Shree Oriya Baba
“The name of the unision of the Seer and the seen is ego. In the purview of a Realized Saint there has never been any such unision. To him there is total absence of apparent reality.”
His Great Ancestors
Shri Udiya Baba was born in the great lineage of the kulguru, or the head priest of the royal family of Puri. His ancestors were a well-respected Brahmin family of Orissa. During the medieval period, a great saint called Chaitainya Mahaprabhu resided in the auspicious land of Jagganath Dham, Puri in Orissa. He enlightened millions of hearts with the wave of Krishna Bhakti, and his benediction can be felt all over the world to this day. During that time, Pratap Rudra was the king of Puri, and the Royal family’s Guru was Kashi Mishra. Kashi Mishra was a staunch vaishnav, but his seventh generation became a bhakt, or a believer of Goddess Kali. Mother Kali was very happy with the kulguru who was Baba’s great grandfather, Vasudev Mishra, and blessed him by her cosmic vision. Mother even promised that she would always remain with their family.
Thereupon, Goddess Kali became their family God, or Kul Devi.One day, when Baba’s great grandfather was chanting Kali mantra (krim), he was so absorbed in chanting that he forgot he had begun chanting Krishna Mantra (Klim). It is believed Goddess Kali appeared before him in that very moment and slapped him hard across his right jaw. His right jaw got slightly dislocated, and remained like that as long as he lived. Vasudev Mishra had three sons and three daughters, and his youngest son, Vaidnath Mishra, was Baba’s respectable father.
Shree Poonanand Teerth
( Shree Oriya Baba )
Being the only son in the family, the elder members did not want to pressure Baba to suffer the strain of going to school. During those days, schools tended to be very far from the villages, and attending could mean a strenuous walk. The determined soul of Baba, however, had a very different opinion about his life. He did not like staying back at home and passing his days in idleness. So one fine day, without informing anyone, Baba fled from his home with another boy. They crossed Baleshwar and reached Mayurbhanj. Baba was hardly 12 years old, and regarded as physically weak, but his extraordinary will and dauntless ambition showed an inborn love for freedom and non-attachment.
The school in Mayurbhanj was run by a teacher who knew Baba’s father, so Baba feared the school teacher might inform his family. He decided to move to Balyaveda, where nobody would recognize him and he could continue with his studies in peace. In Balyaveda, he joined the school run by Raja Krishna Chandra. Baba was a very dedicated and intelligent student, and unlike other boys he did not waste his time with futile interests. Five years of honest hard work let him graduate from Kavyateerth with an excellent percentage. Baba only went home once in these five years.
Discovering the Divine
During an exam in his last year, one very touching incident revealed Baba’s deep-rooted love for God. Baba had gone out to watch a meaningful devotional theatre performance that Raja Krishna Chandra would organize for the common people, especially for the children. Lord Krishna was playing with his friends in Vrindavan, and they were all drinking buttermilk, surrounded by beautiful cows and calves grazing all over the green pastures. Lord Krishna was happily distributing butter to his friends, and they were snatching it away from him. This play had such a deep effect on Baba’s innocent mind that after returning to his hostel his body remained there for three days, and his mind stayed in some other stratosphere. This was Baba’s first moment in bhav Samadhi, “in constant remembrance of one’s lord.”He had lost all connection with the external world.
Baba’s Growth Towards Becoming a Serious Seeker
Baba’s gentle, sympathetic nature very much justified his name. From his childhood, Baba’s soft heart could not see anyone in pain and misery. None had ever witnessed Baba getting violent or rebuking anyone. In fact, Baba was so deeply tender hearted that if he saw someone in a rage or abusing anyone, he would lose consciousness for many hours.
During the early 1920’s, Baba’s hometown, Orissa, was struck with severe famine. Though he belonged to a rich and healthy Brahmin family but were never so wealthy as to feed thousands of starved stomachs. Women, children, and elderly dying of starvation left an indelible mark on Baba’s heart and mind. Baba took a firm resolution to plunge himself into a search for some Siddhi, “divine magical powers.” The famine had ignited his spiritual thirst.
One night, Baba very quietly left his home without informing anybody. He took just a pair of clothes and 11 rupees, moving from place to place in search of a Guru who could teach him how to acquire the divine powers to feed thousands of famished people. Baba spent most of his money to reach the very ancient temple of Kamaksha of Sati Parwati in Guwahati, also known as Shakti Peeth. He was left with just two and half rupees, but money hardly matters to a determined seeker on the path of Sadhana,penance. Coincidently, a Bengali sadhu,monk had reached the same place where Baba was, and he too wanted to practice some serious anusthan, or austerity. It is from him who initiated Baba with a mantra of Van Durga to attain Siddhi, “the divine power.” He started chanting his mantra with all sincerity and honesty, and was soon rewarded. Goddess Durga appeared in his dreams, as did great sages and paragons like Rishi Vashist. But Baba was not satisfied with her vision in his dreams alone, and his heart longed to see her cosmic vision.
It is believed that even God cannot disregard the call of an ardent heart. Such hearts reveal themselves. And how true it is that love expressed and love accepted has no secrets, just love. He actually wished to have a bowl like Draupadi, the wife of Pandavas and a great character in the Epic of Mahabharata. They were the Prince and the eldest Yudhisdthira ,therefore the rightful successors to the throne. Draupadi and Pandavas were sent for exile for 14 years by the kauravas,their own cousins. So they were spending their days in jungle, and leading a very tough life.
Draupadi had finished serving food to her five husbands in the afternoon, and had just finished eating whatever was left for her own lunch when one of her husbands came running and informed her that Rishi Durvasa was coming with many other sadhus and would be having lunch at their place.She immediately turned very pale. Draupadi told her husband that she had nothing she could serve them, and she had eaten the leftovers for her own lunch. They all knew Rishi Durvasa loses his temper very easily and could curse them if they were not hospitable enough to provide food.
