Shri Shri 108 Prana Krishna Das Babaji Maharaj appeared in a vaisnava family in the year 1918, in the village Dhaka dakshin (the holy appearance place of the Father of Shriman Chaitanya Mahaprabhu), near the city of Shri Hatta, in the present country of Bangladesh. He had 2 sisters (younger than him) and 2 brothers (elder than him). Only the sisters are still alive in Radhapur village, near the city Dharmanagar, in the state of Tripura. His father and brothers possessed a very suitable voice and were all proficient in performing kirtan. When the present state of Bangladesh became independent from India, he moved to the city of Dharmanagar were he completed his study and received the title of teacher. In the house of his relatives he made one small water pond which, even today is full of water even in the hot season. He spread profusely his love toward his brothers, often receiving them with kirtan. In Tripura several times his family performed harinam yajna at home, inviting more than 200 people to attend the program and honor the delicious dishes offered to the Lord.
He worked in the railway office for several years, always wearing dhoti (traditional dress of Hindu religion). During this time his family wanted to arrange for his marriage. When the preparations were going on, he confided to one of his friend that his inner desire was to reside in Vrindavana. The same night he left home. Later on he went to live in the state of Assam, in the city of Karimganj, 100 km from Dharmanagar, residing in a devotee’s house and spending his time travelling to numerous villages nearby, performing Kirtana and japa. Since childhood he possessed a very sincere attachment and deep taste for Harinam, thus revealing his previous samskara (activity of his past life) as an exemplary devotee. After some time the householder devotee who hosted him suddenly passed away, leaving his wife alone with 5 daughters and one son. Aggrieved by the great disgrace fallen upon her due to the death of her husband, the lady faced numerous difficulties and became mental insane.
The local villagers were incredulous about the cause of the event, and many local residents of that village advised Praphullo (the previous name of Baba) to abandon that house to avoid criticism upon him. Not caring about the opinion of ordinary people he granted his unconditioned compassion towards the innocents and the helpless, offering his help in many ways to the entire family of his departed dear friend. Finally he inspired them on the path of Divine love through chanting the Holy names of Shri Hari. Due to the uncommon spiritual power of Praphullo the lady regained her mental peace and developed a sincere desire to spend the rest of her life together with her children performing bhajan. Her increased devotion towards the Lord, who is the ultimate shelter of the suffering souls, impressed the heart of the villagers. Surprised by observing her fast recovery, and convinced by her truthful words eulogizing the grace she received from Praphullo, the local residents started to consider the fact as a miracle, honoring him as the saint and savior of that village. They praised him just like they revered Lord Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and when Praphullo used to visit their house they felt like a divine personality was honoring their abode. Praphullo never revealed this story to anyone, being in his heart free from the desire to receive honor and fame. Instead, he was always greedy to serve others with utmost humility.
Recently Baba went to visit that village again with one of his disciples, who heard for the story of that miracle narrated by one of the daughters of the departed friend for the first time. Once, in another village, Praphullo gathered some devotees and ordered them to perform kirtan until he would come back. Kirtan started and Praphullo left, returning several hours later, carrying with him an incredible quantity of rice, many vegetables, beans and a great variety of other food stuffs. He also brought a lot of money with him to distribute in donation the day after. The kirtan was performed for 24 hours continuously, and the next morning prasada (excellent spiritual food preparations) was distributed to many people. In the same way he performed kirtan in different places. Later on Praphullo went to reside in Nabadweep’s Madan Mohan mandir, where he spent many years in the ashram of his Guruji, Jadu Gopal Goswami. His Guruji was a very tall and powerful man. Somehow Praphullo was timid to approach him due to his strong bodily constitution so he could not receive his close association.
