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Faqir Baba

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Baba Faqir Chand - Honesty personified - 1886-1981


I did not have the good fortune to meet Faqir Baba; he left the body in 1981. In my hall of fame, I did not meet him, Ramana Maharshi, and Sunyata.  However, these three form the powerful, yet silent, background radiation that influenced most of those I was lucky enough to meet. Thus, I only encountered Baba Faqir through his old devotees at Manavta Mandir. They were all, in one way or another, spiritually marked by his enduring traits of humility, courage, and honesty.

For me, Baba Faqir Chand is an immensely important spiritual lighthouse. He deserves for his message, which he perfectly embodied in his own life, to become more widely known.

Baba Faqir champions meditation as a form of radical honesty! He stands as a powerful reminder and contrast to the majority of spiritual leaders who, to various degrees, are traders in spirituality. This page dedicated to Baba Faqir is not an attempt to create an objective biography. Rather, it is more my subjective and projective take on this remarkable being. I see his work through the lens of Meister Eckhart:

'Merchants go when the truth appears,
for the truth needs no merchanting.
Behold thy temple cleared of merchants.'

Faqir means beggar. Now listen to what this Beggar has to say about big ashrams and grandiose masters:

'This is the hard fact: the plain truth does not help in establishing centers; it does not increase the number of followers. But how is anyone to understand it?
Only after this realization: that I am a bubble of consciousness. A bubble of consciousness would not claim itself to be a yogi, sadhu, or a gnani.
Had I not realized this Truth, I might have made claims of my greatness and got myself worshipped by you and exploited you.'




From what I could hear and sense from his devotees, Manav Dayal, Shabdanand, Capt Lal Chand and Sita, and many others, he was an uncompromising honest and straight forward person. What stands out most is his character, and he emphasized that character comes first by naming Manavta Mandir as 'Be Men Temple'. His message was clear: First and above all, be a good human being!

When Baba Faqir visited his own ashram in Hoshiarpur, the Manavta Mandir Temple, he insisted on paying rent for the days he stayed, using money from his meager pension. This practice reminds me of a story about Ramana Maharshi. When offered a glass of orange juice, he stipulated that he would only accept it if everyone in the ashram also received a glass. Both examples highlight their profound commitment to fairness and their deep respect for the communities they led.




The Master who got Enlightenment through his Devotees

Go to 2:35

The following story is quoted from Shabdanand. Baba Faqir's master, the great Data Dayal, at one point declared: "Baba Faqir! You are going to be my successor." Upon hearing this, Baba Faqir jumped into the air and started singing and dancing in joy.

However, he suddenly stopped his dance, fell to the ground, and began to cry.

"Oh, Faqir! Why were you dancing, and why are you now crying?" Data Dayal asked.

Then Faqir replied, "Oh Master! Initially, I was overwhelmed with joy, hearing that you had chosen me for such an elevated task. But then I was reminded that I have not yet understood the truth—I have not yet grasped your teachings! How am I supposed to teach anyone when I myself have not understood?"

"Do not worry, my dear Faqir," said the wonderful teacher with visionary greatness. "What I as a teacher have not been able to show you, will be revealed to you through your own devotees. I am soon to leave my body. But you will realize the truth after my passing. You will attain enlightenment by giving Satsang (spiritual teachings)."

After the passing of Data Dayal, Baba Faqir began giving Satsang, and just as his teacher had predicted, he attained the highest state of realization. From then on, Baba Faqir always addressed his own devotees and students as his real Masters.



The Power of Collective Devotion
Faqir Baba embodies the immense power of true humility for me. His life also highlights the profound—and at times unsettling—effect of a collective group of individuals united in their focus and intent. As Nietzsche astutely observed, insanity is uncommon in individuals but becomes the norm within groups, parties, nations, and epochs. A synchronized religious unity can act as an interoceptive stargate, capable of enlightening even its own leader. However, if the leader's character is flawed, this powerful unity can devolve into misuse and even atrocities.
The secret lies in the fact that the group itself generates the spiritual energy that uplifts each individual within it, including the master. Enlightenment is not a prerequisite for a master. What is crucial is his unwaveringly honest and incorruptible character—strong enough not to be influenced by the love and trust that is directed towards him from all sides.
However, most of us can easily become ensnared by the allure of power and consequently fall. In my 45 years on the spiritual scene, I have repeatedly witnessed this phenomenon, which seems to act almost as a natural law of corruption, manifesting across groups of all sizes. Even former close friends have succumbed to commodifying spirituality. I myself have been blinded several times by my own spiritual vanity, believing I was special and above others. It takes individuals like Ramana, Papaji, or a Beggar Faqir, endowed with extraordinary resilience, to withstand the hypnotic power of ego at the eye of the cyclone.



