It was about 15 years back, when I read an article about 'Shivapuri Baba' in either 'Samakalika Malayalam' or 'Mathruboohmi ( my memory fails me). Later after my marriage, I was given to understand that 'Sivapuri Baba', is one of our ancestor on my father-in-law's side. Under the new revelation, I did read that article again and the only thing that caught my attention was the mention of his age. It was given that he died ( or ceased his bodily existence) at an age of 136. His name came up multiple times in discussions and each was only to add to the amaze one had on some one who lived in the Himalayas and lived till the age of 136. Sri Matampu Kunjukuttan, in one of the evening discussions, did mention the book written by an Englishman, John Bennet, on the life and messages of this saint titled "Long Pilgrimage". I haven't been able to get a copy and read the book, but was following various short writings that appeared in various magazines and news papers. The interest rekindled again, after another relative of mine had been to Kathmandu and visited the 'ashram' of the spiritual guru.
Sivapuri Baba, born as Jayanthan Namboodiri, in a well to do Namboodiri family near Kunnamkulam, Trissur district. Afrer initial days of wandering, he achieved the 'enlightment' at the shores of Narmada, later he too 'sanyas' from Sringeri Mutt and named himself as 'Govindananda Bharati' as was the custom. It is since then he started his journey, covering 6 continents, largely walking ( except to cross the seas). He seems to have met with the Queeen Victoria at least 18 times and was one of her spiritual advisor. Other dignitaries of his connection include the then US President Theodore Roosevelt, Wilhem Kaiser II of Germany, writer George Bernard Shaw, and legendary Leo Tolstoy on whose farm Baba spent nearly two months. Inspired by the guru, Tolstoy had written a short story "The Three Questions", the translation of the same is given at the end of this book ( the story can be read here). In the year 1930, he settled in the hills of Nepal, near Kathmandu at the age of 103, lived there until his death at the age of 136.
Rajendu, had not written a biographical or spiritual study of the sage, as most of them are already available with us. The book is a collection of question and answers. Numerous questions on the way of life, the truth and so on, and Baba's answers to them is collated, summarising the messages of the saint through his answers. The rest of the book, alternating with each chapters of 'questions and answers" are the memoirs of various people who acquainted the Guru and had been his disciples since then. This include the Sri Lankan Tarzie Vittachi , Y B Shreshtha's discussion with the merchant Manadasa Kuladhara, who is considered to be the first of his disciples in Nepal, an Australian doctor (Miens?) and Huripman an American traveller. The experience of each of them are no different from the rest of the people who visit him.
Baba's messages are no different from the other sages. As expected, they are about the way of life, living in the paths of Moksha, finding the way to the lord however long it takes. You will realise once you have found your way and that will take you to the paths of Gods. He says, for a spiritual way of living, one need a body that can withstand the demands of the life, hence it is important to care for the body, the encapsulation of the inner. The oneness with the Almighty is possible only if you constantly seek the ways of God. He add, one need a Guru to direct him towards the path. Only a few masters ( Ramakrishna Paramahamsa or Ramana Maharishi to name a few) managed to attain the 'sakshatkaram' without the help of a Guru. For common man, it is essential to have a guru to guide him and correct him in his quest of attaining spiritual sojourn. It is also said, that one a person is ready to receive, the Guru will find him.
This might be the first of its kind book on Shivapuri Baba, where the importance is given to his messages. There is no analytical view or deconstruction of his life and messages. The book is fairly simple and an easy read, though the essence of his message keep repeating pages after pages. One realise that the essence remain same, who ever the sage is and whatever is the form he prefer to deliver. The book has a brilliant preface by Rajendu, which in reality is the only piece of his writing in this book.------------------------------------------
സ്വധർമ്മം അഥവാ സമ്യക് ജീവിതം (2011 )
Times Of India, The Hindu, Shivapuri Baba I, Shivapuri Baba II