THE MAN OF MYSTERY
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!
Little is known about the mysterious Buddhe Baba, whom Gurudev described as an omnipresent part of his and our lives. Gurudev was always quick to point out that he was not the doer and that all credit for his seva belonged entirely to his spiritual mentor. Sometimes, when we asked intensely profound questions, he would say that he would confirm with Buddhe Baba before answering.
Devotees who visited the sthan on special occasions such as Mahashivratri or Guru Purnima would offer two garlands, one at the sthan and the other to Gurudev. A disciple was taken aback one Mahashivratri when he noticed his guru allowing some people to garland him while forbidding many others. Given Gurudev’s history of non-discrimination, the disciple enquired about his reasoning. “I don’t want more garlands on my neck than my guru”, the mahaguru declared.
Gurudev is said to have met Buddhe Baba, the being he would invoke as his spiritual guide and mentor, sometime before giving up his siddhis in 1970.
This is how it happened. Gurudev had set up camp in a remote hamlet in Madhya Pradesh. One day, while chanting his mantras in the forest near the camp, he came across an old sage at a deserted temple. Gurudev was chewing tobacco, so the sage requested some. In return, he informed Gurudev that the mantra he was chanting was incomplete. He proposed an eight-word addition and proclaimed that the extra words in the mantra would accelerate Gurudev’s spiritual trajectory. He also predicted that Gurudev would find a steel kada (bangle) under his pillow the next day. That night, Gurudev began chanting the extended mantra. When he looked under his pillow the following morning, he discovered a steel kada with Sanskrit characters inscribed on it, just as the sage had predicted. Gurudev returned to the temple, eager to see the sage he had met there, but the wise man was nowhere to be found. When he asked an older man seated nearby about the sage’s whereabouts, he was told that the temple had been empty for a very long time!
Gurudev meets Buddhe Baba at a desolate temple in Madhya Pradesh
Gurudev then returned to the camp and resumed chanting the mantra. This time, a voice told him that everything he was looking for was already within him, and that the time had come for him to begin nisvarth seva of healing people. When he said he did not know how to heal people, the voice told him that whoever he touched would be healed. The voice also assured him that he would be guided by the sage whenever he needed direction. This incident marked the beginning, or perhaps the rekindling of a relationship that Gurudev held sacred. Gurudev never revealed Buddhe Baba’s identity, leaving room for conjecture.
One of the few people who claimed to have met his enigmatic spiritual guide was his younger sister. She was overcome with emotion once when she overheard Gurudev telling his disciples that they would only understand his teachings after he had ‘gone away’. Interpreting his words as a portent, she was disturbed at the prospect of a life without him. As she lay sobbing on the floor of his bedroom, she noticed a reddish-light stream in through an opening in the wall. Encased in light, the form of an elderly sage robed in white with a radiant face, long grey hair, and a thin beard was clearly discernible. 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 sage told her that Gurudev was probably talking about the official camp he would be leaving for in a few weeks and then returning from in a few months thereafter. Hearing this, she felt a wave of relief wash over her. Shortly after reassuring her, the sage vanished. When she shared this experience with her brother, he told her she had seen Buddhe Baba.
Mataji also recalled an amusing encounter with her husband’s mysterious mentor. One night, she awoke to find Gurudev seated on his side of the bed, conversing with someone he addressed as Baba. For some reason, he ended the conversation abruptly. The following day, he revealed that he had to end his conversation with Buddhe Baba when the latter informed him that she was overhearing them.
Another member of Gurudev’s biological family who saw Buddhe Baba was his daughter, Renu ji. She missed school one day because she had fever. She was alone at home and in bed when she noticed a grey-haired man dressed in white clothes emerge from the storeroom opposite her room and vanish! She fearfully covered her face with a blanket in the hope that the elderly intruder would not notice her presence. She gained the courage to remove the blanket only after her mother returned from work a few hours later. When she recounted what she had seen, Mataji suggested that the man she had seen may have been Buddhe Baba.
Many disciples of Gurudev claim 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 him hanging on the wall of a sthan she visited in her dream. Interestingly, even though Puran ji and Roopal have never met, they both shared a similar description of this enigmatic figure’s physical characteristics.
While some believe Buddhe Baba is a realised manifestation of Shiv, others believe he is Sitaram ji of Benaras, the guru of Gurudev’s initial spiritual mentor, Sitaram ji of Dasua. The confusion stems from the fact that Sitaram ji of Benaras was an accomplished saint who, like Jesus and Guru Nanak Dev, went seh sharir after death.
Leaving seh sharir after death connotes the ability to dematerialise the human body through the reconfiguration of its atomic structure, a feat accomplished by only a few spiritualists.
Given his elevated stature, Sitaram ji of Benaras qualifies to be called Shiv. Therefore, Gurudev’s hints at Buddhe Baba being Shiv only compound the confusion. Since the mahaguru never disclosed Buddhe Baba’s identity, we can only guess but never be sure.