|Sri Prahlad Chandra
Brahmachari was born in the remote village of Purushottampur in Orrisa province
of India. The family was very poor and had to endure much hardship. In his boyhood he had
to go out and beg, not just for himself but for the whole family. In his teens the young
Prahlad was sent by his father to work at the house of a wealthy man as
a servant. It was some distance from home. At that place one day he
was walking along the river with the children of the house. Some
sweets were with them. Prahlad gave sweets to the children and ate
some himself. The woman of the house saw this incident and reported it
to her husband, who then gave Prahlad a severe beating. In despair he ran away from
that place, traveling without ticket, to the station at Waltair where the
ticket taker found him and threw him off the train.
After a while
of begging for food in that town a kindly person told him he whe would do
much better to go up to
up the nearby mountain where he would find lots of fruits growing. And
since it was a place where many sadhus, or holy men, stayed he could
collect wood for them for their sacred fire ceremonies and they would share
their food with him. It was a holy place near a temple of Nri Singha,
the god who was half man, half lion.
Baba said: "You have to climb up the stones one by
one. It was very treacherous. If you fell down from there it was certain death. With great
struggle I went up and I saw a flat land. There were many fruit trees and an image of
Nrisingha. I had darshan."
stayed in the forest near the temple of Nri Singha. (Coincidentally, it
was at this place in olden times where a boy saint, also named "Prahlad," had done
austerities for the realization of God).
One night there in the deep
jungle he had an
encounter one night with a mysterious personage whom he ever after
referred to simply "my
guru." He had awakened in the night with a terrible nightmare that his parents had
died and he had not been able to be there. He believed the dream to be
the reality and was crying and sobbing in sorrow and despair. Then the man appeared out of the jungle.
He described the man as being
huge, a giant of a man, incredibly tall and wearing nothing but a loincloth and a bag
over his shoulder in the manner of a sadhu. The man asked Prahlad
"Why are you crying?"
Prahlad replied "Because
my mother and father have died and I could not be with them before
The great man comforted the
boy and assured him that this had been only a dream, and that he
should go back to his parents and he would find that they were
alright. Baba relates what happened next in his own
"There was an ordinary bag on his shoulder. From that
bag he gave me 25 rupees. To me it seemed that I gotten a great amount of wealth! I was
very poor. I had never gotten any money. Twenty-five rupees! Hari Baba! Getting that money
I felt like a rich man.
"He said in Oriya: 'Get a ticket at Waltair
station with this money and go to Jajpur.'
"I was so happy. He turned to leave and had gone two or three steps when I said,
'Thakur, Oh Thakur!
Won't my life ever amount to anything?'
"Then suddenly he stopped and turned around... his image... it is beyond
I cannot describe him in words. He came running back and got some leaves from the forest.
And pulling out my tongue, he pressed the leaves and cut my tongue down the middle. When
he was pulling my tongue I felt like my life was going. 'Oh! I am dying! I am dying!'
"Then when he gave the juice, as soon as he gave the juice it felt as sweet as honey.
If there is such honey in God's world I have never found it. Getting that sweet honey my
hairs stood on end. What peace my body received!
"Then that great man put his hand on my head and said: 'Through you a great work
will be done. Go. Go back to your place. A lot of work will be done through you.'
He did not give me any mantra. No mantras, only that juice on the tongue."
I have never heard of such an incredible
initiation into the mysteries. The sadhu searching the woods for some particular
plant leaves, making a juice, then taking the sharp thorny stem of some leaf, pulling out
the tongue and making a cut about two inches long. The scar would be there for the
rest of his life. And then into the cut on the tongue,
the juice. Instantly, Baba later would say, everything was transformed
by the juice on the tongue.
He saw Guru and he saw God. He said it was sweeter than the sweetest honey. To this day we
do not know what plant it was. Was it the possibly fabled "soma" medicine the Rishis sang
of in the ancient Vedas? Was it a psychotropic substance, as it would
seem from Baba's description?
He was never to meet his guru again in the flesh
after that night. He remained in the forest for a while, wandering about
looking for this amazing giant man. He approached a number of sadhus
asking if they had seen such a huge man, hands this big, feet that
big. They answered in amazement: "You saw him? Why did you
let him go?"
One day, still in that area,
while sitting by a tree in a semi-doze he had a clear vision of that
man again, his Guru. The Guru told him not to bother looking for him
in the physical form. He said that he would alway be with him and
would come to him hereafter in visions and in dreams. And so it
happened. Whoever Prahlad's Guru really was
he would be able to make Baba to know things that were to happen in the future.
The story of this incident seems the stuff of myth and legend.
After this he returned home
there was a most
joyous homecoming. The parents, who had feared their son was dead, were
beside themselves to have him safely back in their arms. But Prahlad
could not help but suffer to see that his parents were in such dire
poverty. After some time left for Calcutta to try to earn some money and
ease the destitution of his family. There was little work there and he spent
years as a beggar, selling rice by the roadside, washing pots and pans at a bread shop,
and sending what few rupees he could to his mother and father.
But he always remembered and was haunted by his
encounter with the sadhu (holy man) in the forest. He began to spend more of his nights in
meditation by the banks of the Ganges river, where many secrets of yoga were gradually
revealed to him. He became a sadhu himself and a temple priest, first in a remote village
called Kuldanga, and later in another village called Ramanathpur where his ashram still
functions and his body is buried.
It is a matter of sad
acceptance that so many wonderful and miraculous stories of his life
went unrecorded and known only to those few involved. He never had the
slightest inclination to consider himself a great man or to gather a
large flock of disciples. He was instead the perfect disciple himself
of that mysterious being he called his Guru, and an ardent worshipper
of that majestic force and presence he called simply
Baba made three visits to America, the first in
1976, where he lived as simply as he did in India, doing his daily worship and meeting
with whomever showed up at the door. His holy company brought untold joy and inspiration
to all who met him. The many wonderful stories of his life will gradually be published on
this website, as well as the reminiscences of friends and disciples.