The Mysterious Mentor

The teacher had a teacher.
Someone old, wise and true.
He called him Buddhe Baba,
And despite countless excavations,
That was all we ever knew!

Very little is known about the mysterious Buddhe Baba (old saint) whom Gurudev referred to as an omnipresent part of his life and ours. Gurudev would always say that he was not the doer and the credit for his seva belonged in its entirety to his spiritual mentor. Sometimes, when we asked intensely profound questions, he would say that he would confirm with Buddhe Baba before answering.

A disciple of Gurudev recalled that on days like Mahashivratri or Guru Purnima, the devotees who visited the sthan would offer two garlands-one at the sthan and the other to Gurudev. On one Mahashivratri, the disciple was surprised to see Gurudev allowing some people to garland him while disallowing many others. Since Gurudev never discriminated, the disciple asked Gurudev about his reasons for doing so. Gurudev responded, “I don’t want more garlands around my neck than my guru.”

It is believed that Gurudev met Buddhe Baba, the being he would invoke as his spiritual guide and mentor, sometime before giving up his siddhis in 1970.

Gurudev and his team had set up camp in a remote hamlet in Madhya Pradesh. One day, as Gurudev wandered in the forest near the camp while chanting his mantras, he came across an old sage at a deserted temple. Since Gurudev was chewing tobacco, the sage asked for some. In return, he told Gurudev that the mantra the latter was chanting was incomplete. He suggested an appendment of eight words and proclaimed the addition would change Gurudev’s spiritual trajectory. He went on to state that Gurudev would find a steel kada (bangle) under his pillow the next morning.

Buddhe Baba - the mysterious mentor

Gurudev meets Buddhe Baba at a desolate temple in Madhya Pradesh

Gurudev began chanting the extended mantra that very night. To his amazement, when he looked under his pillow the next morning, he found a steel kada with Sanskrit characters inscribed on it, just like the sage had said he would. Keen on meeting the sage he had met the previous day, Gurudev returned to the temple but the sage was nowhere to be found. When he inquired about the sage’s whereabouts from an elderly man seated nearby, he was told that the temple had seen no occupants in a very long time.

Gurudev returned to the camp thereafter and began chanting the mantra again. This time, a voice informed him that all he was seeking was already within him, and the time for him to begin the nisvarth seva of healing people had arrived. When Gurudev responded that he didn’t know how to heal people, the voice informed him that whoever he touched would be healed. The voice also assured Gurudev that whenever he needed guidance, the sage would appear to show him the way.

This incident marked the start or perhaps the rekindling of a relationship that Gurudev treated as sacrosanct. Gurudev never revealed Buddhe Baba’s identity, leaving room for mass conjecture.

Of the few who claimed to have met Gurudev’s mysterious spiritual guide was Gurudev’s younger sister. She was in Gurudev’s house at Gurgaon when she overheard her brother telling his disciples that they would only understand his teachings when he would leave them in the near future. Interpreting his words as a portent, Gurudev’s sister was fraught with emotion. As she lay sobbing on the floor of her brother’s empty bedroom consumed with thoughts of a life without him, she saw a reddish-light stream into the room from an opening in a wall. Encased in light was the form of an elderly sage with a radiant face, long grey hair, and a thin beard, dressed in white.

Gurudev’s sister sat up, startled.

The elderly sage asked her why she was upset. Sobbing, she quoted her brother’s words to his disciples. The man encased in light informed her that Gurudev was to leave for an official camp and would return in a few months. Hearing this, Gurudev’s sister felt a wave of relief wash over her. Shortly after reassuring her, the man encased in light disappeared. When Gurudev’s sister narrated the experience to Gurudev, he told her she had seen Buddhe Baba.

Mataji also recalled an amusing encounter that involved her husband’s mysterious mentor. She woke up one night to find Gurudev, who was seated on his side of the bed, conversing with someone he addressed as ‘Baba’. For some reason, he ended the conversation abruptly. In the morning, Gurudev revealed that he had to end his conversation with Buddhe Baba when the latter informed him that Mataji was overhearing them.

Another member of Gurudev’s biological family who saw Buddhe Baba was his daughter, Renu ji. One day, she skipped school as she was running a fever. Laid up in bed in an empty house, she saw a grey-haired man dressed in white clothes emerge from the storeroom opposite her room and disappear from view. She fearfully covered her face with a blanket in the hope that the elderly intruder would not notice her presence. It was only when Mataji returned from work a few hours later that Renu ji found the courage to remove the blanket. When she recounted what she had seen, Mataji informed her that the man she had seen may have been Buddhe Baba.

Many disciples of Gurudev have claimed to have seen Buddhe Baba in the dream state. Puran ji had a dream in which he paid his respects to Buddhe Baba while the latter distributed food grains to the needy. Another disciple, Roopal, recalled seeing a photograph of Buddhe Baba hanging on the wall of a sthan she visited in the dream state. Interestingly, even though Puran ji and Roopal have never met, they both shared a congruent description of the physical attributes of this elusive figure.

While some believe that Buddhe Baba is a realized form of Shiv, others believe he is Sitaram ji of Benaras, the guru of Sitaram ji of Dasuya who was Gurudev’s initial spiritual mentor. The confusion stems from the fact that Sitaram ji of Benaras was an accomplished saint who went Seh Sharir like Jesus and Guru Nanak. Leaving Seh Sharir is the ability to de-materialize through the re-configuration of the atomic structure of the body, and a feat very few spiritualists are capable of. Given Sitaram ji of Benaras’ evolved stature, he certainly qualified to be called Shiv. Therefore, Gurudev’s hints at Buddhe Baba being Shiv only compounded the confusion. Since Gurudev never disclosed Buddhe Baba’s identity, we can only guess, but never be sure.