There is a very strong tradition in India that if any guest visits, he cannot leave hungry. Providing guests with food is a righteous deed still prevalent in many parts of this country.If a sadhu or a monk comes, he is served food first, before any member of the family. Especially in villages, women would make rotis and keep them aside, first for a sadhu, then for their family. In her nervousness, Draupadi went to see if there was anything left in any of her earthen pots. As she had expected, nothing was left, just a piece of grain in one pot.
With folded hands, she prayed to Krishna to help her in this difficult situation. Krishna was her best friend and immediately came to help. Krishna said,“I am the almighty and by just feeding me with that single grain every being’s stomach on earth would be full.” Draupadi offered this grain to Krishna with absolute veneration.When the Rishis were finished taking their bath they all started burping and told each other that their stomach is too full.They would not have lunch at Draupadi’s place, only visit her.When Rishi Durvasa came to meet the Pandavas he was very pleased with their courteous manners,and especially those of Draupadi.Rishi Durvasa gave her a blessing that her earthen pot would never be empty of grain,would feed as many people as she could even if they came to visit in the odd hours of the day.
Baba’s Visit to the Temple Town of Kashi Vishwanath
His wishful flames to attain the magical bowl were not completely extinguished, and the sparks that lingered would keep disturbing him. Baba went from Assam towards Kashi, the great ancient land of philosophy and philosophers. The king of Kashi is Lord Shiva, and in our Puranas it is written to all departing souls that Lord Shiva himself gives Moksha, be it the wicked or the virtuous. Here in the land of Kashi, Mother Parvati is well known as Mother Annapoorna, the one who feeds everyone. And it is very true: there are many incidences of people narrating their hair-raising starvation in no man’s land when mother, herself, would appear in the form of a girl or stranger to provide the person with food. A penniless traveler, Baba journeyed from the eastern part of this country to the western part. When God travels with a seeker, what could hold him back?
Mother Annapoorna Feeds Him
When Baba reached Kashi he faced a strange dilemma: neither could he speak nor understand their language. But for seekers taking the lord’s name in a strange land, language has never been any hindrance. After wandering around the city and visiting the ancient temple of Baba Vishvanath (for Lord Shiva is popularly known by this name in Kashi), Baba reached Manikarnika ghat, took a bath in the Ganges, and sat down in a small, cozy cave. Baba took a strong resolution that he would not getup from his meditation, even for food or water. He was a man of iron determination and did not get up from the same posture for three days and three nights. During these three days nobody came to disturb him or ask him for food. Such unshakeable resolutions could be observed on many occasions in Baba’s life.
On the fourth day of his tapasya, Baba got up from his meditation and took a bath in Gangaji. He had just finished taking his bath and noticed a lady walking towards him with a bowl in her hands. She gave him panchamrit, a combination of milk, honey, curd, ghee, and sugar, which is a traditional Indian offering to God, especially to Lord Shiva. Baba was astonished and did not know the mystery of how this lady came to know he did not have food for three days. They had never met each other before and would never meet again. But it is believed goddess Parvati had herself come to offer him this panchamrit full of energy. Baba felt completely energized and went to visit the Vishvanath temple. He met a Brahmin near the temple gates who gave him a pomegranate, which was enough for Baba to survive. Such is the love of mother Annapoorna that she would never allow anyone to go hungry.
The Boon of Prophecy
From Kashi, Baba went to Vaidyanath in Bihar, and from there he went back to his hometown, Orissa. Every member of the family was truly delighted upon his return home. A longtime back, some great astrologer had predicted that Baba would not live more than 30 to 32 years, and now he was almost 20 years old, the perfect age to marry and settle according to old traditions. But the elders of the family had decided they would not tie the knots of marriage to Baba’s life. Dispassion in his life was observed right from his youth, and he had neither attractions nor attachments. This astrological prediction had come as a boon to Baba’s spiritual pursuits, and he resolved to observe celibacy all throughout his life.
Baba’s mad hunt for a spiritual guru had not yet ended. It’s sparks would flare up now and again, and would not allow him to rest in peace. Baba left his home again and began his journey as if some divine magnet was pulling him towards an evident but unknown existence. He again visited the temple of kamaksha in Assam. After lingering around the temple and its villages for sometime, he met no great saint in whom he could surrender with absolute trust. With each passing day, his discontent and impatience to discover the connection between he and the divine grew and grew.
Vows of Naishthik Bramhacharya or Celibacy
Baba’s heart was full of dispassion and devotion and yearned to return back to his eternal home. In his mind goddess was now dwelling constantly. Baba started keeping himself away from the contact of people and would not spend his time in any wasted conversation. He had withdrawn all his senses from all mundane attraction and preferred living in solitude. He always believed that there is no greater austerity than silence.He would remain most of the time in speechless absorption of Goddess kali.
Baba had a great control over his Prana,the vital breath. It is only by practicing strong celibacy that one’s vital breath remains under control. He would say the first step of meditation is to make an effort to keep one’s body in one position as long as possible. If the vital breath is not still,the mind will also not be still. It is the Prana which is the cause of all problems. If the Prana is restless we feel hungry; it is with the help of Prana that we can digest; if the Prana is irregular our basic instincts are also not under our control. The practice of a yogi is all about control of his Prana, which leads to stillness of one’s body and mind.
With the intention of taking Naishtik Bramhacharya,Baba went to Shankaracharya Math in Orissa and took the final vows of bramhacharya from shree Madhusudan Teerth. He was named as Vasudev Swaroop.
The Gurudev from whom Baba had taken the final vows of celibacy asked him to go home to pursue his spiritual path because he belonged to a renowned,healthy Brahmin family of Orissa. But Baba’s heart,mind, and soul was no longer under his own control. He was a boundless space—what doors,windows, or corridors could dare to capture limitless space? The comforts of home could not lure this magnificent giant.He took pride in his rags and his bare feet, and begged for his food. It is no doubt beyond the understanding of materialistic minds to realize the bliss of spiritual freedom. Baba was truly at home with this bliss.
