Neem Karoli Baba Ashram

Kainchi Dham, Uttarakhand

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Neem Karoli Baba or Neeb Karori Baba (1900 c. - September 11, 1973), also known to followers as Maharaj-ji, is a Hindu guru, mystic and devotee of the Hindu deity Hanuman. He is known outside India for being the guru of a number of Americans who travelled to India in the 1960s and 1970s, the most well-known being the spiritual teachers Ram Dass and Bhagavan Das, and the musicians Krishna Das and Jai Uttal, and Trevor Hall (Rampriya Das). His ashrams are in Kainchi,Vrindavan, Rishikesh, Shimla, Neeb Karori village near Khimasepur in Farrukhabad, Bhumiadhar, Hanuman Gadi, Lucknow, Delhi in India and in Taos, New Mexico, USA.

Born as Lakshmi Narayan Sharma, around 1900 CE, at village Akbarpur, District Faizabad( now Ambedkar Nagar Uttar Pradesh, India in a Brahmin family of Durga Prasad Sharma. After marrying young at 11, Neem Karoli Baba became a wandering sadhu. He later returned home, at his father's request, to marry. He fathered two sons and a daughter.

 

Neem Karoli Baba or Baba Lakshman Das (Alt. spelling: Laxman Das), as he was known then, left his home in 1958. He boarded a train without a ticket and the conductor decided to halt the train and force Neem Karoli Baba off of the train at the village of Neeb Karori. After kicking Baba off of the train the conductor found that the train would not start again. After several attempts at starting the train someone suggested to the conductor that they allow the sadhu back on to the train. Neem Karoli agreed to board the train only if the railway company could promise to build a station at the village of Neeb Karori. The officials agreed and Neem Karoli Baba boarded the train, jokingly saying, "what is it up to me to start trains?" Immediately after his boarding the train, it started, but the train drivers would not proceed unless the sadhu blessed them to move forward. Baba gave his blessings and the train proceeded. Later a train station was built at the village of Neeb Karori. Baba lived in the village of Neeb Karori for a while and was given his name by locals.

Thereafter he wandered extensively throughout Northern India. During this time he was known under many names including Lakshman Das, Handi Wallah Baba, and Tikonia Walla Baba. When he did tapasya and sadhana at Vavania Morbi in Gujarat, he was known as Tallaiya Baba. In Vrindavan, local inhabitants addressed him by the name of Chamatkari Baba (miracle baba). During his life two main ashrams were built, first at Vrindavan and later at Kainchi, where he spent the summer months. In time, over 100 temples were constructed in his name.

The Kainchi Dham ashram where he stayed in the last decade of his life, was built in 1964 with a Hanuman temple. It started two years prior with a modest platform built for two local shadhus, Premi Baba and Sombari Maharaj to perform yagnas. Over the years the temple, situated 17 km from Nainital on the Nainital-Almora road, has become an important pilgrimage for locals, especially on June 15, when then the Kainchi Dham fair takes place to commemorate the inauguration of the temple, when it is visited by over a lakh devotees.

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