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The saints choose different ways of doing their work. Babaji chose a life neither of a householder nor of a mendicant. He did not carry any of the outward signs that he was a sadhu or saint—no beads, no long beard, no saffron robes. No one could tell by looking at him that he was a saint. As we learned, even his name seemed to have changed from place to place. The name by which we all knew him was Neem Karoli Baba (that is, the baba from Neem Karoli), but the correct words are Neeb Karori and perhaps give some indication of who that person was. Neeb means foundation and Karori means strong and firm: strong and firm foundation.

When Babaji first came to Nainital, Almora and other hill places, many of the menfolk were meeting him and he visited their houses. There the women, the mothers, came to know him. But before there were temples and ashrams, there were few places where the women could be with him. He would not take them with him when he roamed about, nor had they the freedom or means to travel to see him. When the ashrams came to be built, these Mas would be coming in the morning and going away in the evening. These ladies were very religious-minded and they found Baba so sympathetic, kind and generous. He made it possible for them to spend so much time with him.

Maharajji was a father to his devotees, a Guru of householders. His entire energy seemed to be directed toward our welfare, elevation, and development. He taught ideal social and family life, and showed us that real love and affection, real brotherhood, does not come only from blood relations. There were so many differences among the devotees—caste, language, nationality—usually very great barriers in India. But here were Kashmiris, Gujaratis, south Indians, north Indians, Westerners, all part of his great family. He broke down the walls and removed the curtains of prejudice. In this family, we could be closer than with our real brothers and sisters.

He would say, “You have great regard and love for the Ganges and all the holy rivers, but you do not live on the bank of the Ganges. You live by a small stream: your house is there, you bathe and wash your clothing there, just as you would in the Ganges. But have this attitude: as the Ganges has come from him, so also has this stream come from him. It is the same water exactly; it is also holy. It will do the same thing.”

By His Grace: A Devotee’s Story, by Dada Mukerjee

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