“When you do everything only for God, things are getting solved by themselves.”
Neem Karoli Baba
Neem Karoli Baba lived in India between 1900 - 1973 and became well known to the western world through the books of Ram Dass. “I met Neem Karoli Baba in 1967, a meeting which changed the course of my life. Through his compassion, wisdom, humour, power and love I found in my Spiritual Guide human qualities that I never before imagined... an extraordinary integration of spirit and form. I was with him only briefly, for he left his body in 1973, still he entered my heart as living truth, and his presence continues to enrich and guide my life.” says Ram Dass in his book Miracle of Love: Stories about Neem Karoli Baba.
“Love them all. Feed them all. Remember God. Speak only the truth.” This is the synthesis of the teachings of this great Indian yogi.
Those who had the chance to be close by remember him as a being “in the heart of whom God was singing every moment”. Ram Dass said about him: “He gave no discourses; the briefest, simplest stories were his teachings. Usually he sat or lay on a wooden bench, wrapped in a plaid blanket while a few devotees sat around him. People came and went; they always received food, wise advice and some encouraging words, a blessing or a hug. Neem Karoli Baba loved jokes and word play. Orders for running the ASHRAM were given usually in a piercing yell across the compound. Sometimes he sat in silence, absorbed in another world to which we could not follow, but bliss and peace poured down on us. He was enveloping us with the nectar of his presence, we felt blessed.”
Hospitality was one of the qualities of Neem Karoli Baba
For Maharajji, the ASHRAM was a place of continuously remembering God. He would ask his spiritual followers to put a lot of heart in taking care of their spiritual home. Everything had to be shining and clean: the colours of the walls, the carpets, the furniture. Everything had to be intense and alive in order to maintain the sacredness of the place and to awake high states in other aspirants as well.
The ASHRAMs’ storerooms were filled with all sorts of goods. Baba used to take care personally of providing what was needed, establishing necessities, payments. The way he managed all these things was a mystery for many people. Even though large amounts of food were consumed daily, Neem Karoli Baba knew in the smallest details the exact inventory, yet not keeping any evidence. Many visitors were wondering about the source of the money – many were convinced that he was materializing them. Full of curiosity, these people would come to the ASHRAM invoking various reasons, but Baba used to say: “They didn’t come here to meet me. They came here only to test me.”
Many gifts and donations were given from different sides, but Maharajji was very selective. He would receive only the gifts offered from the bottom of the heart. If the offering was conditioned, he would refuse it completely.
He was insisting that every person visiting one of his ASHRAMs would receive food. He would say: “Whoever is coming in here is a guest. He is coming full of love and with open heart. So he should be welcomed with love and then fed.”
At a certain point, some politicians visited one of his ASHRAMS. Seeing the tables filled with so many good things, they exclaimed: “It’s a huge waste! There is dryness and famine in the country and here is an unjustified abundance. It’s a sacrilege to spend so much money on such expensive food. How can it be possible to have such a thing in an ASHRAM?” It happened that Maharajji wasn’t there at that time, but when he came back and heard the news, he said: “These politicians became now the defenders of the people. Yet they forgot where this food is coming from. They lost their belief. How do they think the rains will come? How do they prepare for having harvests? This is what happens when you think that everything is depending on you and you forget about God.”
One day, Ram Dass asked him: “Why do you give food to so many people? And why so much food? I am hardly eating some rice in a day and look, I’m surviving!” His answer was: “We are so hungry!... All the time. Even though we don’t know it. The body might not feel the need, but the soul is starving for food. So go ahead and eat!”
An overwhelming generosity
A rich man asked him once for the permission to give sweets to kids coming to the ASHRAM. Maharajji accepted. The man prepared the food and put it on a table. But the way he distributed it was poor. The kids were obliged to pass all kind of tests before receiving the sweets. Some of them left empty handed because the rich man was suspecting them for coming several times for sweets.
