We start now from the Ganga at Narora, to the hermitage of Hari Baba, the “Baandh” (dyke) that he built on the Ganga, near the village of Gavaan-badaayoon…
Hari Baba (1884 – 1970) was one of the great sages of twentieth century India. He was a Jeevanmukta, one who has attained liberation while still alive. He was the humblest of humble servants of God. He attained self-knowledge at an early age, and thereafter was immersed in the path of devotion to God. He advocated the path of Bhakti, with special emphasis to Samkeertana, singing of God’s name. It was he who mobilized communities of villagers to build a dyke in the land of Ganga, to save hundreds of villages which used to be submerged in floods year after year. And this was done without any Government funding or help… It was done by common people from villages all around, singing the name of God, as appropriate to their path and religion.
When singing God’s name, he would always be seen with the “ghantaa” – a gong bell struck with a mallet… At all times, his eyes would be downcast, towards the heart….
How is one like us to even comprehend the glory of this sage…
Let us see what Maharajshree (Swami Akhandananda Saraswati of Ananda Vrindavana Asrama) had to say about Hari Baba…
“Among all the sages that I have had Darshan of in my life, Sri Hari Baba Maharaj, was a distinctive Mahapurusha, completely non-worldly.
People knew of him as “Baandh waale Baba” (The sage who built the Dyke on Ganga), or as a sage who preached the way of Keerthana (singing the name of God). However, I have seen him as a personification of complete non-attachment. In his life, he had no attachment whatsoever with anyone. He may offer worship, do Saashtaang-dandavat prostrations (full length on the ground, like a stick, with eight parts of the body touching the ground), and then he may well quietly walk away. He may make someone sit on the Simhasana (altar of God), and look upon him as God Himself, and then again, he may thereafter stop meeting or speaking to that person. He could well detach himself in a moment from his greatest of devotees, and just walk away.
His faith and devotion to Guru remained firm and steady – he would wave the fan-whisk of worship to someone, but contemplation would be on his Guru. Dedication to Vedanta became second-nature to him even from the time of his youth. In his conduct, he was the mirror-image of Lord Sri Ramachandra. When he was immersed in Samkeertana, there would be the manifestation of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. While his speech, smile, glance would be dripping with affection, absolute samyama (self-restraint, a self-fettering, eyes-closed approach to the world) was also patently seen in him. Such was he, that on coming to his vicinity and protecting presence, even pretenders would become true devotees. The service that has been rendered by him to poor people, farmers, and villagers is indeed matchless.
I have seen in His life, the ideal life that a satpurusha should lead. As a Jeevanmukta (self-realized sage) adopting appropriate role-play with one and all in his dealings in the world, in the same manner was the persona/role-play of Hari Baba in all his activities. He filled his time with the God’s-name, Satsangha (the company of sages and good people), and with the lore of sport of God.
By his remembrance, one’s heart becomes cleansed. “
It was to his Baandh that we were proceeding to.
As it happened, the initial idea was to visit the Baandh on Saturday, the 4th of April. That was a full-moon day (Poornima) and also Hanuman Jayanti. A very auspicious day. The plan was to reach Brindavan on 3rd evening, stay overnight, proceed to Hari Baba Baandh on 4th, and keep the return plan open. Perhaps return on 4th or 5th.
As one came closer to the date, I was coordinating with Brahmachari R on the logistics, and called him when I was in the car, returning from work… He told me that there was an issue. A monk from Udiya Baba asrama had mentioned that 4th was the day of Grahana. He wanted to know if that was indeed so. I said ‘yes’, 4th was indeed the day of lunar-eclipse. He wanted to know the exact time of eclipse. Thanks to technology, I browsed the Net and called him back, confirming that it was sometime in the evening, between 6-40 and 7-15 PM. Further conversations, back and forth, and it was decided that it would not be wise to travel on the day of eclipse. The Shastra-s do not advise that. On a grahana day, all temples would be closed too, till the eclipse was over. So it is that we preponed the trip by a day. Siva and I reached Brindavan on 2nd (Thursday) and left for Baandh along with Swami G and M, Brahma R, and Bobby the guide, on 3rd of April, which was ‘Good Friday’.
As we drove from Brindavan on 3rd morning, we talked about the day. It was the festival of “Panguni Uttiram” (Uttara Phalguni), indeed a very auspicious day. It was the day of Sita-Rama wedding, as per Valmiki Ramayana. It is the day that Rama decided as auspicious to start off on the march to Lanka. It was the day Arjuna was born. It is the birth day of Lord Ayyappa, the son of Hari and Hara. It is a day sacred to Lord Subrahmanya, the son of Siva, who was born in the bed of reeds in the banks of Ganga. And we were going to Ganga… We were going to the bandh on Ganga which had been built with the name of Rama and the chanting of Mahamantra. A dyke that was known as “Baandh Bhagavan” – God himself. It was Bhageeratha, Lord Rama’s ancestor, who had brought Ganga down from heaven to the earth…. From Krishna Yamuna, we were proceeding to the Rama Ganga…
Signing off this post with a youtube share of Soota’s narration from Ramayana… An audio recording about the ‘Birth of Rama’….
Sri Rama Jaya Rama Jaya Jaya Rama!
<To be continued >