The Divine Trio

Braja Videhi Mahanta and Vaishnava – Chatuh-Sampradaya- Sri-Mahanta Sri 108 Swami Ramdasji Kathiababaji Maharaj:

It is an arduous task to abridge the personal and spiritual grandeur of Vrajavidehi Mahanta, Sri Mahanta of the Vaishnava Chathuh Sampradaya, Sri 108 Ramdas Kathia Babaji Maharaj in a couple of pages. Popularly known as Sri Kathia Baba (owing to the wooden girdle he wore around his waist), Sri Ramdasji Kathia Babaji Maharaj is celebrated as one of the pre-eminent sages of the Nimbarka Sampradaya. Born as a mortal, Sri Kathia Babaji Maharaj in his lifetime transcended to the celestial heights by dint of Yogic Sadhana Sri Kathia Babaji Maharaj was born in a village named Lona Chamari situated 40 km away from Amritsar (Punjab). He was named Jayram by his adoring parents. From his childhood Sri Kathia Babaji Maharaj sought comfort in the company of ascetics. In his formative years, he was influenced by Sri Paramahamsaji, an ascetic living in his village. It is Sri Paramahamsaji who instilled in little Jay ram the habit of chanting the name of “Rama” unceasingly. Early on in his life, Jairam chanced upon a sage who prophesied that Jairam would renounce all temporal bonds and become a Yogi of the highest order. This pronouncement stimulated Jay ram, and he remained steadfast in his spiritual pursuit.

After having completed his education, Sri Kathia Babaji Maharaj was whelmed by a desire to attain spiritual realization by meditating on the Gayatri Mantra. A divine interjection guided him to go to Jwalamukhi to perform the meditation. On his way to Jwalamukhi he encountered Sri Swami Devdasji Kathia Babaji Maharaj. Enthralled by the saintly countenance of Sri Swami Devdasji Maharaj, Sri Kathia Babaji immediately surrendered himself at the feet of the former. Sri Swami Devdasji embraced him as his disciple and initiated him into the life of an avowed celibate.

Under the watchful tutelage of his Gurudev, Sri Kathia Babaji Maharaj embarked on his spiritual journey. He undertook pilgrimage to many sanctified places and performed strenuous “Sadhana”. In his lifetime, Sri Kathia Babaji Maharaj faced many challenges all of which he conquered by virtue of his resolute adherence to the principle of piety outlined by his Gurudev.

Sri Kathia Babaji Maharaj achieved prodigious Yogic power through the performance of fervent “Sadhana”. During summer, he would light a fire and meditate while during the winter seasons he would steep himself in ice cold water and pursue his meditation. This had endowed him with incredible “Yogic Siddhi”. Many a detractor attempted to thwart his “Sadhana” many ployed to disgrace his character. Despite all these deterrents Sri Kathia Babaji persevered in his exercise and attained unrivalled spiritual heights.

Vrindavan, as the holy realm of God Himself had attracted Sri Kathia Babaji Maharaj. He chose Sri Vrindavan dham as the sanctified seat for the furtherance of his spiritual aspirations. It is in Vrindavan that Sri Babaji Maharaj attained divine enlightenment. In Vrindavan Sri Kathia Babaji Maharaj acquired his first set of “Sanyasi” disciples, prominent among them was Sri Garibdasji whose dedication and self-abnegation at the feet of his preceptor is well acclaimed.

Sri Kathia Babaji Maharajji’s persona was most beguiling. To a casual onlooker he would appear as an ordinary human being with a propensity towards mundanities. Often, he would be seen counting the money that he received as alms and storing the same in some secret repository. However, this behaviour was only a shield concealing his profound spiritual attributes. He befriended many an irredeemable miscreant and inspired them towards self-redemption.

Sri Swami Santadasji Kathia Babaji Maharaj in the biography he documented in the memory of his Gurudev, Sri Kathia Babaji Maharaj gives an account of his spiritual magnitude. According to the facts scripted by Sri Santadasji Maharaj, Sri Kathia Babaji Maharaj had attained the superior ability to make his presence felt at different situations and places at the same point in time. He had, on many occasions, appeared in ethereal form before Sri Santadasji Maharaj and his wife (Sri Mata Thakurani) and protected them from imminent dangers. Mata Thakurani, when Sri Santadasji Maharaj would be away from home, would perceive the watchful gaze Sri Kathia Babaji shielding her from all fears. Sri Santadasji himself was saved from many calamities by the unpremeditated appearance of his Gurudev. Long after the dissolution of his mortal form, Sri Kathia Babaji continued to appear before Sri Santadasji Maharaj and guided him in his spiritual quest.

