भर्जनं भवबीजानामर्जनं सुखसम्पदाम् ।
तर्जनं यमदूतानां राम रामेति गर्जनम् ॥
Destruction of the seed of transmigratory life-death cycle,
Acquisition of wealth and happiness,
Frightening away the messengers of death,
(Such are the effects of ) “Rama! Rama!” roar!
As we continue on our blog journey to the Baandh of Hari Baba, let us begin this post with a darshan of three Jeevanmukta saints… This is a short clip from a video on Sri Anandamayi Ma (1896 – 1982). This clip is from the most holy occasion of her 60th birthday, observed in May 1956. We have the joy of seeing Ma, Hari Baba, and Maharajshree Swami Akhandananda Saraswati…
आत्मारामश्च मुनयो निर्ग्रन्था अप्युरुक्रमे।
कुर्वन्त्यहैतुकीं भक्तिमित्थम्भूतगुणो हरिः॥
(Srimad Bhagavatam Canto 1, Ch 7, Verse 10)
The Muni-s (the silent sages), delighting in the ‘Self’
Unfettered from all book-knowledge (of any “other”)
Even they, without any reason, perform bhakti
To Hari, of wide strides,
Such are the wondrous virtues of the Lord (Hari)….
The above verse fits to a “T”, the great sage Hari Baba – a Jeevanmukta, one who delighted in the abidance as ‘Self’, who nonetheless, walked and preached the path of Hari Bhakti…
Hari Baba was born in Shukla Paksha Chaturdashi of the month of Phalguna in Vikram Samvat १९४१ (this would correspond to February 28, 1885 AD), in a village in the District of Hoshiarpur in Punjab. He was born in a Sikh family, of Ahluwalia lineage. His great grandfather Sardar Budh Singh served in an important position in Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s army. Budh Singh had been born as a blessing of an Avadhuta ascetic. His father Baba Pahlu had been childless and one day this Avadhuta walked into his village, seeking Madhukari Bhiksha food. Even as Pahlu Baba prepared some Roti, the Avadhuta walked away. Baba Pahlu went after him, and when the Avadhuta stopped somewhere, Baba Pahlu caught up with him and offered him bhiksha. The Avadhuta laughed and asked him what he sought. Baba asked him to bless him with progeny. The Avadhuta told him that Baba Pahlu was destined not to have any child for another few births as well, but he would bless him with a child, and that he himself would be born in his family, as his great-great grandson, and traverse the path of God. He also gave him a bow, a flute, and a scripture-book for safekeeping in the family. This was handed down the family line. It is said that Hari Baba’s mother, before he was born, heard a deep voice which said that ‘I had given your forefather a bow, flute and a scripture. I shall now be born as your child’…
It is said that when Hari Baba was born, an idol of Lord Rama fell into the courtyard of the house from the sky. It is also said that his parents had divine vision of Rama in their dreams, when he was in the womb.
On his birth, he was named Diwan Singh (pronounced Deevaan Singh).
As a child, Diwan was the youngest of five sons in a family of five sons and three daughters. Diwan was different from other children and was often found sitting in silent contemplation. When he was four years old, he had the first darshan of his Guru, Brahmanishtta Swami Sacchidananda Giri. Seeing the innate goodness of the child, his Guru lifted him with love and blessed him.
Diwan did his schooling in Hoshiarpur, and went on to join King Edward Medical College in Lahore for his professional education. He would return often to Hoshiarpur and visit his Guru. His mother tried to fix a marital alliance for him, but he sternly refused to be drawn into married life, and that was that. He left his medical education in the final year, gave up material pursuit, and came away to his Guru. He stayed with his Guru and served him in every way. So deep was his Guru Bhakti, that it is said his Guru gave him oneness with his own state.
Upon his request to grant Sanyasa, his Guru declined, saying that he did not give Sanyasa to anyone. And that when the right time comes, Diwan would become a sanyasi by himself.
With permission from his Guru, Diwan left for Kashi. He joined a college course in B.Sc and also started offering tuition to make a living. But the fire of dispassion was burning so furiously in him that he could not pursue a worldly life anymore. Giving away all his material things, he adopted Vidwat Sanyaasa himself. Living on alms, he chose a temple, the Shoolakanteshwar shrine of Siva, as his place of stay. When he stayed there, a Bengali Sadhu of name Shankaranand, gave him a kamandulu and invited him to his Ashram in Prayag (Allahabad) Draupadi ghat. Sadhu Diwan went to Prayag and chose a cave near Shankaranand’s Asram for his stay. There, he performed intense spiritual practice, living a life of terrific austerity. He would take Madhukari bhiksha once a week. From the Roti-s collected, he would bury what was left over. Each day he would take out one Roti, wet it in water, and eat. That was his food for the day. A snake was his co-resident in the cave, and was even seen sitting on his head when he was immersed in Samadhi in meditation. After staying in Prayag for three years, he started his parivrajaka life again and returned to his Guru’s Ashrama in Hoshiarpur. While immersed in bliss in his heart, he was in some trepidation as he came to his Guru. Afraid of what his Guru would say on seeing him as a Sanyaasi, he came to him in the night and fell at his feet weeping. His Guru, however, was overjoyed, and told him – “Son! You have attained the aim of human birth. And by this act, you have brought fruition for me too! You have been a Sadhu even since birth. And now, since you have taken Sanyaasa yourself, you shall be called ‘Svatah Prakash’ (Self Radiant)!”
After staying for some time with his Guru, he started on his ‘wandering’ again. He went to Anandpur Saheb and served in a Gurudvara there, and continued his austerities. He would narrate the stories of Sikh Guru-s to pilgrims coming there. He took on the service of cleaning the huge vessel used for Langhar. In the icy cold of Punjab winter, he would bathe in the Gurudvara pond at 3 AM, and then sit for meditation.
After Anandpur Saheb, he went to many other places, and came to Vraja in the region of Brindavan. There he decided to be of service to an ailing, elderly Bengali Sanyasi, a monk of the Gaudiya order. In his dwelling, he was intensely drawn by a picture of a saint. The Sadhu told him that the picture was of Swami Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Hari Baba immediately recalled reading in the press in his Lahore college days, a statement of Swami Vivekananda. Swami Vivekananda had said that the Bhava-samadhi of his Guru, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, was like that of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
After Vraja, Swami Svatah Prakash (Hari Baba), now a monk in his early twenties, went to the region of Ganga. Going past Aligarh, he came to the region of Anupshehr, and then on to a village named Bheriya. This is near the current location of Hari Baba Baandh (where our blog journey is headed)…
More on that in the next post…
Signing off this post with a picture of Hari Baba as a young Sanyasi – Swami Svatah Prakash… He is seen with his head tilted slightly to the right, eyes down, gazing within, a pose that was characteristic of him throughout his life…. Which you would have seen in the video clip above as well…
… To be continued …