History of Acharya Mahatir Babaji Nagaraj

Acharya Mahatir Babajis Yogi
In the year 203 A.D., on the 30th day of November, in a small village now known as Parangipettai, in Tamil Nadu, India, near where the Cauvery River flows into the Indian Ocean, a child was born. The name Nagaraj was given to this child by his parents. Nagaraj means "King of the serpents", to honor the great primordial force "Kundalini Shakti". Stone images of such serpents arising are worshipped in every village, typically under spreading banyan trees throughout Tamil Nadu.

The child's birth coincided with the ascendancy (Nakshatra) of the star Rohini, and was in the Wadala Gotra (blood group). It is the same star under which Lord Krishna, the Avatar or incarnation of God had been born on July 20, 3228 B.C. (Sathya Sai Baba, 1977, p. 90). The birth or the child took place during the celebration of Kartikai Deepam, the Festival of Lights. This festival occurs on the night before the new moon during the Tamil month of Kartikai. The Festival of Lights celebrates the triumph of the forces of Light over the forces of Darkness. The Tamils celebrate the victory of their popular deity, Murugan, over the demons who threatened to overrun the world. Lord Murugan, son of Lord Shiva, is the favorite deity of the Tamil Siddhas. In northern India the festival is celebrated on the anniversary of the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya and the triumph of the forces of good over evil is remembered as well. The auspicious time for the child's birth could not have been chosen more wisely by the one who, subsequently, was to progressively manifest the greatness of both Lord Krishna and Lord Murugan.

The father and mother of this child were descendants of families of Nambudri Brahmins who had immigrated to this seacoast village and trading center hundreds of years earlier from the Malabar coast, now in the state of Kerala. Nambudri Brahmins have been renowned for their dedication to priestly duty and scholarship. The priests of the famous Himalayan temple, Badrinath, have come from this same Nambudri Brahmin caste, since the temple's establishment by the Adi Shankaracharya - 788 to 820 A.D. (Fonia, 1987, pg. 115-117). Near this temple, the child Nagaraj blossomed into a great siddha, now known as Babaji. As will be seen below and in subsequent chapters, Nagaraj was to also manifest a great capacity for scholarship and service.
Nagaraj's father was the priest of the village's principal temple, or "koil" in Tamil. This temple was dedicated to Lord Shiva. At some point in time, the image in the sanctam sanctorum was changed from a Shiva Lingam to an image of Lord Murugan, also known as Kumaraswamy. The change in the principal deity may have occurred during the period when the village became subject to invading Moslems or Portuguese forces, who were responsible for the destruction of many Hindu temples in India and Sri Lanka. The temple still exists and is known as Kumaraswamy Devasthanam.

Nagaraj, being the son of the village's chief priest in his early formative years, must have been greatly influenced by the personal religious practices of his parents and the public ceremonies and celebrations associated with temple life. Every act in the daily life. of a pious Brahmin priest, including bathing, food preparation, study and ceremonies, is associated with spiritual practices. The effect which these practices must have had on Nagaraj during his childhood can be estimated by visiting the home of Manigurukal, the present priest of this temple in Parangipettai. Manigurukal has a sweet childlike nature and a melodious voice. The chanting of the mantras and Thevaram hymns to Lord Murugan by him, in surroundings which have not changed for thousands of years, reveal to this day the culture in which Nagaraj took root and blossomed into a siddha.

Gautama Buddha, near the end of his life, in the 5th century, B.C., predicted that his teachings would be distorted and lost within 500 years following his leaving the mortal body. He also said that his teachings would be rediscovered in 800 years and preserved by one whose name would be associated with the term "naga". The term "naga" has been commonly associated with the great Buddhist reformer "Nagarjuna" who did appear 800 years later. It has become evident, however, that Gautama Buddha, for reasons related to his next advent as the Maitreya or world teacher, may have in fact foretold the birth of a child named Nagaraj, who subsequently blossomed into the great Siddha Yogi known today as "Babaji" (Leadbeater, 1969, pg. 274, 279).

A region of great sanctity
Parangipettai is Only 17 kilometers from one of the greatest pilgrimage destinations of southern India, the colossal temple of Chidambaram, containing the incomparably beautiful image of Shiva, as Nataraja, the Cosmic Dancer. The image of Nataraja stands under a roof covered by 21,600 tiles of solid gold, representing the 21,600 daily respirations of the average human being. The tiles are held in place by 72,000 gold nails, representing the 72,000 nadis (energy channels) in the human body. This ancient temple covers fifty acres. It is surrounded by walls measuring nearly a kilometer in length on each side. It includes four great towers rising nearly two hundred feet in height covered with figures of deities and siddhas, carved in granite. Chidambaram is surrounded by miles of emerald green rice fields and palm trees. Thirumoolar attained soruba samadhi here thousands of years ago. His transformative experience and the devotion of millions of pilgrims since then, has surcharged Chidambaram with spiritual vibrations, making it one of the world's great spiritual dynamos. Undoubtedly it helped to fuel the spiritual aspirations of the boy Nagaraj during pilgrimages with his family to Chidambaram. To this day Chidambaram beckons the spiritual aspirant to Self Realization.

The jack fruit incident
Babaji Nagaraj has revealed only a few details of his early years, probably only those which he believed to be formative as well as potentially instructive to his disciples. This includes a description of an incident involving a large jack fruit which Nagaraj's mother had obtained when he was about four years old. The jack fruit is found in tropical regions of south Asia and is deliciously sweet. When mature, it is about the size of a large watermelon. It contains hundreds of thick succulent pods, golden in color, with a honey like flavor. As it is in season only a few weeks each year, it was a rare treat for children. Nagaraj's mother had set it aside for a family feast. It was a favorite fruit of the boy Nagaraj. During her absence from the house, Nagaraj seized the opportunity to devour the entire jack fruit with great relish. Seeing the remains of the jack fruit upon her return, Nagaraj's mother flow into a blind rage and stuffed a cloth down his mouth, nearly suffocating him. Fortunately, Nagaraj survived. Nagaraj forgave his mother for nearly killing him. He thanked God for showing him that she was to be loved without attachment or illusion. His love for his mother became one of unconditional love and detachment.

