Frequent Questions about Gurus, Mystics, Babajis and Frauds

Posted Sept. 22, 2013 by Ashok Malhotra in Open

commented on Sept. 28, 2013
by bestearth



Recently while on the topic of Himalayan Mystics a very dear friend of mine commented,
“Since childhood I have had no use for Babas, swamis or of any kind of mystic. I saw them as parasites taking advantages of well meaning but duped followers. I have always put them in one of two categories - they are either charlatans or they are self-delusional. Nothing in between. In other words, they either knowingly deceive people, or they believe in the bunk they spread. (Sorry, couldn't control this diatribe - Tourette syndrome)”
My response at the time was a brief one that I agreed with him partly. The response was brief at the time because we were really engaged in a conversation on some other matter. But, the comment does need a more detailed response and I am attempting that now in a sort of question and answer dialogue because this is a difficult topic.

Who are Babas, swamis and mystics?

Babas, gurus and swamis are eastern usage for mystics but such like persons exist around the world with different names. These are persons who have made a primary occupation or concern of their life, the spiritual side of life.

Is there a spiritual side to life?

This depends on what you mean by the spiritual side. If it means, flying through the air along with your laptop and mobile phone, there probably is no spiritual side. However if it means things like love, fear, human abilities etc. that living things display as distinct from machines, robots etc. then yes there is a spiritual side to life.

Yes, so who are Babas and swamis?

As mentioned, Babas and swamis are persons who make the spiritual side of life their prime occupation. It is just like an artist makes art his prime occupation and a scientist makes science his occupation and within that science are specializations such as chemistry, physics, astronomy etc.

Do Babas have disciples?

Some do and some others don’t. This is similar to some scientists also being Professors and some who are just scientists who do not teach others (for example a friend of mine Dr. Pimputkar). Babas and Swamis who teach others about spirituality are also called spiritual gurus. This is similar to a scientist who is called a Professor too if he teaches. A Guru is really, or should be just like a Professor of spiritual knowledge or practice. It is different matter if some claim to be god because there is no limit to a lie or madness if one was on that path.
Are there Fraud Babas and gurus?
For sure there are, just as there are fraud doctors, lawyers, scientists etc. who may or may not be knowledgeable but use some immoral practice or lies for personal gain. As a matter of fact, the percentage of fraudsters is much larger amongst babas than percentage of fraudsters amongst modern scientists.
The percentage of fraudsters amongst medical practitioners practicing traditional herbal medicine (Ayurveda etc.) is larger than amongst those practicing modern allopathic medicine. The reason is that there are formal degrees, regulations, study, practice and examinations for allopathic doctors while there is not much of that for herbal, traditional medicine etc. Therefore it becomes easier to fudge in the latter case. Greed shows up in any area where human need is acute. That is why doctors and lawyers will at times rip the shirt off your back. Can mystics be far behind when their need becomes acute?
There have been fraudulent Babas from ancient times. An ancient eastern spiritual text, Gita mentions that these are hypocrites who pretend whereas there are others who are more learned and do not flaunt. Hypocrites have their mind on non-spiritual pursuits while outwardly pretending spirituality. Jesus Christ warned of false teachers 2000 years ago as people who are like wolves in sheep's clothing. The religious/spiritual garb has been used as a convenient disguise and cover by criminals and unsocial elements from all parts of the world since ancient times.

Do Fraud Babas exploit and cheat others?

For sure they do and so do fraud doctors, engineers and lawyers. I have met doctors who have even made their patient intentionally sicker to extract more money and lawyers who intentionally encourage the prolonging or complication of a case to make money out of clients. Last year when a friend of mine was involved with prolonged legal problems, I expressed that fear to another friend (KC) in a long phone conversation. The former friend had the option to conclude the matter with a fine but he chose to challenge the matter on encouragement from lawyers prolonging legal dangers.He has been sentenced to prison now.

Are all Babas fraud?

No there are sincere seekers and teachers too.

Are they self-delusional?

No, not necessarily any more than we all are about life or our primary preoccupation in life. Some are, because just as the tool of a doctor is the stethoscope the tool of the mystic is his own mind and soul, and, just as the stethoscope gets spoilt from use, the mind too get into psychosis at times. The stethoscope can be repaired and so can the mind.

Do all Babas wear ashes, funny clothes or no clothes at all etc?

