In the Kumaon foothills of the Indian Himalayas, the birthplace or home of India's great saints of the past and present, there resided Shri Haidakhan Wale Baba (also spelled Herakhan Babaji). To those who asked, Haidakhan Baba acknowledged that He was the Shiva Mahavatar Babaji, known to many thousands in the West through Paramahansa Yogananda's Autobiography of a Yogi. A mahavatar is a human manifestation of God not born of woman.
In 1970 Shri Babaji (Shri means holy or revered; Baba is a term used for a renunciate, or saint, or father) appeared in a cave, that has been holy for thousands of years, at the foot of the Kumaon Mount Kailash, across the sacred river Gautama Ganga opposite a remote village called Haidakhan. He had no known parents or family. He appeared as a youth of 18 or 20, yet he displayed great wisdom and divine powers from the start. The Haidakhan villagers saw him as an old man with a long white beard, as a young man with a long beard, as a beautiful young man with no beard. Two men who spoke to him at the same time described him differently. He was seen at different places at the same time. He knew the scriptures, yet there is no evidence of his having been educated. He ate almost nothing for months yet his energy was boundless. In September 1970, he climbed to the top of Mount Kailash, seated himself in yogic fashion at the small temple there without leaving his seat for 45 days and nights, mediating most of the time, talking occasionally, and started teaching the message he has brought to the world.
His coming had been foretold, both by ancient scriptures and by the preachings and prophesies of a twentieth century saint called Mahendra Baba. As a child, Mahendra Baba was healed by a vision of Babaji and the Divine Mother. He saw Babaji again on a birthday, when Babaji appeared to him and gave him candy. When he graduated from high school, Mahendra Baba met Babaji, in one of his previous forms, and was taught yogic knowledge by Babaji for six days and nights. When Babaji left him, Mahendra Baba renounced the world and went searching for his guru -- walking through the Himalayas.
Mahendra Baba then spent years at a temple in the Indian state of Gujarat and developed a reputation as a great saint. Only after 25 years was he led back to the Kumaon hills where Babaji appeared to him again, in a locked room in a remote mountain ashram. After this appearance of Babaji in the flesh, Mahendra Baba began his mission of preparing for Shri Babaji's return to the world in human form.
For many years Mahendra Baba went around India preaching that Babaji would return to transform the world. He described what Babaji would look like, including the scars on his right leg and left arm. He said that Babaji would come in 1970. Mahendra Baba restored old ashrams and temples, built new ones, and prepared the worship service now used by Babaji's devotees.
Mahendra Baba told his followers that Shri Babaji has been a divine presence on earth since man first learned about religion. Babaji has taught gurus and religious teachers throughout man's history, and eras, He has appeared to teach people, manifesting a body for each appearance, rather than coming by human birth.
There are books in Hindi, written about the previous manifestation of Haidakhan Baba, which lasted from about 1800 to 1922. He appeared to villagers not far from Haidakhan out of a ball of light, and in 1922 before a handful of followers, he disappeared in to a ball of light. There are many recorded miracles: healing people, raising the dead, being in several places at the same time, feeding multitudes from a small portion of food.
But mostly people flocked to Babaji because they experienced him as a divine loving Being far above the human level. Mountain villagers, educated and uneducated Westerners, English bureaucrats and Indian intelligentsia, people of all religions came to him. There are still people, in Haidakhan and elsewhere in India, who remember Old Haidakhan Baba and acknowledge this manifestation as the same Being.
There are evidences of earlier manifestations of Babaji. Tibetan monks came to Shri Babaji in 1972 and hailed him as Lama Baba, who had lived in Tibet about 500 years ago. There are stories of his appearance in Nepal, as well as India and Tibet.
Most of Shri Babaji's followers experience and worship him as a true ageless manifestation of God. The big and little miracles He performed and still perform daily in the lives of His followers, His reading of and responding to their inner thoughts before they are uttered, His healing, His guidance, His teachings were and are at a level beyond even advanced human ability. Most of His miracles occur in the minds, hearts and lives of the followers – miracles of understanding, responses to unspoken thoughts, guidance, teachings, and support when and as needed, whether in Haidakhan or far away.
Shri Babaji said that humanity is in great danger. He prophesied widespread physical destruction and death. He said our salvation is to worship God and repeat God's Name (particularly, Om Namah Shivaya), and that we will create a new, loving, humanitarian society of people who are focused on God. Babaji said to build ashrams around the world where people could go for spiritual nourishment.