|SRI GAURANGA ASHRAM|
Founder Acharya His Divine Grace
Baba was born on 16th March 1926 Falgun Purnima (the same day as Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu) to a prosperous and pious Bengali Brahmin family settled in Allahabad, U.P. His father was a Doctor of Medicine and his mother, a Professor.
Baba's original name was Saumya Bandyopadhyay. He was in his mother's womb for close to 12 months. One day when his mother was in the agony of prolonged labour, a sadhu passing by stopped at the door of his house and blessed the mother and prophesied that the child about to be born was a great soul. The child grew up in a pious and religious environment and mastered the scriptures at a tender age under the guidance of his mother.
At the age of 15, Baba gave his first discourse on the Kathopanishad, to a small gathering in Allahabad. At the same time, he also acquired a formal education, successfully completing his post graduation from Allahabad University in English and Philosophy, with First Class Honours.
Since a very early age, He started showing signs of detachment to worldly matters. He was indifferent to material attractions and considerations of power and wealth. Some attempts were made to get Him married, but unsuccessfully. His family saw with increasing concern the signs of utter dispassion and renunciation in His behaviour.
Finally at the age of 24, his spiritual urge and missionary zeal led Baba to run away from home in search of spiritual life. After leaving home, He met Srila Bhakti Prabana Damodar Goswami Maharaj in the Gaudiya Math, Delhi who gave Him initiation on Magh Purnima day of 1950.
His parents were heart broken, but faced with his firm conviction and determination, accepted his decision. Thereafter, he pursued his spiritual training at different Gaudya Maths - in Delhi, Kurukshetra, Patna, Kolkata amongst others. At the behest of his Guru, Baba went to Santipur in Nadia district, West Bengal, and revived the Naam Sankirtan movement, originally propagated by Sri Krishna Chaitanya in the 15th century.
As a Brahmachari in His Guru's ashram, Baba never refrained from performing tasks which were for the most part arduous, if not reprehensible to the tastes of a young man raised in comparative luxury and comfort.
Once while in Nadia, on a full moon night, Baba's room was flooded with a divine glow and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu 'materialised' before Him and laid His hand on Baba's head in blessing and conferred upon Him His name 'Bhakti Sravan' and gave him the sanyas mantra. Baba immediately lost consciousness.
Baba remained in a state of samadhi for 72 hours. In the presence of a large gathering naam sankirtan was conducted and slowly He returned to consciousness. Baba himself related that His guru had fore-knowledge of His divine initiation and so kept postponing his sanyas diksha despite repeated requests. Once Baba received His mantra from Mahaprabhu, His guru asked Him (Baba) to initiate him with the same mantra. Thus Baba initiated His own Guru.
The next five years of His life were spent visiting places of pilgrimage in India. Baba also visited Mecca in Saudi Arabia twice. He endured great hardships in his travels. He also spent three years observing a vow of silence.
At the behest of His Gurudev He conducted Bhagavat saptahas in different places. Once His Gurudev fell seriously ill. For his recovery, Baba conducted the first saptaha at Anjuan in the district of Krishnanagar, West Bengal. For seven days He remained on fast and successfully conducted the yagna according to scriptural injunctions. After that His Guruji recovered from his illness.
Of all the Bhagavat saptahas conducted (108 in all), the one conducted in Santipur at Babla is still remembered. On the last day of the week, His discourse was so moving that tears flowed from the eyes of the deity of Advaita Acharya in whose temple premises the katha was going on.
In 1961 Baba met with Swami Sadananda at Hardwar. The Swami was popularly known as Gulabi Baba owing to his rosy complexion. At that time Gulabi Baba was 108 years of age but looked quite young in appearance. He had spent a number of years observing spiritual disciplines in Naimisaranya. Gulabi Baba had in his possession a religious treatise written by Srila Jeeva Goswami called "Ananda Vrindavan Campu". This was a veritable treasure. Baba wanted the text for Himself, but of course, His request was turned down unceremoniously.
