immortality & longevity at kumbha mela

immortality kumbha
immortality & longevity

At the northern end of the festival grounds, cast against the still blue sky, stood a lone grass hut built on sturdy stilts. This was the ashram of Devara Baba, who, according to his followers, is more than two hundred years old. Devara Baba is a lifelong vegetarian and a celibate yogi. His followers believe that his exceptional longevity is due to the fact that he bathes in and drinks only the sacred Ganges, whose waters are themselves liquid timelessness. When we asked Devara Baba about his exact age, he replied, "I have lost count of the years. It has been a very long time."

Every morning and evening tens of thousands of pilgrims walked the two-mile stretch along the Ganges to the ashram of Devara Baba in hopes of meeting this ancient sage. Much to their delight, Devara Baba was always willing and even happy to accommodate them. Seated on the veranda of his simple raised hut, the old sage relaxed in the warm rays of sunlight and blessed his visitors. Sometimes smiling from beneath his gray beard or raising his hand in a gesture of grace, Devara Baba radiated an aura of peacefulness. Some pilgrims visiting his ashram brought offerings of fruits and flowers, while others came only with their prayers for his blessings. It was our prayer to the sage that he allow us to take a few photographs, and in his usual gracious manner, he consented.

As prominent as Devara Baba was, one could not help but think that there were many great souls present at the Kumbha Mela who went unnoticed by the general mass of people. One cannot always detect a great soul because he has many followers or because he is very old. But one could feel the divine presence of genuinely great souls throughout the Kumbha Mela, whether they were recognized or not. Sometime before the 2001 Kumbha Mela Devara Baba quietly passed away on the banks of his sacred Ganges River.

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