Baba’s birth, family and childhood

In the latter half of nineteenth century a family devoted to Lord Shiva lived in a village in the Dharwad district of Karnataka province. The couple lives a pious life decreed and ordained by religious codes of the times. They were ever ready to welcome and serve any quest that happened to pass by. The business-savvy husband and his devoted wife led a happy and contented life and were deeply immersed in the worship of Lord Shiva. A divine soul took birth in this devoted family on an auspicious Thursday. The day of the birth of this divine consciousness fell on Guru Purnima (a full moon day falling on the day dedicated to the Guru).

After performing customary religious rituals, the infant was christened as Satya Prakash. This infant, later on, was recognized as saint Baba Prakashpuri and his devotees and disciples looked upon him as a symbol of faith. Though, there is no authentic evidence available, it can be safely presumed that Baba was born in the first decade of latter-half of the nineteenth century. This assumption is fortified by a statement made by Baba. When once a reference to Sai Baba of Shirdi was made he said : “ I am a witness to his spiritual fame.” By this it may be assumed that Baba Prakashpuri must be at least twenty years old, when Shirdi Sai Baba – born in 1838 – may have attained name and fame in the spiritual realm. Indeed, Shri Sai Baba must have reached the pinnacle of his spiritual attainments by the age of forty.

The Shiva devotee family which became instrumental in bringing Baba to this ethereal world, welcomed saints with joy. The couple felt happy in serving these saints. Growing up in such a religious environment, the child Satya Prakash, was granted an easy accessibility to the great souls.
The child Satya Prakash was having an extra ordinary dream regularly and repeatedly. He would dream that instead of wearing the normal clothes worn by a boy, he was wearing the saffron clothes. It is possible that these dreams occurred because of the influence of the saffron-attired saints who frequented his house at most regular intervals. Anyway, the repeated occurrence of this dream filled the child’s heart with a strange fascination for saffron clothes. He, now, started enjoying the company of holy men and saints. It seemed that he was gradually moving towards the illumined world of school and moving towards the illumined world of spirituality. He would humbly present to the sadhus whatever he possessed. Slowly, but certainly, his mind now was moving towards the world of renunciation and detachment.

Giving up the school education, Satya Prakash become eager to sit at the feet of a Sadguru so that he could realize his spiritual self. His mother soon becomes conscious of the change in Satya Prakash’s attitude. She asked him; “Son, what is the matter? Why do you hide it from me? Tell me what troubles your mind?” On being asked thus, the son reveled his mind to the mother. At that time, he must have been eleven or twelve in age. Nevertheless, he did not leave his home for another six year. Performing the usual domestic chores, he pondered over the questions related to God. At last, the day came when he, somehow, persuaded his parents to allow him to move on the path of philanthropy and godliness. Having sought the permission from his parents, Satya Prakash, at long last, renounced his home and stepped into a world of which he had only faint hints until now.

At the feet of Baba Guptpuri

After renouncing home and family, the young Satya Prakash went to Sri shail mountain to have a darshan (holy glimpse) of Sri mallika-arjin Jyotirlingam (luminous phallic symbol, an emblem of Lord Shiva). This darshan triggered a happy augury of his devotion to Lord Shiva. That very night he went to stay in a nearby pilgrim’s rest house. Co-incidentally two saints also came and stayed at the same rest house. These saints had to reach their Guru named Guptpuri at his hermitage at Kajrivan. Taking it is a happy signal from his cajoled these saints who ultimately allowed him to accompany them to the hermitage. Thus, he reached the lotus feet of the enlightened Yogi (ascetic) Guptpuri. As Satya Prakash reached the hermitage and had a glimpse of the radiant face of the saint, he was transfixed for a moment; it seemed as some memory from some past birth was suddenly resurrected. He felt that the Guru, that he was so earnestly searching, sat before his very eyes.

The young disciple started serving his Guru with full devotion. His austere perseverance, through his service of his Guru, his master, had now started taking shape. He would raise much before dawn; collect dry branched for fire rituals, would clean and mop the hermitage. Besides these routine chores, Satya Prakash would sit at the feet of the Guru and serve him with full devotion. This complete surrender to the Guru and a sense of undiluted service, gave him purer joy. With the passage of time Satya Prakash delved deeper in the service of his Guru. Though the recluse, Satya Prakash believed that there was no religious practice better than service to the Guru, Baba Guptpuri made him an adept in all the techniques of Yoga and meditation. Not only this, he showered his affection by regressing his disciple with his spiritual powers and boons.
He decided new to initiate his disciple into Sanyas Ashram (a sate of renunciation and detachment) by whispering the Guru Mantra (preceptor’s secret message) into his ear. The god of time, was as if, wailing for this opportune time. On this auspicious occasion, Baba Guptpuri also expressed his desire in the presence of his entire disciple to bequeath.

