Saints of India
Mahavatar Babaji and Haidakhan Babaji
Babaji has manifest in various forms throughout history, sometimes in human form and other times appearing to people on the astral. Babaji is considered a highly spiritual entity whom exists in realms beyond the conscious experience of the people of earth. He transverses the dimensions of existence being held in material and subtle forms, a mystery even to those he appears to. Babaji’s followers believe he is a container for spiritual wisdom and one of the most revered and admired yogic masters in history. “The deathless Babaji is an avatara…In Hindu scriptures, avatara signifies the descent of Divinity into flesh. …avatars, like Babaji undertake work that is concerned more with the slow evolutionary progress of man during the centuries than with any one outstanding event in history.”(Yogananda 347).
Babaji is credited with preforming all manner of miracles such as, bringing the dead back to life, miraculous healing, telepathy, manifesting objects and incredible synchronicity that occurs to those who are in his presence. Babaji seems to be united with a spiritual life-force beyond description, a life force which is the essence of creation. Yogananda writes, “ ’Babaji’s spiritual state is beyond human comprehension,’ Sri Yuketswar explained to me. ‘The dwarfed vision of men cannot pierce to his transcendent star. One attempts in vain even to picture the avatar’s attainment. It is inconceivable.’ ” (Yogananda 345).
Babaji has taken many forms in many time periods including with-in the last century and many stories have been spoken of Babaji in the distant past. “One such manifestation of Babaji recorded in a number of books and witnessed by many local people, was sometime in the year 1800. He is remembered by several people even today. At the time, Babaji traveled extensively in the Kumaon region, gathering around him several devotees and disciples… Seating Himself on the surface of the water at the confluence of the Rivers Kali and Gori, and disappearing in a ball of light, He dematerialized this form in 1922. This event too was witnessed by several devotees.” (Haidakhan Samaj UK).
Following his dematerialization, Babaji came to Mahendra Baba when he was the age of five. Mahendra Baba developed a relationship with Babaji who would appear to him. He developed a following and made a small temple in Kathgaria and installed a murti of Babaji on February 24th 1957. The night before its installation thousands witnessed the materialization of Babaji from a great ball of light. Mahendra Baba became known as Mahendra Maharaji and preformed many miracles all of which he attributed to the influence of Babaji. He preached over and over that one day Babaji would come and change the world. Vishnu Dutt friend of Mahendra Baba became divinely inspired and began to write poems which at one point described the coming of Babaji with remarkable accuracy. In 1969 Mahendra Maharaji predicted that Babaji would come soon and even said that he would come in 1970 (in the 1950s he predicted 1968 or 1969). Mahendra Maharaji died in 1969.
Babaji most recently appeared as Haidakhan Babaji in June 1970 until February 14th 1984. He came from a cave at the foot of Kumaon Mount Kailash. He had no family no home and appeared as a youth 18 to 20 years of age. Haidakhan Babaji demonstrated great wisdom, power and was recognized as a great embodiment of the lord Shiva. Haidakhan Babaji said in his teachings to have appeared dating back to before the time of Christ. “Shri Babaji, in his recent incarnation, mentioned on a few occasions that he was the teacher of Jesus Christ during his years between twelve and thirty…He also initiated Shri Shankara and the poet Kabir into yogic practices. He told others He lived in Tibet as the Buddhist saint Milarepa in the 11th and 12th centuries AD.” (Shyam 25). “Several Tibetan lamas, who came to visit Him, recognized Him as Lama Baba who had lived in Tibet centuries ago. There are tales of his appearances in Nepal also.” (Haidakhan Samaj UK).
Yogananda founded the Self Realization Fellowship which published Autobiography of a Yogi and continues the teachings of Yogananda. The SRF believes that Mahavatar Babaji and Haidakhan Babaji are not the same being, other disagree and say the two are one and the same. Haidakhan Babaji, “stated that He was the Shiva Mahavatar Babaji, referred to in the book Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda.” (The Haidakhan Samaji UK). There is no way to know with certainty and a dense fog of mystery surrounds all aspects of Babaji. In this article I will introduce both Mahavatar Babaji in part one and Haidakhan Babaji in part two and reference both in disclosing historical information.
Mahavatar Babaji was described most extensively in the Autobiography of a Yogi written by Paramahansa Yogananda which was published in 1946. The teachings of Mahavatar Babaji are presented by Yogananda as being the most important teachings received by his gurus. Yogananda speaks about Mahavatar Babaji as a non-physical being that appears at will to deliver teachings and initiations. Lahiri Mahasaya was visited by Mahavatar Babaji in 1861. Lahiri Mahasaya’s student Sri Yukteswar was visited by Mahavatar Babaji in 1863. There are books written in India which speak of Mahavatar Babaji appearing. Sri Yuketswar, Mahendra Baba and Vishnu Dutt wrote numerous books and poems based on the teachings of Mahavatar Babaji in the 19th and 20th centuries, some commissioned by Babaji himself.
