Monday, November 19, 2007


Short Life Sketch...

One of the Great SadGuru of India, Swami Nigamananda Saraswati Dev (1879-1935) is the founder of Assam Bangiya Saraswat Math in Jorhat, Assam and Nilachal Saraswat Sangha in Odisha. In the year 1879, Paramahansa Shri Shri Nigamananda Saraswati Deva was born at Qutabpur in Nadia district (now in Bangladesh)to a morally excellent bramhin couple. He was named "Nalinikanta" by His father Bhuban Mohan Bhattacharya and mother Yogendra Mohini. From His boyhood, for his extraordinary fearlessness, intelligence and forthrightness, Nalinikanta attracted admiration of the people. While Nalinikanta was pursuing his primary education in his maternal uncle`s village Radhakantapur, His mother breathed her last immaturely. As he was very much devoted to his mother her death deeply shocked Nalinikanta. He learnt that just before she breathed her last, his mother did hand him over to the "Cosmic Mother" - Jaganmata. To appear before him, He single-heartedly prayed to the `Jaganmata`. In the Bhattacharya household, the death of Yogendramohini Devi created a void. Being the eldest son in the family, Nalinikanta had to get married soon to bring a daughter-in-law to look after the household. Hence, Nalinikanta was married to an exceedingly beautiful and intelligent girl named Sudhansubala Devi at the early age of seventeen. After His marriage, Nalinikanta went to study at the Dacca School of Survey and thenceforward took up jobs at several places to earn his sustenance. Nalinikanta, since childhood had a thoughtful inclination. While serving as the supervisor of the Narayanapur estate (Zamindari) Nalinikanta, in one night suddenly saw the shadowy image of Sudhansubala Devi standing at the table, glowering and silent while she was supposed to be away at Qutabpur at that time. He went to Qutabpur to enquire and came to know that Sudhansubala Devi had expired just an hour before he saw her image at Narayanapur. This incident further drew him inwards. Nalinikanta came to the conclusion that death is the ultimate end of an individual. He started believing that there must be `life` after `death`. To know all about the elusive phenomena of life and death, Nalinikanta became desperate. These began to worry him all the time. This inquiry took him in Chennai to the Theosophical Society at Adyar. He ascertained all the hypotheses and exercises that Theosophy could offer and through a medium, was able to talk to Sudhansu Devi. But, Nalinikanta could not see her physically. With the experience, He was not satisfied at all. He came to know by a discussion with the members of the Society that the knowledge about the phenomena of `life and death` was the perquisite of the Hindu Yogis. He dispensed with no time in looking for a true Yogi or Sadhu who could fulfill his desire to meet his dead wife as well as bring satisfaction to his seeking mind. Thakur Nigamananda, under the guidance of four great preceptors like Bama Kshepa, Satchidananda Saraswati, Nanakpanthi Sumerudas and Gouri Mata respectively after undergoing the various aspects of the `Sadhana` viz. `Tantra`, `Jnana`, `Yoga` and `Prema` came to realize the importance of a Guru in all the spheres of `Sadhana`. Nalinikanta came across Swami Purnananda, a highly educated renunciate who explained to him that `all female beings are merely a partial manifestation of the `Mahamaya` or the `Cosmic Mother`, therefore, it was extremely unwise and ridiculous on his part to run after an insignificant part (his wife) ignoring the whole (the Cosmic Mother)`. Elicited by an overwhelming desire to know his `self`, Nalinikanta tried guru Bamakshepa`s advice. Bamakshepa advised him to attain the knowledge of `Advaita` from a Vedantic guru. At the holy place of `Pushkar` in the state of Rajasthan, India, He became a disciple of guru Srimad Swami Satchidananda Saraswati. He instantaneously realized that Swami Satchidananda Saraswati was the sadhu one who gave him the `Tara` mantra in his dream. Nalinikanta was initiated by the swami into renunciation and according to the principle changed his name to `Nigamananda`. Swami Nigamananda went to attain the direct experience of this vedic truths, on the advice of guru Satchidanda, through yoga. Swami Nigamananda with much difficulty and a sustained effort was able to find his yogi guru. He met his yogi guru, Sumeru Dashji, in the dense and unprocurable forests near the holy place of `Parasuram` (in the north-eastern India) under striking considerations. Under the masterful guidance of yogiraj Sumeru Dashji, after finishing `yoga sadhana` (practice of yoga) he attained the state of `Nirbikalpa Samadhi` that is `non-dual existence/complete identification with the Cosmic Soul or the Parambramha`, at once imbuing the universe and exceeding it. He came back with the actualization from that blissful state that he is the `universal guru` i.e. the `supreme soul`. Swami Nigamananda had begun his spiritual bespeak with the basic question, "Who am I ?" and with the accomplishment of `Nirbikalpa Samadhi` he experienced that `he` is the universal guru. During the 1907 Kumbha Mela at Allahabad, the jnaniguru of Nalinikanta Swami Satchidananda Deva, under the augurs of the then Shankaracharya of Sringery Math, bestowed the title of `paramahansa` on him in the presence of leading sadhus and renunciates. He had searched and honed tantra, jnana, yoga and prema/bhav, all the four original ways imagined in Sanatana Dharma (ever new/eternal, and universal spiritual method based on Vedic knowledge) for the acquirement of the highest spiritual goal and this was the uniqueness about Nigamananda`s spiritual accomplishment. In the prevailing atmosphere of confusion in ideals and spirituality among his countrymen, he wanted them to rediscover the merits of sanatana dharma. He authored five books - `Bramhacharya Sadhana`, `Yogiguru`, `Tantrikguru`, `Jnaniguru` and `Premikaguru`. On the path of spirituality, these books are invaluable for any seeker. A path breaking and reformist periodical has been edited and published by Him that is `Arya Darpana`. Before himself, he set three objectives, with a view to establish universal brotherhood namely, (i) propagation of `Sanatana Dharma`, (ii) dissemination of `Sat Siksha` (right type of education that enables development of integrated personality conducive for spiritual development), and (iii) service to all living beings deeming it as service rendered to the Supreme Being. To Him a person who have attained `self knowledge` is the right one to serve mankind in the right manner. He ordered His devotees - `to walk together on the path of spirituality forming Sanghas` (spiritual associations), `to lead Adarsha Grihastha Jeevan` (life of an ideal householder), and `to have Bhava Binimaya` (commune with each other for mutual exchange of spiritual ideas and experiences). These would empower them to attain the above mentioned objectives and lead a satisfied life. The tradition of "Vakta Sammilani" (the annual congregation of devotees and spiritually minded people, for the close interaction between the two types of seekers - the household devotees and the renunciates) was instituted by Him. his methodological as well as ideological slogan were - " Shankarer Mata" (the Vedantic doctrine of the 8th century spiritual reformist Sri Sri Adi Shankaracharya that Bramha - the Supreme Soul and the individual soul is `one` and the same, and it is the ultimate truth to be realized by men), and "Gauranger Patha" (the path of devotion adopted by Sri Chaitanya Deva, the fourteenth century avatara of devotion, as the royal road to the spiritual destination i.e. God). At Kokilamukh Math, Swami Nigamananda installed `Jagat Guru`s Ashan. In the year 1915, Thakur established the first "Sarbabhouma Bhakta Sammilani" at Kokilamukh Math. He instituted a Math (Assam Bangiya Saraswat Math) at Kokilamukh in Assam and five Ashrams in five divisions of undivided Bengal:
· Purba Bangala Saraswat Ashram at Moinamati, Comilla, Bangala Desh now at Tripura.
· Madhya Bangala Saraswat Ashram at Kalni, Dacca, Bangala Desh, (Now Purbasthali Dt-Burdwan, W.Bengal. Uttar Bangala Saraswat Ashram at Bogra. Paschima Bangala Saraswat Ashram at Kharkusama, Midnapore. Dakhina Bangala Saraswat Ashram at Halishar, 24 Paragans. On November 29, 1935 in Kolkata, Thakura Sri Sri Nigamananda Deva attained `Mahasamadhi` (eternal union with the Supreme Soul) through yoga kriya (yogic techniques) and left his somatic body. Rightly, his followers idealized Him as their worshiped and beloved `thakura` and at the same time, revered Him as their `Guru` (the supreme preceptor) and `Ishta` (the personal God).



