In the month of Śravaṇa 1880, when Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja was staying in the kuñja of Śrī Rūpa dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura arrived at the kuñja of Śrī Rādhā-ramaṇa Vasu with the intent of having darśana of Śrīdhāma Vṛndāvana. At that time, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura was searching for certain lost scriptural texts. When he came to the kuñja of Śrī Rūpa dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja, he had his first darśana of Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja and thus manifested the meeting pastime of the eternal Vrajavāsī guru and disciple in the Vraja of this world. It was here that Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura received a copy of the ‘Dāsa śloki’ of Śrī Nimbāditya, which he later published in Bengali.
Hearing the powerful hari-kathā of Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura understood that Bābājī Mahārāja was a great bhajanānandi-mahāpuruṣa, and thus he surrendered himself forever at Bābājī Mahārāja’s lotus feet. He realized that the actual result of his pilgrimage had been obtained:
tīrtha-phala sādhu-saṅga, sādhu saṅge antaraṅga,
śrī kṛṣṇa-bhajana manohāra
The actual result of going to the holy places is to obtain sādhu-saṅga, because in saintly association one attains ‘antaraṅga,’ or the opportunity of receiving confidential instructions for kṛṣṇa-bhajana, which steal the mind. Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura’s travel to Śrīdhāma Vṛndāvana was successful. Śrīman Mahāprabhu, in the same way, expressed the feelings of His heart upon having darśana of Śrī Īśvara Purī in Gayā:
prabhu bale gayā yatra saphala amara
yatra ksane dekhilan caraṇa tomāra
saṁsāra-samudra haite uddharaha more
ei ami deha samarpilan tomare
kṛṣṇa-pada-padmera amrta-rasa pana
amare karao tumi ei cahi dāna
Caitanya-Bhāgavata, Ādi 17.50–52
Receiving the darśana of Śrī Īśvara Purī’s lotus feet, Śrī Gaurasundara said, “That moment I obtained the darśana of your beautiful lotus feet, My pilgrimage to Gayā became successful. Please save Me from the ocean of material existence, I have offered My body unto you! Please make Me drink the transcendental nectar of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet; this is all I beg from you!”
In this same way, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura’s mind became restless in love, and many prayers befitting an ideal disciple appeared on his tongue. Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahāśaya was pleased, seeing that a person so learned and well versed in the scriptures possessed such powerful and natural enthusiasm to preach nāma-saṅkīrtana as practiced and preached by Śrīman Mahāprabhu. He thus encouraged Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura to preach even more broadly śrī gaura-nāma, śrī gaura-dhāma, and śrī gaura-kāma (Śrī Gaura’s name, abode, and desires)throughout the world.
Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura returned from Śrī Vṛndāvana and began preaching extensively to fulfill the heart’s desire of Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahāśaya. By reading the autobiography of Ṭhākura Bhaktivinoda, one will see that from that time onwards, he preached with even more force about the holy name and the precepts of pure bhakti. He began giving many eloquent lectures on the subject of dharma in many places throughout Bengal.
MEETING AGAIN AT THE PLACE CALLED AMLAJODA
After this first meeting, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura had the great happiness to obtain the association and instructions of Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja many times. Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura himself wrote about some of the prominent meetings. Once, Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja was staying in a place called Amlajoda within the district of Vardhamāna, preaching the spotlessly pure rūpānuga-bhakti. Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, who at that time was planning to go to Vṛndāvana to obtain sādhu-saṅga and take up residence in the dhāma, was traveling from place to place, also preaching hari-kathā and hari-kīrtana. On the Ekādaśī of the month of Phālguna (February-March), on Wednesday the 23 rd , in 1891,Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura decided to stop in Amlajoda, where he had the good fortune of again receiving darśana of Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja. Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura was also highly respected and greatly honored by the residents of Amlajoda. By the combined efforts of the protectors of the śrī-nāma-haṭṭa, Śrī Yukta Ksetranatha Bhaktinidhi, and Vipanipati Śrī Yukta Vipin Vihari Bhaktiratna, the āśrama named ‘Prapanna Āśrama’ was constructed in the midst of a garden in the village of Amlajoda.