Mahavatar Babaji

Mahavatar Babaji
Mahavatar Babaji - a drawing from Autobiography of a Yogi, commissioned by Yogananda and based on his own meeting with Babaji

Mahavatar Babaji is the name given to an Indian saint by Lahiri Mahasaya and several of his disciples[1] who met Mahavatar Babaji between 1861 and 1935. Some of these meetings were described by Paramhansa Yogananda in his book Autobiography of a Yogi (1946), including a first hand telling of Yogananda’s own meeting with Mahavatar Babaji.[2] Another first hand account was given by Sri Yukteswar Giri in his book The Holy Science.[3] All of these accounts, along with additional meetings with Mahavatar Babaji, are described in various biographies[4][5][6] of those mentioned by Yogananda.

Mahavatar Babaji’s given name and date of birth are not known, so those who met him during that period all called him by the title first given to him by Lahiri Mahasaya.[2][6] "Mahavatar" means "great avatar", and "Babaji" simply means "revered father". Some of the encounters included two or more witnesses—discussions between those who met Mahavatar Babaji indicate that they all met the same person.[2][4][5]


Meetings with Mahavatar Babaji, 1861-1966

Lahiri Mahasaya

The first reported encounter with Mahavatar Babaji was in 1861, when Lahiri Mahasaya was posted to Ranikhet in his work as an accountant for the British government. One day while walking in the hills of Dunagiri above Ranikhet, he heard a voice calling his name. Following the voice up the mountain, he met a "tall, divinely radiant sadhu."[6] He was amazed to find that the sadhu knew his name.[2][6] This sadhu was Mahavatar Babaji.

Mahavatar Babaji told Lahiri Mahasaya that he was his guru from the past, then initiated him into Kriya Yoga and instructed Lahiri to initiate others. Lahiri wanted to remain with Mahavatar Babaji, who told him instead that he must return to the world to teach Kriya Yoga and that "Kriya Yoga sadhana would spread through the people of the world through his (Lahiri's) presence in the world."[6]

Lahiri Mahasaya reported that Mahavatar Babaji did not give his name or background, so Lahiri gave him the title "Mahavatar Babaji." Many sadhus in India are called Babaji, and sometimes even "Babaji Maharaj", which has caused confusion between Mahavatar Babaji and other sadhus with similar names.[6]

Lahiri Mahasaya had many meetings with Mahavatar Babaji, recounted in several books, including Paramhansa Yogananda's Autobiography of a Yogi,[2] Yogiraj Shyama Charan Lahiri Mahasaya (Lahiri's biography),[6] and Purana Purusha: Yogiraj Sri Shama Churn Lahiri,[7] among others.

Disciples of Lahiri Mahasaya

Several disciples of Lahiri Mahasaya also said they met Babaji. Through discussion with each other, and the fact that some of these encounters included two or more witnesses, they confirmed that the person they saw was the same sadhu that Lahiri called Mahavatar Babaji.[2][6][8]

In 1894, at the Kumbha Mela in Allahabad, Sri Yukteswar Giri, a disciple of Lahiri Mahasaya, met Mahavatar Babaji. He was surprised by the striking resemblance between Lahiri Mahasaya and Mahavatar Babaji.[2][5] Others who met Babaji also commented on the resemblance.[6] It was at this meeting that Mahavatar Babaji instructed Sri Yukteswar to write the book that was to become Kaivalya Darshanam, or The Holy Science.[3] Sri Yukteswar had two more meetings with Mahavatar Babaji, including one in the presence of Lahiri Mahasaya.[2][5][6]

Swami Pranabananda Giri, another disciple of Lahiri Mahasaya, also met Mahavatar Babaji in the presence of Lahiri Mahasaya, at Lahiri's home. Pranabananda asked Mahavatar Babaji his age. Mahavatar Babaji responded that he was about 500 years old at that time.[4]

