"Many persons have felt that Babaji's (Neem Karoli Baba) methods of making and remaking the lives of his devotees were often very hard and sometimes appeared to lack mercy. This, of course, was not true. The whole basis of his work was nothing but mercy-kripa for the helpless and forsaken one.
He knows where, when, and how much mercy is to be used in the job. A murti may be made from clay, wood or stone. The work of the clay modeler is done with soft and delicate touches of his hand. When it comes to the sculptor working with stone, he has to take up the chisel and hammer. They are both merciful in their jobs, but the mercy has to work in different ways. Babaji knew this very well; we can see it in his work at different places and with different materials.
Emptying and cleaning are considered essential in the making of a vessel suitable for holding sacred water. The processes differ from one another according to the state of the vessel. One might be comparatively clean and soft and simple methods will be enough. Hard treatment is necessary when the vessel had been used for well or pond water and sediments had been deposited; impurities had turned into crusts and clots The impurities have to be taken out to make the vessel worthy of the sacred water. The task is not simple. Babaji knew it and did it with full consciousness. The cost for the unavoidable surgical operation had to be paid in pain.
In Babaji's methods of dealing with us, there is no partiality or favortism for anyone. The beads in the rosary differ from one another in their size, shape, and color, but the same unseen string passes through them all.
Can we accuse the string of partiality beause one bead has come first, another in the middle, and third one in the end?"
In Master's (Swami Sri Yukteshvar’s) life I fully discovered the cleavage between spiritual realism and the obscure mysticism that spuriously passes as a counterpart. My guru was reluctant to discuss the superphysical realms. His only "marvelous" aura was one of perfect simplicity.
Because of my guru's unspectacular guise, only a few of his contemporaries recognized him as a superman.
Master seldom asked others to render him a personal service, nor would he accept help from a student unless the willingness were sincere. My guru quietly washed his clothes if the disciples overlooked that privileged task.
Discipline had not been unknown to me: at home Father was strict, Ananta often severe. But Sri Yukteswar's training cannot be described as other than drastic. A perfectionist, my guru was hypercritical of his disciples, whether in matters of moment or in the subtle nuances of behavior.
Those who are too good for this world are adorning some other," Sri Yukteswar remarked. "So long as you breathe the free air of earth, you are under obligation to render grateful service. He alone who has fully mastered the breathless state16 is freed from cosmic imperatives. I will not fail to let you know when you have attained the final perfection."
My guru could never be bribed, even by love. He showed no leniency to anyone who, like myself, willingly offered to be his disciple. Whether Master and I were surrounded by his students or by strangers, or were alone together, he always spoke plainly and upbraided sharply. No trifling lapse into shallowness or inconsistency escaped his rebuke. This flattening treatment was hard to endure, but my resolve was to allow Sri Yukteswar to iron out each of my psychological kinks. As he labored at this titanic transformation, I shook many times under the weight of his disciplinary hammer.
"If you don't like my words, you are at liberty to leave at any time," Master assured me. "I want nothing from you but your own improvement. Stay only if you feel benefited."
For every humbling blow he dealt my vanity, for every tooth in my metaphorical jaw he knocked loose with stunning aim, I am grateful beyond any facility of expression. The hard core of human egotism is hardly to be dislodged except rudely. With its departure, the Divine finds at last an unobstructed channel. In vain It seeks to percolate through flinty hearts of selfishness.
But divine insight is painful to worldly ears; Master was not popular with superficial students. The wise, always few in number, deeply revered him. I daresay Sri Yukteswar would have been the most sought-after guru in India had his words not been so candid and so censorious.
“I am hard on those who come for my training," he admitted to me. "That is my way; take it or leave it. I will never compromise.
Tender inner weaknesses, revolting at mild touches of censure, are like diseased parts of the body, recoiling before even delicate handling." This was Sri Yukteswar's amused comment on the flighty ones.
There are disciples who seek a guru made in their own image. Such students often complained that they did not understand Sri Yukteswar.
""Neither do you comprehend God!" I retorted on one occasion. "When a saint is clear to you, you will be one."
Students came, and generally went. Those who craved a path of oily sympathy and comfortable recognitions did not find it at the hermitage. Master offered shelter and shepherding for the aeons, but many disciples miserly demanded ego-balm as well. They departed, preferring life's countless humiliations before any humility. Master's blazing rays, the open penetrating sunshine of his wisdom, were too powerful for their spiritual sickness. They sought some lesser teacher who, shading them with flattery, permitted the fitful sleep of ignorance.
