Shangri La and Shambhala

When we think of Shambhala or Shangri La it is usually considered some paradise very hard to find in or near the Himalayas. In fact the word Shangri La comes from a 1933 British novel but it is thought to be based on the Buddhist pure land Shambhala, which was considered the village where the Maitreya lived and the future messiah Kalki was born. I guess it is worth looking at an extract from the Wiki article on this first:

“In Tibetan Buddhist and Hindu traditions, Shambhala (Sanskrit: शम्भलः Śambhalaḥ, also spelled Shambala or Shamballa or “Shambhallah”; Tibetan: བདེ་འབྱུང, Wylie: bde ‘byung; Chinese: 香巴拉; pinyin: xiāngbālā) is a mythical kingdom. It is mentioned in various ancient texts, including the Kalacakra Tantra[2] and the ancient Zhangzhung texts of western Tibet. The Bon scriptures speak of a closely related land called Tagzig Olmo Lung Ring.

Hindu texts such as the Vishnu Purana (4.24) mention the village Shambhala as the birthplace of Kalki, the final incarnation of Vishnu who will usher in a new Golden Age (Satya Yuga).

The legends, teachings and healing practices associated with Shambhala are older than any of these organized religions. Shambhala may very well have been an indigenous belief system, an Alti-Himalayan shamanic tradition, absorbed into these other faiths. This pre-existing belief system, also called Mleccha (from Vedic Sanskrit म्लेच्छ mleccha, meaning “non-Vedic”), and the amazing abilities, wisdom and long life of these ‘sun worshipers‘ (the Siddhi from the Vedic Sanskrit सिद्धि of the ancient Surya Samadhi समाधि) is documented in both the Buddhist and Hindu texts. Whatever its historical basis, Shambhala (spelling derived from the Buddhist transliterations) gradually came to be seen as a Buddhist pure land, a fabulous kingdom whose reality is visionary or spiritual as much as physical or geographic. It was in this form that the Shambhala myth reached Western Europe and the Americas, where it influenced non-Buddhist as well as Buddhist spiritual seekers — and, to some extent, popular culture in general.

Shambhala is ruled over by Maitreya, the future buddha. The Kalacakra tantra prophesies that when the world declines into war and greed, and all is lost, the 25th Kalki king will emerge from Shambhala with a huge army to vanquish “Dark Forces” and usher in a worldwide Golden Age. Using calculations from the Kalachakra Tantra, scholars such as Alex Berzin put this date at 2424.…” Wikipedia

There is much more of interest there but that will do for the moment. It could be anywhere in fact but here is an interesting contender you may not have heard of which is still an earthly paradise:

“Kumaon (Hindi: कुमाऊं) or Kumaun is one of the two regions and administrative divisions of Uttarakhand, a mountainous state of northern India, the other being Garhwal. It includes the districts of Almora, Bageshwar, Champawat, Nainital, Pithoragarh, and Udham Singh Nagar. It is bounded on the north by Tibet, on the east by Nepal, on the south by the state of Uttar Pradesh, and on the west by the Garhwal region. The people of Kumaon are known as Kumaonis and speak the Kumaoni language.” Wikipedia

This next part may or may not be true but is often reported. In some ways it sounds like the tale told by Brunton in his Secret Egypt book or Castaneda’s stories from Mexico but as there are so many similar tales related it will do.

The mystery of immortal beings in the Himalayas This is an incident of 1942 when the king of Kumaon invited an army officer of Western Command, LP. Farrel for a picnic trip to the hills. There was a special reason for inviting Mr. Farrel; in spite of his being a Britisher he was very much interested in Indian religion, philosophy and culture. He had a few opportunities of witnessing demonstration of miraculous feats of some Indian yogis. He had become a pure vegetarian. That is why he always welcomed any opportunity to go towards the Himalayan wilderness, with the hope of meeting some saint or yogi who could initiate him into spiritual sadhana.

