The Ongoing Presence of Neem Karoli Baba
Neem Karoli Baba is a great Saint of India who left the body in 1973. This marvelous new book by Parvati Marcus brings us stories of people whose lives were changed by “Maharaji” though they did not meet him prior to his mahasamadhi.
I was first introduced to Maharaji through stories told by Krishna Das, and then became further fascinated while studying Ram Dass’ books. The fantastical tales and heart bending stories of grace, deliverance and downright miracles surrounding him have been a source of guidance and inspiration. He was not only a great Saint, but his influence on an entire generation of American spiritual thinkers and teachers is inestimable.
Like many who have learned of Maharaji since his passing all those years ago, I felt a sense of sadness, loss – perhaps even envy – at not being among those who were able to be in his physical presence. But what the stories in this book make quite clear is that he is still at work in this world, healing, protecting, guiding and changing lives. Sometimes he comes in a dream. Sometimes he comes in an inexplicable coincidence. Sometimes he comes in the guise of another human being. As difficult as this may be to fathom, sometimes he comes in his own recognizable physical form, blanket and all.
As I was reading this book, from time to time I related a story or two to my young adult daughter. One afternoon she asked if I had ever met Maharaji. She knew well that he left the body nearly fifty years ago, but it seemed a natural and reasonable question.
I have not had the sort of dramatic encounter that is described in the pages of the book. I’ve not had a vivid dream, or glimpsed him in a public space only to find out that he had met some urgent need and then disappeared. I’ve not had my heart crack wide open, with the sudden assurance that Baba is my guru. Not yet, anyway.
I do believe that he has changed my life in some fundamental ways, though. It was through his devotees that I learned to “Repeat the Name of God, and everything else is accomplished.”
Love Everyone. Serve Everyone. Remember God. It truly is as simple as that.