About The Lineage of Shri Gurudev
Although He did not establish any formal organization and did not leave behind any successor, Bhagawan Nityananda did cause a great, living lineage of Maha Yogis to manifest on this Earth plane. On this page are listed His direct disciples. We list them here to honor and glorify their service to Bhagawan Nityananda.
We acknowledge that this is not a complete list of Bhagawan Nityananda’s direct lineage. Any well-informed persons who want to share information not listed here may contact us directly.
Swami Janananda was considered the elder disciple of Bhagawan Nityananda and, under the direct orders of Bhagawan, he looked after the Swami Nityananda Ashram at Kanhangad. Bhagawan Nityananda described him as “Dattatreya Avatar.” Swami Janananda Baba looked after the Kanhangad ashram as his Master’s Temple and never tried to propagate his own image. He attributed everything to Bhagawan Nityananda and became a true Karma Yogi.
Swami Janananda took birth to set an example of devotion through Seva, as described in the Bhagavad Gita. All his life he worked hard with total devotion to his Master. He also kept all his spiritual power subdued and never tried to make a name for himself. He always kept the name of Bhagawan Nityananda in the forefront of whatever he did. Janananda Baba had no attachment to name, fame or worldly possessions. He lived his entire life saying, “Thy will be done.”
Paramahamsa Muktananda received Shaktipat Diksha from Bhagawan Nityananda and became one of his foremost disciples. When the Gavdevi temple was built, devotees approached Bhagawan to ask which statue of which deity should be placed in the temple. Bade Baba told them to install Muktananda instead.
Bhagawan Nityananda had three rooms built for Paramahamsa Muktananda in Ganeshpuri, India (originally the Gavdevi Ashram, now Gurudev Siddha Peeth) and told him to go stay in those three rooms. Paramahamsa Muktananda began his world-wide mission there, before establishing ashrams and centers across the globe.
Muktananda became world renowned through his work in the U.S. and Europe. He also established a Foundation to continue his work after taking Mahasamadhi. Muktananda spoke constantly of Gurudev Nityananda Bhagawan and wrote books and articles about his life with Gurudev, that have since become widely-read.
Before taking Mahasamadhi in 1982, Paramahamsa Muktananda made a profound and everlasting impact on the lives of millions fo Sadakhas across the globe through the bestowal of Shaktipat Diksha. The global impact of His Grace-bestowing power is an undisputed fact.
Shaligram Swami took the vow of monkhood in the Narayana Ashram in South India. At that time, he was named Dayanand Saraswati. After he met Bhagawan Nityananda, he was renamed as Shaligram Swami when Bade Baba took him as His disciple. The shaligram is a dark black oval-shaped pebble found on the banks of the river Ganges. The shaligram stone is considered to be infused with the power of Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. Shaligrams are often offered in temples where they are placed on the Puja. Even if there is statue of a deity in the temple, it is the shaligram which is said to attract the Shakti of Shiva and Vishnu to that place. For this reason, people have come to worship the shaligram stone. Swamiji once said, “The name Shaligram is not my surname, it is a responsibility bestowed on me by Bhagawan Nityananda. The Shakti of Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu fuse in Shaligram.”
Tulsi Amma recorded Bhagawan Nityananda’s words whenever he spoke while in deep trance. These utterances were compiled in a book called the Chidakasha Gita. The name “Chidakasha Gita” was approved by Bade Baba and the book was originally written in Kanada. Of all the disciples of Bhagawan Nityananda, Tulsi Amma was a class apart. Bhagawan Nityananda himself declared her to be “One who has seen the Sun,” meaning that she had realized the eternal Bliss of the Absolute, that she had gone across. It is because of Tulsi Amma that we have the teachings of Bhagawan Nityananda available to us. The original Chidakasha Gita was translated into English, unedited, by Mr. Mangalore Sanjeeva Kamath of Mahim, Mumbai. He was a great devotee of Baba.
Very little is known about Tulsi Amma and those who know about her are no more. Although she wrote several books, she never mentioned her name as author of those books nor did she reveal anything about herself. Tulsi Amma was from Mangalore in South India and must have met Bhagawan Nityananda in early 1920. She was a young widow at the time. In those days life for a widow in India was very difficult and painful. In that pain she turned to God. She belonged to the community of Gowda Saraswati Brahmins and took to the monkhood. This enabled her to wear janava (holy thread) and perform Sandhya Vandana, the ritual usually only performed by Brahmin men. She wore a white sari as a widow is supposed to wear and she kept her head covered. She was fluent in the Konkani, Kanada and Marathi dialects.