His thoughts and Philosophy

Baba Prakashpuri  was a man of detachment.. However, for his attendants and disciples he was very kind-hearted and generous. One would come across  numerous devotees telling stories about his generosity. Sitting before his Dhoona (religious ash-pit) he would be immersed in his meditation. After an exchange of greetings by pronouncing the holy wood “Hari-Om” and enquiring about the devotee’s will-being, he would ask him if would have a cup of tea. Nobody could ever dream of  attaining proximity to Baba on the basis of his social, economic or political prestige or status.

Baba Prakashpuri  was a simple, and unostentatious saint . He was at peace with his own inner self. He was one such rare Guru who would always discourage his own worship by his disciples. On being cajoled and requested repeatedly, only once in his life-time did he concede to  get consecrated by his devotees. He believed in humanitarianism and  was unconnected in  the absolute sense. Though he was, without doubt, extra-ordinary, he strove to remain ordinary. Whether it  was organizing a free-meal for the poor on a grand scale in Maha Kumbh Fair at Haridwar, or the consecration of Shiva Lingum by the five top Shivacharyas (top ordained devotees of lord Shiva), He always desisted from taking a very special persons seat on the gaudy dais meant for.

Baba  always remained aloof from the feeling that he was the foes. If somebody praised him for getting something done. He would always say: “All this has been done by Naryana (God). Who am I to do it?” The Mahakumbh Bhandara (free community meals was organized at a gigantic scale. After its unprecedented success when the Mahamandeleshwaras (chief or the presiding officers of the various religious seats) enquired about the saint who organized the meals at such a grand scale, they were surprised the meals to find sitting modesty amidst some carefree saints. Baba did not believe in attachment or accumulation. He had overcome his worldly desires and had reduced his needs to the bare minimum. A believer in detachment, he was blissfully content; he was against any kind of indulgence. He used to say: “the ask someone for something is like asking for death.” In the context of Sadhus, he would stress; “If a saint begs for in God’s generosity. In case one has to seek from the world, then he should not don a saints attire. If from  has to seek something, one should seek it from the bountiful God. It is the God who provides for us all. It is he who preserves us all. He would take care of us all; he would shower his benediction on all’. In this scene he was the guardian of the saints’ grace. He believed that faith in God; contentedness and abstinence from carnal pleasures are the only assets of a saint. He also believed that it is the devotion of the faithful disciple that is important to the Guru and not his worldly assets. A poor man’s hearty greeting “Hari-Om” was dearer to him then an indifferent but affluent man’s offerings.

Baba Prakashpuri, envisioned the presence of God in all men and women, Baba respected all religions. In the same way, he would respect all birds, animals, even insects. He would never ask anyone who visited his Ashram anything about his caste or his hermitage as “swami” (Master) and each women as “Mai”(Mother) . Further, each devotee was free to worship the deity he had faith in, or meditate in his own individual way in his Ashram. Even toady one could come across a few foreigner devotees who would spot an image of Jesus Christ in Baba’s person. On many occasions sufi quawwals would be singing their quawallis  in the  worship of Allah  as they before Baba’s statue. Sufi quawwals  are singers, generally Muslim, who clap their palms rhythmically as they sing their quawallis which are primarily spiritual or metaphysical compositions.    

Baba, as a saint believed in renouncing the worldly possession. He would distribute among the needy even those articles which were of immediate use and would often say; “I do not want to possess anything. Narayana (God) will care of may tomorrow. He believed only in the karma (action). He had numberless disciples; many among them were men with family. He preached that act well even in the face of adversity. He believed that laboring hard was nothing but virtuous action. So he always gave due respect to all those who worked in the hermitage their due remuneration.

Babaji was a Sadguru (worthy preceptor), a siddh (manifested with magical/ miraculous power) saint. He was a man of few words, and those words are always positive. He did not believed in preaching; he preached through practice only. Deeply contented, he was severe patient, sober and focused. However, whoever knew Babaji from close quarters; swear that he had a great sense of humor. Sometimes, he would stump a person with his brilliant witticisms. This is because his humor transcended all worldly jealousies and selfishness. His wit was buoyed with joy of a rare kind. His words reflected the innocence and transparency of a little child. The true characteristic of a saint is that his mind is pure; this is perhaps, because of the fact that he may be a Sadhak (a spiritual preserver) of the highest kind.