When I had abandoned underlying resentment, I found a marked decrease in my chastisement. In a very subtle way, Master melted into comparative clemency. In time I demolished every wall of rationalization and subconscious reservation behind which the human personality generally shields itself.17 The reward was an effortless harmony with my guru. I discovered him then to be trusting, considerate, and silently loving. Undemonstrative, however, he bestowed no word of affection.
Vamsidasa Babaji was a siddha-mahatma But it was difficult to know that he was siddha, because he lived far away from the world in a solitary place on the bank of Ganga near Baral Ghata in Navadvipa, as if he was renounced by the world, as an idiotic and worthless destitute. But the fact is that it is not the world that had renounced him, but he, who had renounced the world as worthless. He hardly had any worldly possessions. His only possessions were an old kaupina, karanga and kantha. Once Sripada Haridasa Gosvami asked him why he did not wear bahirvasa. He replied, “I live only with ka, which means kaupina, karanga and kantha. I have nothing to do with ba”, which means bahirvasa or outer garment. Bahirvasa brings relationship with the outer world and the people, who are bahiranga, that is those, who are attached to the outer world. My Gaura has asked me not to wear bahirvasa and mix with people who are bahiranga."
Vamsidasa Babaji lived in a world of his own. His world centered round his deities-Gaura-Gadadhara, Nitai, Radha-Krishna and Gopala.
Many people would come to Vamsidasa Babaji Maharaja and offer to build him a cottage, but he chose to remain always beneath a banyan tree. He would not move from there. He was surcharged with krsna-prema. He was a very tall figure. He never shaved, but remained like a madman. Many people would offer him various things, but he would pay them no attention. Whatever he might receive, he would distribute to others. He was an anchorite. Nobody could understand his behavior. He had only two big cloth bags---he had no temple. In one cloth bag was Gaura-Nitai and, in the other, Radha-Krsna. Sometimes, he would take the Deities out and perform puja. So, is his bhakti less because he had just small Deities, and ours greater because we have a big temple? Gaura-Nityananda were most satisfied by his service.
The great Vaisnava saint, Vamsi dasa Babaji Maharaja, was no ordinary sadhu. Outwardly, he had his advent in what is now known as Bangladesh, in Majidpur Village, Maimansingh district, near Jamalpur. But later, he came to Navadvipa-dhama, accepted the babaji order and performed his bhajana under a tree. The order of sannyasa is given for preaching, but a babaji will perform bhajana in a holy, secluded place. A babaji will not go outside for pracara (preaching). Many people would come to Babaji Maharaja and offer to build him a cottage, but he chose to remain always beneath a banyan tree. He would not move from there. He was surcharged with krsna-prema. He was a very tall figure. He never shaved, but remained like a madman. Many people would offer him various things, but he would pay them no attention. Whatever he might receive, he would distribute to others. He was an anchorite. Nobody could understand his behavior. He had only two big cloth bags—he had no temple. In one cloth bag was Gaura-Nitai and, in the other, Radha-Krsna. Sometimes, he would take the Deities out and perform puja. So, is his bhakti less because he had just small Deities, and ours greater because we have a big temple? Gaura-Nityananda were most satisfied by his service. Our Parampujyapada Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura used to bow down to him from a distance. He prohibited his disciples from visiting Babaji Maharaja. His disciples asked, “Shall we not have darsana of the sadhus?” But Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura replied, “You will not be able to understand his behavior and you will commit offenses. He is not within this world, but is moving in the transcendental realm. If I commit an offense, it will be anti-devotional. For this reason, I am bowing down to him from a distance. Only a suddha bhakta can understand his wonderful behavior. An ordinary novice of bhajana will be unable to understand, so he should not go there. Babaji Maharaja is always surcharged with krsna-prema!”
There was a person from Navadvipa-dhama who used to come to Babaji Maharaja. One day, he thought, “I have the desire to obtain the Supreme Lord. How can I get Bhagavan?” He was only murmuring, speaking to himself, so Babaji Maharaja did not reply. This person came back repeatedly to see Babaji Maharaja. Finally, one day, he approached Maharaja directly.
“What do you want?” Babaji Maharaja asked him.
“I want to see Bhagavan,” the man said.
Babaji Maharaja replied with only one word: “Weep!”
We might supply so much scriptural evidence to try to explain, in so many ways, how to obtain the Supreme Lord, but what did Vamsi dasa Babaji Maharaja say? “Weep for Him!” If you can weep for Him, then you can get Him. If there is want for Him, then He will come. We are uttering His Names, but we do not want Him. So, we are uttering the Names of Krsna—“hare krsna, hare krsna, krsna krsna, hare hare, krsna rama, hare rama, rama rama, hare hare”—and Krsna appears before us. He says to us, “Come along!”