Born :August (Jhulana Purnima) 1879
at Qutabpur in Nadia Dist. (now in Bangaladesh)
Mahasamadhi : 29th November, 1935; Kolkata.


                                             SRI SRI SWAMI NIGAMANANDA SARASWATI

Born : August (Jhulana Purnima) 1879
at Qutabpur in Nadia Dist. (now
in Bangladesh)
Mahasamadhi :29th Nov. 1935; Kolkata

18 August 1880
Kutabpur, Nadia Dist, Bengal,
British India
( now in Bangladesh )
29 November 1935 (aged 55)
KolkataBengalBritish India
Birth Name:
Nalinikanta Bhattacharya
Bamakhepa, Sachidananda Saraswati, Sumeru Das Ji, Gouri Devi
My dear children! Life in the household is beset with many trials and tribulations. In spite of all these turmoils it has one advantage to prprovide - it can bring opportunities for realization of God and self.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


                   BABA   NEEM KAROLI                
                       A Wonder Mystic of Northern India

                                                              BABA NEEM KAROLI
Born :  Akbarpur in Firozabad , UP
Mahasamadhi: 11th Sept.1973.
By Sri Swami Chidananda


                                                               Om Sri Hanumate Namah.

Homage unto the Divine! Worshipful salutations unto the Supreme Almighty Being, the Wonder of wonders, the Beauty of beauties, the Light of lights, the Power of powers, the Eternal Truth of all truths. May His Divine Grace shower upon all and lead all beings unto joy, peace and illumination. May His love, compassion and blessings manifest upon us through His spiritual representatives, namely, the Saints and Holy Men.

Salutations to the holy memory of worshipful and beloved Sri Baba Neem Karoli—the wonder mystic of Northern India. He is one of the most unique phenomena among the religious fraternity of Saints, Sages and holy Fakirs of Northern India. It would not be a wonder to me, if, as I am sitting and dictating this article on a mildly warm summery afternoon at Jaipur, in Rajasthan, at this moment Babaji is perfectly aware of this fact and knows exactly where I am staying, what words I am dictating, to whom I am dictating them and precisely at what time I am doing this; and this in spite of the fact that revered Baba Neem Karoli is physically no more amongst us and has left his body very recently, just about a couple of years back. Though this statement may seem rather extraordinary and would surprise many of the readers, yet, it is nevertheless true that many of Babaji’s close disciples and devotees had personal experience of the fact that revered Babaji seemed to be aware of whatever they had been saying and doing in distant places, far away from him, and Babaji was actually in some other place at that moment. This has convinced most of his closest followers that Sri Baba Neem Karoli was a ‘Siddha Purusha’ (perfected being) and knower of the past, present as also of the future—Trikala Jnani.

The last time I had the good fortune of meeting revered Baba Neem Karoliji was in the month of October 1973. This was when I visited him at his secluded Ashram at Kainchi near Nainital, U.P., in the Kumaon Hills. I was driving from Almora to Nainital during a tour. It was late evening and, when we arrived at Kainchi, it was dark. The season was autumn and it was beginning to get chill as it was near night-fall. One of our party went ahead to ascertain and find out whether Babaji was in the Ashram. Babaji was present and sent word that he would receive us.

Myself with my companions went down from the road with the help of flash lights and, crossing the little bridge that spans the mountain stream, we entered the Ashram. The entire place was totally deserted and absolute silence prevailed. The Temple Pujari (priest) received us in the courtyard and conducted us into a little room. The revered Baba Neem Karoli was seated on a cot and was wrapped in a simple blanket. He received me and my party with a very kind and benign look and motioned us to take our seats on the carpet spread near the cot. I knelt down beside the cot and offered my homage, laying my head upon his lap where he had tucked up his foot, being seated cross-legged. Babaji softly said "All right, all right, very good" and signed to me to be seated. One of our tour party, Sri Yogesh Bahuguna, a very idealistic young man and a sincere spiritual seeker, had brought with him 7 or 8 oranges in a little towel. There was an empty basket by the side of Babaji and Sri Yogesh Bahuguna placed these oranges in the basket as an offering. We then sang some Sankirtan and sat in silence for a couple of minutes. Before taking leave after enquiring about Babaji’s health and answering a few queries by him, Babaji started to distribute the fruit as Prasad to us. By this time some other workers and devotees of the Ashram had gathered near the door. Sri Yogeshji was taken aback and was overcome by surprise when he observed that Babaji continued taking oranges from the basket even after he had already given away 8 oranges and went on distributing this Prasad to all the members of our party plus the assembled Ashram Staff and ultimately he had given 18 fruits in all. From where the additional 10 oranges came into the basket is something we could not explain. Perhaps only Babaji knows this.

I first came to hear about revered Baba Neem Karoli in some detail in the early fifties about 23 years ago. It took place this way. Worshipful Gurudev Swami Sivanandaji’s Ashram is situated in Tehri-Garhwal district. At that time the District Magistrate was Sri R.K. Trivedi, an able and outstanding officer. He later on became one of the very first Directors of the National Academy of Administration in Mussoorie. Sri R.K. Trivedi’s old father used to stay with him at Narendranagar, which is the district headquarters of Tehri-Garhwal. The father was an old man, a very pious and spiritual Sadhaka who had developed a good inner life. He expressed a desire to visit Sivananda Ashram to meet Gurudev. Sri R.K. Trivedi, D.M., had great respect for Sri Gurudev and he gladly brought his old father down from Narendranagar and they met H.H. Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj in his little cottage on the bank of the Ganga. Being General Secretary at that time, I had to conduct the two visitors into revered Gurudev’s presence. He asked me to stay on while they were with him and it was then that Mr. Trivedi’s father told us that his Guru was Sri Baba Neem Karoliji of Nainital. When requested to tell us something about his Guru, the senior Trivedi narrated many things about Babaji and his experience about him as his disciple. He said, "Swamiji, right at this moment Babaji knows where I am, what I am doing and what exactly I am saying to you. When I meet him next time he will repeat my words to you and tell me that I was here at this time. He knows everything. He is listening to me now."