Many do and many do not. Some never declare their true pursuit and can go about as an ordinary person. There are schools of spiritual study that require belonging to a sect with its uniform and perhaps living in a place like a monastery. Some require isolation from society into hills and caves, yet there are also schools in which one can pursue spiritual study while appearing and living as an ordinary person pursuing an ordinary profession.

Do Babas have special magical powers?

Yes and no depending on how you look at it. Yes, they do have special powers just as a doctor has special powers to heal, a lawyer to argue in court etc. But no, these powers are not magical. They only appear to be so because they are not common.
In the book - The Babaji Affair - I have written about mystics and Babas because of my personal interest in the spiritual side of life. A friend of mine recently enquired on phone if I too have become a Baba and if I dress funny. My answer is no, because I have another profession besides spiritual pursuit. This last has been an intermittent pursuit for me in life. I dress ordinary most times. However, during a brief intense period of spiritual studies during 2007 in Nainital, I did dress funny as well, for some months and grew a beard etc. It was a really grand and funny dress made out of a single piece of hand woven woolen cloth (just a single piece because my spiritual order dictated a single garment with not even an undergarment, and it did keep slipping off).
That dress has been unstitched now and has been converted into a lovely quilt for my adopted grandson - Golu. I have spent other periods of prolonged and intense spiritual studies in ordinary garb during my lifetime whenever I found an opportunity to interrupt a professional career. Presently it is only on some ceremonial occasions I dress different.

Anything more about special powers of Babas?

The sort of powers described for one of the Babas- Neeltal Baba- in the book are special but those that I have experienced of as true. I am certain that there are many more such powers that I have not experienced because there are always aspects of any branch of knowledge that one does not realize until one goes deeper. The last section of the book describes a highly revered Babaji who demonstrated many unusual powers during his brief appearance from 1970 to 1984 as Babaji Haidakhan in the Nainital Himalayas.
One of the powers of Neeltal Baba was immunity from heat and cold. This fact has been examined and proven scientifically as a power developed by a some Himalayan and Tibetan monks (I do not have references at hand but they are available on the net).
Another power of the Baba was walking over long distances at great unreal speeds without any physical tiredness. This is one power, I have experienced myself although admittedly only on rare occasions. It is effected by a certain type of Jap/ mantra meditation when one’s mind is focused on the mantra or just one other thought while removing all other concerns from the mind. In an incident in the book the character practicing this meditation walks into town nude without realizing that he is nude because his mind was so much removed from worldly concerns. We have an incident from history where the scientist Archimedes was so focused on a scientific principle that when he discovered it, he ran nude into town shouting Eureka.
Yes, scientists, businessmen and all others who perform special and magical things often have special hidden human/mystical powers not possessed by others and are actually powered like Babas without declaring so. That is the reason why some can excel in a miraculous way in their pursuits.
Yet another power Babas often have is the ability to read minds. This too is something I have experienced myself albeit intermittently. My mother possessed that to a surprising degree and perhaps influenced my spiritual inclinations from a young age. This power of thought is not limited to reading a facial expression but also occurs over distance on phone. During the late nineties when I returned to IIT Delhi as a faculty member after a period of isolation and spiritual pursuit, I was telling people on phone without them having uttered a word what they were thinking and then laughing about it. However, after a few years of stay in Delhi about a decade ago, I found that the power of reading thoughts was disappearing. These powers wax and wane with time, practice and environment. There is a nice and detailed description of that in http://someitemshave.blogspot.in/2010/08/from-birds-to-telepathy.html
Another power the Baba of the book has is the power to will events. I am not fully certain about this power because events can happen anyway but I strongly it exists and people like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet have used it.

Do Babas do any good to the world?

They may not over finite periods of time if they by and large stick to their own pursuit just as a scientist may not for long periods if they stick to their labs engaged in God knows what study? Yet just as some scientists have changed the course of human history and civilization, so have some mystics.
This brings us back to Nainital the Himalayan location in focus in the book, The Babaji Affair. Steve Jobs who is much in the news nowadays was in my view a Baba. He spent time in Nainital in spiritual pursuits during his younger days pursuing Baba Neem Karoli of Nainital and also Baba Hairakhan (Neeltal Baba?). He also suffered because of the disorder and poverty in Indian society and came to the conclusion that many of these Babas were not doing any good for Indian society at the present time. He felt a Baba like scientist or professional makes a better contribution to society and returned to a professional life to do precisely that.

Are Babas Freaks?

