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Swami Vivekananda and Pavhari Baba

Swami Vivekananda and Pavhari Baba

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Published by Swami Vedatitananda
An attempt at understanding the workings of Swami Vivekananda's mind w.r.t a certain decision he took in his life.
An attempt at understanding the workings of Swami Vivekananda's mind w.r.t a certain decision he took in his life.

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Published by: Swami Vedatitananda on Mar 04, 2012
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05/01/2013

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 Article on Swami Vivekananda
 Page 1 of 6 
Swami Vivekananda
’s meeting with Pavhari Baba
 
Swamiji says, “
Worship your Guru as God. But do not obey him blindly. Lovehim, but think for yourself. No blind belief can save you. The Real Guru is not in thebody. He is not the physical man. When faith in the external guru is strong, then the Guruof all gurus within speaks. There is no greater guru than your own mind. When this mindhas been purified by prayer and contemplation, it will direct you from within. Even inyour daily duties, this inner guru will guide you and will continue to help you until you
reach the goal.”
 Our Real Guru is within us - our own
 purified 
mind. The external guru is a meansof awakening this Real Guru within ourselves. The external guru is of two categories:
 Deeksha Guru
&
Sheeksha Guru
.
Sheeksha Guru
is also called
Upa Guru
. Since everysadhaka has only one mantra, consequently, he has only one
 Deeksha guru
. However,there may come any number of 
Sheeksha gurus
in his life, each teaching something veryvaluable, helping that soul to progress towards its destiny. In fact, we find that the role of the
Sheeksha guru
has been vital in the lives of spiritual aspirants. Suppose we ask, is the
 Deeksha-guru
more important to us in our spiritual life than the
Sheeksha-guru
, or is itthe vice-
versa? We find the answer in Swamiji‟s above
-quoted statement, that that is amoot question, because, the most important guru is our Real Guru and he is
within
us, ourEternal Guru.
Swami Vivekananda‟s Guru was Sri Ramakrishna
. But, sometime after Sri
Ramakrishna‟s Mahasamadhi, we find Swamiji eager to go to Ghazipur, meet Pavhari
Baba and get initiated by him into Hatha Yoga & Raja Yogic practices. In other words,Swamiji was found seeking for another Guru! How are we to understand this incident?Sw
amiji once told Sister Nivedita, “I don‟t like to go out to see the scenery and
enjoy the landscape. But if there is a genuine man, I can travel across the globe just to go
and see him!”
With a similar sentiment, he went to Ghazipur in 1890 to meet PavhariBaba.Pavhari Baba was a Brahmin. He was born near Varanasi. His uncle stayed in
Ghazipur. This uncle belonged to Sri Ramanuja‟s sect.
He was a
naishthika Brahmacharin
. He had an Ashrama. Out of his many nephews, he chose Pavhari Baba ashis successor. Pavhari Baba was a student of 
Vyakarana
(Sanskrit Grammar),
 Nyaya
 (Hindu logic) and
Vishishthadvaita Vedanta
. He was an active boy and played practical
 jokes on his fellow students. His uncle‟s death was a
turning point in his life. He wasgrieved to the core of his heart. He had loved him very dearly. Now he resolved to supplythis gap with a vision that can never change - a vision of God.When he was quite young, he traveled far and wide and stayed in South India andBengal for a long time to study scriptures of Ramanuja and Chaitanya. On GirnarMountain in Kathiawar, he was initiated into Raja Yoga. After this, he came to Varanasi,where he became a disciple of a monk who practiced
 Advaita
 
Vedanta
. When he returnedto Ghazipur, he started living in a hole dug in the Ashrama on the high banks of the river
 
