Like the great Yogis of the past who bless the world with illustrious disciples who take their Guru’s teachings to greater heights, Swamiji’s precious gift to humanity, was His spiritual lineage holder, Shri Shivarudra Balayogi Maharaj.
Shri Shri Shri Shivarudra Balayogi Maharaj, lovingly known as Babaji was born on the 20th of September 1954, in the town of Kolar, a township of Karnataka in the southern region of India. His parents, Sharada Devi and Dr. Shankara Dikshitar named the infant Srinivasa Dikshitar, and affectionately called him Seenu. His parents were a loving, pious couple who raised their children according to the path of spirituality. They always used to say that if you pray with love and total faith, God would protect you from all evils and troubles of this world.
Dr. Shankara Dikshitar had lost his parents in early childhood and though he had to face a multitude of hardship and difficulties at such a young age, he was never disturbed due to his deep-rooted faith and devotion to God. Penniless, God was both his father as well as his mother. Honesty, will-power and hard work were the character companions throughout his life. Through sheer strength of character his desire to become a doctor in order to help the poor become a reality in 1932. A noble doctor he was, who never thought of medicine as a profession, instead he thought of it as a mission to help the poor and needy, a mission to serve humanity without discrimination. He realized that he was a tool in God’s Divine hands in serving all those who sought treatment from him, irrespective of caste or creed. These same temperaments and core values were passed onto all of his children.
Sharada Dikshitar was born with the blessings of the Saint Sri Shankaracharaya. The Saint prophesized that she would be a noble, pious lady and bear noble children in her womb. This prophesy came true when Srinivasa Dikshitar was born. She too had tremendous inner strength and an iron-will although she was very soft-spoken in nature and gentle in her ways. She was always kind to the servants and the poor. Whenever a beggar came, she always found something to offer. She used to say, “You never know in what form God may come to test your character and purity of mind. You cannot fool God”. Sharada Dikshitar instilled in all her children a devotional attitude towards God through practices of worship as well as a strong sense of selfless service towards humanity.
Dr. Shankara and Sharada Dikshitar raised all 4 of their children with love and care, bringing forth great strength of character in all their children. They were guided with discipline, love and strong moral values which taught them how to face the obstacles that life thrust at them in a morally upright manner.
Babaji’s first true spiritual experience was at the age of 7, when he heard his sister, Vijayalakshmi sing Bhaja Govindam, a composition of Adi Shankara. This song had a powerful impact on the young boy. The song had materialized when Adi Shankara who had camped in the pilgrimage town of Benaras, was returning from the Holy Ganges. The Divine Soul noticed a scholar repeatedly trying to memorise ‘Dukrin Karane. (a verse of the song) He then sang this song, which translates to mean ‘Sing the glory of God and remember Him, strive to adopt the Divine Consciousness, because when death occurs to the body, no worldly wealth, status or power will come to your rescue.” This line especially had a powerful impact on the young Seenu, who was captivated by the moment of Death. His mind became preoccupied with thoughts of Death, and he yearned to know the secret behind birth and death. As a child, Seenu enjoyed being in the presence of temples. In that serene atmosphere, he used to sit in a corner, and contemplate on thoughts of birth, death and the Immortal Soul. At times, Seenu had such thoughts as the wish for a technology to switch off the universe and wipe out all the illusions present.
As a child, Seenu was relatively well-off and had a comfortable childhood. He received affection and love from his entire family, yet he often experienced a peculiar pain, as if he had descended to a place where he did not belong. He experienced a sense of alienation from this world – in that it was not his true home. Seenu often wondered, ‘If I am the Soul that is immortal, why is it that I am not conscious of it? What is the secret behind it?”
As he was growing up, Seenu was influenced by the philosophical teachings of Adi Shankaracharya, Sri Ramana Maharishi and Sri Ramakrisha Paramahamsa. He received immense spiritual knowledge from the teachings of these three great Saints and was deeply inspired by the wisdom that they imparted onto this world. Soon, an intense yearning awakened in him to find a Guru of that caliber, who had liberated Himself and was capable of guiding him towards liberation. As a child, Seenu loved to listen to devotional music and he also followed a life of contemplation, prayer and temple worship.