No they are not freaks any more than a scientist with a scruffy beard or an artist with funny clothes and paint all over him. Many people do view them with awe but they are ordinary humans with a specialization in mysticism. In the book, the Baba of one of the the stories appreciates the fact that the hero of the story - Fred- treats Babaji like an ordinary guy. The Hero developed that impression because at first he met the Baba at a party where the Baba danced and hopped around like others, had a drink etc. Later when Fred visited him at the monastery he found the Baba very different and wondered what was going on. He wondered if Baba was a fraud and questioned him later about it as a friend.

Why do some people think that all babas are freaks?

Humans tend to do that. When humans note that a large number of gypsies are involved in petty robbery some tend to say all are robbers or if they find in America that the percentage of unemployed or welfare seekers are larger amongst blacks they may say that blacks are bums (in private because there are laws against that) but they cannot be serious because we also have a Martin Luther, Sydney Potier or a Barak Obama amongst the blacks.

One last question, who are Saints?

The very evolved accomplished mystics are saints just as Einstein was a saint amongst Scientists and Steve Jobs amongst Professionals. Incidentally Steve Jobs spent more of his time thinking of Death and Nainital than he did about the Iphone or the Ipad : ).

Who is more popular the frauds or the real ones?

That depends on time and space. In a society where greed, lust and immorality is widespread the frauds are far more popular. Birds of a feather after all stick together.

Unfortunately the modern world seems to have been overrun by frauds in the guise of saints and babas. Just recently one called Asa Ram Bapoo has been charged for raping his minor female disciples in India and is lodged in a jail. It would be wrong to call such persons Babas. They are merely crooks and charlatans using the convenient disguise of a mystic. It is not surprising that such crooks in society, there must always be a few such. What is surprising is that so many persons allow themselves to get fooled. It is easy to pick out the frauds. If they claim to be God or if they are into collecting wealth, either in their own name or a trust they control, watch out. This baba mentioned here did not allow his disciples to pray to any god except himself. There is another thing that criminals do, they try to prevent a free flow of information because then lies are discovered quickly. This baba did not allow newspapers, TV or raidio in his ashrams just as evil dictators and governments or sects do. They also react violently or aggressively to criticism. It disrupts brain washing because after all a house built on lies is a a house of cards ready to fall down anytime. it has to be protected every which way to prolong its life.
Genuine Babas or genuine spiritual schools/sects have no use for any secrecy or brain washing. It welcomes transparency, criticism, debate and a free flow of information.

This author has written a book about some of the latter called - The Babaji Affair - http://www.amazon.com/The-Babaji-Affair-Ashok-Malhotra/dp/149232955X

  • bestearth Sep 28, 2013

    Hi Matthew,

    "life isn't really about the human self but the soul self."

    I agree with your comments generally and I think we have a human self for a reason. We need a personality to communicate with other souls as long as their personality is connected to their soul. For people that have tangible contact with their own soul it is sometimes bewildering to witness the effects of those who are still only in their personality. They do have a soul but their habits have such momentum which likely is pre incarnation, that the connection between their personality and their soul has gone dormant. I think spirituality worth it's salt re-establishes a quality connection between the two.

    I find it helpful, when I see people who are dominated by personality, to just think of an escalator that we are all on. The escalator is going
    inexorably upwards. Eventually, maybe even a few lifetimes away, each individual encounters the identity crises when they have explored every permutation of frivolity, entertainment, distraction, lust and external power over other personalities. Then the emptiness hits them and they start to turn toward the states of substance, gratitude, reverence, awe, wonder.. these will lead them to their soul self as you describe it. And the connection will come alive for them and develop over the coming lives.

    If you are in pain, this maybe related to a mal-absorption issue with your body. I think we need physical health;it helps our mind to function better and express itself here. I know grains are the world staples but it turns out they are not that good for us. We have a mal-absorption epidemic on our hands.

    Ashok. I read those articles. Thanks. I went to leave a reply but need a ID which I don't have currently. I've been to Nalanda and walked on the thick-walled footings of the ruins. I hope corporate interests don't dominate the re establishment of Nalanda university. It's sad such atrocities were committed in the name of religion. So many monks were burned there. All organisations whether they be governments, companies, religions, learning institutions, when they reach a certain size become prone to hypocracy and corruption. I think it's related to this personality dominant world we are in currently. In Gary Zuckav's "Seat of the Soul" he talks of the difference between the external power of the personality and the authentic power of the soul. Hence so much inauthenticity in the world. The tragedy of materialism is evident in this great split between the needs of the conditioned personality and the needs of the more unconditioned, pure awareness of the soul.

