Tibbetibaba

Tibbetibaba

Tibbetibaba(also known as Tibetan Baba or the Monk from Tibet),originally named Nabin Chandra,was a famous Bengali philosopher saint who lived till the third decade of the twentieth century.He was one of the few saints in India whose life was an amalgamation of the Advaita Vedanta doctrine of Hinduism and Mahayana Buddhist doctrine.Swami Vivekananda,in spite of being an ardent believer of Vedanta, was also a great admirer of Gautam Buddha.Vivekananda had called Buddha the ideal Karma yogi.Tibbetibaba,originally named Nabin Chandra,was a master of all the eight siddhis and had remarkable healing powers. Even though he was master of all the siddhis, yet he was not personally interested in using them.

Biography

Early life

Nabin Chandra was born to a Bengali Rarhi Brahmin family. His father was a Tantra yogi who had settled in Assam.While his mother was a Shaivite(one who is an ardent devotee of Shiva).He was born on 18th November(it corresponded 2nd Agrahayana of Bengali calendar of the year of his birth) of an unknown year. His father had died when he was very young. So his mother had to bear great hardships to bring him up.

From his childhood Nabin Chandra had keen interest in nature and used to think about the Maker of this world. But his ideas about the Maker did not tally with his late father's or mother's concept of God. His idea was that God must be very different from what common men and women think him or her to be.

Sannyasa

As years passed by, Nabin Chandra entered into the world of teenage. His ideas about God became even more profound. One night, on the occasion of Shivratri festival, he had a brief quarrel regarding God.Consequently; he left his home after when he was a teenager in search of the Person Who has created this world.

In Ayodhya

After leaving his home, Nabin Chandra met a group of pilgrims in an inn. The destination of the group was Ayodhya, the birth place of Lord Rama. Nabin Chandra had made up his mind to become sanyasi (a wandering monk) in search of god. He requested the pilgrims to take him with them. The group members agreed and son began Nabin Chandra’s long journey from Assam to Ayodhya.When the group reached Ayodhya, the members except Nabin Chandra began to pay reverence to Lord Rama.

Nabin Chandra's mind was engrossed somewhere else. His concept of God was of indeterminate type, unlike deities like Rama, Shiva and others. So one day he quietly left the group. After crossing the Sarayu River, he headed towards the north. He finally reached Nepal.

In Nepal

In Nepal, Nabin Chandra met an unknown Hindu monk who was living in a hut near a mountainous river. He began living with the monk. One winter night he expressed to him his desire of acquiring the knowledge of God. The monk asked him to immediately take a dip in the river. He took a dip in the river and approached the monk and was made a disciple. The monk explained that he has to make an all-out effort to acquire the knowledge of God. He asked Nabin Chandra about his favorite object of love at his home.Nabin Chandra replied that he loved his lamb very dearly. As he was just a teenager, so his guru asked him to meditate on favorite object of his love i.e. the lamb.

After some years of rigorous meditation Nabin Chandra, finally attained Samadhi (super-concentration).Thus he had acquired knowledge of Brahman in animals(according to Advaita Vedanta Brahman is present even in animals).

In Manasarovar, Tibet

After attaining knowledge of Brahman in animals, Nabin Chandra headed for Manasarovar Lake in Tibet. He finally managed to reach there, unmindful of the obstacles that he had encountered during his journey from Nepal to Mansarovar Lake in Tibet.

Having reached, the lake he chose a cave near the lake and began meditating on God. He desired to have vision of Brahman (Indeterminate and attributeless God according to Hinduism).Even after meditating for many days; he could finally only see darkness as the object of his vision.

Suddenly one day he saw a Tibetan Buddhist Lama standing on the entrance of the cave. He thought that perhaps God has sent the person to assist him in his aim of God-realisation.So he earnestly requested the Lama to make him his disciple and help him in realizing the knowledge of God.

