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Babaji: Immortal Master of the Himalayas


An extraordinary master has been here with us while the centuries have come and gone. He's seen the great days of Egypt. He's witnessed the birth of the Buddha, the birth of Christ. He has been living in the same body on Earth for about 5,000 years. His name is Babaji.
            Babaji means simply, revered father or guru; many spiritual teachers are called Babaji. This Babaji is the master brought to light in Paramahansa Yogananda's signal work, Autobiography of a Yogi—to my knowledge the only accurate source of information about Babaji. Paramahansa's guru was Sri Yukteswar; his was Lahiri Mahasaya; and his was Babaji.
Babaji lives in the Indian Himalayas, near both Tibet and Nepal. In the icy peaks west of the town of Badrinath he makes his home, inaccessible to all but a few disciples. He can look any age he wises, but usually he appears as a beautiful young man in the prime of life, slender, with bright copper-colored hair.
            He has chosen to stay embodied on Earth to help a sleeping humanity awaken (see page 353 of the book). He works behind the scenes, quietly and anonymously, but often with large strokes. Only because he was ready for some of us to know of him—to hasten our own awakening—did he invite his exposure in Autobiography. In the early 20th Century, Westerners caught up in a newly industrialized and materialistic society were yearning for enlightenment, with little to guide them. So in 1920 Babaji sent Yogananda to America, where he lit a path to God that millions have followed. Babaji often collaborates with Jesus and other great masters to open a new door for humanity.
            Babaji is a complete master of his environment through his oneness with God. He rarely eats. He dematerializes and rematerializes at will, often instantly taking himself and his entire group to a new location. He manifests anything needed and wanted from the ethers. In one of the most fascinating stories of Autobiography, he materializes a palace! 

            In the spring of 1976, living in Memphis, Tennessee, I was reading Paramahansa’s book for the first time. As the chapters unfolded I thought oh, this master is nice, that one is interesting—until it got to Babaji. Then, I caught fire! For weeks I could think of nothing else. Finally one day, in meditation, I called him to me with great passion and as he was a long way away, quite loudly! And he came! I felt him as a whirlwind of energy and presence in the room, and after a few moments he moved into my heart.

Though I didn't realize it then, I had been with Babaji before, and meeting him was a re-meeting. At the time it was the greatest spiritual opening of my life. He became my closest friend and guide, one with my I Am Presence. Our connection rejuvenated my body. It moved me to San Francisco where I discovered why I had come to this life, gravitated to the teachings right for me, founded Ascension Mastery International, and taught for sixteen years.
Babaji wants it known that he is available to anyone who calls him with a sincere heart.

In 1990, a new book came out called Babaji and the 18 Siddha Kriya Yoga Tradition, by Marshall Govindan. This book says that Babaji has an ashram near Badrinath, India, on Sapt Kund (kund means lake). In Australia in the early spring of 1996, with the help of my friend Manny, I suddenly got a powerful electric surge to go and be with Babaji. I wasn't even guided to ask inwardly if the book was correct and the ashram was real—I just knew I had to go. I’d been to India twice before, and had thought I wouldn’t go again; all that melted away. I called Marshall in Canada, and got more details about Babaji's location as he understood it. Manny was going to go with me but backed out, so I asked Babaji to give me travel friends. I left May 11th.
India is nothing if not intense, especially in the big cities like New Delhi where I landed. But my first travel friend, George, appeared while I waited for a piece of lost luggage. George navigated me around Delhi for a few days and then drove me to a lovely ashram in Rishikesh, overlooking the Ganges. On the wild shore opposite, elephants sometimes gathered on a hot afternoon to squirt themselves with the cool river water. At the ashram I met Lorraine, a TM teacher. She and I resonated so well that we became friends, and decided to travel to Badrinath together. When Lorraine's business in Rishikesh was complete, we hired a taxi for a two-day ride (instead of one twelve-hour day), and left for Badrinath. It was the 30th of May.
            You cannot believe a drive like that until you take it. The road is often less than two lanes wide, full of blind curves, and anywhere between 100 and 1500 feet above a river—first the Ganges, and later the Alaknanda. A sheer drop down the river canyon swings past your eyes on every turn. Avalanches frequently block part of the road. One or two buses to go over the side every year. Once you decide the journey is in God's hands and relax, however, the beauty is breathtaking! As you climb, a hot scrubby land gradually gives way to brilliant green rice paddies overhung by stately pines.


