Baba Hari Dass (March 26, 1923 to September 27, 2018) was born in Almora, in northern India. Babaji, as he was affectionately called (baba = father and ji = respected), was a yogi all of his life, and was initiated into the Vairagi Vaishnava sect in 1942 by Baba Raghubar Dass Ji Maharaj. He was a mauni sadhu, a monk who practices continual silence, from 1952 until his passing. Perhaps it was for this reason that Babaji developed the marvelous skill of saying a great deal in the fewest possible words, and when with others communicated on just a small white or chalkboard.
In India Babaji completed the strict vow of a vairagi (one who practices non-attachment) while he managed several ashrams, designed and engineered the construction of buildings and temples of great beauty, and perfected a system of teaching the science of Ashtanga Yoga. Students persuaded him to come to the United States in 1971, and subsequently many people met with him in informal groups to share his wisdom, wit, and blessing.
He taught the ancient scriptures of Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Bhagavad Gita, and Samkhya Karika as well as the philosophy and practices of Ashtanga Yoga, Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Tantra Yoga, and Vedanta. In addition to teaching the vast science of Yoga, Babaji was an accomplished author, builder, philosopher, sculptor, and proponent of Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of health and healing. He was conversant in several languages and, though silent, also taught Hindi and Sanskrit.
Babaji encouraged his students to serve, build community, and regularly practice spiritual disciplines. His example of selfless service coupled with his ability to make classical Ashtanga Yoga relevant for contemporary life inspired the creation of spiritual retreat centers, children’s schools, and an orphanage. His life of discipline, Yoga, and love touched people around the world. However, it was the great gift of sacrifice he made for the benefit of others that awakened the immense respect and gratitude that continues to pour forth from those whose lives he touched.