  • Ashok Malhotra Sep 27, 2013

    oops, the last link should have been http://someitemshave.blogspot.in/2009/02/spiritual-view-of-recession-and-economy.html

  • Ashok Malhotra Sep 27, 2013

    Bestearth, thanks for your very informative comment. Your question as to why India is poor despite spirituality is a question that is not difficult to answer. It lies in its ancient history. Its genuine spirituality dates to an ancient era such as described in this article:


    It suffered the same fate as other prosperous nations like ancient Greece, Rome etc. i.e sliding into greed and corruption a long time ago. Much of the spirituality now belongs to this latter category and is fraudulent i.e a means to make money. Yet some isolated amounts of genuine spirituality remains if one is careful and discerning enough to look for it. This search is well described in a book by the author, Paul Brunton - In search of secret India. This book can be found at Amazon

    As to why societies slide into greed and corruption after a good phase and stay that way for centuries even thousands of years is perhaps answered in one of my blog posts here:


  • mrmathew1963 Sep 26, 2013

    G'day bestearth

    Spiritual richness doesn't come in the form of plenty or desire but to live a simple life in line to what culture one has chosen to be born into.

    Life isn't about human life but about soul life which of course is eternal in one form or another so basking in wealth & even happiness doesn't really appeal to the soul, what does appeal to the soul is living it how it is & yes at any cost because after all the human vessel it but a tool for the soul to learn & experience by I believe, life isn't really about the human self but the soul self.

    I've been in continues physical & mental pain since I was six yrs old, it's been hell at times, I am now 50 & I appreciate every second of my life.

  • bestearth Sep 26, 2013

    Hello Ashok:

    "Genuine Babas or genuine spiritual schools/sects have no use for any secrecy or brain washing. It welcomes transparency, criticism, debate and a free flow of information."

    "He(Jobs) felt a Baba like scientist or professional makes a better contribution to society and returned to a professional life to do precisely that."

    Nice article. These sum it up fairly well. I have been in cults in the name of Hinduism and Buddhism and new age. I lost many years to the wasteland of doubt that those particular teachers led me into. A good teacher, I learned, would never create dependancy in a student, would never string them along with endless techniques for 'enlightenment'. Unfortunately most teachers do this but it is because of demand. People are lost and confused about who they are. In a vulnerable state they do the sensible thing and seek help. Often they get attracted to a teacher or situation that mirrors their upbringing. In particular the character of their parents in the teacher. They are really looking for a kind of re-parenting or some way to divorce themselves from their upbringing and name changing is an example of this like in Osho circles for example. Osho invented a therapy lifestyle for wealthy westerners. He ruined some he helped some. I think the ruination that can happen is necessary for those who need to incorporate that lesson into their experience so that they won't fall for it again, become a little wiser. I don't think you can prevent people from falling for teachers they need the lesson and if you tried to interfere you would be interfering in a very important lesson.

    Often I wonder why if India has produced so many so called enlightened people why does it remain so poor and arcane? India is a beautiful place with mesmerizing cultures, rich in history and spiritual prestige but the streets are full of beggars. I think it is because the culture does not value innovation as much as the west. The east values spiritual excellence the west values technical excellence. Maybe Jobs was trying to find the best of both worlds.

    The best inventions came out of america with it's values on freedom to explore any idea to the maximum. The aeroplane, motor car and computer to name a few.

    The mind control techniques that cults use preys on their uncertainty of self. They are easy to join and harder to leave usually some cults may use threatening ideas of damnation or bad thing coming to those that leave. They may try to make you feel that you are weak for not sticking with it and that it's 'your loss'. It's a real merry go round..glad I'm out of it now..lesson over.

  • Anonymous Icon

    RealityOverScience Sep 26, 2013

    A huge obstacle to get past, on the way to Awakening, is learning to recognize conventional concepts and words for what they are: products of convention!

    When I was a young child, I was always asking, "but where did that word first come from? Who originally invented it? What was going on around that person, and with that person, when they came up with that word?," etc... Since I was so mathematically multidimensional, I could see the imbalances in how convention processes language.

    To become Enlightened, everything you think you know has to be removed from its conventionally rigid processing, in order that they be reconsidered, redefined, with Balance.

