puja and then went out for bhiksha from only seven places, and ate whatever he received from them. Some days he had to go without food. He went through many hardships, but never transgressed the rules he had set for himself during the pilgrimage.
He went from Puri to Godaveri, Shivakanchi, Vishnukanchi, Bala Ji, Shri Rangam, Panchatirtha and Rameshwar. After that he went to Nasik, from Nasik to Dwarika, Pushkar, Jaipur and Karauli and from Karauli to Vrindavan. The whole journey took him three years. He wanted to settle in Vrindavan for Bhajan.
One night some Divine power advised him in the dream that the time to settle in Vrindavan had not come then. He was asked to perform more Karma before he renounced. He overlooked the advice as he was determined to stay in Vrindavan till the end of his life. But he saw the same dream again which came in the form of a command this time. He could not defy the Divine orders this time. He returned to his family in Calcutta who were living a life of anxiety and suspense, while missing him.
Coming back from Vrindavan, Ashwini Kumar started his new business. He worked hard and made progress both in his business and spiritual life. During this period also his bhajana went on undisturbed and with the usual zest and enthusiasm. He used to go to bed at 9 pm and woke up at 1 am in the night, and then he sat down for ‘bhajana’. Again after his morning bath in the Ganga at 5 am, he went through his daily routine of puja, patha, japa and kirtan.
He cooked his own food himself, because he believed that self cooked food was more conductive for bhajan. His wife and children ensured that nothing should disturb him in his spiritual progress. His days with family went on very happily.
In Vrindavan he had seen two pictures of Nitai-Gaur and Radha-Govinda, which had captured his heart. He had been trying to get those pictures but failed. He had to go through the intense feeling separation without seeing those images.
One night he wept and said to Lord Nityananda Prabhu, "Nitai, you are known as the savior and the benefactor of the fallen. Am I so fallen that you do not consider me worthy of your darsana, along with that of Gaura and Radha-Govinda even, in the form of pictures? Then why not wipe off all trace of my worthless existence on earth?" The same night he saw in a dream that he had obtained those pictures from a shop in Chitpur road in Calcutta.
In the morning he went to Chitpur road and was surprised to see a shop exactly like the one that he had seen in the dream. When he went inside the shop he was happy to find a picture of Nitai-Gaura exactly like the one he had seen in Vrindavan. He looked around to see if the picture or Radha-Govinda was also there, but didn’t find. Suddenly his eyes fell on an almirah, which he had seen in the dream. He asked the shop-keeper to see if the picture of Radha-Govinda was in that almirah. But the shop-keeper said, "There are many other things in the almirah, but no pictures.
Ashwini Kumar's eyes filled with tears, when he didn’t find the image of Radha Govinda. Suddenly the shop-keeper was reminded by some unseen power, as it were, that some time back he had indeed received a packet of pictures, which was kept in that almirah. He took out the packet out. As soon as he opened it, a photo image of Radha-Govinda exactly like the one he had seen in Vrindavan came in front of him.
"Here is the picture!” he shouted, as he jumped with joy. He bought both the pictures. They were not simply pictures for him, but Nitai-Gaura and Radha - Govind in their real form, who had come to him in response to his prayers.
Four years had now elapsed since Ashwini Kumar came back from Vrindavan. His heart again began to pine for Vrindavan. Since his business was now well established and his sons were grown up to take care of their business, his responsibility for the family was over. He felt that it was opportune time to finally renounce the world and settle in Vrindavan.
He expressed to his family that he couldn't survive longer, if stayed out of Vrindavan. Therefore his family including his wife, children and parents gave their consent and cooperated with him to leave home and settle in Dham. He believed that it was the mercy of Radha Govinda that he was going back to Vrindavan without any hurdle on his way. They came to take him to the Dham in the form of those pictures.
Now after coming to Vrindavan, Radha Govinda wanted to be with him in the form of deities, so that the Divine Couple could relish his loving services properly. He got instruction from the Lordships in the dream. He was also directed to pick the deities from some certain place. He brought the deities from there, built a temple for them and duly installed them in it after Prana pratishtha. After prana-pratishta Govinda Ji got his new name, Gopijana Ballabh. Ashwini Kumar began to serve Gopijan Ballabh with love and devotion.
After some time he took 'vesh' i.e sanyasa diksha from Shri Haricharan Das Baba Ji, a disciple of Shri Gaur Kishor Siromani and was named Shri Krishna Chaitanya Das. Babaji advised him to go and to bhajana in some solitary place in Braj. By the time of his 'vesh' son Gaura also came to live in Vrindavan. Shri Krishna Chaitanya Dasa Baba handed over the service of Gopijan Ballabh to him and went to Kusum Sarovar. He practiced bhajan at Kusum Sarovar for some time and then went to Radhakunda.
While staying in Radhakunda his mind was always with Gopijana Ballabh. If there was any fault or delinquency in their service, he always came to know about it. Once he called Gaura from Vrindavan and told him, "You do not pay proper attention to the seva of Gopijana Ballabh. Do you know that one day the 'bhog' offered to the Lordships was spoiled as a hair fell into it and on another day it was spoiled because the plate, in which the bhoga was served, was not properly cleaned and a particle of ucchista remained in it. On both the days the deities had to go without food. Why should you be so negligent? You do not seem to have full faith. The deity accepts your seva only if you have faith, otherwise not."