Kidnapping and years or wandering
Nagaraj was five years old. One day, he was standing to the left of the entrance gate, near the wall inside the Parangipettai Shiva temple compound, observing the crowd gathered for a religious ceremony. A foreigner suddenly seized him by the arm and carried him off. The kidnapper was a visiting trader from Baluchistan, which is now a part of Pakistan. The fair, handsome features of Nagaraj had attracted this rogue, who saw in Nagaraj the potential for profit as a slave. Undetected by anyone in the village, he took Nagaraj on a sailboat northwards more than a thousand miles, up the coast until they reached a port near what is now Calcutta. There the trader sold Nagaraj to a wealthy man as a slave. His now owner was a kind man. He gave Nagaraj his freedom shortly thereafter. As is often the case, what seemed to have been a great tragedy actually set the stage for Nagaraj's liberation from the duties and limitations of a Brahmin householder.
In India, from ancient times, many persons have renounced home and family, and taken a vow to dedicate their lives in the search for God-realization. They are known as "sanyasins" or "sadhus". To indicate their status apart from society, they usually wear ochre cloth. In nearly all cases, they spend their days wandering from place to place often to pilgrimage destinations, such as famous shrines. They rest for the night in temples or the homes of spiritually minded persons who find it a great blessing to food them and share their company. The sanyasins share their wisdom with their hosts, individually or occasionally before groups, inspiring others to turn their thoughts to God. Many of them become very learned in the sacred scriptures, and by practicing meditation come to realize and manifest the scriptural truths. Some of them retire to forests, caves or other sacred spots. They attain spiritual enlightenment through ascetic practices, yoga and study. Some of the greatest of these sanyasins attract renunciant disciples, and prescribe certain rules and practices. The groupings of such disciples are loosely organized into various orders which in some cases have continued for hundreds and thousands of years.

Nagaraj, after being freed by his kindly benefactor, joined a small group of wandering sanyasins. He was attracted by their radiant faces and love for God. During the next few years, he wandered from place to place with various sannyasins, studying the sacred scriptures of India, such as the Vedas, the Upanishads, the epics Mahabharata and Ramayana, and the Bhagavad Gita. His reputation as a scholar grow. He was often invited to debate with other pundits and loaders belonging to various metaphysical schools of thought. It was a period in which many competing schools of thought existed, as there was great freedom of self-expression. He used to debate with various scholars metaphysical subjects about the nature of the soul and reality. He was able to clarify points and resolve disputes with an erudition that was astonishing, especially for one so young.

Babaji's Quest for Self Realization
Nagaraj felt that his scholarship with regards to the scriptures was not bringing him any closer to Self realization, lasting happiness and fulfillment. He became increasingly dissatisfied. He was like a person by a wall, jumping up and down to got glimpses of a beautiful garden on the other side. As he matured, he came to understand that only a permanent change in consciousness, God-realization, could end his search for such fulfillment. His fame as a scholar, was becoming a source of distraction. The metaphysical disputations were not bringing him closer to the goal of enlightenment. Words, no matter how well reasoned, could not capture the Truth. Words could at best point the way to it - but to arrive at the goal, one needed to go beyond the words and reasonings. As yet he had found no guide or method to help him reach his goal.

Pilgrimage to Katirgama, Sri Lanka
It was during this period, at the age of eleven, that he made a long a difficult journey on foot and by boat with a group of scholar ascetics from Benares to the sacred shrine of Katirgama, Sri Lanka.

Katirgama is located near the southern most tip of the island of Sri Lanka (formerly known as Ceylon). The island is nearly two hundred and eighty miles long. Babaji's journey to Katirgama required many months. Nearly eight hundred years earlier, Gautama Buddha made a similar pilgrimage to the shrine of Murugan at Katirgama. Ever since, it has been the most revered place in Sri Lanka for both Tamil Hindus and Singhalese Buddhists. The temples in the Katirgama temple compound are administered by both Hindu and Buddhistpriests. Members of both communities worship freely and together in all the temples there. In recent times, a Muslim mosque has also been established there. To this day Katirgama stands as an example of religious harmony, expressing the siddhas universal teaching of "unity in diversity".

The Katirgama temple
The main temple in Katirgama, established by Siddha Boganathar, unlike all other temples, contains no carved image of God. Instead, Boganathar installed a mystic yantra (geometric design) carved into a golden plate, representing within its form and mantra syllables, a crystallization of the great deity Murugan. To this day the yantra plate is guarded from public view. Only the priests of the temple may view it. Once a year, during an annual celebration which generally falls around the end of July, the yantra is carried from the shrine in a procession on the back of an elephant escorted by the priests and a huge crowd of devotees. The mystic power of this yantra was imparted by Siddha Boganathar for the benefit of all those who seek the assistance of Murugan (Ramaiah, 1982, vol. 3, p. 36). Down through the centuries Katirgama has been the scene of many miracles.

The temple is deep inside a forest, besides a small river, known as the Manicka Ganga. In this forest, from time immemorial, saints, sages, and siddhas have practiced austerities, and today the atmosphere is charged with spiritual vibrations.

Katirgama was also the scene of the god Murugan's courtship of the mortal princess, Valfi, a Vedda girl (the aborigines of Ceylon are called Veddas). It is at Katirgama that Kartikeya met and married her. Tradition has it that since then Lord Kartikeya or Murugan is still living there. Katiragam is an Apabhramsa or corrupted form of Kartikeya-grama, that is, "the village of Lord Kartikeya."

