Who was He ?
Baba Neem Karauli a Saint and popularly known as Maharaj. He belonged to the state of Uttar Pradesh (Akbarpur) in India. He lead a simple life, wearing only a dhoti and a blanket and sometimes in all seasons. His devotees are spread all over India and also in many parts of the world including America.
Why is He called Saint ?
Baba was a saint as He had a dual personality. The divine and the human, one who had freed himself from worldly attachments and things [that] are mundane. He did not have any worldly possessions of physical nature except the spiritual power and this sustained Him throughout His life for spreading the message of human service of the highest order. He used to say "Love All, Feed All, Serve All."
Sabki Sewa Atmn Gyan. Service beings leads to self realization, therefore it can be said that Baba Neem Karauli was an exceptional human being. When a person can in His contact he/she would become His disciple by the sheer force of His Grace.
What is the concept of Guru and Disciple ?
These disciples considered Baba as a Guru in the Tradition of Guru-Shishya relationship that is so sacrosanct everywhere and particularly in India.
People say He had mystic power ?
Maharaj-ji was known for His power for performing miracles, but actually these miracles are nothing but the mystic power, also called Siddhi. But where and how attained these powers is not known. It is a mystery. He knew about everything, about every person who came in His contact and if He so desired, He immediately solved the problem of His disciples. There are many stories connect with His mystic powers.
In fact His name Neem Karauli Baba itself is due to a miracle. It so happened that while traveling in a train without a ticket, He was thrown out at a station called Neem Karauli. After that the train would not move further and it was found that there was no technical fault with the engine. After a long wait at the station, the authorities realized their mistake and requested Baba to board the train again. After much persuasion He got into the train and immediately the train started moving.
Like wise there are a number of other incidents, which used to take place and which no one could understand or explain, for instance any amount of food articles automatically reached the temples where Baba would perform the community feast called Bhandaras for all persons visiting there. In Baba's views God blessed the hungry in the form of food, which was called as prasad. The prasad itself has a great sanctity for anyone who prayed to God. It was said He has Anna Purna Siddhi also. Best example of this is 15th June Bhandara every year at Kainchi Ashram U.P., India where more than one lakh (one hundred thousand) people come to have sweet puris (prasad).
What were His preachings ?
He never preached. He used to be in Sahaj Samadhi. His simple talks were His preachings. He used to say in this age of Kali, no other disciple is of any avail, God should be remembered and glorified. Christ and Hanuman saw the entire world as mother. You have to understand mother to realize God. Your Ego will fall away.
He never differentiated people of any caste, creed or status. Love All, Feed All, Serve All was His message to the entire universe. Love multiplies and comes back to you. What is Stress? It is Nothing. Total surrender is necessary in front of Supreme which in Vrindavan Ashram people call it as Jai Shree Radhe.
He made people chant: Deen Bandhu Deena Nath Meri Dori Tere Haath. This means:
"Oh Supreme, my life's thread is in Your hands."
When somebody asked How the heart is purified? He said "Always speak the truth and be Saral (i.e. simple and help others. Though always speaking truth is a Tapasya. You may face lots of problems, people may hate you but do not worry. God will stand with you. Christ died for truth. He used to say, "Worldly people go outwards but you go inwards like the tortoise withdrawing in his shell."
When somebody asked about Maya Moh (green energy, lust and attachment. He said, "What is Maya? Where is it? It is not there at all. It is All Illusion. Keep God in your heart as you keep money your safe. Worship God in every form"
Regarding Ego He used to say, "What are you with such Ego. One of these days you will have to leave this world and become one with earth."
"Work is God. Work is worship. Clear you mind of all worldly things. If you cannot control your mind, how will you realize God?"
He also used to say, "Don't think that I or You have done. This is God's Play in His own way. It was to happen. Everything occurs according to your PRARABDH so always remember, 'as you sow, so you reap'. Whoever works for God / Human Beings, his work will be done by itself."
He used to say, "I do nothing. God does everything." He used to quote Kabir, who said, "I am in the world but not concerned with the world. I am going through the marketplace but not as a purchaser. It's an illusion except the name of God. It is better to see God in everything than to try to figure it out."
He used to say, "Whoever comes to you is your guest. Love, respect and welcome him, serve prasad. Feeding the hungry is actual worship. First bhojan (food) and then bhajan (prayer). It is entirely against the traditions of the ashram that people should get away without getting prasad."
The whole world was His home and he belonged to everybody. Some people used to go to Him with problems. Sometimes, without a talk, problems would get solved.
He used to write Ram Ram on a piece of paper and then in the notebook. He wrote for 10-9-1973 (September 10, 1973) also a day in advance, when during midnight He escaped from the "central jail" He used to name the body.
Why we should celebrate festivals ?
Maharaj-ji used to say just all festivals/ celebrations, puja. Prayer, dramas, navratri dance, garba, etc. celebrating lives of Lord Krishna, Rama, Mohammed Saheb and Christ should be celebrated so that you come to be affected by their life history. He always believed in existence of God but with or without any form. He used to say, "Worship God in Every Form. Do not figure Him out."
Therefore His preaching of Bhakti Yoga made so simple that anyone with any kind of bias for a particular religion creed or caste would immediately accept it as the only way for salvation. Actually He lead a life of a bhakti not only for the supreme power but also for the poorest of the poor and the weakest of the weak persons. In this sense, His Bhakti Yoga was of the highest order without any expectations or malice or any attachment. This was attained only through His Sadhana which is the other name of Bhakti Yoga.. Samadhi is the deep form of the same. In His satsang, people used to be out of their stress. Is there a single person in this world who leads a problem-free life?
How about His darshan ?
