Avadhoot Nityananda of Ganeshpuri (Bade Baba) (November/December, 1897 – 8 August 1961)
Bhagawan Nityananda was born in Koyilandy (Panthalayani), Kerala, South India in November or December of 1897. He was adopted by a farmer couple, Uniamma Nair and Chathu Nair and given the name Raman. Unfortunately, Uniamma and Chathu had passed on by the time he was six years old. The responsibility for his care was handed over to Ishwar Iyer, a wealthy lawyer who owned several farms which Nityananda’s parents had worked on.
In childhood, he was given the name Nityananda, which means “always in bliss.” He exhibited the unusual characteristic of being enlightened, in a spiritually-advanced state. When he reached his 20s, he was already wandering as a yogi, venturing into the Himalayas while studying yoga and yogic practices.
He eventually found his way back to south India, where he built a reputation for miracles and cures. He built an ashram near Kanhangad, Kerala. Nityananda had also traveled to the Tansa Valley in Maharashtra, where he was also known for miracle works and giving help to adivasis, who were despised by people around them, by giving them education, food, and clothing.
Finally, in 1936, he went to the Shiva temple in Ganeshpuri, where he lived until his death in 1961. He was given a hut nearby to live in, which expanded to become an ashram in later years.
It is not known who was Nityananda’s guru, though supposedly, he was a siddha purusha in Kerala. As a guru, Nityananda did not speak very much. There was one devotee in the 1920s, Tulsiamma (Tulsi Amma), who wrote down what little he had said. This was later compiled and printed as the Chidakasha Geeta in the Kannada language. This is the only known teachings of Nityananda.
Nithyananda worked from the approach of silence rather than through discourse. Also, people would come from many places to have his darshan, in which he simply sat in a space with his eyes open, and he would connect with the person to the extent of their capacity to connect and hold that connection. The understanding behind the silence is that Brahman, super-consciousness is beyond the material, therefore beyond speech and even the mind.
Nevertheless, the Chidakasha Geeta, although very short, is very profound in that it is not big on philosophy, yet it cuts right to the heart of the matter, “What am I? What is Brahman?” It is practical, as it is something to be experienced directly, not to be expounded upon.
Disciples were taught to listen to their heart, as “the heart is the hub of all sacred places; go there and roam.” Everyone already has self realization because it is within them, so they must look inward and find it within them.
One of the most well-known disciples of Nityananda was Swami Baba Muktananda. Muktananda was “shakti” to Nityananda’s Shiva; Muktananda had traveled extensively around the world to awaken people by the thousands. Another notable disciple was Swami Janananda, who was the senior-most disciple of Nityananda and known as a fully-realized being who looked after Nityananda’s ashram and his caves in Kanhangad, Kerala.
Bhagawan Nityananda attained samadhi on 8 August 1961. The samadhi-sthal (shrine) is located at the Samadhi Mandir in Ganeshpuri and attracts thousands of pilgrims on Guru Purnima every year. There is a shrine dedicated to Nityananda in the Gurudev Siddha Peeth ashram in Ganeshpuri as well. The samadhi-sthal, the ashram, tourist hostel, and several other buildings built in Nityananda’s lifetime are maintained by the Shree Bhimeshwar Sadguru Nityanand Sanstha Ganeshpuri. All of these are pilgrimage sites today.
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