After Sri Ramdasji Kathia Babaji Maharaj, the 55th guru of this Sampradaya was his disciple, Sri Santadasji Kathia Babaji Maharaj. He was born in 1859 to a Brahmin family in a village called Bamei in Sylhet district (now in Bangladesh). His name then was Sri Tarakishorji Sharma Chowdhury. He was a very intelligent child and excelled in academics as a student. Even as a child he was attracted towards God and regularly read the Mahabharata, Ramayana and other scriptures. After his basic education in Sylhet and did his BA from the Presidency College in Calcutta and then went on to do his MA in Philosophy from Calcutta University. That year he was the only successful student in MA in Philosophy. He then completed his LLB and started his practice as a lawyer. Initially he practiced in Sylhet but later on he established himself as one of the topmost and finest lawyers of the Calcutta High Court.

At the age of 15 he got married to a 10 year old girl Smt. Annadadevi. In Calcutta he first joined the Brahmo Samaj in pursuit of spiritual knowledge. After many years in the Brahmo Samaj he became disillusioned with it and left it to return to the Hindu fold. Thereafter he joined a Yogi sect and practiced Pranayama for many years. He did everything with full enthusiasm and as a result of continuous practice of Pranayama he gained a lot of powers. However, it was not enough to satisfy his yearning for spiritual fulfillment. He then started searching for a sadguru who would guide him on the path to realisation of God.

The river Ganga was very dear to him and he often bathed in its waters. One afternoon he was sitting on its banks when a deep yearning for a Guru swelled up in his heart. He prayed to the mother Ganga and said, “Mother, you wash away the sins of the people on this earth. Am I so sinful that you cannot wash away my sins? When will I find a guru?” His earnest prayer was answered. The scene before his eyes changed and instead of the Jagannath Ghat in Calcutta he saw the Gangotri Glacier, the origin place of the river Ganga. He was blessed with the darshan of Lord Shiva and Devi Parvati. Lord Shiva granted a boon that he would soon find a guru who would show the path to salvation. Lord Shiva also gave him a Ekakshari mantra. He said that the japa of this mantra will help him find a sadguru. Lord Shiva and Devi Parvati disappeared after granting him these boons. Sri Tarakishorji visited many places in search of a guru. He meditated on the mantra given to him by Lord Shiva and after three years he found a guru in Sri Ramdas Kathia Babaji Maharaj.

The sequence of events which led him to take diksha from Sri Kathia Babaji Maharaj is a very intriguing one. He arrived at the Prayagraj Kumbha Mela accompanied by one of his friends. He met Sri Kathia Babaji Maharaj and observed many what we call supernatural display of powers of Sri Kathia Babaji Maharaj but he still was unconvinced about accepting him as his guru. Later that year in the month of March, he went to Vrindavan and stayed in Sri Kathia Babaji Maharaj’s ashram and observed his activities from very close quarters. He was disheartened by what he saw. In fact, far from thinking of Sri Kathia Babaji Maharaj as a realized Yogi, he began to think that Sri Kathia Babaji Maharaj was rather a simple soul, a less educated person who is only granted some respect in deference to his old age. However, he would think about the Yogic display of powers in Prayag and begin to think that maybe he was wrong in his conclusions about him. He returned to Kolkata in a very peculiar state of mind, not convinced about his conclusions either way.

One night in Kolkata he was asleep on the rooftop of his home when his sleep was suddenly interrupted and he woke up. In the next moment he saw that Sri Kathia Babaji Maharaj in the sky, coming towards him. In a few moments Sri Kathia Babaji Maharaj descended from the night sky and came to stand next to him. After a few words of assurance Sri Kathia Babaji Maharaj granted the diksha mantra to Sri Tarakishorji and then left the same way into the night sky. All the doubts that Sri Tarakishorji had about Sri Kathia Babaji Maharaj disappeared in an instant, and he felt blessed to have received the grace of a true saint and a sadguru. Later that year he and his wife received diksha from Sri Kathia Babaji Maharaj in Vrindavan on Janamashtami.

