Swami Shashwat Ji was born in 1985 in the Narmada region in Madhya Pradesh. His parents named him “Krishna”. By the grace of God, he repeatedly chanted the name of Lord Rama from the tender age of five. He started meditating for several hours every morning and every evening at the age of seven or eight. At that time, he had three aims in life – to become a scientist, to serve his country or to search for the truth. From this young age itself, his interest grew in searching for new things and in serving others, but Swamiji also used to wonder if, after death, he would become a plant or a tree, an insect or a bug, a bird or an animal. When someone died in the village, Swamiji used to think, “This person has worked so hard, made a name for himself or herself, made money, and yet, he or she is dead. Will I also die like this one day? Will I also be cremated or buried?” It became very clear to him that no matter how much wealth, respect or status one has, death is inevitable, and it is impossible to avoid this cycle of life and death. So, he turned his mind away from everything else and completely surrendered to the love of the divine. He would spend most of his time remembering the Lord.
Listening to stories about saints like Dhruv and Prahlad increased his longing so much that he too decided to go deep into the forest to do japa and meditation. He had heard that God protects his devotees in all places and in all situations, and he was sure that the Lord would also protect him. At the age of fourteen, he left his home in the search for God.
Swamiji’s guru, Baba Shri Gajanandji Maharaj, greatly contributed to his spiritual practice. Swamiji started wandering to the four corners of India in the company of saints and holy men. Sometimes, he used to stay in the same place for some time, in the service of holy men, for his spiritual practice, or simply because it was a place of pilgrimage. The longing to find God and unite with Him became so strong that he had only one thought, “When will I see Him?” He would constantly fight with his mind, and try and find a way to calm it. He would sit and cry alone, remembering the Lord. Then, he had the vision of a holy man, and the divine being said to him, “Do not fight with the mind, observe the mind as a seer, as a witness. Whatever is happening in the body and in the mind through the senses, experience that.” From that time onwards, his mind started to become calmer, and his meditation became more natural.
In the year 2007, Swamiji began a pilgrimage around the Narmada river. One evening, in 2008, he was sitting quietly under a tree on the river-bank, doing nothing in particular, when suddenly a bright light spread in him and all around him. His senses and sensations stopped, and this intense energy in the form of light spread in all four directions. It was a death-like experience; the light and the sound were so intense that he thought that his body would let go. He felt truly blissful. He was immersed in inner stillness and peace, with a feeling of profound bliss that has never left him since that day.
After this realization of his true nature, his journey continued. He liked to be alone on the banks of the Ganga or in the jungle. Whatever he could find, like fruits, vegetables or leaves, he would eat as the Lord’s prasad. He would spend his time between Haridwar and Rishikesh, along the river Ganga or in the thick jungle, in the foothills or in ashrams, alone, in meditation and contemplation. He would carry an earthen pot and a gunny sack, and devotees began to refer to him as “Handiwale Baba” (handi means “earthen pot”), or “Pedwale Baba” (ped signifies “tree”), or “Avadhuta Baba” or simply “Swamiji” or “Babaji”.
Since 2012, he lives in a house in Rishikesh. Spiritual seekers from India and all around the world gather there everyday, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., for a silent meditation, followed by satsang and bhajans. Swamiji stresses on the importance of daily meditation (dhyana), Self-enquiry (“Who am I?”, atma vichara), contemplation (chintan), discrimination (viveka), surrender (samarpan) and non-attachment (vairagya). People from different walks of life come to receive his darshan (blessing), or simply to be in his kind and joyous presence.
He wrote his first book Hal pal jeene se, syavam bodh, published in Hindi in 2013. The book was translated into English (“Living Every Moment: Pointers for Self-Realization”) and into French (“Vivre en Pleine Conscience: rappels pour la Réalisation du Soi”). The name Shashwat means “eternal, continuous, without an end, ceaseless, constant”, and clearly evokes the perpetual state of stillness that Swamiji feels everywhere and at all times. He says, “Shashwat, the stillness which is always there, eternal, without name nor form, which simply Is. That which comes from nowhere and does not go anywhere, That which is omnipresent, without body, Pure Awareness. That which we all are, from the beginning, the Reality beyond time.”
He says, “I do not belong to any caste, creed or religion. All actions happening through the body, mind, intellect and senses do not even touch me. No action touches my true nature, but everything happens due to it. The void, the peace and the stillness are everywhere, like the open sky; everything happens due to it, but nothing affects it. This is our true nature.”
Swamiji says that love is everywhere, and in order to feel it, one must empty the mind of imagination and desire, because only the emptiness will allow the love to come in. He feels bliss, joy and love in him and all around him, and those who come to him with an open heart are filled with inner joy, celebration and love. He gives unconditional love to all for he sees Brahman, Pure Consciousness, and only Brahman, in all beings.