MAHAYOGI SRI LOKNATH BRAHMACHARI (1730-1890)
Mahayogi Sri Loknath Brahmachariwas born in the year 1730 in undivided Bengal (Now a part of West Bengal) in the part of eastern India. The great Yogi Sri Loknath and his friend Benimadhab left their home with Guruji Sri Bhagaban Ganguly after their sacred thread ceremony. After leaving their family behind, they came to Kalighat (located in Kolkata) which was a dense forest at that time (1741), on the bank of river Ganga, and started ‘Sadhana’ under the spiritual guidance of their Guru Shri Bhagaban Ganguly. The process was extremely rigorous. They spent forty years around this jungle to practice Yama, Niamey, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana and Dhyana anlong with Brahmanusthan. Brahmanusthan is an ancient divine performance, which included eight fasting procedures. These are, Naktabrata (one day fasting), Ekantara (two days fasting), Triratri (three days fasting), Panchaha (five days fasting), Nawaratri (nine days fasting), Dwadasaha (twelve days fasting), Pakshaha (fifteen days fasting) and Mashaha (one month fasting). When they became habituated to sit in one Asana comfortably for a long time, they had enough control over Pranayama or Yogic breathing, they had enough control over five senses, six enemies and when their ‘Chitta’ or mind-stuff was confident and limited to a certain place or object, Guruji engaged them for “Brahmanusthan”. They had to follow Vedantic Sadhana during this time, which was an important parts of their Yoga practice.
At the age of fifty-one years, the two Yogis completed their Hatha Yoga Sadhana in the deep Jungle near Kolkata. At the end of their learning, Guruji Bhagaban Ganguly told them to cook food for him by placing the fire on their thighs, which the two disciples performed successfully. This was to prove that fire could not burn the body of a successful Hatha Yogi.
One morning, they set out on a journey towards the great heavenly and peaceful abode of the spiritual seekers – the great holly mountain Himalaya. After travelling for many miles, Guruji Bhagaban Ganguly arrived at Himalaya with his two disciples through the way of North-west Mountain, which is famous as dwelling place of Gods and Goddesses. This is the great place, where many great Yogis achieved Siddhi (success) at the end of their Yoga-Sadhana. Himalaya is also considered as the king of all mountains, the highest mountain range in the world.
The natural beauty of the valley cannot be explained in words, which always attracts people from different parts of the world. However, these are same in Himalaya, where Yogis are engaged in Yoga-Sadhana for years after years and but there are inaccessible to the ordinary people. Different Yogis have described this mysteries place by different names in different times, Such as, Gyanjang, Koushiki Ashram etc.
They were walking on the rocky path. Gradually, they crossed the green area and reached the area covered with ice. Weather is different in this area, and very cold.
There were no trees and it was not a suitable place to stay! Wherever you see, everything was covered with the ice.
In this situation, Shri Loknath and Benimadhab realized why they had to go through Hatha Yoga practice for a long time. Otherwise, it would not be possible for them to stay here in this cold climate wearing a small piece of cloth. Fire cannot burn their body; cold cannot stop them to move ahead. Shri Loknath was ruminating over the past event of their exam, i.e. how Guruji examined them after completion of Hatha Yoga training.
Rishi Patanjali says in his Yoga Sutra, - “Tato dvandvanabhighatah”. (2.48)
When one is mastered (became master) in Asnas, from that, there is no disturbance from the dualities. It not only helps to achieve freedom from assault by the pairs of opposites, but also by the hot or cold. At last, they reached at a rock with plain land. Some green grasses were there with some kind of flowers. There were many rocks surrounded by this land. They three were watching the natural beauty of this area. This area was higher than the previous area and climate was colder. They discovered a cave there and Guruji Bhagaban Ganguly told his disciples to build an Ashram for their stay and Yoga-Sadhana with pieces of stones and shrubs. The two disciples followed his order and made the place suitable for them to stay.
The desired moment arrived after a long time for which Shri Loknath and Benimadhab were waiting.
