In the year 1856, a son was born to a Brahmin living in the small town of Barut in the district of Meerut; he was given the name of Baijnath. The family astrologer was struck with the extraordinary features of his horoscope, and predicted that the child was destined to become a man of wealth and power.
The parents being people of modest means, had not received the advantages of a good education, but the mother was deeply religious, and she taught her son the law of Karma and the importance of righteous living, before he was five years old, Baijnath used to take the name of ‘Shri Hari’, and he visited the wandering monks with his mother to listen to their religious instruction.
A hermit, who saw the child, predicted that he was destined to become a saint. After hearing this, his mother increased her devotion and taught her son little songs of Shri Krishna.
Baijnath distinguished himself in the village school, and when about fifteen years of age entered an English school where he passed the upper standard, winning distinction in English, the vernacular and arithmetic. He used to attend readings from the Ramayana and the Shrimad Bhagwata, given by a pundit who lived near his home. Being an intelligent boy, he maintained the attitude of a sceptic over the ten heads and twenty arms of Ravana, and the monkeys who sang the praises of Rama, but he soon acquired a taste for the metaphysical teachings underlying these stories, and developed devotion to Rama and Shri Krishna, by and by, he made friends with the pundit who gave him the Initiation of the Holy Thread, and taught him the Holy Mantram Gayatri. One day Baijnath said to the pundit: “How may I know God, revered Sir?” The pundit blessed the boy and said: Try to find a traditional Teacher: until you do so, persevere with, your devotions and holy reading.”
Baijnath kept aloof from the other boys, and rarely participated in public games. He showed respect and gave charity to the wandering monks, and always asked whether they could recommend a traditional Guru to him. He was known to be a model boy, gentle, kind and patient in suffering. He studied law, and passed the Junior Law Examination which entitled him to practise in the courts of the local magistrates and civil Judges. His first years in the profession were years of struggle. He then went to live in the town of Meerut and set up a practice there.
In a few years he had acquired the reputation of being a most honest lawyer, and he commanded the respect of the Court. As his fame spread, his wealth increased, but his chief desire in his heart was to meet his Teacher.
One day, he went visit some monks who had come to stay in a garden outside Meerut and among them me found his long-sought Guru, Shri Nirbhyananda Swami. The Holy Swami was a man of stately bearing and as Baijnath entered, he was propounding a subtle point In the Vedanta doctrine. His words manifested his profound knowledge and Illumination. Baijnath fell at his feet and asked to be permitted to serve him. For two months he saw his Guru every day after office hours, and rendered him every service in his power; then the Swami suddenly went away without informing his pupil of his destination and Baijnath was left restless and alone. A year later, on a festival day, Baijnath again saw his Holiness on the banks of the Ganges. Whenever he described this reunion he did so with streams of tears. He now followed the Swami, day by day, and received from him instruction in that great classic ‘The Ocean of Enquiry.’ In due course, he received His Initiation into the Holy Manava Yoga from him, and became a Guru-Bhakta.
Pundit Baijnath said that he had attended Satsangs, not because he believed in God-realisation, but because he was attracted to his Guru’s brilliant mind. At last, he decided to go and sit beside him when he was meditating. Slowly he became aware that a change was taking place in himself; he felt more and more filled with the spirit of sacrifice and service which he expressed by having food sent from his own kitchen to be served to the disciples at the close of Satsang. Thereafter, he established a guesthouse in his Guru’s name, for the poor, where all those in want were fed.
When the time came for him to perform the shraddha ceremonies for his father, the brahmin priest of the family refused to officiate, saying that Baijnath had given all his money and treasure to a wandering mendicant for, after a Satsang, Pundit Baijnath had summoned his two wives and ordered all his possessions to be brought and offered them to Swami Nirbhyananda who, though a monk, had accepted them and rendered them back to Baijnath to be used for him, (the Guru).
When the family priest refused to perform the shraddha ceremony, Pundit Baijnath pleaded that his father had served him well and for his sake he should officiate. The Pundit did so and was paid the full fee, but when Baijnath knelt and asked for his blessing he kicked him cruelly. The Pundit asked forgiveness for his shortcomings and, massaging the priest’s feet, begged him to compose himself before his departure.
That evening, the Guru said: “Today, Baijnath, you have proved yourself to be a true initiate, have you any request to make?” Baijnath answered:”Only to remain in your presence and render personal service to you, my Lord.”
The Guru insisted he should first partake of the almond drink prepared for himself daily. After drinking it, Baijnath lost all bodily consciousness and saw the deep vault of heaven in which the stars appeared one by one , and the full moon shedding a brilliant splendour on all, rose slowly. In the middle of the moon, he saw the ‘AUM’ clearly, and in the heart of the sacred symbol he beheld the Guru and himself, the swami’s hand stretched in blessing over him. Opening his eyes, he saw that the same act was taking place on the physical plane, for his Guru stood beside him blessing him as in the vision.
Thus did Pundit Baijnath describe his first experience of Nirvana in which state of consciousness he attained to great heights but always fulfilled the highest standard of Manava Yogic conduct by maintaining utter selflessness in his abounding charity.
To the guest house founded in honour of his Guru was added a school for children of all castes named the ‘Fearless School,’ and when Swami Nirbhyananda visited it he enquired how this quality was communicated to the children. ’’That is easy,” said Baijnath, and brought him to the great hall where the children assembled each morning. Over the dais was a portrait of Swami Nirbhyananda. The children were directed to look at the portrait of the Guru and the fearlessness it embodied, and also to learn by heart certain of his teachings on fearlessness.
Pundit Baijnath was present when his Guru left his mortal body and set up a memorial to him near Muttra at Muran which became a retreat and where a free kitchen was opened.
The Pundit was a good teacher of Vedanta and wrote poetry and published his Guru’s verses. He had no children of his own. He loved Swami Satchitananda, a fellow disciple, even as his own Guru and always provided for him for months at a time when the holy Swami gave instruction under his roof. Shri Dada often attended these meetings and said that Pundit Baijnath used to provide fifteen to thirty meals every evening for those attending there.
Pundit Baijnath left this world when he was about sixty-five years old, honoured by the legal profession, loved by his disciple, and remembered with affection by countless poor in Meerut.
The following are a few sayings attributed to him:
“I do not know philosophy, I am not acquainted with the holy Classics; it is my devotion to my Holy Guru that has emancipated me.”
“I cannot teach anyone the profundities of the Yogic metaphysics but I know how to teach them to serve their Guru and receive his grace.”