The Tibetan Mahayana Lama agreed to make him his disciple but explained that he did not know the Advaita method of spiritual practice. Since he was a Mahayana monk, he could only teach him Mahayana method of spiritual practice.Nabin Chandra explained that knowledge of Brahman according to Advaita principles is equivalent to Nirvana of Buddhism and so he was willing to become his disciple. So under the guidance of the Lama, Nabin Chandra Mahayana learnt spiritual practices and beliefs. Now it became easier for him to meditate on Nirguna Brahman (God who is infinite and without attributes).but he realized that by first meditating on Saguna Brahman (God with attributes) he could easily concentrate his mind on Nirguna Brahman (God without attributes).With the change in technique he finally realized his cherished dream of attaining the knowledge of Nirguna Brahman.

His Wanderings

Having realized the knowledge of Brahman, Nabin Chandra decided to come down to the plains and wander, following the ideal of his Tibetan Mahayana Guru (The Tibetan Mahayana Lama)of alleviating the pains and sufferings of the people of the world and inspire them to realize the knowledge of God.

Tibbetibaba (Nabin Chandra) traveled far and wide spanning the length and breadth of India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Myanmar, enjoying the indescribable beauty of the Nirguna Brahman who manifests all beings of this world. Like his ideal Lord Buddha, he alleviated the sufferings of distressed organisms. He followed Lord Buddha’s path of love, non-violence and compassion for all living beings, enjoying the presence of Brahman in all beings at the same time. Such was his love for Lord Buddha that he used to keep an idol of Lord Buddha beside him whenever he went to sleep.

In Kanpur

Kanpur was an important centre of resistance during Indian Rebellion of 1857 (also known as the First War of Indian Independence and the Sepoy Mutiny). Revolt broke out on June, 1857 and Nana Sahib was declared as the Peshwa of Kanpur. The rebels defeated General Hugh Wheeler outside the city. But after a pitched battle Sir Colin Campbell recaptured Kanpur on December, 1857. Nana Sahib and his Lieutenant, Tantiya Tope, escaped the city. Now the British ire was directed against the common people of Kanpur. Atrocities began to be committed against the masses. Even innocent men and women were not spared. Many people were being imprisoned in the prison-houses. Wandering from place to place, Nabin Chandra appeared in Kanpur. He was pained to see the people of Kanpur being oppressed by the British soldiers and officers. He decided to intervene. He introduced himself as a monk from Tibet (as he had secured spiritual Enlightment in Tibet) and asked a British officer to stop oppressing the innocent people. But his request went unheeded. Consequently he had to use his spiritual power to temporarily weaken the soldiers under the British officer. Now the officer had to heed to his request. Nabin Chandra also met the senior officer posted in the city and voluntarily got himself imprisoned to check how the prisoners were being treated. Finally the senior military officer realized his mistake and ordered the release of Nabin Chandra and other prisoners who were with him.Nabin Chandra also got an assurance that innocent people would not be punished by the British military officers and soldiers under them. At this the released prisoners and the people present at the scene hailed Nabin Chandra as their savior and coined the name Tibbetibaba for him.

Revisit to Nepal

He is among the very few saints in India who have made their soul to permanently or temporarily enter into another human body (another known saint said to have achieved the feat is Adi Shankara.He did it when Ubhaya Bharati,the wife of Mandana Mishra,challenged him to have a debate on the "science of sex-love”. So to learn the practical aspects of love-making, he entered his soul into the body of a dead king for period of one month. Consequently Ubhaya Bharati was forced to accept defeat).

In Hinduism it is held that birth and death is like changing one’s cloth. Birth occurs when a soul enters a new body. When the soul discards the body the incident is called death.

When after wandering for many years, he found that his body has grown weak; he decided to enter his soul into the body of a Tibetan Buddhist monk. The soul of Tibetan Buddhist monk (Lama) had just permanently left its body.

Devotee of Buddha

Tibbetibaba was ardently devoted to Buddha. He incorporated into his life love, compassion and non-violence towards all living beings. These qualities were advocated by Buddha. He entered into Mahasamadhi at his ashram in Palitpur village in Burdwan, India, after keeping an idol of Buddha in front of him.