Instead he received more instructions from Madan Gopal Goswami (the son of Jadu Gopal Goswami), with whom he closely associated to perform bhajan (devotional prayers), kirtan, katha and prasada distribution. In those days Praphullo regularly circumambulated the holy land of Nabadweep, chanting japa. After Jadu Gopal Goswami departed from this world he received complete siddha pranali from his son. Praphullo and Madan Gopal Goswami travelled together frequently; one time during a journey by bus they had a very terrible accident – every passenger was seriously injured. Only Praphullo and Madan Gopal Goswami were completely safe. Another time they were passing through a narrow cliff between two mountains when suddenly the bamboo trees on both sides of the road bowed down completely to pay them their obeisances and went back straight. On that occasion Madan Gopal Goswami revealed to Praphullo that they were special bamboo trees offering their respectful homages to a descendent of Lord Nityananda (M.G.G. himself). On another occasion, after a long trip, they arrive at one place where a group of devotees were reciting katha (narration of holy teachings- and stories). Upon meeting Madan Gopal Goswami, the organizer invited him to talk to the community. He then asked Praphullo to choose a subject for the katha, and Praphullo suggested his guruji narrate Guru Vandana (prayers to Shri Gurudev). In this way the Katha continued and Guru Mahima (the glories of Shri Guru) was elaborately described. In the beginning Praphullo frequently visited Radhakund and Vrindavana with devotees from Nabadweep. In Vrindavan he resided at Kesi Ghat, sustaining himself mostly with water and madhukari roti (Indian bread received by begging from the local residents of Vraja) which he ate in a secluded place on a boat in the Yamuna (Holy River). Since 40 years he has been living permanently in Radhakund. Due to his deepest humility and exalted bhakti (devotion to the Lord) Bhagavat das Babaji conferred on him the title of Babaji (renounced order of life), and granted him the opportunity to reside in a kutir located at the right side of Shri Shri Radha Gopinath mandir, where Shri Raghunath Das Goswami performed bhajan in Radhakund. Since that time Praphullo is known till today as Shri Prana Krishna Das Babaji Maharaj. One time Bhagavat das Babaji asked him to perform 24 hour kirtan in Raghunath das Goswami Samadhi. He agreed and many sadhus attended the kirtan.
He was begging daily for providing various foodstuffs and milk for the temple of Mahaprabhu in Radhakund. He was very resolute in his daily parikrama of Govardhana (24 km by feet) and his prominent activity was kirtan. Once a young devotee whose name was Bhagavat das, who was living previously in Nabadweep came to live in Vrindavan in Giridhari Mandir after the departure of his instructing Guru Vinod Bihari Goswami. Later on this devotee took up residence in Govardhan, doing kirtan and performing dandavat Parikrama of Shri Govardhan. During that time he met Babaji near Anyor village. There Babaji asked him why he was performing dandavat parikrama and Bhagavat das replied that it was his inner wish. Babaji revealed him that in the Gaudiya tradition it was not recommended because when one pays his homage, bowing down, one’s body should stay at the right of Govardhana. Babaji explained that in this way he will receive the result of the parikrama but not of the dandavats. One should offer prostrated obeisances at one place. At that time Babaji invited Bhagavat Das to stay with him in Radhakund to perform bhajan. At Puchri ka lota (a holy place at the base of Mt. Govardhan), deeply impressed by the personality of Babaji, Bhagavat Das received harinam initiation from him. He decided to follow Babaji to Radhakund and later received complete Diksa, receiving the name Bhagavan Das. After living for 1 year in Kamyavan and Jatipura he came to live permanently at Radhakund.
It has been 15 years since that he has been with Guruji. Just ten years back the temple of Shri Radhavinod was handed over to Babaji and Bhagavan das (the present pujari of the mandir). Previously this temple was in the care of another old Babaji. Several babajis were offering their service for some weeks or for some months. When the local society wanted to hand over the mandir to Shri Prana Krishna Das Babaji and his disciple Bhagavan das, its condition was terrible. Bhagavan das wanted to refuse but Babaji told him that the local society and Radha-Vinodji were unhappy not to receive proper care. Babaji promised that he would give his full support and that surely by the power of the extraordinary Divine Grace the temple would soon develop. Babaji then convinced his disciple to heartily accept the proposal to render service in the mandir. Madhusudhan babaji gave the key of the temple together with a little uncooked rice, beans and kerosene oil. When they arrive with these items the mandir was dirty, unclean and even utensils were missing or broken. There was one small pot where Bhagavan das gathered all the ingredients and cooked for the Lord. Behind the mandir there was a garbage belt. Three days later was the celebration of Shri Lokanath das Goswami disappearance. Slowly the temple and surrounding space were cleaned and the worship proceeded accurately. Lokanath das Goswami was a prominent Vaisnava and a storehouse of single-minded service to the lotus feet of Shri Shri Radha-Vinoda. He had a great desire to establish the worship of the deity and render service to the Lord of Vraja. Understanding Lokanath’s aspiration to serve Krishna, the Lord Himself appeared before him and offered Lokanatha Goswami a Vigraha, saying, "Worship this Deity here. This deity’s name is Radha-Vinoda." After giving him this beautiful deity, Krishna disappeared. In order to protect the deity, he prepared a cloth bag which was his temple. Shri Radhavinoda thus became like a jeweled necklace around his neck. The Deities were transferred to Jaipur later and the pratibhu murti is now present in Radhavinod Mandir.
