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Mahavatar Babaji

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mahavatar Babaji
Mahavatar Babaji meditating in the lotus position – a drawing from Autobiography of a Yogi, commissioned by Paramahansa Yogananda and based on his own meeting with Babaji
Known forKriya Yoga
RelativesMataji (sibling)
PhilosophyKriya Yoga
Religious career
HonorsDeathless guru
Mahamuni Babaji Maharaj
Maha Yogi
Trambak Baba
Shiva Baba
Baba Garib Nath Ji

Mahavatar Babaji (IAST: Mahāvatāra Bābājī; literally; Great Avatar (Revered) Father or Elder or Wise One) is the name given to an Indian yogi by Yogiraj Lahiri Mahasaya, and several of his disciples, Sri Yukteswar Giri, Baba Nasib Singh Ji, Ram Gopal Muzumdar, Swami Kebalananda, and Swami Pranabananda Giri who reported meeting him between 1861 and 1935. Some of these meetings were described by Paramahansa Yogananda in his 1946 book Autobiography of a Yogi, including a report of Yogananda's own meeting with the yogi.[2] Another account was given by Sri Yukteswar Giri in his 1894 book The Holy Science.[3] According to Sri M's autobiography (apprenticed to a Himalayan Master), Babaji was Lord Shiva. In the second to last chapter of his book, he mentions Babaji changing his form to that of Lord Shiva. All of these accounts, along with additional reported meetings, are described in various biographies.[4][5][6] According to Yogananda's autobiography, Babaji has resided for at least hundreds of years in the remote Himalayan regions of India, seen in person by only a small number of disciples and others.[2][7]


There are very few accounts of Babaji's childhood. One source of information is the book Babaji and the 18 Siddha Kriya Yoga tradition by Marshal Govindan. V.T. Neelakantan and S.A.A. Ramaiah founded on 17 October 1952, (they claim – at the request of Babaji) a new organization, "Kriya Babaji Sangah," dedicated to the teaching of Babaji's Kriya Yoga. They claim that in 1953 Mahavatar Babaji told them that he was born in the year 203 CE in a small coastal village now known as Parangipettai, Cuddalore district of Tamil Nadu, Chola Kingdom.[8] Babaji's Kriya Yoga Order of Acharyas Trust (Kriya Babaji Sangah) and their branch organizations claim his place and date of birth.[8] He was a disciple of Bogar and his birth name is Nagarajan.[9][8]

In Paramahansa Yogananda's Autobiography of a Yogi, many references are made to Mahavatar Babaji, including from Lahirī Mahasaya and Sri Yukteswar.[2] In his book The Second Coming of Christ, Yogananda states that Jesus Christ went to India and conferred with Mahavatar Babaji.[7] This would make Babaji at least 2000 years old.[10] According to Govindan's book, Babaji Nagaraj's father was the priest of the village's temple. Babaji revealed only those details which he believed to be formative as well as potentially instructive to his disciples. Govindan mentioned one incident like this: "One time Nagaraj's mother had got one rare jackfruit for a family feast and put it aside. Babaji was only 4 years old at that time. He found the jackfruit when his mother was not around and ate it all. When his mother came to know about it, she flew in blind rage and stuffed a cloth inside Babaji's mouth, nearly suffocating him, but he survived. Later on he thanked God for showing him that she was to be loved without attachment or illusion. His love for his mother became unconditional and detached."[9]

When Nagaraj was about 15 years of age, he joined a small group of wandering sannyāsin due to their radiant faces and love for God. During the next few years, he wandered from place to place, studying holy scriptures like the Vedas, Upanishad, Mahabharata, Ramayana and Bhagavad Gita and practiced deep meditation[citation needed]

Quest for Self-realization

According to Marshall Govindan's book, at the age of eleven, he made a difficult journey on foot and by boat with a group of ascetics to Kataragama, Sri Lanka. Nagaraj met Siddha Bhogarnathar and became his disciple. Nagaraj performed intensive yogic sadhana for a long time with him. Bhogarnathar inspired Nagaraj to seek his initiation into Kriya Kundalini Pranayam from Siddha Maharishi Agastya. Babaji became a disciple of Siddha Agastya. Nagaraj was initiated into the secrets of Kriya Kundalini Pranayama or "Vasi Yogam". Babaji made a long pilgrimage to Badrinath and spent eighteen months practising yogic kriya taught to him by Siddha Agastya and Bhogarnathar. Babaji attained self-realization shortly thereafter.[9]

It is claimed that these revelations were made by Babaji himself to S.A.A. Ramaiah, a young graduate student in geology at the University of Madras and V.T. Neelakantan, a famous journalist, and close student of Annie Besant, President of the Theosophical Society and mentor of Krishnamurti. Babaji was said to have appeared to each of them independently and then brought them together to work for his Mission in 1942.[11]

Reports of meetings, 1861–1935

Shyāmacharan Lahirī

The first reported encounter with Mahavatar Babaji was in 1861, when Shyāmacharan Lahirī (called "Mahāsaya" by disciples, devotees, and admirers) was posted to Ranikhet in his work as an accountant for the British government. One day while walking in the hills of Dunagiri above Ranikhet, he heard a voice calling his name. Following the voice up the mountain, he met a "tall, divinely radiant sadhu."[6] He was amazed to find that the sadhu knew his name.[2][6] This sadhu was Mahavatar Babaji.

