Baba Bhagavan Das was the Sad Guru of my teacher, Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati. When I travelled with my guru in the 1980’s and 90’s, whenever he spoke of his own teacher, his eyes would well up, and he would be filled with emotion, as he attempted to say something about the man he knew. It seemed that even saying his teacher’s name, sparked an inner fire that was made evident by his luminous eyes.
One time, Baba’s name was mentioned in a program by a visiting student, Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati paused, while the rest of us students just sat there in a kind of suspended silence, waiting, hoping that maybe our teacher would share a story. But there was something about the casual nature of the question from the student that seemed to thwart any further discussion. For Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati, Baba Bhagavan Das was serious stuff and for the student interested in Self-Knowledge to treat her/his interest in him as anything less than sacred was impossible for Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati to relate with. Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati’s silence in response to this way of questioning, showed us all the meta-importance Baba held for him. Over the years, there were times when Baba’s name was mentioned with sincere interest, Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati would follow that sincerity, by leading a call and response chant in honor of Baba.
On rare occasions, we students got the opportunity to listen, as Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati recounted stories of Baba’s miracles and love. For example, once a man came to Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati (who was then Dr R. S. Mishra) with tuberculosis. Practically speaking, there was no possibility of the man being cured. To his utter shock, the man was cured. This man was the one who invited Dr. Mishra to meet the saint. Another time, Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati shared how different devotees of the saint, described Baba as being in two places at the same time, yet the homes were very far from each other. Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati also shared, how Baba would know the exact contents of your mind. He further told how when unexpected things transpired in his own life, Baba knew all of it ahead of time. If a flight was delayed, Baba would send a taxi or someone to get Dr Mishra even though no one actually knew of the delay, but somehow Baba knew. In the moments, when Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati shared these tender vignettes each of us felt the flavor and glimpse of what it was like to be in the holy presence of the saint. And it seemed as though Baba’s mysterious smile lingered in the space around us after they were told.
I noticed when speaking of his teacher, Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati was careful in expressing his words, so as to convey the level of respect and meaning Baba occupied for him. One day, after sharing a story of Baba, which revealed Baba’s infinite wisdom with the group, Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati gently closed his eyes, and dissolved into the meditative field of consciousness. In these moments, he invited us to follow his lead and venture out beyond the edges of our own mis-identification with our bodies and minds, into beingness, the realm of Baba.
In Sanskrit, there is a beautiful word called Avatāra. Avatāra means one who descends from pure light for the purpose of elevating. The Avatāras are holy beings that incarnate in form to help rid the world of suffering. I like to say it like this, Avatāras take form to help ease the suffering that is inevitable in the embodied growth process. Baba Bhagavan Das’ incarnation was an Avatāra, he is a reflection of spiritual light.
When I was in direct service, my teacher emphasized elements of the tradition. Many times he’d say, “Never visit a sage empty-handed. Always bring something, a fruit, flower, mantra and offer that with sincerity.”
Visit Baba Bhagavan Das in your own heart by offering a mantra in honor of his luminous light:
Gurur Brahmā Gurur Vishnur
Gurur Devo Maheśvarah
Guruh Sākshāt Param Brahma
Tasmai Śrī Gurave Namah.
May the grace of Baba Bhagavan Das, the Avatāra, shower blessings on us all.
©2019 Luminous Shabda, Manorama & Sanskrit Studies