In the year 203 A.D., on the 30th day of November. In a small village now known as parangipettai, in Tamil Nadu, India, near where the Cauvery River flows into the Indian Ocean, a child was born. The name Nagaraj was given to this child by his parents. Nagaraj means 'Kings of the seprents', to honour the great primordial force kundalini Shakti. The child's brith coincided with the ascendancy (Nakshatra) of the star Rohini, and was in the WaladaGotra (blood group). It is the same star under which Lord Krishna, the Avatar or incarnation of God, had been born. Thebrith of the child Nagaraj took place during the celebration of Kartikai Deepam, the Festival of Lights.
Nagaraj was five years old. One day he was standing to the left of the entrance gate, near the wall, inside the Parangipettai Shiva temple compound, observing the crowd gathered for a religious ceremony, when a foreigner suddenly seized him by the arm and carried him off. The kidnapper was a visiting trader from Baluchistan, which is now a part of Pakistan.
The fair, handsome features of Nagaraj had attracted the rogue who saw in the child the potential for profit as a slave. Undetected by anyone in the village, he took Nagaraj on a sailboat northwards, more than a thousand miles up the coast, until they reached a port near present-day Calcutta. There the trader sold Nagaraj to a wealthy man as a slave.
His new owner was a kind man who gave Nagaraj his freedom shortly thereafter. As is often the case, What seemed to have been a great tragedy, actually set the stage for the liberation of Nagaraj from the duties and limitations of a Brahmain householder. After being freed by his kind benefactor, Nagaraj joined a small group of wandering sannyasins. He was attracted by their radiant faces and love for God. During the next few years he wandered from place to place with various sannyasins, studying the sacred scriptures of India, such as the Vedas, the Bhagavad Gita. His reputation as a scholar grew and he was often invited to debate with other pundits and leaders belonging to various metaphysical schools of thought.
It was a period in which many competing philosophies existed, and there was great freedom of self-expression. Nagaraj would debate on metaphysical topics with various scholars, about the nature of the soul and reality. He was able to clarify points and resolve disputes with an erudition that was astonishing, especially for one so young.
Nagaraj felt that his scholarship, with regards to the scriptures, was not bringing him any closer to self realization, lasting happiness and fulfilment. He became increasing dissatisfied, like a person behind a wall, jumping up and down to get a glimpse of the beautiful garden on the other side. As he matured, Nagaraj came to understand that only a permanent change in consciousness, God- realization, could end his search for such fulfilment. His fame as a scholar was becoming a source of distraction and metaphysical disputes were not bringing him closer to the goal of enlightenment. No amount of words, no matter how reasoning. As yet, Nagaraj had found no guide or method to help him reach his goal.
At the age of eleven young Babaji made a long and difficult journey on foot and by boat, with a group of scholarly ascetics from Benares to the sacred shrine of Katirgama in Sri Lanka (formerly known as Ceylon), near the southernmost tip of the island. The main temple in Katirgama, established by Siddha Boganathar, unlike all other temples, contains no carved image of God. Instead, Boganathar installed a mystic yantra (geometric design) carved into a golden plate, representing within its form and mantra syllables, a crystallization of the great deity, Murugan.
Babaji met Siddha Boganathar at Katirgama and, seeing his greatness, became his disciple. Sitting under a large spreading banyan tree with him for six months, Nagaraj perfomed intensive yogic sadhanas (practices), in particular various dhyanakriyas (meditation techniques) into which he was initiated by Boganathar. The tapas (intensive yogic practice) was done for long periods without a break, initially for twenty-four hours, and later for days and weeks (up to 48 days) at a time.
During this period, Boganathar watched and progressively initiated Nagaraj into more advanced kriyas. For the first time, with deepening meditation experiences, the truths studied and debated as a scholar, became a reality for him. The various meditation kriyas unchained his mind from the limiting processes of the thinking mind, allowing his consciousness to expand and realize its identity with an undifferentiated absolute reality.The I-consciousness receded and a Thou consciousness became established in a series of experiences.
In the early stages of God-communion (sarvikalpa Samadhi) his consciousness merged in the Cosmic Spirit; his life force withdrew from the physical body, leaving it completely motionless and cold as though it were dead.
The Samadhi experiences deepened gradually over the months with Boganathar, reaching a climax with a vision of Lord Kumaraswamy (Murugan) in his form as the eternal youth. Babaji then realized that he was incarnating the consciousness of Lord murugan and under Boganathar's guidance, he thoroughly analysed the ten systems of Indian philosophy and came to understand and appreciate the full significance of Siddhantham.
Boganathar inspired his disciple, Babaji, to seek this objective of Siddhantha Yoga, and so directed him to seek initiation in to kriyaKundalini Pranayama from the legendary Siddha Agastyar at Courtrallam in the Pothigai Hills of Tamil Nadu, in what is now the Tinnevely District. Babaji travelled on foot to Courtrallam, Tamil Nadu, southern India and, on arriving there at the Shakti Peetam (one of the sixty-four shrines throughout India dedicated to God as the Divine Mother), he made a solemn vow to remain at that spot until Agastyar would initiate him into the secrets of Yoga.
