Category: Religion

The Glorious Jaunapur Dham of Neeb Karori Maharaj

After visiting the Kainchi Ashram dedicated to Shri Neeb Karori Maharaj, I recently paid a visit to a temple in Delhi for which Maharaj ji himself chose the land in 1970.

This temple, in Mehrauli’s Jaunapur village, is believed to be a jagrit (glorious) place which has witnessed immense grace of Maharaj ji. For centuries, Jaunapur village was bearing the brunt of a sage’s curse and eventually this place got relieved from that curse after Maharaj ji’s arrival.

Entrance to Lord Hanuman’s Temple

The statue of Lord Hanuman in this temple was installed by Maharaj ji himself. It is present at the same place from where His small swayambhu (self-existing) idol was dug out on Maharaj ji’s instructions.

Beside this there are temples of Maharaj ji, Gauri-Shankar ji, Goddess Vaishnavi.

There is a place called kuti (cottage) which houses idols of gods, goddesses, Maharaj ji along with pictures of great sages and saints. Inside the kuti, there is narrow staircase leading to another place called gufa (cave). Next to kuti, is a temple of Nag Devta.

One more temple dedicated to Maharaj ji was got built by a sewadar (volunteer) late Baba Sevanand ji. Sundar Kaand is often recited in this temple on Saturday.

The entire temple area is spread in 40-50 acres approximately. One of the priests in the temple told me that people in this area donated this entire land to Maharaj ji.

The vast area of the temple boasts of its serene beauty and is surrounded by abundant greenery.

Exploring the temple area and sitting here is very peaceful.

Here, Lord Hanuman ji’s temples exceed the number of other ones.

The temple committee also runs a hospital and a school from 1st to 12th class in two shifts, where around 3000 students study.

Across this temple, there is a gaushala (cowshed) which has about 150 cows and calves.

Before entering this cowshed, one can see a well which ended the centuries-old water scarcity after Maharaj ji blessed this area with his presence.

Be it the Kainchi temple in Uttarakhand or the Jaunapur ashram in Delhi, the profound divinity engulfing these places touches everyone’s heart. Various temples constructed across the country during Maharaj ji’s lifetime as well as after his mahasamadhi (the act of consciously and intentionally leaving one’s body) literally follow his teaching – “Love All, Serve All, Feed All.”

Krishna Bhakti – Chapter Shishupal

   Lord Krishna Courtesy: Google

Who was Shishupal?

Shishupal was the son of King Damaghosha of Chedi kingdom. His mother Shrutashrava was Lord Krishna’s paternal aunt, thus they were cousins.

The story of his three incarnation goes like this. According to Bhagavata Purana, once Jaya and Vijaya, Lord Vishnu’s attendants at Vaikuntha (Vishnu ji’s abode), refused the entry of four Kumaras. These four Kumaras were Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatana and Sanatkumara – the manasputras (sons born from the thought power) of Brahma. As a result, they cursed Jaya and Vijaya that they would be born on earth three times, each time as an enemy of Lord Vishnu and would be killed by one of His incarnations. In their first life, they were Hiranyakashyapa and Hirnaksha, Ravana and Kumbhakarna in second and Kansa and Shishupal in the third.

             Vaikuntha – the abode of Lord Vishnu Courtesy: Google

His birth, deformity and cure

During his birth, Shishupal was born with three eyes and four arms. There was a prophecy which said that his deformity would be cured when a certain person would put him on his lap but he would also be killed by the same person. His parents took him to many sages and kings to get him rid of his deformity, but all in vain.

Once Lord Krishna visited his aunt Shrutshrava and put baby Shishupal on his lap. His deformity get cured instantly. Then Shrutshrava requested Lord Krishna to forgive Shishupal hundred times before killing him to which Lord Krishna agreed.

Disliking for Lord Krishna

Shishupal was a friend of Kansa and Jarasandha. Lord Krishna killed Kansa and also helped Bhima in killing Jarasandha. These incidents resulted in his dislike for Lord Krishna. Shishupal was also the friend of Rukma. Rukma’s sister Rukmani wanted to marry Lord Krishna but Rukma fixed her marriage with Shishupal. So on her wedding day, she eloped with Lord Krishna and married him. This particular incident increased Shishupal’s hatred for Lord Krishna.

