Friday, August 14, 2009


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Sri Totapuri Ji Maharaj (1780-1866)

Ishwar Totapuri (also Tota Puri) (1780-1866), born likely in Punjab, India, was a parivrajaka (wandering monk) who followed the path of the Advaita Vedanta. He regarded the gods and goddesses of dualistic worship as fantasies of the mind and reportedly spent forty years practicing austerity and other disciplines of self-exertion.

By the time he arrived at Dakshineswar Temple in 1864, he was a wandering monk of the Dasnami order of Adi_Shankara, and head of a monastery in the Punjab claiming the leadership of seven hundred sannyasins. He initiated Ramakrishna into Advaita Vedanta [1], as well as Anandpuri Ji from the Advait Mat tradition [2].

Totapuri was "a teacher of masculine strength, a sterner mien, a gnarled physique, and a virile voice". Ramakrishna affectionately addressed him as Nangta, the "Naked One", because as a renunciate he did not wear any clothing[3].
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BABA (Paramahansa Hariharananda) also spent some time with Nanga Baba Digambara Paramahamsa, the great "sky-clad" realized master who lived on the far side of Puri near the Lokanath Temple. This mysterious saint is also identified as Totapuri, the guru of Ramakrishna, and is said to have lived over 350 years. A holy hermitage of Nanga Baba known as Girinaribanta Ashram by locals of Puri is there emanating divine serenity and peace in solitude.
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TOTA PURI, a nineteenth century monk, was the preceptor of Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa whom he initiated into sannyasa. Little is known about his early life except that he hailed from the Punjab. He was born presumably of a Sikh family. Tota was his monastic name and Puri the name of a sub caste of Dashnami Sampradaya of Shaivite sadhus to which he belonged. Among the Puris, he belonged to the Naga order of militant ascetics who believe in combating their opponents with sastra (weapon) as well as with sastra (scriptural debate). Nagas are organized around several monastic establishments called akharas. Tota Puri belonged to the Mahanirvani Akhara.

He received his initial training in the dera of Baba Raj Puri at Ladana, in Kaithal district of Haryana, where he was trained with great care by Gyan Puri, fifth in spiritual succession from Raj Puri, the founder of the monastery. Recognition came to him when he was elected in 1852, Sri Mahant or head of an executive body of eight mahants for the management of the Mahanirvani Akhara, with its headquarters at Paryag (Allahabad). He was reelected to the office for another term of three years in 1855. In 1858, Tota Puri returned to Ladana and was chosen to be head of the dera after the death of Gyan Puri. In 1861, he set out on a pilgrimage of holy places across the country.

During this journey he is said to have experienced the nirvikalpa, a super sensuous and super conscious stage of meditation in which consciousness attains to the state of perfect quietude. Towards the end of 1864, Tota Puri arrived at Dakhshineshvar, a suburban village about 6 km north of Calcutta, where Gadahar had been the chief priest of the temple of the goddess Kali worshipping her with intense devotion and yearning for seeing the Deity, face to face. Although he had been blessed with the beatific vision of the Mother, his spiritual quest had not ended. He also practised fan trie and vaisnava sadhna.

It was at this stage, that Tota Puri appeared and initiated Gadahar into the all renouncing path of sannyasa and taught him the philosophy of Advait Vedanta according to which the entire phenomenal existence is only an illusion (maya) caused by avidya or primal ignorance. He gave the monastic name Ramakrishna to Gadahar and asked him to practise withdrawing his mind from all sense objects and meditate on the real and divine nature of his self, thus progressing gradually towards nirvikalpa samadhi. Ramakrishna very soon attained the goal when he remained in trance for 72 hours at a stretch, but as he regained consciousness his mind went back to his divine Mother who commanded him " to remain on the threshold of relative consciousness for the sake of humanity."

Thus he alternated at will between concentrated meditation upon the formless Brahman and devotional worship of the visible image of the goddess Kali, who for him was the living Mother. Tota Puri stayed in the vicinity of Dakshineshvar for eleven months, contrary to his normal practice of not stopping for more than a few days at a place during his travels. Being a staunch monist, he often riled Ramakrishna over relapsing into worship of maya( the goddess) even after attaining the supreme vision. Tota Puri left Dakshineshvar towards the end of 1865 to make a pilgrimage to the Jagannath temple of Puri. After that he returned to the dera of Baba Raj Puri at Ladana where he spent the rest of his life.




punarbashu said...

I had the privilege of visiting Languli Baba at his Ashram at Girinarbanta, Puri along with my father and two younger brothers.He breathed his last at this place where we have a beautiful temple and he campus has been developed very well. I have a few photographs which I can mail to you.

Thanks so much for the narrations.

A P Panda said...