Mr. Farrel, the king and the queen and their entourage reached a place near Nainital full of natural beauty. It so enchanted them that they decided to camp overnight there. So, the dozens of tents were pitched and the lonely place got filled with the hustle and bustle of servants. Gossip, merriment, eating and drinking went on till midnight. Everyone went to bed and due to exhaustion of the whole day’s exertions, immediately slipped into deep sleep. The first phase of the sleep was hardly over when Mr. Farrel felt that there was someone near his cot. He waked up and clearly listened-“We need the place where your tents have been pitched. You vacate this place. If you are unable to understand, then you should come to that northwestern hill in front of you. I will explain you everything.” “But who are you?” – saying this Mr. Farrel got up from the bed and lit his torch. But there was no one. He came out of the tent but there too no one could be seen nor heard anyone’s footsteps. After a momentary fear he became normal and then went back to his bed again for sleeping. It was 3.30 AM by his watch.

Despite his best efforts he could not sleep. Somehow he was keeping his eyes shut. Again he felt someone’s presence. Still lying on the bed he opened the eyes and he saw a shadow of a person standing in front of him. This time again he uttered the same words. In order to identify that person, as soon as Mr. Farrel lit the torch, even the shadow vanished. His body started shaking and perspiring. This army officer who did not get frightened even by watching the horrible bloodshed in the war, momentarily got un-nerved and dumbfounded by mere imagination of a supernatural being. He lay awake in his bed with his eyes closed till the morning but heard nothing. A strange attraction was arousing within him to see the hill mentioned by the shadowy presence. He put on his clothes and shoes and silently came out of the tent and walked towards that hill.

Describing this incident Mr. Farrel has himself written: “The way to the place where I was directed to reach was very difficult, narrow and dangerous. I was not at all able to climb up by myself but I was constantly feeling that somebody was showing me the way and was providing me the energy to climb up. After a hard effort of three and a half hours I could climb up. It seemed difficult to go ahead due to heavy breathing and perspiration. So I sat down on a square stone, lying down on it to take some rest. Hardly two minutes had passed and the same voice awakened me. ‘Mr. Farrel! Now you put off your shoes and slowly climb down the stone and come to me. With these words in the ears, I looked around and saw that a saint, with very weak constitution but brilliant splendor on the forehead, was standing in front of me. Leave aside the acquaintance, I had never met or seen him earlier. Then how could he know my name? He was here, then how did his shadow reach in my tent in the night? There was no communication link like a radio or a microphone etc between us. Then how could his voice reach me? Several such questions arose in my mind. Putting a stop to the unending trail of questions the sadhu said-whatever you have heard and seen cannot be understood by ordinary human mind. For this purpose one has to do long sadhanaand the practice of yoga, abandoning the worldly pleasures and attraction of the senses. There is a specific purpose for which you have been called here.”

Farrel could not make out whether the saintly person was a human being or a god. The thoughts arising in his mind were being constantly read by that person like an open book. Mr. Farrel climbed down the rock and in a short time reached the place where the Sadhu was sitting. The place was so small that only one person could take rest there. There was nothing except the fire burning in the Dhooni (firepit).

Farrel further writes- “The Sadhu patted me on the back with his weak hand and I was stunned how could this electricity like power be there in that old body. My body that was almost breaking with pain due to exhaustion – now seemed light like a flower. As an humble gesture of respect for him I knelt down and touched his feet. I had seen many sadhus; but I have always felt that sahdus and saints who had influenced Indian philosophy and increased its dignity were not those who were roaming around on the roads but they were truly such secluded and devoted persons only. Their physical bodies might weigh 80-90 pounds but intensity of their energy and power was more than that of thousand bombs and they were the storehouses of knowledge.”

The Sadhu told me-“I have inspired a youth to reach the place where your tents have been pitched. He was my disciple in his previous birth. His sadhana is half-completed. Now I want to guide him again to undertake his sadhana and penance for the universal welfare. But the memories of his previous birth are dormant. The impressions and circumstances of this birth are attracting him. Therefore he is unable to take up the sadhana again. I have called him through subtle inspiration. If he comes here and is unable to locate the directed place, then he will get confused. In that event, whatever I want will not become possible, Therefore, please vacate that place immediately.”

