Does Sri Gorakshanath’s shakti manifest through different human forms? Is this Lord Shiva’s manifestation? Is Mahavatar Baba the manifestation of the collective divinity of Himalayan Saints and Siddhas? Did Ashwasthama of the Mahabharat manifest through Hairakhan Babaji? Has Hairakhan Baba taken birth in human form? Or entered the body of any yogi through shakto disksha or kaya pravesh? Has this divine personality taken different forms while remaining immersed in Samadhi and maintaining a singular identity? What do the saints of the Himalyas have to say about this? What is the current thought and acceptance in yogic and philosophical terms?
To answer these questions, I undertook an indefinable journey the journey of life. I visited innumerable sacred places, met many great saints and sages, both known and unknown. We can join the dits in retrospect, but looking ahead, the future remains unknown until we have realized that the future itself is in the past.
Romola Butalia did her Masters from Delhi School of Economics before establishing herself as a journalist of repute. With the advent of satellite television in India, she shifted to the visual medium, later making different kinds of films. She was one of the first to explore the potential of the Internet as a partner in India’s first horizontal portal. Thereafter, she became head of portals for India’s second largest multi-channel portal. She continues to be Editor of India Travelogue:
Her search for Truth led to a continued tryst with the Himalayas and the blessings of many sant-mahatmas. Her first book, In the Presence of the Masters, has been widely acclaimed. As a practitioner in the tradition of the Himalayan yogis, she is known as Sriji.
She can be contacted by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
This book has been written as a broad-based search. The writer, Romola Butalia, given the name of Sriji at the Kumbha in Ujjain, has made incalculable effort through varied and often difficult terrain, visiting many ancient sacred temples, teerth sthans or places of pilgrimage and tapasya sthals where tapasya or austerities have been performed. It is written from anubhuti or experience, with bhav or devotion and from the heart, while still remaining an analytical study.
Beyond the mind and senses, some of my own experiences, which are not contained in books or in told tales, the reader is welcome to receive or discard. About siddha-sants, there are stories told which do not belong to the ordinary realms of consciousness. Those who find it difficult to believe these are well-advised to believe what the rational mind, in keeping with current accepted scientific knowledge, readily accepts.
The mahima or praise of Sri Babaji is apaar or beyond definition. He cannot be understood through the medium of a single name or single form. He has many forms, both nirakar and shaker, both with and without manifestation. The many forms and names by which he has been known, the different sacred sthans with which he is associated, the ashrams and mandirs which were consecrated by him, the various teerth sthans he visited, the gufas, kutias and tapasya sthals where he lived, the rivers and paths along which he walked, are the way to know him. It is the way to know the Truth sought by karma- yogi, gyan-yogi and bhakti-yogi alike.
Among the many sant-mahatmas of his time who were known to have held him in the highest regard are Sombari Baba, Sitaram Baba, Laturia Baba, Jangam Baba and Bagambari Baba. There were many others, both known and unknown.
Manmunindra Mahavatar Hairakhandi Babaji had spent his life in tapasya, sadhana, japa, anusthan, establishing and consecrating mandirs, in bhraman sharing his spiritual light everywhere he went..Each of the places where he had remained in tapasya and sadhana are a living light to his memory. His yoga sadhana, yagya, anusthan can be realised even today. His simplicity, the depth of his wisdom and the intensity of his sadhana is beyond mere words. He had reached the highest state of siddhatwa and of rishittwa. He had transcended the panch tattwas or five elements of bhumi or earth, jal or water, agni or fire, vayu or air, akasha or ether, and the triguna (triple attributes) of satwa or purity, rajas or action and tamas or inertia. He was a trikal darshi (one who is beyond Time, having realised the past, present and future) atman—anubhavi (enlightened Soul) mahapurusha (evolved Being) and mahayogi (Yogi among yogis). Sadhus, sants and bhakts of all creeds and denominations, both sanyasins (Shaivites) and tyagi-vairagis (Vaishnavites) received his blessings. He was a nishkama karma yogi and Samkhya yogi.
He had given courage to many national heroes of the time who strove for freedom through the Independence movement. He was the embodiment of karmayoga, gyan-yoga and bhakti yoga praised in the Bhagwad Gita. All who are on the spiritual path be they sanyasin, vanprasthi, brahmachari or grihasthi, continue to receive his silent blessings. Many of these experiences have been recorded in this book.
