May 9, 2015
Baba Lokenath (1730-1890)
"Whenever you are in danger, whether in ocean or in war or in the wild, remember Me. I shall save you. You may not know Me. You may not realize who I am. Just pray to Me with a little touch of your heart and I shall free you from gripping sorrows and miseries."
Over two centuries after these words were uttered by a sage, they have become famous all over Bengal.
Here is one sage who predicted that a century after his death, he would be greatly revered by one and all.
True enough, at present, his is a household name in Bengal. Nearly every Hindu Bengali home has his idol placed in the family altar, huge temples are being built in his honor, thousands of devotees bow before him and glorify him as their Guru and Lord. He is Baba Lokenath.
Baba Lokenath was born on Janmasthami, the birthday of Lord Krishna, in 1730 (18th Bhadra, 1137) to a Brahmin family in the village of Chaurasi Chakla, a couple of miles away from Calcutta. His father, Ramnarayan Ghosal's sole wish in life was to dedicate one child to the path of renunciation to liberate the family. So when the fourth son was born to his wife Kamaladevi, he knew that the time had come for him to initiate his boy to the service of the Almighty.
Accordingly, he ventured to a nearby village of Kochuya and pleaded with Pandit Bhagawan Ganguly to be his son's guru and teach him the Shastras rich in Vedic wisdom. At the age of 11, young Lokenath left home with his guru. His first sojourn was the Kalighat Temple, then for 25 years he lived in the forests, selflessly serving his master and practising the Ashtanga Yoga of Patanjali along with the most difficult Hatha Yoga.
Baba Lokenath was nearly seven feet tall with little flesh on him. Denying the needs of his physical self, he negated sleep, never closed his eyes or even blinked. He went about stark naked and in that state he braved the chill of the Himalayas and immersed himself in profound meditation or samadhi for nearly five decades. Finally, the light of self-realization dawned on him at the age of 90.
After his enlightenment he traveled extensively on foot to Afghanistan, Persia, Arabia and Israel, making three pilgrimages to Mecca. When he came to the small town Baradi near Dhaka, a wealthy family built him a small hermitage, which became his ashram. He was then 136 years of age. There he put on a sacred thread and clothed himself in saffron robes. For the rest of his life he bestowed miracles and celestial wisdom on all who came to him to seek blessing.
His teachings were infused with simplicity that endeared the common man. He preached love and devotion and an unwavering faith in God and in one's deeper, immutable self. For him nothing is but Self. After attaining siddhi or enlightenment he said: "I have seen only Myself. I am bound by my own karma. The materialistic world is bound by the tongue and the sex organ. He who can restrain these two is fit to attain siddhi (enlightenment)."
On the 19th day of Jyestha, 1297 (June 3, 1890), at 11:45 am, the Baba was seated in his usual Gomukh yoga asana. He went into a trance with his eyes open, and while still meditation, the Baba left his physical body forever. He was aged 160. He said, before death: "I am eternal, I am deathless. After this body falls, do not think that everything will come to an end. I will live in the hearts of all living beings in my subtle astral form. Whoever will seek my refuge, will always receive my grace".
It is believed that Baba Lokenath appeared in a vision to Suddhananda Brahamachari in 1978, over 100 years after he died, commanding him to write his life story, and he wrote the Baba's biography entitled "In Danger, Remember Me". Today, Lokenath Brahmachari is the household deity of millions of Bengali families on both sides of the border.
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