It is said that when Krishnadasa Kaviraja Goswami went to Lokanatha Goswami and asked his blessings to compile the Shri Chaitanya Caritamrita, Lokanatha Goswami granted him his blessing, but prohibited Kaviraja Goswami from mentioning his name in his book. Kaviraja Goswami impressed by his plea as a symptom of unflinching humility had to accept his request. So it is not astonishing that Shri Radha-Vinodji desires to be worshipped in this present time by Shri Prana Krishna das Babaji, whose life is a transparent example of unalloyed devotion to the Lord and uncommon humility. The day of Adhivas (preparative ceremony for the next day celebration of Shri Lokanath das Goswami disappearance) arrived, and Guruji requested Bhagavan das to buy one kg of laddu (milk sweet) and offer it in two times to the Deities, so that the group invited for kirtan could receive some prasad. Bhagavan das started 24 hour kirtan and Guruji went outside. The next morning the feast of Lokanath das Goswami was celebrated in Radha-Vinod Mandir like never before. Fifty Babajis received Prasada. Since that time there is no scarcity, the worship is rendered with great care and lot of prasada was distributed till today. Everything is accomplished for the mercy of Guruji and Gauranga. At present the mandir is a simple, clean, most sweet and very suitable place were many dedicated Sadhus execute their bhajan. 24 hour Kirtan has been carried out in Radhavinod mandir for the last 5 years. In the beginning it started with one month, then six months and nowadays is still going on along with Prasada seva for many sadhus. This service is kindly supported financially by a devotee living in Agra. As an exemplary follower of Lord Mahaprabhu, Babaji possesses a singular love for harinam and Kirtan. One time, during his Giriraja parikrama, he was carrying a small cloth bag that contained a little madhukari roti and one chadar. Near Daan Ghaati, where there used to be a large forest a long time ago, one thief approached him to ask what the bag was containing. Babaji, understanding his intention, spontaneously consigned the bag to him. Another time he was walking doing japa near Anyor village late at night where he met one small boy who told him to chant loudly together with his bela (musical instrument).
Then the little boy disappeared. From that time Babaji started chanting and playing his bela as he was instructed probably by Lord Gopal Krishna Himself during his parikrama. Since that time he is famous as bela baba. Guruji is loved by everyone, even in Tripura they are carrying him on their shoulders when he visits, just as the Vrajabhasis do in Radhakund during the kirtan even now. Baba used to attend Hari katha, listenening with rapt attention, although the speaker may be someone younger than him in all respects. Even until today Shri Prana Krishna das Babaji wakes up every day at 3 a.m. and takes his bath in Radhakund, even in the cold and hot season, offering his worship to his Giridhari in his kutir and attending mangal artik at Radha-Gopinath mandir. After 4.30 a.m. he arrives in Radha-Vinod mandir for mangal artik, where he performs more puja. In the morning he executes his daily parikrama of Shri Govardhana and then comes back to Radhakund at approximately 9 a.m.. Then he offers 108 dandavats to numerous deities of Radhakund. After that he sits in his kutir for meditation and comes back to Radha-Vinod to help cook and perform bhoga artik. Then he serves prasada to the sadhus, to the guests, to his disciples and to all the devotees. Finally he respects a little amount of simple food, boiled rice with fenugreek, avoiding sweets and palatable fried dishes like rasa or fried vegetable. Immediately after his lunch he reaches for his kutir to recite prayers and meditate further. He also daily attends the kirtan at Raghunath Das Goswami Samadhi. In the evening he comes back at Radha-Vinod mandir for the sandhya (dusk) artik, and then leaves again for kirtan and parikrama.