This is what the old gentleman declared and in this manner did I come to learn these details about Babaji’s unusual personality and extraordinary powers. Later on, these statements have been corroborated by certain other of his devotees whom I had the occasion to meet afterwards. Several times close devotees of Baba Neem Karoli have seem him simultaneously at two different places, at one and the same time. In both places it was not merely a matter of just seeing him but Babaji was very much with them, talking to them and even partaking of some refreshments offered by them.

One particularly unusual thing about Babaji was the manner of his coming and going. He would suddenly walk into your presence unannounced. While leaving, he would take leave and go out and walk along the road and tell people not to follow him. The moment he went out of sight, it was impossible to trace him out even if one ran after him or went in a motor vehicle. It may even be just a hundred yards away where he turns around the bend of a road and was hidden from sight. This was enough. The next moment he was totally untraceable anywhere within a radius of a mile. It is believed that he had done Upasana (worship) of Sri Hanuman and attributed many of his miraculous deeds to ‘Siddhi’ (psychic power) through his Upasana.

This may be quite true because it is a well-known fact that Babaji has prompted and supervised the construction of several beautiful and very impressive Hanuman Mandirs. These temples enshrining Sri Hanuman are powerful attractions to innumerable devotees. One such most attractive and impressive Hanuman Mandir is in Lucknow. Sri Hanumanji shrined in Baba Neem Karoli’s Ashram at Kainchi is also a centre of worship. In Brindavan also there is a beautiful Hanumanji temple.

Some devotees even say that Babaji had conquered space and that he could be anywhere and in any place he wished within the twinkling of an eye. Also, he was characterised by a total non-attachment to anything on earth. Even as freely blowing wind is unattached to anything he was also unaffected by his environment, even as the pure blowing breeze. However, despite his non-attachment and unaffected attitude he was yet very compassionate to those in trouble or distress. He would not refuse an earnest request. He was all loving kindness to people in trouble and helped them out of their trouble by the influence he had in high circles.

Babaji was very austere in his personal life and moved about with only a blanket around his body. He had great goodwill towards all spiritual institutions. I also feel that he had hidden inner spiritual contact and connection with a number of other spiritual teachers and saints who were his contemporaries. His work was not completely an individual and isolated one. It formed part of a wider work in which many other saints were actively engaged in and were in spiritual co-ordination. Despite his taciturn nature and outer reserve, Babaji was capable of great deal of affection expressed even by a mere gesture or gaze. He gave courage to many a fainting heart and brought solace to countless souls. He endeared himself as a family member in the homes of many of his sincere devotees and true disciples. Thus his passing was felt as a keen personal loss by thousands of his followers.

Babaji’s coming into public notice dates back several decades ago in the pre-independence era during the British regime. There is a story in this connection which is a very close parallel to a similar story connected with another great Siddha Purusha of Southern India, viz., Sri Nityananda Avadhuta hailing from Kerala who later on settled down at Vajreshvari near Bombay. These two incidents are almost identical in their details.

Babaji was once wandering somewhere in Eastern U.P. At one place he passed by a railway station. The train happened to be at halt. He had a fancy to travel some distance by train. He got into a nearby coach and sat in an upper class compartment. After a while the train started and continued its journey. Some time later, a Travelling Ticket Examiner saw this somewhat uncouth, rustic-like person occupying the upper class seat and approached him and asked for his ticket. Babaji just looked up at him once and paid no further attention to his query. He continued to remain silent in contemplation. The Ticket Examiner was annoyed. He demanded to see the ticket. It was those days when most of the railway staff was either British or at least Anglo-Indian. Babaji shook his head and spread out his empty hands. The Ticket Examiner understood the situation and decided to take action. Soon after, the train stopped for a brief halt at a small way-side station in the country-side. Babaji was ordered to get down. He promptly obeyed, left his seat, got down out of the carriage and walking a few steps along the dusty platform went and stayed under the shade of a tree. He seemed absolutely unconcerned of whatever had happened. He paid no attention to what was going on around him. In a couple of minutes the bell rang, the railway guard blew his whistle and waved the green flag. The engine driver sounded the whistle and started the engine. Nothing happened. The engine did not move and the train continued to stand where it was. After a few minutes the guard got down and walked up to the engine driver to enquire what the trouble was. No trouble could be detected. Everything seemed to be all right. The engine driver checked everything and tried again. No result. More time passed. The Station Master became anxious. Another train which was due to come by was held up at some station up the line. Telegraphic messages started coming. 15 minutes, 20 minutes and then half an hour passed. Anxiety built up. Then a subordinate member of the staff very timidly approached the Station Master and pointing to Babaji sitting under the tree insisted that the whole situation was due to having shown disrespect to the holy man. He suggested that the only way out of the impasse was to approach him and beg his forgiveness and request him to continue his journey without any hindrance. This was conveyed to the guard and the engine driver. At first they vehemently refused to do any such thing but as more time passed, better reason prevailed. They respectfully approached Babaji, saluted him, asked to be excused for their rudeness, requested him to bless the train and invited him to continue his journey. Babaji looked up and glanced at them for a moment and said "All right, Chalo. Hum chalenge, Hum chalenge" ("All right, Go. I shall come along, I shall come along") and got up and re-entered the train. Immediately the engine gave a jerk and the train started to move as though nothing had happened. A little crowd, which had gathered there, in the meanwhile, loudly acclaimed Babaji with awe in their voice. From then onwards no Railway Officer ever interfered with Babaji’s free movement in any train he fancied.

I shall conclude by narrating how Babaji twice visited Sivananda Ashram at Rishikesh after the passing of Gurudev Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj. Quite unexpectedly Babaji turned up, all of a sudden, one day, and walked into the Ashram. Sri Swami Nirmalanandaji, a Gurubhai of mine who had some very unusual experience with Babaji previously, ran up to me and announced his arrival. By the time I stepped out, Babaji was already in my outer verandah upstairs. I bowed down on his feet, took him inside and had him seated upon an Asana. Babaji very kindly made enquiries about the Ashram, of its inmates and our activities. I answered all his questions and he seemed very satisfied and said "Bahut Achha, Bahut Achha." ("Very good, Very good.") I told him that I wished to offer something for him to partake and asked what he would like. He agreed to drink some milk. Hot cow’s milk and sugar were brought. He very graciously partook it and in the meantime other residents of the Ashram came up and made their Pranams and took their seat. I introduced them to him. He beamed with pleasure and signified his blessings to all. He expressed his appreciation for the hospital work. Then he continued to stay for some time with us all and then saying that he must be going, he got up and walked away from the room followed by us. When he reached the foot of the steps and came upon the road, he raised his hand in blessing as well as in a gesture motioning us to stop and not to follow him. Then he started walking down the road and was soon out of sight.

A few years later Babaji similarly turned up a second time, just like that, as suddenly out of the blue as it were. This time he did not come upstairs but sat in one of the rooms downstairs and gave Darshan to a number of Ashram Sadhakas and devotees. He gave personal interviews also, to a few seekers. Then he left after a couple of hours and that was the last time he was at the Ashram.

