As the years pass by, the number of people believing Sadhus and Sants, as they are called in India, to be frauds who are known to rob people in return of advice which is of no use. It is far more difficult for youngsters like us to believe in such “frauds” because we have seen the likes of famous entrepreneurs like Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, and even Steve Jobs.
But did you know, Steve Jobs way back in the 1970’s was actually attracted to one particular preacher of God in India? Yes, the same Steve Jobs who founded one of the most successful companies, Apple!
It makes you wonder, how come one of the brightest minds and revolutionaries of all time can get attracted to a mere saint from India? But then again, Neem Karoli Baba was not your stereotypical Sadhu.
The Story Of Neem Karoli Baba
Neem Karoli Baba or Laxmi Narayan Sharma, as he was named at birth, was born in 1900 CE in Akbarpur, Uttar Pradesh, India. He was married at an early stage in life. It was not until 1958 when his youngest daughter turned eleven that he decided to travel across the terrains of Northern India as a Sadhu.
Sharma started gaining popularity after one very interesting incident which took place not long after he left his home. This incident happened at a small village named Neeb Karori where the train conductor forced Baba to get down because he did not buy a ticket to board the train. As soon as the Baba got down from the train, the train did not start even after many trials. It did look strange to all the people aboard the train.
One man suggested that it might be because Baba got down and maybe he should be allowed back on. After considering the thought for a while, the train conductor agreed to take on Baba and asked him to come back. Baba said he would board the train but only on one condition. The condition was that the village of Neeb Karori gets a new railway station. After the mutual agreement, Baba boarded the train. However, while doing so, he said in good humor, “How can it be up to me to start a train?”
Surprisingly, the train did start which made several believe that he really was someone special. After the incident, Neeb Karori got its very own railway station and the Baba was fondly addressed as Neeb Karori Baba by the locals. Over the years by probably mispronouncing his name, the name began to be pronounced as Neem Karoli Baba.
The Legend Of Neem Karoli Baba
As years passed by, Baba wandered across the plains of North India, preaching the importance of Seva as a way to show devotion to God. He was known by many names when he visited various places. He was called Maharaja, Chamatkari Baba, Handi Wala Baba, Tallaiyah Baba, etc. In the last decade of his life, Baba spent most of his time at Kainchi Dham where he built an ashram near Hanuman Mandir. Later around 100 ashrams were named in him all over North India.
His teachings were not big revelations, but simple stories that were important life lessons. People who knew him closely also say that there cannot be biographies made on him. Since all the years, there are more stories than facts.
Baba was known to sit down on a wooden bench with his devotees sitting around him just listening. Many visitors came by and went. They were offered food, shelter, and his words. He loved to joke but also could be found yelling across the compound of the ashram, ensuring the operations. And that is why to say that he was any ordinary Sant is not the right word to describe him as a person.
Notable Disciples Of Neem Karoli Baba
In 1971, Baba traveled to California, USA to teach spiritualism but soon came back to India. This is why Baba had a number of followers from abroad who found his teachings simple yet brilliant. Some of the significant names that make the long list of his followers are Ma Jaya, Ram Dass, Bhagavan Das, Jai Uttal, Dada Mukherjee, film maker John Bush, Daniel Goleman and Larry Brilliant.
Larry Brilliant was a friend of Steve Jobs who referred Baba to him when he decided to learn spiritualism. Even Julia Roberts was drawn towards Baba after watching his picture.
Baba died at an age of 73 in the early morning hours of September 11, 1973, after slipping into a diabetic coma. He was surrounded by several of his disciples and followers. He repeated Jaya Jagdish Hare, every time his volume decreasing with finally falling into a peaceful sleep.
Steve Jobs and his friend Dan Kottke traveled to India in 1974 and planned to meet Baba only to find out about his passing in the past year.
Baba was not any stereotypical Sant. He was one of the most ordinary people you could have met. This is why many notable personalities traveled far just to meet him. Makes us believe in the world again, doesn’t it?