The Founder Acharya

Vrajabidehi Mahant and Vaishnava-Chatuh-Sampradaya Sri Mahant Sri 108 Swami Rash Behari Dasji Kathia Babaji Maharaj

Shri Swami Rash Behari Das Kathia Babaji Maharaj, the present Acharya of the Nimbarka Sampradaya is the 57th scion of the illustrious genealogy that commenced with Sri Hansa Bhagavan and traversing down the line progenerated by sages like the Sanakadi quaternity, Sri Narad Bhagavan and his acolyte Sri Nimbarka Bhagavan. This antiquarian Sampradaya has been embellished with Acharyas who have been anointed by their respective antecessors based on their discernible virtues. Most often than not, the selection of the Acharyas is pre-ordained by Divine Will. It is the oracle of God Himself that inspires an Acharya to nominate his heir.

In consonance with this tradition, the revered Sri Sri 108 Swami Dhananjay Das Kathia Babaji Maharaj (56th Acharya of the Nimbarka Sampradaya) bequeathed his holy throne to his most beloved and able disciple, Sri Sri 108 Swami Rash behari Das Kathia Babaji Maharaj. Complying with his Gurudev’s injunction, Sri Swami Rash behari Das Kathia Babaji Maharaj ascended to the venerated echelon of the Nimbarka lineage. As a further augmentation to the position of Nimbarka Acharya, Sri Babaji Maharaj was accorded the stature of the Sri Mahanta of the Sampradaya. Furthermore, he was entrusted with the responsibility of all the ashrams of the Kathiababa sect built across the country.

In veneration to the antiquity of the Sampradaya, Sri Babaji Maharaj adorned himself according to the convention established by his predecessors (the archetypal apparel, footwear, wooden girdle around the waist and sandal –wood paste marks on 12 significant spots of the body – which are the hallmarks of a Nimbarka sage). Thus, Swami Rash Behari Das Kathia Babaji Maharaj embarked on this austere journey towards taking the sampradaya to the crest that remained unexplored and unfathomed so far. History shall reflect with pride on the singular contribution made by Sri Babaji Maharaj in this regard.

Sri Gurudev was born on January 1, 1959, to Sri Ramdas Bandhyopadhay, a disciple of Sri Swami Santadas Kathia Babaji Maharaj and Srimati Amita Devi a disciple of Sri Swami Dhananjay Das Kathia Babaji Maharaj. On the persuasion of Sri Dadaguruji Maharaj, who had presaged the induction of Sri Babaji Maharaj to the hallowed Acharya Guru lineage, his mother left him at the newly built ashram of the Sampraday at Kashi (at the tender age of 10), despite the resistance offered by his father. It is in the sacrosanct land of Kashi that Sri Babaji Maharaj was consecrated into a life of avowed celibacy and spiritual commitment by Sri Sri 108 Swami Dhananjay Dasji Kathiababa Maharaj.

In Kashi Sri Babaji Maharaj began his education and attained the degree of Vyakaranacharya from Sri Sri 108 Ramdas Kathia Baba Mahavidyalaya (Sampurnananda Vishwavidyalaya). Worthwhile to mention here that even as a student many an arduous service related to the ashram had devolved on his effete shoulders. He was assigned the duty of washing the utensils in which food was offered to around 50-60 deities. Even as a neophyte, Babaji Maharaj reflected an immutable resolve to adhere to his Gurudev’s instruction. His elderly Guru-Bhratas (spiritual brethren) fondly reminisce how Sri Babaji Maharaj would politely decline any help extended by them towards dispensing this onerous service. This exemplary appetence to abide by his Gurudev’s words was in later years amply rewarded when Sri Dadaguruji Maharaj declared him as the ‘Chosen One”.

In the year 1980 when Sri Babaji Maharaj was pursuing his education on Nimbarkiya Vedanta at Kashi, a letter from his Gurudev beckoned him to Vrindavan. Thereafter on 10.11.1981, during the commemoration of Sri 108 Swami Santadas Maharajji’s death anniversary, Sri Babaji Maharaj was beatified as the Mahanta (spiritual leader) of the ashram as also as the ‘Brajavidehi Mahanta’ (one whose spirit soul, and mind transcend the corporal confinement and seeks abode in Vraj – the blessed realm that represents an inseparable entity of the Lord Himself {Gunandam Param Brahma Byapakam Braja Uchhate}) of the Sampradaya. The ceremony was decorously observed (in sync with the Vedic rites and rituals) and was graced by all eminent personalities of the spiritual fraternity. Subsequently, on 16th January 1982 during the Ardha Kumbha at Prayag, Sri Dadaguruji anointed Sri Babaji Maharaj as the Shri Mahanta (a status superior to that all other mahantas of the cult) of the Nimbarka Sampraday.