Before Babaji left his body one of the outstanding acts of Grace and Benediction he did was to effect the transformation in the life of an American seeker named Richard Alpert. Well known as one of the acclaimed leaders of the American drug cult, the former professor of the Harvard University was in a state of moral and spiritual crisis in his life when Babaji mysteriously drew him to himself and cast his glance of Grace upon him. That first Darshan and the benediction worked a miracle in that restless soul and soon transformed him into a teacher now known to thousands of his followers as Baba Ramdas. This fascinating story is narrated in Ramdas’ book "Be Here Now", a most interesting and absorbing human document that gives many interesting insights into Baba Neemkaroliji and his mystic and wonderful personality.

Related Links

Neeb Karori Baba

Neem Karoli Baba - Miracle Saint of Northern India.

Baba Neem Karoli
Birth Place at Akbarpur in Firozabad, UP

Baba Neem Karoli

Baba Neem Karoli
Baba Neem Karoli

Baba Neem Karoli

RAM Nam Written by Baba

Rishikesh Ashram, Baba Neem Karoli
Mahasamadhi Sthala at Vrindaban, UP
Born : on Shukla Paksh Ashtmi in the month of Margsheersh at Akbarpur, Firozabad
Mahasamadhi: 11th September 1973 (Shukla Paksha Chaturdashi in the month of Bhadrapada) at Vrindavan

Maharajji was born in the village Akbarpur (Firozabad district) of Uttar Pradesh (India) in a wealthy Brahmin jameedar (landlord) family. He was born on Shukla Paksh Ashtmi in the month of Margsheersh and was named Lakshmi Narayan Sharma by his father Shri Durga Prasad Sharma. From early childhood Maharajji was detached from worldly attachments. At the age of eleven he was married to a girl from an affluent Brahmin family.

Immediately after his marriage Maharajji left home and went to Gujarat. He roamed around various places in Gujarat and the entire country. After around 10-15 years (this is approximate and is as told by elders from village of Akbarpur) his father was informed by someone that he had seen a sadhu (ascetic) who was a lookalike of his son in the village of Neeb Karori (misspelt as 'Neem Karoli' at times) in the Farukkhabad district in Uttar Pradesh.

His father immediately rushed to the village of Neeb Karori to meet and get his son. There he met Maharajji and ordered him to return home. Maharajji followed his fathers instructions and returned. This was the beginning of two different types of life that Maharajji led. One that of a householder and the other that of a saint.
He devoted time towards his responsibility of a householder and at the same time he continued to look after his bigger family i.e. the world at large. However, there was no difference in his life and style of living when discharging duties of a householder or that of a saint. In his family as a householder he has two sons and a daughter.

He said that the whole world is my family (refer to the book 'Miracle of Love' by Ram Dass) and preached LOVE ALL, SERVE ALL, FEED ALL. He said this is the key to attain God and salvation. Maharajji was a born saint. He organized yagyas and bhandaras wherever he went. Both of these were organized simultaneously. Yagyas were to feed the God, and bhandaras were to feed the worldly people. He built Hanumanji’s temples at many places. Before attaining Nirvana he established two 'ashrams' (places for people to stay).

One is at Kainchi in Nainital district of Uttranchal and the second one is at Vrindavan in Mathura district of Uttar Pradesh. He selected Vrindavan as the place for his 'Mahasamadhi'. Vrindavan is the place where Lord Krishna played and lived. Vrindavan is also known as Golok Dham.
Maharajji left Kainchi Ashram on 09th September 1973 for Agra. This was his last visit to Kainchi and he left signs of his last visit which people could make out only later on. Description of the same is available in the book 'Miracle of Love' (by Ram Dass). On reaching Agra on 10th September, he immediately set for Vrindavan where he attained 'Mahasamadhi' on 11th September 1973.



                                              SRI SRI ANANDAMAYEE MA (1896 - 1982 )

Sri Swami Chidananda

Beloved Immortal Atman, Beloved seekers and aspirants! Yesterday we were referring to saints and sages as being of two types. Some who were born like other human individuals, but who, by their prayer and persistence in spiritual life, went beyond to God-realization. The second category were never born, ever free souls with some mission on earth; eternally free, perfect beings.

In the case of the latter category, many are born with their advent announced before their birth and with their birth attended by many supernatural, supranormal signs. Sometimes they gave indications of their special divine origin, through certain events or actions, even in their young age. There was no question on any spiritual struggle in them. Sometimes, if they seemed to do sadhana, it was more as an example to guide others, rather than for any necessity of theirs.

Among this unique class of never bound, ever free beings, we have our worshipful Sri Sri Ananda Mayee Ma. Sri Sri Ma was born in a Bengali family in a rural part of East Bengal, which is now a separate state under the name of Bangladesh. It was part of India and Bengal at that time.

Her father and mother were both pious God-fearing people. The special uniqueness of this child when she was born was something we could learn only much later from the lips of Ma herself. Otherwise, there was no means of knowing what the state of consciousness of this child was when it was in infancy. But it is now definite and certain that even from the time of being born, the consciousness of the child was one of awareness of its spiritual identity.

The little infant in the cradle gazed around and saw its surroundings and people moving about, but it was aware that it did not belong to that outer environment and was fully aware of itself as an ever free, ever-perfect soul. At all times the child was fully aware that it was pure, untrammeled spirit, without limitation of body, mind or identity. It knew itself to be Satchidananda Atman. From that state it watched like a witness the parents and relatives at home as if in a play or dramatic performance. So the child grew up in a state of awareness of her true self. That awareness afterwards never left Ma until the very last day of her life. This then is the secret behind Ma’s personality.

As was the case in those days, the child was brought up with great love and affection by her parents, relatives and neighbors. She received the rudiments of ordinary, normal education, but was more interested in serving her parents at home than anything else. As in the case of Lord Krishna, this little girl had a powerful attraction to all people. She was of an extremely sweet and kind nature, filled with the spirit of service. She liked to help her mother in the household duties. One extraordinary trait in her, was that when she heard the chanting of God’s Name, she gravitated to that place. She could not resist it. Otherwise, she was normal and ordinary in every respect.

This young girl, Nirmala, which means "pure", grew up into a very virtuous and sweet tempered, good-natured young maid. As was the Indian custom, when she became of marriageable age, the family arranged a marriage with a good boy from a reputable family and they were married. The young man, Bholnath, was also of a pure and simple nature.

Now the couple entered into the second stage of life, according to the Hindu life pattern. However, in a short time, through a couple of incidents, Bholnath became aware that his bride was no ordinary human individual. He felt that he had some celestial or divine being as his partner. From that day onwards all thought of basing their relationship upon the gross physical level vanished from the mind of the earthly husband of this being.

As days passed by, many extraordinary experiences were gone through by the young bride and housewife, but through it all she was meticulous in performing all her household duties and responsibilities and, if necessary attending to guests in the house. She was a very good cook and a very large-hearted housewife.

At this stage, extraordinary phenomena began to occur in and through her body. The husband would sit after supper in bed, put up the mosquito curtain and smoke. After finishing in the kitchen, his wife would come into the room and sit on the floor. As I told you, she had no special spiritual sadhana routine. She was engaged in household work, but suddenly from nowhere various ingredients of worship began to manifest in front of her. Her body started to assume various yogic postures and kriyas began to manifest in and through her body.

Bholnath had a clear vision of all that was happening. He watched in wonder and silence. The young housewife was at that time in a peculiar state of trance and was not aware of her body. Soon, various kriyas manifested in her body. A fire appeared and she made use of all the ingredients for doing worship. When the whole thing was completed, she would go into a deep trance and all the ingredients of worship would vanish and the place would be exactly as it was before, but remnants of the worship in the form of flowers would be left behind. This went on for many weeks and months.

