“I offer my respectful obeisances unto Gaura-kishora Dasa Babaji Maharaja, who is renunciation personified. He is always merged in a feeling of separation and intense love of Krishna.”
His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder-acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, comes in a long line of spiritual teachers. While all of these masters lived extraordinary lives, the most unconventional is probably that of Gaura- kishora Dasa Babaji Maharaja, the spiritual master of Prabhupada’s teacher, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura.
Gaura-kishora Dasa Babaji appeared in the early 1830s in the village of Vagyana, Faridapura district, East Bengal (currently Bangladesh).* The son of a merchant, young Vamshidasa (later Gaura-kishora Dasa Babaji Maharaja) married early and lived a conventional life for more than twenty years, working as a grain broker. But as time passed he found himself looking for something more in life, and his passion for spiritual truth increased each year.
After his wife passed away, Vamshidasa left his business and went to Vrindavana, the land of Lord Krishna. Here he hoped to find spiritual fulfillment under the tutelage of great religious masters. He soon found himself studying under various selfrealized souls and developing a deep appreciation for Gaudiya Vaishnava siddhanta,or Krishna conscious philosophical truths as presented by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He gradually became known as a prominent practitioner, for he uncompromisingly lived according to Vaishnava teachings.
After some years of intense practice, Vamshidasa approached Srila Bhagavata Dasa Babaji, one of the foremost disciples of Srila Jagannatha Dasa Babaji Maharaja—the leading Krishna conscious teacher of his time—and accepted from him the exalted initiation of Vaishnava Babaji. This initiation demanded total commitment to high standards of renunciation and austerity, with the singular goal of developing love of God.