Ravi Baba

According to the Hindu belief, spiritual journey to the absolute is, generally, not accomplished in one life time. The Sadhak (religiously preserving ascetic) soul moves with its spiritual tradition inherited from previous births. However when God kindly smiles on someone, the path of adoption of the Guru becomes easy. This auspicious co-incidence happened in Ravi Baba’s spiritual path. As a consequence, Baba Prakash Puri emerged as sun, to symbolically illumine Ravi Baba’s spiritual path.

Ravi Baba was born in the vicinity of the famous Indian pilgrimage i.e. Ganga Sagar, it is part of Vardhman district in West Bengal. At the age of 10, Ravi Baba, with permission of his parent embarked on the parth of Sanyas(renunciation). The meaning of the word ‘Sanyas’ is that a person consciously detaches himself from the worldly affairs . Kapil Ashram, in the vicinity of Ganga Sagar became his first spiritual refuge. Here the child Ravi started his first lessons in austerities. After spending around eight year in this hermitage, Ravi came to the birth place of the great seer Chaitanaya Mahaprabhu. Here, spending sometime at a famous temple Navdeep Chaitanya Mahadev, he shifted to another shrine ten kilometers away. The name of the shrine was “Bhandatikudi Ashram”. After having stayed for sometime here, his spiritual quest took him to Vrindavan. By this time people had started addressing him as Ravi Baba. Chanting the name of God and practicing mediation, Ravi Baba initially moved from one temple to another. Then he withdrew to a secluded temple, a little distance from the famous ISKON Temple. The only possession he had was hermit’s loin cloth and a worn out blanket. Living under the tutelage of renowned saint Naryan Giri, he steadily progressed on the path of self-realization and religion contemplation. He had only one yearning he wanted to be accepted and adopted by a Sadguru (worthy preceptor) Only then this life in this world would be fructified. Only this would quench his spiritual thirst. The very first ‘mantra’ of Bhavnopashida (a Hindu scripture) affirms: “The most venerated Guru (worthy preceptor) is the only and foremost causal power”. Through the spiritual bonus point earned by Ravi Baba in the previous lives, the Sadguru (worthy preceptor) has himself arrived in Vrindavan in search of his worthy disciple. The mutual searched ended into a unification of will.

It is common belief in the world of spirituality that as a disciple is in the fond search of a worthy preceptor (Sadguru) in the same way, a Sadguru is also always in search of worthy disciple. After establishing all the shrines, Baba Prakashpuri started thinking in terms of handing over this spiritual heritage to a worthy disciple.
In 1984, Baba Prakashpuri organized a free community meal after the resurrection of Pandwala Shiva Temple at Gurgaon. After this, he decided to pay a visit to celebrated saint at Vrindavana. His name was Saint Naryana Giri. During Baba Prakashpuri’s stay at VrindavanaRavi Baba went in the company of Saint Narayana Giri to pay obeisance to him.  However, Ravi Baba’s wish was not fulfilled as Baba Prakashpuri had already left for Kanya Kumari. However, he got an opportunity to have a glimpse of Baba Prakashpuri soon. He went to Raiseena hermitage in the company of Saint Narayan Giri. In the very first instance, Baba Prakashpuri experienced on intuitive feeling that Ravi Baba had a strong desire to accept and adopt him as a Guru. After having a darshan (holy glimpse) of Baba PrakashpuriRavi Baba went back to Vrindavana. In those days Ravi Baba practiced spirituality at the feet of Saint Naryana Giri and lived in an isolated hut. His desire to be accepted and adopted by a worthy preceptor was getting stronger by the day.

After a lapse of some time, Baba Prakash Puri went to Vrindavana again. Saint Naryana Giri was away from Vrindavana  at that time. At that moment. Ravi Baba shut in hut, was pondering over the weighty question of how to seek refuge at the feet of a Sadguru ( a worthy preceptor). Suddenly, there was a knock, and Baba Ravi found a familiar menial at the door. As he heard the message, Baba Ravi felt as if his cherished desire to sit at the feet of Sadguru was about to be realized. With whatever little offerings he could manage, Ravi Baba rushed to the place where Baba Prakashpuri was staying. Paying his obeisance, he offered his oblations to the Guru, and then sat with folded hands before him. As their eyes met, both felt a great sense of joy. The Guru said in an affection tone: “Ravi, would you come to Gurgaon with me?” What else could Ravi Baba desire from life? He felt thrilled and blessed on getting the Guru’s benediction, it seemed to him that his punyas (virtuous acts) committed  in previous births had suddenly awakened, and he was about to be rewarded for those acts.