Baba Hari Dass

1923 – 2018

Baba Hari Dass was a silent monk whose life of discipline, yoga, and love has inspired people around the world. Babaji, as he was affectionately called (Baba means “Father” and ji means “respected”), was first and foremost a master yogi, having practiced the disciplines of yoga from childhood. His lifelong example of peacefulness encouraged regular practice of his teachings.

Born near Almora, India in 1923 Babaji left home at the tender age of eight to begin his study and practice.

Before coming to the USA in 1971 at the request of several young students, he completed the traditional vows of a Vairagi Vaishnav (qualified non-dualism). It is from this classical grounding that Babaji taught 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, Gyan Yoga, and Tantra Yoga.

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In 1952, at the age of 29, Babaji took a 12 year vow of silence. At it’s completion, he to chose to continue this austerity because it brought him peace and inner silence. He remained silent for the next 66 years until his death. Babaji taught by writing, answering formal questions, meeting people informally, demonstrating practices, and most profoundly by his example of love, spiritual discipline, and peace. His concise and deeply perceptive style of writing communicated volumes in very few words. He taught that yoga was a way of life that included virtuous living and self-reflection. An example of this is his often-quoted instructions for a living a good life, “Work honestly, meditate every day, meet people without fear, and play.”

Babaji was loved and admired for his wisdom, humility, patience, humor, encouragement and acceptance of all who came to meet him and learn with him. He possessed a profound sense of self-discipline and a deep knowledge of yoga and Indian philosophy. Babaji had a great love of children and a legendary sense of play. While treating everyone with a sense of equality, he somehow managed to form an individual bond with each of his students, inspiring them in spiritual practice, guiding them to self-reliance and bringing out their latent talents and gifts.

“The aim of life is to attain peace. No one can give us peace. We can’t buy or borrow it. We have to cultivate it by practicing.”

~Baba Hari Dass

In 1978 Babaji inspired the founding of Mount Madonna Center for the Creative Arts and Sciences, which has become a widely known and highly respected spiritual retreat and seminar facility in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Mount Madonna Center is home to a residential community dedicated to support of Center activities, which include diverse programs in yoga and personal growth, the Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple and the Mount Madonna Institute. Babaji also inspired the Mount Madonna School (PreK-12th grade) which is hosted by the Center, and is known for excellence in children’s education. In 1982 Babaji founded the Sri Ram Ashram, a loving home for abandoned children and a K-12 grade school near Haridwar in Northern India.

Other centers dedicated to Babaji’s teachings include the Pacific Cultural Center in Santa Cruz, Salt Spring Yoga Center and School on Salt Spring Island near Vancouver, B.C., and spiritual communities in Toronto and Los Angeles.

As a teacher Babaji lead by example. Once he was asked, “How do you accomplish everything you do?” He replied, “I have my discipline and I stick to it as closely as I can.” In the many years of construction and development at Mount Madonna Center, he would arrive promptly on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays to conduct classes, take appointments, and lead work crews. Babaji also inspired play in the form of evening volleyball games after work days, music performances, and by writing many comedic teaching dramas about the search for liberation in a world full of illusions and scoundrels.

"There is an unspoken language. It comes from silence and can’t be heard by the ears, only by the heart."

~Baba Hari Dass

For ten months each year Babaji taught, encouraged, worked, and played alongside the Mount Madonna community he inspired. Two months of the year he would return to India to give guidance and energy to caring for the children of Sri Ram Ashram, the home for destitute children which he founded in 1982. Today Sri Ram Ashram is home to more than 60 children and hosts a private school for almost 600 children from the surrounding villages. There are now many children who grew up at the orphanage who, thanks to Babaji’s love and dedication, have gone on to lead fulfilling lives with successful careers and families of their own.

Babaji has inspired generations of students. When once asked what his intentions were, he stated simply, “To make a few good people.” He also would say that the teacher could only point the way, or more tersely put, “I can cook for you but I can’t eat for you.” His brief comments written on a small chalk board have become aphorisms to live by.

While his students and devotees deeply miss the physical presence and example of this extraordinary teacher, Babaji’s wisdom, good works, inspiration and influence will live on in the institutions he inspired and all those with whom he came in contact.

Talks with Babaji

One of the most common ways people have gotten to know Babaji's teachings is through his answers to the many questions he was asked over the years.

Read the Archives

Buy Babaji's Books Online

Classical scriptures and commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita and Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, as well as how to apply timeless yoga to contemporary life. In addition he has written over thirty stories for both children and adults.