Reading Minds Becomes A Distraction
On reaching Badapeta he saw a temple of Lord Shiva and a beautiful ashram.A bramhachari was head of the the temple and the Mahanta of the ashram, but was unable to take care of them due to his extreme bad health. The bramhachari’s disciple had gone to Rameswar for a pilgrimage. Baba’s kind heart could not ignore him. Though Baba looked after the man, his condition only seemed to deteriorate each day.
The bramhachari was very satisfied with Baba’s seva and decided to make Baba his successor. The trustees of the ashram were called and Baba, with all official proceedings, was crowned the Mahanta of the ashram. Despite so much honor,Baba was not shaken; nobody could break his the spiritual discipline of his life. He continued with his chanting of “Shat Chandi.” After he was through with his anushthan,her bewitching, merciful grace GoddessKali could not resist revealing her true cosmic appearance to him . Tears were rolling down his eyes.The beautiful romance with Goddess Kali brought shivers down his spine. She blessed him with her hands on his head and said, “My relation with you will be there as long as the relation of the sun and the moon exists on this planet.” He was sobbing, drowned completely in her love, “You bear in your womb the seed to complete manifestation, you are the archway to universal compassion and the ultimate universal consciousness.” Baba praised mother in many ways.
Thus Baba prayed to the Goddess Durga,“I want a power or siddhi by which I can feed thousands of people starving in my homeland.” But mother said, “One person’s prayer cannot change the destiny of the thousands. But yes, I shall give you the power or siddhi; whenever you see hungry people in front of yourself, you can feed as many as you can with just my remembrance, and with the power of this mantra.”Mother told baba, “Those people who are starving are as much my son’s as everyone, and whatever is happening is under my divine purview. There is nothing in this world happening without my knowledge. If they are undergoing this pain it is their destiny, since sorrow and happiness are both mine.”He was endowed with some divine powers from the goddess and could not only feed whosoever came before him, but could even read the minds of the people.
Baba started coming back to his normal self from the ecstasy of being in mother’s arms, but he never revealed it to others. Baba started organizing big bhandaras, a usual tradition in ashrams, to feed people on charity. Many people started coming to the ashram, but the cooking vessels were never empty of food. When people came to meet Baba he could read their minds, their future and past.For many he would predict their future,solve some of their problems, or save some from misshappenings. Whatever was going on in their mind was obvious to Baba, and would give answers accordingly. His popularity spread like fire far and wide,in nearby villages andfaraway places.From then on there would be a huge cue in waiting from morning till evening, desperate to meet Baba and off load their problems onto him.
One day a judge came to meet Baba and showed him his body. He was suffering from leprosy.But just by looking at the judge, Baba knew why he was suffering from this disease. He told him outright,“You have wrong relations with your own daughter, so you are destined with this terrible disease.” He told him the only cure to this suffering is to repent and to take god’s name,since he alone can wash away your sins.
His forewarnings would occasionally hurt people and even embarrass them, and he no longer wanted any such divine powers. He thought, “What do I get by reading the minds of the people? I have lost my peace of mind that used to constantly dwell in the lotus feet of my loving deity.” Baba became frustrated with meeting and solving the problems of people. His peace was slowly disturbed to the extent that he found no solitude. Name, fame, and money started flooding in and people worshipped him like God. He was now terrified that reading problems and impurities from the minds of people would haunt him like a ghost.Wherever he would go, problems would follow without end, each solution sprouting another problem. Divinity within is an answer to all problems. We should strive for it without wasting a single breath of our life.
He started praying to Goddess Kali, “Please take away your divine powers from me. I want my mind to revel in you and nothing else I seek,” and the Goddess appeared to him again saying, “You desired to feed many people and wanted to work for the welfare of the people, so I endowed you with this power.” “It is true I wanted the powers for the welfare of the people,” Baba accepted,“but this has become a distraction for me and I want my mind in your constant remembrance. Only when I need it bless me with this power.”From that day onwards, he had the power but would only dispense it when truly required.
Sadhu With Strange Powers
Occasionally, low spiritual powers can be a great distraction. Baba’s wishful flames of meeting a sadhu with siddhis had not yet extinguished, so taking permission from his Guru started a journey across the jungles of Assam,to a hilly region of Mount Garo. The locals of this place informed Baba that there lived a Sadhu who could perform great miracles. His curiosity thus inflamed, Baba wanted to meet the sadhu. The sadhu greeted Baba very respectfully, and infact performed many miracles. He could uproot the trees from one place, make them fly high in the air, and plant them in some other place. He had attained this power by chanting Savar Mantra. This power astounded Baba, and he wanted to learn the magician’s art. But the Sadhu had ulterior motives. “I will teach you this mantra,” he told Baba,“only if you promise me that you will marry my daughter.”Baba had always believed marriage to be complete disaster in the path of a true seeker. He grew very serious and started thinking, “For such a small Siddhi I will have to tie the satanic knots of a marriage and lose my spiritual freedom.” Baba kept thinking, “I have taken a pledge that I would forever remain a Bramhachari, an oath of celibacy. For such a small bargain I would have to bury my desire of attaining the highest goal of my life.” Lord Vishnu had beheaded demon Rahu, and in the same manner Baba beheaded the temptations of satan in the form of a girl and Siddhi.
Death Stood Paralysed
Someone bought Baba a ticket to 24 Paragna, a Calcutta bound train. Baba reached Calcutta and for a day,at the persistent requests of a Bengali gentleman, Baba decided to stay with the man and his wife. After having his dinner he lied down. But he soon started feeling very unwell. He was getting terrible cramps in his stomach from a severe attack of amoebiosis called “haiza,” which could even take one’s life. In those days Calcutta was under the grip of “haiza,” and many people were dying due to this severe dysentery and lack of proper medication. Baba was so sensitive that he chose to bear the physical pain alone, and left quietly without disturbing the couple. Despite not having the strength to walk, Baba gathered the courage to start walking along the banks of Ganga. He laid down his body near the banks and surrendered himself to Mother Ganga.