Swami Keshabananda, a disciple of Lahiri Mahasaya, tells of meeting Mahavatar Babaji in the mountains near Badrinath around 1935, after he became lost wandering in the mountains.[2] At that meeting, Pranabananda reported that Babaji gave him a message for Yogananda, that "I won't see him this time, as he is eagerly hoping; but I shall see him on some other occasion."[2]

Other disciples of Lahiri Mahasaya who reported meetings with Mahavatar Babaji include Swami Kebalananda Giri[9] and Ram Gopal Muzumdar, who recounted meeting Mahavatar Babaji and his sister, whom he called Mataji.[2][6] In addition, a woman disciple of Trailanga Swami, Shankari Mata (also called Shankari Mai Jiew) met Mahavatar Babaji while visiting Lahiri Mahasaya.[2][6]

Traditional legends about Mahavatar Babaji

Legendary powers and age have been attributed to Mahavatar Babaji by the disciples of Lahiri Mahasaya. These stories have led many to believe that Mahavatar Babaji is a legendary person, rather than a real sadhu that was seen by numerous witnesses from 1861 to 1935.

Puja is being conducted to the idol of Babaji Mahavatar

Paramhansa Yogananda, in his Autobiography, described Mahavatar Babaji’s role on earth:

The Mahavatar is in constant communion with Christ; together they send out vibrations of redemption, and have planned the spiritual technique of salvation for this age. The work of these two fully-illumined masters–one with the body, and one without it–is to inspire the nations to forsake suicidal wars, race hatreds, religious sectarianism, and the boomerang-evils of materialism. Babaji is well aware of the trend of modern times, especially of the influence and complexities of Western civilization, and realizes the necessity of spreading the self-liberations of yoga equally in the West and in the East.

In addition, Babaji is reputed to be ageless, according to some accounts, and about 500 years old around the late 1800's, according to Swami Pranabananda.[4] Yogananda reports that, according to the disciples of Lahiri Mahasaya, nobody knows Babaji’s age, family, place of birth, true name, or other details “dear to the annalist’s heart.”[2]

According to Yogananda's Autobiography, he has a sister called Mataji (meaning "Holy Mother") who also has lived throughout the centuries. Her level of spiritual attainment is comparable to her brother's, and she lives in a state of spiritual ecstasy in an underground cave. Although only three pages in the book are dedicated to her, she is described by Ram Gopal as "young and surpassingly lovely" as well as a "glorious woman."

Mahavatar Babaji as Krishna

Lahiri Mahasaya wrote in his diary that Mahavatar Babaji was Lord Krishna.[7] Two disciples of Paramhansa Yogananda report that he also stated Mahavatar Babaji was Krishna in a former lifetime.[10][11] Yogananda also frequently prayed out loud to "Babaji-Krishna."[12]

Modern claims and popular references

Babaji and the 18 Siddha Kriya Yoga Tradition by M. Govindan, claims to build upon the story of Mahavatar Babaji by giving details of his life. According to Govindan, Babaji was named Nagaraj (king of serpents) by his parents. He was born on the 30th day of November 203 A.D., in a small coastal village now known as Parangipettai, in Tamil Nadu, India. This information was given by Babaji Nagaraj in 1953 to two disciples, yogi S.A.A. Ramaiah and V.T. Neelakantan.[13][14]

Between 1861 and 1924, Hariakhan Baba, a Hindu Saint who taught throughout northern India near the Himalayas, was identified as Mahavatar Babaji by Mahendra Baba.[citation needed]

An overview of the Babaji phenomenon was presented by journalist Carter Phipps in WIE Magazine.[15]

In Book 3 of Conversations with God, by Neale Donald Walsch, it is suggested that Babaji may at one time have resurrected himself from the dead.[16]

The 2002 Tamil film Baba written by Rajinikanth was based on Babaji. Paramhansa Swami Maheshwarananda writes in his book The hidden power in humans, that the Guru of the legendary Babaji is Sri Alakh Puriji.[17]

See also

  • Hariakhan Babaji - a teacher who appeared in many places in northern India near the Himalayas between 1861 and 1924
  • Haidakhan Babaji - a teacher who appeared in northern India and taught publicly from 1970 to 1984