The life of Sri Tarakishorji was an example of how a human being should live his life as a householder. He considered his Gurudeva and Sri Thakurji the true masters of his household and he performed all his duties as a service unto God. He was a lawyer by profession but he took up only genuine cases and never resorted to deception or unfair means to win a case. He fought genuine cases of poor people and did not charge a penny from them. Many poor students lived in his house and received money and other facilities to pursue their studies. Not only that, sometimes his clients would stay in his house for the duration of their cases. No one was ever asked so as to why they had decided to start living in his house. In fact, many times his permission was neither sought nor deemed necessary for someone to stay in the house. All the expenses of the people living in the house were borne by him. One of his relatives observed this disheveled state of affairs and pointed it out to him and urged him to take corrective steps. He gave that person’s point of view some thought and then replied, “Whatever you have pointed out is no doubt true. And yet, I do not understand who is to blame for this, I or these people. I have never thought that this is my house. I have always believed that this house and everything in it belongs to Sri Thakurji. Just as he provides for everybody else living here, he provides for me too. So why should anyone seek my permission to stay or eat here? Why would they consider me the master of the house?” The ideal manner to live one’s life as a householder was shown by him as an example for others to follow. To be a householder and yet be detached from its trappings is an ideal that can be achieved, this is what we learn from his life in the Grihastha Ashram.

Even as a householder he was very conscious of his duty towards acheiving spiritual fulfillment and did not let his professional duties to interfere with his aim of achieving spiritual knowledge. He did not touch his any issues relating to his professional life after he returned from court. The evenings and nights were spent in japa or studying scriptures. He wrote the biography of his gurudeva and the many other books. Prominent amongst them are -1) Brahmvadi Rishi and Brahmvidya, and commenteries on a) Vaisheshika Darshan,b) Nyaya Darshan,c) purva Mimansa Darshan, d) Sankhya darshan, e) Patanjali’s Yoga darshan, and f) Vedanta Darshan. These books are unparalleled and unmatched in their clear and lucid explanation of scriptural truths.

Sri Tarakishorji served his gurudeva with a lot of devotion and always tried to follow his Gurudeva’s orders with sincerity. Sri Kathia Babaji Maharaj was very pleased with the devotion of Sri Tarakishorji. He said to Sri Tarakishorji, “The Thakurji who resides in the temple in the ashram is very divine and alive. Go and ask of Him any boon that you desire.” Sri Tarakishorji replied, “Gurudeva, it is your satisfaction that I seek. By your grace there is nothing that is unattainable for me.” Sri Kathia Babaji Maharaj said, “You speak the truth, indeed by my blessings you will definitely get everything that you desire. However, sometimes things must be put to test otherwise what would be the point of it all? That is why I am telling you, go inside the temple and ask whatever it is that you want.” Sri Tarakishorji went inside the temple and prayed to Sri Thakurji and said, “In the Bhagvad Gita you have described the highest level of spiritual achievement of a human being. By your grace I wish reach that pinnacle of spiritual enlightenment.” After his prayer he came back and sat down in his room. Sri Kathia Babaji Maharaj came up to him and repeated the boons that Sri Tarakishorji had prayed for and added, “You will attain all this. You will get whatever you wish for. You will never ever lack anything. You will become a Mahant. You will attain complete realisation of God. If all this does not happen then I am not a true sadhu.”

With the permission of his gurudeva Sri Tarakishorji started the construction of a new ashram in Vrindavan. He sent money from Kolkata and Sri Kathia Babaji Maharaj supervised the construction of the Sri Nimbarka Ashram in Vrindavan. Sri Kathia Babaji Maharaj left his mortal body before the ashram could be completed. Almost five years after his Gurudeva’s evanescence, Sri Tarakishorji gave up his practice as a lawyer and decided to come and live in Vrindavan to pursue his goal of achieving spiritual fulfillment and knowledge. He was on the verge of becoming a judge of the Kolkata High Court when he took this decision. He began severe penances in the newly built ‘Sri Nimbarka Ashram’ and for two years he devoted his entire time to achieve his goal. He rested for just two or three hours a day and ate only once a day. The rest of the time was spent either doing japa or studying scriptures. He succeeded in his endeavours and after two years of rigorous austerities he attained spiritual fulfillment. The saints of Vrindavan initiated him into the sanyaas ashram and gave the name ‘Santadas”. They also chose him to become the Braja Videhi Mahant and the Srimahant of the Chatur Sampradaya. Thus all the boons given by his Gurudeva came to fruition. His name and his fame as a jnani and bhakta spread all over India. He was also known for his sadhu-seva. He initiated thousands of people by giving them diksha or naam mantra. He wrote Bhedabhed Sidhanta, Guru- Shishya Samvad and also translated the Srimad Bhagwad Gita into Bengali. He established Nimbarka ashrams in Howrah, Bhuvaneshvar, and Sylhet.  The Ashram in Bhuvaneshvar was constructed after his evanescence. He finally left his mortal body in 1935.



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