Sri Kathia Babaji Maharaj was amicably disposed towards humans, animals and all other living entities like plants, trees etc. He possessed a milch cow, named Jamuna, who accompanied him even to Prayag Kumbh. He bestowed great affection on her.

Sri Kathia Babaji Maharajji’s life is replete with miraculous events. Sri Babaji Maharaj would often correspond with God. He had once confided that Goddess Annapurna, domiciling at the holy land of Kashi, served him milk. Such was his attachment with the Divine Spirit that after his demise the idols of Sri Krishna and Srimati Radharani, erected at his ashram, shed tears of agony for days together. Though Sri Kathia Babaji Maharaj left for his heavenly abode, his teachings are still cherished by the followers of the Nimbarka Sampradaya. He is venerated as an incarnation of God Himself, who had condescended to the mortal world to preach the values of enduring love for the Almighty compassion for fellow humans and an adherence to the principle of piety.

Braja Videhi Mahanta and Vaishnava – Chatuh-Sampradaya- Sri-Mahanta Sri 108 Swami Santadasji Kathiababaji Maharaj

The ascendance of Vrajavidehi Mahanta and Sri Mahanta of Vaishnava Chathuh Sampradaya, Sri Swami Santadasji Kathia Babaji Maharaj as the 55th Acharya of the Nimbarka Guru Parampara marked the beginning of a spiritually irradiant era for Sampradaya. Sri Swami Santadasji Maharajji, in his lifetime, escalated to the peerless heights of “Yoga Sadha” by virtue of the enduring mercy showered on him by his Gurudev. His exceptional life and pristine philosophy remain a source of inspiration for many a spiritual aspirant.Sri Swami Santadasji Kathia Babaji Maharaj was born to Sri Hari kishore Choudhury, a man of staunch religious principles and Smt. Girija Sundari at a small village (Bamoi) in Sylhet (presently in Bangladesh) in the year 1859. He was named Sri Tarakishore Choudhury at his birth.

A distinguished aspect of Sri Santadasji’s life is his stellar achievements in the field of academics. He demonstrated intellectual acumen from quite an early stage in life. At the age of 14 he appeared in the Matriculation Examination and excelled as the state topper. In the same year he conceded to a conjugal relation with Srimati Annada Devi, who in later years proved herself to be the most befitting spiritual companion of Sri Babaji Maharaj. Later, he enrolled himself in the F. A. course in Presidency College, a premier educational institute in Kolkata. After having completed a Master Degree in Arts, Santadasji Babaji Maharaj acquired a degree in law. There after he began his career as a lawyer, initially in Sylhet Court and then in Calcutta High Court where he served for a period of 27 years from 1888 to 1915. As a lawyer, Swami Santadasji acquired eminence and was regarded well even by Sir Rash Behari Bose – an outstanding barrister of that age. Swami Santadasji’s erudition found ample expression in the books published by him, namely, “Brahmavadi Rishi O Brahmavidya”; “Darshanik Brahmavidya”; “Gurushishya Sanmvad”; “Vrajavidehi Mahanta Sri 108 Swami Ramdasji Kathia Babaji Maharajer Jivan Charit” etc. His treatise on Dvaita Advaita Philosophy remains as an unparalleled exposition of his superior intellect.

Sri Santadasji Babaji Maharaj hailed from a spiritual background. His father was a resolute allegiant of the Hindu Dharma. Swami Santadasji Maharaj developed spiritual affinity from early childhood and observed a pious life even before he was consecrated into the life of an ascetic. His desire to realize the omnipotent spirit would time and again create a furor within him. His bestirred soul sought a spiritual master who would guide him towards this consummate realization. His fateful meeting with Vraja bidehi Sri Swami Ramdas Kathia Babaji Maharaj at the Kumbha Mela in Prayag was a momentous episode in his life. Sri Ramdas Kathia Babaji Maharaji’s gleaming countenance and ability to penetrate the minds of others captivated Sri Santadasji Maharaj. However, Sri Santadasji Maharaj, for the ensuing few months, continued to probe deep into the persona of his purported Gurudev before surrendering himself completely at his feet. In the year 1894 Santadasji Maharaj and his wife attained “diksha” from Sri Ramdas Kathia Babaji. For the next 13 years Sri Santadasji remained closely associated with his Gurudev even as he continued with his worldly obligations. During the period he undertook many holy pilgrimages with his Gurudev.

