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(Saint) Baba Balak Nath Ji is a Punjabi and Hindu deity worshipped in the northern Indian states of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. His shrine is known as "Deotsidh". Baba Balak Nath ji's Temple is situated at the village of Chakmoh in the district of Hamirpur on the hill top, in a natural cave carved in the hills, considered to be the abode of Baba. An Idol-Image of Baba is placed in the cave. The devotees offer rot, which is prepared with flour and gur at the altar of Baba, (if pure clarified sugarcane juice is boiled, what is left as solid is gur which is called jaggery also). Goats are also offered to Babaji as a gesture for his love. Goats are not slaughtered though; rather they are being fed and taken care of. The entry of women devotees is prohibited in the cave. However, there is a raised platform just opposite to the cave from where the women can have Darshan of the Babaji's Idol. Just 4 kilometers ahead of the Deot-Sidh Temple is a small town named "Shah-talai”. It is situated about 55 km off-road Bilaspur on Bhager- Badser road. The ancient name of this place was Changer-Talai. Baba Balak Nath’s worship and grazing Mata Ratno’s cattle’s, later returning her mattress of Chach-it got famous by the name of Chahtalai which later turned to Shahtalai, where Babaji is said to have practiced Dhyana meditation.
The origin does have a confirmation also in:Sidh Baba in Jana Srutis: Innumberable Jana Srutis sing praises to the divinity of Baba Balak Nath:
His birth references among "Chaurasi Sidhas":We narrate the Lord Shiva’s Amar Katha as the Jana Srutis in this context. Amar Katha is a Puranic story about the origin of Baba Ji. As told, a parrot nestling incidently heard the Amar Katha The Gospel of Immortality, being told by "Lord Shiva" to "Parvati". Lord Shiva’s ‘Trishul’ followed parrot nestling. Parrot nestling hid in the stomach of the wife of Rishi(Sage) Vyasa and requested a promise from Lord Shiva for coming out. The promise was that when parrot nestling would come out in human form, it along with all the children born at that time might become eternal. Lord Shiva agreed for that and an extraordinary beautiful lad came out and vowed before Lord Shiva for blessing. This lad famed as ‘Sukdev Muni’, later on. Baba Balak Nath was one of the nine ‘Nathas’ and eighty four ‘Sidhas’ born at that time Emanation of Lord Shankra in ‘Dvapara Yuga’: According to ‘Lok Srutis’ Baba Ji reincarnates Yuga and Yuga. He was known as ‘Skanda’ in ‘Sat Yuga’, ‘Kaul’ in ‘Treta Yuga’ and ‘Mahakaul’ and ‘Dvapra Yuga’. ‘Mahakaul’ of ‘Dvapra Yuga’, while going to ‘Kailasha Parvata’, met an old woman on the way. The old lady asked the mission and destination of Baba Ji. After knowing all that the old woman advised ‘Mahakaul’ to meditate on the bank of ‘Mansarovar’ and request ‘Mother Parvati’ (who would come there for bathing on special occasions), help him in reaching ‘Lord Shiva’. ‘Mahakaul’ acted as told and became successful in his mission of reaching ‘Lord Shiva’On seeing ‘Balayogi Mahakaul’, ‘Lord Shiva’ became very happy and blessed Baba Ji to be the ‘Sidha symbol’ of worshipping for devotees in ‘Kaliyuga’ and his child like image to remain for ever.
The Birth, the Education & the Boon of Lord Shiva to Baba Balak Nath
Baba Balak Nath ji is none other than the Re-incarnation of Lord Kartikeya son of Lord Shiva & Goddess Parvati, who was born in Sat-Yuga to anhilate demon Tarkasur. He is also believed to be dear to Goddess Ganga. He then re-incarnated as Baba Balak Nath in Kalyuga, as the son of a pandit(Name Prefix for Brahmins) Vishnu and Lakshmi, from Kathiabad Junagadh, Gujrat.The Couple were childless for many years. On Loosing all Hopes Pandit Vishnu decided to Meditate & please Lord Shiva. He spent time in deep meditation to please Lord Shiva in Girnar Hills. Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, on being satisfied with his prayer left a baby boy, the reincarnation of Lord Kartikeya at Girnar. When Vishnu Heard the Cries of the Divine Child. He immediately took the Divine-Child to his home and Lakshmi fed him with milk. Here Baba Ji was named ‘Dev’. Dev later on became completely lost in ‘Bhagvad devotion’. from their he went to kashi to get his formal education. their he get his basic education in four vedas & become master after that he come back to his home in junagadh & again started meditation to please Lord Shiva. Seeing this, his parents wanted to marry him; but Dev didn’t agree and left His home in search of ‘Parma Sidhi’. He then came by ‘Swami Dattaitreya’ in Junagadh on Girnar hill. It was here that Dev learnt the basics of ‘Sidhas’ from Swami Dattaitreya and became ‘Sidha’ and came to be known as ‘Baba Balak Nath Ji’.
