Jai Nitai! While reading a book about Sri Haidakhan Baba last month, I learned that there was an ashram dedicated to him in Brindavan. I immediately became interested to visit the ashram so the following morning off I went to Brindavan for darshan. The ashram is in the vicinity of Lala Babu Mandir.
Haidakhan Baba, who is also known by many other names such as Kanchopi Topa Baba, is considered by many to be the same person as Mahavatar Babaji who initiated Lahiri Mahasay in 1861. This account is quite famous because it is well documented in Paramahamsa Yogananda’s autobiography. He received the name “Haidakhan Baba” because he was often seen in the Kumaon region of the Himalayan foothills in a village known as Haidakhan. These appearances mainly occurred between 1800-1922.
In the autumn of 1922 Haidakhan Baba went on Kailash Yatra and when he returned he stayed at Ashkot which is at the border of Nepal and Uttar Pradesh, as the guest of the king, Sri Karman Singh. After a few days he told that the time had come for him to leave. The king carried the palanquin in which Baba was sitting. After they had gone about 4 Km Baba asked the king to return home. Baba continued with just a few devotees. When they got to where the Kali and Gori rivers meet, Babaji entered the waters and slowly changed into a ball of light while sitting in padmasana. Before leaving he said he would reappear for the benefit of humankind.
After Baba’s disappearance a siddha yogi named Mahendra Baba began to preach about him. When Mahendra was 5 years old a yogi came to him and gave him a prasadi laddu. He was very attracted to that yogi and always prayed to him. When he got older he left home in search of this yogi, but his parents searched for him and dragged him back home. After he graduated he again went in search of this yogi. He underwent many hardships to find him. During his travels he received a divine message that he should go to Almora and look for him there. In 1949 in Almora he saw some photos of a Mahatma and recognized them as the same person that he had considered to be his guru all these years. He was told his name was Haidakhan Baba and he had an ashram named Siddhashram. When he went to the ashram Babaji wasn’t there so he locked himself in a room with a vow that until he meets Haidakhan Baba he would not come out of his yogic posture. Baba appeared to him and gave him guidance and blessings for his future work. Mahendra Baba then came to Brindavan and established an ashram called, “Samba Sada Shiva Kunj.” Soon many disciples gathered around him, including all the former disciples of Haidakhan Baba. Mahendra Maharaj was known for his strict discipline with his disciples and for his yogic siddhis. He referred to himself as “Charanashrita Baba”, a servant of Haidakhan Baba. He told everyone that Haidakhan Baba will reappear. He said that Haidakhan Baba is Sada Shiva Himself.
Mahendra Maharaj, developed both Haidakhan Ashrams. He built a small temple in Kathgaria Ashram and installed Babaji’s murti. On the previous night of installation day in 1957, four days after Shiv Ratri, over a thousand devotees had gathered in the Katgharia Ashram and were doing continuous prayer throughout the night. Around midnight a divine jyoti appeared in center of the devotees and stood still a few feet above ground. From this light Babaji gave darshan in his physical form wearing a kurta and topa which had previously been his favorite form of dressing . After giving darshan for a couple of minutes this light entered into the murti which was to be installed the next day. After the installation ceremony, selected devotees who were permitted by Mahendra Maharaj to touch the murti could actually feel the heart of the murti was beating.
Presently, this murti is installed in the Brindavan ashram. Every year this installation day is celebrated in Brindavan. Mahendra Maharaj performed many miracles, which he always insisted were due to the blessings of Haidakhan Baba. Illiterate people became highly learned scholars and composers, devotees who were on their death bed were brought back to life, poor people became wealthy, and childless couples begot children.
For many years Mahendra Baba preached that Haidakhan Baba would return to transform this world. He described what he would look like and said he would appear in 1970. Mahendra Maharaj entered mahasamadhi in 1969. When his body was being carried in the procession to the cremation ground, thousands of devotees were shedding tears. At that time the hand of the body lifted itself and blessed all the devotees. This sight is even now remembered by some residents of Brindavan.
In 1970 Babaji appeared in a cave, that has been considered holy for thousands of years, at the foot of the Kumaon Mount Kailash, across the sacred Gautama Ganga opposite a remote village called Haidakhan. He had no known parents or family. He appeared as a youth of 18 or 20, yet he displayed great wisdom and divine powers. The Haidakhan villagers sometimes saw him as an old man with a long white beard, as a young man with a long beard, or as a beautiful young man with no beard. Two men who spoke to him at the same time described him differently. He was seen at different places at the same time. He knew the scriptures, yet there is no evidence of his having been educated. He ate almost nothing for months yet his energy was boundless. In September 1970, he climbed to the top of Mount Kailash, seated himself in siddhasana at the small temple there without leaving his seat for 45 days and nights, meditating most of the time, talking occasionally, and started teaching the message that he has brought to the world.
There is so much more to tell about all three of the Haidakhan Babas. It is all very interesting, but I am not going to attempt to present such a huge amount of information in this post. The Haidakhan Baba that appeared in 1970 left this world in 1984. For all those interested in learning more there is a lot of information available online that can easily be found and many books in print as well.