Jagannatha Dasa Babaji

excerpt from "How the Teachings of Lord Chaitanya came to the Western World," Back to Godhead Magazine #68, 1974


Jagannatha dasa Babaji Maharaja (1776-1894), the spiritual master of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, confirmed Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura's discovery of the birthplace of Lord Chaitanya. Upon arriving at the birthplace, Jagannatha dasa Babaji Maharaja, though blind and crippled, leaped high into the air and began chanting the names of Krishna and dancing.

Until (Bhaktivinoda) Thakura’s time, the precise location of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s appearance was unknown—a fact that indicates how moribund His teachings had become in India. Srila Bhaktivinoda combed old government records and consulted antiquarian maps and authentic books written during the time of Lord Chaitanya. Then he took support from the inspired testimony of his spiritual master, Srila Jagannatha dasa Babaji. In Sridhama Mayapur, on the eastern bank of the Ganges, the holy site was finally ascertained. For this Jagannatha dasa Babaji is memorialized by all Vaishnavas:

gauravirbhava-bhumes tvam
nirdeshta saj-jana-priyah
vaishnava–sarvabhaumah
shri–jagannathaya te namaha

"I offer my respectful obeisances to Jagannatha dasa Babaji, who is respectful to the entire community of devotees and who discovered the place where Lord Chaitanya appeared." In this way, Jagannatha dasa Babaji and Bhaktivinoda Thakura followed the example of the six exalted Gosvamis of Vrindavana, who were sent to Vrindavana by Lord Chaitanya to uncover the sites of Krishna's pastimes.

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*Brahmananda dasa served for several years as the first president of the first ISKCON temple in the United States (while at the same time working as a teacher in the New York City public school system). He later became director of ISKCON Press and in 1970 accepted the renounced order of life. He was the first devotee to introduce Krishna consciousness in Africa.

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