19/05/2024
neem karoli baba
Neem Karoli Baba, fondly referred to as Maharaj-ji by his devotees, was a revered Hindu guru who dedicated his life to Lord Hanuman, the Hindu deity.
Neem Karoli Baba

Neem Karoli Baba, fondly referred to as Maharaj-ji by his devotees, was a revered Hindu guru who dedicated his life to Lord Hanuman, the Hindu deity. He gained prominence outside India as the spiritual guide to several Americans who embarked on journeys to India during the 1960s and 70s. Among his most prominent disciples were spiritual mentors like Ram Dass and Bhagavan Das, as well as musicians such as Krishna Das and Jai Uttal. Notably, his ashrams were established in various locations including Kainchi, Vrindavan, Rishikesh, and even as far as Taos, New Mexico in the United States

NEEM KAROLI BABA’S BIRTH

In the heart of the vibrant tapestry of India, a remarkable soul came into existence – Lakshman Narayan Sharma. Born in the embrace of the year 1900, in the quaint village of Akbarpur  in the Firozabad district of Uttar Pradesh, his journey unfolded like a fabled odyssey. A scion of a prosperous Brahmin lineage, his story is one of transformation and devotion.

EARLY LIFE

At the tender age of 11, life took an unexpected turn as he was united in marriage by his parents. Yet, destiny had more profound plans for him. Fuelled by an insatiable quest for spiritual enlightenment, he embarked on a path less traveled – that of a wandering sadhu. But life’s compass had other directions to reveal. Answering his father’s pleadings, he returned home to embrace the  settled  married life, ultimately becoming a father to two sons and a daughter.

SPIRITUAL CALLING

The luminary who would later be known as Neem Karoli Baba, in those earlier days, responded to the call of his spiritual journey in 1958. A tale, now echoing through time, recounts an incident when he embarked on a train without a ticket. The narrative takes a captivating twist as the conductor’s decision to eject him halted not just the train’s movement but set in motion a series of events that would transform a village forever.

WHERE IT ALL STARTED

The story goes that a sadhu  (an ascetic ) who was travelling sans a ticket was forcibly alighted out of the train by the ticket collector along with a battery of followers who accompanied him. But despite all efforts the train refused to move. One of the passengers knocked some sense into train staff and asked them to get the insulted sadhu back so train could be started. The sadhu was found after a long search and was requested to board the train. The sadhu agreed to do so on two conditions , one that a railway station be constructed in that village called Neeb Karori  for people had to travel long distances to catch the train and for two the railway staff shall henceforth treat sadhus more respectfully. The railway staff agreed to both the conditions and the sadhu got on the train and quipped, “What, is it up to me to start trains?” the dormant locomotive stirred to life. This sadhu was none other than the Neem Karoli Baba who got this name from this village. In that moment, a bond was forged, not just between a train and its tracks, but between a village and its destiny. The wheels turned as blessings were invoked, propelling the train forward. With his divine touch, Baba set in motion not just the train, but a wave of change that rippled across the landscape.

NEEM KAROLI BABA’S AVERSION TO BEING PHOTOGRAPHED OR VIDEOGRAPHED

Neem Karoli Baba did not like to be photographed and did not allow anyone to record his voice or video.He had given strict instructions for same.Any one who violated his orders had to face his wrath.But still some devotees videographed him or recorded his voice hiding the camera.But all through they knew that Neem karoli Baba was aware of their antics and Baba himself made it apparent on a number of occasions . And devotees knew they had Baba’s blessings.

MULTIPLE NAMES

From that day forth, a station emerged, a testimony to the confluence of faith and determination. Neem Karoli Baba’s aura extended beyond the confines of that train, encompassing the village of Neem Karoli. As he roamed through Northern India, he acquired multiple names , each resonating with his spiritual prowess. Lakshman Das, Handi  Wallah Baba, Tikonia Walla Baba , Kambal wala Baba , Chamatkari Baba , Jadugar Baba – titles that became legends in their own right.

photo courtesy : maharajji.love

HIS ASHRAMS

With time, his legacy bloomed further, manifesting in ashrams and temples that bore his name. Kainchi and Vrindavan stand as monuments to his enduring spirit, drawing seekers from far and wide. The Kainchi Dham ashram, with its Hanuman temple, stands not just as a physical structure but as a beacon of devotion.

And so, on the 15th of June each year, the Kainchi Dham Bhandara gathers pilgrims and devotees, a testament to the indelible mark Neem Karoli Baba left on the world. A celebration of the temple’s inauguration, it is a reminder that some journeys are not confined to the realm of time; they are eternal, much like the spirit of Neem Karoli Baba that continues to guide and inspire, an ever-present force in the lives he touched.

FAMED KAINCHI DHAM ASHRAM

On the banks of river Kosi  in the Kumoan Hills of Uttarakhand  stands  Kainchi Dham ashram which is said to house the cave where Neem Karoli Baba used to meditate. It is a tranquil beauty of a place about 38 km from Naini Tal, is a temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman the beloved deity of Neem Karoli Baba, the temple was unveiled on a momentous day – June 15, 1964.