Dysentery became uncontrollable, but rock hard determination did not allow him to take help from anyone. Baba was ready to embrace death with open arms. His clothes were all soiled with his excreta, and he was so dehydrated that he had no strength to wash himself.Baba was struggling between life and death, and gradually lost consciousness.
The compassionate big eyes of the lord are always watching us, especially his son who desires nothing in this world but god. After midnight, a few men were crossing the area and saw an almost dead man lying in this sorry state. They washed his clothes and his body in Gangaji andtook care of him for sometime. Observing his pulses, they felt he was slowly regaining his consciousness and his strength. His dysentery had almost stopped. They quietly left him because they did not want him to feel indebted to them.
In the very early morning hours Baba regained his normal self.He saw that somebody had cleaned his clothes and spread them out to dry on the sand. He could see none to whom he could express his gratitude, but his humble prayers were for them and the great lord’s merciful grace. The language of silence could be the answer to a million minds, could be the voice to a thousand tongues, and is definitely an expression of divinity.
Forbearance is the language of silence and should never be misinterpreted as timidness rather is an expression of great valour. Baba used to say “Forbear, forbear, it is the biggest austerity, an art every aspirant should learn, without which one’s ego shall never melt.” Without the strength of tolerance, one can never dream to become a great human being.
Attacked by Man-Eaters in Parashuram Kund
Rishi Parshuram is a great character in the Epic story of Mahabharata. It is believed that Rishi Parshuram came to Parashuram Kund to do his tapasya after defeating all the kashtriyas (a warrior class for the kings) because they had gone astray and tortured the common people. In a very similar manner,Baba had hoisted the flag of his victory over all human desires; luxury, wine, and beautiful girls.
In earlier times, the jungles of Assam were not inhabited by civilized people, but by tribals. Some were very dangerous, and would hunt even human beings. These tribals had a strange belief, and considered the flesh and blood of a sadhu to be very pure since he had visited all the pilgrimage places. They would eat his flesh believing they too had visited all the holy places where the sadhu had visited, and their ancestors would also be very happy and bless them. People in the nearby village would not dare to go inside the jungles, not even for collecting wood. If any sadhu mistakenly went into these jungles he would be killed.
Many villagers had warned Baba not to go inside the jungle. But fearless Baba did not give much regard to these warnings, and he entered the jungle carrying his trishul, a long iron trident, and tumba, a vessel made out of dried hard pumpkin, for storing water or food.Baba had not even gone inside the jungle when he was attacked. He raised his trishul in the air and looked at them as if a thousand sun’s were blazing fire from his eye balls. It seemed Goddess Durga had entered into him and her divine power was flowing within him. The tribals gathered around him withered like dried leaves looking at the burning aura from his body, and they became rooted to their position. They did not dare to go near him or throw spears at him, and after a while they left him alone and fled. This hair-raising incident makes us believe that no doubt, true fearlessness comes only from divinity.
Charming Girls Alluring Baba
Baba kept marching through this dense forest, and after walking a distance he came across a village of Parashuram Kund.It was believed that the girls of this place were so mysteriously attractive that their beauty could entice not only the young and the old, but even a yogi. There was a strange tradition in the village that if a girl could attract or lure a sadhu towards herself, then she was well-rewarded by the villagers and her parents. Her parents would cut a hair strand off the sadhu and tie a knot around the pillar of their home as a sign of their daughter’s victory. They would celebrate the marriage with great pomp and circumstance; the couple would be given many sheep as a marriage gift, and blessed to begin their new life without any doubts or worries.
Baba was absolutely unaware of the bewitching girls and their strange tradition. The sun had almost set, but his majestic strides did not stop and kept on walking across the dusty village path. All of a sudden, he found himself surrounded by many beautiful girls trying to seduce him. But the valiant, confirmed bachelor lifted his trident high in the air and shouted in a loud, deep voice, “Get away from me, otherwise I will hit you all.” The girls were stunned and did not believe their charm could not seduce this determined wandering monk. Baba’s voice softened now.“Oh mother,” he said, “Give me way and I prostrate at your feet.” At his humble request even the perverted feelings of the girls were purified, and they gave him the way to go. Baba kept on walking and never looked back. These girls made many remarks behind his back. They were proud of him, and at his strength of celibacy. Some even called him a divine human. Baba’s purity had changed their attitude.
One who’s ambition is to dwell in the domain of Atman can no longer be tied to the ropes of Maya. No doubt, Determination overcomes Distraction.
Tigers Burning Bright in the Jungle’s of Assam
Nature becomes a slave and bows down at the feet of a determined Soul since his compassionate heart opposes none. Baba’s Sadhana, his austere penance, had surmounted all imagined heights. Many people would be attracted to his dynamic personality. But he so enjoyed traveling alone and living in solitude. He walked like an emperor and was not perturbed even by the waves of tsunami. Baba carried his trident bare-chested, with just a small piece of red cloth tied around his waste and hair grown from his glowing face to his knees. He looked like a majestic Godman walking on Earth. So great was his resolution that he could melt an entire mountain and drink the complete ocean if it came his way. It seems even the earth, the sky, the sun, and moon felt proud of this Super Human. Thus Baba crossed the Bramhaputra river by boat and reached Gwalpara.
At night in the jungleBaba would ignite fire to a log of wood, or collect a few dried branches of a tree to burn throughout the night. This tradition, Dhuni,is practiced by most of the sadhus in India. Baba would practice sitting in one position, one Aasan, without shifting his legs for long hours. His usual food used to be rice, pulses, and vegetables all boiled in one bowl.He would never over eat because the first criteria of a yogi is to keep one’s body as light as possible. During meditation, lethargy and daydreaming becomes the biggest obstacle in a sadhak’s life.Baba would sit down near the fire in his usual padmaasan and start meditating on Van Durga, his deep meditative big eyes shown like fire and the aura from his body spreading far and wide into the dense forest. His magnetic posture would even draw the most powerful wild beasts towards him.
