Abuses, Jokes, and Caresses

Neem Karoli Baba MaharajjiBabaji's ways were so peculiar. You could not imagine that such a saint could behave just like a child or like an ordinary person indulging in all kinds of jokes and mock fights, trying to provoke or embarrass people.

Ram Dass and other westerners used to come to me and complain that I did not translate everything Babaji said. The difficulty was that nobody could translate his abuses. He would go on saying, "Dada is an M.A., Dada is an M.A."

One day when he was abusing everyone much, I said to him, "You are also an M.A."

"How? How?"

"I am a Master of Arts; you are a Master of Abuses!"

He laughed, "Yes, yes, I go on abusing so much."

Many of the western devotees got married while they were with Babaji; others were living together although not actually married. Among these were a fellow C. and an Australian girl, Uma. She sent a telegram to me in Vrindaban saying, "I have had a son. Please ask Baba to give him a name."

The next morning when I went to Babaji's room he said, "You had a telegram last night? What was it? I told him Uma had a son and asked him to give a name. He said, "Wherefrom shall I get a name? All right, Dada, give him the name Khutka butka!" [Hocus-pocus!]

Siddhi Didi and Jivanti were there and they said, "What is this? Is it a name? Give the son of Uma a good name."

"You wretched women, wherefrom shall I get a good name? All the good names have been taken by ugly persons like you!" I just stayed quiet and waited for his fun to be over. After some time he said, "All right, give the name Ganesh. Uma [another name for Parvati] is the mother of Ganesh."

Later in the summer we were in Kainchi and again a telegram came for me from the States. It was delievered to me when I was with Baba. He immediately wanted to know, "What is it? What is it?" I told him who it was from. He said, "What do they want?" I told him they were going to have a baby and they wanted Baba to give a name. "What have you understood?" he asked me.

"What is there to understand? You have got to give a name."

"You are a fool!" he cried. "You don't understand. A name is given when a child is born. The child is not yet born, but they want a name. That is a trap for you—that you will extract a name from me and they will know if it will be a boy or a girl!" He told me not to send a reply. But later when he had retired to his room and we were alone together, he said, "You understand now?"

"Of course."

"Then you did not understand?"

"Of course I did not understand. I am a fool, how could I understand?"

"How did I understand?"

"Of course, Baba, you are very intelligent."

"And you?"

"I don't have brains."

"No, no, you also have brains."

I was one of the main targets for Babaji's abuse, but I took it as a manifestation of his affection. One year a certain family came from Lucknow to Kainchi and they were staying in the dharmashala outside the ashram gate. They said they would cook their own food, though of course they would take sweets or prasad from Babaji. They were given all the provisions they needed. The two teenagers would come and ask for this and that all the time—some special tea, or cups and saucers, or fruit.

One very busy day when many persons were there, Babaji went up to the back of the dharmashala and entered Kali Babu's room. He lay on the bed and talked through the window to people outside. I was standing near him by the door and one after another someone would come to me and ask for something—one of the cooks asked how many puris to cook, another came for instructions for purchases from Haldwani, and so on. Then one of those teenagers came asking for something and Maharaj ji said, "Look at Dada. What a fool he is. He is always running here and there, getting this and that for all these persons. I want to see the day that somebody comes and tells him, 'I want some cat piss,' wherefrom he will get the cat and how he will make it urinate!"

One day in 1973 three Naga babas came from Badrinath and they were given rooms in the outside dharmashala. They said they would need plenty of wood for their havan fire and various other provisions. "In Ayodhya fifty-four items of food are prepared for Ram. We have got a statue of Ram and we also offer him prasad and must prepare it."

One day, however, they wanted some ganja [marijuana]. This was a problem. I asked some of the ashram people who I knew were great smokers, but they pretended to have never heard of ganja. I did not know what was to be done, but a westerner heard me asking and said, "Dada, I can give you some." So the ganja was given to them.

Babaji said, "Dada, it is good that you have done this. They live in the open and do not wear clothes, so the ganja will protect their bodies. They are accustomed to it, therefore they should have it." But there was a chance of having some entertainment from this. The next day when he was sitting outside with many persons around he said, "Look at Dada. Those sadhus have come and want so many things every day and he is running and getting it all for them. Tomorrow when they ask for a woman, let me see where he gets one."