Guruji Bhagaban Ganguly told them that they have already completed all the wings of Hatha Yoga very successfully. They have even completed starting part of Raja Yoga, Dharna or Concentration and Dhyana or Meditation very successfully. Therefore, only the eighth limb of Ashtanga Yoga is left for them to practice. This is Samadhi or super consciousness.”
Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 3.3 states, -
“Tadeva arthamatranirbhasam svarupasunyam iva samadhih”-
This defines Samadhi as the stage when the object of meditation becomes the subject and whereby self-awareness is lost. It is the state of Super Bliss and Joy, merging individual consciousness into universal consciousness, a union between Jivatman (individual soul) and Paramatman (universal soul), a union of Shiva and Shakti in Sahasrara Chakra. Realizing the Brahman (pure consciousness) or Realization of God is the ultimate achievement of Human Birth. Self Realization is the ultimate stage of Ashtanga Yoga.
Samadhi state is achieved through devotion to Ishvara or Ishvara-Pranidhana.
As Rishi Patanjali states, “Samadhi-siddhir ishvara-pranidhanat” - (2.45)
- Through persevering devotion towards the Lord (God), perfection, which comes in meditative absorption is known as samadhi.
Baba Sri Loknath Brahmachari did not disclose much about the secret of his higher Yoga practice. Nevertheless, from his speech we have come to know that he spent nearly 50 years in Samadhi and achieved the highest level, a human body can achieve. During his Samadhi state, Guruji Bhagaban Ganguly could not sleep or eat properly, because, he used to take care of them day after day, year after year. During winter, their body was covered with ice and in daytime, in summer the ice melted down from the body. Baba Shri Loknath assumed his favourite posture Gomukhasana. Once he said that his blood became thick during this time and body was covered with extra layers of skin. This skin had removed when he left this area and came down to the plain land.
They did not eat or drink and so did not need to evacuate the bowel or urinate. This highest state of Yoga is very difficult to achieve without proper guidance of a Guru. That is why, Baba Loknath always used to tell about his Guruju Shri Bhagaban Ganguly, about his untiring labour and sacrifice of his entire life for his students. Baba Loknath said, “We are lucky enough that we have a Guruji like him”.
Samadhi is the highest practice of Yoga-Sadhana. Sam - same, adhi - highest. During Samadhi, Sri Loknath Brahmachari observed Brahma within his own soul, and achieved Brahmajana (the knowledge of God). This was a blissful state, which can be compared to Anandamaya Kosha of “Pancha Kosha” described in Tattariya Upanisad. During this state, the individual soul immersed in to the endless delightful ocean. Baba Loknath attained his Enlightenment, i.c. the state of being one with the universe and it’s Creator. This state is “Ashampragayata Samadhi” or “Nirvikalpa Samadhi” in Ashtanga Yoga and “Prakriti” in Chaturbingshati Tatta. Anandamaya Kosha merges into this world, and is not ruined by any kind of universal dissolution. This Anandamaya Kosha is the eternal existence/entity. That is the reason, for which once Baba Loknath said, "I am eternal. I am deathless".
According to Bhagavat Gita, Baba Loknath had achieved “Naiskarmya-Siddhi” through the way of Karma-Sannyas (Sankhya Yoga – The Yoga of Knowledge) and Karma Yoga.
As Lord Krishna says,
“Asaktabuddhih sarvatra jitatma vigatasprhah,
Naiskarmyasiddhim paramam sannyasenadhigacchati”. (Gita - 18.49)
- He, whose intellect remains unattached to everything, who has conquered his internal organs and is desire less, he attains “Naiskarmyasiddhi” or the most excellent perfection consisting in the state of one, free from duties through monasticism.
When Baba Loknath came back from Samadhi, he saw His Guruji still there in front of him to take care of them like a loving mother.
Loknath was overwhelmed, and touched Guruji’s feet and said, “I attained my Enlightenment under your blissful guidance. You had to work very hard and sacrificed your entire life for me to achieve this highest state of Yoga, but you remained unchanged. I am feeling so sad for you Guruji. I am worried how and when you will receive the same?”
