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A History of the Neem Karoli Baba Ashram

Neem Karoli Baba Temple Taos New Mexico

1978-2017 Taos, New Mexico


The Vision

After Neem Karoli Baba's (Maharajji) Mahasamadhi (Entering Great Samadhi upon death) in 1973, His American devotees longed for a place to meet and share stories, hold bhandaras (holiday feasts), sing kirtan (devotional chants), and enjoy Satsang (the community of those on the path together).

Neem Karoli Baba with Dada [Sudhir Mukerjee] and Western devotees, 1972


In the spring of 1977, a group of thirty or forty devotees gathered in Yorktown Heights, New York for a Bhandara.

Yorktown Heights, 1977


During the gathering, Ram Dass proposed that a painting, by Lakshmi (Christine Tiernan) an American devotee of Maharajji, should be made into a murti statue and be placed in a future temple in America. The painting depicted Hanuman flying towards Lanka in search of Sita, carrying Ram’s ring in his hand, a token demonstrating to Sita that Hanuman - who was otherwise unknown to her - was indeed Ram's true messanger as well a symbol of hope and reunion, of love in motion.

Lakshmi's Painting

Sita Temple, Sri Lanka - Yellow markings are the footprints of Hanuman landing


The project was funded by Ram Dass through the Hanuman Foundation. A highly respected sculpture shop in Jaipur, owned by the same family of sculptors who carved the murti of Hanuman in Maharajji’s Vrindaban ashram was commissioned to do the work.

..............................................Jaipur Moorti Palace and workshop


The early-on American devotees who were with Neem Karoli Baba in India had been introduced to Hanuman thanks to Baba's building of Hanuman Temples. Maharajji loved the Ramayana. He particularly liked the chapter "Sundarakand." and liked the widely read Hindi language version composed by Tulsi Das.

Public recitation of the entire chapter, intoned in verse over loudspeakers, was regularly heard at his ashrams. Sundarakand, literally "beautiful episode/book," is the fifth book in the Hindu epic of the Ramayana. It depicts the adventures of Hanuman. Sundarakand is the only chapter in which the focal character is not Rama, but Hanuman. Hanuman's selflessness, strength, and devotion to Rama are emphasized in the text. Hanuman was fondly called Sundara by his mother Anjani, and Sage Valmiki chose this name for the chapter because it deals mainly with Hanuman's journey to Lanka.

How close to Hanuman Maharajji is, is known only to the two of them. There are stories by devotees who have shared what Maharajji has said about it. A pundit from Unnao who came to the temple to read to him from Sundarakand, "What part should I read Maharajji?" the pundit asked. "Read the part when I meet Vibishan," Maharajji replied. Dada [Sudhir Mukerjee] describes the moment; he said, "a chill ran through those who were present." There are other stories of Maharajji turning into Hanuman, one of which you can read in Dada's book, 'By His Grace: A Devotee's Story". 

The Hanuman Murti, which now sits in the temple in Taos, New Mexico weighs 1,647 pounds and looks light and beautiful as he is flying through the air on assignment from Ram to reassure Sita, who is in captivity, that she has not been forgotten.

Hanuman - Neem Karoli Baba Temple, 2016


The Beginning of the Taos Neem Karoli Baba Ashram

Neem Karoli Baba Ashram, 2016


Maharajji's devotees were spread all over the country. There was no central meeting place for them to gather and share their love for Maharajji. In India, there are special days when devotees gather to celebrate their love for their Guru, one of them is the day their Guru passes, called Mahasamadhi. Thus, when Hanuman arrived in the U.S. in the summer of 1978, he was put on a trailer and driven to New Mexico. Vishu Magee volunteered to have Hanuman temporarily stay at his home in Arroyo Seco, north of Taos.

With Hanuman resting in Arroyo Seco, the devotees had a place to celebrate of their Guru's Mahasamadhi. In September of 1978, on the property of Vishu and Kaushulya Magee (Karen Pettit) the murti of Hanuman was partially uncrated and the first Celebration in America of Neem Karoli Baba's Mahasamadhi was held.


During this time Bandara moved to various locations in the Taos area, and Vishu and Kaushulya Magee purchased 19 acres in the town of Taos. It is here in 1982 on what is now the Neem Karoli Baba Ashram Hanuman was given a permanent home. The new devotee's now had a place to gather, worship and celebrate their Guru. The highlight of their devotion occurred during a September celebration of Maharajji's Mahasamadhi, known as a Bandara.

Taos now became a center for Maharaji's devotees and more and moved devotees began to settle in the area where a true Maharajji Satsang form. It was estimated the early celebrations accommodated over 400 people making Taos and the Neem Karoli Baba Temple one of the largest annual festivals of eastern religious flavor to come out of the 'cultural revolution of the 60's'.

Embudo, 1979 - 1980

Hanuman's First Home 'The Barn'


From Milk Barn to Temple - The Development of Ashram - 1980-1988

Neem Karoli Baba Temple Early Gathering 1985

Neem Karoli Baba Temple Expansion


In progress....stay tuned



Neem Karoli Baba reading Be Here Now



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