Until this time, the nature of this young person and their mutual relationship was known only to themselves and God. No other person was aware of their special relationship. But soon it came to the knowledge of an office colleague of the husband, who was a genuine seeker and devotee of the Divine Mother. He expressed the ardent desire to have the darshan of Ma. So one evening he accompanied Bholnath home from the office. Arriving home, they met Nirmala and from the moment the man set eyes on her, he immediately fell prostrate on the ground in adoration. He saw in her the veritable Divine Mother. He called her Ananda Mayee Ma (Bliss-filled Mother).

After that, the devotee started coming to the house for satsang with Ma. At that time she was an unassuming young lady, quite normal in all other ways. But when not engaged in work, she had a far off look, as if she did not belong here, but in timeless eternity. She was subject to various moods and states. During this period, whenever the divine Name of the Lord was recited, she immediately went into a higher spiritual state. It was in this way that the life of Ma began and grew into a center of inspiration and blessing and a center of many miraculous healings as the years rolled by. All the time she was continuously in a high state of spiritual consciousness, of self-awareness, which had come along with her when she was born.

It was in the year 1943 that Swami Chidananda, who was not Swami Chidananda at that time, bid farewell to secular life and surrendered at the feet of Holy Master Swami Sivananda. At that time, a learned philosopher and professor who was the head of the Department of Philosophy at Calcutta University, was a regular visitor to Rishikesh. He was a student and disciple of a very learned pundit who was head of the great Kailash Ashram Center of Sanskrit Study near our ashram in Rishikesh. Being a devotee of that very learned mahatma, the professor used to spend some time with him and then he would come and visit Gurudev before returning to Calcutta. There were few visitors during those days and the few who came got a lot of time from Master.

I was new to the ashram and I was deeply interested in the conversation this professor had with Gurudev. The professor was a very anglicized type of Bengali gentleman with a very orthodox wife. They were both sitting with Gurudev and he was narrating their experiences with Ma. He told how when he first heard about the presence of such an extraordinary holy lady, he was prompted to have her darshan. He was an important university professor. Sri Sri Ma was living in a small room of a temple dedicated to Divine Mother Kali. It was called the temple of Dakshineshwar, the same temple where Ramakrishna lived during his lifetime.

Reaching the temple, they enquired about the room of Ma and they were taken to a small corner room, where Ma sat deeply immersed. After paying their respects, he sought permission to ask a few questions. Ma graciously smiled and said, "Yes." Being a philosopher, he wanted to put some intricate, subtle philosophical question to her. He narrated what happened when he asked this question. He told Swami Sivananda, "Even before I had finished my question, there came a torrential outpouring of words from Ma dispelling my doubts, answering my question and bestowing much more upon me, leaving me wonderstruck. It did not seem like the words were coming from this Being sitting in front of me. It was like a great shower of luminous wisdom coming in and then issuing forth from her mouth."

Fascinated by this flood of wisdom, the professor continued to pose questions and each time, before the question was completed, the answer came in this extraordinary manner. He had been told that Ma never had formal schooling at all. He returned to his home a very much humbled professor and Doctor of Philosophy.

He determined that such a real spiritual phenomenon should not remain hidden from public knowledge. Others also should have a glimpse of and experience of this phenomenon. He had some learned colleagues from a prestigious college in Poona. He decided to write them and invite them to Calcutta for their summer vacation. They were all pure intellectuals and academics and not devotees like himself. They agreed, and that summer two more professors came to Calcutta.

All three went to have Ma’s darshan and found her in the same state of high consciousness. They plied her with innumerable questions. Upon the first occasion, the professor had questioned Ma with humility, as a devotee and seeker. But now, these two professors from Poona had no spiritual background at all, so they continued to put forth intricate questions to Ma to see how she would answer.

For two and a half to three hours this non-stop session went on. Ultimately the professors were exhausted, while Ma was ever serene, unperturbed, with no sign of fatigue and as fresh as ever! This ended their first meeting. Upon subsequent visits, they became convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they were in the presence of a Divine Being and not a human person. All this the professor related to Swami Sivananda, and Swami Chidananda, who was not a swami then, was listening to the conversation with great interest.

That was how I came to know about Ma, never having met her before and not knowing where she lived. Three or four years later, an occasion came when I found myself in the holy city of Varanasi, and I came to know that there was a big ashram of Ma and that she was there. This was in February 1948. I was staying with an old monk in Varanasi. I requested that he take me to Ma’s ashram.

At that time Ma was having performed a very great spiritual yajna or sacrifice for the welfare of the world and all people. She had initiated the repetition of an important mantra several millions of times. It was in the form of the repetition each day of the Gayatri mantra by one hundred Brahmin learned pundits. It actually took two and a half years to complete this yajna, and it was in progress when I first met Ma.

It was an interesting revelation to me at that time. I thought that Ma would give me darshan perhaps sitting upon a special seat, but I found her seated on the floor giving instruction regarding the yajna. I bowed down to her and the old monk said, "He comes from Rishikesh and is a disciple of Sri Swami Sivananda". The moment she heard "Sivananda" she folded her hands and asked me, "How is pitaji?" To Sri Sri Ma, everyone was father and everyone was mother, because her consciousness was that of a little girl. She never felt that she was a grown-up woman, but she was a child. "Blessed are they who are pure of heart, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven". "Suffer the little children come to me". I did not understand who she was referring to as "father". The monk told me, "She is referring to your guru, Swami Sivananda". That darshan of Ma was the fulfillment of a long-cherished dream I had, since first hearing about her.

Ma is a curious mixture of absolute being in the Divine Being combined paradoxically with a practicality in the outer. When it came to little details of programs in her ashram, she was constantly in touch with the organizers and gave detailed instructions on how to proceed.

Ma’s advent was to bring about wide awakening in the inner spirit of present day humanity. It was to bring about a great spiritual wave that would lift mankind’s life to a higher level. Her one admonition to us is: God is the one great Reality. To know and experience Him is the whole purpose of human existence, and the life that does not strive to do this is wasted. So do not hesitate to strive to achieve this great goal. She counseled patience in all the ups and downs of life. Everything will right itself. But this patience did not imply negation. Do all that is necessary to be done, but do not be anxious. Do your best and leave the rest to God.

She gave great importance to the chanting of the Divine Name. The only words worth uttering are those concerned with God. If you want to talk, talk about God. All other talk is just futile and leads only to sorrow and grief.

To her own disciples, she laid down strict rules and regulations for their daily life and sadhana. For the past nearly twenty-five years, she allowed devotees to prepare a full week of retreat every year, in the month of November. It was sadhana from early morning until evening, about 9:30 p.m. Reading of the scriptures was a salient feature each day. Punctuality was a must. A bell sounded two minutes before each session, when everyone must be at his place. If people came late the door was closed and they could not enter. They were supposed, in this case, to sit outside and go through the same sadhana as those inside. During this week period, Ma regularly attended morning, noon and night. In the forenoon at 9:00 a.m., and again in the afternoon at 2:30 there was a full hour of silent meditation, when she came and sat on stage immersed in deep silence.

