Baba Sri Nimkaroli Maharaj
by Swami Krishnananda

(Printed in the February 1985 issue of The Divine Life Magazine.)

Saints are Men of God, because their existence in the world is a visible manifestation of the Perfection of God. Human mortals are likely to imagine that a state of perfection is a condition of possessing many things, or even everything, if possible. Perfection is mostly equated with richness, and the rich is the one who has all the physical amenities, social status, and the like, all which, again, are external possessions. Men of God, who are the saints, do not possess anything, and yet they are perfect Persons. There must be some explanation for this.

What is the mystery? The mystery is, indeed, the Glory of God Himself. The status which is known as God-Being cannot be regarded as one of large estates or possessions. It is a total existence in which the universal comprehension of all things is indwelt by an Omnipresent Soul. The life of a saint reflects this grand totality of Self-completion, and, so, while a saint possesses nothing, he may, at the same time, be said to glory in the possession of everything.

Such a recent manifestation of Divine greatness amidst us was the reputed His Holiness Sri Nimkaroli Baba Maharaj. The details of his life are not known to people and practically nothing has been revealed to anyone of his spiritual career or the meditations which must have installed him in the status in which he was. Many a story about how he came to be known to the public has been told by devotees, admirers and informed persons. The almost uniformly accepted phenomenon which reveals his greatness is said to be an incident in a railway train which stopped moving on the railway because of the authorities not allowing him entry into the carriage without an official ticket. There are others who narrate the incident with a different version, stating that the Baba who stood there under a neem tree, near which the train stood motionless, produced from the leaves of the tree several authorised railway tickets and threw them down for the choice of the ticket collectors as they pleased. Whether he boarded the train or walked away is, again, a matter of different versions come down like epic episodes.

Stories are also prevalent that his movements were almost like those of the wind, so that his exact location at a time would not be known to anyone. It is said that he would be visible at some place, to people around, and he would run very fast, out of the sight of the people, and then not be seen anywhere. Narrations also have come down to us that he would be seen simultaneously in two places -- that is, he would vanish in one place and, at the same time, be seen at some other far-off place.

Such miraculous feats we otherwise hear of in the case of the more ancient master, Sadasiva Brahmendra Sarasvati of Nerur in Southern India. I have also heard from a Maharashtrian Swamiji in the Ashram that one Swami Vasudevananda Sarasvati in Maharashtra used to perform such miracles frequently of disappearing in one place and appearing at once in a distant place. As regards Sadasiva Brahmendra, it is said that children used to play with him and, casually having heard of his great powers, would ask him to take them to a far-off place of a festival which they would like to witness. It appears that the great Siddha that he was used to ask children one by one to perch on his back and close their eyes, and in a minute they would be in the place of their choice. Wonder, indeed!

Though I have heard much of the greatness of Revered Nimkaroli Maharaj, I had the fortune of seeing him physically only once on a bright evening, some years back, in this Ashram. I was sitting in my room, and Sri Swami Shanmukhanandaji Maharaj of the Ashram, who happened to decipher the saint moving on the common way near the Ganga, suddenly came and told me, "Nimkaroli Baba has come. He is there outside." Everyone rushed out to greet the Baba, and he was seen near the doorway of the old room of catering to guests, adjacent to the kutir of H.H. Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj. When Sri Swami Shanmukhanandaji requested the holy Baba to accept some warm milk, he appears to have immediately replied, "Yes, yes, give me."

The residents of the Ashram then led the holy Baba to the room where I was residing, and he was seated on a cot, while all of us squatted on the floor near him. Warm milk was brought and I had the blessing of offering with my own hands milk to the Baba little by little, in a steel cup. Babaji drank the entire glassful of milk, slowly. When I was offering it in the cup a little of it got spilt down, and the people around exclaimed, "Glory, glory!" It is believed, it appears, in some tradition, if milk gets a little spilt when drinking, it is an indication of blessing to the one who has offered it. This was the reason why the people cried out in that way. Incidentally, it is also believed among religious circles that if someone offers flowers to a deity in a temple, and if one of the flowers drops down from the body of the deity, the offerer immediately rushes forth to receive it back as a glorious sacramental blessing.

The persons seated round the Babaji wanted to ask him some questions, but he went on repeating the words, "Do work, do work" ("Kam karo"). He would not say anything else.

Sri Swami Madhavanandaji Maharaj, who was also present then, said in a happy mood, "I am indeed glad that His Holiness is giving the right instruction to our people." Babaji spoke nothing else.

Sri Swami Nirmalanandaji from the Ashram tried to introduce me by saying something, but the Baba's response was a magnificent silence, which could be interpreted also as a gracious and condescending smile. One could make out anything from his gesture. When he went on saying, "Do work," "Do work," again and again, and then added, "Let me be alone for some time," which was the only other sentence that he spoke, all others left, except Sri Swami (Dr.) Hridayananda Mataji and myself who was seated near the Babaji looking at him for any instruction, order, or command. Swami Nirmalanandaji again said something standing near the doorway, attempting to bring Babaji to a mood of conversation, but the Baba maintained silence. And we sat with him, maintaining silence and thinking whatever was in our minds. After about ten or fifteen minutes of that silent session, the Babaji left the place in the direction of the Rishikesh town. People tried to follow him, but they could not see him after some distance and then returned in a disturbed joy of having seen him and yet of not being able to see him more.

I have also heard that the late Sri Prakash Krishanji, the then Commissioner of this Division, who was an ardent devotee of Baba Nimkaroliji, had begged Babaji to be accepted as his disciple, but Babaji appears to have told Sri Prakash Krishanji that his Guru was in Sivananda Ashram, and he might go there. Prakash Krishanji was ill with some chronic disease which alarmed him, for which sake particularly he must have asked for this blessing. The devotion of Sri Prakash Krishanji to Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj, the Guru to whom he was directed by Babaji, doubled or even trebled when he could feel satisfaction that his chronic agony vanished after he came in contact with the Guru of Sivananda Ashram. Many other such stray incidents are narrated galore about the miraculous Babaji.

Now, what is our point in recalling to memories bygone events and incidents concerning saints and sages? The purpose is the simple necessity to charge the batteries of our personalities by the forces generated in our minds in contemplating the gigantic powerhouses of their holy visage, their lives, their deeds and their startling behaviour which often put out of gear the mechanistic movement of normal human life in the world which is accustomed to follow the beaten track of the search for brittle joys, promised but not guaranteed, by contacts which earthly existence means.

The descents, though occasional, of surprising and supernormal personages of the kind we are remembering now should be considered as repeated reminders from God, The Almighty, that there are duties of man more than, and far above, the drudgeries of compulsive associations that go by the name of the much-adumbrated social, economic and political involvements engendered by the very limitations to which is subject the whole being and structure of humanity.