This was also the very spot where spiritual luminaries Sadhu Premi Baba and Sombari Maharaj had once invoked sacred energies through Yagyas. Over time, this platform evolved into the Hanuman temple, an embodiment of devotion and a testament to the guru’s transformative influence.

The air is alive with whispers of Neem Karoli Baba’s footsteps, his physical departure on September 10, 1973, marked the beginning of a new chapter. A temple dedicated to him emerged within the ashram’s heart, a place where his teachings and essence found a permanent dwelling. In a ceremony that echoed with reverence, his statue was consecrated on June 15, 1976, a homage to the spiritual luminary whose reach extended far beyond geographical boundaries.

Neem Karoli Baba’s life journey, a sublime mix of wanderlust and spiritual devotion, led him to assume many names and roles. The echoes of his legacy resonate not just in Kainchi but across the world. Temples in places like Lucknow and even an ashram in Texas stand as monuments to his profound teachings. According to his own website, Maharajji’s spiritual endeavors culminated in the establishment of at least 108 temples.

For those drawn to the ashram’s embrace, a pilgrimage is not just a mere journey; it is a calling that demands reverence. Prior permission is required for visiting the Kainchi village ashram, where the heartwarming tradition of a three-day stay can be experienced, a courtesy extended by the older devotees. The rhythm of the ashram’s life resonates with the seasons; it remains closed during the coldest periods of the year.

DESCIPLES DEVOTED TO THE ASHRAM

Foreigners and seekers from diverse corners of the globe are drawn to the ashram’s nurturing energy. Among its devotees are spiritual luminaries like Ma Jaya and Ram Dass, whose journeys were touched by the guru’s wisdom. The music of Jai Uttal and Krishna Das echoes with the spirit of devotion nurtured in this sacred space. Humanitarian Larry Brilliant, scholar and writer Yvette Rosser, and Daniel Goleman are just a few among the many whose lives have been transformed by the teachings and aura of Neem Karoli Baba.

As the sun sets over the hills and the ashram’s ethereal beauty envelopes the landscape, one can’t help but feel the harmonious dance of ancient wisdom and contemporary devotion. Kainchi Ashram stands as a bridge between worlds, a testament to the transformative power of spirituality, where the legacy of a humble guru continues to guide souls on their path of self-discovery and connection with the divine.

BABA’S FAVORITE FRUIT BECOMES APPLE’S LOGO

It is beyond imagination that a simple person sitting in a faraway sleepy village could wield such influence that tech giants would adopt logos taking inspiration from him. Multi billion dollar company Apple is one such example, whose founder Steve Jobs was so enamored with Baba that he chose his favorite fruit to be his copany’s logo. Steve Jobs, an icon of innovation, and his companion Dan Kottke embarked on a spiritual journey to India, seeking the essence of Hinduism and Indian spirituality. Their aspirations led them to the doorstep of Neem Karoli Baba, only to find that the physical form of the guru had departed the earthly plane.

ANOTHER TECH GIANT ARRIVES

In a quaint corner of the northern Indian hills, a young American arrived at the Kainchi Dham ashram, a serene haven nestled amidst nature’s embrace. Clad in a simple T-shirt and a pair of well-worn jeans, he carried with him a world of dreams and aspirations. Unbeknownst to the spiritual seekers at the retreat, he was Mark Zuckerberg, a name yet to be etched in the annals of tech history.

. It was only in recent times that the world learned of this pilgrimage, a revelation that Mark Zuckerberg had embarked on this journey under the guidance of a mentor and visionary, Apple founder Steve Jobs. The very soil that had cradled Jobs in his own college days in the 1970s now beckoned Zuckerberg to reflect upon the future of his nascent creation – Facebook.

ZUCKERBERG TEMPLE

With the passage of time, the riverside refuge in the enchanting state of Uttarakhand discreetly drew other giants of the tech world. Figures from Google, Apple, and eBay found solace within its serene confines. Yet, it was Mark Zuckerberg’s connection that elevated the ashram to newfound prominence. His return to India set a whirlwind in motion – Indian media descended, the retreat’s attendance tripled, and curious souls journeyed from across the nation to catch a glimpse of what the world has now endearingly termed the “Zuckerberg temple.”

NEEM KAROLI BABA SENDS LARRY BRILLIANT ON A MISSION

In a narrative that seamlessly blends the spiritual and the practical, Larry Brilliant’s journey finds its remarkable twist within the sacred walls of the ashram. Currently serving as a senior adviser to the Skoll Global Threats Fund, Brilliant’s path was shaped by an encounter with Neem Karoli Baba that would change his life forever.

For three years, Brilliant found a home within the tranquil embrace of the ashram, the serenity of the surroundings nurturing his quest for deeper understanding. However, as destiny often unfolds in unpredictable ways, the guru himself guided Brilliant towards a new calling – one that transcended the confines of the ashram’s sanctuary. Neem Karoli Baba’s guidance, both gentle and compelling, pushed Brilliant towards a mission that would impact the world.