Mr. Farrel said – “Lord! Please tell me also a few things about my previous birth “? The Sadhu replied-“My son! These siddhis (accomplishments) are not for demonstration. They are meant for some special purposes and it is better they are utilized for that only. Of course, if you wish you can be present at the time when I show him the events of his previous birth. Now you go. People are searching for you in the camp. I too am in a hurry.”

Mr. Farrel returned to the camp. Indeed, people had been searching for him. Mr. Farrel narrated the incident to the king. They then left that place and pitched the camp some 200 yards away.

By the evening of that day a young man did indeed come searching for that place. After satisfying himself in all respects, he sat down there. In the meantime, Mr. Farrel also reached there. His curiosity was getting more and more intense as the time passed. In a short while sadhu too reached there. Mr. Farel and the young man touched his feet and stood waiting for his instructions. That place was in the centre of a grove of trees.. After lighting the fire sadhu did some puja, recited some mantras and told us to sit down in a meditating posture. A ray of light emanated from his forehead and a circular spot of light appeared on the trunk of a thick tree. Then whatever was seen in the spot was just like a cinema where they saw the characters actually walking and talking. Like a movie, they saw the events of the previous birth of that youth with their own naked eyes. In between that youth used to get excited and would say – ‘Yes-yes I had done that’.

At the end, that youth touched the feet of that sadhu and said “Lord! Now my attachment with the mundane world is broken. I am ready to take up the unfinished sadhana of my previous life. Please guide me so that I can complete the unfinished task.”

The Sadhu said – “My son! Today you take rest here. In the morning, you return to your home. At an appropriate time, I will call you.” After that Mr Farrel did not know when that youth was called again? What he became later and with what name he became popular? But he became a staunch devotee of Indian religion and spirituality. This incident has been narrated by Mr. Farrel himself in an article in the May 17, 1959 issue of Saptahik Hindustan (a weekly Hindi magazine).

(Note that Farrel had become a vegetarian and this may well have been more spiritual than physical, even a vivid dream if it is true)

Yogi Sri Shyama Charan Lahiri, popularly known as Lahiri Mahashay, in the book “An autobiography of a Yogi”, by Swami Yogananda. Lahiri Mahashay happened to be Yoganand’s Dada Guru. He too was called by Babaji, an immortal siddha of Himalayas, who taught him the science of kriya yoga so that this knowledge does not become extinct.

Indian scriptures are filled with descriptions of immortal souls like Shiva, Bhairav, Hanuman, Ashwatthama and many siddhas. There is a story in Kalki Purana, which goes like this. When Lord Kalki saw that the entire world has sunk neck-deep in perversities like sex indulgence, anger, greed, attachment, ego, laziness, etc. and the light of the souls had been extinguished, he decided to guide the masses groping in the darkness of ignorance. The darkness was dense. The entire world was badly trapped in the materialistic pursuits and the pleasures of the senses. Lord Kalki felt that he lacked the power required for this awakening of the masses. Then his spiritual mentor Parashuram called him to the Himalayas and made him undertake a penance at a place where he (Parashuram) had himself done it. This penance awakened the enormous power, which was needed for the transformation of the era, within Kalki. Lord Parshuram was born in Vedic Yuga, which came much earlier than the Kaliyuga. His presence in Kaliyuga too is an indication of his immortality and a testimony of the fact that immortal souls like him are still present in the Himalayas. Dr. Hari Dutta Bhatta, Shailesh has given an interesting description of his mountaineering experience of Janwali (Garhwal) hill, which is 22000 feet above the sea level, in Dharmayuga (Hindi weekly, 23 rd August 1964 issue). He was convinced that some supernormal power saved him and his group from getting buried under a landslide. All these incidents prove the fact that immortal souls possessing fierce supernatural power are still present in the Himalayas and they will remain there for an infinite time.

Modern scientists are also actively engaged in the research for finding the elixir of life. Zoologists of Russia, France, Britain, Germany, USA, etc. have been investigating for a long time the process of aging and death. On the basis of the results obtained so far, they have concluded that death is not an inevitable phenomenon. Aging is a kind of disease. If it be possible to find a cure for it, a person could live for a thousand years. The modes and methods of kayakalpa (rejuvenation) mentioned in Ayurveda also prove this fact.