Babaji and Boganathar at Katirgama
Nagaraj met Siddha Boganathar at Katirgama, and seeing his greatness, became his disciple. Sitting under a large spreading banyan tree[3] with him for six months, Nagaraj performed intensive yogic "sadhana" (yogic practices), particularly various "dhyana kriyas" (meditation techniques) into which he was initiated by Boganathar. The "tapas" (intensive yogic practice) was done for long periods without a break, initially for 24 hours and later for days, weeks and up to 48 days at a stretch. During this period Boganathar watched and progressively initiated him into more advanced Kriyas. For the first time, with deepening meditation experiences, the truths studied and debated as a scholar became a reality for him. The various meditation Kriyas unchained his mind from the limiting processes of the thinking mind, allowing his consciousness to expand and realize its identity with an undifferentiated absolute reality. The 1-consciousness receded and a Thou (Tao, or in Tamil, "Thaan") consciousness became established, in a series of experiences.-
In the early stages of God-communion (sarvikalpa samadhi) his consciousness merged in the Cosmic Spirit; his life force withdrew from the physical body, leaving it completely motionless and cold as though it were dead. The samadhi experiences deepened gradually over the months with Boganathar. They reached a climax with a vision of Lord Kumaraswamy (Murugan) in his form as the eternal youth. He realized that he was now incarnating the consciousness of Lord Murugan[4]. Under Boganathar's guidance he thoroughly analysed the ten systems of Indian philosophy and came to understand and appreciate the full significance of Siddhantham.

Quest for initiation from Agastyar at Courtrallam
In ancient times Siddhas such as Thirumoolar, Agastyar, Boganathar, and Roma Rishi realized that their capacity for experiencing and manifesting the Divine was not limited to the spiritual plane of existence. The Divine could and would descend further into lower planes of consciousness: the intellectual, mental, vital,and physical bodies. In such a descent, the Divine transforms them from limited, independent, habitual modes of being into modes which are fully conscious and harmonious expressions of the directing Godhead. Such a state is difficult to conceive of given the limits of our intellect, with its tendency to measure oceanic reality in teacup sized concepts, confusing the Real for its mental and intellectual representations. It is something like the problem one has standing at the foot of a skyscraper building, trying to imagine the view from the top floor. The Siddhas has discovered that through a progressive surrender of their being, their ego, and their very fives, the Divinity would in some exceptional cases descend and transform them. Such a transformative process was expedited by the intensive practice of various Kriyas, including hatha yoga asanas, meditation, mantras, and bhakti yogas, but above all, Kriya Kundalini Pranayama. The transformation became a race against time, given the natural tendency for catabolism (the breakdown of cells and tissues) to exceed anabolism (cell growth) after the age of about twenty-five. Up until the age of twenty-five or so in the average human being, anabolism exceeds catabolism. To maintain an anabolic rate superior to the catabolic rate and prolong the physical body's life long enough for the Kundalini pranayama and other techniques to help complete the process of Divine transformation, many of the Siddhas used "kaya kalpa" herbal and mineral salt mixtures prepared according to specific formulas.

Boganathar inspired his disciple, Babaji, to seek this objective of Siddhantha Yoga, and so directed him to seek initiation into Kriya Kundalini Pranayama from the legendary Siddha Agastyar at Courtrallam in the Pothigai Flifls of Tamil Nadu, in what is now the Tinnevely District.

Babaji travelled on foot to Courtraflam, Tamil Nadu, southern India, and, on arriving there at the Shakti pectam, one of the sixty four shrines throughout India dedicated to God as the Divine Mother, he made a solemn vow to remain at that spot until Agastyar would initiate him into the secrets of yoga.

Babaji, after fixing himself in a particular asana, or meditation posture, so as to steel himself for the coming ordeal, closed his eyes and began to pray. He prayed with all of his body, heart, mind and soul for days. He prayed that Agastyar would come and initiate him. Some pilgrims, recognizing the greatness of his quest, would at times food him or give him water to drink. Despite rain, insects, heat and dust, his resolve was so intense, that he would not allow himself to leave the place. When doubts assailed him, he prayed with even more fervor for forbearance. Whom memories of his life, his scholarship, and his fame came to him, he compared them to the dust which blow around him. Nothing hold any significance to him - even death. He would not allow the fear of suffering or death to catch hold of him. His love for Agastyar, as the personification of the Divine whom he was seeking, grow day by day, dispelling the clouds of despair, boredom and desire for relief, which threatened to engulf him from all sides. His physical body became more emaciated and weaker day by day. Babaji looked upon his body as if it were not his own. He had surrendered his life into the hands of God, and he know that God would either grant his prayers to see Agastyar, or allow his life to end. There was no more reason for him to continue living without the initiation of Agastyar.

On the forty eighth day, when Babaji was on the verge of complete collapse, with great longing, he simply repeated over and over again the name "Agastyar". Suddenly, the eminent Siddha, stepped out of the nearby forest and came up to where Babaji was sitting in prayer. Agastyar's heart was melted by the love of Nagaraj. Agastyar called Nagaraj's name in a soft voice and then embraced him. After giving him water and food, Agastyar initiated Nagaraj into the secrets of Kriya Kundalini pranayama, or "Vasi Yogam" as it is otherwise referred to in the writings of the Siddhas. This powerful breathing technique is the crystallization of some of the most important teachings of the Tamil Yoga Siddhas.

Agastyar emphasized the strict conditions under which it was to be practiced and its potential for awakening the higher levels of consciousness, spiritual enlightenment, and ultimately the transformation of all five bodies: the physical, vital, mental, intellectual and spiritual. He then directed Babaji to go to Badrinath in the upper ranges of the Himalayan mountains, and to become the greatest Siddha the world had ever known.