Another narration goes as: The Child was named "Bal Shiva" by Pandit Vishnu and Lakshmi. Bal Shiva was no ordinary child and was very dear to Vishnu and Lakshmi. At 5 yrs of age however, other parents started complaining about him and one day Lakshmi could not bear it and slapped him. After this incident, during the night Bal Shiva left the house and decided to go back to his eternal parents Lord Shiva and Parvati. While he left the house the peacock which is Lord Kartikeya’s Vahana(Celestial Mount) also wished to accompany him but was refused. Lord Shiva and Parvati could see that Their son Bal Shiva was sad and so appeared before him and gave Bal Shiva a Singhi which was none other than Lord Shiva's Dumroo( A Small Hand held Drum). They also blessed him with a boon to be always of 10 years of age.
Meeting Guru Dattaitreya
After leaving Junagadh, BAL Shiva came to Vrindavan. Here he meditated to please Lord Shiva. During that time Dattaitreya came with his disciples in Vrindavan and happened to see a divine child (BAL Shiva) meditating to Please Lord Shiva. He offered the child to be roped in as his Disciple BAL Shiva accepted Dattaitreya as his guru. It was then BAL Shiva came to Dattaitreya ashram at Girnar.
It is said that, Once being At Dattaitreya's ashram an old woman came wailing & looking for her lost Child, requested Guru Dattaitreya to help her Locate & find her child. On her Pathetic Situation, Dattaitreya promised her to get back the child unharmed, and asked of his disciples to find the child. Dattaitreya's disciples searched for the Child everywhere around Possible used all their Magical & Celestial powers but were unable to locate old woman's child. They all tuned back empty Handed.This broke the heart of the old woman. on seeing this Guru Dattaitreya asked of BAL Shiva to go & search for the child. BAL-Shiva took his blessing and went in search and very soon came back with the child. He had killed the demon (Ghori) who had captured the old woman's child. This amazed all the other disciples of Dattaitreya. It was then that Guru Dattaitreya named him Balak Nath & he became the favorite disciple of Guru Dattaitreya and studied under him for 12 years moving from place to place. It was then that the Guru realized that it is time to separate as he had taught everything to Balak Nath. Guru Dattaitreya then went back to Girnar and Baba Balak Nath came to Haridwar.
King Bhartrihari & Temptation of Guru Gorakhnath
At Haridwar Babaji Meditated to please Goddess Ganga, on being satisfied with his Meditation, Goddess appeared before Baba Balak Nath to bless him. BhartriHari was also blessed by Ganga. BhartriHari realized that Baba Balak Nath was not an ordinary saint, so he accompanied Baba. They both went to Tijara (Rajasthan) from Haridwar. Where they stayed at the house of a Kumhara who served both BhartriHari and Babaji with deep Devotion. Babaji was happy with the services of Devoted Kumhara, so he was blessed with a huge amount of hidden gold, which Kumhara unearthed after Baba had left. The Kumhara also realized the Miracle & the Blessings of Babaji. After leaving Tijara BhartriHari went to Ujjain to meet his Family. Babaji went to Vrindavan, where he sat in Samadhi (disambiguation). Meditating in deep Dhyana seeking the blessings of Lord Shiva. Being in Samadhi (disambiguation) for many years together, he was covered with the Soil (forming a Mound on him); at this Juncture Guru Gorakhnath visited Vrindavan with his disciples. He saw a divine child in Samadhi (disambiguation). And realized that he was no Ordinary Child. He was incited with a Deep & Strong Desire Temptation to Convert the Child into his disciple, as having a Disciple as this Child would fetch him Great Fame. Babaji during Samadhi Could Sense the Plot of Guru Gorakhnath. Babaji already had a guru (i.e. Dattaitreya), and so he could not have accepted Gorakhnath as his guru He disappeared from Vrindavan & reappeared in Delhi with the Help of his celestial Powers to avoid him... “Since Babaji is none other than Kartikeya he has Kankaneta (a goat as a ride) which can travel at the speed of mind.” In Delhi it is believed that at Yamuna Babaji took Samadhi and had his Dhoona (Ever burning-Holy Fire). Yamuna is also believed to have come to seek the blessings of Babaji.