At the end of the day, more than half of the food was still there. Then Baba told the rich man: “How can you force someone to be generous when this person refuses it? It’s not so easy to be generous in the name of God. If you offer gifts only to the ones you choose, then there will be extra food which will get rotten and you will have to throw it. If you consecrated this food to God, then the food is no longer yours. God himself will take care for the people to come and to receive it and there won’t be too much food.”
A visitor received once a huge amount of food. He had lots of luggage and was supposed to get in the train and the food was in a voluminous pack. He wanted to give up on a part of it, but Neem Karoli Baba insisted for him to take it all. During the journey, the train stopped due to some elephants crossing the railway. One of them came to the window of Baba’s adept. The man unwrapped the pack and started to feed the elephant. And the elephant wouldn’t move till he finished all the food.
Maharajji was many times acting unpredictably. He would decide to visit someone out of a sudden and would stay there for few days; some other times, after half an hour he would stand up suddenly and leaving in a hurry.
Ram Dass speaks about this: “You reach his house. You’re told: <Yes, he is here!> All you have to do is wait. You have no clue about what will happen because Baba is more than unpredictable. After a week you got used to seeing him going out of the room at 8 o’clock and you think: <It’s half past seven. I still have some time.> But today the door stays closed or you see him passing from a room to another, in which he can remain for 2 days. It’s a test of patience for anyone. And one of aspiration. You have to learn to accept the unpredictable.”
Manifesting the bilocation
Neem Karoli Baba seemed to be always moving. Before establishing an ASHRAM he would travel a lot. Once, he reached a railway station and saw a train. Without asking about the destination, he went inside, occupied a free first class seat and started to meditate. The conductor noticed this unusual passenger wrapped in a blanket and came to ask for the ticket. Baba didn’t pay any attention to him, and the conductor got nervous and waited till the next station and threw him out of the train. Baba set down on a tree shadow and continued his meditation undisturbed. The train received the signal to go, the engines started but… nothing was happening. The locomotive would not move. The engine drivers tried to find out the reason but they found no malfunction. Another train was already waiting in the fields for the departure of this one. More than half an hour passed away till a passenger pointed timidly towards Neem Karoli Baba, convinced that everything got blocked because of disrespecting a holy man. He suggested to beg pardon and to invite him to continue his journey. The conductor and the engine drivers accepted, and Baba opened his eyes, stood up and came back in the train. Immediately, the locomotive started to move.
While leaving a place, he would ask not to be followed by anyone. It would have been impossible anyway; he would literally disappear from the sight and it would have been impossible to catch him even by car. Later on, one would find out he was visiting someone hundreds of kilometres away.
Once he was in Allahabad. Some of his devotees built a temple in Panki so they asked Maharajji to come to the opening ceremony but he refused. Still, the day of the ceremony, Baba locked himself in the room in Allahabad, saying he doesn’t feel well and asked for the doors to be opened again for visitors only at 12 o’clock. It was 7 in the morning. Everything went on as established and, at 12 o’clock, Neem Karoli Baba opened the door of his room. Next morning, the devotees from Panki showed up in Allahabad with a basket of offerings. They said that the previous day, Maharajji was together with them the whole morning, but in 12 o’clock he suddenly disappeared, without tasting the offerings, so they came to bring them to him.
Forty meals in a day
In his book, Spiritual masters from the Himalayas, Swami Atmananda describes him: “He wasn’t too much aware of the external world. If you would ask him :< Did you eat?> he would answer <Yes> or <No> but this wouldn’t necessarily correspond the reality. When your mind is busy with aspects superior to physical world, you might eat many times a day and yet to feel hungry. Baba was like this. Five minutes after the meal he could say: <I’m very hungry!>. If I would tell him: <Baba, you just ate.> he would answer: <Really? Ok. Then I’m not hungry.> If I wouldn’t have told him, he could eat again after five minutes.
One day I thought: <Let’s see how much can he eat if I’m not telling him that he ate!> That day he had forty meals in different houses we went to visit. In the end I told him: <Enough for today!>. <Really?> he answered. In very high states of consciousness, this kind of person can be like a child.”