Soruba Samadhi at Badrinath.
Badrinath is situated in the Himalayan mountains at an altitude of 10,243 feet, a few miles south of the border of Tibet. It lies at the confluence of the Rishi Ganga and Alaknanda rivers. The area was once carpeted with wild berries or "badri", from which it received its name. Guarding it on either side are the Nar and Narayan mountain ranges, and in the distance is Noolakanth Peak, towering above to an altitude of nearly twenty-two thousand feet. Close by, on the bank of the turquoise blue Alaknanda river is a hot water spring, the Tapt Kund. Joshimath, the nearest town, is named after one of the four famous monasteries (maths) established by Adi Shankaracharya. It lies twenty-four kilometers south of Badrinath. Heavy snows block the path from Joshimath to Badrinath between mid October and the beginning of May. Only the most courageous of yogis are able to Eve at Badrinath year round. Badrinath has been sanctified for thousands of years, by the hermitages of saints, yogis, rishis and siddhas, as well as by the presence of a great temple dedicated to Sri Badrinarayan (Lord Vishnu).

References to the Sri Badrinarayan temple are made in the Vedas, indicating that, prior to Babaji's arrival there, it was a place of pilgrimage for thousands of years. It may have become a place sacred to the Buddhists with the missions sent out by the Buddhist emperor Ashoka in the 4th century B.C. (Fonia, 1987, p.112). Control of it returned to the Hindus in the 9th century A.D. due to the intercession of Adi Shankaracharya, near the end of his life. The stone carving of Sri Badrinarayan, depicts a youthful male figure sitting in lotus posture, with a striking resemblance to Babaji. It was installed there by the Adi Shankaracharya, who found it in the Alaknanda river nearby after being guided to it in a vision. According to the Skanda Purana, when the Adi Shankaracharya was climbing towards "Ashta Khand", a sacred place for me'ditation, an akashvani spoke to him: "Oh Shankar, the thing you wanted to attain through meditation, can be attained by you, by re-enshrining the idol of Lord Vishnu, which lays asleep in the Narad Kund. Avail yourself of this opportunity and be blessed for having done so". To fulfil these divine orders, Adi Shankaracharya dived into Narad Kund, and recovered the idol of Lord Vishnu. Narad Kund is that part of the river by a large boulder directly in front of the present temple. He re-enshrined it there and built a southern Indian style temple around it. Subsequent events indicate that "Ashta Khand" was Joshimath, where he subsequently attained the Divine light, and this Divine light was the "Akashvani" (Fonia, 1987, p. 112).
Since that day, about 3200 B.C., on which Lord Krishna, according to Srimad Bhagavatam, commanded his disciple Uddhava to go to Badrikashrama and contemplate Him, people have been going on pilgrimage to this Holy place. It is the pious wish of every truly religious Indian to make a pilgrimage to Badrinath at least once in their lifetime. From time immemorial, even when travel in the Himalayan regions was much more difficult and dangerous, thousands of Indians, at great expense and personal risk, from all over the country have paid their heart's homage year after year to the Lord Badrinarayan.

The pilgrims feel that their evil karmas and tendencies are washed away by undertaking such visits to holy places. They attain Moksha (liberation) from the Wheel of Samsara (the round of birth and death). The test of this faith is also after the return from such a pilgrimage; if after the pilgrimage, the pilgrim is filled with spiritual vibrations and can live a pure life of righteousness, devotion, truth, love and purity, then he has certainly been liberated, and the pilgrimage has served its supreme purpose. Some pilgrims, though their number may be small, do rise to such spiritual heights (Singh, 1980, p. 14-15, 18-20).

Babaji made the long pilgrimage to Badrinath and then spent eighteen "long, lonely months" practicing intensively all the yogic Kriyas taught to him by his gurus Agastyar and Boganathar.

After eighteen months of arduous yogic discipline, Nagaraj entered a state of soruba samadhi wherein the Divinity descended, merged with and transformed the spiritual, intellectual, mental, vital and physical bodies. The physical body ceased to age and sparkled with a golden luster of divine incorruptibility.

Babaji ' s Mission
The attainment of soruba samadhi is an indication of the extent to which the individual has surrendered to the Divine Will and has allowed It to descend and transform the recalcitrant human nature, on all planes. Through such great manifestations, God then works silently on the gross physical plane, assisting all those who seek to evolve to the higher life. Babaji, since attaining this state, has made it his mission to assist suffering humanity in their quest for God realization. Usually, he has done so anonymously. Those helped by him generally do not know the source of assistance. Babaji's mission has included the assistance of prophets (Yogananda, 1969, p.306). In the case of a few great souls, namely, Adi Shankaracharya, Kabir, Lahiri Mahasaya, Yogi S.A.A. Ramaiah and V.T. Neelakantan, Babaji Himself has appeared and given them initiation.
He has promised to remain in his physical body, always visible to a few persons in this physical world (Yogananda, 1969, p. 312).

Babaji indicated to Lahiri Mahasaya that Kriya Yoga was taught by Krishna to Arjuna, and that Patanjali and Jesus Christ knew of it, and that it was taught to St. John, St. Paul and other disciples (Yogananda, 1969, p. 244-245).

Adi Shankaracharya (788 A.D. - 820 A.D.)
The Adi Shankaracharya was initiated by Babaji into Kriya Kundalini Pranayama and Dhyana. This was related by Babaji to his direct disciples Lahiri Mahasaya, and S.A.A. Ramaiah. Paramahansa Yogananda indicates that Babaji initiated Shankaracharya into Kriya Yoga (Yogananda, 1969, p. 306). In a letter to Hemanta Kumar Sen, dated January 11, 1952, Yogananda stated that Gobindapada (also known as Govinda Jati) was the siksha (science or pronunciation; training of senses) guru and Babaji was the diksha (yoga initiation) guru of Sri Shankaracharya. Further, Yogananda said that he came to know of this from his own guru, SriYuktoswar, Swami Kebalananda, Swami Keshabananda, Swami Pranabananda and others, all of whom "testified that Lahiri Mahasaya spoke of Babaji being Sri Sankaracharya's spiritual secret yogic guru" (Son, 1954, p. 20).

