Hariakhan Baba, is also known as Babaji Maharaji, Mahamunindra, Sri Sadguru, Sri Sadashiva, Mahavatar, Trayambak Baba, Hariakhan Maharaji, Mahaprabhu Ramlal etc. As per oral tradition of Kumaon division of lower Himalayas, Babaji Mahraji is said to come from Nepal, where he has a permanent place in the caves of unknown location. In Kurmachala area (the lower mountains of Himalayas) which includes the districts of Almora, Nainital and Garhwal, he is well known by the name of Hariakhan Baba. He was a teacher of yoga tradition who taught throughout northern India near the Himalayas between 1861 and 1924. His last known personal appearance is recorded to be in 1952-53.
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Babaji Maharaji, as he is referred to, is discussed in the book Hariakhan Baba: Known and Unknown by Baba Hari Dass. That collection of personal stories told by local people also recounts the last known appearance of Hariakhan Baba in 1952-53.
Several earlier accounts were also written by an Indian holy man named Sri Mahendra Baba (born in Bihar) - a long term disciple of Maharaji, who identified him as being the same person as Mahavatar Babaji, the immortal master who initiated Lahiri Mahasaya into Kriya Yoga in 1861.
- 1 Historical Background
- 2 Sources of Research
- 3 See also
- 4 Notes
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Hairakhan Babaji first appeared in hariakhan village near the year 1890. He is said to be the great yogi who appeared in many human forms at the same time through his yogic powers of kaya nirmana as described in yoga philosophy of Patanjali. According to one account he was the guru of mahayogi Gorakhnath, then named Yogi Matsyendranath. He was the Mahavatar Baba who initiated Yogi Lahiri Mahashay in almora, whose tradition still goes by the name of kriya yoga of Yogada Society.
Sources of Research
Local tradition in Kurmachala (Kumoan)
In Kurmachala area, which includes Almora district, Nainital and Garwhal (the lower Himalayas) he is well known as Hariakhan Baba. In 1890 he appeared in a cave in the Hariakhan jungle. From 1890 until 1920, he was seen in different places in Kurmachala. After that several people saw him in visions. When the dam of Lake Bhim Tal was constructed he appeared dressed as a laborer. That difficult construction was successfully completed with his assistance but he disappeared when people guessed he was not an ordinary person. "He was tall and slim-bodied, with long arms reaching to the knees and a fair complexion. He would walk very fast. His eyes were brown, and his eye-brows would move up and down which indicates that some mantra was being repeated continuously inside him. He would not sleep at all...he had great strength in his body, people would see him lifting huge rocks."
During the summers, near Gautam Ganga River, Babaji Maharaj would perform Panchagni Sevan (an austerity of Five Fires). In it, the yogi sits in the middle and gazes at the bright sun with his eyes open and does japa. Observers would notice Babaji Maharaj completely enveloped by the flames. Upon completion of that practice they saw a huge lion would come walk around Babaji, bow to his feet and then leave. Babaji explained to fearful villages that the lion would not harm anyone; that he only came to pay his respect to him.
The British commissioner Henry Ramsay (Indian Army officer) of Nainital District in 1856-1884 met Babaji Maharaj near Katgharia. The commissioner after that meeting made a tax-free grant of land in Babaji's name. In that place devotees built a temple. In Feb 24th 1958, after Sri Mahendra Brahmachari built an ashram there, a huge opening ceremony was held, including visitors from Western countries. At 11 o'clock, when yajna was going on, there appeared a light in a human form. Several people who recognized it as Hariakhan Maharaji, danced with great joy, or fainted in ecstasy.
Yogic Powers, or Siddhis
Many similar stories about Babaji Maharaj were told by local people. Some suggest he had perfect control over the five elements (tanmatras), which he proved by sitting in fire, merging with water, flying in the sky and appearing and disappearing at will (as told by Sri Bhola Datt Pande). In Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the mastery over the five elements results in various siddhis, yogic powers (vibbhuti) or "psychic powers." Those manifest as abilities beyond easy explanation, or scientific research.
The process that leads to those powers requires intense and uninterrupted concentration and sharp focus, also known as samyama. Samyama includes a rapid application of the three internal stages of yogic concentration (dharana), meditation (dhyana), and superconsciousness trance (samadhi). "The Samyam is not complete unless there is a fusion of these three processes of concentration."
Swami Satyeswarananda Giri and his views
Swami Satyeswarananda Giri and several disciples of “The Original Kriya Discipline”, describe Hariakhan Baba as "The Divine Himalayan Yogi" and "an enigma to many people". Hariakhan Babaji, was also called Trambak Baba, Siva Baba, Maheswar Baba, Pahari Baba, Munindra Baba, Govinda Bhagavan, Gopichand Baba, or the Divine Himalayan Yogi, etc. His preferred places were Vaisnabi Sakti Pith – Dunagiri Hill, and Badrinath Dham or Badrinarayan, in the Himalayas.
According to his principal disciple in Kriya Yoga tradition, Yogiraj Sri Shyama Charan Lahiri Mahasay, nobody knows his real name but Hariakhan Babaji is the spirit of Lord Krisna, "the incarnation of Lord Visnu (as per an entry of Lahiri Mahasay’s diary: Buddha Baba ohi Kisun, 'The old Father! He is Krisna')". Hariakhan Babaji "is NOT an Avatar..", but can be called "a great silent sage", or Mahamuni Babaji. His wandering lifestyle is meant to serve the spiritual beings of the world and the interplanetary systems, he loves to make visits and stayed often for a while in places in the Himalayas.