In the face of the smallpox epidemic, the guru’s message resonated within Brilliant’s heart. At first, there was resistance, a natural hesitation to step outside the realm of contemplation. Yet, as life would have it, the path became clear, albeit in an unconventional way. The guru’s distractions during meditation sessions took the form of flying fruit, each instance a unique nudge towards action. Brilliant’s recollection carries a touch of humor, revealing the paradox of spiritual guidance manifested through playful gestures.

Despite the resistance, a transformative decision was forged. Brilliant’s journey took him to the World Health Organization, where he lent his expertise to the groundbreaking effort to eradicate smallpox. This transition became a testament to the power of divine guidance and the dance of destiny. The quietude of the ashram paved the way for a journey that would intersect with global health and humanitarian efforts, embodying the essence of service and selflessness.

In the symphony of life, Larry Brilliant’s story stands as a harmonious blend of spiritual pursuit and worldly engagement. His journey from the ashram’s tranquility to the tumultuous arena of global health encapsulates the profound ways in which Neem Karoli Baba’s teachings transcend the confines of time and space. Through Brilliant’s transformative path, we witness the fluidity of purpose, the convergence of the spiritual and the practical, and the extraordinary impact of one man’s decision to heed the call of destiny

OTHER NOTABLE DESCIPLES

Neem Karoli Baba’s legacy radiates through a constellation of remarkable individuals who were drawn into his orbit, forever transformed by his profound teachings. Among his notable disciples shines Ram Dass, the luminary behind the transformative work “Be Here Now.” Bhagavan Das, a singer and spiritual guide, echoes the guru’s wisdom in his own unique melody, while Lama Surya Das, an author and meditation mentor, carries forward the sacred flame of his teachings.

The harmonious chorus of devotees includes Jai Uttal and Krishna Das, musicians whose melodies are imbued with the spirit of devotion. Yet the luminosity of Neem Karoli Baba’s influence extends far beyond the realm of spiritual exploration. Notable figures like humanitarian Larry Brilliant and his wife Girija, along with Dada Mukerjee, a former professor at Allahabad University, have found solace and guidance in the guru’s teachings.

Scholar and author Yvette Rosser’s journey was illuminated by his wisdom, while Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati, an American spiritual teacher, found her path intertwined with his transformative presence. Filmmaker John Bush and Daniel Goleman, acclaimed author of “The Varieties of the Meditative Experience” and “Emotional Intelligence,” found seeds of enlightenment in his teachings.

Baba Hari Dass (Haridas), though not a formal disciple, played a vital role in the stewardship of the ashrams in the Nainital region. His dedication to maintaining the sacred spaces spoke of a connection that transcended mere discipleship. Across oceans and industries, the guru’s influence reverberated. Hollywood’s own Julia Roberts found herself drawn to Hinduism through a picture of Neem Karoli Baba, her spiritual journey ignited by the power of his presence.

The footprints of Neem Karoli Baba traverse time and space, leaving an indelible mark on hearts and souls. His disciples, each a unique note in the symphony of his teachings, continue to carry forward the flame of his wisdom, illuminating the path for all who seek to embark on a journey of spiritual discovery.

FOUNDATION CONTINUES WORK

The Seva Foundation became a living embodiment of Neem Karoli Baba’s teachings, a testament to the guru’s unwavering commitment to humanity’s well-being. A notable figure, Steve Jobs, recognizing the resonance of this mission, contributed his support, adding his own brushstroke to the tapestry of compassion. The organization’s focus on preventing and treating blindness became a living testament to the guru’s teachings, a realization that compassion and service are pathways to alleviating suffering.

In the midst of the evolving landscape, the ‘Love Serve Remember Foundation’ emerged, carrying forth the torch of Neem Karoli Baba’s teachings. This foundation became a haven for the preservation and perpetuation of his wisdom. The legacy of the guru was distilled into its essence, becoming a guiding light for seekers who yearned to delve deeper into his transformative teachings.

NEEM KAROLI BABA LEAVES HIS PHYSICAL FORM

On 11th September 1973, Neem Karoli Baba passed away in a hospital in Vrindavan, India. It was a sad moment. He slipped into a diabetic coma and breathed his last at 1:15 AM. The circumstances leading to his passing were really something – he had gone to Agra to see a doctor because of chest pains and was on his way back to Kainchi when he suddenly had convulsions at the Mathura railway station.

His companions quickly rushed him to Shri Dham Vrindavan, where everyone tried their best to help him. Despite being in a diabetic coma, his pulse remained strong. Then, in a really amazing moment, he took off the oxygen mask and the blood pressure measuring band and asked for water from the holy Ganga. As the earthly waters replaced the touch of the sacred Ganga, he whispered “Jaya Jagadish Hare” – “Hail to the Lord of the Universe” – each time softer than the last, surrendering to the cosmic symphony’s next movement.

A peaceful expression came over him, replacing his pain with a sense of calm. The body that held Neem Karoli Baba’s incredible soul finally gave way to the eternal. To honor his essence, they built a samadhi shrine in the Vrindavan ashram, where people who seek inspiration can visit and pay their respects.

Neem Karoli Baba’s passing wasn’t an end, but rather a transformation into a new form of existence. His departure from this world was like a grand finale, leaving behind a legacy of wisdom, devotion, and miracles that continue to inspire generations on their spiritual journeys.

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