Devraha Baba: The Saint Who Blessed Millions With The Touch of His Feet's Thumb
Little is known about the early life of Devraha Baba, beyond that in the first half of the 20th century he visited Maiel, a town 20 km south west of Salempur, Deoria Uttar Pradesh. Here he started living atop a machan, a high platform made of wooden logs, situated 3 km from the town on the banks of Sarayu river.
The place was near chilma Bazar Basti District, thus local people started calling him Devraha Baba , Baba being an honorific for saints or old men. Thereafter he shifted to Vrindavan, where again he lived atop a machan on the banks of Yamuna river for the rest of his years.
Devraha Baba was a hermit from Vrindavan. He was considered to be a "spiritual guide to everyone from a pauper to the most powerful ... above narrow confines of caste and community." Village people as well as important personalities waited for hours to have a glimpse or darshan of him.
He received visits from politicians seeking his blessings at the time of general elections, including Indira Gandhi, Balram Jakhar, Buta Singh, and Rajiv Gandhi. Rajiv Gandhi and his wife Sonia Gandhi visited his ashram on the eve of the 1989 elections. He used to bless the devotees with his feet. It is reported that it was at his behest that Rajiv Gandhi agreed to the 'Shilanyaas' at the Ram Janma Bhoomi in Ayodhya.
He lived on a 12-foot-high (3.7 m) wooden platform near the river and wore a small deerskin. A barricade of wooden planks hid his semi-naked body from his devotees, and he came down only to bathe in the river.
It is believed that he lived up to the age of 250 years and never ate 'ann' ever in his life. He left his mortal coil on June 19, 1990 and as is the tradition, his flower decked body was flown into the Yamuna river, in a Jal Samadhi.
Thousands, including Atal Bihari Vajpayee, a staunch devotee, who later became India's Prime Minister, were present to bid him adieu.