People always got angry and annoyed because Babaji so frequently said, "Jao!" [Go!] to them. But there was usually some reason why he did not allow them to stay longer. It was better not to try and guess what the reason might be.

One winter in Allahabad he was giving darshan and the whole room was full. A certain officer in the Accountant General's office entered and took his seat in the rear. He had heard about Babaji from some of his fellow officers and was very curious to come. After a minute or so, Babaji said, "Jao!"

He replied, "No, Baba, I am not in a hurry. I shall sit here for some time."

"No! You must go." Babaji was insistent. The officer was unhappy. Everybody was looking at him, so he stood up reluctantly, wondering about this Baba. Then Babaji said, "You came on a cycle?"


"All right, return by the same way that you came." The man didn't understand, but he went.

The next day he returned and said, "Baba saved the life of my son. After I left, my small boy went out with his cycle and collided with a scooter. He was lying more or less unconscious there on the road, the same road. I picked him up and took him to a doctor."

In July 1972 we were in Kainchi and a Muslim gentleman came who was the general manager of the Roadways Bus Company in Bhowali. He was very much devoted to Baba and whenever he could take some time he would come. On that day he was sitting in Babaji's room and after about a half hour, Babaji said, "Jao!"

He said, "No, Baba, I am free and I have my own conveyance, so I shall stay."

After some time Babaji insisted, "You go."

Later someone returned from Bhowali and said there had been a serious accident—a bus coming from Haldwani had fallen into the flooded Bhimtal Lake. The general manager was needed to organise the rescue work. It was a great tragedy. The bus had been full of people returning from work and many schoolboys.

The next afternoon that gentleman came again. Maharaj ji took him to the small room we called his "office." Nobody but myself was allowed to come and both the doors were closed. The manager broke down, crying bitterly, "I can understand the old people dying, but the little children returning from school?"

Babaji tried to console him and was saying, "What is this life? These laws cannot be understood. But God's creation goes on like this—someone is coming, someone is going, new leaves are budding, old leaves are falling down." Babaji quoted from the scriptures, the Koran and the Upanishads for an hour. It was the only time I heard him speak from the scriptures in that way.

Another time in Bhumiadhar, Maharaj ji was sitting on the cot in his room and persons were coming from Nainital, Ranikhet and Almora. A retired major in the army and a retired civil surgeon were there and Babaji was abusing them in a way I had never heard before. They were actually trembling and all they wanted was to be allowed to go out of the room. Then he said, "Jao!" When they had gone away, he looked at me and smiled—I couldn't believe it was the same man. He said, "Dada, were you frightened?"

"No, Baba."

"It is also sometimes necessary to rebuke and abuse."

The explanation was that these persons had opened a nursing home for further treatment of patients who were discharged from the Bhowali tuberculosis sanitarium. It was a business proposition and they were taking the name of Baba, saying that he would come to inaugurate it. They had not asked him, but had taken it for granted. He had been thrashing them about that.

After the storm was over, one of them came and said, "Baba, we have no hope that you will come."

He said, "Yes, yes, I will come." And actually Baba and myself went there. That was his way.

Mr. Sharma, an old devotee, was a taxi driver and frequently drove Maharaj ji from Kainchi or Bhumiadhar. One morning we got into his car at Bhumiadhar and drove down to the sanitarium near Gethia. Maharaj ji said, "Go and see if the doctor is there." When the doctor and I returned to the car, Maharaj ji got out and said, "I shall be hiding here. I don't want anybody to come." As Mr. Sharma was going away, Maharaj ji said to me, "Go and tell him that he should not talk to anybody."

I said, "I have told him."

"No, no. You go and tell him again. You do not know these paharis [mountain people]. They go to a hotel or tea shop and say, 'Do you know that Baba has come? But you must not tell anybody!'" So I took some prasad to the driver and again told him not to talk to anyone.