Regarding His darshan He did or did not give is difficult to understand. Sometimes He would go out of His own way. For His devotees, once He was laying by roadside in Mussorie to give darshan to K. M. Munshi, Governor of U. P. at that time. In 1942 He was sitting on an open platform at Allahabad Railway Station to give darshan to General McKenna who was passing in a special army train. In 1971, at Magh Mela ground at Allahabad He was waiting for Ram Dass who was visiting that place on their way to Vrindaban in search of Maharaj-ji. To Dada (late Sudhir Mukherjee who had His darshan in 1935 at Dakshineshwar in Shiva's temple where he was given mantra. In June 1955 He again met him and asked him if he still had the mantra with him.
He encourages family togetherness. He said, "if each became disciplined and followed teaching of elders and religion then it is His Grace.
What is Guru ?
Guru is spiritual guide to realize an enlightened state. Always listen to your inner being. This journey is an inner journey. If you heart rejects for that Guru, don't be after him. Ramanna Maharshi said, "Guru, God and self are one." Guru carries load/ burden of His disciples giving, giving and giving. Person feels bliss by His Grace. It's a total surrender to know Guru.
How to find Him ?
At certain stage in the spiritual journey, when your brain is ready to accept, Guru will be exactly when you want. Mind and body should be purified then you become sensitive to new perceptions. Silence your thoughts and fix the whole attention on your master which you cannot see but you feel. Nature of Guru's Grace is beyond thought and works. It is like ocean, if one comes with a cup, he will only get a cup full.
What are the main functions of a Guru ?
First is the work of the swan - that cane separate milk from water (can differentiate real from unreal and useful from useless). They can take to the path of BLISS through the spiritual road for divine life, teaches which road to walk and which to discard.
Secondly Guru goes on removing rust from the iron of life. He takes rusted iron and puts it through hard treatment. No matter how rotten or useless we have become, guru sets us all right.
Thirdly e.g. clay pot maker while giving shape to clay pot, puts his hand inside the pot to protect the pot so that it may be worthy of something. If we have faith, trust and total surrender towards Guru then our spiritual journey, its growth and development become easy.
This institution of Guru and disciples is as old in India as India's religious past. Giving mantra is like sowing the seeds. Think of God/Divine who goes on planting seeds over the entire world. In Kalyug by taking the name of God in any form/word, everything is accomplished.
Should everyone have a Guru ?
You may not have met on the physical plane in this life time. It is necessary. There have been saints who realized enlightenment without even meeting.
How will I know how to purify myself without the guidance of Guru ?
"Always speak the truth." Maharaj-ji used to say. Find out within yourself where you are and what you need.
What is a Saint ?
A saint has been defined in the Bhagwat Gita as a person with dual aspects, the divine and the human. Saints and sages are realized souls who have freed themselves from the doctrine of Karma / Destiny. They are no longer slaves, no more at the mercy of birth and death. They take birth out of their own free and voluntary choice. They come as a blessing to the world. They take birth in order to help, to assist, to elevate the downtrodden, the fallen and helpless people. Their presence causes spiritual vibrations purifying the atmosphere.
What is renunciation ?
On the spiritual journey Renunciation means non attachment. It does not mean leaving the family, go to the caves, wear saffron robes. It is to become free from attachments i.e., to break the link identifying you with your desires. The desires continue, they are the part of the dance of nature but it can be controlled.
It is an old custom among Indians especially to pray and offer food first to God before eating. Praying and chanting over food sends vibrations which bring the Food, Nature and Man in harmony for better assimilation in G.I.T.. Food gets energized and becomes Prasad. He had Annapurna Siddhi too. Feeding the hungry is actual worship. Prasad cannot be less or in excess, it all depends on how you distribute it. In India so many are going hungry / suffering from malnutrition, food is very precious and valuable. E.g. In Kainchi Ashram which is surrounded by villages where very poor people live Maharaj-ji used to feed all and used to say "God comes before the hungry as food. Give them food first and then talk to them of God."
Parikram of Circumnambulation
Circumnambulation of a shrine / altars is also an act of devotion. This path signifies external shrine. Spiritual dance and music kirtan increase the ecstasy to unlimited value. Sufi saint Ahamad Murad, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and so many used to do spiritual dance, chanting HIS name. Your own body is the temple and every place is a holy shrine if your thoughts are pure.
Blessings from God, Parents, and Elders should be taken. They will always show you the right path.
The simplest and most direct type of renunciation is just give up the satisfying of ones desires. If one preoccupied with eating, just fast and so on. This tapasya. If for the sake of attaining a definite aim or to gain control of your self, one struggles with the desires that hinder him in his path, he will create a fire that will gradually transform his inner world into a single whole.
How one should take the stress and how to cope with it ?
Maharaj-ji used to tell in His simple talks to leave ignorance, Ego, Attachment for pleasure, discord for others and they should have the desire to live which provokes person to do some action (Karma). In your different compartments of mind there are positive beliefs and negative too, concentrate on positive beliefs and stay cool even in hostile atmosphere. Your thought process will change and you will feel much more relaxed and then you will do some action to cope with the remaining stress / problem.
What we should give to this world ?
We should give our Love to all, Serve all, Think for all as much as we can and if possible Feed all. Love multiplies when it spreads. We are all His creations. Be caring and sharing with each other and society. Try to unite all. We are the world.
The world does not need subdivisions or religious boundaries that divine people. We may be of different culture at different places but we can freely exchange our ideas. It is through Love that one comes closer to each other and towards God and let us all pray that let everyone live in peace, good health, happily, and let there be no misery.
By Dr. (Mrs.) Saroj Pande
New Delhi, India
From a booklet distributed at Neem Karoli Baba's Mahasamadhi Bhandara 1998