This was called "One Week of Self-Control" and not "Sadhana Week". There was a great deal of restriction in diet also. The sadhaks ate only one time in twenty-four hours. There were two fasts on days one and seven with only water. On the fourth day, only milk and fruit was taken. In that way, though her consciousness was always in a higher spiritual plane, she was also able to be pragmatic and plan details of the programs.

The colleague of her husband who first discovered her, was the first one to write a detailed biographical sketch of Ma. He wrote a book entitled "Mother as I knew Her", under the name Brother Madji.

There have been numerable times when I had Ma’s darshan during her birthday celebrations. Every time I found I was standing in the presence of an impersonal Divine Being. She was a great light, a spiritual luminary in India, for India and for the whole world in this century.

Once again, similar was the state of consciousness of the young lad who went to settle down in Arunachala—Ramana Maharshi. Both of these people, I find, though from different parts of India, were more or less in the same state of consciousness that was undiminished even in the midst of so much activity. They were always aware of their Reality.

The presence of such great souls in the midst of human society is a powerful force to uplift our consciousness and to goad us toward our goal in life. Literally and truly, they lived only for others and in this life they had obtained whatever was to be obtained. These beings, having cast aside their physical bodies, are no less present amidst us at this moment than they were present in their physical bodies. We bow down in homage to their presence. And now also, we bow to the great Father Time, so we must conclude for the moment. God bless you.

Jai Jai Ma!

Notes taken at a morning talk on 9th December 1990, Masabielle, France.

Related Links

Sri Sri Anandamoyi Ma's Spiritual Heritage

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SWAMI OMKAR ( 1895 - 1982 )

Swami Omkar was born in the East Godavery District. His parents were without children and prayed fervently to God in the hope of getting a child. One very auspicious day, a tall Mahatma came to their home and blessed the couple, giving them some holy water to drink. The mother drank this water with all reverence and devotion. The Mahatma disappeared as suddenly as he had come. After some months, to the great joy of the couple, a little baby boy was born to them. They named him Venkateswara. Little Venkateswara was later to grow up to be the great saint, Swami Omkar.

At the age of three Venkateswara would sit still like a statue beside his father during the daily prayer. He would listen to the reading of the Gita very attentively. In this way, the boy was given a strong spiritual foundation from early childhood. Swami Omkar often said later, "As are the parents, so are the children".

Venkateswara's mother died when he was very young. His father now became like a mother to the little boy. He was utterly devoted to his son and gave him everything he desired, both materially and spiritually. The boy went to the best school and wore the most expensive clothes.

Venkateswara had a little sister who looked after all his needs until she was twelve years old, when she developed a blood condition. But she was not to live long and very soon passed away, taking her brother's name. Since then, whenever Swami Omkar served women, he would feel that he was serving the form of his little sister.

Even while he was still young, Venkateswara went away to Rishikesh, in the Himalayas. Here he assumed the name Omkar, and spent many years in deep meditation.

Now he had a call from within to go to America. He described his visit as follows: "I went as a seeker of Truth, not to teach but to learn all that is best in America. There is so much to learn in order to rise from darkness to light."

Even at this early age, Venkateswara had unusual mental and psychic powers. He could heal the sick, whether their ailments were mental or physical. He would write the sacred symbol Om on water, and give this sacred water to the patient. The patient would feel immediate relief.

Gifted with a universal vision from his early boyhood, Swami Omkar soon realised the eternal Truth. He founded the Sri Shanti Ashram, the abode of peace, at Totapalli Hills in the Andhra province.

Swami Omkar was a great Karma Yogi. From dawn to dusk he would be engaged in endless activity-helping devotees in their spiritual progress, watering the plants, or feeding the animals. He had a very compassionate heart from his very boyhood, and would not hurt any living creature. He loved plants and would often talk to them.

Many saints visited his Ashram and stayed with him for some time. During the early years of his life as a monk, the Divine Master, Swami Sivananda, also stayed at Shanti Ashram for some months and served the sick. Many years later, Swami Omkar, too, visited the Master at his Ashram at Rishikesh. Both the saints had great love for each other.

Shanti Ashram is a beautiful place surrounded by hills and enchanting scenery. There is a small hospital and a school for children run by the Ashram. There is a mobile clinic also to serve the needs of the hill people. There are several other branches of the Ashram, at Waltair and in other places. At the Waltair Ashram there is a small school for deaf and dumb children.

Swami Omkar had a very broad and liberal heart. He had great love and reverence for the saints of all religions. All approaches to God were valid for him.

Swami Omkar was so compassionate that he once gave a piece of bone from his own thigh to be grafted in a little girl to save her life. He spent several months in hospital as a result of this great sacrifice on his part.

Such a noble personality, who worked heart and soul for spreading peace in the world, passed away in his ninety-third year, on 10 June, 1982.

Shanti Ashram, which is located at the foot of the beautiful Totapalli hills in Andhra Pradesh, is currently rendering active service to the poor and needy, under the able and loving guidance of Mother Jnaneshwari, who was appointed by Swami Omkar as his successor.


\  Shanti Ashram Homepage

Swami Omkar's biography has been reproduced from Swami Sivananda's "Yoga Lessons for Children (Vol. 7)", published by the Divine Life Society of South Africa. This encyclopedia on Hinduism and Yoga is currently on sale.





                                        MOTHER KRISHNABAI & PAPA RAMDAS ( 1884 - 1963 )

By   SWAMI SATCHIDANANDA (of Anandashram) 

If anyone wants me to tell them something about Beloved Papa, I ask them to visualise what it would be like if, by some divine alchemy, Love and Bliss were to coalesce and stand before them as one luminous entity. That is how Papa can be seen with the naked eye.

Papa was indeed the very image of Love and Bliss divine. What was the source of that Love? When he opened out his heart to Ram, his eternal Beloved, Ram flooded his heart with never-ending, never-fading Love. This happened when Papa turned to his beloved Ram with pure devotion and utter self-surrender, turning his back on the world and the attractions it might hold for him. It was born of the realisation of his oneness with the Infinite and the Eternal Self. Every fibre of his being then thrilled to the sweet rhythm of Love. Bliss ineffable flowed over and saturated him, rising like an artesian spring from the heart's core when Papa realised the entire universe of name and form as the vibhuti or manifestation of the Self.

In the state of pure Bliss-consciousness he carried on his spiritual ministry till his last day on earth. Through his talks and actions he gave those who sought him a taste of the love and bliss divine. The purest pearls of wisdom that fell from his tips spread sweetness and light all round, dispelling gloom, fear and anxiety that held the people in a tight grip. Earnest seekers were lifted up to higher levels of consciousness, getting a glimpse of the true life of the Spirit, with the result that a deep yearning for that life was kindled in them. Papa's talks were often punctuated with jokes and laughter. The total impression left on the mind of the listener was never to be forgotten.

Once, to illustrate the futility of empty, theoretical advaitic knowledge, Papa narrated the following story. He was staying in a small mandir in Jhansi when a man approached him and asked, "Who are you?"

"I am Ramdas," he replied simply.

"No, you speak a lie there," returned his visitor. "You are Ram Himself. When you declare you are Ramdas, you do not know what you say. God is everything and in everything. He is in you and so you are He. Confess it right away.