Baba Sri is an amar rishi or deathless. Mrityuloka, swargaloka, siddhaloka, rishiloka, patal naga loka, devaloka, goloka, saket loka, Brahma Loka, Vaikutha Loka, Shiva Loka, are all accessible to siddhas. These are not matters of great surprise. This is within the realm of possible for rishis and siddhas. The shastras or scriptures are the praman or proof of this.
In mrityuloka, Baba Sri had kayic siddhi. This was known to many of his, devotees. Commonly known is that he was simultaneously seen at Kumaon—Kailash gufa beside the Gautami Ganga river near Hairakhan village; at Kurukshetra; and at Haridwar, during a particular eclipse. Those who witnessed it are no longer alive, but janashrnti or folklore and accounts in books, carry this legend forward. At another time, near Karanprayag en route to Badrinath, the antim samskara or final rites of his lifeless body was completed, while at the same time, devotees bear witness to the fact that he never left the gufa of Kumaon Kailash.
It is impossible to describe or mention all the places that Babaji had been in his lifetime of bhraman. The ones mentioned are those which the writer has visited and had first hand experience of. In the current context, this book is limited primarily to Kumaon. This is the region of Kurma or Kacchyap avatar of Lord Vishnu when the samudra manthan or churning of the oceans by the devas or gods and the danavas or demons occurred. Also mentioned are some places in Garhwal, regarded as the land of Narasimha avatar. Kumaon is the land of Shakti: it is the land of Mata Sati, the fountainhead of the 52 shaktipeeths. It is where Parvati Mata, the embodiment of perfection, manifested.
Before knowing the various places in Uttarakhand Himalayas with which Sri Babaji is associated, it is imperative to remember that he had travelled widely in Himachal,JammuKashmir, Sikkim and throughout the Himalayas. It is almost impossible to write his history because there are no records, and much has been lost over time. Jeta jana teta bakhana (as much as is known can be described). His history is believed to span two centuries from the middle of the 18th century to the first quarter of the 20th century.
Sri Babaji is known to have undertaken numerous journeys to the various dhams and teerth sthans. He is known to have visited the Sri Ram shaktipeeth at Ayodhya, and the RadhaKrishna shaktipeeth at Braj Dham.
His wide travels include Kailash-Manasarovar, wfien he stayed at all the places en route through India, Nepal, Tibet as well as on the parikrama marg of both Manasarovar and Kailash. At many places, he stayed in kutias as also gufas or caves and even jal gufas or underwater caves, where he had stayed in his siddhatwa swarup. In the 3 day parikrama, which is still open to pilgrims, Baba Sri had done sadhana. He had also done tap asya along the longer parikramas of one month, three months and six months, which are no longer accessible. At Manasarovar, there used to be a sadhu Kumbha, when sadhus would bathe in the Manasarovar, specially during Guru Purnima. In this region, sidd has have taken jeevit jalsamadhi. Other sad hus in bhav, have given up their bodies here. Still others, who lived essentially in their physical bodies, were blessed to breathe their last here, overcome by the cold and the difficulties of the journey.
In Nepal, beside the river Bagmati, is the famous Pashupatinath temple and the Guru Gorakhnath dhuna at Mrigsthali. Baba Sri had visited the villages and gufas alongside the Narayani and the Gandak rivers, as well as the siddha sthans on mountain-peaks. The Nepal royal family also knew him well. Sadhus from different sampradayas would visit Pashupatinath en route to Kailash. Baba Sri had been acknowledged by the royal family as the sangrakshak or protector of this yatra. The tapasya sthals of Shiva-Gorakshanath, Sri Matsyendranath and other rishi-munis were familiar to Baba Sri who had done tapasya in them.
He was known as Nepali Baba and Lama Baba in Nepal and Tibet. Another name, by which he was known among evolved Hamsas and Pa•ramhamsas, was Paramhamsa Hairakhandeshwarananda Yati. In this rup or form he is among the siddha yatis, who live in their avad hut aspect.
In Tibet’s Nyalam, Khasa, Shigatse, Lhasa and other places, Baba Sri had done ugra tapasya in kutias and gufas. He had also been through China as Lama Baba. From Kashmir’s Pamir through Suleman Parvat, Hindu Kush and onto Medina Mecca, he had done bhraman as a sufi saint. As a siddha yogi, he can do bhraman in any rup or form. Sitaram Baba, who is over 110 years, and lives at BridhJageshwar, also states this.
