About Shri Gurudev
Shri Bhagawan Nityananda is said to have been an incarnation of Lord Shiva. Still others say he was an incarnation of Lord Vishnu and, still others claim that he was the very incarnation of Lord Krisha. Is it any wonder that, when people pressed Bade Baba about such details, he responded by saying “You want me to tell you about myself? How is that possible when I have realized that I am in everything and there is nothing around me in which I don’t find my own Self?” He went on to say that his parents and brothers were those who loved God and worked to serve God.
There are many stories about how Bhagawan Nityananda arrived on this Earth plane. When people made attempts to verify these stories, Bade Baba usually admonished them, stating that such details are important only to curiosity-seekers. And yet, on one occasion, in response to questions about his birth, he was heard to say “Two crows came and went.”
After arriving here on this Earth plane, Bhagawan Nityananda spent several years in the South Kanara district in Quilandy. From there, he moved about quite a bit (mostly on foot and by train), making his way deep into the Himalayas and staying for a time in places such as Quilandy, Sri Lanka, Burma, Kanhangad, Kumbla, Gokarna, Udipi, Calicut, Mangalore, Manjeshwar, coastal Karnataka and Vajreshwari. Later he settled in Ganeshpuri, at the foot of the majestic Mandakini Mountain near the Bhimeshwar temple, surrounded by rolling hills, lush fields and hot springs. At the time he first went to Ganeshpuri it was still a jungle, practically uninhabitable, except for such a sage.
His Arrival Here
There are two popular accounts of Bhagawan Nityananda’s arrival on this Earth plane. Nearby the home of Chathu Nair and his wife, Unniamma, there was a temple dedicated to Ayyappa. Both frequented this temple often. On one particular evening, there was a huge storm in the village. That night Unniamma had a vision in which she saw Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva in front of her. They told her to go to the Ayyappa temple the next morning. When she did so, she found a beautiful baby boy inside the temple. There was a huge serpent standing guard over the child. Unniamma was stunned and stood still staring at the divine child. Her husband, who was waiting patiently for her to return from the temple, finally decided to go see what was taking her so long. When he arrived at the temple, his wife pointed to the child.
Chathu Nair immediately rushed off to get Ishwara Iyer. The two men rushed back to the temple. All three watched while the serpent circumambulated the child three times and then disappeared. Bhagawan Nityananda had arrived! Unniamma was given the charge of raising the Divine child.
The second account of Bade Baba’s arrival is the following; It is said that around 1897-1900, in late November or early December, an elderly woman was out picking flowers and collecting wood in the dense jungle near Quilandy, now called Guruvan. As she approached a nearby tree, she heard two crows cawing loudly. It was as if the crows were purposely making a ruckus to get her attention. So, she followed the cawing of the crows and found herself standing in front of a bush. Under that bush was a baby boy wrapped in a white cloth.
The woman picked the child up and took the baby boy to the safety of her home. Having a large family of her own, she decided she would have to give the child away. In her village, there was a woman named Unniamma who was not able to bear a child. The boy was given to Unniamma to raise.
Both Chathu Nair and Unniamma brought him up as their own child. When the boy was one year old, under instructions from Sri Iyer and his friend, Anantha Narayana Shastri, the boy was named Rama, the name that denotes the realization of bliss. The simple naming ceremony was done in the Ayyappa temple. Could anyone have foreseen that little Rama would one day become Sadguru Nityananda Bhagawan?!
Unniamma died when Ram was very young, leaving him to be cared for by Ishwar Iyer. Now, Ishwar Iyer was well known in Quilandy for his work as a lawyer and he was also very religious. His chosen deity was Surya Narayana (the Sun God), and Mr. Iyer diligently engaged in worship throughout each and every day. He also introduced the young Ram to many scriptures and the study of sacred texts on which discourses were given in his home. In this way Ram was exposed to these teachings at a very early age.
Pilgrimage With Ram
Late in his life, Ishwar Iyer decided to make pilgrimages to several holy Shrines. He took the young Ram with him. After visiting several holy Shrines, they reached Kashi. Ram was about age 10 at the time. Just as Ishwar Iyer decided it was time for them to return home, Ram told him that it was time for them to part. He told Ishwar Iyer that he wanted to spend time in the Himalayas and that he would return to him at the appropriate time. Shocked and dismayed, Ishwar Iyer tried to change Råm’s mind, but to no avail. He then left Ram and returned home. The young Ram then spent several years in the Himalayas, travelling on foot and meditating in the holy caves there.
When Ram returned to Quilandy several years later at age 16, Ishwar Iyer had taken ill and was on his deathbed. Just before passing, he told Ram that he wanted to see the Sun God, Lord Surya, in all his splendor, and he asked Ram to grant him that boon. Then he had a profound vision of Surya Narayana. In ecstasy, the old man exclaimed “You have brought Ónanda (Bliss) to me. You are Nityananda! May you be Nityananda to all!” This is how Bhagawan Nityananda got this name, that he later said was not a name, but a state (the Eternal Bliss of the Absolute).