"True, dear friend," Ramdas replied, "God is everything. But at the same time, it must be noted God is one, and when He is in you and everywhere around you, may I humbly ask to whom you are putting this question?"

After a little reflection, the man could only answer, "Well, I have put the question to myself ".

Papa always stressed the necessity of absolute honesty and sincerity as essential in the great Quest. Better an honest, dualistic bhakti than a hypocritical advaita. Whereas bhakti, however dualistic, will lead ultimately to jnana as jnana mata, the mother of jnana, advaita practised only with the head leads merely to confusion and hypocrisy.

Another incident illustrates this point well. When Papa was staying at Mount Abu he was taken to meet a "great saint", Swami Kaivalyananda, a young sannyasin living in a cave, his body completely shaved, but surrounded by a number of books.

Papa approached him and prostrated.

With a look of surprise, the sannyasin asked, "To whom are you offering this salutation?"

"To Ram," Papa replied.

"Who are you?"

"Ramdas. "

"Ramdas. Ramdas, funny, isn't it? There is only one Truth. Why do you assume this false duality?"

"It is Ram Himself, being One, who has chosen to be many. "

"Wrong," retorted the advaitin. "He is always One; many is false, illusion."

"Truth has become God and His devotee for the sake of lila, the divine play," Papa responded.

"Why play?"

"For love and bliss; so when Ramdas prostrates before you, it is yourself who do it in the form of Ramdas," Papa went on.

"Bosh!" cut in the sannyasin. "There is only one, never two." "Then to whom are you talking, dear Swamiji," asked Papa, pulling out his brahmastra.

The sannyasin reflected a while and had to reply, "To myself".

"Exactly. You assume there are two although in the light of absolute Truth there is only one."

"No, no--no realised person believes in duality," maintained the advaitin, getting jumpy. "Here, take this book and read it. You will understand things more clearly, I assure you. It is written by me." He pressed Papa to accept it. Noticing the author's name on the cover, Papa noted that he referred to himself as "Swami Kaivalyananda, M.A."!

Papa, known as Vittal Rao in his purvasrama days, was born in 1884 at Hosdrug, Kerala, to Sri Balakrishna Rao and Smt. Lalita Bai, a devout Saraswat couple. Papa lived the ordinary life of a householder until he was thirty-six. During that time he experienced many trials and tribulations from the worldly point of view, but in his case they caused him to enquire deeply into the true meaning of life. A wonderful transformation was wrought in him of which nobody had any inkling until he was suddenly fired with an intense wave of dispassion. He came to realise the futility of worldly pursuits, and the need for real, everlasting peace and happiness. Inspired by the teachings of Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda and Swami Ram Tirtha, Papa became thoroughly convinced that God alone can give one eternal peace and happiness. The path of pure devotion and self-surrender shone forth for him with an irresistible appeal. All attachments to family, friends and business dropped away just as a fully ripened fruit falls from the tree. He was inwardly ready to give himself up wholly and unreservedly to God.

At that critical time, his father, noticing his son's waning interest in secular pursuits and his waxing love for and devotion to God, initiated him into the Ram mantram and assured him that by repeating it unstintingly he would, in due time, find the true peace and happiness he was thirsting for. As the mantram took hold of him, Papa found his life filled with Ram. It was then that he renounced the samsaric life and went forth in quest of God as a mendicant sadhu. This first year of Papa's new life is described by him in his autobiography, In Quest of God.

It was thus on one morning in December 1922 that Papa left hearth and home by train from Mangalore. He did not know where he was going, nor was he anxious about it. He only knew that he was obeying the divine command of his beloved Ram, and was therefore sure that He would guide him unerringly. The mantram "OM SRI RAM JAI RAM JAI JAI RAM" was ever on his lips and in his heart. Besides chanting the divine Name, Papa's practice was to look upon everything in the world as forms of Ram--God--and to accept everything that happened as happening by the will of Ram alone.

Papa was thus directed to Srirangam. Here he bathed in the holy Cauvery and, after offering up his old white clothes to the sacred river, he donned the ochre robes of a sannyasin and underwent spiritual rebirth. As prompted by Ram Himself, Papa assumed the new name of Ramdas (servant of Ram) and took the inviolable vows of sannyasa, renunciation. Papa never referred to himself in the first person ever again.

With the name of God constantly on his lips, Papa continued his travels in the company of itinerant sadhus. The journey took him to Tiruvannamalai, where he stood in front of Bhagavan Ramana and prayed for his grace.

About this experience Papa himself has said, "The Maharshi, turning his beautiful eyes towards Ramdas, and looking intently for a few minutes into his eyes as though he was pouring into Ramdas his blessings through those orbs, nodded his head to say he had blessed. A thrill of inexpressible joy coursed through the frame of Ramdas, his whole body quivering like a leaf in the breeze."

In that ecstatic state he left Maharshi's presence and went to spend nearly a month in a cave on the slopes of Arunachala in constant chanting of Ramnam. This was the first occasion that he went into solitude. After twenty-one days, when he came out of the cave he saw a strange, all-pervasive light: everything was Ram and only Ram.

Papa continued his travels, which took him to many parts of India, including the sacred shrines in the Himalayas, and then on to Bombay and finally back to Mangalore, where he spent three months in the Panch-Pandava cave at Kadri. It was here that he had his first experience of nirvikalpa samadhi. About this experience he writes: "For some days his meditation consisted of only the mental repetition of the Ram-mantram. Then, the mantram having stopped automatically, he beheld a small circular light before his mental vision which yielded him thrills of delight. This experience having continued for some days, he felt a dazzling light like lightning flashing before his eyes, which ultimately permeated and absorbed him. Now an inexpressible bliss filled every pore of his physical frame. When this state was coming on, he would at the outset become oblivious of his hands and feet and gradually his entire body. Lost in this trance-state he would sit for two or three hours. Still, a subtle awareness of external objects was maintained in this state.

"For two years from the time of the significant change which had come over him, Ramdas had been prepared to enter into the very depths of his being for the realisation of the immutable, calm and eternal spirit of God. Here he had to transcend name, form, thought and will--every feeling of the heart and faculty of the mind. The world had then appeared to him as a dim shadow--a dreamy nothing. The vision then was mainly internal. It was only for the glory of the Atman in His pristine purity, peace and joy as an all-pervading, immanent, immortal and glowing spirit.

"In the earlier stages this vision was occasionally lost, pulling him down to the old life of diversity with its turmoil of like and dislike, joy and grief. But he would be drawn in again into the silence and calmness of the spirit. A stage was soon reached when this dwelling in the spirit became a permanent and unvarying experience with no more failing off from it, and then the still more exalted state came on: his hither inner vision projected outwards. First a glimpse of this new vision dazzled him off and on. This was the working of divine love. He would feel as though his very soul had expanded like the blossoming of a flower and by a flash, as it were, enveloped the whole universe, embracing all in a subtle halo of love and light. This experience granted him a bliss infinitely greater than he had in the previous state. Now it was that Ramdas began to cry out, 'Ram is all. It is He as everybody and everything!' This condition was for some months coming on and vanishing. When it wore away, he would instinctively go into solitude. When it was present, he freely mixed in the world, preaching the glory of divine love and bliss. With this externalised vision Ramdas' mission began. Its fullness and magnificence was revealed to him during his stay in the Kadri cave, and here the experience became more sustained and continuous. The vision of God shone in his eyes and he would see none but Him in all objects. Now wave after wave of joy arose in him. He realised that he had attained to a consciousness full of splendour, power and bliss."