In 1971, at the age of 16, while meditating in a Hanuman Temple, he heard a Divine voice whisper in his ears, “Shri Shivabalayogi Maharaj is your Guru. He will guide you to cross this ocean of worldly illusion". This appeared strange as he did not know much about Shivabalayogi. The following 2 to 3 days, Seenu wandered the temple grounds in the hopes that the same voice would materialize and offer him more information about his Guru. On the 3rd day, while walking along the roads of Mysore, he again heard a whisper in his ear, “Go to the Raghavendraswami temple. There you will know about your Guru ". Immediately, he rushed to the temple where a devotee of Shivabalayogi, came forth to tell him about the great Yogi. The devotee also gave him a biography of the Divine Guru to read. The book was profoundly mesmerizing and created such an impact in the young Seenu that he knew he had found his true Guru.
When he went to return the book, the devotee informed him that Shivabalayogi, affectionately called Swamiji would be visiting Mysore 2 days later. The day before actually meeting Swamiji physically, Seenu had a dream. In the dream, he was standing in a queue in complete darkness. Swamiji then summoned him and asked him what he desired. Spontaneously, the answer that emerged was Gnyana, Bhakti, Vairagya (Knowledge, Devotion and Detachment). Swamiji subsequently gave him the ‘Om Shivaya Shivabalayogendraya Parabrahmanaya’ mantra and told Seenu that if he repeated the mantra with faith and devotion, he would be able to reach Swamiji very soon. After Swamiji had blessed him with vibuthi, Seenu arose from the dream. Unconsciously, he was repeating the mantra. The power and intensity of the mantra had engulfed Seenu and he completely surrendered to it.
The next day, he went to the public programme where Swamiji was present. The moment he saw Swamiji in the car, he was inexplicably drawn to him. His mind surrendered at the Lotus feet of his Guru completely and immediately love and devotion towards his Divine Teacher manifested in his heart. When Seenu came home, he informed his mother that he had found Him, the Guru that he had been earnestly seeking for. All he could say was that he wanted to be in the presence of Swamiji intensely. After 2 hours of argument, his mother told him to stay 3 more years with her. If after those 3 years, his mind was totally unwavering and he still wanted Swamiji, she would happily send Seenu to his Guru. Thus began the Divine Romance of young Seenu with His Spiritual Master. Seenu would spend hours immersed in thoughts of his divine Guru, and at nights it was dreams of Swamiji. When Swamiji permitted, Seenu would go to Bangalore, where Swamiji had an ashram to attend the functions, which were Swamiji’s birthday and Tapas Poorthi day. After the homam and annadhanam, Swamiji’s darshan hours would commence. Enormous crowds would enter the Darshan hall from one door, touch Swamiji’s feet and depart through another door. Young Seenu was so engulfed with love and devotion towards his Guru, that he would enter with the crowd through one door, just gaze at Swamiji reverentially, touch his Feet and leave through the other door, and once again join the crowd at the other side to re-enter the room. This would occur for several hours. Seenu only wanted to keep looking at his Divine Guru. When Swamiji questioned whether he intended to ask anything, Seenu could not reply. He just wanted to keep gazing at his Guru.
Years of Service and Devotion
Srinivasa Dikshitar took initiation for dhyana in January 1972. Many of his days were spent in deep meditation in the Ramakrishna Paramahamsa meditation hall. He also meditated for long hours in a cave called Naagara Theertha, on the sacred Chamundi hills of Mysore. Seenu also used to meditate for many hours in the Markendaya Ashram, where the great Sage Markendaya had performed Tapas.
In 1974, his mother permitted him to join Swamiji’s mission. Seenu wrote a letter to Swamiji saying that he wanted to realise who His true Self was. He also wrote that he would like to serve Swamiji by staying at his Bangalore or Adivarapupeta Ashram. When the answer came, Swamiji replied that Seenu could go instead to Dehradun Ashram in north India which is remarkably ideal for sadhana. Finally, on the day of Deepavali, 13th of November 1974, Srinivasa Dikshitar left home to join the Dehradun Shivabalayogi Ashram. Consequently, Seenu commenced his spiritual life of service and sadhana at the lotus feet of his Guru, Shivabalayogi. Shri Swamiji gave love and affection like a mother and like a father he could be tough and uncompromising in his teachings and training of young Seenu.