In this way he performs 7-8 parikramas of Shri Radhakund daily. Sometimes he falls asleep in the kirtan at Raghunath das Samadhi and goes to rest only for a few hours in his kutir till 3 a.m. Nowadays he wakes up at 11 at night, joins the 24 hour kirtan again and returns to sleep at 1.30 a.m., resting only till 3 a.m. Today, at the age of 93, Babaji is fixed in his daily routine of Bhajan with great devotion, and is inspiring more and more devotees to surrender to the lotus feet of Kundeshwari Radhika by his unflinching bhakti and humility. Through his blessings many souls, totally unualified, like myself, received the rare grace to reside at Swamini’s blissful kunda. Since a few years also many young Vrajabhasi boys accepted Babaji as their beloved Guruji and created a kirtan group with extremely contagious enthusiasm for harinam. Hearing such kirtan (impregnated with the immense mercy of a sat guru) has a very soothing effect on the mind and confers an unlimited sweet happiness to the heart of the listener and to whoever has the opportunity to follow them in parikrama even once. One can find their spectacular stories as a video in the Gallery. Babaji’s agility and alertness is amazing. Once the bone in his hip was displaced. The doctor strictly told him “bed-rest”, but after less than a week he was sitting on the back of a bicycle driven by one of his disciples, doing Radhakund-parikrama and after 17 days he was up on his feet again, singing as usual. Sometimes he sits alone at Tamal-tala singing Mahamantra, not caring for anyone giving him company or not. He doesn’t care whether the devotees sing properly or not – as long it is the Mahamantra he is happy if you join in. Shri Prana Krishna das Babaji belongs to a perfect disciplic succession descending from Janava Mata (the wife of Lord Nityananda). He received special mercy from his Guru and other illustrious Vaisnavas from his parampara line (see in the path of divine love, our Parampara). In the Holy scriptures the Guru is mostly compared to a spiritual father who instruct his disciple just like a physical father guides his son. Babaji, however, is more compared to a loving mother who grants her tender affection and singular care to his son and daughters, easily forgiving their offenses. His prayers for his disciples unfolds an undefeatable power against the illusory energy of this material world. In spite of being in the position of a Gurudev, just like a mother he often cooks and serves prasada with his own hands to the Vaishnavas.
After he has fed everyone, included matajis and children, he partakes of whatever is left. He covers his spiritual children with unlimited warmth, protecting them from all miseries and placing them at the Lotus Feet of Radhaji. We heard many stories from his disciples of how they became free from material bondage and incurable diseases too, only by the extraordinary grace of Babaji. Being free from any unwanted selfish desire, he treats everyone with the same love. Babaji cannot speak much English but somehow, due to his rare qualities, many western devotees recently surrendered at his divine feet. In Radhakund especially those who know him since long consider him as a real saint who with his infinite sweetness can perform the miracle of turning our miserable life in a jug of unlimited joy. Not only he loves everyone but he is also greedy to serve everyone. His weapon to correct his followers is not heavy scolding or hard discipline like a father would do to his naughty son. Instead Babaji teaches with his perfect example, granting his affectionate shower of unconditional mercy and tender affection. Babaji is truly a marvelous Vaisnava and his splendid smile reveals the heart of whom has found happiness within himself. His main instruction is :"Incessantly chant the Mahamantra, and never be without seva, doing so Maya (material illusion) will not be able to enter you." Infinitely indebted to Shri Gurudev I sincerely express my gratitude to Sudamsu Das, Bhagavan Das and all the Vrajabasi disceples of Babaji, who provided us the detailed information to compile the above biography. With their charismatic enthusiasm and unlimited sweetness they are always a source of inspiration on our devotional path.