In fact death is the result of collapse of life sustaining mechanism in the body. The gradual reduction in the efficiency of the body organs is the cause of senility, leading to death. If the life sustaining mechanisms are kept healthy and if the process of cell renewal is kept intact, a human being could be kept alive for an infinite time. Genes are immortal so there is no inevitability of bodily death.

After studying Ayurveda, one can easily conclude that ancient seers and scholars had identified several herbs, fruits and chemicals, which help in the rejuvenation of the body. There is a popular phrase. “A person does not eat food; it is the food that eats up a person.” Our physical body is nourished by blood. The latter provides oxygen to the entire body. Oxygen and other nerve fluids sustain consciousness in the body. All this is accomplished through emotions. It is the thoughts and emotions that give rise to secretions of hormones. These hormones control the metabolic processes within the body. Therefore, it appears that the responsibility of keeping the body healthy rests with our emotions and thoughts which are the real essence of life. There is a bird called ‘Salyon’, which gets sick after laying eggs. After investigation it has been found that after laying the eggs, her pituitary gland (which is centre of thoughts and emotions), gets excited and it starts secreting a hormone called A.C.T.H in huge quantities, which leads to her sickness. This has been found in the case of some other creatures as well. This shows that, if a person makes his thought process robustly positive and keeps his food light, he can keep himself alive and active for a long time.

Modern science has no knowledge of the thought control mechanism. Is there any power in the sentiments, which can catch in its purest form the life (genes) floating in the sky? This vidya (knowledge) is known only to Indian yogis. But now scientists too are agreeing with this. For example in 1975 some zoologists of Strasberg carried out an experiment for changing the genes of a duck. Two ducks, one of Campbell variety and the other of Pekish variety, were chosen. The DNA of the first were injected in the second and that of the second one were injected in the first. This gave rise to change in the color of both. Within a few days the dust colour of Campbell started appearing in the Pekish variety and the neck of Campbell variety started getting white.

Science can perform only a few experiments of this type. Changing one or two chromosomes is the first step towards success. The reproductive cells of a human being contain about 10 billions pairs of nucleotides and every pair has 46 chromosomes. It is difficult to change the behavior of a person without changing them. Then there are several cells in the body, which after being formed never change. The question of keeping them healthy is much a more daunting task. It will take a long time for science to search the solution for this. But that knowledge already exists in the science of yoga and Indian chemical methods. This needs unbiased scientific research of a different type. This depends on appropriate environment in addition to difficult sadhanas. For this purpose scientists have suggested that atmospheric temperature should be subzero. Mr Clark in his book ‘Space Odyssey’ has written that in order to undertake space voyage lasting for 200 to 400 yrs, it will be essential to keep the space voyager in the sleeping state at sub zero temperatures. Looked at from this scientific finding, the existence of immortal beings in the perennially frozen regions of the Himalayas cannot be considered as a myth.

In fact, Himalayan region has been a special haven of true Yogis and Mahatmas from times immemorial. The likes of great yogis who have lived in this sacred region cannot be found elsewhere. It is said that there is Gyangaj Yogashram in Tibet, which is a training institute for yogis. Hundreds of such yogis are reported to be living and researching into the mysteries of the inner realms. This Siddhashram isolate in the subtle-physical realm is not accessible or visible to ordinary persons. Only psychically awakened and gifted Sadhaks have the privilege of entry into this Siddhashram. “

What can one say? We are neck deep in a corruptly run world and there seems to be no escape or cure. But Kumaon is one of those places less affected. It is not full of backpackers yet and commands the most extraordinary views while its people have not succumbed to the western madness of getting rich quick at any cost. I am stating here that in our own homes and minds we can find this Shangri La if we adapt to its requirements and look for it.”