In this connection he narrated a story regarding Radha Vinoda Ji, the deity, whom Rajarshi Banamali Raya Bahadura of Tanasa state worshipped in Radhakunda. He said, "During summer Banamali Raya used to employ servants for fanning Radha Vinod all the 24 hours. A devotee, who had firm faith that Radha Vinod was pleased with that service, went to the temple of Radha Vinod every day before its doors were locked and relieved the servants at intervals, and fanning the deities himself.
One day at midnight, when he was pulling the fan, he went into sleep and dreamt that Radha Vinod was shaking him up and saying. "You are sleeping. I am feeling very uncomfortable on account of heat. Take me to the kunda (pond)." He seated Vinoda Ji on his shoulder and began to carry Him towards the kunda. But he had a tumor on his shoulder. Vinoda Ji said, "What is this on your shoulder? It makes me feel uncomfortable." As he said this, He cleaned the shoulder with His hand. The devotee brought Him to the kunda made Him sit by its side and himself lay down to sleep nearby. Just then his sleep was broken and he was surprised to find that he was actually lying near the kunda. He went to the temple and had another surprise. He saw that its doors were closed and locked from outside as before. Still more surprising was the fact that he felt a soothing sensation on his shoulder and when he passed his hand on it, he found that the tumor had disappeared."
In Radhakunda Shri Krishnachaitanya Dasa performed a purascarana. Then he went and began to live in Chandra Sarovar. Here again he performed a purascarana. Here he used to perform the parikrama (circumambulation) of Govardhan from 3 o'clock in the morning. One day while he was doing parikrama it began to rain torrentially. He took shelter under a tree as he sat down there, a snake hissed from a hole nearby. He kept on sitting and doing japa unscarred, because he believed that no naimal of Vraja ever did any harm to anyone. From a distance someone, whom he could not see, threw a blanket over him and said, "Baba! Are you not afraid of the snake?!" Run away! It will bite you!” It was a female voice. He had heard that in Vraja some spiritual agencies always helped and guided the sadhakas. So he thought it was a gopi, who had warned him against the snake and helped him the blanket so that he could continue his parikrama in the rain. He touched the blanket with his forehead as the sacred prasada of the gopi, then covered himself with it and resumed parikrama.
In Chandrasarovara Shri Krishnachaitanya Dasa Baba used to do bhajana in a kuti inside a house. He got so much absorbed in bhajana that he would often go into samadhi and remained unconscious for hours. Once his guru Shri Haricharana Baba went to his kuti with one Sanatan Dasa Baba Ji. The door of the kuti was closed from inside. He shouted, "Chaitanya! Chaitanya!" There was no response. After some time he again shouted, "Chaitanya! Chaitanya!" Again there was no response. Sanatana Dasa got anxious about Shri Krishnachaitanya. But Haricharana Dasa said, "There is no cause for anxiety. He often gets so much engrossed in the meditation of Krishna-lila that he remains unconscious for hours."
Gradually his absorption in Krishna-lila became so intense that he could not live even for a short while without it. But he could not remain absorbed in lila all the time because of the body. He therefore began to prepare for deliverance from the body. He called his son Gaura and said, "Look Gaura, you have to arrange for a big eleven-day festival. Every day there shall be kirtana and rasa-lila. Bhagavata-saptaha shall be performed. Many vaishnavas shall be invited. Proper arrangements shall be made for their prasada and lodging. For Kirtana, Kirtaniya Bhakticarana Dasa Baba Ji and for Bhagavata-saptaha, Bhagavata-pathaka Shri Madhusudana Bhatta Ji shall be invited."
All arrangements for the celebration were made. Chandrasarovar put on a festive look and for eleven days people continued to pour into it from the surrounding villages. On the tenth day all the Vrajabasis and Mahatmas, who lived within fourteen miles of Chandrasarovara, were invited to a grand feast. All arrangements for the feast were completed. Then suddenly Baba breathed his last. Festivity was over and dark clouds of grief and dismay cast their shadow over the scene. People waited in vain for a long time for the reappearance of some kind of sign of life in Baba's body. At last arrangements were made for the funeral. His body was carried to the cremation ground for burning. As soon as the body reached there, he was heard saying in lean voice, "Where are you carrying me? Take me back to my place."
Everyone was surprised and shouts of "Hari Bol" rented the air. Clouds of dismay and despair scattered as suddenly as they had gathered. The celebration was concluded with greater rejoicings.
Baba had made arrangements for vaishnava-seva (distribution of prasada amongst the vaishnava) on the occasion of his deliverance. He had actually left the body and gone to Goloka immediately after the arrangements for vaishnava-seva were completed; but he was made to return by Radharani, because he had still to play his part in the fulfillment of some divine purpose.
Once a devotee asked Baba, "Does kala (the agent of death) attack a devotee in the same way, in which he attacks anyone else?"
Baba replied, "No, not in the same way. In the case of an ordinary person he attacks him, when the time of his death comes and takes him away irrespective of his will and circumstances. But in the case of a devotee, when the time of his death comes, he goes and stands before him with folded hands and only informs him that his time has come. If the devotee does not want to go and has the desire to stay on in the world for some more time for bhajana, he abides by his wish and goes away. Kala is the enemy of a non-devotee, but the servant of a devotee. He is like the cat; the cat holds its kitten with the same mouth with which she holds the mice. She is kala for the mice but mother for the kitten. She eats up the mice, but carries the kitten to a place where they are safer and more comfortable."