Lahiri Mahasaya tells Yogananda of the promise Mahavatar Babaji made to stay embodied for all human existence in the presence of Lahiri Mahasaya and Ram Gopal. The story goes as follows:
Babaji appears in spectacular form near the Ganges as a whirling light in the sky which comes to terrestrial earth. Mahavatar Babaji emerges from the light and says, “Blessed sister, I am intending to shed my form and plunge into the Infinite Current.”
Mataji begs Babaji not to, “ever relinquish your form.”
“Be it so,’ Babaji said solemnly. ‘I shall never leave my physical body. It will always remain visible to at least a small number of people on this Earth.” (Yogananda 352).
Later Ram Gopal who witnessed the event said, “Babaji has been chosen by God to remain in his body for the duration of this particular world cycle. Ages will come and go – still the deathless master, beholding the drama of the centuries, shall be present on the terrestrial stage.” (Yogananda 353)
Mahavatar Babaji had the power to bring people back from death into life displaying his ability to alter reality in inexplicable ways. Lahiri Mahasaya was witness to one such event recounted in Autobiography of a Yogi. A man climbed to a secret meeting on a inaccessible ledge deep inside the Himalayas. The man addressed Babaji saying, “Sir you must be the great Babaji!’ The man’s face was lit with inexpressible reverence. ‘For months I have pursued a ceaseless search for you among these forbidding crags. I implore you to accept me as a disciple.”
“When the great guru made no response, the man pointed to the rock-lined chasm below the ledge. ‘If you refuse me, I will jump from this mountain. Life has no further value if I cannot win your guidance to the Divine.’”
“Jump then,’ Babaji said unemotionally. ‘I cannot accept you in your present state of development.”
“The man immediately hurled himself over the cliff. Babaji instructed the shocked disciples to fetch the stranger’s body. After they had returned with the mangled form, the master placed his hand on the dead man. Lo! He opened his eyes and prostrated himself humbly before the omnipotent guru.”
“You are now ready for discipleship.’ Babaji beamed lovingly on his resurrected chela. ‘You have courageously passed a difficult test. Death shall not touch you again; now you are one of our immortal flock.’ Then he spoke his usual words of departure, ‘Dera danda uthao’; the whole group vanished from the mountain.” (Yogananda 349-350).
Lahiri Mahasaya’s first encounter with Babaji reveals wisdom about the nature of the universe and shows the unimaginable powers of Mahavatar Babaji. Lahiri Mahasaya was working in autumn of 1961 when he heard a voice calling out to his from the forest. He ran to find the voice which was mysteriously calling. He came to a cliff side area with numerous caves. He ascended toward the voice when a man appeared on the ledge next to a cave and said, “Lahiri you have come! The magnificent palace will be the scene of your initiation tonight into Kriya Yoga. All your brothers here join in a paean of welcome, rejoicing at the end of your exile. Behold!” The simple cave instantly turned into a palace of unimaginable beauty.
“Before us stood a vast palace of dazzling gold…Towering archways were intricately inlaid with great diamonds, sapphires, and emeralds… I followed my companion into a spacious reception hall. The odors of incense and roses wafted through the air, dim lamps shed a multi-colored glow. Small groups of devotees, some fair, some dark-skinned, chanted softly or sat silently in the meditative posture, immersed in inner peace. A vibrant joy pervaded the atmosphere.”
“Feast your eyes; enjoy the artistic splendors of this palace; for it has been brought into being solely in your honor, my guide remarked, smiling sympathetically as I exclaimed in wonder.”
“Brother,’ I said, ‘the beauty if this structure surpasses the bounds of human imagination. Please explain to me the mystery is its origin.”
“’I will gladly enlighten you.’ My companion’s dark eyes sparkled with wisdom. ‘There is nothing inexplicable about this materialization. The whole cosmos is a projected thought of the Creator. The heavy clod of Earth, floating in space, is a dream of God’s. He made all things out of His mind, even as man in his dream consciousness reproduces and vivifies a creation with its creature.”
“The lord first formed the earth as an idea and then matter came into being. He coordinated earth atoms into a solid sphere. All its molecules are held together by the will of God. When He withdraws His will, all earth atoms will be transformed into energy. Atomic energy will return to its source: Consciousness. The earth idea will disappear from objectivity.”
“The substance of a dream is held in materialization by the subconscious thought of the dreamer… A man closes his eyes and erects a dream creation, which, on awakening, he effortlessly dematerializes. Similarly, when he awakens in cosmic consciousness, he effortlessly dematerializes the illusion of a cosmic-dream universe.”
“In tune with the infinite all-accomplishing Will, Babaji is able to command elemental atoms to combine and manifest themselves in any form. This golden palace instantaneously brought into being, is real – in the same sense that the earth is real.”
“Whoever realizes himself as a son of God, even as Babaji has done, can reach any goal by the infinite powers hidden within him. A common stone secretly contains stupendous atomic energies; even so, the lowliest mortal is a powerhouse of divinity…”
“We entered an immense hall. In the corner stood a golden throne, encrusted with jewels that shed a dazzling medley of colors. There, in lotus posture, sat the supreme Babaji. I knelt on the shining floor at his feet.”