Meeting Mata Ratno in ShahTalai
It is said a Vidhyapati once deeply meditated on Lord Shiva and his bhakti so much pleased Shiva that he left Kailash and went to serve in the house of Vidhyapati. Mata Parvati was also longing to see her Son Balak Nath, so she stepped on the Land of Shahtalai as Luhari Ratno. On the other hand, Baba was also wished to meet his Mother so he decided to come to ShahTalai. It is a Popular Legend here in Shahtalai, which on reaching the Village, Baba took rest under a tree, where a Snake sheltered him from the Scorching Sun, A Snake sheltered Baba, and this Miracle was witnessed by all the Villagers of Shahtalai. Chanting Alakh Niranjan, Alakh Niranjan Baba reached the House of Mata Ratno. He was Pleased to reunite with his Mother who was there in form of Mata Ratno and, there he requested her for a job at her place. She asked of Babaji to take care of her cows. Thereafter Babaji got the Name “Gopalak” & he is believed to be very dear to the Cows. There is also the Description of the Miracle that being in Shahtalai Baba Bought Rains to help the farmers in the Dry Season. In fact the King of Bilaspur also came to take Blessings of the Bal Shiva Yogi after he heard about his miracles from so many people. It is said & told that, wherever the Bala Yogi walked a cloud went along sheltering him. Seeing that the clouds were even rendering service to Babaji the King of Bilaspur was amazed. People in shah-talai were becoming devotees of the Bal Yogi. Mata Ratno was very happy to have her Son in service, and whenever she would see Babaji in meditation she used to bring Roti (Chapati) and Lassi (Made out of Churning of Curd & Water) for him.
Guru Gorakhnath meets Babaji again
Guru Gorakhnath came with 125,000 disciples and stayed with the king of Bilaspur. The king told him about the divine Shiva Yogi, who has clouds rendering service to him. Gorakhnath Envisioned, that this divine yogi is none other than Balak Nath, who had escaped from him at Vrindavan. After inquiring he reached with his disciples to test the powers of the Bal Shiva Yogi. Baba welcomed Guru Gorakhnath and his disciples. Gorakh asked Babaji to fetch water from Mountain of Dhaulagiri, for which Gorakhnath gave a vessel to Baba. Babaji accepted his request and through his powers called upon the water in the vessel. Babaji soon found out that there was some magical power in the vessel that was trying to attract him, but by Shiva's grace Babaji was able to save himself from the Temptation. After that Guru Gorakhnath asked Babaji to serve milk to him and all his 125000 disciples. Babaji agreed and called on Cow Sundari who fed all the Gorakhnath’s disciples until their Hunger & thirst were quenched. Gorakhnath and his disciples got amazed at this miracle. Gorakh was still not pleased and wanted to prove his superiority over Babaji. He took another test of Babaji, he tossed his deer skin high in the air. The Deer skin went up high, Sped away higher & disappeared. He then asked Babaji to bring down the Deer skin FOR HIM. Baba in turn tossed his Chimta up and it tore off the deer skin in two Halves, Guru Gorakhnath had tossed. Now Babaji asked Guru Gorakhnath to get the Chimta back, Guru Gorakhnath tried all his powers but failed to get the Chimta down.