One day, while sitting in the same position near the fire, Baba was gazing deep into the horizon. He saw a tiger and a tigress snarling and coming towards him. But Baba’s steel nerves did not make any move, and he kept sitting in the same position. The tigers started sniffing him but could not smell any violence or fear in Baba’s heart.They purred like a cat and left that place. Even wild animals can smell the language of love and compassion.
Prince Born As A Yogi
Baba traveled from Raniganj to Guwahati. Reaching Guwahati,Baba visited the temples of Jagadamda (Durga)and also kaliyantika(lord Krishna). Baba decided to spend few days in the land of kaliyakantika, in a nearby jungle. This junglewas full of banana trees, but people avoided going inside because of wild elephants that would kill anyone who came their way. With the state of fear nothing if not alien toBaba, he marched firmly inside the jungle, lit his dhuni as usual, and sat down in padmaasan. He wanted to be away from the crowd and carry on his tapasya alone, but who can stop the rays of sun from spreading far and wide? Very soon villagers came to know about him, and they informed the Rajmata of the royal family who owned this land.
In fact,the Rajmata was also a great devotee of lord Krishna, and could not resist the chance to meet such a bold tapasvi or sadhu. She went with a few people to meet Baba in the jungle. Baba resided in his usual posture, completely absorbed in deep meditation, absolutely unaware of being surrounded by people. Rajmata saw the glow on his face and the divinity of his profound peace spreading all over, giving answer to her many confusions.When Baba opened his eyes Rajmata bent down in oblation at his feet and kept requesting Baba to visit her palace. Baba could see Krishna Bhakti reflect from her face, and his heart melted at the honest, genuine prayers of Rajmata.
On reaching the palace he was made to sit on a very high, well designed chair.When he looked around the walls and ceilings of the palace he was amazed to see beautiful carvings of lord Krishna and Shree Radha on sandalwood. They were such extraordinary, fascinating carvings that nobody could take one’s eyes off them. They had a mesmerizing effect on Baba, and his mind was dissolving in Krishna Bhakti.
Rajmata told Baba something about her life: she had a son, but right from his childhood he was not interested in any of the luxuries or comforts, and was not even interested in running the estate.He had lost his father when he was still very young, and now he preferred to spend most of his time in meditation. Though she was widowed, Rajmata stillsupported her son’s disinclination towards wordly life, and allowed him to carry on with his path of devotion.She wouldsingle-handedly manage the work of the palace and the estates. But now Rajmata told Baba to request her son to take responsibility for the palace, since she had grown too old to manage.Baba told her that he would like to meet him, and so Rajmata took Baba to her son’s worshipping room.
Just by looking at Baba, the young prince felt such a divine magnetic pull that he could not help but prostrate himself at his feet.Baba requested the prince to extend his help to his mother to look after the managerial works of the palace, but the young yogi had a very clear opinion about life. He told baba, “ You might excuse me for all my childish understanding about this life, but I cannot involve myself in any of these wordly works. This world seems to me like big a python, and its wide-open, broad mouth is ready to gobble us down any moment. Attractions and avarice are its teeth, and with the help of these teeth it chews everyone. I would not want myself to be chewed by the sharp teeth of Maya.”
What else could Baba say? This yogi had snatched all words from his mouth because he too was in the same boat and wanted to escape the strong jaws of the shark. Baba was proud of this young prince and blessed him from within.He tried to console Rajmata, but knew very well it was no use. Baba blessed her and said that you have given birth to a great son who has not only purified this soil but purified your great ancestors.
Baba left this place and started walking towards Badapeta.On his way he kept remembering both mother and son.He thought that inspite of being born with a silver spoon in his mouth, with every comfort at his disposal, they meant nothing than mere dust for this prince. He remembered a shloke of the 15th chapter in Gita,“asangashastren driden chitwa tata padam tat parimargitavyam,” and proceeded walking.
A German Saint
Baba reached Calcutta and with the grace of MaaKali met a German saint a little ways away from the temple gates of kalighat. The saint used to be in maunam, an austerity of silence, always. He was in his traditional German clothes but lived the life of a true Indian Sadhu. Hebegged for his food only when he felt hungry, not for his taste. He was found most of the time sitting on wooden cot near the gates of the temple in deep meditation. He was hardly aware of the passersby, and nothing or no one could shift or distract his inner gaze. He was absolutely unperturbed by the various mystic colors of the world. Being a young bramhachari, Baba used to get very influenced by anyone’s spirit of meditation and dispassion. He was very inspired by the amazing self control of this German Sadhu.
Baba learned more about this sadhu, and was informed by the locals that he was appointed as a sessions judge, in Calcutta. As per his profession, he had to give judgements according to laws of misconduct. Once he had to give a death penalty to a convict for his offense, but this judgement shook his soul from within. A storm of questions rose inside him, and the saint started thinking he had to give suchcruel verdicts because of his post. He resigned from his job to dwell in the realms of the divine. His quest to conquer his own self became the whole and sole objective of his life. Baba started thinking, indeed, this was a man of great character; one’s soul should be so sensitive that it should get awakened instantly with just one shock in life. Sorrows comes in one’s lifenot to launch one into depression but as an archway to evolve one’s soul to the higher realities of life. We have come from unknown and will go into unknown, but only the brave decide to unfold the unknown.
On his way from Bengal to Rameshwar, Baba came across a village in Baleshwar where he decided to spend the night. That night a terrifying incident took place: one of the village huts caught fire. In those days huts were made of mud or simply with hay, and the flames consuming this hay hut became uncontrollable almost instantly. Hearing their screams, Baba ran to the hut and, to his horror, saw a young bride trapped with no way to escape. Baba’s soft, benevolent heart could not bear the screams of the girl, and without wasting a single minute, with no bother for his own life, he dashed into the hut, lifted the young girl in his arms, and came out safe from the blazing fire. All the villagers started applauding the young stranger’s bravery, but Baba was not happy within. He had pledged to maintain a strict celibacy and not touch any female in his life. Though this was a life-saving situation and not a purposeful approach, Baba still felt the guilt of regret and decided to repent. He took strong penance that he would not take any food for three days. No doubt without the valor of celibacy renunciation is difficult.