According to other descriptions Mahavatar Babaji is yet another name given to Hariakhan Baba, "The Divine Himalayan Yogi", by an Indian saint Shyāma Charan Lahirī Mahasay 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 Yogananda's own meeting with Mahavatar Babaji. In this context, there exist apparent and substantial difference with the views supported by Swami Satyeswarananda Giri and his school of Kriya Yoga tradition. Hariakhan Babaji was "Not an Avatar," out of the Ten Avatars of Vishnu (Dashavatara), but was rather "the incarnation of Lord Vishnu."
Sri Mahendra Brahmachari - research
Born in Bihar in a Brahmin family, he was well learned in scriptures as well as in Sanskrit, Hindi, Bengali, and Gujarati. In 1949, at Siddashram, he had a vision of Babaji Maharaj. He collected information from the old people in Ranikhet area and proved that Hariakhan Mahraji and Babaji Mahraji, guru of Lahiri Mahasaya, were one and the same person. In the book Blessings and Precepts he wrote, "In the autumn of 1861 Sri Lahiri Mahasaya got the first darshan of Sri Sri Baba (Hariakhan Baba). This place is situated 14 miles away from Ranikhet on a high peak of Dronagiri at the foot of Nanda Devi (the source of the Ganges).." This author concludes that from the description of Babaji Maharaj in Autobiography of a Yogi, from existing portraits of him, from the bust cast of him by Niels Olft Cressander, and from other visual evidence it is possible to conclusively say that it is one and the same person.
Baba Hari Dass - experience
Baba Hari Dass was born in 1923 in Almora and grew in the region where appearances of Hariakhan Baba took place. He was well aware of the oral tradition regarding that legendary yogi. His personal interest and extensive knowledge of the region is an important contribution in the research about Hariakhan Baba. He visited several places where Hariakhan Baba and other siddha saints lived and collected stories about them.
Babaji Maharaji, as he is referred to, is discussed in his book Hariakhan Baba: Known and Unknown (1975). That collection of personal accounts of witnesses includes stories that were told based on experience of Hariakhan Baba. He also recounts his own experience of 1952-53. When he lived in a cave in a burial place called Ghati, during a wintertime, he had a fire going inside. In meditation, "I fainted and fell down to my left side. The fire was burning, and I was very close to it. I saw Hariakhan Maharaji come into the room and bend over me.., removing my left arm from the fire pit... I stood up and came out to bow to his feet, but he had disappeared." That date might be the last known account of Hariakhan Baba in person.
Roy Eugene Davis
Roy Eugene Davis, a direct personal disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda and former minister of the Self-Realization Fellowship Phoenix Temple, professed a similar belief in his book Life Surrendered in God: The Philosophy and Practices of Kriya Yoga by recounting Baba Hari Dass' story of Hariakhan Baba as recorded in Hariakhan Baba: Known and Unknown and including a full-page photograph of Hariakhan Baba, lifted from the same book, with the label "Mahavatar Babaji."
In his book Living with the Himalayan Masters, on page 130 of the online version, Swami Rama gives his view: "Hariakhan Baba, who was very famous in the Kumayun hills, and who is considered by some to be the eternal Babaji of the Himalayas, was taught by my grandmaster."
- Mahavatar Babaji - Hariakhan Baba was identified as the same as Mahavatar Babaji by Mahendra Baba
- Haidakhan Babaji - a teacher who appeared in northern India and taught publicly from 1970 to 1984
- Baba Hari Dass, Hariakhan Baba Known, Unknown, Sri Rama Publishing; p.76
- Baba Hari Dass, 1976, p.76
- The Encyclopedia of Cults, Sects, and New Religions, pp. 368-369
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- White, David Gordon; Dominik Wujastyk (2012). Yoga In Practice. Princeton: Princeton UP. p. 34.
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- Sri Mahendra Brahmachari, Blessings and Precepts, p.31-32
- Hari Dass, Baba (February 1975). Hariakhan Baba, Known, Unknown (1st ed.). Davis, CA: Sri Rama Foundation Inc. p. 78. ISBN 978-0918100009
- Baba Hari Dass, Hariakhan, p.77
- Surrendered Love, Redeeming Grace ISBN 0-87707-235-3
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- Baba Hari Dass, Hariakhan Baba—Known, Unknown; Sri Rama Foundation; 1975; Santa Cruz, CA; ISBN 0-918100-00-3
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- Baba Hari Dass, Sweeper to Saint—Cave of Enlightement; Sri Ram Publishing|year, 1980, Santa Cruz, CA, ISBN 978-0-918000-38-5
- Swami Rama, Living with the Himalayan Masters, online edition,
- Sri Mahendra Brahmachari, Blessings and Precepts; Sambe Sadashiva Kunk, Gopinath Bazar, Brahmakund, Vrindaban, UP, p. 31-32.
- About Babaji from Hariakhan
- Mahavatar Babaji, Chapter 33 of Paramhansa Yogananda's Autobiography of a Yogi.
- Rama, Swami (2010). "Living with the Himalayan Masters" (PDF). Himalayan INstitute. Retrieved Aug 29, 2014.