Make of that what you will but I better finish the job. This is Babaji said to be 1800 years old:

Mahavatar Babaji (IPA: [Mahāvatār Bābājī]; born 30 November 203 CE) is the name given to an Indian saint and yogi by Lahiri Mahasaya and several of his disciples who met Mahavatar Babaji between 1861 and 1935. Some of these meetings were described by Paramahansa Yogananda in his book Autobiography of a Yogi, including a first hand telling of Yogananda’s own meeting with Mahavatar Babaji. Another first hand account was given by Yukteswar Giri in his book The Holy Science. According to Sri M’s autobiography (Apprenticed to a Himalayan Master) Sri Guru Babaji, i.e., Mahavatar Babaji was Lord Shiva. In the second last chapter of his book, he mentions Sri Guru Babaji changing his form to Lord Shiva. All of these accounts, along with additional meetings with Mahavatar Babaji, are described in various biographies of those mentioned by Yogananda.

Mahavatar Babaji’s given name is unknown, so those who met him during that period all called him by the title first given to him by Lahirī. “Mahavatar” means “great avatar”, and “Babaji” simply means “revered father”. Some of the encounters included two or more witnesses—discussions between those who met Mahavatar Babaji indicate that they all met the same person.” Wikipedia

The explanation is ‘bilocation’ which I have written about here previously….

“There are very few accounts of Babaji’s childhood. One source of information is the book Babaji and the 18 Siddha Kriya Yoga tradition by Marshall Govindan. According to Govindan, Babaji was named Nagarajan (king of serpents) by his parents. V.T. Neelakantan and S.A.A. Ramaiah founded on 17 October 1952, (they claim – at the request of Babaji) a new organisation, “Kriya Babaji Sangah,” dedicated to the teaching of Babaji’s Kriya Yoga. They claim that in 1953 Mahavatar Babaji told them that he had been born on 30 November 203 CE in a small coastal village now known as Parangipettai, in Tamil Nadu, India. Babaji’s Kriya Yoga Order of Acharyas Trust (Kriya Babaji Sangah) and their branch organisations claim his place and date of birth. He was a disciple of Bogar and his birth name is Nagarajan.

In the writings of Paramahansa Yogananda in his Autobiography of a Yogi, many references were made to Mahavatar Babaji including from Lahirī and Yukteshwar. In his book The Second Coming of Christ, Yogananda states that Jesus Christ went to India and conferred with Mahavatar Babaji. This would make Babaji at least 2000 years old. According to Govindan’s book, Babaji Nagaraj’s father was the priest of the village’s temple. Babaji revealed only those details which he believed to be formative as well as potentially instructive to his disciples. Govindan mentioned one incident like this: “One time Nagaraj’s mother had got one rare jackfruit for a family feast and put it aside. Babaji was only 4 years old at that time. He found the jackfruit when his mother was not around and ate it all. When his mother came to know about it, she flew in blind rage and stuffed a cloth inside Babaji’s mouth, nearly suffocating him, but he survived. Later on he thanked God for showing him that she was to be loved without attachment or illusion. His Love for his mother became unconditional and detached.”

When Nagaraj was about 5 years old, someone kidnapped him and sold him as a slave at Calcutta (Now Kolkata). His new owner however was a kind man and he freed Nagaraj shortly thereafter. Nagaraj then joined a small group of wandering sannyāsin due to their radiant faces and love for God. During the next few years, he wandered from place to place, studying holy scriptures like the Vedas, Upanishad, Mahabharata, Ramayana, Bhagavad Gita.

Quest for Self-realization

According to Marshall Govindan’s book, at the age of eleven, he made a difficult journey on foot and boat with a group of ascetics to Kataragama, Sri Lanka. Nagaraj met Siddha Bhogarnathar and became his disciple. Nagaraj performed intensive yogic sadhana for a long time with him. Bhogarnather inspired Nagaraj to seek his initiation into Kriya Kundalini Pranayam from Siddha Agastya. Babaji became a disciple of Siddha Agastya. Nagaraj was initiated into the secrets of Kriya Kundalini Pranayama or “Vasi Yogam”. Babaji made a long pilgrimage to Badrinath and spent eighteen months practising yogic kriya taught to him by Siddha Agastya and Bhogarnathar. Babaji attained self-realization shortly thereafter. They (who?) also claim that these revelations were made by Babaji himself to S.A.A. Ramaiah, a young graduate student in geology at the University of Madras and V.T. Neelakantan, a famous journalist, and close student of Annie Besant, President of the Theosophical Society and mentor of Krishnamurti. Babaji was said to have appeared to each of them independently and then brought them together to work for his Mission in 1942.