A bit about Badrinath. At 10,350 feet, it is located west of Nepal's western border, near Tibet. Lower green hills surround the town, and the high snowy Himalayas peek out above them. The Alaknanda roars through the center of town, melted out of a valley of glaciers.
            Badrinath is perhaps the holiest pilgrimage spot in India. When a Hindu dies, his head is pointed to the north, in hopes of sending his soul to Badrinath. It is the most sacred spot on earth, people tell you, for the god Vishnu (the Preserver, one of the Hindu triumvirate), and he is the main one worshipped in the colorful temple at the center of town. Krishna, an incarnation of Vishnu, said in one of the scriptures that during this age he would be in Badrinath. The dramatic snowy peak Nil Kanth, to the west, is  said to be the abode of Shiva. And legend has it that the great epic Mahabharata was written by the sage Vyasa, with the god Ganesha as scribe, in a cave about two miles north of town. And last but not least, Babaji really does dwell nearby.
            A wonderful event takes place in the main temple. Every winter, the snows reach fifteen to twenty feet—as high as most buildings—and the whole town is abandoned. Before they leave in November, the priests of the temple fill a little lamp with oil, enough for a day, and close the doors.
            In the spring, a lottery drawing is held to be the first to view the inner sanctum. The snow is swept from the doors, and they are opened. The lamp, six months later, is still burning.
            Most Hindus have a lifelong dream to get to Badrinath. June is the peak time for pilgrims (monsoons begin in late summer), and twenty to thirty busloads arrive every day.

The Search for Babaji

We found a place to stay above the river and settled in. That night I woke about 2am, and was astounded. Mt. Shasta is a sacred energy vortex; Badrinath is twice the power and frequency. It was all I could do to reach up high enough to feel what it was. Each night while people are asleep, Babaji and the gods bless, cleanse, heal, lift, and give each person as much as they can receive. No wonder they want so much to come!
            The drama of finding Babaji unfolded with one discovery after another; here’s my understanding:
            Babaji does not now, and has not had an ashram at the lake, which is actually Sato Panth Lake, some sixteen miles north of Badrinath. (No one there had ever heard of Sapt Kund.) This does not question Marshall’s sincerity or claim all knowledge about this. We thought about trekking to the lake anyhow, but the way was glacier-covered and dangerous until August. However, Babaji does base his home in the ice-covered peaks about thirteen kilometers west of Badrinath.
            His aura is incredible. I learned that if you are not completely enlightened, in the presence of Babaji's immortal body you would burn up. It makes sense. Thus the search to find him in his body was not meant to succeed; just being in Badrinath was enough.
52 Pickup

The crystal clarity of Badrinath ,  and Babaji, began to work on me immediately; my mind and heart opened to new truth. My first morning there brought me a realization that I had avoided for an amazing length of time, given my commitment to expansion. I enjoy giving workshops; but for five years I had ignored a knowing that I was complete—beyond complete—with saying the same things without more mastery of my own to demonstrate them. This truth was now undeniable. I needed to give up workshops indefinitely, go into the chaos that tumbles us along between plateaus of growth, and take my next steps in enlightenment.
            I immediately gave my whole life to spirit, saying “Take it! Take it all! Only bring back to me what is right.” Giving up teaching, I began to breathe in freedom and joy and aliveness I had not felt for years.       
After three days it became clear that workshops were all that needed to go. I found myself asking, a bit tremulously, “How am I going to make a living?” I was immediately shown the master pictures I’d begun to gather. The weekend before I left, Wesak in Mt. Shasta, I offered these pictures and people loved them so much that I had earned $5,000. Spirit said, “Please enlarge this collection and get it out as widely as you can. Awakening humanity needs them.” A whole new activity, complete with brochure, advertising, mailing plans, unfolded to my wondering mind.  I dropped workshops like a hot potato and determined to get this project going when I returned to Mt. Shasta. This I did.