Gopal Anna was a full-time attendant of Bhagawan Nityananda who dedicated his entire life in service to Shri Nityananda. There is none to measure up to his dedication. He used to get up at 3:30 in the morning and have his bath. Initially he lived in Kailas Ashram. From there he used to come to the Samadhi Shrine and help in performing the puja. He performed every activity with a feeling of deep servitude, respect and love. He also supervised Balbhojan (the feeding of children while chanting God’s name). In the early days he used to make weekly visits to Mumbai to make purchases for the Balbhojan. He personally looked after Balbhojan because Bade Baba was always very particular about it being conducted properly. He was always surrounded by children, young adults and ladies asking for his guidance. While doing this service whole-heartedly, he always remained unattached.
Padiyar Swami (Swami Sadananda of Kanhangad) had come to Mumbai from Karnataka. Since he was from the community called Gowda Saraswati Bhramins (G.S.B.) and knew Sitaram Shenoy, he checked in at Sitaram’s hotel in Mumbai. All youth from the G.S.B. community who came to Mumbai in search of work were welcomed at Sitaram’s place. They slept in his gymnasium at night and went searching for jobs during the day. They were fed all their meals in the hotel until they found a job.
Padiyar was one such youth whom Sitaram took a liking. It was obvious to Sitaram that Padiyar had to be introduced to Baba Nityananda. Mr. Padiyar made repeated visits to Bhagawan Nityananda during Baba’s stay in Mumbai (early 1930s) and later at Baba’s Ganeshpuri ashram. These visits slowly transformed Padiyar into a devoted disciple. Later, Bhagawan Nityananda sent him to Kushal Nagar and told him to settle down there. Today, there is a Mahasamadhi shrine erected there in his honor.
Sitaram Shenoy was a householder disciple of Baba Nityananda. He was widely respected and was considered to be the exemplar of devotion. Swami Muktananda, Shaligram Swami, Padiyar Swami (Sadananda of Kanhangad), Govind Swami, Tulsi Amma and other devotees of the order of monks held Sitaram Shenoy in high respect for his devotion to Bhagawan Nityananda.
Headmaster Hosdurga Devrai Pai was the first devotee of Bhagawan Nityananda in Kanhangad. Baba was a small lanky boy, living a very carefree life wandering in the jungle. At times he used to appear in the village and distribute sweets to the village children. To some, outwardly, young Bhagawan appeared insane. For this reason, some people used to harass him and throw stones at him. But Baba was always absorbed in the Absolute within His own being and was unaffected by what other people thought or how they behaved.
Mr. Pai, who was Head Master in the local school, commanded respect from all. His own father was a great devotee of Tirupati Balaji and was known in the village for singing devotional songs. Head Master could see the divine nature of Bhagawan Nityananda and became his disciple, even though Bhagawan was still a young boy. Although head Master was not a rich man, he always fed people, considering it to be his Seva to Baba. In this way, Bhagawan Nityananda tested the devotion of Devrai Pai. This Seva of offering food began in the 1920s. After Bhagawan Nityananda took Mahasamadhi, head master continued to make this offering to Sri Janananda Swami until his Mahasamadhi in 1982, and also to Shri Padiyar Swami. In return, the entire family received Bhagawan Nityananda’s Grace.
Sunita Shenoy, mother of Dr. Gopalkrishna Shenoy, is considered to be a perfect example of how a disciple serves a Guru. She served Bhagawan Nityananda all her life. She was born to Hosdurga Devrai Pai (see above), a Head Master of Canara High School at Kanhangad. She was the eldest daughter and her mother died when she was very small. Her father remarried and she had four step brothers and four step sisters. Hosdurga Devrai Pai was one of the first disciples of Bade Baba in Kanhangad. Bhagawan Nityananda used to call Devrai “head master.” In those days Baba used to sit in the caves of the Kanhangad Ashram. Head Master used to send breakfast or lunch for Baba everyday.
Sunita Shenoy was a young girl at the time and she was given the task of delivering the food to Bhagawan Nityananda every morning. It was a very long distance from her home to the cave at Kanhangad Ashram, and an equally long walk from there to school. For a child of her age it was not a pleasant assignment, but bound by respect for her elders, she did it without any complaints, making the difficult journey every morning to serve Bhagawan. Bhagawan Nityananda was in his teens then and was always absorbed in the Avadhoota state. He could never be found in the same place and Sunita usually had to search for him or wait until he appeared.