Of course, soon people began coming and the doctor was very concerned that he would not have prasad for so many. We sent to Kainchi for puris, and while we were distributing them someone came and said, "The Mothers are standing outside under the tree and it is raining very heavily." They had walked from Bhumaiadhar.

Maharaj ji shouted at me, "Where are you going?"

I said, "I am going to bring those persons."

He said, "Let them suffer, those badmash. I told them they should not come! Let them stand there!" But I brought them inside and they were given dry clothing. Who could imagine a saint talking the way he did?

The first time I went to Kainchi there was just one temple and a few rooms. Some construction was to be done and Babaji took me around and showed me where there would be so many bathhouses and so many toilets. After a few months, when the construction was completed, he said to me, "Dada, people have now started calling me 'Tatti Baba' [Latrine Baba]. That's very good." He had so many names and now he had a new one.

In the afternoon at Kainchi he would come and sit before the showers in a very jolly and relaxed mood. In 1973, he was supposed to be not keeping well, so he had to be properly wrapped. Siddhi Didi was very particular that he had to wear his pullover and blanket. I would try to put on his pullover, but sometimes it would be very difficult. One day it was getting dark and a little chilly, so I brought the pullover. As soon as I came, he said, "What is that?"

"Your pullover."

"I shall not wear it!"

So I said, "All right, don't wear it."

"Give it to me."

"Why should I give it to you if you are not going to wear it? I shall keep it with me." I kept it and people were looking. It was a very childlike sort of thing he was doing.

Then he went on talking, but he kept looking at me suspiciously. I placed the pullover on his shoulders. He said, "What? This is what you do? You never obey me."

I said, "Let it remain, what difference does it make?"

Later a devotee said, "Oh,Dada, what fun we had. This was Bala Gopala's [Baby Krishna's] lila. How you make him do things!"

Once in the summer months in Kainchi, Babaji was wearing a tee shirt, a pullover and his blanket. When he entered his room, he dropped the blanket and I took off his pullover and tee shirt. The shirt was so wet with sweat that you could squeeze out drops of water. Siddhi Didi brought another tee shirt to put on him, but he pushed her away. "You wretched woman! I am dying of heat from these clothes and you are trying to put more on me!"

Balaram Das, one of the westerners, used to take so many photographs and have them printed in Delhi. On the June fifteenth bhandara in 1973, Maharaj ji had Balaram take so many photos of the kitchen people, but allowed only a few of himself. When Balaram brought back the prints from Delhi, Babaji selected those of himself and put all the others of the kitchen workers in an envelope and said, "Give this to your Didi, she is very fond of pictures."

The Mas were waiting, eager for new photographs of Maharaj ji. "Let us see, let us see!" When I gave them the envelope, they cried, "What is the joke?"

I said, "How should I know what is there? It was just a closed envelope that he gave me."

Once I went to the bazaar near the Bihariji temple in Vrindaban to a small Gita Press shop. I found an illustrated Mahavir Hanuman, a short life sketch of Hanuman. I took all the copies that they had, about fifteen or twenty. When I brought them to the ashram, everybody wanted one. Maharaj ji actually snatched a copy from my hand. "You do not give me! You are disturbing, but you do not give me!" He began reading it loudly. BalaramDas took some photos of him.

He could be very strict or very frightening, but if you were not taken in by the outer antics and if you tackled him properly, you could make him very soft and light. The June fifteenth bhandara in 1972 was coming nand since it was the anniversary of the temple inauguration, a very attractive red dress was being made for Hanuman ji's murti. I do not know how the idea came, but I though there should be a red blanket for our Hanuman also. I asked Siddhi Didi to have her sister or others bring one to Kainchi. She said, "Oh, Dada, we can get it, but he will not wear it."

I said, "Nevertheless, let us get it and keep it ready."

So the day came. Maharaj ji was out moving here and there and then returned to his room. I said to Balaram, who was there with his camera, "Be alert. There may be something."

When we were getting ready to come back out, I brought the red blanket to put on him. He said, "No! I don't like the red blanket. I won't wear it. I don't like it."

I cried, "You may not like it, but we like it. You must have it!"

"You are forcing me?"

"Yes, sometimes you have to be forced." I put the blanket on him. He went out and Balaram took those photos.

