The ashram grew around a very ordinary-looking man who was an extraordinary saint. His name was Neem Karoli Baba, after the village where he was first discovered in pre-independent India as a ticket less traveler in a first-class compartment of a train. The British ticket collector threw him out at the next stop whereupon he quietly disembarked and sat under a tree. However, the train did not move thereafter, much as the engine driver tried to go full steam.
All kinds of checks were carried out only to reveal that the train was in perfect working order. The Indian passengers then told the ticket collector that since he had removed a holy man from the train, it would not move. Embarrassed at having to believe such native irrationalities, the ticket collector nevertheless called the sadhu (holy man) back onto the train. The holy man got back onto the train as quietly as he had disembarked and the train puffed out of the spot immediately!
Later, there grew a well organized station at this spot and Baba became famous for many more miracles until he left his body in 1973.
Message Of Love - Clad in a white dhoti (unstitched garment) with a blanket wrapped around his shoulders, Baba or Maharajji, as he was also known, was known for the spontaneous love that was palpable in his presence. With a mischievous sense of humor and seemingly ordinary ways, Baba drew throngs of people to the ashram and visited many places during his lifetime. Among his devotees were the roadside tea-stall vendor, the fruit seller, a Harvard professor, a scholar of Hindi literature etc. His only teaching was to love one and all, something that he did effortlessly even though most of his devotees needed a translator to interpret his words.
Baba's Powers - The Miracle of Love is the title of a book compiled by an American devotee of Baba. It is full of miraculous episodes recounted by a number of Baba's devotees. "We grew up under his care", says the owner of the little restaurant opposite the temple. "Maharajji was sitting on this bench by the road more than fifty years ago when my father, then a young man, happened to walk by one night. Nobody knew Maharajji then, certainly my father didn't know him. Maharajji called out to my father by name and asked him where he was going at this time of night. Surprised at being addressed thus by a stranger, my father stopped in his tracks, and was even more amazed when Maharajji told him not to worry about the case that was pending in the court, as the ruling would be in his (my father's) favor. Maharajji then promised to visit my father sometimes, which he did ten years later, when he stayed in our house for a few days. All that we have today is due to his grace." It is widely believed that Neem Karoli Baba was an incarnation of the monkey god Hanuman. The Hanuman Chalisa, a special prayer addressed to this god is recited several times during the day in the ashram. While the skeptic may not find much to believe in such happenings, no one can fail to be untouched by the peace in the atmosphere of the ashram which stands testimony to the nature and powers of man around whom it grew. It is a place definitely worth visiting. The temple office requires prior intimation in writing so that they can see whether accommodation will be available for a visitor. Shree Ma, the principle disciple of the Baba, looks after the ashram now, which is open to visitors only when she is there. Periodically, she goes into the hills to meditate in solitude.
The Peaceful Ambience - What gives the ashram its peace? Many reasons can be cited. The hills that stand beside the ashram guarding the inmates from the sharp sun or wind could be a reason. More simply, it could be due to the distance from a city, the salubrious climate or the innumerable fruit trees around. Another reason could be the simple folks that inhabit the village. Once a visitor is there, he never looks for reasons. Peace seems most natural in a place still vibrating with the power of meditation of the Maharajji. This ashram is for those who seek silence and have the faith to bide time while searching for answers.