When Guru Gorakhnath’s saw that he could not win Baba Balak Nath with his Yoga Shakti he asked his disciples to forceful Inquisition Baba Balak Nath into his disciple. The Disciples of Guru Gorakhnath held Babaji and tried to tear his earlobe to put the earring. As they tore Babaji’s ear, Milk is said to have oozed out instead of Blood. This miracle scared Guru Gorakhnath’s disciples, at the same time Babaji escaped their Grasp & hid in a secret Cave to avoid Guru Gorakhnath. It is believed that Bhairon nath and Bhartrihari nath were also disciples of Guru Gorakhnath’s and after this incident they paid salutations to babaji. All the disciples abandoned Guru Gorakhnath and he soon realized the truth, that the Yogi he was trying to test was none other than Shiva's son. He bowed to Babaji and left with Bhairon. BhartriHari remained with Babaji. Babaji gave Bhartrihari a divine fruit and asked him to give it to one he loved the most. Bhartrihari left for Ujjain with this divine fruit. Babaji then went back to Shah-Talai and met Mata Ratno.
Babaji takes a Leave from Mata Ratno
Now Babaji came back to Shah-talai and here he meditated again deep on Lord Shiva, in the meanwhile the Cows he used to take care of were left unattended for sometime. One day the Cows Ravaged fields of the Village and villagers complained Mata Ratno demanding the Compensation. Mata Ratno came with the villagers to Tree where Babaji was meditating and asked for money in lieu of the Food( Roti and Lassi for), which she had given him for 12 years 7 compensate the Villagers for the Damage Done. But that was again a Miracle which the Villagers witnessed, that Fields were Unharmed in a State which they were before being Ravaged by Cows.
It is said that after this Baba Pierced the Ground under the Tree where he used to Meditate with his Chimta to the base of the tree and the Chapattis that Ratno had served for 12 yrs all came out. With another hit of Chimta He bought out Lassi. After this Baba straddled his (Celestial Ride) Vahana Peacock& left for Dhaulagiri.
BhartriHari realised the Eternal truth with the divine fruit
King Bhartrihari Realized the Divine & Eternal Truth with the divine fruit, which Babaji had given to him,” No-one except the Lord Almighty was Lord of all & the Eternal Truth Thereof.” He came back to ShahTalai in search of Babaji. Unable to find babaji in ShahTalai he felt depressed and started praying for the forgiveness of Baba.Babaji gave Darshan to Bhartrihari and they both meditated at Dhaulagiri. Mata Ratno was also blessed by Babaji and after a pilgrimage realized the truth. It is believed that Banarsi Das was the first one to have Darshan (Divine Appearance of the Lord before the Devotee) of Baba Balak Nath and babaji gave him Vibhuti (The Sacred Ashes of the Holy Fire) from the Dhoona to remove the miseries of life.
Some Facts about Baba Balak Nath
- Guru Gorakhnath could not win over babaji as Baba Balak Nath is none other than Kartikeya. Gorakhnath is a Navnath and was an avatar of Hari Narayan. Dattatreya is the guru of nath Sampradaya (Commune) and Baba Balak Nath was his disciple. Baba Balak Nath is not any of the Navnath. Baba Balak Nath is above Nava natha and all Nava natha come under him.
- Kudnu (goat) which is offered at the temples of babaji is none other than Kankaneta which can travel at the speed of mind and was given to Lord Kartikeya by Varun when Kartikeya killed Tarakasur. The Kudnu is just offered (not killed) in Baba Balak Nath temple.
- Female Devotees are prohibited to enter the Temple Interiors of Baba Balak Nath. It is said that once Mata Parvati was missing his son Kartikeya and so took a form of cat and came to Junagarh to meet Bala Shiva. Bala Shiva played with the cat a lot. After sometime the cat left. After 1–2 days when babaji missed Mata Parvati he came to Kailash to meet her and saw that there were scratches on Mata Parvati's face. Babaji asked Mata how this happened, and then Mata told that she had took the form of cat to meet babaji and he gave the scratches through his hands to the cat. Babaji soon realized that ladies are very delicate and babaji is Coarse like Stone so he Prohibited Women from entering his Durbar. This has been mentioned by Ramakrishna Paramhansa in his book Jyoti.
- Peacock as a Vahana was gifted to Kartikeya by Rishi (Sage) Garuna. The peacock was none other than Rishi Garuna son Chitravarhana.