At the foot of the Himalayas along the Gautam Ganga River lay the tiny village of Dyola. In this village there lived an illiterate farmer who was called Gumani. Gumani was a very pious person. His wife was expecting a child and after the birth of the child Gumani underwent a strange transformation. He lost all interest in the world and household life and without telling anyone, he joined a group of travelers who were going to the town of Hardwar. There he joined an ashram which was run by a very saintly sanyasin. There Gumani devotedly served the visiting religious pilgrims who came to the ashram. The sanyasin who owned the ashram observed Gumani and was very pleased with his devotion, humility and truthfulness. After a while some visitors came who knew Gumani while he had been a farmer. They recognized him and told the head of the ashram about the situation he had left behind. His wife was very sad and had no one to plant the crops or take care of her or the child.
Though the saintly sanyasin had become very attached to Gumani and his services, he realized the suffering his absence was causing and told him to return immediately to his home. But now that Gumani had made the break from his former life the thought of returning was very painful to him. He wept and begged to be allowed to stay, but the saint was firm and told him: “Gumani, go home and live like a hermit there. Meditate and worship God. You will find your guru at your own place.”
With great sadness, Gumani returned home and resumed farming as before but with the difference that now his mind was constantly fixed on God.
Then one day when he was returning from his fields he saw a tall slim man with fair complexion standing under a tree near his house. The man was gazing steadily at him. Gumani went closer to him and saw that he had a beautiful radiance about his face and had very peaceful eyes. Gumani was afraid but he summoned the courage to ask: “Maharaj, who are you? Why are you standing here?”
The man was Babaji Maharaj. He knew that Gumani was fearful of him so he walked slowly to the shade of another tree. Then Gumani recalled to mind the words of the saintly sanyasin at the ashram: “You will meet your guru at your own place”. So Gumani bowed to his feet and thereafter surrendered himself completely to Babaji.
He took Babaji into his house and began to take care of him with the utmost love and devotion. His body mind and heart were completely dissolved in his service to Babaji Maharaj. Gumani built a hut for Babaji to live in so he would not be disturbed by the rest of the family.
At that time Babaji would take nothing to eat except the liquid whey which was prepared from the milk given abundantly by Gumani’s cows. After a while Gumani decided to give up solid food too, and live only on whey just as his guru was doing. The villagers around did not know who Babaji was but because his speech was a mixture of various local languages, they thought him illiterate and somewhat crazy. They wondered why Gumani had taken in such a crazy and illiterate vagabond and also why he was emulating his example by taking only whey. Gumani ignored their remarks but one day he told Babaji very meekly, “Babaji Maharaj, my hunger remains unsatisfied by drinking only whey. I think you too must remain hungry just like me. Why don’t you eat food?” When Babaji heard this simple speech full of devotion, he started eating food to fulfill the desire of his devotee.
The villagers continued to regard Babaji as illiterate, stupid and crazy but slowly as they came into closer contact with him they began to sense his greatness and their attitudes completely changed. They began to love him as well and people started to gather at Gumani’s house to be in the company of Babaji. Just as he had done at the ashram, Gumani began to take care of all his visitors. Gumani extended full hospitality to the visitors and his wife spent a good part of each day preparing food until, little by little, all his food stores were exhausted.
His wife tried to restrain him from feeding all of the visitors who came to be with Babaji but Gumani continued to give everything he had to them. When there was nothing left in the house to eat, the wife left with her baby to go live with her parents.
Gumani was now alone in his house but he was happy spending all his time serving Babaji Maharaj. Babaji too felt great love for his disciple. This continued for a year and then Babaji left to go to Almora. Gumani was now all alone in his house, with no wife or friends and not even any food stores or money left. He spent his time meditating on God or walking around his barren fields.
One day as he was walking across his fields, he saw a man with a plow across his shoulders and was immediately reminded of the Avatar Krishna’s brother Balaram, who had also carried a plow across his shoulders in the same manner. For Gumani, everyone was God, and when the man came near, he bowed to his feet with much reverence and devotion.
The man stepped back with great surprise saying, “What are you doing? I am a poor laborer, wandering in search of a job. Why are you bowing to my feet?”
Gumani replied, “You are my Lord Balaram, don’t try to fool me. For me you are no less than God.”
The man said, “I have no house and no place to live. I am a very poor man. Believe me, I am searching for a job”.
So Gumani asked the man to come live in his house with him and told him he was welcome to stay as long as he liked. Gumani felt that the man had come to his house by the order of God, and he therefore served him with great respect and devotion.
The rainy season was approaching and the man saw from the house that the land around had not yet been tilled or planted. He told Gumani he did not like to sit idle and would like to till his land for him. Gumani accepted his offer as God’s desire and allowed him to do as he wished. Then the man plowed the land and sowed grain upon the fields. After completing the sowing, he disappeared from Gumani’s house.
When harvest time arrived it was found that the grain collected was more than fifty times what had been collected in past years. The entire house was filled with rice and there was rice in the granary as well. Seeing the plentiful crop, Gumani realized that the man who had sown his fields was none other than Babaji Maharaj himself, who had chosen to repay him for the grain Gumani had offered in serving Babaji’s devotees.
When Gumani’s wife heard about the remarkable crop of rice in her fields she was very surprised and returned home to Gumani’s house with her son.
Gumani marked the years as they passed waiting for Babaji to return but after five years he decided that he should instead go looking for Babaji Maharaj. So he left immediately for Almora determined to live with him and serve him for the rest of his life. When after five years of separation Gumani was once again reunited with his master he burst into tears and dropped to the ground at his feet. Babaji told him he was just leaving to visit the Badrinath temple high on a peak in the Himalayas, and he invited Gumani to go with him. Gumani was very happy to be invited along on such an auspicious religious pilgrimage and readily agreed to go.
Word got out of the pilgrimage and two men showed up and asked to go along. Babaji neither agreed nor refused to take them but kept his silence. When it was time to go, the men followed along behind them nevertheless. As the road got steeper it turned into a narrow trail until after a while they were treading along a ledge with a sheer rock wall on one side, and a deep precipice on the other. Babaji was walking rapidly ahead with Gumani and the two men further back behind him. Suddenly a huge lion came into view blocking the three men’s path. The lion had it’s tail raised up in a most furious manner. The men told Gumani they should make a hasty retreat but without waiting to see if he was with them, they turned around and ran back the way they had come.
Gumani remained there, wanting to continue on after his master. Soon the lion grew calm, laid down and paid no more attention to him. He quietly stepped around it without hesitation or fear and caught up to Babaji. They continued on the steep path until they finally reached the Badrinath temple at the top where they worshipped, and then turned around and returned back to Almora.
Babaji now told Gumani to return to his village and look after his family and to continue on with his meditation and worship. Although Gumani did not want to leave his beloved guru, he followed his order and returned back to his home and family. There he performed his worldly duties and his meditations as he had been obstructed. After one year he left his body in peace.
By the grace of Babaji Maharaj, the illiterate and simple Gumani had become a true devotee of God and his story and reputation spread throughout the region. The hut that Gumani had built for Babaji to stay in is still preserved today in his native village.