There are no historical records relating to the birth and life of Mahavatar Babaji. However, this article intends to summerise the knowledge on Babaji’s life and his link to the tradition of kriya yoga.
Mahavatar Babaji’s early life
Records suggest he is supposed to have been born around 200 AD in a small coastal village, known as Parangipettai in Tamil Nadu, south India. He was a most unusual boy and was clearly skilled in the practice of the Kundalini Yoga from a previous life. When Babaji was 5 years old, it is said that someone kidnapped him and sold him as a slave to a shopkeeper in Calcutta. However, his owner was a kind man and released him and told him to go where he wanted. Babaji joined a group of wandering yogis who had great love for God.
For the next ten years he wandered around the sub-continent with the group of sadhus, studying many of the holy scriptures of Hinduism like the Vedas, Upanishads and the Puranas. When Babaji arrived at Katargama, he met his guru, Bhogarnatha. He performed intense sadhana with his guru for a long time. Bhogarnatha gifted many powers to him, including the secret method of preserving his body in a youthful state for thousands of years. This is how Babaji still looks like a young boy even though he is centuries old.
After he finished his course of study with his guru, he advised him to go to the famous Himalayan temple known as Badrinatha. The murti of Lord Vishnu which is found there, has an uncanny resemblance to Babaji. There is also a painting of a yogi in this temple which looks like Babaji and it is a sacred space which is filled with holy vibrations.
What makes Babaji a Mahavatar?
Mahavatar Babaji is both ageless and eternally young. Sometimes he is formless and sometimes he has a form. He is supreme and unparalleled among all saints, yogis and sages. He assumes an all-compassionate, beautiful, luminous form to provide an experience for those people who want to build a relationship with him.
It is Mahavatar Babaji who brought back the lost spiritual technique of Kriya Yoga. In bestowing Kriya initiation on his disciple Lahiri Mahasaya, Babaji said, “The Kriya Yoga that I am giving to the world through you in this nineteenth century is a revival of the same science that Krishna gave millenniums ago to Arjuna; and that was later known to Patanjali and Christ and their disciples.”
The deathless Babaji is an avatar. This Sanskrit word means “descent”; its roots are ava, “down,” and tri, “to pass.” In the Hindu scriptures, avatar signifies the descent of Divinity into flesh and bone. Babaji remains submerged in deep meditation in the dense forests, caves, and snow-covered peaks of the Himalayas. At the same time, he keeps a watchful eye on earnest seekers and their spiritual paths towards God.
Babaji roams in the vast ethereal canvas of divinity, transcending limitations of worldly distinctions such as caste, class, religion, culture, history, and geography. His speech is generally in Hindi, but he converses easily in any language or sometimes telepathically. He has adopted the simple name of Babaji (revered father); other titles of respect given him by Lahiri Mahasaya’s disciples are Mahamuni Babaji Maharaj (supreme ecstatic saint), Maha Yogi (greatest of yogis), Trambak Baba and Shiva Baba (titles of avatars of Shiva). Does it matter that we know not the patronymic of an earth-released master?
“Whenever anyone utters with reverence the name of Babaji,” Lahiri Mahasaya said, “that devotee attracts an instant spiritual blessing.”
Babaji’s link to Kriya Yoga
Babaji was propelled into the public eye by Paramahamsa Yogananada when he travelled to the United states to teach Kriya yoga in the west around 1950. Yogananada wrote a famous book called Autobiography of a yogi, in which he explains how Babaji gave advanced Kriya yoga techniques to his disciple, Lahiri Mahashaya. The same techniques were then passed down to him via his teacher, Swami Shriyukteshwar. Until 1950, Mahavatar Babaji was only known to a few yogis and sadhus in India.
Since the passing of Paramahamsa Yogananada, Mahavatar Babaji has given kriya yoga and other techniques to various enlightened spiritual masters like Paramahamsa Vishwananda. There are a number of kriya yoga traditions offering courses in both India and the west. Many have a similar main technique which involves chanting mantras in the seven chakras. In Bhakti Marga, we have Atma Kriya yoga which was given to Paramahamsa Vishwananda by Mahavatar Babaji for the welfare of the world. Atma Kriya yoga focuses on Self-Realisation and cultivating devotion to God. It is one of the most powerful kriya techniques available today.
May Babaji bless your spiritual practices and help you on your path to enlightenment. If you want his blessing, just chant his name three times and he will be with you.