Yoga philosophy beyond the mat
Known affectionately as Shri Maharaj Ji
Jagadguru Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj was born Ram Kripalu Tripathi in the village of Mangarh, near the city of Allahabad in India, in 1922. His birth occurred on the full-moon Sharad Purnima night, celebrated throughout India as the time when Radha-Krishna imparted Divine love in the Maharas dance approximately 5000 years ago.
From an early age it was apparent that he possessed extraordinary qualities and he charmed people of all ages with his mischievous, irresistible personality.
The spiritual rapture of Samadhi
At age sixteen, he retreated into the forests of Chitrakoot where he repeatedly entered the ecstasy of Divine love (known in Sanskrit as Madhurya Bhao Bhakti), for days at a time. As word of him spread, people began to seek him out. He selflessly subsided his ecstatic state and, accepting their requests to visit their homes, inspired them with his unique exposition of devotional chanting, or kirtan.
He continued to slip in and out of Samadhi (spiritual rapture) for a number of years. While in ecstasy, he was often completely unaware of his surroundings and needed others to hand feed him, clothe him and offer him shelter. He travelled widely during this time, giving many the opportunity to care for him and experience the vibrations of his Samadhi.
At the age of 33, Shri Maharaj Ji decided it was time to enter another phase of his life. He organised large spiritual conventions at Chitrakoot, Pratapgarh and Kanpur during 1955-56, inviting many of the most popular Spiritual Masters of the time. These Masters addressed crowds of thousands and, in turn, Shri Maharaj Ji also spoke. These conventions brought him to the attention of the most respected intellectuals and scholars who were deeply impressed by his spiritual and intellectual genius and charmed by his voice and personality.
Invited to Varanasi
In January 1957, Shri Maharaj Ji was invited by the Kashi Vidvat Parishat, an organisation of more than 500 Scriptural Masters, to the holy city of Varanasi in Northern India, also known as Kashi. At the organisation’s request, Shri Maharaj Ji spoke on philosophy for ten days to an audience of acclaimed scholars. Shri Maharaj Ji began his talks in the holy language of Sanskrit before moving into classical Sanskrit and then Saahitya (poetic) Sanskrit. This amazed the scholars, even more so when he upped the tempo further by using Vedic Sanskrit, the most difficult Sanskrit used by renowned Gurus and Sages of the past.
Reconciling six philosophical systems into one
Shri Maharaj Ji spoke on the six Darshan Shastras, the six great Vedic philosophical systems of India – Nyay, Vaishesik, Sankhya, Yog, Poorva Mimansa and Brahma Sutra. These systems, each with dominant themes, appear in places to be in conflict. Shri Maharaj Ji explained the Shastras in detail and, for the first time, comprehensively reconciled their differences. He reconciled what scholars had argued over for centuries and wove them into a complete theory and practical path of God realisation.
Requesting Shri Maharaj Ji to accept Jagadguru
Spellbound by the depth of his discourse, the scholars met to discuss the phenomenon they had just witnessed. Each one felt they could see the Divinity that permeated Shri Maharaj Ji. In full agreement, all 500 of them offered a prayer to Shri Maharaj Ji, called the ‘garland of flowers’, that he accept the title of Jagadguru.
They gave him many other titles as well, including ‘Bhakti Yog Ras Avatar’, ‘Nikhil Darshan Samanvayaa Archarya’ and ‘Jagadguru Uttam’. The last two titles had never before been given to anyone; Bhakti Yog Ras Avatar is an individual who is the personified form of the Divine love power of God descended on earth for the good of humankind while the title Nikhil Darshan Samanvayaa Archarya recognises Shri Maharaj Ji as the reconciler of the six Darshan Shastras. Jagadguru Uttam means the best of the Jagadgurus.
The title Jagadguru (meaning ‘world teacher’, or ‘Master of Masters’) is also unique to Shri Maharaj Ji. While others in India carry the same title, these are inherited titles in a line of succession from the four Ashrams established in the four corners of India by the original Jagadguru Shankarcharya more than 2000 years ago. Shri Maharaj Ji was offered the title of Jagadguru on his own intellectual brilliance and Divine nature. His is an original title as opposed to receiving it in the line of succession. Before him, only four personalities have been historically recognized as original Jagadgurus: Jagadguru Shankaracharya, Jagadguru Ramanujacharya, Jagadguru Nimbarkacharya and Jagadguru Madhavacharya.
Beginning his work
On January 14, 1957, Shri Maharaj Ji accepted the title of Jagadguru Uttam from the scholars of the Kashi Vidvat Parishat, many of whom choked with devotional emotion when trying to speak. On the evening of the 15th, Shri Maharaj Ji was greeted by a huge crowd as he attempted to board a train. The platform resounded with shouts of ‘Jagadguru Kripalu Mahaprabhu Ki Jaya’ – ‘all glories to the Supreme Spiritual Master, Jagadguru Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj’.
Shri Maharaj Ji is the fifth original Jagadguru of the last 2500 years. Before him the fourth and previous Jagadguru was Madhavarcharya, who lived over 700 years ago. For more than 70 years, Shri Maharaj Ji has blessed and instructed numerous souls seeking realisation of their true inner nature. He has received numerous accolades for his contributions to literature, music and poetry and spirituality, including the prestigious Citizen of India award for his outstanding work for charity, and has been the inspiration and guiding force in building Mandirs, free schools and hospitals and educational facilities for the public in cities worldwide.
Visit Shri Maharaj Ji’s website for more info on his life and work.