Raghunath Shenoy, father of Dr. Gopalkrishna Shenoy, was lovingly nicknamed ‘Bondu’ by Bhagawan Nityananda. Of all of Bhagawan Nityananda’s disciples, Raghunath was considered to be absent-minded. He could very easily fall asleep and snore loudly. He and several other disciples used to stay up late massaging Baba’s feet. At that time, a group of Baba’s disciples used to eagerly await night fall because, often, Bhagawan Nityananda used to give spontaneous talks on a variety of topics. Since electricity had not yet reached Ganeshpuri, it used to get very dark and these talks lasted well into the night.
As people listened eagerly to Bhagawan’s spontaneous discussions, Raghunath would slowly slide down on the floor and fall asleep, often right on Bhagawan’s feet. Sometimes when he began snoring, Baba used to laugh saying, “And there goes Bondu to sleep.” Then everyone would break out in laughter. Raghunath was simple man. So, Bhagawan Nityananda took care of him and guided him through his difficulties. When Baba was in Bombay, Raghunath used to visit him at Gol Mandir, Canery Caves, Kurla Salt Mines and several other places where Nityananda was found in those days. In turn, Bhagawan used to visit Raghunath’s shop and sit at his counter. This was during the time of the British occupation of India. Raghunath became known as a simple, humble and pure disciple of Bhagawan Nityananda.
Ratnakar Shenoy was the son of Sitaram Shenoy and cousin of Gopalkrishna Shenoy. During one of His frequent visits to the Shenoy home, Bhagawan Nityananda picked up the young Ratnakar and garlanded him. Ratnakar performed yajnas in Baba’s honor at the Kanhangad Ashram. He was also the one to carry Bade Baba’s loj cloth when he took Mahasamadhi. He was a very devoted disciple of Bhagawan Nityananda.
P.V. Ravindran met Bhagawan in 1956. Bhagawan Nityananda gave him permission and blessings to publish the Malayalam translation of His Chidakasha Gita and, in 1959 the first copies were distributed throughout India. Between 1956 and 1961, Mr. Ravindran spent a good deal of time in Bhagawan Nityananda’s company, serving Him as a devoted disciple. He is well-known to disciples in both Ganeshpuri and Kanhangad. In 1985, P.V. Ravindran published the well-known account of Bhagawan Nityananda’s life entitled Sadguru Nityananda Bhagawan; The Eternal Entity, a book that is still widely-read today.
Lalita Mauli of Panvel, New Mumbai was another person who became a living example of Gurukripa Yoga. Lalita Mauli considered herself to be Bhagawan Nityananda’s adopted daughter (Manaskanya). Her life was a perfect example of how one can fulfill his/her householder and worldly life while also walking the spiritual path. She was ordained by Bhagawan Nityananda. “You shall be Mother to the entire Universe. You shall love everyone without differentiation,” he told her. In her life Lalita met several saints like Siddharud Swami. She also met several Kirtankars and devotees. She continued her studies and also became a Hindi Scholar. She was a staunch patriot and wrote several articles on patriotism. She was multi-faceted, yet her main activity was engaging in Devotion for God and her Guru, Bhagawan Nityananda. Several miracles happened in her life. She went through pain and suffering but each time she found God by her side. In doing her Sadhana she did not neglect her householder duties. She was a devoted wife and a loving mother.
Madhava Hegde (Engineer Hegde) was a long-time disciple of Bhagawan Nityananda. He spent many years in service to Bhagawan Nityananda and was associated with His Ganeshpuri Ashram. Engineer Hegde was present when Bhagawan Nityananda took Mahasamadhi. Baba spoke to him just before leaving this Earth plane. He is known as one of the most devoted of Bhagawan Nityananda’s disciples.
Captain M.U. Hatengdi is a retired naval secretary at the Naval headquarters in New Delhi. He first met Bhagawan Nityananda when he was 5 years old in 1920 in Mangalore. Had his first darshan in June of 1943. At that time he became Bhagawan Nityananda’s disciple. After that Hatengdi spent almost every weekend with Bhagawan. Once Captain Hatengdi hurt his toe and it was bleeding profusely. All of a sudden Baba came into his room and, without saying a word, Baba poured sandalwood oil over the wound. Sandalwood oil is very soothing. Baba often knew his disciples’ suffering and came to their aide in this way, without being told the circumstance.
Captain Hatengdi is one of the last, living elder disciples of Bhagawan Nityananda who had the privilege of keeping Shri Gurudev’s company and observing many of Bade Baba’s leelas. He has many stories to share.