With every passing day, Sri Swami Santadasji Maharaj was overcome by an overriding desire to renounce the material world and seek refuge at his Gurudev’s feet in Vrindavan. His Gurudev, however, restrained this desire of his and extorted him to wait for the divined moment when he could relieve himself from the terrestrial shackles. In the meantime, Sri Santadasji Maharaj initiated the construction of an ashram and temple at Vrindavan with the consent of his Gurudev.
In the year 1915, a few years after the demise of his Gurudev Sri Swami Ramdas Kathia Babaji Maharaj, Sri Santadasji Maharajji decided to relinquish all worldly ties and reside in Vrindavan. Before leaving for Vrindavan he apportioned his vast property and wealth among his destitute relatives. Without a penny to his name Sri Babaji Maharaj left for Vrindavan accompanied by his wife. In Vrindavan, Sri Santadasji immersed himself in ardent spiritual labour (Sadhana). He would perform all chores of the ashram without assistance from anybody else. Shri Shri Mata thakurani (Sri Babaji Maharajji’s wife) at that time lived in Kashi. He would consume a meager meal once a day and practice intense “Sadhana” through out the day and night. By the grace of his Gurudev, Sri Babaji Maharaj escalated to the acme of “Yogic Sadhana” during this period.

Sri Ramdas Kathia Babaji Maharaj was succeeded by Sri Vishnudasji Maharaj, who desired to relieve himself of his obligatory duties as the Mahanta of the Sampradaya and accosted Swami Santadasji Maharaj to assume the responsibility. Swami Santadasji Maharaj hesitated as he was not initiated into “Sanyas” till then. At this juncture a divine intervention from his belated Gurudev egged him on towards his new role and responsibility.

Thereafter, he was put into the life of an ascetic by all other Mahantas of Vrindavan and consecrated as the Acharya of the Nimbarka Sampradaya. He was also exalted as the Sri Mahanta of the Vaishnava Chathuh Sampradaya. As the Vrajavidehi Mahanta of the Nimbarka Sampradaya, Sri Santadasji Maharaj administered the Braja Parikrama and many other spiritual activities. He established two ashrams of the Sampradaya at Shibpur (West Bengal) and Sylhet respectively.

In the year 1935 Swami Santadasji breathed his last. His philosophy and teachings remain preserved in the cherished ideals of Sampradaya. His letters to his disciples have been compiled and printed in two volumes. The chronicled thoughts continue to soothe the bewildered souls of the Kaliyuga.

Braja Videhi Mahanta and Vaishnava – Chatuh-Sampradaya- Sri-Mahanta Sri 108 Swami Dhananjoydasji Kathiababaji Maharaj

The majesty of the Nimbarka Sampradaya lineage is heightened by the divine souls who have adorned the seat of the Acharya over the centuries. A remarkable induction to the Nimbarkiya lineage was that of Sri Swami Dhanjay Das Kathiababa Maharaj ji – The 56th Acharya of the Sampraday. Swami Dhananjay Das Kathia Babaji Maharaj was born in Bhara(a small village in Bankura Dist. of W. Bengal) in the month of November, 1901.He was named Sri Dhirendramohan Chakraborty by his parents Sri Purnachandra Chakraborty and Smt. Kshudumoni Devi. He came to be known as Sri Dhananjoydasji after being initiated into austere celibacy by his Gurudev-Sri Swami Santadas Kathia Babaji Maharaj.

Dhirendramohan began his education in the year 1906. Following the initial tutelage at home and subsequent primary education, spanning a period of 4 years, he completed his M.E. from Bhara Minor School in 1915. He, thereafter, pursued further studies on Sanskrit and came off with flying colours. Furthermore, he appeared for the intermediary examination on ‘Mugdhabodh Vyakaran’ (grammar) and the primary examination on Kavya (Poetic literature) and fared well in both. He was awarded the title of “Vyakaran Thirtha” after the successful completion of a higher-level course on “Mugdhabodh Vyakaran.

The life of Dhirendramohan, even as a young man, mirrored his ever-growing inclination towards spiritualism. His entreaty, rendered at the feet of God, for a Guru who could guide him through the labyrinth of life was answered when he learnt about Sri Swami Santadasji Maharaj and in course of time became his disciple.

Even as a student, Dhirendramohan was overwhelmed by a desire to abjure all mundane fetters. This impelling drive spurred him to abandon his home, without his parents’ knowledge, and seek refuge at his Gurudev’s feet in Vrindavan. He confided to his Gurudev that the material world weighed down heavily on his heart and that he wanted to find solace in the life of an ascetic. Sri Swami Santadasji Maharaj instructed him to gain his parents consent after which he was initiated into a life of religious mendicancy and celibacy.

