Babaji was known as a great saint — a highly realized soul with all the spiritual powers. Writing about Baba, Swami Vijayananda, a disciple of Anandamayi Ma, called him “a yogi whose name radiates an aura of mystery and miracle.” We saw many of his miracles coming one after another; they continue even now. They are exciting, often entertaining, but sometimes disturbing. Once at Kainchi, after what had been for me a very painful experience, I had to tell him that I was not interested in his miracles; he was Baba, and that was enough for me. His acceptance came in the form of one of his ineffable smiles. So far as the mysteries are concerned, not only have I not been able to solve any of them, but they have become more mysterious day-by-day.
One morning Babaji was in his small room in Kainchi. A sadhu with a half-dozen of his disciples came for Baba’s darshan. I took them to his room. After they had taken their seat, Babaji said, “This is Mahant Digvijaynath, a great saint. Bow at his feet.” When another person came, Babaji made him bow as well. Babaji smiled and asked people to bow low to the saint instead of touching his own feet. But when the third one came and Babaji repeated his words, the Mahant stood up and clasping Babaji’s feet, with tears in his eyes, said, “Baba, you are the saint of saints sitting before us, and you are making people touch my feet, taking me to be a saint.”
“A saint can be known only by one who himself is a saint.” That is what has been said by the wise. So we cannot have — at least speaking for myself — any pretension of knowing Babaji, the great saint. In the Bhagavat Gita we learn that a saint is a person with a dual personality — the divine and the human. Many of us have seen the human person in Babaji, but that doesn’t mean that we can claim to have seen the divine person in him.
In a saint, the divine person is encased in the human frame but is not entirely identical. The bottom of the human and the top of the divine stand far apart from each other. There is a co-mingling in the inner space, and in noble human beings, some of the divine qualities merge entirely with their human qualities, destroying all distinction between human and divine. I am saying this about Baba from my own experience of him. I have never seeing him wearing his divine crown, but I have always seen his divine qualities of love and compassion. He was always ready and alert to mitigate the sufferings of the helpless by taking their pains upon himself. His body became a honeycomb of diseases. This was the price he had to pay for his compassion and his readiness to help.
Every individual suffers from some kind of physical and mental pain. But with many, hunger or disease of body or mind become acute. One of Babaji’s visible methods of helping people was by feeding the hungry, arranging medical treatment for the sick, and giving money and materials to the helpless. The brief interlude of his life in the ashrams was spent in caring for the hungry and curing the sick, like the head of a household busy with his large family. Those who visited his ashrams, especially Kainchi, saw how prasad was being served throughout the day to all and sundry without any discrimination. For some it was prasad, an auspicious token of spiritual elevation, but for many more it was a whole meal for the stomach.
Seeing that food was being given in such large amounts, some persons complained that the food was being wasted. Babaji was unrelenting and continued to ask us to give in plenty. “Give more, give more, Dada.” No doubt Babaji would never allow food to be wasted or abused, but his idea of abuse and waste was different from ours, so the bhandara continued, giving food to the needy.
Some persons have suggested that one of the reasons for his – choice of Kainchi and Bhumiadhar for ashrams was to be in direct contact with the helpless — particularly the shilpakars, the forsaken ones. They fell easy victim to the allurements of the preachers who approached them with loaves of white bread, biscuits, etc. After several bhandaras at Bhumiadhar, he said one day, “Dada, the preachers do not come anymore because they have seen that their ‘double rotf (white bread) and biscuits cannot fight with your puri and halwa.”
There were also other methods of mitigating the sufferings and hardships of the people coming to him. They were seldom done in the public gaze, but they were going on every day. Some poor farmer would come and say, “Out of my one pair of bullocks, which is my only source of living, one has died and I have no money to purchase another.” An old woman would come and say, “My daughter has reached marriageable age, but I have no money to pay for her marriage.” Another comes with his tale, “My brother is suffering from tuberculosis and I have no money for his treatment.” Such things would go on all the time. Few would leave disappointed. It was never publicized, but help was always coming from him in some form or other.
Excerpt from The Near and the Dear
by Dada Mukerjee