The following is an excerpt from chapter 5 of the book, Kriya Yoga by Shri Sailendra Bejoy Dasgupta (highly esteemed disciple of the Swami Maharaj Sri Yukteshvar Giriji of Serampore):
The Holy Babaji Maharaj has been an enigma. The worshipful Guru of Shri Shri Shyama Charan Lahiri Mahasaya, he was the fountain source of dissemination of the system of Kriya Yoga to the world in modern times. He was not known by any name, and perhaps appropriately. He remains for ever the most revered original Guru of the Kriya Yogis. In a hymn composed by Acharya Swami Satyananda Giri Maharaj the Babaji had been mentioned as Mahamuni Babaji, the great sage. Considering the concepts cherished by Kriya Yogis this was perhaps very fittingly applied. The author chose to maintain this epithet in attempting to write something about this Holy of the holies. Swami Sri Yukteshvar who had the great fortune of having met the mysterious saint at least twice used to mention that the very name Babaji was so holy that when his name was utterred even once his entire being would appear to have been totally purified. To the Yogiraj and his advanced disciples the Babaji was much more than the God.
It pains a worshipful heart when it is perceived in the present days that even much humbler individuals are making a bee line at Ranikhet and some even claim to have had received benedictions from this superman. Gullibility of men knows no limit. Some of the illumined disciples of Lahiri Mahasya claimed to have had Darshan of this holy saint; Swami Sri Yukteshvar, Swami Keshavananda, Paramhansa Pranavananda, Acharya Panchanan Bhattacharya have claimed to have had Darshan of Babaji Maharaj. One of the biographers of Lahiri Mahasaya, a grandson of the Yogiraj, tried to belittle these claims as untrue. His endeavours, however, are found to be an attempt to paint Lahiri Mahasaya as their family property forgetting that the great Yogi was a world teacher. None of the Yogiraj’s progenies could claim to have attained higher stages in Kriya. Such opinions as against versions of the Yogiraj’s several saint disciples can be contemptuously ignored.
No authentic account is available about the Babaji’s name. Some writers pointed out that among contemporary sages in Northern India Babaji was also known as Traimvak Baba and Shiv Maharaj. But there is no parrallel confirmation of this from the accounts that can be had from the closest saint disciples of Lahiri Mahasaya, nor any reference to this effect in Lahiri Mahasay’s recorded talks. It is preferable therefore not to accept such assumptions. A picture is also now seen, claiming it to be of the Babaji, professedly drawn from visions of some eminent men in the line. But from accounts available directly from those who had avowed having seen this unusal god-man do not fit in the features found in the pictures.
It may be recalled that among the disciples of Lahiri Mahasaya at least four famous ones had claimed to have personally seen the Babaji Maharaj. They were Swami Sri Yukteshvar, Paramhansa Pranavananda Giri, Paramhansa Keshavananda and Acharya Panchanan Bhattacharya. While no information is available about the opinions of the latter two saint disciples as to what the Guru of their Guru looked like, Swami Sri Yukteshvar gave out specific descriptions.
One day, sometime in the year 1932, Swami Sri Yukteshvar paid a surprise visit to the dormitory where this author was living as a college student. After passing sometime the saint asked the author to accompany him to the ancestral house of Paramhansa Yogananda, which was not far from the dormitory. We were not required to go to the house as Shri Sananda Lal Ghose, third brother of Yoganandaji, appeared on the road in front of the house. Sananda Lal is a reputed artist, expert in drawing portraits. He is now in his eighties and is still hale and hearty. Seeing him the Swami said he was looking for him. Then he asked him to draw a picture of the Babaji Maharaji stating that this would not be difficult for him. He was simply to make the picture of Lahiri Mahasaya in a standing position, make locks of hair a litte longer and flowing over the shoulders, free end of the narrow Dhoti worn made to go round the shoulders and resting on the right arm held in a right angle like that of an up-country cow boy, and the left hand hanging parrallel to the body. Face would be exactly like that of Lahiri Mahasaya but should look much younger. The Swami assured Sananda Lal that he could do it without much difficulty. But the artist became bewildered. How could he paint such a picture, he demurred and whose picture he would succeed in drawing he would not know. He expressed strong diffidence in succeeding to accomplishing the task as desired. Sri Yukteshvar re-assured him of his success and left. However, Sananda Lal did not dare to handle the task, perhaps considering the holiness of the individual involved. From the description given a clear idea as to how the holy one had looked like, at least as far as how Sri Yukteshvar had seen, can be made out.
Paramhansa Pranavananda Giri Maharaj gave an account of description of the Babaji as he had seen him in the company of his own Guru Lahiri Mahasaya as also of some talk he had had with the holy one. The account was published in the edition of the Gita which was named after him – the Pranava Gita – by his disciple Sri Jnanendra Kumar Mukherji who is now over one hundred years of age and is still hale and hearty. As Pranavananda was talking to his Guru in the latter’s sitting room Lahiri Mahasaya suddenly got up in a hurry and excitement, walked up on to the courtyard and Pranavananda followed him, and fell prostrate on the feet of an up-country looking youngman. Pranavananda was dismayed at his elderly Guru showing such veneration to an unknown youngster. Getting up Lahiri Mahasaya directed Pranavadanda to show his veneration to his Guru Babaji Maharaj. Pranavananda immediately did as asked, but wondered how the Babaji could look so young. The three had dined together and during their talks Pranavananda asked the holy one a few questions. The following is an account, briefly, of the questions and answers.
Q. How old was Babaji?
Ans. Normal life span of man was 120 years, but one could lengthen the life span by performing Kaya Kalpa, the technique of re-juvination. He had done three such Kaya Kalpas and was in the latter half of the fourth.
Q. How long would the Babaji remain in his present body?
Ans. He would like to continue in his present form for sometime more as he had some more important task to accomplish.
Acharya Bhupendra Nath Sanyal, one of the youngest among the direct disciples of Lahiri Mahasaya, had not personally seen the Babaji Maharaj, but he had ideas about how his Param Guru looked like. One day during Swami Yogananda’s sojourn to India in 1935/36 the author accompanied him when he went to meet the Acharya. The Acharya was then in Calcutta on a short visit and was putting up with one of his disciples, Late Dr. Arun Mukherji, in his house situated behind the Bethune College, North Calcutta. Yoganandaji at that time was engaged in collecting materials to write a book on the saints of the country. His main interest in this meeting was to elicit Imformation about Babaji Maharaj, knowing that the Acharya was a direct and advanced disciple of Lahiri Mahasaya. When asked if the Acharya had seen the Babaji and how he looked like the Acharya smilingly replied rhat he had heard that those who were very advaneed in Kriya became similar in appearance – like Lahiri Mahasaya. Asked if he had heard if the Babaji was still living the Acharya replied that he had heard of one looking exactly like Lahiri Mahasaya living in the Northern region of Siberia.
Countless followers of Kriya Yoga firmly believe that the Holy Babaji is still alive and guiding the spiritual life of the people of the world. That he was alive upto the fourth decade of this century there is ample evidence.
- Sri Sailendra Bejoy Dasgupta, Kriya Yoga, copyright Yoga Niketan, Inc
The book Kriya Yoga can be read for free online on the Yoga Niketan website at www.YogaNiketan.net