As A Revolutionary
Baba traveled from Rameshwar to Dwarika and via Ujjain reached Haridwar. In spite of traveling such distances under difficult circumstances, he never came across a saint who could answer his questions. Completely disheartened, Baba decided to return from Haridwar to Bengal. India was still under British rule, and the struggle for freedom of the motherland was aflame in the heart of every passionate citizen, especially amongst the young and the bold. Everyday many young revolutionaries were hanged to death in public. Baba was a born martyr, and British brutality so enraged him he vowed to throw them out of his motherland. He joined one of the revolutionary groups and actively took part in their dare devil missions. On many occasions he was caught and put behind bars, but each time he escaped death penalties due to a lack of evidence.
One day Baba met a saint who told him that his brave mission to free our motherland from the invaders is undoubtedly the greatest righteous action, but it would not relieve the miseries of thousands of people or solve his question of the ever-changing, hallucinating world. On hearing the saint’s advice, Baba gave up the life of a revolutionary and decided to renounce every desire and become a Sanyasin, a “true renunciate.”
No Greater Bliss Than Renunciation
Baba went to Jaggnath Puri in Orissa, and from there he took the final vows of Sanyas from his Gurudev with all the formal proceedings. Now, from Bramhachari Vasudev, he became Swami Poornanand Teerth. He was, however, more popularly known as Shree Udiya Baba since he belonged to the state of Orissa, which in Hindi is called Udiya. After his sanyas, Baba stayed with his Gurudev for sometime and then, with his permission, proceeded towards Kashi again. On his way to Kashi he threw the dand, the stick given during Sanyas that symbolizes dispassion in a person who has renounced everything, into the ocean. Baba did not want to carry any such advertisements since renunciation is a state of mind.
Turning Point in his life
Baba had bought a ticket to Kashi, and on his way he was supposed to change his train. Baba unfortunately forgot, and when the British ticket checker saw that Baba had the wrong ticket he started furiously abusing him and threw him out of the train. This incident became a great turning point in Baba’s life, and from that very day onwards he took an oath that he would never travel by train or by any vehicle and would only trust his strong legs. The name of the place where he was thrown off the train was Chapra, in Bihar. He started walking towards the banks of Ghagra, took a bath in the river, and pledged never again to travel by train. He never broke his resolution except for once, during the last days of his life.
We have seen on many occasions some deep hurting incidence in a saint’s life that fuels a more determined and bold renunciation. In India, there is a strong tradition that usually an aspirant, after taking his or her final vows, does not keep any money and leads the life of a parivrajaka, a wanderer. He only keeps a tumba with himself, a vessel made out of dried hard pumpkin, for storing water or food. He can only beg for food from seven houses, and if he receives no food from those seven houses he has to go hungry and think that is what god willed. He is not allowed to ask for any other requirements besides food. He has surrendered to god, so whichever way the almighty keeps him he will be contented, and in all circumstances he will not forget to take the lord’s name. As we read in the ninth chapter of Gita, Shri Krishna says, “You surrender unto me and I shall take care of all your basic requirements.”
Unquestionably, if one wants to fly high in the sky of spiritual freedom, he needs two strong wings: spiritual discipline and absolute dispassion. Even if an aspirant has reached the highest state of meditation or yogic accomplishments, there are all chances he might lose ground if he is not carrying the vessel of vairagya, “dispassion.”
No Greater Knowledge Than Self Enquiry
Baba started walking towards Kashi again. His dispassion doubled with the torrents of his quest, desperately knocking at doors to open the dimensions of reality. He kept wandering in different places of Kashi and did not even keep a bowl with himself in case people offered food. People in India respectfully offer when they see a sadhu, so Baba used to accept with just his open palms, and that was the only quantity of food he would have in the whole day. Someone offered him a warm blanket, and wearing that he would go around and spend the night anywhere, maybe under a tree, near the banks of Ganga, or just lie down under the sky. Baba was not conscious of the external world, and only wanted to know what Absolute Truth is all about.
He met a sadhu in Kashi who suggested a place in western Kashi where he could spend the four-month rainy season in an ashram. Popularly known as chaturmas, this practice to stay in one place, meditate, and read scriptures for these four months is prevalent amongst sadhus. When Baba reached the ashram, he found many other sadhus reading and contemplating on the philosophy of Vedanta. They used to have good discussions on BramhaSutra, Upanishads, Gita, and Yogvashist. These debates on scriptures fanned the already boiling flames of his quest for Absolute knowledge. He wanted to get rid of the paraphernalia of Maya and the ever-changing momentary universe.
When the rainy season ended, Baba restarted his journey along the banks of Ganga. Sometimes he would walk without halting anywhere from morning till evening. Baba spent more than five months just walking along the banks of Ganga. He would spend his days in solitude and nights in jungles, sometimes without food or even rest. He was not conscious of the requirements of his body and only desired to know his real identity, one supreme, unitary consciousness.
No Religion Higher Than Truth
It took five months on foot from Kashi for Baba to reach the Prayag now known as Allahabad. He reached Daraganj and found a small temple in a very secluded area, with a small, unoccupied mud hut just near the temple. Baba decided to spend a few days here since it was far away from the hustle and bustle of the village. He thought this place to be very good for him to pursue tapasya and deep contemplation on Atman and Brahman. It was the month of May, when the sun is brightest, and yet Baba strongly resolved that he would not take food or water, or come out of his room for three days and three nights.
