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Life Story Of Totapuri – Wandering Monk

Totapuri was a parivrajaka (wandering monk) who followed the path of wisdom taught in the Advaita Vedanta. Totapuri was the spiritual master of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. Here is short biography of Totapuri. He belonged to the Naga sect of sannyasis. He was born in Punjab and Baba Ladana in Haryana was his chief center of Vedantic propagation. He was the head of a monastery (Dera) founded by Baba Raj Puri and was the fifth in line of succession. He claimed leadership of over 700 sanyasis.

Totapuri reached Dakshineshwar temple on the banks of the Ganga River (near Kolkata), where Sri Ramakrishna used to worship Goddess Kali towards the end of 1864 CE. Sri Ramakrishna (previously Gadadhar Chattopadhyay) came into contact with Totapuri and took sannyasa. He experienced the supreme state of bliss through nirvikalpa Samadhi (ecstasy without form or seed) in just one sitting. Totapuri gave Gadadhar Chattopadhyay the name ‘Sri Ramakrishna’.

It is said that Totapuri, unable to bear the pain of severe dysentery, decided to end his life in the Ganga River. But no matter how far he went into the river, the water level did not rise above his knees. Eventually, he reached the other side and turned to see Goddess Kali temple gleaming in the moonlight and experienced a sudden deep awakening. He recognized sheer divine light in all things and became aware of a higher consciousness controlling events. Thus, the demarcation between the form and the formless universe no longer existed for him, and he was absolutely free from attachment to the sense objects of the relative principle. Being a proponent of Advaita Vedanta, he looked upon the world as an unreal manifestation. He accepted the manifest universe as a radiant expression of Brahman.

Totapuri remained at Dakshineswar for eleven months, and then he moved towards the north-western part of the country. Thereafter, he returned to his dera at Ladana, where he breathed his last.