Adi Shankaracharya brought about great reforms in Hindu religious practices through writing, debate, pilgrimages and the organization of four main monasteries (maths), at Sringeri in southern India, Dwarka in the West, Puri in the East and Joshimath in the North, as well as a number of other centers.
As a result of his activities, Buddhism and various demoralizing sects of Hinduism practically disappeared from India. Immoral practices in temples, such as animal sacrifices, were also practically eliminated. By his clear, rational enunciation of monistic philosophy, he also generated much intellectual effort among Hindu thinkers for centuries thereafter.

Adi Shankaracharya preached that the path of the "sannyasin", or life-long celibate, ascetic, renunciant should be limited to those few who were fit for it, and that the life of the householder, performing ones duty skillfully without attachment, was the ideal path to Self-realization forthe vast majority.

Kabir (1407 - 1518 A.D..)
During the 15th century, Babaji initiated the, great saint and poet, Kabir, who sought to bring harmony between factional Hindus and Moslems (Yogananda, 1969, p. 306, 349; Ramajah, February 1954, p. 3). Kabir preached a monistic conception of god and the avoidance of idol worship. His reforms are considered to be a synthetic reaction to the challenge or Islam. He opened the doors or his sect to both Hindus (regardless of caste) and to Muslims. He insisted on vegetarian diet, avoidance of intoxicants, and an ascetic life style. However, he enjoined his disciples not to accept service or contributions, but to consider themselves the servants of others. The sadhana, or yogic practice of his disciples put emphasis upon meditation on the "Nada" or divine sound (Ghurye, 1964, p. 189-190)

Bhagodas, one of Kabir's disciples, collected his preceptor's sayings and that collection is known as "Bijaka". It is revered as scripture by the Kabirpanthis (or followers of Kabir) who are organized in both ascetic and householder sections.

At Kabir's funeral ceremony, Hindu and Muslims fought over his remains, each group wishing to honor him according to their own customs. When the shroud covering his body was removed, it was discovered that his body had disappeared, leaving a bed of flowers. These were divided between the two groups.

Lahiri Mahasaya (1828 - 1895)
During the last half of the nineteenth century, Babaji began a new phase in his mission. In 1861. he initiated Lahiri Mahasaya into Kriya Yoga and entrusted him with the task of giving it to sincere seekers. Babaji asked him to live as a householder to serve as an example for all who sock Self realization. Later Lahiri Mahasaya initiated hundreds of students in Kriya Yoga. At least fourteen of these, initiated others into Kriya Yoga. Swami Satyeswarananda's Lahiri Mahasaya, the Father of Kriya Yoga, beautifully traces the various branches of the lineage of disciples to date (Satyeswarananda, 1984, p. 148-198). Babaji assisted all of these disciples, and continues to help all those who seek his assistance. According to Lahiri Mahasaya, by simply repeating Babaji's name with reverence one receives a spiritual blessing.

Sri Yukteswar Giri Maharaj (1855 - 1936)
Sri Yukteswar, a disciple of Lahiri Mahasaya, who had met Babaji three times in flesh and blood, kept the torch of Kriya Yoga burning with the publication of The Holy Science, and the establishment of several Sadhu Sabah centers, including ashrams at Puri and Sarampore, India (Yukteswar, 1984). As directed by Babaji, Sri Yukteswar sent one of his chief disciples, Paramahansa Yogananda to America to teach Kriya Yoga in 1920 (Yogananda, 1969, p. 354).

Paramahansa Yogananda (1893 - 1952)
Paramahansa Yogananda was a great pioneer in introducing the yoga based philosophies of eastern mysticism to the West. He was able to present it in a way which Christians could readily appreciate and integrate into their own belief system. His Autobiography of a Yogi has inspired millions of persons around the world and has been translated into many different languages. To assist him in this work, he founded the Self Realization Fellowship with headquarters in Los Angeles, U.S.A and more than 100 branches all over the world, as well as the Yogoda Satsanga Society of India, Dakshineswar, West Bengal, India. Yogananda founded the first "Yogoda" school in Hanchi, Bihar, India, in 1917. There are now twenty-one such schools, which provide training in physical, moral, mental and spiritual ideals for youth throughout India. Allopathic and homeopathic hospitals, liberal arts, business and medical colleges are also associated with the organization.

Yogananda trained over 100,000 persons in Kriya Yoga including many of the great persons of his era, including Mahatma Gandhi and the American botanist, Luther Bank. When he attained "mahasamadhi", a yogi's conscious exit, his body exhibited a divine transformation. Even twenty-one days after his passing, it had not deteriorated, and was finally interred in a crypt at Forest Lawn Cemetery, in Los Angeles.
More than 300 monks and nuns now live in Self Realization Fellowship monasteries in southern California, carrying on his work. They serve lay devotees through church services in Self temples and study centers, correspondence courses and publications.

The Self Realization Fellowship and the Yogoda Satsanga of India founded by Paramahansa Yogananda and now led by Sri Daya Mata, are probably the most well known source of training in Kriya Yoga and "Yogoda", the self-energizing techniques developed by Yogananda. The other line ages of disciples of Babaji and Lahiri Mahasaya, principally in India, while loss well known, also render authentic training in Kriya Yoga. These include Swami Satyaswarananda, of San Diego, California, a disciple of Swami Satyananda, a loading disciple of Swami Sri Yukteswar.

Yogi S.A.A. Ramaiah and V.T. Neclakantan
It is reported that in 1942 Babaji decided to develop a new access to his Kriya Yoga and to spread his message, by working through two souls, namely S.A.A. Ramaiah in Madras and V.'F. Neelakantan in Calcutta (Ramaiah, February, 1954, p. 3)

Yogi S.A.A. Ramaiah (1923 -)
S.A.A. Ramaiah is the second son of S.A. Annamalai Chottiar, who was one or the wealthiest businessmen of southern India and Thaivani Achi, a deeply spiritual individual and devotee of the wandering saint andjivan mukta (living liberated person) Cholaswanu. S.A.A. Ramaiah was a graduate student in geology at Madras University, Madras, India. On the eve of his departure for America to pursue post-graduate, studies, he contracted bone tuberculosis. He then spent six years in a plaster body cast to arrest the disease. During this time he became adept at meditation with the help of Prasanananda Guru and Omkara Swami, famous yogi-saints who taught him at his bedside. On March 7, 1952, the very day of Paramahansa Yogananda's passing, a very interesting meeting took place between Mowna Swami and S.A.A. Ramaiah at the latter's residence in the San Thome section of Madras, India. Mowna Swami was a saint and devotee of the great Siddha Sai Baba of Shirdi, who lived from 1835 to 1918 (Sahukar, 1971, p. 22). During this meeting Mowna Swami identified many details of S.A.A. Ramaiah's life up to that time, and gave to him a special talisman with instructions to use an ayurvedic preparation. He predicted recovery within a month, if this advice was followed (Ramaiah, February, 1954, p. XII to XVIII).