Bhaskar Joshi

            About our fifth day in Badrinath, we were taken by our new Indian friend Shekar to meet his master, the swami Bhaskar Joshi. He is a tall, dark, 32-year-old Indian of ordinary appearance--and I have never met such an enlightened being. He is a direct disciple of Babaji, who has appeared in his home. He is just the way I feel an enlightened master should be—full of bliss and mirth, always joking and laughing delightedly. He cares nothing for protocol, and would rather nobody bowed to him. He is continually of selfless service. He lives above the river, very simply, in a small ashram with his mother and some devotees. His hair is black (or was in 1996)  except for a perfect oval of grey above his forehead, where his kundalini (the life force energy nestled at the based of the spine) reached his crown chakra.
            I felt quite drawn to this swami, who is well known in northern India (the first such teacher I have ever been drawn to), not as a disciple but a student with a wonderful and wise teacher, and as a friend. Though he rarely gives techniques, he gave me two that are assisting my next steps in spiritual expansion. These are very powerful; one, a secret one, is directly from Babaji.
            Bhaskar also gave me "shaktipat:" he put one hand around the back of my neck as I meditated. No discomfort at all—until suddenly I nearly fainted, the power was so great. Later I understood that this opened new channels of enlightenment for me. And I received a "yagya," a blessing with a fire ritual, and the chanting of divine names, upon one's greatest heart's desires.
            I had an amazing dream not long before I left, and shared it with the swami. I was sitting in a large green park where African animals were playing peacefully together. Suddenly a huge and beautiful male lion, very powerful, came from behind me and made as if to lie down in my lap, which was fine. But then he saw a water buffalo some distance away, and he charged fiercely and brought it down. He was dragging it back in my direction when the buffalo turned into an old woman with grey hair. I was hiding behind a bush, wanting to help her but afraid of the lion's ferocity. But suddenly the old crone became a beautiful young woman. She stood up and smiled, completely uninjured, and walked toward me. The lion wandered away.
            The swami said that the woman was Durga, a Shiva consort and manifestation of Divine Mother; that she overlights me. She rides upon a great cat, lion or tiger. Since the dream I learned the story of her cat-mount killing a huge buffalo. I also understand that this dream has to do with regeneration and immortality.
            As I had little of a spiritual nature to give, I bought the swami a dark green angora sweater, and Lorraine and I gave him beautiful pictures of deities, which he hung around his walls. By the time I left Badrinath on July 6th, I felt so loved by the swami and his mother Mataji, and several of the disciples, that it was like a whole new family for me. I felt wondrously blessed and grateful.

The year after this journey to India was incredibly busy, creative and joyous. The master pictures expanded to nearly 30, as opposed to the original 10, and finally reached more than 50. (Later, the collection reached well over a hundred.)  And out of this time—another great surprise—I published two books: Living Mastery, and Self Initiations. The one I have to thank for changing my life is Babaji, one with my I Am Presence. 


I would like to share a few experiences where Babaji or another master or higher self came physically to me, or to a friend.
I had been living with a boyfriend for a couple of years. It was difficult between us, and I had suggested more than once that we let our relationship go; but he felt we could and would do better.
At a particularly gnarly point I escaped to Mt. Tam, north of the Golden Gate Bridge, to hike by myself. Walking to the trailhead I came upon two large jackrabbits who stayed near me calmly; never before or since have I seen them.
It is a day of extreme heat; fellow hikers sport hardly more than their underwear. I walk through the wondrous redwoods of the Steep Ravine Trail and am heading back, when I look up to see a little East Indian man trundling down the track toward me. He’s ready for an Arctic freeze: heavy wool jacket, scarf, hat, boots. When we meet, he stops me and asks, “Is there water ahead to drink?” “Yes,” I answer, and describe to him exactly how to find it. Then he asks, “Is there water back where I came from?”
This man is beginning to flirt with me outrageously; I can hardly believe it. I say, “Well, yes, but water is right on your path. Why don’t you just keep going down to drink?”
We stand there about five minutes, helping him decide which way to go for his water. I keep trying to persuade him to go down the trail, DOWN the trail, and finally he does, me breathing sighs of relief.

