Tuma karuna ke sagara Tuma palana karata Mein sevaka tuma swami Kripa karo
bharata Om jaya jagadeesha hare.

You are an ocean of compassion
You are the sustainer
I am the servant, you the Lord
Grant me your grace
Hail to the Lord of the Universe

– Verse from “Guru Arti” traditional Hindu devotional prayer.

Perhaps the worst kind of suffering comes when a man or woman feels completely helpless—that there is nobody to stand by me, no one to whom I can look or ask for any kind of benefit. Very few of us can be so very religious or noble-minded as to feel or think that God is always with us and we need only look to him. We need some sort of tangible support near us, someone on whom we can lean, in whom we can put our faith or our trust. Babaji would be going to the houses of so many persons—helpless people living in helpless conditions—consoling them, giving words of cheer, trying to bring some smiles to them. We do not know how many tears of helpless women or children or men he has wiped out by his sweet words, by his compassionate touch.

If Babaji is a saint, actually an ocean of love and compassion, how are we to share, how are we to enjoy that love and compassion? Can we have a claim? Can we have a right to that? People are interested in so many things—maybe cricket, maybe the cinema, maybe the sadhus or saints. We go to satisfy our passing enthusiasm and then we may forget that interest. We may be going to saints or sadhus simply to satisfy our curiosity and that ends the matter. But in the case of Babaji, like many of the saints, there have been many persons who wanted to have some sort of binding relationship so that our love, our interest in Babaji should not end. We want to have something durable, something permanent, something continuous, so that we can have a claim on him and he can also accept us and acknowledge us. We become related when a saint or sage accepts us as his or her disciple, when we take him to be our Guru. Then we have that kind of permanent, beautiful relationship.

Can we say that Babaji is our Guru? Can we say that he accepts us as his disciples? So far as a Guru and disciple relationship is concerned, that is made when the saint or sage gives mantra or initiates someone to the divine path or light.
How is the mantra given? Did Babaji give you mantra? Those of you who were with him may claim that he has given you mantra, but what about those who have not met him in his physical body, can they claim Babaji is their Guru and they are also tied to him and he has got a responsibility or duty toward them?

This institution of Guru and disciple is as old in India as Hinduism, as India’s religious past. In most cases, there may be a Guru that is going to the home of the disciple after performing some ceremonies, giving him mantra in his ear. These practices go on in so many houses, so many villages, in so many states of India. But Babaji, of course, did that only in a few cases. We find out that just giving mantra is something like sowing the seeds—there are many different methods. A small farmer with a very limited amount of land goes on sowing the seeds in individual holes. When the farm is bigger in size, the farmer scatters the seed. Where the land is vast, as in your country, you have various kinds of mechanical devices. Now think of the gardener or cultivator who goes on growing the forest or the trees over the entire universe. Think of the God or the divine being who goes on planting the seeds over the entire world. He must have some devices.

There might be some Gurus, priests, who go to each and every individual and give mantra. But the greater ones have got different ways of doing it, for example, Ramakrishna Paramahansa. Sitting in Dakshineshwar, in that small ashram, he went on initiating so many thousands of people. Was he pulling everybody by the ear, taking them to a secret closed room and whispering the mantra? What about Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, that great incarnation of Krishna, going through the streets singing the name of God? In Allahabad you will find people are singing Ram bhajan or they are reading from the Ramayana, because Babaji used to say, “By taking the name of Ram, everything is accomplished. In this Kali Yuga, nobody can go for kundalini yoga; they should take the name of Ram.” This was Babaji’s way of scattering the seeds and giving mantra.

There are those who have not heard those things from Babaji’s mouth. But it has been said that a sage or saint can give you mantra in vision or dreams. Swami Sivananda, the great saint who had so many thousands and thousands of disciples, says that if you become interested in a certain saint or sadhu—and he speaks of the great saints or great sages—if you become interested in him, if you have developed a love for him, then you can take it that he is your Guru. There may be some one saint or sage who you begin loving so much, that you would not like to lose him, that you want to feel that he is your own. Now Sivananda says, “Take it that he is your Guru and you can actually claim yourself to be his disciple.”

There should be no difficulty in recognizing Neem Karoli Baba to be your Guru, though you may or may not have met him. Even if you have met him and sat in front of him, he may not have told you, “Now look here, I am giving this mantra to you.” He was saying Ram Ram, that he was doing all the twenty-four hours, and he was saying that Ram Ram is the be-all and the end-all of people’s lives and that by taking the name of Ram everything is accomplished. I think it all becomes so very easy and so very clear.

– Excerpt from By His Grace: A Devotees Story by Dada Mukerjee