Guruji replied, “I was always a believer of Gyana Yoga. I had idea that Siddhi (success) can be achieved only through the way of Karma Yoga for Yogis. But I didn’t even try it for myself to achieve this success”.
As Lord Krishna said to Arjuna, -
“Lokeasmin dvivigha nistha pura prokta mayanagh,
Jnanayogena sankhyanam karmayogena yoginam” ( Gita-3.3)
“Oh Arjuna, there are two kinds of steadfastness in this world, spoken by me earlier, - through Gyanayoga (Yoga of Knowledge) for the men of realization and through Karmayoga (Yoga of Action) for the Yogis”.
Guruji continued, “Although, I am delighted to see that you achieved success guided through the way of Karma Yoga, I realize that selfless Karma or action is the greatest way to attain salvation or nirvana for the human being. However, I have already become very old, my age is 150 years, and I do not have the capacity to go through this rigorous process of Yoga-Sadhana. However, I will be reborn again and you will be my Guru that time to guide me through the way to attain my Enlightenment. Because of this reason only a Siddha-Yogi like Baba Loknath came down to the plain land to stay with the normal people like us.
After a few days (around 1835 - 40), Baba Loknath, along with his Guru and his friend set out on a journey towards Mecca and Medina on foot. Guriji wanted him to study the Holy Koran under an able teacher at Kabul, which is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. The three Yogis stayed for some time with Molla Shadi, who was famous for his poetry and his brilliant commentaries of the Koran during that time. Here Baba Loknath learnt Arabia language and he had gone through the holly Koran under Molla Shadi. From Kabul, they went to Mecca and Medina walking by foot.
While walking through the desert towards Medina, they met Abdul Gaffur, who was also a 400 years old, great ascetic, staying in the desert. He abstained from speech most of the time. However, Baba Loknath had a talk with him. Baba Loknath later said the following about this great man –
"I have travelled extensively all over the world and could find only two real Brahmins beside myself- one is Abdul Gaffur, and the other is Trailangya Swami (1601 – 1881)."
After few days, they left Mecca and set out on a journey to Kashidham (Varanasi) in India, one of the holiest pilgrim sites, on the bank of the River Ganga. They met a great Yogi Sri Trailanga Swami on their way to Varanasi. From that time, four of them were staying together. Later, these four great Yogis stayed together, when they came back to Varanasi. One morning, Guruji Bhagaban Ganguly left his body in a Meditative posture at the famous Manikarnika Ghat.
Sri Loknath and Sri Benimadhav lost their Guruji, who was their father, loving mother, there only friend and guide. They left their family and parents at the age of 11. After that, Guruji was the only person to take care of them as their father, mother and teacher. They received enlightenment because of him only; his hard work, his love and sacrifice all were there behind it. Baba Loknath later said, we were lucky enough that we had a Guruji like him.
“Gururbrahmaa Gururvishnu Gururdevo Maheshwarah;
Guruh saakshaat param Brahma tasmai shree Gurave namah”.
-Guru is the creator Brahma; Guru is the preserver Vishnu; Guru is the destroyer Maheshvara; Guru is the Supreme Absolute, the visible divine incarnation. We salute that Guru.
After Guruji Bhagaban Ganguly passed away, the two great yogis - Loknath, and Benimadhav set out on a journey again to holy Mecca and Medina with Sri Trailanga swamiji.
After Mecca and Medina, these three great Yogis travelled Afghanistan, Persia, different parts of Soudi Arabia, Israel and entered in Europe. They travelled many places over there including Italy, France and Germany on foot. Then they stopped at the beach of Atlantic Ocean. Later, Baba Loknath said that it took them several years to travel all these places on foot. Baba Loknath learnt many languages during this time. As they took a long time to travel from one place to another they had an opportunity to interact with the people over there. After that, they returned to the loving lap of Himalaya for Yoga-Sadhana.
Moreover, when their mind and body had become peaceful and energized Baba Loknath and Benimadhab planed for a journey again. Baba Loknath had an urge to follow the rout that Pancha Pandavas took at the time of “Mahaprasthan”. Therefore, the Yogis decided to visit the four Adobes or the Char Dham in Himalaya, - Kedarnath, Badrinath,Yamunotri, Gangotri.