However, the text was delivered into the hands of Baba by divine intervention. In January 1963 when Baba was living in Radha Kund, a small boy handed Him a packet containing the treatise. Meanwhile there was a great commotion in the ashram of Gulabi Baba when the text was found missing.
After several searches turned up nothing, the text was given up as stolen by someone. Gulabi Baba was most bewildered. Soon after, the Lord appeared in a dream to Gulabi Baba and divulged the fact that He Himself was the Thief and that the text had been given to its rightful owner.
Gulabi Baba was given further instructions to join Baba and assist Him in His work. The shaligram shila of Sri Nrisingha Dev, which was with Gulabi Baba was also to be delivered to Baba said the Lord.
Gulabi Baba met Him again and revealed to Him all the incidents that took place in his dream. Acting upon the Lord's instructions, Gulabi Baba handed over the Sri Nrisingha Dev shaligram to Baba. A bond of love was established between the two.
Gulabi Baba foretold that Baba would establish a temple of Sri Nrisingha Dev in Bhubaneshwar in the future and have the shaligram shila installed and worshipped there.
Sometime in October 1978 Baba was in Vellore. One night Sri Nrisingha Bhagawan appeared to Him in a vision and instructed Him to build a similar hospital in Bhubaneshwar.
In 1979 Baba stayed in Simhachalam Devasthanam for 21 days. During His stay there Bhagawan Nrisingha again gave Him darshan and some instructions of a personal nature.
In 1980 and '81 Baba established the Sri Gouranga Ashram and Sri Lakshmi Nrisingha Temple in Bhubaneshwar. Thereafter Baba started treating sick and afflicted persons by distributing tulasi leaves and charanamrita used in the service of the Sri Nrisingha Dev shaligram.
Many seriously ill people, some suffering from cancer and heart ailments, mentally sick patients and others have been completely cured by Baba's grace. His powers of healing have been experienced by many of his devotees and disciples who are around today and testify to this readily.
In 1985, to commemorate the 500th birth centenary of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Baba undertook a Sri Naam Sankirtan Parikrama along with 50,000 devotees in Sridham Navadweep. He also led a padayatra with 15,000 devotees from Kharagpur to Puri and then on to Rameshwaram in the South during the same year. The padayatra took three-and-a-half months to complete.
During the padayatra, Baba was instrumental in having 108 ancient temples in Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu renovated. Over the years, Baba conducted 108 discourses on the Srimad Bhagavatam in 7 days Bhagavat Saptahas in different parts of the country.
Baba established 21 Ashrams throughout India. Sri Gauranga Seva Sadan at Bhubaneshwar renders selfless, humanitarian and medical aid to the poor and needy. Always thinking of the welfare of humanity, Baba established three mobile medical vans, two in West Bengal and one in Orissa that provide free medical services to the poor in remote and under-served areas.
Baba was also bequeathed ancient and historic temples for revival and upkeep. In Uchagaon, Barsana, Mathura district, the UP Government handed over to him the Lalita Sakhi Temple while in Navadweep, the Sri Sri Radha Krishnachandra jiu Temple (Sonar Mandir) was handed over to him in 2002.
Throughout his life, Baba observed the strict discipline of a Vaishnav Sanyasi. From 1967, he lived on liquids alone, without consuming any solid food. During Bhagavat Saptahas, he used to observe complete fast for 7 days.
Babas life was a saga of extraordinary spiritual attainments and ecstatic love for the Supreme Lord. His zeal for humanitarian welfare is but a manifestation of his infinite compassion and love for all beings emanating from an experience of cosmic unity.
Baba entered the Nitya Leela in New Delhi on 1st December 2004 after a brief pastime of illness. His samadhi mandir is in Sri Gauranga Ashram Bhubaneshwar. His pushpa samadhis are in Sri Vrindavan and Sridham Navadwip.
Jai Guru !
Jai Sri Radhey !