It would be such a problem for the barber to give him a shave. In Kainchi we had some old barbers who knew Babaji very well. While shaving would be going on, he and they would be talking to each other and they would actually be basking in his grace. It would take only about half an hour or so to do the shaving, but they would not be in a hurry and would stay the whole day. In Allahabad also an old barber would come and there was no problem. He understood Baba and was not in a hurry.

The problem came in Vrindaban when Babaji said, "I shall have a shave." We did not know any barber and Kishan Singh's son, Bapu, was asked to find one. He got a young man who ran a small shop in the bazaar. When that barber came, he was in a hurry because he had left his shop. The shaving was to be done in my room where there was an adjoining bathroom. The barber came and I went to get the hot water and other things. When I returned, I found that Babaji had taken the bedsheet from my bed and wrapped it around himself. Maharaj ji held the sheet tight and said, "You never give me this. Do not snatch it away."

I said, "I will not." So the shaving began. The greatest difficulty was that Baba would take the mirror in his hands and make faces in it.

The old and expert barbers knew how to deal with this, but the young man in a hurry was having trouble.

I said, "Baba, sit straight and let him shave you." But he kept moving and there was a cut. The barber was upset.

Maharaj ji said, "What is that? What is that?"

"Of course, it is a cut. This is what you have done. The poor fellow is embarrassed; he feels it is his fault. It is yours. You would not allow him peace to shave you."

Some alum was put on—it was only a small cut. The barber finished and went away. Babaji asked me, "Dada, will the hair grow here again?"

When Maharaj ji would go away from Allahabad, everyone would be asking where he had gone, but I would never disclose it. In 1972, when so many westerners were there, they were keen to follow him if they could learn where he was going. Babaji said, "Dada, they will follow me if they know. They will go anywhere and everywhere. What will you do?

I said, "Don't worry. I can manage."

"Tell me, tell me, what will you say?"

"Baba, now I have learned how to speak lies."

He laughed, "How, how, how?"

During the Guru Purnima celebration in 1972, he was giving all kinds of indulgences to the devotees, especially the westerners. They washed his feet with a bucket of panchamrita, took sandalwood paste and wrote "Ram Ram" on his forehead. I was feeling a little unhappy, but Babaji kept saying, "Oh, Dada, let them do it, let them do it."

We were sitting before Babaji and someone said that if something was good it was all Babaji's grace and Babaji should be thanked. On the other hand, if something went wrong, the individual was responsible for it and should be blamed. I said, "I do not believe that. Why should Babaji take only the credit and I am to suffer the blame? No, no. If I do something good, he should take the credit. But he should also take the blame if something goes wrong."

Then Maharaj ji said, with tears in his eyes, "Why Dada said so? Why Dada said so?"

One day Baba and I were in his "office" in Kainchi. The doors and windows were bolted. He was leaning on his side and looking at something near the window. Outside the westerners were singing kirtan, but there seemed to be nothing else to take note of. Then he shouted, "Let me have some paper!" I didn't have paper, but I gave him a letter I had in my pocket. With very great care he picked up something on the letter and gave it to me, saying, "Take it out."

As he was handing it to me, a fly flew away off the paper. Fly spray had been spread in the room and many flies had died, but some had only become unconscious. This one had been on the window sill. With great care he had picked it up and when it flew away he cried, "I caught it with such great effort and you allowed it to fly away!"

I also shouted, "It flew before it reached my hand. It was from your hand that it flew away!"

"Accha? I shall catch it again. I shall catch it again!"

That room—the "office"—was actually Babaji's temple. Babaji would be opening the window and closing it. Persons standing around would come rushing to see him or he would be yelling at them and then again close the window. Once a devotee said, "This is Bihariji's temple." [The Bihariji temple is a famous temple of Krishna in the town of Vrindaban, where the play of Krishna and the gopis took place. The murti of Krishna is hidden behind a golden curtain and only revealed during certain ceremonies each day.] In that temple there is a curtain which is opened for Biharaji's darshan and then the curtain is closed. One cannot have continuous darshanof Biharaji, is it not that?