Neem Karoli Baba’s famous devottee, Ram Dass wrote the folowing: “I met this little Indian guy and there was no doubt in my mind [that he “knew”]. It was just like meeting a rock. It was just solid, all the way through. Everywhere I pressed, there he was!”
This article was written by Swami Chidananda
One particularly unusual thing about Babaji was the manner of his coming and going. He would suddenly walk into your presence unannounced. While leaving, he would take leave and go out and walk along the road and tell people not to follow him. The moment he went out of sight, it was impossible to trace him out even if one ran after him or went in a motor vehicle. It may even be just a hundred yards away where he turns around the bend of a road and was hidden from sight. This was enough. The next moment he was totally untraceable anywhere within a radius of a mile. It is believed that he had done Upasana (worship) of Sri Hanuman and attributed many of his miraculous deeds to �Siddhi� (psychic power) through his Upasana.
This may be quite true because it is a well-known fact that Babaji has prompted and supervised the construction of several beautiful and very impressive Hanuman Mandirs. These temples enshrining Sri Hanuman are powerful attractions to innumerable devotees. One such most attractive and impressive Hanuman Mandir is in Lucknow. Sri Hanumanji shrined in Baba Neem Karoli�s Ashram at Kainchi is also a centre of worship. In Brindavan also there is a beautiful Hanumanji temple.
Some devotees even say that Babaji had conquered space and that he could be anywhere and in any place he wished within the twinkling of an eye. Also, he was characterised by a total non-attachment to anything on earth. Even as freely blowing wind is unattached to anything he was also unaffected by his environment, even as the pure blowing breeze. However, despite his non-attachment and unaffected attitude he was yet very compassionate to those in trouble or distress. He would not refuse an earnest request. He was all loving kindness to people in trouble and helped them out of their trouble by the influence he had in high circles.
Babaji was very austere in his personal life and moved about with only a blanket around his body. He had great goodwill towards all spiritual institutions. I also feel that he had hidden inner spiritual contact and connection with a number of other spiritual teachers and saints who were his contemporaries. His work was not completely an individual and isolated one. It formed part of a wider work in which many other saints were actively engaged in and were in spiritual co-ordination. Despite his taciturn nature and outer reserve, Babaji was capable of great deal of affection expressed even by a mere gesture or gaze. He gave courage to many a fainting heart and brought solace to countless souls. He endeared himself as a family member in the homes of many of his sincere devotees and true disciples. Thus his passing was felt as a keen personal loss by thousands of his followers.
Babaji�s coming into public notice dates back several decades ago in the pre-independence era during the British regime. There is a story in this connection which is a very close parallel to a similar story connected with another great Siddha Purusha of Southern India, viz., Sri Nityananda Avadhuta hailing from Kerala who later on settled down at Vajreshvari near Bombay. These two incidents are almost identical in their details.
Babaji was once wandering somewhere in Eastern U.P. At one place he passed by a railway station. The train happened to be at halt. He had a fancy to travel some distance by train. He got into a nearby coach and sat in an upper class compartment. After a while the train started and continued its journey. Some time later, a Travelling Ticket Examiner saw this somewhat uncouth, rustic-like person occupying the upper class seat and approached him and asked for his ticket. Babaji just looked up at him once and paid no further attention to his query. He continued to remain silent in contemplation. The Ticket Examiner was annoyed. He demanded to see the ticket. It was those days when most of the railway staff was either British or at least Anglo-Indian. Babaji shook his head and spread out his empty hands. The Ticket Examiner understood the situation and decided to take action. Soon after, the train stopped for a brief halt at a small way-side station in the country-side. Babaji was ordered to get down. He promptly obeyed, left his seat, got down out of the carriage and walking a few steps along the dusty platform went and stayed under the shade of a tree. He seemed absolutely unconcerned of whatever had happened. He paid no attention to what was going on around him. In a couple of minutes the bell rang, the railway guard blew his whistle and waved the green flag. The engine driver sounded the whistle and started the engine. Nothing happened. The engine did not move and the train continued to stand where it was. After a few minutes the guard got down and walked up to the engine driver to enquire what the trouble was. No trouble could be detected. Everything seemed to be all right. The engine driver checked everything and tried again. No result. More time passed. The Station Master became anxious. Another train which was due to come by was held up at some station up the line. Telegraphic messages started coming. 15 minutes, 20 minutes and then half an hour passed. Anxiety built up. Then a subordinate member of the staff very timidly approached the Station Master and pointing to Babaji sitting under the tree insisted that the whole situation was due to having shown disrespect to the holy man. He suggested that the only way out of the impasse was to approach him and beg his forgiveness and request him to continue his journey without any hindrance. This was conveyed to the guard and the engine driver. At first they vehemently refused to do any such thing but as more time passed, better reason prevailed. They respectfully approached Babaji, saluted him, asked to be excused for their rudeness, requested him to bless the train and invited him to continue his journey. Babaji looked up and glanced at them for a moment and said “All right, Chalo. Hum chalenge, Hum chalenge” (“All right, Go. I shall come along, I shall come along”) and got up and re-entered the train. Immediately the engine gave a jerk and the train started to move as though nothing had happened. A little crowd, which had gathered there, in the meanwhile, loudly acclaimed Babaji with awe in their voice. From then onwards no Railway Officer ever interfered with Babaji�s free movement in any train he fancied.
I shall conclude by narrating how Babaji twice visited Sivananda Ashram at Rishikesh after the passing of Gurudev Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj. Quite unexpectedly Babaji turned up, all of a sudden, one day, and walked into the Ashram. Sri Swami Nirmalanandaji, a Gurubhai of mine who had some very unusual experience with Babaji previously, ran up to me and announced his arrival. By the time I stepped out, Babaji was already in my outer verandah upstairs. I bowed down on his feet, took him inside and had him seated upon an Asana. Babaji very kindly made enquiries about the Ashram, of its inmates and our activities. I answered all his questions and he seemed very satisfied and said “Bahut Achha, Bahut Achha.” (“Very good, Very good.”) I told him that I wished to offer something for him to partake and asked what he would like. He agreed to drink some milk. Hot cow�s milk and sugar were brought. He very graciously partook it and in the meantime other residents of the Ashram came up and made their Pranams and took their seat. I introduced them to him. He beamed with pleasure and signified his blessings to all. He expressed his appreciation for the hospital work. Then he continued to stay for some time with us all and then saying that he must be going, he got up and walked away from the room followed by us. When he reached the foot of the steps and came upon the road, he raised his hand in blessing as well as in a gesture motioning us to stop and not to follow him. Then he started walking down the road and was soon out of sight.
A few years later Babaji similarly turned up a second time, just like that, as suddenly out of the blue as it were. This time he did not come upstairs but sat in one of the rooms downstairs and gave Darshan to a number of Ashram Sadhakas and devotees. He gave personal interviews also, to a few seekers. Then he left after a couple of hours and that was the last time he was at the Ashram.