About a year later, studying with the Teaching of the Inner Christ, I learned about visitations from spirit in which a master, or an aspect of one’s higher self, takes physical form and appears to assist you in some way. Later in meditation I asked, “Have I ever had a visitation?” Immediately this little man pops before my eyes, laughing. “Me! Me!” he cried. “You!” I replied, incredulous. “Who are you?” “Babaji,” he replied. “But why did you come?” I asked. Then he showed me that by mirroring back to me my indecision with my boyfriend, he was helping me “get it” and move on. And in fact, not long after his visit I had said to him“I’m leaving,” and he said, “I’ll help you pack.”
This was what I now call a mirror visitation. As a by the way, God can be sexy!

My friend Shelley, also close to Babaji, experienced a mirror visitation with him. One evening she was looking out her window in San Francisco and noticed a man walking up the street. Every time he came to an object—tree, car—he circled it. After awhile of this, someone approached from the opposite direction—and the man disappeared before her eyes. Shelley realized she was letting herself get distracted by every little thing, rather than staying focused on where she wanted to go.

Visitations come for many purposes. One is for simple help. A friend was once in a big car crash in which the gas exploded. She had been terrified of gas ever since, and as the days of self serve were new, she had never filled her tank herself; her husband always did it.
Driving one night, she discovered she was about to run out of gas. All the stations were self serve. She pulled into one, and began shaking with fear. As she stood trying to understand how it worked, a young man came up and said, “Can I help you?” She gratefully accepted, assuming he was a kind employee. He showed her just what to do, filled the gas tank, and then walked back into the night. She was shown in meditation that he was part of her higher self. And after that, her fear was gone.

I grew up in Virginia, by the bay, and I loved the whole state so much that after I moved to California and received the teaching I wanted, I determined to move back to my home state and set up a ministry there.
I was riding on the BART in San Francisco when a woman, perfectly ordinary in appearance, entered my car. There were many empty seats, including one beside me, and for some reason I really wanted this woman to sit by me. She did, and we started up a conversation. “Do you know the way to Union Square?” she asked. I said I was going there too and would be happy to show her. After we talked a bit, she said “You know, you’re so lucky to live in California. I’m from Kansas, and whenever I come here I just love it. It feels so alive!”
When we got off I was beginning to show her around the Square when she said, “I’m going over there now,” and left me. I felt extraordinarily, and inappropriately, disappointed.
It took me awhile to realize this was a visitation, but finally I was shown. Soon afterward I was standing at a beautiful overlook in San Francisco, loving all I saw, and a voice within said, “Virginia…is just Virginia. California is your home now.”

In my last visitation, time and space were transcended—and it’s the first visitation I’ve ever caught before it was over. I was walking into the lovely arboretum in Golden Gate Park, when a question rose in my mind: “How do I know I’m protected?” It was a sincere question.
I walked and sat for a time, and finally headed back. I was walking very quickly to make an appointment. I passed a bench on which sat a tiny little woman wearing a unique vest and hat, her head bent away from me as she knitted. I took a short cut just after I passed her, coming out at the entry walk, and there twenty feet ahead of me was this same tiny woman, walking quite slowly as if she were elderly. “Aha! Aha!” I cried to myself. “Something’s happening here!” I decided that as soon as I passed her, I would turn and see her clearly.
I rapidly came up behind her and as soon as I was ahead, I spun around. In the very same instant she spun around, as if we were one body, and slowly headed back into the arboretum.
As soon as I got home I went into meditation and asked for the message, which is one of the most wonderful I have received. I heard, “Though you may not see its face, protection is always with you.”

Visitations are often accompanied by something unusual—like the jack rabbits—or nonsensical, even comical, like Babaji dressed for freezing weather. Or time and space out of sync. Noticing a skewed thing gives you a heads up.
A visitation teaches us, from spirit, something we want or need to know. But they are often subtle, like my BART friend; you may have had some without realizing it. You can ask about this in meditation. It isn’t necessary to receive visitations to receive all the teaching we need, because we each learn in our own way. But if you don’t think you’ve received any and would like to, ask for one.

Blessings to you upon your path!



Copyright © Joanna Cherry, 2013

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Joanna Cherry ・Ascension Mastery International ・P.O. Box 1018 ・Mount Shasta, California 96067 USA
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