Remembering the Great Yogi…Swami Buaji
In the shining galaxy of luminous sages who have contributed to mankind in untold ways, quietly sharing their bounty of blessings and grace, Swami Buaji is one such resplendent jewel who graced this earth for over a hundred and twenty five years. Buaji, who left the mortal frame a few days ago was indeed a remarkable human being who embodied the epitome of Yoga.
A towering personality, as a Hatha yogi, his total mastery over body, mind, breath and prana was absolutely astonishing, demonstrating the heights a human being is capable of achieving in a single lifetime.
Bright twinkling eyes, a long white beard, a mane of white hair falling well below his shoulders, and a superbly contoured, strong, lithe body – Yogiraj Swami Buaji Maharaj completely belied his attainments and his age. He always left people guessing his age ….and gasping when they found out!
He was the founder of the Indo-American Yoga-Vedanta Society based in New York, where he arrived in the 1960s. Many fortunate students have learned Hatha yoga under his able tutelage, learning ways to challenge body and mind, and increase strength and flexibility. A positive, motivated outlook on life, self-discipline and balance of body, mind and psyche capture the other aspects of Buaji’s teachings.
Her Holiness Anandmurti Gurumaa held Swami Buaji in the highest esteem. Buaji was Gurumaa’s special friend who endearingly called her “Amma” or “Mother”. In the winter of 2007, Gurumaa extended an invitation to Buaji to spend some time in Rishi Chaitanya Ashram which he was extremely happy to accept. Buaji spent over a month in the Ashram, endearing himself to inmates and visitors alike. Like a small child, he would insist that Amma have all meals with him and would stubbornly not eat till Gurumaa sat with him at meal-times. He had a healthy appetite and a fondness for sweets too. However, there were days he hardly ate anything at all; after all, his mastery over his tongue and his mind was total! Sometimes, he would just have milk and once, he announced, “Today I am going to drink milk with my nose!” Gurumaa said, “Go right ahead!” And he did! This was most matter-of-fact; there was no showing off, no sense of drama, just ‘simple’ yoga…in action!
When Buaji was in Rishi Chaitanya Ashram, he would sometimes come to the ashramites’ early morning yoga class and even demonstrate difficult asanas, much to their amazement and sometimes, chagrin!
Buaji’s full, hearty laughter, his simplicity, his child-like innocence and his quick, mischevious wit and keen sense of humour still echo in the hearts of people who were fortunate to have his darshan. A steady, penetrating gaze, a firm handshake, an alert, inquiring mind, shrewd observation and iron discipline even at this age made him a lion of a man, fearless and proud, yet humble to the core.
When two sages meet, all around are drenched in the shower of love pouring out from them. And sages too, in their carefree bliss have their own ways of leela, a drama they seemingly enact for the benefit of onlookers. But actually, each sage knows fully well the other’s caliber as at the level of spirit, they know that they are one.
Once when visiting Buaji in New York, there was an argument as to who should distribute prasad – Buaji or Gurumaa. Gurumaa told Buaji that you are senior to me, so you should do the honours. Buaji insisted that no, you are my mother and I am your child so you cannot refuse me! Realising that Buaji was not going to give in, Gurumaa reluctantly agreed to distribute the prasad. At the end of the queue, a pair of old, gnarled hands made their appearance in front of Gurumaa to receive prasad. It was Buaji, who very naughtily, got his own way after all!
Then, at the time of leaving, another humourous event occurred. Buaji wanted to bow down and touch Gurumaa’s feet, saying that She was Goddess Durga, Goddess Saraswati and Gurumaa wanted to touch Buaji’s feet as a mark of love and respect; they both kept trying to reach out to touch each other’s feet! This went on; finally, it was Gurumaa who won this time round!
Gurumaa often narrates Buaji’s phenomenal feat of blowing a conch non-stop for more than eight hours in a single breath. It takes a good amount of lung power for even a young person to blow a conch non-stop for a few seconds, leave aside a few minutes so we can imagine the depth of Buaji’s practice of pranayama! Or can we……???
Indeed, Buaji’s very name is synonymous with Yoga, the way of life which unfolds naturally in the presence of a living master, which he truly was. No wonder then, the ancient rishis had a beautiful daily prayer in which they paid obeisance to the rising sun, that “May I live a hundred years from today!” A long life with a healthy body and mind is indeed indispensable to walk the path of awakening to the spirit – a journey which needs time or rather, lifetimes, tireless effort and endless commitment. And Buaji’s entire life was the culmination, the perfection of the fragrant bloom of the flower of Yoga.