Within a year and a half of Sri Babaji Maharaji’s accession, Sri Dadaguruji Maharaj relinquished his worldly attachment. Following which, Sri Babaji Maharaj was nurtured under the affectionate tutelage of Sri Swami Manohar Das Kathiababa, a spiritual brethren of Sri Dada Guruji, who guided him towards the smooth conduct of mammoth events like Braja Parikrama and Kumbha Mela (an onus which according to the time-honored tradition is a natural obligation of the Brajavidehi Mahanta and the Sri Mahanta of the Nimbarka Sampradaya) as also provided him with vital inputs about the efficient administration of the ashram. At this critical juncture another veteran sadhu of the ashram, Sri Jagannathdasji, provided him with the much-needed support. Sri Babaji Maharaj, to this day, recollects with gratitude their contribution in chiseling him to perfection.

Sri Babaji Maharaj had to abandon his education when Sri Dadaguruji Maharaj summoned him to Vrindavan. Notwithstanding the humungous responsibility that befell him, Sri Babaji Maharaj resumed his education at Nimbarka Mahavidyala (Vrindavan) and in course of time was awarded the honor of Shaankar Vedantacharya and Nimbarka Vedantacharya. At this stage, Sri Babaji Maharaj’s life was strewn with trails and travails, through which he had to ward his way forward. The blistering heat of the Brinavan summer, the nippy cold of the winter, the frugality of the ashram life, the legal hassles (the ashram, at that point in time, was engaged in quite a few legal cases) compounded as major deterrents on his path. Babaji Maharaj, however, strode past all hurdles and consolidated his fame as one of the most esteemed sages of the present aeon.

As the eminent Sri Mahanta of the Vaishnava Khalsas of the Kumbha, coronation of all Acharyas (at Kumbh) as well as all the Mahantai ceremonies (appointment of spiritual leaders at Kumbh) take place with his sanction. In the capacity of the Acharya Guru, Sri Babaji Maharaj appointed the Mahantas of the ashrams of the sect at Kashi, Sukhchar (W. Bengal), Nagichara (Tripura) etc. He has also established ashrams and nodal centers for the propagation of Nimbarka philosophy at Ashoknagar, Kolkata, Guwahati, Lamding, Siliguri, Delhi, Mumbai, Allahabad, Tinsukia, Shillong etc. At the Kathia Baba Ka Sthan Ashram, Vrindavan (the principal seal of the Sampradaya) furnished a guest house with 31 rooms and all modern amenities.

Sri Babaji Maharaj established 18 temples and ashrams in USA, dfferent parts of India and other countries. The ashrams are running with proper glory and constantly working towards propagating the nimbarka school of philosophy alongwith humanitarian and social services. The trail of achievements that Shri Babaji Maharaj is credited with, inclusion of the centenary celebration of Sri Swami Dhananjay Das Kathia Babaji Maharaj at Kathia Baba Ka Sthan- Vrindavan. This occasion was graced by eminent sages, erudites and philosophers affiliated to different religious sects of the country. The significant landmarks of the event include the erection of a marble statue of Sri DadaGuruji Maharaj at the ashram, compilation of “Shri Shri Dhananjay Das Shraddhanjali Shatakam” (consisting of 108 verses written by 108 savants, as homage to Sri Dadaguruji) and publication of books , like “Sri Sri Dhananjoydas Kathia Baba Satavarshiki Smaranika”; “Sri Sri 108 Ramdas Kathia Baba Jivan Charit”; “Sri Sri 108 Swani Santadas Kathia Baba Jivan Charit”; Sri Sri 108 Swami Dhananjay Das Kathia Baba Jivan Charit”. The resplendence with which the programme was executed asseverates his deep respect and love for his Gurudev.

An ardent scholar himself, Babaji Maharaj has composed many Sanskrit verses (Shlokas) in veneration to the Acharyas of the Nimbarka Parampara and has written several articles for the enlightenment of devotees. Furthermore, he has committed himself to the lofty ideal of ‘Gou Raksha’. He has built a huge goshala (shelter house), where abandoned and ailing cows are housed. Special care of their comfort, food and medical treatment is taken under the vigil of Babaji Maharaj. Sri Babaji Maharaj has also successfully borne the onus of spreading the Nimbarka thought overseas. He was an invited dignitary to the centenary commemoration of Swami Vivekananda’s Chicago lectures held at America in the year 1993.

To encapsulate the life and achievements of Sri Babaji Maharaj in meager words is an audacious attempt. Every word that issues out of the pen, to narrate his life, falters and shivers at its presumptuousness. It can only be said that the infinite grandeur of our most revered Babaji Maharaj can never be illustrated in futile words, his benevolence can only be cherished in the sublime expanse of the unsullied mind. He can only be adulated in the sanctified recess of the heart.