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Near and the Dear

The Near & The Dear - Introduction

Neem Karoli Baba MaharajjiThe late Mrs. Uma Shungloo was a very religious, simple and pious, polite, self-respecting old Kashmiri Brahmin lady. She was dutiful, scrupulously clean and without any modern-day evils.

Once she fell seriously ill and during her week's treatment I had to go to her house almost daily to watch the progress. Even after she became completely free from symptoms, my visits to her house increased on account of her motherly love and affection towards me.


The Near & The Dear - Preface

Neem Karoli Baba Maharaj jiHow strange is the passage of time. What was once visible becomes invisible and what was once outside the field of vision takes shape before our eyes.

Some of the devotees whose stories Dada tells in this book were captured in pictures for us to see; others left no visible trail but their interactions with Maharajji are vivid in our minds.

Reading these stories of Maharajji and his devotees, one can't help but sense something from a place and time just outside the reaches of memory.

So many beings passed through his gates, so many hearts were nourished and so many lives touched by his grace.


Bhagwan Singh and Haridas Baba Chapter

Neem Karoli Baba MaharajjiBhagwan Singh, known as Bhabania, was born in an obscure village of the Kumoan. Now middle-aged, he was well known to those who visited Babaji's temples at Lucknow, Vrindaban and other places. The visitors who came to the Hanuman temple in Lucknow knew him as the most important person there—the priest who did his puja, presented offerings to Hanumanji, and distributed prasad to everyone coming to the temple.

The rise of this illiterate boy—a 'non-entity' as he called himself—to the highest post in a celebrated temple happened before our eyes. Many persons were jealous of this boy who, they felt, had no claim to the post, either by his merit, by family relationship, or by any service done to Babaji.


Brij Mohan Chapter

Neem Karoli Baba MaharajjiSome old devotees of Babaji, who had known him in the early days, used to tell of his love of movement, the way he changed his residence from one part of the country to another, staying in one place for a while and then moving again. They would mention the names of several places where he is said to have spent parts of his early life, and also the names by which he had been known.

Their regret was that they did not know all the places where he stayed and all the names given to him. They were emphatic that no one except Babaji himself knew them, and he would not reveal anything.

There is nothing unusual or unnatural in such movement by saints. Saints, or realized souls, have no attachment for any place or person. For them, all are the same. Saints who are not living the lives of householders do not have the problem of moving family members, transporting household effects, being tied to assets or property, or setting up a new household.


Hubbaji Chapter

Neem Karoli Baba Maharaj jiSri Hira Lal Shah—popularly known as Hubbaji—was the oldest among Babaji's devotees and had the longest association with Baba.

He accompanied Baba in his journeys over the longest period of time and in the largest number of places. As a result of this, he became for us a repository of knowledge about Babaji and we sought to benefit from this, whenever we got a chance, by making him talk.

He would not volunteer information on his own, mostly talking when Baba asked him something. Sometimes he favored us when he was at Allahabad by narrating some of his experiences with Babaji.

He belonged to a well-known family in Almora. As a landlord, he had an assured income from the property and did not go for any job or business.

Even during the first stage of his life, he was able to keep his wants within limits and not run after money and a life of pleasure, a valuable asset for the spiritual growth which was to come afterwards.


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