Mahavatar Babaji’s real name and date of birth are not sure, those who met him during that period all called him by the title first given to him by Lahiri Mahasaya. ‘Mahavatar’ means ‘great avatar’, and ‘Babaji’ simply means ‘revered father’. Some of the encounters included two or more witnesses — discussions between those who met Mahavatar Babaji indicate that they all met the same person.
A Version of His Early Life
Babaji was believed to be born on the 30th day of November 203 A.D., in a small coastal village now known as Parangipettai, in Tamil Nadu, India, near where the Cauvery River flows into the Indian Ocean. He was given the name "Nagaraj," which means "serpent king," referring to "kundalini," our great divine potential power and consciousness. His birth coincided with the ascendancy (Nakshatra) of the star of Rohini, under which Krishna was also born. The birth took place during the celebration of Kartikai Deepam, the Festival of Lights, the night before the new moon during the Tamil month of Kartikai.
At the age of 5, he was kidnapped by a trader and taken as a slave to the area of today's Calcutta. A rich merchant purchased him, only to give him his freedom. He joined a small band of wandering monks, and with them became learned in the sacred religious and philosophical literature of India. However, he was not satisfied. Hearing of the existence of a great siddha, or perfected master, named Agastyar, in the south, he made a pilgrimage to the sacred temple of Katirgama, near the southern most tip of Ceylon, the large island just south of peninsular India. There he met a disciple of Agastyar, whose name was Boganathar. He studied "dhyana," or meditation, intensively and "Siddhantham," the philosophy of the Siddhas, with Boganathar for four years. He experienced "sarvihelpa samadhi," or cognitive absorption, and had the vision of Lord Muruga, the deity of the Katirgama temple.
At the age of 15, Boganathar sent him to his own guru, the legendary Agastyar, who was know to be living near to Courtrallam, in Tamil Nadu. After performing intensive yogic practices at Courtrallam for 48 days, Agastyar revealed himself, and initiated him into Kriya Kundalini Pranayama, a powerful breathing technique. He directed the boy to go to Badrinath, high in the Himalayas, and to practice all that he had learned, intensively, to become a "siddha." Over the next 18 months, Babji lived alone in a cave practicing the yogic techniques which Boganathar and Agastyar has taught him. In so doing, he surrendered his ego, all the way down to the level of the cells in his body, to the Divine, which descended into him. He became a siddha, one who has surrendered to the power and consciousness of the Divine! His body was no longer subject to the ravages of disease and death. Transformed, as a Mah or great siddha, he dedicated himself to the uplift-ment of suffering humanity.
Since that time, over the centuries, Babaji has continued to guide and inspire some of history`s greatest saints and many spiritual teachers, in the fulfillment of their mission. These include Adi Shankaracharya, the great 9th century A.D. reformer of Hinduism, and Kabir, the 15th century saint beloved by both the Hindus and Muslims. Both are said to have been personally initiated by Babaji, and refer to him in their writings. He has maintained the remarkable appearance of a youth of about 16 years of age. During the 19th century Madame Blavatsky, the founder of the Theosophical Society, identified him as the Matreiya, the living Buddha, or World Teacher for the coming era, described in C.W. Leadbetter's "Masters and the Path."
Although Babaji prefers to remain obscure and invisible to others, he does on occasion gradually reveals himself to his devotees and disciples, capturing their hearts in various types of personal devotional relationships in which he guides them in their development.