Swami Anand Giri
Math Baghambari has been a religious centre at Prayag since times immemorial. In earlier times, the sages who were part of the Math used to wear ‘Sher ki khaal (tiger’s skin)’ & hence the name Baghambari. It is said that during the Mughal rule, people including Britishers used to come to the saints/ sages at Math Baghambari to find solutions to their problems & through mantra yog the sages used to wean away the problems. To this day, Math Baghambari has been carrying on the age old tradition of imparting Vedic knowledge through Guru-Shishya parampara. Guru Sri Narendra Giri Ji Maharaj is the Peethadeshwar of Math Baghambari Gaddi & his Shishya Swami Anand Giri Ji has been bestowed to carry on the lineage & tradition at the Ashram.
There are three main components of Math Baghambari through which the Vedic parampara (tradition) is being carried on:
The disciples at the Ashram spend first 5 years learning Sanskrit, Vedanta & English as a third language and are gradually initiated onto the path of Sanyaas Dharma. The disciple spends his early years in Himalayas leading a life of renunciation & practising sadhana till they become spiritually awakened. The disciples carry out the tradition of the ashram under the title of ‘Giri’.
The ashram that started with 15-20 disciples under the aegis of Swamiji has expanded its strength to 250 disciples where Brahmin children are imparted Vedic knowledge & Sanskrit language. Teaching of English language was introduced by Swamiji to keep up with the popularity of the language as a means of dissemination of knowledge to a wider audience. The boarding, lodging & medical care of the children is taken care by the ashram.
In future Swamiji envisions setting up an international level Gurukul that would impact yoga programs, teachings on life, spirituality, Vedic knowledge & Sanskrit language over a period of 2 months to 2 years.
In Sanskrit the work ‘Gaushala’ literally means cow protection or the place where cows are sheltered. Gau Mata (Mother Cow) has been considered sacred in Hinduism and has been revered since times immemorial. Keeping up with the tradition, the Math has a Gaushala that houses around 200 cows with natural habitat and conservation.
III. BADE HANUMAN MANDIR AT PRAYAG
The main objective of the Math has been to connect with the people through religious & noble living & be in the service of God. In scriptures worship of God has been given much importance. Swamiji explains that Sun is considered a great source of energy, however when the sun’s rays are concentrated on a mirror or some reflecting surface the energy becomes manifold & more profound. The same holds true for Puja. God is considered to be omnipresent, omniscient & omnipotent, however whenever an individual worships him as a ‘Form’, that energy becomes infinite & an individual becomes spiritually sublime.
Swamiji is currently dedicated in the service of Bade Hanuman Temple at Prayag, Allahabad. The idol at the temple also has special significance. It is the only temple where Lord Hanuman is in recline posture. The idol is 18 feet long & 15 feet wide & 20 feet below the ground. It is said that the Mughals during their rule, in order to propagate Islam were damaging temples & idols. The names of various cities were also changed during that period like Kashi was renamed Banaras, Ayodhya was named Faridabad & Prayag was named Allahabad. An attempt was also made to cause damage to Lord Hanuman’s idol, however the more the Mughals tried to remove the idol, the more the idol got entrenched in the ground & went 20 feet below the ground. Also the Mughals who were trying to remove the idol got terribly sick. At that time Baba Bal Giri was the Mahant at the temple. Seeing the condition of the Mughals, they approached Baba Bal Giri & sought repentance. ‘Kshama’ (Forgiveness) is considered a great virtue in Hindusim. Baba Bal Giri forgave the Mughals for their doing & they started recovering. To atone for their doings, the Mughals offered chaadar at the temple & started worshipping the idol as a form of Allah. The idol since then has been revered by people of all faiths.
Also the temple is at Prayag the confluence of three sacred rivers- Ganga, Yamuna & Saraswati. It is said that Maharishi Bharadwaj had an ashram at Prayag that further enhances the holiness of the place. Every year the water of the river Ganga rises to touch Lord Hanuman’s idol.