    "Human" is definitely a great place to start.

  • Ashok Malhotra Sep 23, 2013

    Mr mathew1963, very well put.
    The problem is that when we employ lies we become susceptible to them, whereas it seems that one can see through lies when one is truthful, to the extent it is possible.

  • mrmathew1963 Sep 22, 2013

    G'day Ashok

    Because we are brought up & conditioned in a fraudulent society any kind of fraudulence is going attract more attention sadly enough because of our conditioning I'm afraid, for example we as a whole have become repetitive liars.


    In a true spiritual state of consciousness lying doesn't enter into the equation but what can the average person immediately get out of telling the truth all the time & what immediate benefits is there in telling the truth? There are no immediate benefits most of the times, society today is about what they can get from the now which of course is self serving & of the negative ego.

    The world needs to be reconditions to accept a different form of existence to eradicate fraudulent behaviour, a different way of thinking which spirituality & even religion has tried to do but failed because of the above. We are but human after all or are w!!!

  • Anonymous Icon

    RealityOverScience Sep 22, 2013


    The true physics at the Core are not only shared by all sentient/experiencing beings, but by everything, everywhere, in the Universe...every object, cell, atom, subatomic particle or wave, event, happening, the weather, every condition, situation, belief system, culture, religion, science, every whatever! Black holes, white holes, wormholes, string theories, branes, fabrics, quasars, stars, the sun, the moon... If you can think it, feel it, do it, taste it, touch it, see it, sit on it, etc., it applies. There is no escape!

    Most people live in the illusion/delusion that they are completely private individuals, though they are an open book to those fluent in the true Universal Physics. But it's the people who have just a little bit of a clue who set out to take advantage of the completely unconscious world, and of course there are those who totally have no clue, and assume no one else could possibly exist who's capable of seeing through their charade.

    Those who fight off the legitimate existence of Enlightenment/Consciousness are unwittingly leaving themselves wide open to be invaded and exploited, and scientists who refuse to wake up will continue to struggle along, completely unaware that their longed-for Answers are totally available to them Now! Imagine "that much information" in the hands of the bad guys, while scientists and political leaders in your own country, rigid in their conventional ways, keep themselves oblivious to it! The Hitler/Nazi regime founded itself on a very novice application of "enlightenment," exploiting the austere swastika (still seen on the Dalai Lama's "throne" today, in its true usage).

    So to those disparaging Consciousness, and those trying to wake them up...be careful what you (don't) wish for!

    There is nothing whatsoever "mystic-al" or magical about Universal Truth/Enlightenment/Consciousness.

  • Anonymous Icon

    RealityOverScience Sep 22, 2013

    With Enlightenment/Consciousness, it's really important to drop all the fancy or foreign words as much as possible, and to explore/journey toward Consciousness in every-day language. That gets rid of the clutter of people's prejudices, cultural fears and suspicions, etc., and helps people ...focus... on the goal of becoming more realized.

    Convention, all unconscious folks, is/are ...completely vulnerable... to frauds. Television is loaded with people claiming to be "psychics" or "mediums" or whatever, in shows and commercials. They think no one can see through them, but real Conscious folks can easily see through and inside them, clear to their Core.

    It's incredibly selfish to exploit unconscious people. If they were real, the physics involved in that alone would have them totally drawn to compassionately help people, and to save their lives, similar to how one would extend their hand to someone in the freezing ocean, to help them into a life boat, when a ship's going down. What TV frauds are doing is essentially luring people to the life boat, grabbing their money, and pushing them back into the freezing ocean, off to look for their next victim. They, themselves, have no clue.

    We are all sharing the exact same physics at the Core, so a true "Enlightened One" (Conscious person) is not only fluent in the realization of their own physics, but truly EVERYONE ELSE'S, as well. (That's why psychiatrists and clinical psychologists are at least taught toward it). People are multidimensional and mathematical in everything they do, but most have no idea about any of it. Therefore, anyone around them with even the slightest awareness of that reality can "set up shop" to exploit them, and being unconscious of their own inescapable dynamics, they are completely vulnerable to it.

  • Ashok Malhotra Sep 22, 2013

    I have posted this discussion in http://ashokmalhotra.wordpress.com/2013/09/22/faqs-on-gurus-mystics-babajis-and-frauds/ for the audience at large too. Over there the post is more neatly arranged with pictures too, that I have not figured out how to here, if at all possible

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