Truth revealed
Devotees have always approached their gurus in India and elsewhere with tales of miraculous interventions:

"Dear Guru Ji! I was in a very dangerous situation, but then suddenly you materialized in front of me and saved me!"

Traditionally, most gurus would smile, nod, and affirm their mystical presence, often leading to grateful devotees donating generously to the guru's ashram.
However, Baba Faqir responded differently to such accounts. His reply would often shock those who came to him:

"I was not there saving you. I have no knowledge of the incident you refer to. Actually, it is your own strong faith and inner power that has materialized in my form to save you!"

This forthright message, while rooted in honesty, was not conducive to the usual religious business. Following his revelations, Faqir’s first ashram faced financial challenges and eventually went bankrupt. The economic model of many Indian ashrams, both historically and presently, often relies on the belief that gurus are supernatural beings capable of materializing at will to assist their devotees with various problems.




One more Truth Revealed
Faqir Baba's teachings underscore the great inner power dormant within each of us, a power that can be activated through introspection. The initial breakthrough in our wall of self-protective limitations can be as dramatic and foundational as our first birth, aligning with William James's concept of being "once born – twice born." However, this spiritual power is significantly amplified in collective fields of introspection. Therefore, many people often experience their first spiritual awakening not in isolation, but in groups centered around a leader. This initial moment of awakening is deeply freeing yet paradoxically can also bind us, as we may find ourselves deeply attached to the environment where it occurred.
The Twice-Born Worship of the Toy Figure
After such a profound experience in a collective field, when we reopen our eyes, we often can't believe that we were the sole source of this wonder. Instead, we react like ducklings. When a duckling first opens its eyes, it imprints on any moving object as its mother. If a toy figure moves in front of the duckling as it hatches, that figure becomes 'mother.' Humans are not so different when we first break out of our limited worlds. Like ducklings, we hand over our inner power to an outer leader, regardless of their ordinariness or moral standing.
We should realize that this power belongs to no one and yet, at the same time, to each individual brave enough to wield King Arthur’s sword. But often, we do not dare to claim this gift for ourselves; instead, we look for leaders to project this power onto and then follow blindly.
In the field of Duckling spirituality you will always be doomed to be a devotee and not a Master in and of your own life.

A Personal Story from My Meditation Workshops
About 30 years ago, during one of my meditation workshops, a kind, good-hearted Indian man around 50 years old fell into a trance at the end of a group meditation session. After about 30 minutes, he emerged saying:

"Gunnar! What did you do to me? I am in total and absolute bliss! First, you entered my mind and then took me out into the vast Universe. After enjoying infinite bliss, we flew as levitated bodies to South India for a darshan of Satya Sai Baba. It was wonderful. And now we are back here again! You are indeed a great Guru!"

I responded, "Dear friend, I am very happy for you—but I don’t know anything about your experience, apart from holding your hand while you were in trance."

This incident marked the most powerful spiritual awakening he had ever experienced. As a devotee of Satya Sai Baba, he usually saw Sai Baba’s face during deep meditation. However, since this incident, my face has occasionally appeared in his meditations.

I had inadvertently become his 'toy figure master,' a role that carries a tremendous potential for abuse—believe me!




Yet, he, you, and I are all equally that Great Mysterious Power. This is what Faqir Baba and Papaji were trying to convey to spiritual seekers. They never met or knew each other but I am sure they would have hugged each other.



Both held up a mirror so seekers could realize their own lion nature. In this sense, we indeed need Great Masters who relentlessly strive to make us recognize that we are THAT supreme and equal reality.


miniPapaji3.jpg (12009 bytes)   

Papaji and Baba Faqir, both distinguished by
faces that radiate their profound nobility.


Now listen once again to the Faqir:

'He who thinks himself different from the Guru is in duality. Therefore, I lay stress time and time again on this fact that if you remain attached to the physical existence of any Guru, you shall not get liberation. Our mind is within and our thoughts are also within. The questioner within is the disciple,
and he who answers within is the Guru.

When the questioner gets satisfactory answers to all his queries, he becomes silent. When our mind does not have any more questions or when your mind has no desire to know  anything, it becomes silent. This state of silence is known as the union of Guru and disciple.'



Just have the courage to feel and see what is your birth right and pray for a flock of fellow travelers to find you so that you together and in total democratic equality can amplify each others individual universal TRUTH!



David Lane on Faqir Chand