Reports of meetings, 1861–1966

Shyāmacharan Lahirī

Main article: Lahiri Mahasaya

The first reported encounter with Mahavatar Babaji was in 1861, when Shyāmacharan Lahirī (called “Mahāsaya” by disciples, devotees, and admirers) was posted to Ranikhet in his work as an accountant for the British government. One day while walking in the hills of Dunagiri above Ranikhet, he heard a voice calling his name. Following the voice up the mountain, he met a “tall, divinely radiant sadhu.” He was amazed to find that the sadhu knew his name. This sadhu was Mahavatar Babaji.

Mahavatar Babaji told Lahirī that he was his guru from the past, then initiated him into Kriya Yoga and instructed Lahiri to initiate others. Lahiri wanted to remain with Mahavatar Babaji, who told him instead that he must return to the world to teach Kriya Yoga and that “Kriya Yoga sadhana would spread through the people of the world through his (Lahiri’s) presence in the world.”

Lahirī reported that Mahavatar Babaji did not give his name or background, so Lahiri gave him the title “Mahavatar Babaji.” Many sadhus in India are called Babaji, and sometimes even “Babaji Maharaj”, which has caused confusion between Mahavatar Babaji and other sadhus with similar names.

Lahirī had many meetings with Mahavatar Babaji, recounted in several books, including Paramhansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi, Yogiraj Shyama Charan Lahiri Mahasaya (Lahiri’s biography), and Purana Purusha: Yogiraj Sri Shama Churn Lahiri, among others.

The references of Sri Lahiri mahasaya in Sampoorna Sripada Vallabha Charitam, as the guru of Sri Shirdi Saibaba and initiating him to kriya yoga.

Disciples of Shyāmacharan Lahirī

Several disciples of Shyāmacharan Lahirī also said that they had met Babaji. Through discussion with each other, and the fact that some of these encounters included two or more witnesses, they confirmed that the person they saw was the same sadhu that Lahirī called Mahavatar Babaji. In 1894, at the Kumbha Mela in Allahabad, Yukteswar Giri, a disciple of Lahirī, met Mahavatar Babaji. He was surprised by the striking resemblance between Lahirī and Mahavatar Babaji. Others who met Babaji also commented on the resemblance. It was at this meeting that Mahavatar Babaji instructed Sri Yukteswar to write the book that was to become Kaivalya Darshanam, or The Holy Science. Yukteswar had two more meetings with Mahavatar Babaji, including one in the presence of Lahiri Mahasaya.

Pranabananda Giri, another disciple of Lahirī, also met Mahavatar Babaji in the presence of Lahirī, at Lahirī’s home. Pranabananda asked Mahavatar Babaji his age. Mahavatar Babaji responded that he was about 500 years old at that time.

Keshabananda, a disciple of Lahirī, tells of meeting Mahavatar Babaji in the mountains near Badrinath around 1935, after he became lost wandering in the mountains. At that meeting, Pranabananda reported that Babaji gave him a message for Paramahansa Yogananda, that “I won’t see him this time, as he is eagerly hoping; but I shall see him on some other occasion.” In his book Autobiography of a Yogi, Paramahansa Yogananda wrote that Mahavatar Babaji visited him before his journey to America and addressed him saying, “You are the one I have chosen to spread the message of Kriya Yoga in the West.”

Other disciples of Lahirī who reported meetings with Mahavatar Babaji include Kebalananda Giri and Ram Gopal Muzumdar, who recounted meeting Mahavatar Babaji and his sister, whom he called Mataji. In addition, a disciple of Trailanga Swami, Shankari Mata (also called Shankari Mai Jiew) met Mahavatar Babaji while visiting Lahiri Mahasaya.