Baba’s strong willpower and his yogic practice could be observed throughout his life. All his life, nobody had ever seen Baba sleep for more than two hours. He would spend whole nights sitting in just one position. So he waited for some divine instruction that would unfold the mystery of this manifestation and reveal the Supreme Brahman. After three days he came out of the hut but was very disheartened. He had received no such instructions, and none who could answer his questions. His body became very stiff after coming out of the hut, but after relaxing for some time he restarted his journey.
The Journey Finally Meets Liberation
Baba would walk from dawn to dusk, from night to day, days to weeks and weeks to months, but his restless mind did not allow him to rest in peace anywhere.His journey continued to a place called Fatehpur. Near the banks of Ganga, he found a very small, ancient temple of Lord Shiva. He liked the quietness of this place and thought of resting and spending the night here. The place was very peaceful and calm, and the only voice to break the silence was the breathtaking ripples of Gangaji. Even the sun god was tired of his whole day journey and was resting far in the horizon of dusk. The trees, the birds, the animals, and the bullock carts were returning home, and the dust was settling down all ready to go into deep slumber in the lap of mother nature. Only mother Ganga’s laughter grew more obvious with the settling silence of nature, the language of her love always an indispensable part of our life.
Still, this silence and peace could not calm the storm within Baba’s heart. His quest, now built up for years, had reached a saturation point. Unable to know what Supreme Brahman or One Unitary Consciousness is, Baba thought his life to be a complete waste and burden. He rose from his Padmaasan, the sitting posture during meditation, and threw his dried hard pumpkin tumba vessel and his blanket into Gangaji. Baba thought of giving up his body, and at that very moment a loud divine inner voice made him stop. He heard a voice asking loud and clear, “Even if you die—would it give answer to your questions? Would this solve the mystery of birth and death? Will it stop you from another rebirth?” Thinking deeply on these questions, he stopped himself and sat down inside the temple.
Baba’s restless soul had lost all his faith in God. Knowing about God is one thing, but direct experience is another. God does not dwell just in duality; his true nature is the Non-Dual Self, your own Self Realization. Atman and Brahman is just One. With many racing reasonings about the true nature of Supreme Truth, he sat down again and went into deep meditation. He could sit in Padmaasan for days together, for which he was popularly known as Asan Siddha Baba, meaning one who has accomplished to sit in one position through severe practice. But his injured heart still found no peace. He had no regard for God, put both his feet on Shiva Linga, and lied down.
Lord Shiva understood his deep pain and Baba’s unified love for him, as he understands the language of love expressed in all ways. Hate and love are both his expressions and can never be misunderstood when both are directed towards him. Sometimes God is more caring and responds more eagerly to his demanding aggressive child rather than a moderate lover. In Puranas it is mentioned that Lord Shiva can be easily pleased (and that is why he is also named Ashutosh, meaning “easily contented even if worshipped through crude manners”), but the basic criteria is purity of heart. Baba was not bothered about the world and its ways, and while keeping his feet on the Shiva Linga he went off into slumber.
When Baba woke up from his sleep he saw two very tall, serene sages standing before him. They seemed to be an embodiment of profound peace. Their forehead was smeared with Vibhooti, ashes after yajnas or sacrificial fire, and a rudraksh mala adorned each of their necks. They were both holding a kamandalu vessel, made of brass or bronze for storing pure holy water. Baba stood up before them and started asking questions about the genesis of this manifestation, and how Atman and Brahman was One. Whatever fiery questions Baba asked they answered him with all the patience of the earth’s waves, and wonderful, gracious logics and reasonings. This exchange of questions and answers with the saints continued for a long time and finally unknotted all his doubts, Jiva, Jagat, and Ishwara, and the Oneness of Jiva and Brahman. Lord Shiva had finally graced Baba with his beautiful cosmic vision.
At the end of their divine conversation they said two shlokas to Baba:
“Neti Netiti Netiti Yat Param Padam, Nirakartum Ashakyatwyat tadasmiti Sukhi Bhava,” meaning,“Not this, not this, not this – in this manner negate the gross, the subtle, the prakriti, or causation of the manifestation. At the end, that which remains and cannot be negated by the negator is You, your “Own Self.” Realizing this, be established in Supreme Bliss.”
“Jadatwam Varyeiwaitam Shilaya thidayam cha yat, Amanskam Mahabaho Tanmayo Bhava Sarvada,” the essence of which means,“Discard this ignorance of inertness.”
Shri Udiya Baba was completely drenched with intense Supreme Awakening, his tormented mind now completely calm and touching the depths of the divine, endless ocean of eternal peace. His newborn divine conviction believed that the divine self exists in every single detail of this universe, and every particle of sand vibrates with the same intensity of divine energy. Infinite galaxies, planets, and realms exist within me, the rest is all my projection. I am not the form or the formless, I am just omnipresent. Baba soared into the depthless space of spiritual freedom and became Poornanand Swaroop.
Uparati or Absolute dispassion
Baba was now an enlightened soul.He knew the source of unlimited joy. He was well-established in universal consciousness. He would occasionally say, “Fruits of Dispassion is Realization, and fruits of Realization is Absolute Bliss.” The difference between dispassion and Uparati is that during Vairagya, or dispassion, one makes an effort to stop oneself from all temptations. Uparati is,inspite of the most compelling attractions and best distractions,evident even before one has absolute disinterest,and is not tempted even for a fraction of a second. External beauty no longer appeals to one who has the key to the secrets of the innermost beauty of his heart.
Desirelessness leads to fearlessness
Baba used to say that a sadhak’s life is like walking on the sharp blades of a sword. He would say winning one’s own self is bigger than winning any war. It is a bigger battle than the Devtas(virtuous) or the Asuras(wicked).On one end lies the unending temptations trying to delude a sadhak, and on the other end lies his unwavering firmness to tread on this path of liberation. Temptations are stronger for a Sadhak. Maya does not want to lose it’s game easily, and it’s strong jaws becomes even stronger with each firm step of a seeker.It spreads out the best of the carpet to entice him.Baba says there is every opportunity for a sadhak to get caught in the cobweb: he might slip and fall, might be gobbled up in the midway,or even blown away by the wind of Maya. Baba says that when a sadhak is immersed in deep meditation, many come to distract him. Dreadful, frightening ghosts come to scare a sadhak, and it can take nerves of steel to overlook this distraction. Many enchanting girls singing melodious songs could even shake the aasan of the most serious ,dedicated sadhak. A seeker has to make a herculean effort to break away from the gravitational pull of Maya, and it is only with the grace of a guru and one’s surrender to the divine that a seeker is able to cross the ocean of delusions.