After visiting other places, including Sri Lanka and Burma, Swami Nityananda returned to Quilandy again. By this time he was already known as a great Kundalini Yogi and Avadhoot. From Quilandy he went to Kanyakumari, Calicut, Tellicherry, Cannanore and Kanhangad. He then appeared in Kumbla. It is during this time that he started to attract large crowds of people. He performed miracles, healing the sick and alleviating the suffering of the masses. He also stopped trains, slept comfortably on a rope tied between two windows and was found levitating in a barn. In villages where people had no drinking water, Bhagawan Nityananda created wells with running water, in places where there was no sign of water. These wells have never run dry, despite the fact that they are not attached to any water sources. He attributed these miracles to God and the faith of his devotees.
Futile Attempts On His Life
Even though Bhagawan Nityananda was welcomed by the masses wherever he went, there were those who were jealous of him and wanted to see him dead. Several attempts were made on his life. One such incident happened in Manjeshwar where a man tried to poison Swamiji with a rolled tobacco leaf. There was also an incident in another village where a local goon attempted to have him run over by a train. Other people attempted a knife attack. None of these attempts were successful and the perpetrators soon found themselves sick or dying in a local hospital of a serious illness.
Birth of Chidakasha Gita
In Mangalore, Tulasiamma met Bhagawan Nityananda and became his devoted disciple. This led to the events in which the Chidakasha Gita was recorded for posterity. Bhagawan Nityananda has many devotees in Mangalore and there are four Ashrams there established in his name.
Bade Baba spent time in Mulki, Padubidri, Bantwal and then Udipi. In Udipi he was often seen in and around the famous Shri Krishna temple. At first, he was not always welcome there. The priests of the temple thought him to be a mad man and attempted to scare him away by arranging to have him stoned. As the hired hands threw stones at Bhagawan Nityananda, the stones disappeared before hitting him, or sometimes they turned into sweet meats before landing on the ground. Many of these same stones were then found around the feet of the Krishna Murti in the temple. This miracle confirmed that Bhagawan Nityananda and Shri Krishna are one!
Over time, people from all over India flocked to Udipi to receive Bade Baba’s blessings. He healed many of the sick and dying and gave special attention and love to the poor and indigent there.
Swami Nityananda then moved on to Kanhangad where he spent more than 25 years. He selected Kanhangad as the seat for his mother Ashram, stating that the Kanhangad Ashram is a University for sages and that, one day, sages from abroad will occupy the Ashram and make it a hub for spiritual pursuit. He cleared the land around an old fort there with his bare hands and also participated in the building of the Ashram that is now located on a rocky hill. Bhagawan Nityananda spent many days lying on a huge rock there in the hot sun, deep in the trance of Meditation. Later, with his own hands, he carved away the stone from inside of that rock to build the famous meditation caves that are still located there under the Kanhangad Ashram.
Construction of Kanhangad Ashram
With respect to the construction of the Kanhangad Ashram, there is a wonderful story. At that time, the British still occupied India. As the caves were being completed and construction on the Ashram began, workers from the village were hired. There was no money to pay wages but Bade Baba manifested the workers’ wages in miraculous ways. Sometimes he would take the exact amount needed from his loincloth. At other times he told the workers to collect their wages from underneath a tree or rock. Each time the exact amount to pay each worker (not a penny more or less) was manifested. This was so startling that some observers believed the money was either counterfeit or stolen.
Some local officials filed a complaint with the District Collectors office run by the British. They said that there was a mad, naked Sadhu encroaching on Government land and using stolen money to pay laborers. The British sent a Captain Gawne to investigate. When the Captain arrived, Bhagawan Nityananda was nowhere to be found. After making many demands for his whereabouts, Bade Baba appeared from one of the caves. The Captain asked him about the construction going on. To everyone’s surprise, Bade Baba responded in English! As the two spoke, Captain Gawne was very taken with Bade Baba’s presence.
When Captain Gawne asked about where the money was coming from to pay the workers’ wages, Bade Baba took him, along with the local officials, to Guruvan where there was a swampy area covered with water. He then told them that he was paying the workers from a bag of money at the bottom of the swamp and that they were welcome to dive into the water to verify that the bag of money was there. Seeing the very large alligator and other wild animals that were there, none dared to take him up on his offer. Indeed Bhagawan Nityananda had pulled a bag of money out of the water to pay the workers with.
Captain Gawne then instructed the local officials not to disturb the construction of the caves and the Ashram. In fact, he told the people there that they should be helping Bhagawan Nityananda to complete the construction and that no one should bother him. The Captain then left the Ashram to go back to the Kanhangad train station. On his way back, at the point where the Ashram road joins the main road, to his complete surprise, Captain Gawne saw a street sign that read “Gawne Road” posted on the corner. Bade Baba had named the road after the collector to commemorate his visit. Today, the Ashram road still bears the name “Gawne Road.”