Swami Bala Yogi:

 

The great yogi who called himself simply “Swamiji” was named Sathyaraju by his parents. He was born on January 24th, 1935, into a family of weavers in Adivarapupeta, a small village in South India on the East Coast, near the mouth of the Godavari River.

 

Poverty forced him to drop out of grade school to work at the family hand loom and at various odd jobs. On August 7, 1949, when he was fourteen years old, Sathyaraju had a spiritual experience in which God in the form of shivas suddenly appeared in the form of a handsome ascetic with long matted hair.

 

Shiva touched Sathyaraju on the forehead and the boy immediately passed into deep samathi (enlightenment).

 

 

 

In this way did the balayogi (boy yogi) begin twelve years of tapas, a spiritual austerity and purification to attain Self realization. He meditated in samadhi for twenty-three hours every day for eight years, returning to ordinary consciousness at midnight long enough to wash himself and perhaps drink a cup of milk.

 

In those eight years he mastered meditation in all four cardinal directions: East, North, West and South. Then he meditated twelve hours every day for another four years. There were times when he remained in continuous samadhi for months.

 

Upon attaining Self realization (or God realization; Swamiji regarded them to be the same), his Divine Guru gave him the name Shiva Bala Yogishwara, meaning Lord of Yogis devoted to Shiva and Bala (the male and female aspects of God the Holy Spirit).

 

Swamiji shortened the name to Shivabalayogi to avoid any suggestion that he equated himself with Ishwara, a name of God. He was instructed to use the powers he attained through tapas (tapas shakti) to comfort the grieving, heal the sick and bring enlightenment to those who seek God.

 

Shivabalayogi often told devotees that he had successfully performed tapas in many previous lifetimes.  He had no personal need to do tapas again, but he incarnated and completed an unusually severe tapas at the instructions of the Divine Guru.

 

Shivabalayogi is regarded as one of India's greatest spiritual souls.  His tapas was difficult because it was done for the sake of others.  If we do ten percent of the work, he would often say, he will do the remaining ninety percent.

 

Shivabalayogi emerged from twelve years of tapas on August 7, 1961, before a crowd estimated by the press at several hundred thousand. They saw a body weak and scarred from twelve years of unusually intense meditation and extreme physical hardship.

 

But witnesses described how he shone with a divine luster and his face glowed with the peace and divine grace inherent in his complete Self realization. His mere presence calmed the pushing and jostling multitude. Four decades later he continues to bring peace to those who come into his presence dharshan.

 

The intensity of his tapas, the many public witnesses to it, and his extensive travels make Shivabalayogi unusual even among yogis.

 

He traveled throughout India and Sri Lanka and initiated over ten million people into dyana meditation. He has bestowed spritual trance and bava on scores at a time during bhajans.

Many ashrams have been established for his work, including the first ashram in Adivarapupeta and the International Center for Indian Culture in Bangalore. From 1987 to 1991, Shivabalayogi traveled extensively in England and the United States.

 

Shivabalayogi dropped his physical body on March 28, 1994 and it was interred in the Samadhi at Adivarapupeta on April 2, 1994. Since then, he continues to give darshan and blessings in the same ways he had over the three previous decades: through meditation, vibhuti, visions, dreams, and bhava samadhi. See The Living Yogi  for more information.