Departure of Sri Hare Krishna Das Babaji
Posted September 30, 2003
We are sorry to inform the devotee community about the departure of Sri Hare Krishna Das Babaji Maharaja. He departed from this world in the afternoon on Sunday the 31st of August, on the auspicious day of Ganesh Caturthi at the ancient temple of Tota Gopinath in Jagannath Puri. That day after taking Gopinath prasadam, Hare Krishna Das Babaji closed his door to take rest. Before doing so he instructed a riksha walla to come and wake him up at 3 pm, as he wanted to go somewhere. When the riksha walla came and knocked on the door there was no answer. The devotees finally broke down the door and found Maharaja's body lying peacefully on his bed.
There are several families living near the Tota Gopinath temple who have helped with Gopinath's service for many generations. In one of those families was a girl who used to clean the temple and make garlands for Gopinath. Seeing her sincere service Hare Krishna Das Babaji was pleased with her. She was later married and moved to her husband's house away from Puri. She recently came back to visit and went to have darsan of Gopinath and then Babaji Maharaja. Seeing her Maharaja became happy and told her that he would have left this world already but that he was waiting to see her again before he left. Two days later Maharaja departed from this world. His Giriraj deity who he rendered service to for many years is now being worshipped on the altar of Tota Gopinath.
Although Babaji Maharaja was well known in Jagannath Puri and had affectionate relationships with many Vaishnavas including many ISKCON and Gaudiya Math devotees, very little is known about his life before he came to Puri. Like many sadhus, Hare Krishna Das Babaji did not talk about his previous life nor did he speak any details about his bhajan. Maharaja stayed at the temple of Tota Gopinath for 30 years or more, but all that the devotees there know about his life prior to coming there, was that he was from Bengal and was a devotee from birth. He was very simple, gentle and humble; in the seven years we were acquainted with him we never once heard him criticize anyone. He was affectionate to all. For the last 30 years of his life Maharaja was seen spending all of his time either chanting or reading literatures of our Goswamis. Devotees staying at the temple comment that when he was chanting he was always crying. Although he suffered from asthma and appeared to be at least in his 60s or 70s Maharaja would daily walk several kilometers to the Singhania house to pick flowers for Tota Gopinath.
The first time we met him we were staying at a guesthouse in Puri. It was early one morning, when suddenly we heard someone very loudly and with great enthusiasm and feeling chanting, "Haribol! Haribol! Haribol!" Going to the door we saw an elderly babaji dressed in old torn white cloth, with Gaudiya Vaishnava tilaka, and a big smile on his face jumping up and down and chanting like a small enthusiastic child. He had come to see someone staying at the guesthouse was outside of the door of the room where he was staying. Maharaja came to see us a few times in Bhubaneswar. Once when he was visiting us a group of devotees heard that he had come and came to offer their respects to him. When they started glorifying him, Maharaja began to cry, telling us that he was not qualified and that we should not speak highly of him. In the time that we were acquainted with him we never saw him accept any respect or position.
I cannot say that we were close to Hare Krishna Das Babaji Maharaja, but somehow he was always very affectionate to us. Whenever he saw us at the Tota Gopinath temple he would loudly call our name and with tears in his eyes would give us a loving embrace. He very much liked hari-katha and was always encouraging us about our Sri Krishna Kathamrita magazine. Whenever we would visit Tota Gopinath he would ask us when the next issue was coming out.
Going to see Tota Gopinath now without Maharaja there will not be the same.
We offer this short appreciation of Maharaja to Sri Tota Gopinath the Lord
of Gadhadhar Pandit's heart, and to Sri Hare Krishna Das Babaji Maharaja in
the hopes that they may somehow be pleased. Sri Tota Gopinath Jiu ki Jaya!
Sri Hare Krishna Das Babaji Maharaja ki jaya!