Sri Trailanga Swami (the great Yogi, who left his body at the age of 280 years) was in Varanasi in a deep Meditation during that time. He came to know about their plan and suddenly arrived at Badrika ashram to stay with them. Both of them became very happy to have Swamiji with them. Later Baba Loknath said, “The great Yogi Abdul Gaffur also arrived there from Mecca to join with us in this journey.”
This place is replete with tales of the Mahabharata in which Pancha Pandavas had taken this route via Badrinath on their way to Heaven. Unfortunately, One by one, Draupadi and the four brothers died on their way because of unbearable cold. Only the virtuous Yudhisthira climbed to Heaven in his bodily form.
The four great Yogis also walked up through that great rout of the Himalayan range, by the side of the river Saraswati to Kailas and Manasarovar, which is located in western Tibet. This is the extreme cold area of Himalaya. Baba Loknath said that the cold wind was biting them while they were moving through the kingdom of snow. They were completely naked. They did not have any tent, food or drinks with them. They learnt how to conquer thirst and hunger. However, when the human body is working out it needs some food. Later Baba Loknath said, “Though we did not have any urge for food, sometimes we used to eat Kandamul, a type of special root that grows in Himalaya only.” After a long journey, they arrived at Kailas and Manasarovar, the place of Lord Shiva, at an altitude of 4560m.
After a few days, they continued their journey towards north, crossing the borders of Siberia, until they reached the land of "no-sun". Here they stayed for a long time to improve the brightness of their eyes to see in the dark. Baba Loknath said that after staying many days at the darken area their eyesight became capable of seeing in dark like the tiger, lion, fox etc. Their skin became very dry and had an extra white layer on the skin, which protected them from the snowy wind as Baba said later to His devotees. They started their journey towards North Pole. Later Baba said to the devotees that He went up high to the top level and came back. Benimadhab and Abdul Gaffur also went up but they had to come back fast. Sri Trailanga Swami went up high but had to come back too. Baba said that the temperature of that area was very different. The air was very thin and had no vibration. No one of them could take breath while going up high, as breathing system had totally stopped. They thought of coming back from that spot. Therefore, they had begun their journey again towards the low land. They started their journey towards China.
After a long journey, crossing over many mountains, rivers and jungle they arrived in Mongolia from Siberia. Mongolia is a landlocked country in East-Central Asia. It borders Russia to the north and China to the south, east and west. At last, they appeared in China from Mongolia. The people of China had never seen the Yogis tall, naked, with matted hair and winkles eyes. That was the first time for the Chinese to see the Indian Yogis. The Yogis therefore spent few days there and started their journey again from China. From this place, Sri Tailanga Swami wished to visit Udyachal, the high Mountain, from the top of which sun rises everyday. Baba Loknath also wanted to follow him. However, Tailanga Swami sent him to the plain land towards India as Loknath had some duties there towards the human society to perform. Trailanga Swami came to know through Meditation that Loknath would meet his Guru in his next birth, somewhere in Bengal, India. Loknath also had given this word to his Guriji. Therefore, Baba Loknath and Benimadhav come back to India via Tibet. They came across the Siwalic range (may be) of Himalaya via Nepal and took a shelter at Chandranath Hills for few months. Presently, Chandranath Hills is located 37 kilometers off the port city Chittagong in Bangldesh. However, previously it was included in undivided Bengal, a region of Eastern-India, until 1947. During ancient time, Chandranath hills were the abode of Yogis. The jungle of this area was full of tigers and others dreadful animals. After a few days, Shri Benimadhav left for Kamrup Kamakhya in Assam for further Yoga-Sadhana and Baba Loknath stayed there. This was the place, where Baba Loknath saved Vijoykrishna’s life from the jungle fire.