“Lahiri, are you still feasting on your dreams desires for a golden palace? My guru’s eyes were twinkling like his own sapphires. Wake! All your earthly thirsts are about to be quenched forever. He murmured some mystic words of blessings. My son arise. Receive your initiation into the kingdom of God through Kriya Yoga.”
“Babaji stretched out his hand; a homa (sacrificial) fire appeared, surrounded by fruits and flowers. I received the liberating technique before this flaming altar.”
Lahiri was instructed to close his eyes and upon opening them the palace had vanished and he was in the cave with the Babaji devotees. Then Babaji materialized food for everyone present.
“Few mortals know that the kingdom of God includes the kingdom of mundane fulfillments, Babaji observed. The divine realm extends to the earthly; but the latter, illusory in nature, does not contain the essence of Reality.”
“…My divine guru approached and passed his hand over my head. I entered nirbikalpa Samadhi state, remaining unbrokenly in bliss for seven days…I penetrated the deathless realms of Reality. All delusive limitations dropped away; my soul was fully established on the altar of the Cosmic Spirit.” (Yogananda 357-365).
This initiation experience marked the reintroduction of the forgotten Kriya Yoga to humankind. Sri Yukeswar, the student of Lahiri Mahasaya, also had an encounter with Mahavatar Babaji and received the Kriya Yoga initiation. Sri Yuteswar met Babaji at Kumbha Mela under a tree. The sannyasin, who is later reveal to be Babaji, said to Sri Yuketswar.
“Welcome Swamiji, ‘he said affectionately.”
“Sir,’ I replied emphatically, ‘I am not a swami.”
“Those on whom I am divinely directed to bestow the title of swami never cast it off.’ The saint addressed me simply, but deep conviction of truth rang in his words; I was instantly engulfed in a wave of spiritual blessing.” (Yogananda 388).
“I saw that you are interested in the West, as well as in the East.’ Babaji’s face beamed with approval.’ I felt the pangs of your heart, broad enough for all men. That is why I summoned you here.”
“East and West must establish a golden middle path of activity and spirituality combined, ‘he continued. ‘India has much to learn from the West in material development; in return, India can teach the universal methods by which the West will be able to base its religious beliefs on the unshakable foundations of yogic science.” (Yogananda 389).
Babaji gives a prediction that Yuketswar will have a devotee that will spread the spiritual message of India to the west; this devotee was Paramahansa Yogananda. Babaji requested that Sri Yuketswar write a, “…short book on the underlying harmony between Christian and Hindu scriptures,” (Yogananda 390). This book was written and called “The Holy Science”. Later Yogananda spread the teachings of his gurus to America selling millions of copies of Autobiography of a Yogi completing his mission assigned by Mahavatar Babaji and Sri Yuketswar.
“The ancient sage Patanjali, foremost exponent of yoga, who wrote: “Kriya yoga consists of body discipline, mental control and meditation on Aum.” (Yogananda 277). “Kriya Yoga is twice referred to by Lord Krishna, India’s greatest prophet, in the Bhagavad Gita. One stanza reads: “offering the inhaling breath into the exhaling breath and offering the exhaling breath into the inhaling breath, the yogi neutralizes both breaths; thus he releases prana from the heart and brings life force under his control.” Another stanza states: “That meditation-expert (muni) becomes eternally free who seeking the Supreme Goal, is able to withdraw from the external phenomena by fixing his gaze within the mid-spot of the eyebrows and by neutralizing the even currents of prana and apana [that flow] within the nostrils and lungs; and to control his sensory mind and intellect; and to banish desire, fear and anger.”(Yogananda 279). The practice of these techniques leads to deep peace and a rejuvenating feeling and should not feel forced or strenuous in anyway.
Mahavatar Babaji revealed the nature of the universe to be the thought of God held together by will and initiated Kriya Yoga, the control of life force in order to unite with the Divine reality. He spoke of the necessity of combining the wisdom of the East and West and of having our hearts open to all existences and all peoples. Mahavatar Babaji is said to be embodied in all times to help humanity. He is the deathless yoga master who guides humankind by giving the best techniques for spiritual realization in any given age. Mahavatar Babaji revived the ancient science of Kriya Yoga in the 19th century, however, Haidakhan Babaji appeared in the 20th century and taught Karma Yoga (conscious work), Japa Yoga (repeating holy phrases) and Truth, Simplicity and Love. The teachings and stories of Haidakhan Babaji will be covered in Part Two.
By: Transpersonal Spirit
Paramahansa Yogananda. Autobiography of a Yogi. Self Realization Fellowship. 1946, 1974, 2005.
Rdhe Shyam, I am harmony a book about Babaji. The American Haidakhan Samaj. Crestone, Co. 1990, 2006.
Haidakhandi Samaj. The Teachings of Babaji. Haidakhandi Samaj Haidakhan Vishwamahadham. 1984, 2004.
Haidakhandi Samaj. The Teachings of Babaji. Haidakhan Samaj. Haidakhan Vishwamahadham. 1983, 1990.
The Haidakhandi Samaj (UK). http://ombabaji.org.uk/?page_id=4