Mahavatar Babaji told Lahiri Mahasaya that he was his guru from the past, then initiated him into Kriya Yoga and instructed Lahiri to initiate others. Lahiri wanted to remain with Mahavatar Babaji, who told him instead that he must return to the world to teach Kriya Yoga and that "Kriya Yoga sadhana would spread through the people of the world through his (Lahiri's) presence in the world."[6]

Lahirī reported that Mahavatar Babaji did not give his name or background, so Lahiri gave him the title "Mahavatar Babaji." Many sadhus in India are called Babaji, and sometimes even "Babaji Maharaj", which has caused confusion between Mahavatar Babaji and other sadhus with similar names.[6]

Lahirī had many meetings with Mahavatar Babaji, recounted in several books, including Paramhansa Yogananda's Autobiography of a Yogi,[2] Yogiraj Shyama Charan Lahiri Mahasaya (Lahiri's biography),[6] and Purana Purusha: Yogiraj Sri Shama Churn Lahiri,[12] among others.

There are references to Sri Lahiri Mahasaya in Sampoorna Sripada Vallabha Charitam as guru to Sri Shirdi Saibaba, who initiated him to kriya yoga.

Disciples of Shyāmacharan Lahirī

Several disciples of Shyāmacharan Lahirī also reported having met Babaji. Through discussion with each other, and the fact that some of these encounters included two or more witnesses, they confirmed that the person they saw was the same sadhu that Lahirī called Mahavatar Babaji.[2][6][13]

At the 1894 Kumbha Mela in Allahabad, Yukteswar Giri, a disciple of Lahirī, met Mahavatar Babaji. He was struck by the resemblance between Lahirī and Mahavatar Babaji.[2][5] Others who met Babaji also commented on the resemblance.[6] It was at this meeting that Mahavatar Babaji instructed Sri Yukteswar to write the book that was to become Kaivalya Darshanam, or The Holy Science.[3] Yukteswar had two more meetings with Mahavatar Babaji, including one in the presence of Lahiri Mahasaya.[2][5][6]

Pranabananda Giri, another disciple of Lahirī, also met Mahavatar Babaji in the presence of Lahirī, at Lahirī's home. Pranabananda asked Mahavatar Babaji his age. Mahavatar Babaji responded that he was about 500 years old at that time.[4]

Keshabananda, a disciple of Lahirī, tells of meeting Mahavatar Babaji in the mountains near Badrinath around 1935, after he became lost wandering in the mountains.[2] At that meeting, Pranabananda reported that Babaji gave him a message for Paramahansa Yogananda, that "I won't see him this time, as he is eagerly hoping; but I shall see him on some other occasion."[2] In his book Autobiography of a Yogi, Paramahansa Yogananda wrote that Mahavatar Babaji visited him before his journey to America and addressed him saying, "You are the one I have chosen to spread the message of Kriya Yoga in the West."[2]

Other disciples of Lahirī who reported meetings with Mahavatar Babaji include Kebalananda Giri[13] and Ram Gopal Muzumdar, who recounted meeting Mahavatar Babaji and his sister, whom he called Mataji.[2][6] In addition, a disciple of Trailanga Swami, Shankari Mata (also called Shankari Mai Jiew) met Mahavatar Babaji while visiting Lahiri Mahasaya.[2][6]

Traditional legends

Altar of the Self-Realization Fellowship Langerringen meditation circle near Augsburg in Bavaria, Germany. From left to right are: Lahiri Mahasaya, Mahavatar Babaji, Jesus Christ, Lord Krishna, Paramahansa Yogananda and Sri Yukteswar Giri
Altar of the Self-Realization Fellowship Langerringen meditation circle near Augsburg in Bavaria, Germany. From left to right are: Lahiri Mahasaya, Mahavatar Babaji, Jesus Christ, Lord Krishna, Paramahansa Yogananda and Sri Yukteswar Giri

Paramahansa Yogananda, in his Autobiography, described Mahavatar Babaji's role on earth:[7]

The Mahavatar is in constant communion with Christ; together they send out vibrations of redemption, and have planned the spiritual technique of salvation for this age. The work of these two fully-illumined masters–one with the body, and one without it–is to inspire the nations to forsake suicidal wars, race hatreds, religious sectarianism, and the boomerang-evils of materialism. Babaji is well aware of the trend of modern times, especially of the influence and complexities of Western civilization, and realizes the necessity of spreading the self-liberations of yoga equally in the West and in the East.