Baba Loknath was thinking of coming down to make his destination towards eastern side of Bengal. He walked down from the jungle of the Chandranath Mountain, and heard the fearful roar of a tigress. The tigress was with her three newborn cubs. She was worried that this man would harm her newborn cubs. Baba Loknath understood the situation and told the tigress in her language that she should not be afraid of him and she could take care of her cubs. Tigress stopped for a while, but started roaring again. As soon as Baba went before her, she stopped roaring immediately. Baba Loknath understood that the tigress was in hunger and could not go out for food leaving her newborn cubs alone.
Baba said, “You go for food and I will take care of your cubs”.
Something was there in Baba’s voice that the tigress simply wagging her tail like a big cat came to Baba. Then jumped away and disappeared in the deep jungle. The three cubs were left in Baba’s special care until she returned. Therefore, Baba Loknath stayed there in the jungle with a tigress to take care of her newborn cubs.
When these cubs were grown up enough to help their mother to hunt food, Baba Loknath left this jungle and appeared at Daudkandi Village at Tripura district of Bengal. Now Daudkandi is included in Comilla, a district of Bangladesh near the Indian border.
Baba Loknath rescued a man named Dengu Karmakar from the clutches of death through his divine grace here in this village. Dengu instantly became an ardent devotee of Baba Loknath. He was actually from Baradi village of Sonargaon in Narayangange district. Baradi is around forty-five kilometers away from Dhaka. One day he brought Baba to Baradi and gave him a place to stay in his home in 1863.
The Nag family, one of the richest Landlords of Baradi, who were very devoted to Baba came forward this time and wanted to build an ashram for Baba to stay permanently in Baradi. People from different levels came forward to take part in this great job according to their capacity. The ashram was built there, modeled after the hermitage of ancient Rishis. There was an open rice field to the east, an open ground to the west towards the village area for market, at three alternative days a week. A branch of Brahmaputra River was passing by the north, known as Chagal Baghinir Ghat. A beautiful calm and Devine atmosphere spread around the Ashram area.
May be it was created by the Creator of the earth himself! On the grand opening ceremony, Baba Loknath asked Mr. Nag for two things, - One sacred thread and a piece of saffron cloth. Nearly after one hundred and forty years of living as a naked Sadhu in Himalaya and deep jungle area, Baba Loknath attired himself with a piece of saffron cloth and put a sacred thread around the neck. He then moved to the Ashram and began to spread his divine grace and spiritual treasures to the people of the world. He took his seat in his meditative posture Gomukhasana in front of the audience and declared,
"Whenever you are in danger, - whether in the middle of the ocean, or in the midst of the battlefield, or in the deepest jungle - remember me and I will deliver you to safety."
As Lord Krishna declared,
“Sarba-dharman parityajya mamakam saranam vraja,
Aham tva sarva-papebhyah moksayami ma sucah.” (Gita- 18.66)
People from all communities and strata used to come to him for relief from various diseases and problems in their lives. Baba Loknath was a Yogi, who was an ocean of compassion. That time he used to cure them by sending ‘Prana’ from his body to their body. He stayed in Barodi for about twenty-six years and attracted thousands of people with his divine grace.
A Siddha-Yogi like Baba Loknath hardly comes down to the people. They stay there in the inaccessible area of Himalaya and devote their entire life for Yoga-Sadhana. This was his endless kindness that he came down to us to free us from all sorts of miseries and distressful situation.
He declared the date of His journey towards eternity to all of His devotees 8 days before his great departure. He called all his disciples at the Ashram on 2nd June morning 1890 and told them, “Today I am leaving my physical body sharp at 11.40. Nevertheless, this is not the death as you say. It is just a shift to a new medium. As you change your old cloths for new get up and purpose, for me it’s a journey towards eternity. However, I will be here within you. If any body remembers me by heart for help I will be there for him”. Sitting in the posture of Gomukhasana, he had left his earthly body at 11-40am.
Shri Loknath Brahmachari is omnipresent. The spiritual ideologies of the great yogi are the guiding spirit of millions of devotees. His work is still carried on thorough the greatest living yogi of India, Thakur Shri Janakinath Brahmachari, who is relentlessly working for amelioration of the downtrodden, promote traditional Yoga education for self development of individuals, Sanskrit education and extending education to the poor children after providing them with basic amenities of food , clothes & shelter.