The Knower of All Hearts


Neem Karoli Baba didn’t come bodily to America.

Instead, he sent his emissary, Ram Dass. Many of us found our way to Maharajji because of Ram Dass – either after hearing him lecture (the Indians said he had the “gift of Saraswati,” the goddess of speech and poetry) or from reading his book Be Here Now, published in 1971. Others, who had embarked on the tantalizing journey to the East looking for adventure, good drugs, or spiritual wisdom, also found Maharajji.

This ragged band of skeptical Westerners came from a culture where it is anathema to bow down before another person and the idea of touching or, God forbid, kissing someone’s feet is unthinkable. But that changed quickly in Maharajji’s presence.

We had come halfway around the world to experience the ancient Vedantic sat-chit-ananda – truth, consciousness and bliss – as it manifested in a toothless old man wrapped in a plaid woolen blanket.

When we met Maharajji, we knew nothing about him or his history; some stories suggested that he was hundreds of years old. It wasn’t until he died in September 1973 that we learned more. We discovered that, after emerging from his underground cave at Neem Karoli, he still honored his Brahminical duties to his wife, whom he’d been married to as a young boy of nine or ten, to his children and grandchildren, and to his village. His yogic and spiritual powers were vast, but, like the wind, no one could catch him; he was a wanderer who usually spent no more than a few days in a place, which, to the amazement of his Indian devotees, changed when the Westerners arrived. But who he had been and where he had come from were irrelevant when we sat in front of him.

The Indians describe a being like Maharajji as antarayamin – a knower of hearts. Imagine sitting in front of someone who already knows absolutely everything about you and still loves you unconditionally. Our thinking, rational, linear minds were quieted by the overwhelming experience of our hearts. We were home. We had made it to the home that’s completely safe, a home built of pure love. And we were transformed.

-Parvati Markus, excerpt from Love Everyone

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