In addition, Babaji is reputed to be ageless, according to some accounts, and about 500 years old around the late 1800s, according to Pranabananda.[4] Yogananda reports that, according to the disciples of Lahirī, nobody knows Babaji's age, family, place of birth, true name, or other details "dear to the annalist's heart."[2]

According to Yogananda's autobiography, he has a sister called Mataji (meaning "Holy Mother") who also has lived throughout the centuries.[14] Her level of spiritual attainment is comparable to her brother's, and she lives in a state of spiritual ecstasy in a cave. Although only three pages in the book are dedicated to her, she is described by Ram Gopal as "young and surpassingly lovely" as well as a "glorious woman."[2]

Yogananda frequently prayed out loud to "Babaji-Krishna."[15]

Modern claims and popular references

Statue of Mahavatar Babaji at Babajisannidhan, Bangalore, India
Statue of Mahavatar Babaji at Babajisannidhan, Bangalore, India

Mahavatar Babaji was on the cover of The Beatles' 1967 album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. He can also be seen on the cover of George Harrison's 1974 album Dark Horse.[1][16]

In Book 3 of Conversations with God (1998), by Neale Donald Walsch, it is mentioned that Babaji may at one time have resurrected himself from the dead, just like Lazarus, Jesus and others.[17]

The 2002 Tamil film Baba written by Rajinikanth was based on Babaji. Swami Maheshwarananda writes in his book The hidden power in humans, that the Guru of the legendary Babaji is Sri Alakh Puriji.[18]

In his autobiography Apprenticed to a Himalayan master: a yogi's autobiography (2010), Sri M (Mumtaz Ali) narrates his meeting with Babaji near Neelkant hill.[19] In his book, Sri M gave description of Babaji as golden complexioned, bare-bodied, except for a shining white loin cloth that barely reached the knees, and flowing brown hair that fell to his shoulders. He mentioned that a lovely scent emanated from Babaji, and he looked divine. In the second last chapter of his book, he mentions that Babji himself was Lord Shiva. He describes seeing Babaji changing his form to Lord Shiva again and again. He also mentions that Sai Baba, Jesus, Guru Nanak and many others were disciples of Mahavatar Babaji.

Songwriter Roger Hodgson of English rock band Supertramp composed a song called "Babaji" in reference to Mahavatar Babaji. This song was recorded and released on their 1977 album Even in the Quietest Moments...

See also


  1. ^ a b "How the 'Sgt. Pepper' cover might have looked today". Retrieved 31 August 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Yogananda, Paramahansa, Autobiography of a Yogi, 2005. ISBN 978-1-56589-212-5.
  3. ^ a b Yukteswar Giri, The Holy Science. Yogoda Satsanga Society, 1949
  4. ^ a b c Mukhopadyay, Jnananedranath, Srimad Swami Pranabananda Giri, Sri Jnananedranath Mukhopadyay Property Trust, 2001.
  5. ^ a b c Satyananda Giri, Swami Sri Yukteshvar Giri Maharaj, from A collection of biographies of 4 Kriya Yoga gurus, iUniverse Inc. 2006. ISBN 978-0-595-38675-8.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k 'Satyananda Giri, Swami, Yogiraj Shyama Charan Lahiri Mahasay, from A collection of biographies of 4 Kriya Yoga gurus, iUniverse Inc. 2006. ISBN 978-0-595-38675-8.
  7. ^ a b c "Mahavatar Babaji: The unknown 'immortal yogi'". Retrieved 30 August 2017.
  8. ^ a b c Neelakantan, V. T.; Ramaiah, S. A. A.; Babaji (2006). The voice of Babaji: a trilogy on Kriya Yoga. Babaji's Kriya Yoga Order of Acharyas. ISBN 978-1-895383-23-2.
  9. ^ a b c Govindan, Marshall (1 January 2001). Babaji and the 18 Siddha Kriya Yoga tradition. Babaji's Kriya Yoga Publications. ISBN 978-1-895383-00-3.
  10. ^ Yogananda, Paramahansa (2004). The Second Coming of Christ: The Resurrection of the Christ Within You p. Los Angeles, CA: Self-Realization Fellowship. ISBN 0-87612-555-0.
  11. ^ "Babaji's Kriya Yoga".
  12. ^ Chatterjee, Ashoke Kumar, Purana Purusha: Yogiraj Sri Shama Churn Lahiri. Yogiraj Publications, 2004. ISBN 81-87563-01-X.
  13. ^ a b Giri, Satyananda (2004). Yogacharya Shastri Mahasaya: a short biographical sketch of Hamsaswami Kebalanandaji Maharaj. Yoganiketan.
  14. ^ Cush, Denise; Robinson, Catherine; York, Michael (21 August 2012). Encyclopedia of Hinduism / Self Realisation Fellowship / Page: 781. ISBN 978-0-7007-1267-0.
  15. ^ Yogananda, Paramahansa: various articles (Praecepta Lessons, Volume 1, 1934) and recordings (One Life Versus Reincarnation [CD]. ISBN 0-87612-439-2).
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 24 October 2011. Retrieved 28 November 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  17. ^ Walsch, Neale Donald, Conversations with God: an uncommon dialog (Book #3), page 95.
  18. ^ Swami Maheshwarananda, The hidden power in humans, Ibera Verlag, page 245. ISBN 3-85052-197-4
  19. ^ Sri M (Mumtaz Ali), Apprenticed to a Himalayan master: a yogi's autobiography, Magenta Press, 2010, ISBN 81-910096-0-9

Further reading

External links

This page was last edited on 13 November 2021, at 03:00
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