Lord Krishna and Rukmani Courtesy: Google

Lord Krishna Killing Shishupal at Rajasuya Yagna

During Rajasuya Yagna organised by Yudhishthara, it was decided to worship Lord Krishna on Nakul’s suggestion. Bhishm Pitamah also supported this. Shishupal objected to this and started insulting and abusing Lord Krishna. Pandavas, Matasya, Kekaya and Srichayvarsha kings got up from their seats to kill Shishupal but were deterred by Lord Krishna. Shishupal kept on calling him names and Lord Krishna listened everything silently. Even when he crossed the limit of 100, Lord Krishna warned him to either keep quiet or leave the place immediately. Shishupal did not budge and continued humiliating Lord Krishna. Finally, Lord Krishna chopped off Shishupal’s head with his Sudarshan Chakra. A light emerged from his corpse and absorbed into Lord Krishna.

      End of Shishupal by Lord Krishna Courtesy: Google

A Mystic Saint Called Neeb Karori

It all started in 2018 when I first read about Baba Neeb Karori (or Neem Karoli as pronounced by his foreign devotees) on Quora. Intrigued, I started reading more about him through all the stuffs available on the internet. In addition, my curiosity regarding him grew more when I learnt that Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg had visited his ashram (religious or spiritual retreat) in Kainchi in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. Hollywood star Julia Roberts chanced upon his photo while shooting in India and ended up converting to Hinduism.

Shri Neeb Karori Baba Maharaj Courtesy: Google

So while reading about Maharaj ji (as respectfully addressed by his followers), I got to know many surprising and miraculous incidents related to his life. Maharaj ji, whose birth name was Lakshmi Narayan Sharma, was a devout follower of the Hindu Lord Hanuman. In 1967, an American youth Richard Alpert visited his ashram in Kainchi and what happened after that is history. Young Richard became Ram Dass and devoted his entire life in the service of his guru and mankind. On 22nd December, 2019, Ram Dass left for his heavenly abode but what he has established in his more than 50 years of spiritual journey is absolutely overwhelming. Like Ram Dass, there are other devotees who are carrying forward Baba Neeb Karori’s legacy. Krishna Das, Bhagavan Das, Lama Surya Das, Rampriya Das, Jai Uttal; to name a few; are spreading their guru’s teaching all over the world. Today, Baba Neeb Karori has followers across the globe. There are temples dedicated to Maharaj ji in the United States and Germany.

Eventually, this curiosity of mine made me to visit Maharaj ji’s ashram in Kainchi in September 2019. For my stay, I chose a hotel which was approximately 200 meters away from the temple. Every morning and evening, I could easily hear aartis (devotional songs sung in the praise of the deity when the light is being offered) and the sound of bells from my hotel room.

Kainchi Ashram in Nainital

So, as soon as I got fresh, I straightaway left for the temple. Surrounded by hills, the perfectly built temple is a wonderful experience to visit. What really impressed me was the serenity pervading the entire temple premises. The sound of the stream flowing adjacent to the temple was an additional delight.

Once I entered the temple, I found many small temples devoted to various deities, including Lord Rama and Hanuman. There is a temple dedicated to Maharaj ji with his statue perched on a marble platform. Opposite to his temple is the room where Maharaj ji used to sleep and would often meet his devotees. Visitors can get photographs, books related to Maharaj ji and other items from the ashram library. Photography inside the temple is prohibited.

There is also a temple dedicated to Siddhi Maa and Jiwanti Maa, Maharaj ji’s female followers.

Siddhi Maa with Maharaj ji Courtesy: Google

One more attraction of the ashram is the wooden bed outside another room which is always covered with a blanket and flowers offered to it. 

Like any other temples in India, morning and evening aarti is performed here. But what really caught my attention was seeing children (who undergo vedic education and live in the ashram under the residential schooling system of Gurukul) leading the aarti. Watching them was a pleasant feeling.

Maharaj ji with this foreign devotees Courtesy: Google

So far, I have come across many miraculous stories related to Maharaj ji on his various disciples’ accounts. And they have only brought me closer to this holy saint, who considered all human beings equal despite their caste, creed, religion or ethnicity. He never believed in preaching or delivering religious sermons. He simply used to say, “MAIN KOI MANTRA NAHI JANTA. MAIN SIRF RAM KO JANTA HUN” (I don’t know any mantra. All I know is Lord Rama.)

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