 Article on Swami Vivekananda
 Page 2 of 6 
Ganga. Such holes are common habitats of yogis. A hole thus dug provides anenvironment that has stable temperature and is soundless. Certain peculiarities developedin him after this change of habitat. He began a process of awful dietary disciplines. Heconducted worship of his
 Ishta
Sri Ramachandra, cooked and offered good dishes
 – 
hewas a very good cook 
 – 
and distributed it among the poor. His daily diet comprised of afew
neem
leaves and a few pieces of red pepper. He reduced his work and increased hismeditation. Days and months he would sit in that cave and meditate. It was thought hewould live on air. Hence his name
 became „
 Pavhari Baba’ 
, which literally means „Air 
-
eater‟
. Once, for five years at a stretch, he did not come out. People thought he was dead.But then one day, he came out and gave a good feast to a large number of sadhus.When not meditating, he would live in a room above this cave. He would receivevisitors, but would talk to them from behind the door. He would perform any number of yajnas.
When Swamiji met him, he was in this state. Swamiji writes: “I associated with
him for sometime. I lived in a garden house near his Ashrama. People said that the gardenhouse was haunted. But as you
know, I am a sort of a demon myself and don‟t have much
fear of ghosts. I liked Pavhari Baba very much and he too came to love me very dearly. Agreat sage indeed! Very wonderful! A towering representation of Bhakti & Yoga in thisatheistic age! An embodiment of humility! He never replies directly to any questions;
 begins his replies with „what does this servant know?‟ or „it is my good fortune‟, etc and
keeps on multiplying such expressions. But as the talking goes on, fire comes out, i.e.resignation and a wonderful devotion to Guru. He has amazing
titiksha
and unparalleled
humility…h
e had only one eye. He was tall and rather fleshy. He looked much youngerthan his real age. His voice was the sweetest I had ever heard. He led a silent life, a livingwitnes
s to Yoga, a living example of purity, humility and love.”
 One day, as usual, people saw the smoke of yajna coming out of the chimney. Butthey smelt burning flesh. Breaking open the door, they found he had smeared his bodywith ghee and offered his body as oblation! Having seen that his last moment had arrived,he must have done this, not wishing to trouble others, even after his death. This happenedin June 1898.Apart from the above sketch of Pavhari Baba given by Swamiji, what was
Swamiji‟s estimation
of the
Baba? He writes, “In religion, we have the man of intense
thought, of great activity in bringing help to others, men of boldness and daring self realization, neb of meekness and humility. Pavhari Baba was an example of wonderfulhumility and intens
e self realization.”
 Why did Swamiji go to Pavhari Baba?We can find at least three reasons in
Swamiji‟s
letters and conversations:1.
 
Swamiji writes,
I did not learn any art for making this weak body strong, eventhough with Sri Ramakrishna for so many years. I had heard Pavhari Baba knewthe science of Hatha Yoga. I wanted to learn this Hatha Yoga from him andstrengthen
my body.”
 
 
 Article on Swami Vivekananda
 Page 3 of 6 
Why did Swamiji want to strengthen his body? What was wrong? Aroundthat time, he was suffering from acute diarrhea. There were many lemon trees inthe garden house where Swamiji stayed. He would eat plenty of lemons andslowly his digestion power got restored. He was also suffering from lumbago. Hecould not sit down for long, nor could he sleep. It troubled him greatly. Further,he had a pain in the groin. And at the tender age of 19, he had developed Diabetes.So it is natural that the young Swamiji wanted to learn Hatha Yoga and strengthenhis body. Hatha Yoga is a systematic process of making the body immune todiseases and aging.2.
 
Swamiji again writes,
Our Bengal is the land of Bhakti and Jnana, where Yoga isnot even talked of. What little there is (of Yoga) are the queer breathing exerciseswhich are nothing but a kind of gymnastics. In order to learn Raja Yoga, I amstaying here.
 It is obvious that he wants to learn Raja Yoga so that he could introduce itto Bengal.3.
 
Swamiji says to Sharat Chandra Chakraborty,
Even though I find it difficult tomeet Pavhari Baba and have his company, no trouble taken for the sake of such agreat soul can ever go unrewarded. Unless one is face to face with the life of suchmen, faith in the scriptures does not grow in all its real intensi
ty.”
 A question may be asked here: Why did Swamiji want to introduce Raja Yogainto Bengal? Bengal was the land of Bhakti & Jnana. Was there anything wrong withBhakti & Jnana that he wanted to introduce Raja yoga into Bengal? Yes. The Bhaktischools of Bengal at that time were highly corrupted. They were lacking in purity.Great and pure souls like Bhagavan Das Babaji were an exception. Similarly, Jnana inBengal at that period meant endless argumentation, hair-splitting discussions. Andthat was what masses in Bengal understood by religion at that time. Swamiji wantedto correct these by introducing the
science
behind Bhakti & Jnana, i.e. Raja Yoga intoBengal.Behind this noble urge of Swamiji lay a very deep and great cause. We get a hintabout this
from a letter written to Pramadadas Mitra from Ghazipur. “What shall I say
about the condition of my mind! Oh! It is as if the hell-fire is burning there day andnight! Nothing could I do yet! I feel quite helpless as to what to do! Oh! What can Ido? Who will see deep down my mind
? …B
less me that I may have the mostunflinching
 patience and perseverance.” A
very strange letter, indeed!Swamiji had got everything from Sri Ramakrishna. Even the highest
 NirvikalpaSamadhi
! Why was he feeling helpless now? When a person like Swamiji experiencespain, it is not like you and I experiencing pain. It is as if the pain of millions of persons spread across a thousand years is expressing itself in one heart, says SwamiAshokananda in one of his lectures.

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Attempts to understand the psychology of Swami Vivekananda.
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