Traditional legends

Legendary powers and age have been attributed to Mahavatar Babaji by the disciples of Lahirī. These stories have led many to believe that Mahavatar Babaji is a legendary person, rather than a real sadhu that was seen by numerous witnesses from 1861 to 1935.

Paramahansa Yogananda, in his Autobiography, described Mahavatar Babaji’s role on earth:

The Mahavatar is in constant communion with Christ; together they send out vibrations of redemption, and have planned the spiritual technique of salvation for this age. The work of these two fully-illumined masters–one with the body, and one without it–is to inspire the nations to forsake suicidal wars, race hatreds, religious sectarianism, and the boomerang-evils of materialism. Babaji is well aware of the trend of modern times, especially of the influence and complexities of Western civilization, and realizes the necessity of spreading the self-liberations of yoga equally in the West and in the East.

In addition, Babaji is reputed to be ageless, according to some accounts, and about 500 years old around the late 1800s, according to Pranabananda. Yogananda reports that, according to the disciples of Lahirī, nobody knows Babaji’s age, family, place of birth, true name, or other details “dear to the annalist’s heart.”

According to Yogananda’s autobiography, he has a sister called Mataji (meaning “Holy Mother”) who also has lived throughout the centuries. Her level of spiritual attainment is comparable to her brother’s, and she lives in a state of spiritual ecstasy in an underground cave. Although only three pages in the book are dedicated to her, she is described by Ram Gopal as “young and surpassingly lovely” as well as a “glorious woman.”

Yogananda frequently prayed out loud to “Babaji-Krishna.”

Modern claims and popular references

Mahavatar Babaji was one of the many people featured on the cover of The Beatles’ 1967 album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. He can also be seen on the cover of George Harrison‘s 1974 album Dark Horse.

In Book 3 of Conversations with God (1998), by Neale Donald Walsch, it is suggested that Babaji may at one time have resurrected himself from the dead.

In the Book Ultimate Journey (1994), by Robert Monroe Monroe visits a person through his astral projection (although no name is mentioned) who turns out to have lived one single life for 1800 years, which would suggest that he was born around 203 CE.

The 2002 Tamil film Baba written by Rajinikanth was based on Babaji. Swami Maheshwarananda writes in his book The hidden power in humans, that the Guru of the legendary Babaji is Sri Alakh Puriji.

In his autobiography Apprenticed to a Himalayan master: a yogi’s autobiography (2010), Sri M (Mumtaz Ali) narrates his meeting with Babaji near Neelkant hill. In his book, Sri M gave description of Babaji as golden complexioned, bare-bodied, except for a shining white loin cloth that barely reached the knees, and flowing brown hair that fell to his shoulders. He mentioned that a lovely scent emanated from Babaji and he looked divine. In the second last chapter of his book, he mentions that Babji himself was Lord Shiva. He describes seeing Babaji changing his form to Lord Shiva again and again. He also mentions that SaiBaba, Yesu, Guru Nanak and many others were disciples of Mahavatar Babaji.

Songwriter Roger Hodgson of English rock band Supertramp composed a song called ‘Babaji’ in reference to Mahavatar Babaji. This song is recorded on their 1977 album Even in the Quietest Moments…” Wikipedia

Nagaraj is also the name of the old wood carver from Bangalore who stayed with me in London in 1984 on his European tour and left me this piece he had made for me in India before he came apparently knowing that we would meet. He was perplexed when I insisted he sleep in my bed and I sleep on the sofa. He was all for sleeping on the floor but he left me a golden charm of Shiva in the bed when he left. He knew Coonoor well which was where my father was born in 1912. My father was still alive at that time but they never met.

Very seldom has anyone made anything for me if I exclude many wonderful meals and I was stunned when Nagaraj took it out of his suitcase. Here is another hidden master.

feb2016 024

The assorted clutter includes a tiny spider trapped in some amber many millions of years ago, a flint arrow head, a dinosaur tooth found in Egypt, a Celtic bangle made of electrum, a Sumerian shell hair ring, an obsidian awl from prehistoric America and a tin full of pebbles and pottery shards I have collected on my travels.


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