Laxminath Gosain (Babajee)
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Born in a Maithil Brahmin family, he learnt yoga and the Vedanta philosophy as a child. Later, he gave up his married life and traveled to a number of religious shrines in India and Nepal, eventually becoming a disciple of Guru Lambanathaswami of the Terai region. After nine years of training, he settled in the Bangaon village. He composed several poems in Maithili and Hindi, devoted to the life of Radha, Krishna and Shiva. His Christian disciple "John Sahib" published his hymns.
Early life of Babajee and entry into Bangaon
Babajee was born as Laxinath Jha in the nearby Parsarma village in 1793. His father's name was Shri Bachha Jha. He was born in a Kujilwar digaun mool (mool denotes the lineage to a family based upon the origins of that family to a certain village. The English meaning of mool is root) and his gotra was Katyayan. mool and gotra are used to identify the roots of a family. After early education in astrology under the tutelage of Shri Ratte Jha, Babajee returned to his native village where his parents noticed a sense of aloofness in him. To get rid of that, his family got him married (which he obeyed only to do his dharma, an act thought to follow the order justified by religion). But he was not into living a mundane life and soon set out into deep forest looking for a guru. He met the famous guru Lambnath who was the disciple of Guru Gorakhnath's disciple. Thus, babajee was fourth in the rung. Under Guru Lambnath's tutelage, Babajee had the opportunity to see baba Gorakhnath in person who was very old at thattime. After all the training of yoga and tantra babajee returned initially to Darbhanga. During one of the trips, he happened to come to Bangaon where he was warmly welcomed by the villagers both for being a yogi and also that villagers saw him as an able wrestler. In those days wrestling used to be a sport of immense interest to the villagers. Given to the warm hospitality and goodness of the people, Babajee decided to stay in the village. Villagers made a kutiya (grass hut) for him. A villager named Kari Jha donated him a cow. He did many acts of goodwill to the people of the village
Babajee's life as a writer
Babjee wrote a huge collection of Bhajans (Bhajans are poems that have religious teachings of Hindu faith and in some way can be said to be equivalent to the Psalms in Christian faith)which are published as a collection named Bhajnawali. His only other published work is Vivek Ratnawali. Bhajnawali was kept in its original form by Late Mahavir Jha. It was later organised by Pandit Chhedi Jha Dwijwar. Bhajnawali has Bhajans that cover a wide range of topics describing the childhood of the Gods Rama and Krishna as well as philosophical ones. A commemorative audio cassette of Babajee's Bhajans was released by late Bhavesh Mishra in 1980s. Some of his poems targeted laziness inherent in most of us. Some of his famous bhajans included the following.
Man re kahan firat baurana ("mind" where are you wandering).
"mind" is used as a metaphor for oneself in this Bhajan.
मन रे कहाँ फिरत बौराना
Ambe aab uchit nahi deri
(Mother Goddess! Its already too late)
अम्बे आब उचित नहीं देरी
Babajee and Christian John
Babajee lived in a time when the East India Company had complete control over north Indian states. Needless to say that Bangaon was part of the Bengal province as the division of Bengal happened in 1905. In those times, British used to have their establishments in nearly all major headquarters to monitor the governance and collect taxes. The nearest British establishment to Bangaon was in a place three kilometers east to the village called Bariyahi. The place where the Britishers used to dwell was known as "Briyahi Kothi". In Babajee's time, one such British named Christian John came in contact with Babajee. Both of them shared common interest in religion and used to have multiple discourses. Christian John, however, was immensely influenced by Babajee's thinking and emulated his writing style as can be seen in this poem which similar in thoughts (only differing in reference of Hindu gods in Babajee's bhajans as savior as opposed to Jesus being referred as savior in Christian John's Bhajans).
Babaji Samaroh is held every year on 5 December on the premises of Babaji Temple. This ceremony is held on 5 December since that is the birthday of Babaji. It was started in 1972 by late Bhavesh Mishra. Apart from the special worship, there are many other cultural programmes held during the Samaaroh. The function usually starts with the inauguration by a top official (DM/SP) or some political leader of the district. This is followed by lectures by some respected villagers as well as musical programs and Haasya Kavi Sammelans. For a long time, locally renowned poet Amiya Halaahal, singers Hemkant Jha, Mahendra and the singer-lyricist duo " Nand-Naval" used to be top attractions of the function. This function was organised by Late Bhavesh Mishra, a popular journalist and lawyer of the district, until his sudden demise in 1991. His family members, with the help of fellow villagers,have been organising this function since then. Late Bhavesh Mishra also introduced a very talented singer-lyricist duo Nand-Naval into singing their own songs or Bhajans
composed by Laxminath Gosain during the Babaji Samaroh. He also released an audio cassette, compiling the Bhajans of Laxminath Gosain, which featured Nand singing some of the Bhajans. Some of the popular bhajans of that Bhajan collection included Uthi bhore kahoo hari hari, hari hari, He Ram Lakhi Kevat oat khare…. After the untimely demise of Hemkant Jha in 2011, A commemorative collection of his maithili songs was released by Neelam cassettes. In part two of this series, one of Babajee's Bhajan Kahan Lage Mohan Maiya Maiya also features (titled Yashoda ji Pochhati).
- Sisir Kumar Das (1991). A History of Indian Literature: Western impact: Indian response, 1800-1910. Sahitya Akademi. p. 565. ISBN 978-81-7201-006-5.
- Amaresh Datta (1988). Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature: devraj to jyoti. Sahitya Akademi. p. 1452. ISBN 978-81-260-1194-0.
- Gosain, Laxminath. Bhajnawali. Maa Durga Parmahans Sewa sadan, 2007.