Another devotee was telling that shaving was a great thing for Maharajji followers. The one who was shaving him had to have a great patience because the moment Maharajji would catch a mirror he would do mimics and move continuously. And when the shaving was ended Baba would ask innocently: “Will my beard ever grow?”
Neem Karoli Baba brought people back to life
It happened during World War II. Chandra Pande’s wife got very ill. Her days were counted. Her father, Motiram, loved her very much and could not bear the idea of loosing her. That is why he asked for the help of a holy man from Anupshashar, Mauni Baba. The holy man let him know that only Neem Karoli Baba has the power to bring her back to life. He suggested Motiram to think of Neem Karoli Baba and to ask him to fulfil his wish.
While Motiram was meditating in Anupshashar, Maharajji arrived at the house of the daughter of Motiram. No one knew him. He asked about the woman’s condition. He found out that the woman just died so he asked to be taken next to her. Then he squeezed over her lips few grapes. The heart of the woman started to beat again. He gave some instructions about the way she should be fed in the next days and left. After a short while the woman got healed.
Later on, it was discovered that the woman knew Maharajji. She met him when she was only six years old at the funerals of a family’s friend. Karoli Baba was impressed by the little girl, who was so tender, kind and loving, and at the same time watching astonished, for the first time, a dead body. Full of love, he called her and said: “Ask me anything you want!” And her request was to bring her back to life when she will die. Maharajji kept the promise he had made to a six years old child.
Another paranormal power manifested by Maharajji
One of the devotees guided by Neem Karoli Baba was military doctor in Jhanasi. He tells that one night, during World War II, his spiritual guide showed up at the gate of his house and asked him to stay there over night. Around 1 o’clock in the night Baba woke up and asked him to go quickly to the river next to the house and to throw in his blanket. The doctor did everything he was asked, even though he didn’t understand the reason. In the morning, Neem Karoli Baba explained these things: “I know your son is an officer in the army. Last night was a hard one for him. His troops couldn’t stand in front of a German attack. The soldiers were shattered. Your son himself had to run away, chased by Germans. He jumped over a bridge, in the water, hoping they will loose his track. But they’ve seen him and many bullets were shut towards him. The bullets ended in my blanket and they started to emanate an unbearable heat. That’s why I asked you to throw the blanket in the river, so I could rest.” The doctor was speechless. He didn’t see anything unordinary in the blanket he had thrown. Maharajji left the same day. Later on, the doctor received a letter from his son telling him what happen that night. It was the same story of his spiritual guide. The son also added: “I’m still wondering how in the world was it possible not be to killed, not even touched by the bullets? I don’t have even the smallest scratch. It was a miracle.”
The retreat of the waters
One summer, the waters of the Ganga River and its affluent Yamuna had grown and overflow while bringing floods to the region. The currents were extremely strong; the waters uprooted trees, ruined houses, and inundated the famous temple of Hanuman from Allahabad. The Minister of Defence arrived in that area to check for the damages and the priests of the temple asked him to do something to help them. The minister was a religious man so he advised all of them to look for the help of Neem Karoli Baba, as he heard that he is an incarnation of Hanuman. The Wiseman came and said: “It is not in my power to stop the floods. It’s God’s will.” Then he took a bit of water in the palm of his hand and drunk. Next day the waters receded.
Neem Karoli Baba would not allow some of his devotees to stay for too long in the ASHRAM. He would simply tell them to leave and, even though they might have gotten angry, there was always a reason he would have acted so. One man came to his ASHRAM for the first time, but right after seeing him, Baba threw him out. He came by bike, he had enough time… still, Baba drove him away while saying: “Leave! There is no place for you in here! And leave on the same way as you came.”
The man left filled with sadness. On the road back home he saw an accident. Among the injured people was his own son that he took immediately to the hospital. The doctors told him that if he would have been even a little bit late, his son would be already dead. But now he was out of any danger.