Babaji healed S.A.A. Ramaiah of the bone tuberculosis shortly after the interview with the Mowna Swam! and two other remarkable incidents which were later related by S.A.A. Ramaiah to this author in the early 1970's after their first meeting. The first one involved a vision in which Shirdi Sai Baba, the guru of Mowna
Swami appeared to him. S.A.A. Ramaiah asked Shirdi Sai Baba whether he was his guru. Shirdi Sai Baba replied that he was not his guru, but that he would reveal to him his guru[6]. He then revealed to him a vision of Babaji. In the second incident, S.A.A. Ramaiah stated that in a state of discouragement and suffering involving his worsening bone tuberculosis, he attempted to end his life by holding his breath. While doing this, he suddenly heard a sweet melodious voice. The voice said: My son, do not take your life. Give it to me. In astonishment, he took a deep breath and decided to surrender himself to Babaji, whose voice he recognized. The next morning, his diseased logs showed remarkable signs of healing. To the astonishment of the doctors and his family, over the next few days he made a full and miraculous recovery.

S.A.A. Ramaiah, during this recovery period, had a vision of Babaji limping. When he asked the reason why he was limping, Babaji indicated that he was temporarily taking upon himself the bone tuberculosis to bring about his disciple's recovery.

Babaji himself initiated S.A.A. Ramaiah into various Kriya techniques in person near Badrinath around 1955 in the Himalayas. S.A.A. Ramaiah sincerely practiced the Kriya Yoga techniques and surrendered to the eminent Sathguru. Through the grace of Babaji, the former "incurable", bone tuberculosis patient blossomed into a yogi. He studied physical therapy from about 1958 to 1961 at the G.S. Medical College, Bombay, India. There, he began to apply methods of yogic therapy for the successful treatment of many functional diseases. After his studies, he opened a clinic in Madras which served the handicapped on a charitable basis for nearly a decade.

V.T. Neelakantan (1901 -)
V.T. Neelakantan was a famous journalist and a graduate of Madras University. He was a friend of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first Prime Minister, and a close former student of Dr. Annie Besant, of the Theosophical Society.
V.T. Neelakantan suffered terribly from a host of ailments, including diabetes, dysentery, cellulitis and ulcers in the longs and high fever. On several occasions, Babaji gave him healing sessions, which allowed him to continue writing three books dictated by Babaji, as described below. Babaji was on several occasions greatly moved by Neelakantan's devotion. On one such occasion, tears of joy flowed from the eyes of the Master, and fell on Neelakantan's feet, so moved was He by Neelakantan's forbearance in the midst of so much pain. Another time, Neelakantan said that once the books were written, it did not matter to him whether he would live to see their publication. He then trembled and began to collapse. Babaji sprang from his chair and caught Neelakantan in an embrace. Babaji then kissed Neelakantan's forehead, wiped the tears from Neelakantan's eyes and told him that he would remain 51 years old forever, just as saint Markandeya had been made to remain ever sixteen by Lord Shiva.

First Meeting between S.A.A. Ramaiah and V.T. Neclakantan
S.A.A. Ramaiah had seen an advertisement for V.T. Neelakantan's book, No. 9 Boag Road. He had sent him a letter requesting a copy of the book during the third week of May, 1952. The note ended with the words, Truly your Self which caught Neelakantan's attention and caused him to visit S.A.A. Ramaiah a few weeks later. At the time of their first meeting, in the middle of June 1952 at the residence of S.A.A. Ramaiah at No. 2 Arulananda Mudali Street, San Thome, Madras, India, Ramaiah and Neelakantan wore 29 and 51 years old respectively (Ramaiah, 1952 p. 3-4). This meeting was the culmination often years of preparation of both by Babaji.

Organisation of Kriya Babaji Sangah
Babaji asked them to organize the "Kriya Babaji Sangah", a yoga society dedicated to the teaching of Kriya Yoga, and charitable, educational and spiritual activities. They founded and registered it on October 17, 1952, in Madras, Tamil Nadu, India, just seven months after the "mahasamadhi" (conscious exit from the body) of Paramahansa Yogananda on March 7, 1952, in Los Angeles, California, U.S.A. (Ramaiah, February, 1954, p. 3; Yogananda, 1969, pg. IV) Its official name was changed to "Kriya Babaji Yoga Sangah, (Rog.)" in 1980 when the author was its Executive Secretary.

Activities or Kriya Babaji Sangam Publications by the Sangah
Babaji dictated through books to V.T. Neelakantan: The Voice of Babaji and Mysticism Unlocked, Babaji's Masterkey to All Ills, and Death of death, which were published in 1952 and 1953 by the Kriya Babaji Sangah in Madras, India (Neelakantan, 1952 a S b; Neelakantan, 1953). At Babaji's request, S.A.A. Ramaiah wrote their prefaces, which included interesting exchanges between Babaji and V.T. Neelakantan regarding the writing, publishing of the books and the events in the life of V.T. Neelakantan and S.A.A. Ramaiah at that time. The most dramatic event was the first time Babaji showed his complete form to V.T. Neelakantan on July 26, 1952 at the home of S.A.A. Ramaiah during a group meditation. During the months that followed, Babaji materialized almost daily in the puja room of V.T. Neelakantan's home at No. 9 Surammal Lane, Egmoro, Madras, India and dictated verbatim or transmitted telepathically most of the text of the works cited above. Those were often on subjects regarding which Neelakantan had no previous knowledge. It is recorded in these exchanges, that Babaji referred to S.A.A. Hamaiah as my son and V.T. Neelakantan as my child.