He is squeezed between the constant conflict of attachment and non-attachment. But he alone is a great warrior who walks against his destiny. Without constant practice, it would be difficult to get rid of our addictions to worldly pleasures. One should cultivate within oneself the seed of dispassion. The practice of dispassion enriches the soil of non-attachment.Swami Vivekananda used to say, “The only way to heaven is through hell.” The true fruits of absolute dispassion comes when one enjoys living in solitude. The divine voice can only be heard in the silence of solitude.
Meditation perfected through Practice
The art of stillness is meditation. Meditation becomes more emphatic when fortified with the bricks of dispassion and non-attachment.Despite attaining Liberation, the true and ultimate goal of one’s life,Baba did not give up his spiritual practice even for a day.It is only through unyielding practice one can grow from an ant to an almighty.Baba would say that there are three gradual steps to take when one begins to meditate:
1.One should constantly ponder that, “I am not this gross body.” When this practice grows from repetition to firm conviction, such that one wakes from deep sleep he identifies himself not as a gross body but a subtle body. Nevertheless, there are probabilities that one might develop an ego for his subtle body.
2.Withdraw one’s senses from all material attractions and not even integrate oneself with the mind and intellect. In this manner the attachments of the subtle body are elevated towards the causal body.
- Stop identifying oneself with the joys and sorrows of life. They are just thought waves that come and go, and I am the onlooker of these waves.It is only through constant practice that one starts coming closer and closer to one’s own self.
Practicing meditation is a constant fight between the prana and the mind.If the prana dissolves into the mind it leads to “tamoguna”, laziness and tiredness,but if the mind dissolves into the prana then the soul evolves in the higher state called “sattvaguna.”During tamoguna, one’s vital breath becomes irregular and much faster, but during sattvaguna the prana becomes very regular,thin, almost negligible.When the mind works through prana one’s forces become accelerated due to “rajoguna,” and while the prana may be quite stable, the mind is subject to a lot of conflict. Approach this time with a lot of patience. Take your mind away from all sorts of conflicts, and quietly watch the inhalation and exhalation of prana.This practice gradually stabilizes both the mind and one’s body, one’s speech, and his eyes. Eyes and their stillness can reflect the depth of one’s meditation.
During meditation, one should take care that one’s constant reasoning for truth is not lost.If, during meditation, one loses one’s consciousness and also one’s goal,one will face the obstacle of forgetting the real objective of one’s meditation:meditating on the oneness of god or comtemplation on Upanishadic Truth.Purity of mind unveils the ultimate reality, Absolute Consciousness, through constant contemplation.
Shri Krishna and Radha playing with Baba
Baba continued his journey from Bithur to Baruaghat and from there reached Farakkabad. All this while he was walking along the banks of Ganga, but some inner voice made him change his decision. He left the mainstream of ganga and started walking along the canal of Ganga. That day, Baba received no food from anywhere. At night he felt very hungry, but there was no village nearby where he could ask for some food. The moon had spread out it’s silver carpet, and Baba was sitting and enjoying the silent silvery night. From a distance he noticed two small children playing in the jungle. Baba went near them and noticed a boy and a girl of not more than of 6 or 7 years. They looked up with mesmerizing big eyes and enchanting smiles as he approached. Though it was still early evening, the hour was not safe for children to be playing, so Baba asked these children, “Why are you playing here in such late hours?” They said while playing in the village they forgot the time and place. They were not scared of Baba at all, and started pulling Baba’s hands and requested him to play with them. Baba could not stop himself and started playing with them like a baby and forgot his tiredness and hunger after a whole day’s travel. After sometime they said, “Baba, can we bring some food for you, you must be hungry.”Baba realized that he was indeed feeling hungry, so he nodded. They said, “You wait here, we will go home and bring food for you.” Baba asked them, “Where do you stay? Who’s children are you two?” They replied in a very convincing soft voice, “We stay in a nearby village and we are maheswari vaishya.”
Baba was now alone, but kept waiting eagerly for them to return,and to hear their musical voice again.They came back and offered him two hot thick rotis or chapattis made out of wheat flour, and “sabji,” cooked vegetables, of unripe banana.Baba accepted their food without any hesitation. But until that day,Baba only used to accept food from Brahmin families, but these children and their love made him break his resolution.Love has no limits and no barriers; it captures and transforms even the heart of the most inert persons.
These children wandered around him for sometime, entertained him with their innocent chatterings, then went back to their home. But they took Baba’s mind alongwith them, and no doubt, they had stolen his heart. Now Baba could not stop himself from remembering those adoring, beautiful children, and in their remembrance he woke up in the early morning hours. To his astonishment, these two children were standing very near to him. They had brought butter milk for him in some cans.The children asked baba, “Do you want to have some buttermilk?”Baba seemed almost intoxicated with their charm, and without even cleaning his mouth and bathing in Gangaji he drank the butter milk they had brought for him.
When the sun was up Baba enquired about these children and their village from some early morning passerby.The person said there was no such village nearby, and the nearest village was miles away from this place.
This encounter left an unforgettable impact onBaba’s life.And in later years, these beautiful moments would bring tears to his eyes and his voice would become deep and warm while narrating this incidence to others. “It was shree Radha and Krishna who had looked after me that night,” he would say.He would say the lord always keeps his promise, but we human beings are so ungrateful for the infinite love he pours for us.
Very soon baba’s life and teachings shall be available to readers as published book..Om!