In his accounts of his travels and dealings with devotees, humour was never far from Papa's lips. Always a keen sense of proportion levelled the absurd to the mundane and raised the mundane to the sublime.

Once Papa was rambling aimlessly through a bazaar, not begging, indeed indifferent to food, as he was on a water fast.

"Who is that man?" a passer-by enquired of a merchant, pointing at Papa. The merchant replied, tapping his temple, "He is a half-cracked".

Papa, overhearing the remark, went up to them to correct the merchant's words. "No, brother, not merely half-cracked. Why not say full-cracked, which is the truth?" So saying, Papa passed on his way.

Any doubt about Papa's sense of proportion is washed away completely by the "Boot-kick Puja" episode. Papa had been staying at Limbdi, where he was being sumptuously looked after and treated with the utmost respect. Every day more than a hundred people came for his darshan and satsang. Never attached to such externalities, as soon as Papa received the inner command of Ram to quit the place, he left. The tedious train-ride was broken at several places by a change in trains. One occurred at about ten at night.

Entering a third-class carriage, Papa found that it was very full, and everyone was lying down at full length on their bedding, leaving no room for any other passenger. Somehow, however, Papa found a perch at the feet of a particularly short passenger. At the next station, a number of new passengers poured into the carriage. These had to stand in the narrow passage between the seats, while not a single sleeping passenger made room for them. Papa felt that he should give up his seat for one of them and so quietly slipped down to the floor and stayed there. His former perch was, of course, immediately taken.

At the next station, a fresh set of passengers came in. The rush was now so great that they began tramping through the passage with their heavy boots, searching for some available place to sit. Papa, crouching on the floor like a rabbit, received their kicks with no small delight. He rolled himself down and twisted his body into a figure 8 in order to take up the least amount of room. Station after station new passengers came in. They crowded the passage to well-nigh suffocation point. Some of the sleeping passengers were even forced to sit up. So Papa was treated with boot-kicks from all four sides. Seated passengers had to knock against him when changing the position of their legs. The ones standing in the passage added their share whenever they were shoved. Papa's only covering was a single cloth from head to foot. He looked not unlike a cloth bag on the floor. Reflecting upon the situation, Papa said to himself:

"Ramdas, only a few hours ago you were receiving puja (worship) at the houses of several devotees with flower garlands, sandal paste and arati (waving of lights). That was one kind of puja. Now here you are, immediately afterwards, getting another kind, with boot-kicks! Where is the difference? Is there any less Ram in the one than in the other?"

And so Papa went on chuckling to himself throughout the rest of the journey.

He travelled all over India many times during the next few years and finally settled down in a small ashram built by one of his devotees at Kasaragod, Kerala. It was here that Mother Krishnabai had his darshan and decided to dedicate her life to his service. Mother Krishnabai tells of her own life and realisation in her autobiography, Guru's Grace. By God's will, circumstances caused them to leave Kasaragod and settle down in Kanhangad, where the present Anandashram was founded in the year 1931. This Ashram became a field for them to put into practice the universal love they had gained as a result of their universal vision. Although Papa attained mahasamadhi in 1963 and Mataji Krishnabai in 1989, the motto of the Ashram continues to be Universal Love and Service.

About man's relationship with God, Papa says, "Man is God playing the fool," meaning that man is essentially divine, but that Divine has put a mask of ignorance on Himself and pretends individuality. When He is ready to tear off the mask, the individual gets tired of worldly life and seeks peace and everlasting happiness. He then goes to a wise man, accepts him as his Guru, does sadhana as prescribed by him, and by virtue of sadhana and the Guru's grace, all the vasanas accumulated over lifetimes are washed away and the mind is made pure. Thereupon the mask is torn off and the individual realises "I AM BRAHMAN". When and in whom He chooses to reveal Himself is a mystery. Papa emphasised the need of absolute surrender to the Divine Will. He would say, "His will is supreme. If we are conscious of this always, there is no struggle in life at all. When we surrender to God's will, we put all our burdens on Him. He is only too willing to carry everything. Surrender means strength, peace, bliss and wisdom. But when the ego raises its head, all these disappear and man becomes a puny, care-worn creature. God has made man a blissful being."

"What is meant by surrender? Surrender means to know and feel that all our actions are God's actions; all our movements are His movements. If we live our life with this attitude, our ego-sense will gradually disappear. The whole universe is the play and form of God's sakti. When once we know that all are forms of the one Divine, all separateness will be lost in the great realisation."

Papa acknowledged himself as a visishtadvaitin:

Papa: Ramdas is not a pure advaitin. He believes in the co-existence of dvaita and advaita. The jivanmukta retains a higher subtle individuality; he moves about and acts in the world realising that he and God are one. Ramdas in this body is active in doing things. Whatever he may do, he is at the same time conscious that he is the eternal and all-pervading Reality. So, in that state there is separation and unity simultaneously.

S.: Is there no state when the jivanmukta can lose his individuality in the One and be free of birth?

Papa: That is possible. That is what the jnanis do. They do not believe in the existence of a higher individuality at all. As soon as the lower individuality is dissolved, they cease to exist as separate entities. There cannot be any rebirth for them. Adi Sankaracharya was one of that type.

Having realised his oneness with the Absolute, Papa maintained a subtle individuality to enjoy his relationship with the Divine as a child towards its mother or a servant towards its master. He had great reverence for all saints and sages. Whenever he referred to them, he would say that he was only a child of all saints. He had great respect and reverence for Bhagavan Sri Ramana. Of him he has said, "Sri Ramana Maharshi was in all respects a remarkable saint. After realising the Eternal, he lived in the Eternal. His advent was a veritable blessing on this earth. By his contact thousands were saved from the clutches of doubt and sorrow. He lived what he preached and preached what he lived. He exerted a wonderful influence and created in the hearts of ignorant men and women a consciousness of their inherent Divinity. He awakened the sleeping soul to the awareness of its immortal and all-blissful nature. By his very presence he rid the hearts of people of their base and unbridled passions. The faithful derived the greatest benefit by communion with him."

As Papa had attained realisation by taking to uninterrupted chanting of the divine name Ram, coupled with contemplation of the attributes of God, he always extolled the virtue of nama-japa in sadhana. Based upon his personal experience, Papa assured all seekers that nama-japa would lead them to the supreme heights of realisation of one's oneness with the Almighty. On the power of the Divine Name he has this to say: "The Divine Name is pregnant with a great power to transform the world. It can create light where there is darkness, love where there is hate, order where there is chaos, and happiness where there is misery. The Name can change the entire atmosphere of the world from one of bitterness, illwill and fear to that of mutual love, goodwill and trust. For the Name is God Himself. To bring nearer the day of human liberation from the sway of hatred and misery, the way is the recognition of the supremacy of God over all things and keeping the mind in tune with the Universal by the chanting of the Divine Name."

May Beloved Papa, who is everything and beyond everything, continue to bless and lead all to the supreme goal!


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