Padmanabh S. Prabhu (Murdeshwar Mama) was a long-time disciple of Bhagawan Nityananda. He once made a statue of Bhagwan Nityananda in this Sheshashayana pose. He then took the statue to Ganeshpuri to present it to Nityananda Baba. Bhagawan Nityananda was living in the old ashram then. When Murdeshwar Mama arrived, he placed the statue in front of Baba and bowed before him for his approval. Baba Nityananda was in a very jovial mood and began to speak about this Sheshashayana form of Vishnu.
When Bhagawan Nityananda began speaking about the Sheshashayana form of Vishnu, he also spoke of Lord Ananta and began describing the significance of The Endless One. Baba also described how one should worship him and what offering should be made. According to Baba, “One should offer a 14-course lunch to God Ananta.” Lord Ananta becomes happy and satisfied with your Devotion and Surrender when this is done. Baba then asked Murdeshwar Mama, “Will you give Him this lunch?” Since that time, Murdeshwar Mama celebrated Ananta Chaturdashi in Ganeshpuri and offered food to all the devotees in attendance. Even today, this festival is celebrated by his daughters (as he had no sons) and those disciples of Bhagawan Nityananda who know that Baba promised Murdeshwar Mama that He would attend this lunch. Till this day, in Ganeshpuri and Murdeshwar, they attend and partake of the lunch as Prasada (blessed food).
Laxman Shah Khoday is an industrialist and Chairman of the Swami Nityananda Kanhangad Ashram. He became a disciple of Bhagawan Nityananda and, later also served Swami Janananda Baba at Bhagawan Nityananda’s command.
Vidydhar Patil sang Bhajans and lead chants in Bhagawan Nityananda’s Ashrams. He was a favorite of Baba’s and an intoxicated disciple who loved to sing the Divine name.
Bapu Rao Khade of Sion was a great disciple of Bhagawan Nityananda who also served Swami Muktananda and his successors. Baburao used to bring a large group of youths from Sion every week to sing Bhajans in Bhagawan Nityananda’s Ashram. They became well-known as the Sion group. The group became so large that a bungalow had to be erected in the nearby village fo their frequents stays. That place is now known as Indraprasaadam and was also used by Janananda Baba and others when they visited Bhagawan Nityananda in Ganeshpuri.
Professor Shivananda Kamath was a humble disciple and servant of Bhagawan Nityananda. What struck people the most about Professor Kamath was his calm, humble, indrawn nature and his Supreme love for Bhagawan Nityananda. He always shared his profound experiences of Bade Baba and his love for Tulsi Amma. He is also known for his rare video in which he sings a song of praise to Bhagawan Nityananda, written by Tulsiammaji. This video was produced by Rob Marvin, another devotee of Bhagawan Nityananda and friend of Professor Kamath. The footage was taken at the Shri Swami Nityananda mother ashram in Kanhangad, Kerala, India.
Narayan Bhatji was a Brahmin priest whom Bade Baba appointed to perform daily puja in the Kailasa Bhadrakali temple that Bhagawan Nityananda had erected to the Divine Mother. They met in Gokarna and Narayan Bhatji followed Bhagawan Nityananda to Ganeshpuri. He became Bade Baba’s disciple and lived in Ganeshpuri until his passing.
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Kuttiram Swami was given his name by Bhagawan Nityananda after being initiated by Bhagawan Nityananda . He served Bhawan Nityananda for many years and was well-known in Baba’s sangham.
Swami Shankar Teertha used to stay in the village of Vajreshwari during his visits for Bhagwan Nityananda’s darshan. He became Baba’s disciple. There is a pair of Guru’s sandals in the Nath Mandir made of sandalwood paste. Shankar Teertha Swami had offered this paste to Bhagawan Nityananda while performing an Arati of Him. Bade Baba put His hands in the paste and it became those sandals.
Mahabala Swami was a long-time disciple of Bhagawan Nityananda’s who also served Janananda Baba. As a young child, Bade Baba cured him of a debilitating illness. He spent his life in service to Baba.
Swami Devdas was a disciple who visited Bhagawan Nityananda regularly to have his darshan.
Swami Karunananda became a disciple of Bhagawan Nityananda at a very young age. Currently living in India, possibly Gokul.
Govind Swami was a lifelong disciple of Bhagawan Nityananda who also inspired many other devotees and disciples to share their experiences of Bhagawan Nityananda with the world.
Swami Prajnananda was an early disciple of Bhagawan Nityananda who later served Swami Muktananda for many years. She is well-known for her book, A Search For The Self, and ran an Ashram in Gujarat before taking Mahasamadhi. She was highly-revered as an ecstatic being of the highest knowledge.
Swami Madhavananda served Bhagawan Nityananda for many years and, after Bhagawan left his body, Swamiji served Baba Muktananda. Those who spent time in his company considered him to be totally free.