Ashram and Samadhi (tomb)

His ashram (Tibbettibaba Ashram) and Samadhi (tomb) is located at Palitpur village near Burdwan town of Burdwan district in West Bengal,India.Mathas(monasteries) were established at Dalal Pukur,Howarh and in Kankurgachi,Kolkata to assist in spiritual progress of people.

Healing Powers

He had remarkable healing powers. His healing powers (combined with his knowledge of innumerable herbs and animal products) alleviated the diseases and physical problems of many people.

Teachings

  • One must not consider oneself as body or mind as each person is the supreme infinite soul or God (This teaching is in accordance with the Advaita philosophy).
  • One must lead one's life based on truth.
  • The causes of emotions like fear and shame is the false association of Self or Atman (soul) with the body and mind. When one gets knowledge that Self or Atman(soul) is different from body or mind, then these emotions disappear
  • When people get entangled in evil deeds they can again become pure and good by means of good discourse and suggestion.
  • One cannot fully love another person without seeing oneself in the other person.

Notable disciples

1) Dharmadas Rai: He was perhaps the greatest devotee and disciple of Tibbetibaba.He was a companion of Tibbettibaba in his wanderings to southern India. He was a resident of Channa village.

2) Dr. Kunjeshwar Mishra: He had published a biography on Tibbetibaba.He was resident of north Kolkata.

3) Akshay Mitra.

6) Soham Swami, whose original name was Shyamakanta Bandopaddhyaya, was Tibbetibaba's Advaita Vedantic disciple. He had so much physical strength that he could wrestle even tigers.Soham Swami had ashram in both Nainital and Haridwar .He had also written two books named Soham Gita and Soham Samhita.

Jatindra Nath Banerjee, who was a very active revolutionary (of India's Freedom Struggle) during the first decade of the twentieth century of India’s freedom struggle, perhaps became the most famous disciple of Soham Swami.He was among the initial members of Anushilan Samiti which was established in the year 1902. He was rechristened Niralamba Swami and he established an ashram at Channa village, Burdwan, India.Niralamba Swami had hailed Tibbetibaba as one of the greatest exponent of Advaita Vedanta after Adi Shankara when he visited him at his ashram in Channa village.

7) Mong Paine: He was a Burmese.

8) Bhootnath Ta: He was the landlord of Palitpur village, near Burdwan town in the Burdwan district of West Bengal in India. He had donated land for the Palitpur ashram. His ancestors at present are living in Burdwan town.

9) Dharma Das Mondal: He was a resident of Palitpur village.

10) Dwijapada: Tibbetibaba had narrated many incidents related to his life to him.

11) Sadhana Moitra: She was a direct female disciple of Tibbetibaba. Dr. Kunjeshwar Mishra was the husband of the sister-in-law of Sadhana Moitra.

Philosophy

He aspired and practised Mahayana doctrine and the Advaita Vedanta doctrine at the same time. The Universalism of Mahayana ideal helped him to reach the infinite world of knowledge of Brahman of Advaita Vedanta.He had said that the experience of knowing Brahman can also make a person to realize the Universalism of the Mahayana doctrine. It helps a person to embrace the whole world.

According to him when the believers of Advaita Vedanta attain success in their endeavor of knowing Brahman then the name differences (Nama Bheda), visual perception differences (Rupa Bheda) and the differences in attributes (Guna Bheda) of the world slowly vanish for the yogi.in other words homogeneous differences (Sajatiya Bheda), heterogeneous differences (Vijatiya Bheda) and internal differences (Svagata Bheda) slowly disappear. Then it becomes say for the believer to easily love any living being or non-living thing. This can easily help in transmitting Buddha's message of love, compassion, goodwill and non-violence to any living being, even to wild and ferocious animals.