At Babaji's request, S.A.A. Ramaiah wrote and published in 1952 a biography of a great master of yoga, Omkara Swami, entitled A Blissful Saint (Paramahansa Omkara Swami). He had helped S.A.A. Hamaiah in 1951 with questions on yogic practices (Ramaiah, 1952). The preface of this book was written by V.T. Neelakantan. Babaji also guided both of them in the publication of a monthly magazine, called Kriya which had regular editions until the 1960's when long term assignments abroad of its principal editor, S.A.A. Ramaiah, made its regular publication too difficult. S.A.A. Ramaiah's wife, Solachi, along with the who co-founders of Kriya Babaji Sangah, worked as three in one during the early years. She, through sheer sacrifice, also won the grace of Babaji. However, by about 1955, V.T. Neelakantan Ieft active participation in the activities of the Sangah to pursue family responsibilities and other interests.

For more than twenty-five years Yogi Ramaiah has collected and preserved old palm leaf manuscripts of the writings in Tamil of the Eighteen Siddhas. Songs of the 18 Yoga Siddhas, which included selections from the writings of the IS Yoga Siddhas, was published by Yogi S.A.A. Ramaiah in 1968. Some details of Babaji's Gurus, Agastyar and Boganathar, and a part of Babaji's life are also revealed in this work. The complete writings of Boganathar were published by Yogi Ramaiah in 1979 and 1982.

Spread of Babaji ' s Teachings Abroad
Yogi S.A.A. Ramaiah and his yogini wife, Solachi, carried Babaji's teachings abroad. In 1956 he made the first of many visits to Sri Lanka. During the 1960's he made several visits to Malaysia and taught Kriya yoga throughout the country. Solachi, after repeated bouts with illness, died in 1962.

In 1964 Yogi Ramaiah began teaching and practicing yoga intensively in Australia and New Zealand, and in 1968 came to the U.S.A. He has since spread the teachings of Kriya Yoga Siddhantham by establishing more than fifty yoga centers all over the world, organized under the name of International Babaji Yoga Sangam, with head quarters at Kanadukathan, Tamil Nadu, India. Many conferences and workshops on yogic therapy for respiratory disorders, diabetes, stress and drug addiction have been given by Yogi Ramaiah all over the world. Several shrines have been established according to the principles of the Siddhas at Athanoor, and Porto Novo, Tamil Nadu, India, Richville, New York, Washington, D.C., and Yuma, Arizona, U.S.A. These shrines, with their spiritual vibrations, provide an ideal setting for intensive yogic practice.

Annual Conferences

  • Since 1954, under Babaji's inspiration, Kriya Babaji Yoga Sangam has organized an annual international conference, a Parliament of World Religions and Yoga to provide a forum for leaders of all spiritual traditions to share their teachings with the public.
  • Yogi Ramaiah has indicated that eventually, Babaji will play a more public role, which may begin at the 100th Parliament of World Religions and Yoga, in the year 2053 A.D.
  • Establishment or a medical college and yoga research institute
  • Kriya Babaji Yoga Sangam is now developing a medical college, a hospital and a research institute near Athanoor, Tamil Nadu, India 622503. Under Babaji's inspiration some of the medical treatises of the Siddhas will be researched and applied in a clinical setting at this facility.

Future Work
Babaji's mission includes helping humanity to gradually realize God, and through the resulting Universal Vision of Love, a transformation of this world into a Divine paradise. Babaji's mission continues to manifest itself through the work of all who turn to him as their source of inspiration, as well as through all who express pure love in thought, word or deed. Where there is love there is Babaji. By learning to communicate with Babaji anyone can bring about a transformation in their life and circle of influence, and resolve the myriad problems facing humanity in many domains. The great vehicles of Babaji's mission are sadhana (the five fold path of Kriya Yoga described in chapter 12), self surrender and service. Without surrendering the ego consciousness, there is no room for the Universal Vision of Love to manifest itself. Selfless service, without attachment to the fruits or results of the action, help to free one from the illusion of being the door, wherein the ego foots cut off from the Divine. Those who aspire to serve Babaji and his Divine mission, can best do so by committing themselves to these three means of transformation. In Babaji's Kriya Yoga, the benefits of it flow, in part, automatically to those who seek assistance from the Kriya Yoga practitioner. One becomes a transmission station, figuratively speaking, relaying the inspiration and Love from that Himalayan broadcasting station in Gauri Shankar Peetam, into every sphere of activity.

Babaji's Ashram: Gauri Shankar Peetam
Babaji's ashram near Badrinath in the Himalayas is known as Gauri Shankar Peetam. It has been described by V.T. Neelakantan (Ramaiah, May 1954, pg. 3-10). According to him, he was allowed to make an astral visit to it twice in the last half of October, 1953. Neelakantan suddenly found that he had left behind his physical body in Madras, India, and bad taken on another body standing with Babaji in Gauri Shankar Peetam. His description of the ashram and its activities are given below.

The ashram is situated near the temple town of Badrinath in an area surrounded by sheer rock cliffs on all four sides with a row of caves at their base. The largest cave belongs to Babaji. In a corner opposite this cave are two waterfalls. The residents of the ashram, who numbered fourteen, at the time of his visit, use the largest waterfall for bathing and the smaller one for getting drinking water. The water from these waterfalls forms two streams which come together at the opposite end of the area and then escapes through a tunnel like opening. Even at night, though there is no visible light source, the whole area is well lit. A mysterious force keeps any one from approaching the ashram closer than a mile. As a result, no one can reach the ashram without Babaji's permission.