In the same year, 1974, Shri Swamiji had given the responsibility of managing and taking care of the Shri Shri Shri Shivabalayogi Ashram in Dehradun to his disciple Seenu. Thus, started a 20-year period of training and Tapas in which Seenu served his Beloved Master and the inhabitants of the Ashram unconditionally. Among his many duties were tending to the needs of the ashram visitors and the local inhabitants and upon the instructions of his Master, he even undertook the arduous task of caring for mentally handicapped boys. After fulfilling his many duties in the Ashram, Seenu would then meditate for long hours in the fruit orchard in the Ashram compound. It was these 20 years of unwavering servitude to his Beloved Guru that granted Seenu the fruits of 7 years of Tapas, as mentioned by Swamiji.
Throughout his service to his Master, he single-handedly carried out all the duties entrusted to him, with love and compassion. Speaking one day to a group of devotees about Faith and Service, Swamiji looked over at Seenu standing nearby and declared, "Look at the faith and attachment Seenu has. Even if I cut him into pieces and throw him in the river, he will get joined back together and come back to me."
Swamiji had emphasized many times that only knowledge that flowed from direct experience can lead to perfection, and as such by performing these tasks, Seenu received higher knowledge about the Spiritual Truths of the Universe. During this time, a precious Guru-Disciple bond manifested between the student and teacher. Seenu had complete faith in his Master, regarding his every word as a Divine lesson, a pearl of wisdom.
In 1977, when Seenu had gone to Rishikesh with his Guru, Swamiji initiated him into Sanyas, a monastic life of pure devotion and faith towards the Divine. This ceremony was completed in a baptizing manner with Swamiji sprinkling some Holy Ganga water on his head and patting him on his back .Swamiji then told Seenu, "From now remember you are a sannyasi (monk). You must live a simple life so that people themselves can call you a monk, but you yourself should not become egotistic by claiming or boasting of any status as such".
One very memorable day for Seenu came on the occasion of his 24th birthday in 1978, when he requested for vibuthi to help him sit for continuous Tapas. Swamiji questioned him whether he thought the vibuthi would allow him to sit for Tapas? Seenu replied that he had faith, therefore the vibuthi would work. With this, Swamiji smiled and said, “If I make you sit for Tapas now, you may become a Yogi, but shall also become egoistic and go away physically from Swamiji.” Then Seenu replied, “No, Swamiji, Tapas is not important. Swamiji and sevice to Swamiji is more important.” To this Swamiji said, “Faith in the name of your Guru will work wonders, but I will place you into Tapas at an appropriate time to continue the mission.”
The appropriate time did not come for another 16 years, until after the Mahasamadhi of Seenu’s beloved Guru, Shri Swamiji. During the 20 years, from 1974 to 1994, leading up to this moment, Seenu served his Guru with total devotion and dedication. Shri Swamiji guided Seenu in his spiritual training in a close Guru-disciple relationship. Seenu was also guided throughout these years by dreams and visions gained through meditation. His wisdom grew as he gained insight into the spiritual Truths expounded to him by the Divine Guru.
Following the Mahasamadhi of the beloved Shri Shri Shri Shivabalayogi Maharaj on March 28th, 1994, Seenu received a vision of Shri Swamiji while sitting in dhyana in Chamundi Hills in Mysore. He fell into a deep meditative state for some days, until he was finally aroused by a sound nearby. Turning to see the source of the noise, he beheld the dazzling figure of his Guru, surrounded by a glowing light. Swamiji spoke to Seenu and explained to him that the time when he would be initiated into Tapas, was soon approaching.
"Your time has come to do tapas. Because of your twenty years of selfless service, you have the fruit of seven years of tapas, so if you perform tapas now for another five years, that will be enough."