Sir, Thank you very much.I have received the photographs from you and have posted 'the samadhi statue' photograph in the blog with your permission please.

With Regards,
A. P. Panda

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Unknown said...

I have earlier gone through the blog published by Mr.A.P.Panda and also left my remarks in this page.Unfortunately my comments & reactions have not been found place which is quite unfair & objectionable.Again I like to hint here that a section of people even in Paramarthic Society have tried to propagate wrong notions wrong informations & even malicious notions about Totapuri jee. I as a devotee & follower of Totapuri Jee like to make some ammendments to the blog if you permit.Most likely Sri Nangababa-Totapuri Jee was born at Hinglaj of Punjabi Suba of Mughal rule in Hindustan.Now the said Place comes under Balochistan of Pakistan.The probable year of birth calculated to be 1630 AD.One may jolly well visit Hinglaj & testimony could be gathered from the Monastery there.Sri Totapuri jee however was heading a Naga monastery in erstwhile Punjabi Suba in Mughal era some time after 1650 AD for a Decade or so but the said Monastery no more exits.The present monastery in Haryana is a later creation & no way connected with Nangababa-Totapuri Jee.The life span as projected by some is utterly missleading & motivated.The rare monk lived more than 300 years as we have calculated.The minimum span of life may be from 1630 AD to 1961 AD.He is neither Ishwarpuri nor successor in order to Rajpuri lineage as projected by some.Even to to our utter surprise some project a samadhi marking it as of Sri Totapuriji in that Math in Haryana.In fact Totapuri Jee Left his Body while in Samadhi Yog on 28th. Aug.1961 AD at his Ashram at Puri in ODISHA.I as a person has witnessed the incident as a High School Student Then at PURI.The ASHRAM is Known as Adwait BRAHMA ASHRAM & the abode is Known as GIrnarbant a big sand dune over which the great Saint was sitted under a banyan tree.HE was no doubt a Paribrajak Monistic Monk who initiated Brahmachary Gadadhar in Vedant Dikshya in the year 1962 AD not in 1964 AD as propagated.Contrary to ethics some funny stories also wildly circulated by some Disciples of Sri Ramakrishna in the shape of conversations between Gadadhar & Langta Baba his Guru,with sole intention of cource to glorify their Guru SRi RAMAKRISHNA PARAMHANS Jee.There is no harm in glorifying the Guru but it is most unethical to belittle GURUNAM GURU JEE of strature of Brahmavid Barista Sidh Guru Totapuri Jee Maharaj.Any body genuinely interasted to know more about the great saint & his philosophy may contact me or visit Girnarbant Ashram at Puri. They may also go through the literature available in Adwait Brahma Ashram,PURI.....Rajkishore Dash(DESHRAJ),President,A.B. Ashram,Girnarbanta PURI.

Unknown said...

I would like to talk to Dear Jitamanyu in person if such occasion comes.He is so lucky a person to have a chance visit to Girnarbant Ashram at Puri.Totapuri Maharaj spent his last Sannyas days about 40/45 years in this Adwait Brahma Ashram PURI.The great Adwait Vedantin was known as Naga Baba, Nangababa,Languli Baba,Mouni Baba and Digambar Paramahans also.He was a Tri-Centurian Himalayan Saint propagating Adwait Philosophy life long......Rajkishore Dash( DESHRAJ).

Partha said...

Totapuriji who initiated Sri Ramakrishna was a monk of Dera Baba Rajpuri at Baba Ladana near Kaithal.He left His body at Dera Baba Rajpuri on 16 November 1884.His date of birth is unknown.
His samadhi temple is there at Dera Baba Rajpuri.

The photograph is of Sri Nanga Baba Who left His body at Puri on 28 August 1961.As per the famous book 'Bharater Sadhak'( Vol. 7) by Sankarnath Ray, Nanga Baba clearly mentioned that He did not give sannyasa initiation to anyone.

So it is clear that He is NOT the Vedanta-Guru of Sri Ramakrishna.

There are at least three more Totapuris who belong to approximately the same time.One was the Guru of Ananda Puriji of the Advait Mat and left His body in 1872.Another was born at Maler kotla and had dera at Yogi Majra.He passed away in 1955.Another Totapuri was a disciple of Sri Kamraj Baba, the famous tantric saint of Haridwar.

Partha said...

I think you are misinformed.In 1951 Swami Alokananda of the Ramakrishna Mission wrote about Totapuriji's samadhi at Dera Baba Rajpuri at Baba Ladana near Kaithal.Please read 'Hariyana ki vedanta-parampara aur Baba Totapuri by Vaidya Vanamali Dutt Sharma published in 1986.

Partha said...

My comment is addressed to Mr.Rajkishore Das.