  1. ^ Lahiri Mahasaya, Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri, Ram Gopal Muzumdar, Swami Kebalananda, Swami Pranabananda Giri
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Yogananda, Paramhansa, Autobiography of a Yogi, 2005. ISBN 978-1565892125.
  3. ^ a b Yukteswar Giri, Sri, The Holy Science. Yogoda Satsanga Society, 1949
  4. ^ a b c d Mukhopadyay, Sri Jnananedranath, Srimad Swami Pranabananda Giri, Sri Jnananedranath Mukhopadyay Property Trust, 2001.
  5. ^ a b c d Satyananda Giri, Swami, Swami Sri Yukteshvar Giri Maharaj, from A Collection of Biographies of 4 Kriya Yoga Gurus, iUniverse Inc. 2006. ISBN 978-0595386758.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Satyananda Giri, Swami, Yogiraj Shyama Charan Lahiri Mahasay, from A Collection of Biographies of 4 Kriya Yoga Gurus, iUniverse Inc. 2006. ISBN 978-0595386758.
  7. ^ a b Chatterjee, Ashoke Kumar, Purana Purusha: Yogiraj Sri Shama Churn Lahiri. Yogiraj Publications, 2004. ISBN 81-87563-01-X.
  8. ^ Satyananda, Swami, Yogacharya Shastri Mahasaya: A Short Biographical Sketch of Hamsaswami Kebalanandaji Maharaj.Yoganiketan, 2004.
  9. ^ Satyananda Giri, Swami, Yogacharya Shastri Mahasaya: A Short Biographical Sketch of Hamsaswami Kebalanandaji Maharaj.Yoganiketan, 2004
  10. ^ Kriyananda, Swami: Conversations with Yogananda, page 347. Crystal Clarity Publishers, 2003. ISBN 156589202X
  11. ^ Sri Durga Mata: A Paramhansa Yogananda Trilogy of Divine Love, page 50, copyright Joan Wight, 1992. ISBN 0963583808
  12. ^ Yogananda, Paramhansa: various articles (Praecepta Lessons, Volume 1, by Swami Yogananda, 1934) and recordings (One Life Versus Reincarnation [CD]. ISBN 0876124392).
  13. ^ Neelakantan, V. T.; Ramaiah, S. A. A.; Babaji (2006). The voice of Babaji: a trilogy on Kriya Yoga. Babaji's Kriya Yoga Order of Acharyas. ISBN 9781895383232. Retrieved 12 April 2011. 
  14. ^ Govindan, Marshall (1 January 2001). Babaji and the 18 Siddha Kriya Yoga Tradition. Babajl's Kriya Yoga Publications. ISBN 9781895383003. Retrieved 12 April 2011. 
  15. ^
  16. ^ Walsch, Neale Donald, Conversations with God: An Uncommon Dialog (Book #3), page 95.
  17. ^ Paramhansa Swami Maheshwarananda, The Hidden Power In Humans, Ibera Verlag, page 245. ISBN 3-85052-197-4

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  • Mahavatar Babaji — ist der Ehrentitel für einen indischen Heiligen, einen Sadhu, der seit vielen Jahrhunderten im Himalaya leben soll. Seine Herkunft und sein Name sind ebenso wenig bekannt wie sein Geburtsjahr. Seine Anhänger betrachten ihn als Maha Avatar (großer …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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  • Lahiri Mahasaya — Infobox Person name=Lahiri Mahasaya image size = 150px dead=dead birth date= 30 September 1828 birth place= Ghurnigram, West Bengal, India death date= 26 September 1895 death place= Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, IndiaShyama Charan Lahiri (Bengali:… …   Wikipedia

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  • Kriya Yoga — Yogaschool|name=Kriya Yoga color=green religious origins= Hinduism regional origins= India founding guru= Mahavatar Babaji gave to Lahiri Mahasaya popularity=Paramhansa Yogananda popularised Kriya Yoga in the West practice emphases= Kriya Yoga… …   Wikipedia

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