Seenu replied that he was unsure he would be able to perform such a severe austerity.
Directing him further, his Guru spoke, "When the time is ripe you will have to sit and circumstances will also force you, because of your prarabdha (acquired impressions of the mind)".
Seenu was placed into Tapas by his Guru on November 10th, 1994, when Swamiji appeared before Seenu, touched him between the eyebrows and instructed him, “Either you come out of this Tapas as a Yogi, or your dead body should, but do not discontinue, don’t bother for anything.”
Seenu adopted the training methods for his Tapas as given to him by Shri Swamiji which were designed to eradicate the ego completely. Babaji has described tapas by saying that,
" If you try to hold the mind still, focused on one point for only a minute or two - for only a moment or two - you will find how difficult it is. However if you can focus the mind like this, single-pointedly focused on one point without any thoughts for one whole hour, then one is said to be meditating. If you can meditate like this for seven to eight hours at a stretch then one is said to be performing tapas.”
As per Swamiji’s instruction, Seenu faced north for 1 year and 3 months, east for 1 year and 9 months, west for 1 year and south for 8 months. He spent the last 4 months of his Tapas facing north again towards Mount Kailash, the abode of Lord Shiva in order to invoke Lord Shiva and Mother Parvathi. His Guru, Shri Shri Shri Shivabalayogi Maharaj bestowed upon Seenu, the title of Shivarudra Balayogi after the completion of his third year of Tapas. 'Shiva' signifying the state of complete stand-stillness of the mind, 'Bala' being one of mother Parvati's names, and 'Yogi' denoting one who has attained Yoga - the permanent union of the mind with the Supreme Peace of Infinite Pure Consciousness - the Self.
Realization and the Legacy Continues
On the final day of his fifth year of Tapas, Lord Shiva and the Divine Mother Parvathi appeared to Seenu in the form of Ardhanarishwara.(half Lord Shiva and half Mother Parvathi) and bestowed upon him their Divine blessings which eventually lead him to the Supreme Realisation of the Self. The Divine had one final test to ascertain if total surrender of the mind into the Divine Consciousness, the Immortal Self had occurred. They said, “Now that We have come due to your tapas, you do not require your Guru and can go ahead to get many followers”.
Spontaneously, Shivarudrabalayogi said, “I want only the Lotus feet of my Guru. I offer my life at the Lotus feet of the Divine Guru who helped and guided me to this. So Please, if You want to bless me, bless me that I can always remain at the Lotus Feet of my Guru and serve Him and work according to my Guru's guidance.
It is the Guru's Grace which is needed and nothing else. Whatever the Guru, my beloved Swamiji, wants I will do and there is no other desire”.
The Divine Form smiled at his reply and blessed him. As the form vanished, Shivarudra Balayogi witnessed his beloved Guru Shri Shivabalayogi materializing in front of him. Shri Swamiji bestowed His blessings on Shivarudra Balayogi before instructing him,
"After you come out of tapas, inspire the people of this world to practice dhyana and know their true Self. Through this practice they can achieve Total Peace."
On Kartik Purnima , the 16th of November 1999, Shri Shivarudra Balayogi emerged as a Yogi, One who has gone beyond all illusions of the mind and exists in absolute peace.
Babaji, as His Holiness is affectionately known to his devotees, is the embodiment of love and compassion. He is the personification of all that is hope, happiness, contentment and peace and His Divine presence is a salve to distressed souls seeking their way on the journey towards Enlightenment. Babaji continues the legacy of His Guru, Shri Swamiji, by teaching the ancient meditation technique, called ‘Jangama Dhyana’ which was taught to His Guru by Lord Shiva Himself, bhakti marga, (devotional path) Agni Hotra Homas, Annadhanam, and other programmes that were dear to His Guru, Shri Shri Shri Shivabalayogi. Babaji has altruistically devoted His life to the service of humanity. With the Dehradun ashram as His base, His mission of teaching the Divine Truths and spreading His Guru’s Name has taken Babaji all over the world. In 2004, His first world tour commenced, where He imparted spiritual knowledge in countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia, America, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and India.