Above the tall, wide entrance gate, the Hindi sign reads “Moksa Dhama Radha Kunda”. Following the divine form of Pandita Sri Ananta Das Babaji Maharaja, our raga-marga mentor and friend for 31 years, we and thousands of grateful ones entered the cremation ground to observe the last rites of this great Vraja rasika saint.
The divine body of Sri Ananta Das Babaji Maharaja was removed from the palanquin, placed on the cintamani bhumi of Vrindavana, and covered by a huge mound of gobhir and dried tulasi wood offered by the loving hands of hundreds. As the sun lazily set in the west, the cremation fire was ignited. Thousands of devotees circumambulated Sri Ananta Das Babaji Maharaja’s divine form with hearts heaving in Harinama.
Sri Kajjala Dasji Maharaja sang the maha-mantra in a vilapa raga accented with his tears of anguish. While watching the cremation fire our heart melted into tears. Sweet memories of Babaji Maharaja merged in feelings of intense gratitude. Eternal indebtedness and a strong sense of commitment swelled within our being.
Our heart cried as our mind spoke:
“O Sri Ananta Das Babaji Maharaja! I owe you so much! For the last 30 years, you gave me unbounded mercy, hope and wisdom to illuminate the sacred path of divine greed, and the attainment of the most coveted and cherished seva of Srimati Radharani in the kunjas of Vrindavana. You taught me all I know about ragamayi bhakti. It is you alone who opened my heart to the beautiful inner world of eternal seva to the lotus feet of Srimati Radharani as Her tender loyal maidservant—manjari, kinkari.
“O Babaji Maharaja! Whatever we have written or spoken on raganuga bhakti is just a trickling stream drawn from the vast and powerful Ganga River of your sweeter-than-sweet Radha-Krishna katha that is enriched with your tasty bhavas, and voluminous quotations from sastra to make everything clear and authoritative.
Gratitude toward one’s mentor is measured by how much one remembers him with love and appreciation, serves his desires, and tries one’s best to represent him with all of one’s feelings, words and behavior.
“O Babaji Maharaja! You are a lover of Radha-Madhava, a renunciate, a teacher, a poet, a sad-guru, a wonderful writer, and a uniquely empowered speaker delivering the sweetest of words on the deepest subjects hankered by all true seekers of love divine.
“O Babaji Maharaja! Your sacred speech satisfied the intellect and saturated the heart with that special “Radha madhuri” which you were always relishing within your rasa-filled, most loving and compassionate heart. Standing here before your divine body burning in separation from your dearest Srimati is an empty shell sadly watching the one who significantly changed the course of our devotional life.
“O Babaji Maharaja! Like you, somehow or other Sri Krishna has blessed us with a little talent for writing. As we stand before you watching the rising flames through the screen of our falling tears, we want to make a commitment to you. O Babaji Maharaja! With your mercy and Sri Guru’s grace we will try our best to carry on the tradition of transcendental writing which you did so perfectly for the benefit of bhaktas the world over. And we will try our best to somehow or other live our life fully engaged in the humble service of Srimati Radharani.
“May we never forget those precious moments when we would meet you on the Radha Kunda parikrama marga or Chattikara Road during your late afternoon walks. With your pleasant, warm and friendly smile you would look at us, raise your beautiful, radiant golden hand and say, ‘Is everything all right? Are you fine? Just stay in Radha Kunda and do bhajan!’
“Or those times when your servants would so kindly allow us to immediately meet you to present our latest book. Upon receiving it you would say, ‘O very nice, many devotees will benefit from this.’ Then you would start reading our book, turning several pages as you read with attention and genuine interest. ‘Yes, this book looks good, I will go through it’, you would say encouragingly.
“At another time in a small room upstairs, we met you sitting and writing on a small desk facing Radha Kunda and Radha Gopinatha. We presented you a book and asked for a blessing, “O Babaji Maharaja! We see that you are always writing about the glories of Radha and Krishna and bhakti bhajan. Can you please bless us that we can do the same?” Putting down your pen, you smiled broadly and said positively, ‘Yes, may Srimati Radharani bless you to do like this.’ This happened in about 1995 or so.”
In 1996, to celebrate Sri Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada’s centennial avirbhava, we donated full sets of his Hindi Srimad Bhagavatam and Caitanya Caritamrita books to libraries in Vraja Mandala. Sri Ananta Das Babaji Maharaja gladly accepted the books, and wrote a wonderful appreciation of Srila Prabhupada’s books in our records file which was unfortunately lost. Because the Caitanya Caritamrita sets were out of print we could not give them for some time. Whenever we met Sri Ananta Das Babaji Maharaja, he would say in a most understanding and friendly tone, “Mahanidhi baba, what about my Hindi Caitanya Caritamrta set?”
“O Babaji Maharaja! Our last meeting was by far one of the most important events of our devotional life. It was Sunday November 4, 2018 just one week before your divine disappearance. You were doing Radha Kunda parikrama and suddenly you stopped just near the Sita Rama Mandira. Then you sent a sisya with a message to us at Lalita Kunda where we were doing Harinama Sankirtana. The message: “Sri Ananta Das Babaji Maharaja wants to meet you, COME QUICKLY!”
“We ran up to you, fell at your feet and then stood humbly before you. O Babaji Maharaja! You then placed your divine hand firmly on our shoulder like a father, looked deep into our eyes with the most gentle, loving and humble glance that we have ever seen, and spoke with a tender voice choked with tears, ‘May Srimati Radharani enter deep into your heart.’
“Then you lifted your hand, placed it back on our shoulder and said affirmatively, ‘And always stay there!’ Overwhelmed by your nectarean words, we spontaneously cried and fell at your lotus feet.”
Sri Ananta Das Babaji Maharaja then continued his parikarama, and we returned to the Harinama Sankirtana with this most incredible blessing locked in our heart forever!
All glories to Sri Ananta Das Babaji Maharaja!
All glories to Sri Ananta Das Babaji Maharaja!
Jai Jai Sri Radhe!