Neeb Karori Baba

Neem Karoli Baba

Shri Neem Karoli Baba or Shri Neeb Karori Baba (नीब करोरी बाबा) (died September 11, 1973, in Vrindavan, India), also known to followers as Maharaj-ji, was a Hindu guru and devotee of the Hindu deity Hanuman. He is known in the West for having been the guru of a number of Americans who travelled to India in the 1960s and 1970s and were responsible for the dissemination of his name in the West after their return, the most well known being the spiritual teachers Ram Dass and Bhagavan Das, and the musicians Krishna Das and Jai Uttal.

Sadhu and guru

The exact details of Neem Karoli Baba's birth and early years are not known. He was born as Lakshmi Narayan Sharma (in Akbarpur, Firozabad district in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. After an arranged marriage at the age of 11, he left his home and wandered extensively throughout northern India as a sadhu. During this time he was known under many names including Lakshman Das, Handi Wallah Baba, and Tikonia Walla Baba. When he did tapasya and sadhana at Bavania in Gujarat, he was known as Tallaiya Baba. In Vrindavan, local inhabitants addressed him by the name of Chamatkari Baba (miracle baba). He was considered by many to be a saint.

Neem Karoli was a life-long adept of bhakti yoga, and encouraged service to others(seva) as the highest form of unconditional devotion to God. In the book Miracle of Love, compiled by Ram Dass, a devotee named Anjani shares the following account:

There can be no biography of him. Facts are few, stories many. He seems to have been known by different names in many parts of India, appearing and disappearing through the years. His western devotees of recent years knew him as Neem Karoli Baba, but mostly as “Maharajji” – a nickname so commonplace in India that one can often hear a tea vendor addressed thus. Just as he said, he was ‘nobody.’ 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. Visitors came and went; they were given food, a few words, a nod, a slap on the head or back, and they were sent away. There was gossip and laughter for he loved to joke. 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. Who he was no more than the experience of him, the nectar of his presence, the totality of his absence...

Notable disciples

Among the most well known of Maharaj-ji's disciples were Ram Dass, the author of Be Here Now, teacher/performer Bhagavan Das, and the musicians Jai Uttal and Krishna Das. Other notable devotees include humanitarian Larry Brilliant and his wife Girija, as well as Dada Mukerjee (former professor at Allahabad University, Uttar Pradesh, India).

After returning to the United States, Ram Dass and Larry Brilliant founded the Seva Foundation, an international development organization committed to applying the teachings of Neem Karoli Baba toward ending world poverty. Seva is based in Berkeley, California, and Ram Dass still serves on the Board of Directors to this day. Larry Brilliant today is the Director of Google.org, Google's philanthropic arm.

Notes

References

  • Das, Bhagavan (1997). It's Here Now (Are You?) Broadway. ISBN 0-7679-0009-X
  • Dass, Ram (1971). Be Here Now. Three Rivers Press. ISBN 0-517-54305-2
  • Dass, Ram (1979). Miracle of Love: Stories about Neem Karoli Baba. Hanuman Foundation. ISBN 1-887474-00-5
  • Mukerjee, Dada (2001). By His Grace: A Devotee's Story. Hanuman Foundation. ISBN 0-9628878-7-0
  • Mukerjee, Dada (2001). The Near and the Dear: Stories of Neem Karoli Baba and His Devotees. Hanuman Foundation. ISBN 1-887474-02-1
  • Pande, Ravi Prakash (2003). Divine Reality: Shri Baba Neeb Karori Ji Maharaj. Shri Kainchi Hanuman Mandir Ashram.

External links

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