Sri Santadas ji Maharaj firmly adhered to the belief that it was essential for an Acharya to gain command over the Sashtras in order to dispense his duties with proficiency. Therefore, at his behest Sri Dhananjay Dasji resumed his education. From Chatushpathi (Daulatpur) he pursued primary, intermediary and degree courses on Nyaya Shastra (Philosophy) and emerged as a sterling scholar of the same. In addition to that, he took up a degree course on Anumankhanda (Logic) and earned the title of “Tarkathirtha” by dint of his commendable performance. After completion of his education, he returned to Brindavan in 1933 and soon after, was ordained as the Mahanta of the Nimbarka Ashram. Later, in the year 1935 (during the Purna Kumbh Mela held at Haridwar) his coronation as the Sri Mahanta of the Nimbarka Sampradaya and as the Vrajavidehi Mahanta was solemnized.

A somber contemplation reveals that Sri Swami Dhananjay Dasji Maharajji’s life was beset with many a tribulation which tested his mettle at every crucial juncture. The Nimbarka Ashram Committee reflected an inimical attitude towards him and on several occasions sought to depose him. From April 1, 1949, Sri Dhananjay Dasji Maharaj immersed himself in rigorous austerities and committed himself to a vow of silence (this exercise was undertaken as atonement for the wrong doings of his disciples as also to ensure their well-being). During this arduous spiritual labor, a misfortune befell the ashram. The Jugal Vigraha (The idols of Sri Krishna and Radharani) of the ashram was engulfed by the flames of a fire that was accidentally set ablaze. This accident perturbed him beyond words and after consecrating a new set of idols he left the ashram without a penny to his name. (The ashram committee had waged a legal battle against him in order to strip him of all his possessions).

Thereafter he peregrinated around the country in search of solitude to pursue his meditation. In the year 1954 he attended the Kumb Mela at Prayag, where after much persuasion by his spiritual brethren he terminated his vow of silence. (He had undertaken this pledge of silence once again in 1958 and continued it for a period of one and a half years). In the year 1955, he bought a plot of land at Gurukul Marg Road and laid the foundation of the Kathia Baba Ka Sthan Ashram. He erected a sanctorium and consecrated the dual idols of Sri Krishna and Radharani in it on the auspicious occasion of the birth anniversary of Swami Santadasji Maharaj. He immigrated to Vrindavan in the year 1963 after a long spell of 8 years. The inhabitants of ‘Vraja’ welcomed him home amidst the thrill of celebration.

The scholastic contribution made by Sri Dhananjoydasji Kathia Babaji Maharaj during his lifetime merits a special mention. To encourage public awareness about the Nimbarka cult, he documented and authored lucid books/articles on Sampradaya’s ideology, philosophy and other paraphernalia. Towards this end, he also constituted the Swami Santadas Nimbarka Darshan Samiti. The efforts of this Samiti materialized in the form of Shri Shri Ramdas Kathia Baba Granthagar (Library) at Kathia Baba’s Ashram (Sukhchar, West Bengal). With the view to propagating the Nimbarka school of thought among the mass, he sired the establishment of “Sri Ramdas Kathia Baba Sanskrit Mahavidyalaya” at Kashi and “Sri 108 Swami Ramdas Kathia Baba Sanskrit Mahavidyalaya” at Silchar.

He was once invited to a spiritual congregation organized by Golpark Ram Krishna Mission where he addressed a huge gathering of scholars and illumined them on the lofty Nimbarka philosophy. During this occasion he donated books, compiled and published by him, to the Ramkrishna Mission Library. To further consolidate the propagation of the Nimbarkiya principles and values he donated books on the Sampradaya to the libraries of Jadavpur University, Bardhaman University and Gauhati University. He had adopted several constructive measures towards the propagation of Sampradaya’s thoughts and ideals. Under his supervision, the ashrams at Kashi, Sukchar (W. Bengal) and Silchar were constructed.

After the completion of an eventful life, Sri Swami Dhananjay Dasji Maharaj, left for his eternal abode. The life of this great sage reflects an unwavering commitment to the ideals of service upheld by Sampradaya. A personification of nonpareil virtues like erudition, sagacity, solemnity and compassion, he had deified the human life that he was accorded at birth into a life of divinity. To the posterity he remains as… a beacon of light in the bewildering world … an ideal to be emulated…a memory to be cherished.