Neem Karoli Baba

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Neem Karoli Baba
Born Lakshmi Narayan Sharma
(Date of birth unknown)
Akbarpur, British India
Died September 11, 1973
Vrindavan, India
Era 20th century philosophy
Region Indian philosophy
School Bhakti
Main interests Unconditional Love, Rama, Hanuman, Christ, spirituality

Neem Karoli Baba (Hindi: नीम करोली बाबा) or Neeb Karori Baba (Hindi: नीब करौरी बाबा) (died September 11, 1973, in Vrindavan, India), also known to followers as Maharaj-ji, was a Hindu guru and devotee of the Hindu deity Hanuman. He is known outside India for being the guru of a number of Americans who travelled to India in the 1960s and 1970s, the most well-known being the spiritual teachers Ram Dass and Bhagavan Das, and the musicians Krishna Das and Jai Uttal. His ashrams are in Kainchi,[1] Vrindavan, Rishikesh, Shimla, Bhumiadhar, Hanuman Gadi, Lucknow, Delhi in India and in Taos, New Mexico, USA.

Early life and family[edit]

The exact details of Neem Karoli Baba's birth and early years are not known.

Sadhu and guru[edit]

Neem Karoli Baba Sculpture in a Ram Dass's library

He left his home around the time when his youngest child (daughter) was eleven (1958) and wandered extensively throughout northern India as a sadhu. During this time he was known under many names including Lakshman Das, Handi Wallah Baba, and Tikonia Walla Baba. When he did tapasya and sadhana at Bavania in Gujarat, he was known as Tallaiya Baba. In Vrindavan, local inhabitants addressed him by the name of Chamatkari Baba (miracle baba).[2]

Neem Karoli was a lifelong adept of bhakti yoga, and encouraged service to others (seva) as the highest form of unconditional devotion to God. In the book Miracle of Love, compiled by Ram Dass, a devotee named Anjani shares the following account:

There can be no biography of him. Facts are few, stories many. He seems to have been known by different names in many parts of India,

appearing and disappearing through the years. His non-Indian devotees of recent years knew him as Neem Karoli Baba, but mostly as “Maharajji” – a nickname so commonplace in India that one can often hear a tea vendor addressed thus. Just as he said, he was "nobody". He gave no discourses; the briefest, simplest stories were his teachings. Usually he sat or lay on a wooden bench wrapped in a plaid blanket while a few devotees sat around him. Visitors came and went; they were given food, a few words, a nod, a slap on the head or back, and they were sent away. There was gossip and laughter for he loved to joke. Orders for running the ashram were given, usually in a piercing yell across the compound. Sometimes he sat in silence, absorbed in another world to which we could not follow, but bliss and peace poured down on us. Who he was no more than the experience of him, the nectar of his presence, the totality of his absence...[2]

Teaching[edit]

Baba Neem Karoli's Ashram in Taos is dedicated to his saying: "Love everyone, serve everyone."[citation needed]

Notable disciples[edit]

Among the most well known of Neem Karoli Baba's disciples were, Ram Dass, the author of Be Here Now, teacher/performer Bhagavan Das, Lama Surya Das and the musicians Jai Uttal and Krishna Das. Other notable devotees include humanitarian Larry Brilliant and his wife Girija, Dada Mukerjee (former professor at Allahabad University, Uttar Pradesh, India), and scholar and writer Yvette Rosser. Baba Hari Dass was also a disciple who maintained one of the ashrams before heading to the USA to become a spiritual teacher. Steve Jobs, along with his friend Dan Kottke, traveled to India in 1973 to meet Neem Karoli Baba, but arrived after the guru died in September of that year.[3] Hollywood actress Julia Roberts was also influenced by Neem Karoli Baba. A picture of him drew Roberts to Hinduism.[4]

Foundations[edit]

After returning to the United States, Ram Dass and Larry Brilliant founded the Seva Foundation, an international health organization based in Berkeley California that is committed to applying the teachings of Neem Karoli Baba toward ending world poverty. One of Seva's greatest accomplishments is to have helped return eyesight to nearly 3 million blind people suffering from cataract blindness in countries like Tibet, Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Cambodia and throughout Africa. The organization also has a Native American Community Health Program that works to fight an epidemic of diabetes in Native communities throughout the United States.[citation needed]

In the late 2000s another Foundation evolved, the 'Love Serve Remember Foundation', whose purpose is to preserve and continue the teachings of Neem Karoli Baba and Ram Dass.[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ 29°25′19″N 79°30′45″E / 29.4220°N 79.5125°E / 29.4220; 79.5125 Kainchi Dham
  2. ^ a b Ram Dass (1995). Miracle of Love: Stories about Neem Karoli Baba. Hanuman Foundation. ISBN 1-887474-00-5
  3. ^ "Sought 'enlightenment' in India- The Times of India". Timesofindia.indiatimes.com. 2011-10-06. Retrieved 2012-04-05. 
  4. ^ "Julia Roberts' Journey in 'Eat Pray Love'". ABC News. August 9, 2010. Retrieved October 6, 2010. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]