The residents were sitting in a circle, according to the account, in front of Babaji's cave, eating a meal. Their clothing was white in color, with the exception of Babaji, whose dhoti (waistcloth) was in a light red color. During lunch, they spoke in Hindi and English with one another. Their faces were radiant and expressed great joy and happiness.

The residents included the sister (paternal cousin) of Babaji, "Mataji Nagalakshmi Deviyar" (also known as "Annai"). She was wearing a cotton sari, white in color, with a green border and a long red sash over it and around her neck. According to him, she is a strikingly beautiful woman, with fair skin, a thin frame and is taller than her brother. Her face is rather long with high cheek bones, and resembles that of Kashi, Paramahansa Yogananda's disciple from the front, and that of Neelakantan's own wife from the side.
Annai Nagalakshmi Deviyar is in charge of organizing the ashram and serves the residents in various capacities. She supervises the preparation of a daily, simple, vegetarian meal served at noon. The meal is supportive of the yogic lifestyle of the ashram. She takes special care of a largo "tulasi" plant which sits atop a "pootam", or shrine, nearly four feet high. She daily worships "Tulasi Devi", a great devotee of Lord Krishna. Tulasi Devi was granted a boon by the Lord to remain in His presence eternally as a sacred Tulasi plant in his celestial abode.

Annai's favorite moans of worship, is to worship the feet of her Lord, Babaji, in a ceremony known as "Pada Poosai". "Pada" means "feet" and "poosai" means to worship with flowers[8]. During this ceremony, she lovingly places the feet of Babaji on a silver plate, washes and anoints them with sesame oil, mung bean powder, milk and other fragrances or precious articles. She then adorns his feet with "vibhuti" (ash from the mantra yagna fire), "kumkuma" (a red powder from the vermilion flower), and a number of other flowers growing in the ashram.

The other residents included several men with long flowing beards extending to their navel. A former Muslim ruler, after having offered all his army and wealth, which was refused by the Master, offered himself and was accepted as a disciple. A heavy sot Western lady and a girl, about ten years of age, and Swami Pranabananda, "the saint with two bodies" were also there.

He is now known as "Amman Pranabananda", and physically resembles very closely the body of his last incarnation, except that he has allowed his hair and beard to grow long. Swami Pranabananda has been described by Yogananda (Yogananda, 1969, pg. 22-28, 260, 350). Swami Pranabananda, at the end of his previous incarnation, had made a conscious exit from his physical body, known as "mahasamadhi", before his assembled disciples. Some years later he was reborn. As a young man, he suddenly remembered his previous life and connection with Babaji. He then went to the Himalayas in search of his deathless guru. Finally, through the grace of Babaji, he was reunited. After practicing Kriya Yoga intensively under the guidance of Babaji for a number of years, he attained the deathless state of soruba samadhi. He is reverentially now known as "Dadaji" or "Amman Pranabananda". He now serves as a source of spiritual inspiration and guidance for many students. He also supervises the care of the ashram garden.
Among the disciples of Babaji, only Amman and Annai have attained the deathless state of soruba samadhi. Their attainment, more than anything, reflects the completeness of their self surrender to God, the highest goal of Kriya Yoga.

Having overcome the limitations of the ego-consciousness, they now assist all who seek their aid. Annai, in particular, assists Kriya Yoga sadhakas during the midnight meditation hour to completely cleanse the subconscious mind using the first meditation technique taught during the initiation into Kriya Dhyana Yoga. Amman Pranabananda, as a master of the fourth meditation technique, assists the Kriya Yoga sadhakas to tap their great potential for intellectual inspiration.

Many saints and sages have realized God in the spiritual and mental planes. However, very few have been able to bring about a complete surrender to the Divine consciousness at the level of vital plane and the cells of the physical body, so subject are they to the forces of disease, aging and death. These remain the last bastion of the limiting ego and subconscious. For all Kriya Yoga sadhakas (initiated students of Kriya Yoga) and devotees, Babaji, Annai and Amman serve as great examples of self surrender. They are virtually living embodiments of the Divinity.

The residents of the ashram adhere to a daily schedule centered around the practice of yogic sadhana, which includes asanas, pranayama, meditation, mantras and bhakti yoga. According to V.T. Neelakantan, everyone awakens at four in the morning. After taking a bath by the large waterfall, there is then an hour of yogic sadhana with emphasis on pranayama. In the afternoon, the residents follow their individual respective sadhanas with occasional consultation with Babaji on the practice of the techniques.
Babaji's loving personality, his warm sense of humor and universal compassion endear him to all. If one had to choose one word which would best describe him, it would be "humility".

According to other eyewitness accounts, in the evening the residents sit in a circle and chant around a large "Homa" fire in front of Babaji's cave. The favorite chant is "Om Kriya Babaji Nama Aum". "Om" and "Aum" mean the sound of the universe respectively experienced externally and internally. "Nama" derived from "Namaha" means "salutation". It is sung according to a variety of melodies and rhythms. During Guru Purnima celebrations in early July, flowers are offered to the feet of Babaji by all of the residents. The ashram's "Mother", Annai Nagalakshmi, is worshipped by all with great reverence, as the embodiment of the Divine Mother, the Cosmic Shakti.

In discourses Babaji has spoken of Himself as being Absolute Existence, Truth and Bliss. He has referred to Himself as the Impersonal Personality of the universe, the all in one and the one in all, the immortal, infinite and eternal Self. One should learn Kriya Dhyana Yoga (meditation) to fully experience his divine personality.
Kriya Yoga sadhakas should understand that the "heaven on earth", Gauri Shankar Peetam exists not only in the Himalayas, but also within the hearts of Babaji's devotees. His physical ashram remains inaccessible because Babaji prefers to work silently and anonymously in the world, helping thousands of devotees and millions of souls to evolve at their own pace. Like a great broadcasting station he beams out His message of Universal Love and Peace to all. How to become a receiving and a transmitting "station" will be described in the last chapter.

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