He stressed the fact that one gains the knowledge of Atman (soul) by great efforts. Atman is self-illuminating and of the nature of true knowledge. Attaining Nirvana is equivalent to knowing the Atman.By knowing the Atman all animate as well as inanimate things can be known. Without knowing the Atman the perception of differences cannot vanish and consequently one finds it difficult to fully show compassion and love towards all living-beings.

He also said that the Upanishads declare that there is nothing beyond the Atman and Paramatma (God) is the highest manifestation of Atman.

Buddha means 'The Enlightened One.' Buddha identified oneself with everyone in this world. A Soham Swami or Paramahamsa (According to Advaita Vedanta any person who reaches the pinnacle of spirituality is known as Soham Swami or Paramahamsa) also does the same. Thus we find that Advaita Vedanta and Mahayana doctrine may have differences, but, they also have similarities. The similarities are with regard to the nature of truth and truth is universal.

There is no great difference Brahman or Paramatma of Vedanta and Universalism of Mahayana doctrine. Just as lord Buddha told that when one cultivates goodwill towards this whole world just as a mother protects it child, then one develops infinite kindness for all living-beings. This kindness is without any obstacles, hatred and enmity in the mind. This type of attitude is to be found in Advaita Vedanta also. It is known as Brahman (Brahma) vihara (Brahma vihara living and moving and having one's happiness in the attitude of Brahman).So Brahma vihara is equivalent to Buddha's infinite friendly attitude, goodwill and compassion towards all living-beings.

Tibbetibaba knew the similarities and dissimilarities between Mahayana doctrine and Advaita Vedanta doctrine, but he laid stress on the similarities. He led a life based on the similarities.

Views

On Sky

That God exists is proved by the fact that the sky in spite of being empty is still filled with light(during daytime).

On Snake

When a snake touches and coils itself around the body of a person absorbed in deep meditation and person does not feel the presence of the snake then the person is said to have achieved perfection in meditation.

See also

Further reading

  • Ghosh, Sudhanshu Ranjan, "Bharater Sadhak O Sadhika", India: Tuli Kalam Publication, 1, College Row, Kolkata – 700 009 (1992.Bengali calendar year – 1399), pp. 318-343
  • Chakravorty, Subodh, "Bharater Sadhak – Sadhika", India: Kamini Publication, 115, Akhil Mistry Lane, Kolkata – 700 009 (1997.Bengali calendar year – 1404), Volume 1, pp. 450–478 and 500-522

References

  • Ghosh, Sudhanshu Ranjan, "Bharater Sadhak O Sadhika", India: Tuli Kalam Publication, 1, College Row, Kolkata – 700 009 (1992.Bengali calendar year – 1399), pp. 318-343
  • Chakravorty, Subodh, "Bharater Sadhak – Sadhika", India: Kamini Publication, 115, Akhil Mistry Lane, Kolkata – 700 009 (1997.Bengali calendar year – 1404), Volume 1, pp. 450–478 and 500-522
  • Grover, G.L. & Grover, S., A New Look At Modern Indian History (17th ed.), India: S. Chand Publication (2000). ISBN 81-219-0532-X, pp. 283-284.
  • Murphet, Howard, Sai Baba: Man of Miracles, Weiser Boo Publication, (1977). ISBN 0877283354, p. 152. Page available
  • Sanyal, Jagadiswar, Guide To Indian Philosophy (1996 ed.), India: Sribhumi Publishing Company (1999), 79, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Kolkata - 700 009.
  • "Thus Spake the Buddha", India: Sri Ramakrishna Math, Mylapore, Chennai - 600 004. ISBN 81-7120-113-X, pp. 13 and 42
  • "Complete Works of Rabindranath Tagore", India: Black Rose publications, 229, Bhola Nath Nagar, Shahdara, New Delhi - 110 032, p. 379
  • Hornby, A S, "Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary of Current English" (5th ed.), UK: Oxford University Press (1998). ISBN 0 19 431445 6, pp. 1433-1475.

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