After fixing himself in a particular asana (meditation posture), in order to steel himself for the coming ordeal, Babaji closed his eyes and began to pray with all of his body, heart, mind and soul, for days. He prayed that Agastyar would come and initiate him. Some pilgrims, recognizing the greatness of his quest, would at times feed him or give him water to drink but, despite the rain, insects, heat and dust, he would not allow himself to leave the place, so intense was his resolve. When doubts assailed him, he compared them to the dust that blew around him. Nothing held any significance to him – not even death. He would not allow the fear of suffering or death to affect him.
His love for Agastyar, as the personification of the Divine for whom he was seeking, grew day by day, dispelling the clouds of despair, boredom and desire for relief which threatened to engulf him from all sides. His physical body became more emaciated and weaker daily, and he looked upon his body as if it were not his own, surrendering his life into the hands of god. He knew that God would either grant his prayers to see Agastyar, or allow his life to end as he saw no more reason to continue living without the initiation of Agastyar.
On the forty-eighth day, when Babaji was on the verge of complete collapse, with great longing he began to simply repeat over and over again the name of Agastyar, when suddenly the eminent Siddha stepped out of the nearby forest and came up to where Babaji was sitting in prayer. Agastyar's heart melted in love for Babaji. He called Nagaraj's name in a soft voice and then embraced him. After giving him food and water, Agastyar initiated Nagaraj into the secrets of KriyaKundalini Pranayama (or VasiYogam,as it is otherwise referred to in the writings of the Siddhas).
Neelakantan Peak and the valley of Badrinath where Babaji attained immortality.
This powerful breathing technique is the crystallization of some of the most important teachings of the Tamil Yoga Siddhas, and Agastyar emphasized the strict conditions under which it was to be practiced and its potential for awakening the higher levels of consciousness, spiritual enlightenment and, ultimately, the transformation of all five bodies (physical, vital, mental, intellectual and spiritual). He then directed Babaji to go to Badrinath in the upper ranges of the Himalayan mountains, and to become the greatest Siddha the world had ever Known.
Babaji made the long pilgrimage to Badrinath and then spent eighteen long, lonely months in intensive practice of all the yogic Kriyas taught to him by his gurus Agastyar and Boganathar. After this period of arduous yogic discipline, Nagaraj entered a state of soruba Samadhi, wherein the Divinity descended, merged with and transformed his spiritual, intellectual, mental, vital and physical bodies, causing his physical body to become ageless and to sparkle with the golden lustre of Divine incorruptibility.
Badrinarayan Temple, Badrinath, en route to Babaji's ashram
Babaji's Ashram is near Badrinath in the Himalayas, and is Known as Gauri Shankar Peetam. It is surrounded by sheer rock cliffs on all four sides with a row of caves at their base. The largest cave belongs to Babaji, and in a corner opposite this cave are two waterfalls.
The fourteen residents of the ashram use the larger waterfall for bathing and the smaller one for drinking water. The water from both waterfalls forms two streams which join at the opposite end of the area and escape through a tunnel-like opening. Even at night, although there is no visible light source, the entire area is well lit. A mysterious force keeps anyone from approaching closer than a mile to the ashram, unless they have Babaji's permission.
MatajiNagalakshmiDeviyar (Babaji's paternal cousin), Known as Annai, also resides at the ashram. Her favourite means of worship is that of the feet of her Lord, Babaji, in a ceremony called PadaPoosai (pada means 'feet', and poosai to 'worship with flowers'). During this ceremony, she lovingly places the feet of Babaji on a silver plate, washes and annoints them with sesame oil, mung bean powder, milk and other fragrances or precious articles. She then adorns his feet with vibhuti (ash from the mantra yagna fire), kumkuma (a red powder from the vermillion flower), and a number of other flowers growing in the ashram.
The residents of the ashram adhere to a daily schedule centred around the practice of yogic sadhana, which includes asanas, pranayama, meditation, mantras and bhakti yoga. It is said that everyone awakens at four in the morning and, after bathing in the large waterfall, complete an hour of yogic sadhana, emphasizing pranayama.
In the afternoon, residents fellow their individual respective sadhanas with occasional consultation with Babaji on the practice of the techniques. According to eye- witness accounts, in the evening residents of the ashram sit in a circle and chant around a large homa fire in front of Babaji's cave. The favourite chant is Om KriyaBabajiNamahAum.
Babaji's loving personality, his warm sense of humour and universal compassion, endear him to all. If there was only one word to best describe him, it would be 'humility'. In discourses Babaji has spoken of Himself as being Absolute Existence, Truth and Bliss. He has referred to himself as the Impersonal Personality of the Universe, the All in One, and the One in All, the Immortal, Infinite and Eternal Self. One should learn KriyaDharana Yoga (meditation) to fully experience His Divine Personality.
Kriya Yoga sadhaks should understand that the 'heaven on earth' Gauri Shankar Peetam exists not only in the Himalayas, but also within the hearts of Babaji's devotees. His physical ashram remains inaccessible because Babaji prefers to work silently and anonymously in the world, helping thousands of devotees and millions of souls to evolve at their own pace. Like a great broadcasting station. He beams out His message of Universal Love and Peace to all.