The Himalayas are the land of deva-devis, of rishi-munis, of dhas, of avatars and of yogis and saints. Uttarakhand has bcen called devabhumi because of this. The many rivers that flow here, as well as the many rivulets that flow into them, are all regarded as sacred. These flow through the plains eafter. Water is integral to life, and it is said, Jale Vishnu, Thale Vishnu or the water is Vishnu, the earth is Vishnu. Some or rivers that are important from the religious as well as environmental perspective are Bhagirathi-Ganga from Gangotri, Yamuna from Yumnotri, Alakananda from Irinath and Mandakini from Kedarnath, as well as Saiyu, da, Gomati, Panaar, Padmavati, Kheer Ganga, Barhai Ciga, Rama Ganga, Koteshwari, Ghatgarh, Airi Ganga, Kosi, Ei&iipra, Dhauli Ganga, Kali Ganga. All are aspects of the scared Ganga
The tapasya sthals and siddha sthans of rishi-munis and siddhas are oftentimes beside these sacred flyers, at the congruence of river, or on mountain peaks The Himalayan mountains are truely divine, created by the Supreme Being for the gods.
It is important to mention the primary places of spiritual significance. I have lived and done sadhana and tapasya at innumerable siddha sthans and at the sangam of rivers, to recognise the spiritual and divine energies associated with them. have practised austerities, taken ritual bath, kept fast, done tap asya, maintained anusthan, sad hana including dhuna-sadhana, naam-japa, yantra-sadhana, yoga, dhyana, kirtan, bhajan, through tyaga and vairagya or renunciation, at each of these places. This was to invoke divine energies, for the blessings of the rishi-munis and gods-goddesses and to have direct experience of the various methods of worship and of invoking energies that have come to us through parampara or tradition. Through sacred worship at these siddha sthans and tapasya sthal.s, it is possible to glimpse these Eternal Truths and eventually, to realise the Absolute.
There are sacred energies associated with different places. Where these energies have been invoked in the past, where the Highest Truths have been revealed, where rishi-munis, siddhas and yogis have done sad hana and tap asya, these energies remain dormant and can be invoked through purity of worship and through total renunciation. These remain eternally present in subtle form. To realise these, one must transcend the physical and be in the spiritual realms and dimensions of sacred energies. In current times, many places of worship, including temples and religious teerth sthans have become polluted because of the rajasic and tamasic activities that now abound there. Those with purity of vision, purity of heart, purity of mind, should continue to stay in these places so that the energies remain manifest, else the external form hides them divinity of the sacred places.
This book is about these sacred places and events. They provide a glimpse of the path of gyan-yoga, karma-yoga, bhaktiyoga, prem.yoga and tapasya-yoga. It is of importance to those who tread this path. There are places mentioned of which there is little or no knowledge. Of special significance are the many recorded meetings as told by those individuals, both stints and bhakts, who had Baba Sri’s darshan or blessings, mostly in their childhood. Many families, individuals and sant-mahatmas with whom Baba Sri maintained habitual contact were visited. The writer undertook this journey through sadhana, yagya, riaam-jap, with bhav and purity of heart and action.
The Himalayas are the very source; they are the form of Narayana Himself. Lord Krishna had said in 10.25 of the Gita, “Among the sthiror constant, unmoving, I am Himalaya.” Saints are the beloved of Narayana, the nitya avatar of Narayana. Himalayan tapaswi yogis are connected to that source. It has been the tradition in the Himalayas, that when householders maintain tap asya, they are regarded as equivalent to a sanyasin.
Sri Hairakhandi Babaji’s darshan is of satya or truth, saralta or simplicity and prem or love. His practical philosophy of simple living and high thinking, and of universality, is the basis of peaceful co-existence and true progress. Sanatan Dharma is a religion of anusthan or worship, not of pracharor preaching. His words were few, simple and direct. He inspired people by his actions and his behaviour, he did not resort to oratory. He worked towards the spiritual upliftment of all who came in contact with him. Many of the political leaders of the time were influenced by him. He has inspired and influenced innumerable yogis and sant mahatmas of the time, and he continues to do so through the power of his thought vibrations. His yoga bat still has the power to inspire sant mahatmas and sincere seekers.
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