Life and teachings of Bhagavan Mastarama Babaji

By Ma Ramananda

His Divine Grace Mastarama Babaji Maharaj lived and taught in the foothills of the Himalayas, alongside the sandy banks of the Ganges River in a small cave amidst rocks and boulders.

Bhagavan Babaji Maharaj had no mark on his forehead (tilaka) or any specific clothing. In winter and summer he wore the same single cloth. Sitting at his cave Bhagavan Babaji Maharaj just was, as he is, a living expression of Divine love, a soul that merged itself totally in Brahman; the one reality beyond this world of names and forms.

Bhagavan Mastarama Babaji Maharaj kept an old sadhu tradition, of not speaking of one’s past. No one knows when he was born, where he came from, or his birth name. Everything we know is collected from stories that he used in his teachings.

Bhagavan Mastarama Babaji Maharaj was born to a Brahmin family that served the local king. His mother left her body a few days after his birth, leaving him to be raised by his father and uncle who educated him in a strict and traditional way. When he grew up, he was sent to a Sanskrit school and studied there for a few years. Around the age of fourteen, Bhagavan Babaji Maharaj went with a few of his friends to a kumba, a sadhu gathering near his village and never returned.

When Bhagavan Babaji Maharaj decided that he wanted to dedicate his life to God, to be totally dependent on his grace, he wrote to his father a letter containing few words: “From now on —renunciation”. He had no contact with his family after that.

For the next 30 years, he traveled India by foot. Seven times he went from Gangotri, at the top of the Himalayas, to Gangosada, by the seaside and visited all the holy places of Mother India.

When Bhagavan Babaji Maharaj saw that water was available everywhere, he threw away his pot and said: “Why should one carry weight?” Then, without possessions, he continued to walk barefoot, with his only property, his cloth.

One day, in the early days as sadhu, Bhagavan Babaji Maharaj decided to go for a bhiksha to a nearby village. Bhiksha is when sadhus go from house to house to beg for food. On his way another sadhu discovered him and offered to share the food he received with Bhagavan Babaji Maharaj, as he had collected too much. After the meal, he threw away a special cloth that he made for begging. Babaji understood that Bhagavan was supplying him with everything, even without asking. He just needed to accept whatever God offered.  This realization remained with Bhagavan Babaji Maharaj for the rest of his life, and from that day onwards, Babaji never asked anything from anybody. Whatever he received, he accepted…

Bhagavan Babaji Maharaj often remained many days without food. In some Temples he used to eat the prasadam that fell to the floor from devotees hands, and in holy places like Rishikesh and Haridwar, he used to eat the prasadam of sweets that was offered to Mother Ganga in floating cups on the sacred river.

Barefoot, without possessions, home, and family, Bhagavan Babaji Maharaj travelled from one holy place to another, asking for nothing, needing nothing but the will of his Beloved Bhagavan. 

After 30 years of wanderings, Bhagavan Babaji Maharaj finally stayed at the Holy city Rishikesh. He never explained what made him settle there, but the feeling of those who met him was that it was his time to share.

Not long after his arrival to Rishikesh, people started to recognize Bhagavan Babaji Maharaj as a holy man and began to gather around him. Several years later, some of Bhagavan Babaji’s followers found a cave where he could live. Gradually, disciples began to join him, and live in nearby caves.

Babaji never said “I”, but referred to himself as “Babaji” — as did his disciples. When people knew Babaji better, they named him “Mastaram”, which means “somebody who enjoys with Divine intoxication” or “intoxicated with Divinity”.

Bhagavan Babaji’s disciples followed his simple way of living with total dependence on God’s grace. No one at Bhagavan Babaji’s ashram was allowed to ask for anything from anyone, even if it meant going without food.

Babaji encouraged his disciples to follow the rules and regulations of Sanatana-dharma, to keep all the rules of purity, and to take the vows of all the holidays.

Bhagavan Babaji Maharaj saw the one God in all the Devas, and was a devotee of them all. He had a deep love of Bhagavan Krishna and expressed his devotion to Srimati Radharani in his hymns to Radha. Babaji loved Lord Rama and Lord Hanuman. He was a devotee of Shiva and had special love to Mother Durga. Babaji was a Bhakta, but at the same time he was a Jnani and expressed his view of the Absolute Self in the twenty one slokas of his Atmachintanam.

Bhagavan Babaji Maharaj was Bhakta, a Jnani, he was what the people at his present needed him to be.

After two decades as a spiritual master of many disciples from all over the world, Bhagavan Babaji Maharaj started to say that he was not needed any longer and that it was time for him to go. Gradually he took less food. No amount of pleading by the disciples helped. Bhagavan Babaji Maharaj decided to leave his material body. Slowly, he became thinner until his body was emaciated, yet he was still physically strong, fixed in God, and situated in the Self. He was so full of shakti that it took eight months before he finally left his body in the summer of 1986.

Bhagavan Babaji Maharaj left his physical body, but if you go to the feet of the Himalayas, on the banks of the Ganges, you will find there a small cave. And if you sit there to meditate, as our Beloved Prabhuji did, you will find that Bhagavan Babaji Maharaj still lives….