19 May 2014

Pavhari Baba And A Thief

Pavhari Baba (??—1898) was an Indian ascetic and a Hatha Yoga practitioner. In February 1890, Narendranath (pre-monastic name of Swami Vivekananda) went to Ghazipur and met Pavhari Baba.

A thief's attempt to rob Pavhari baba's hermitage
Image source: Wikimedia Commons
When Narendranath was staying in Ghazipur, he heard the following story—

One night a thief entered the underground hermitage of Pavhari Baba to steal some valuable belongings from the place. Baba was sleeping at that time and the thief started stealing and collecting goods in a bundle.

As the thief finished his act of stealing and was ready to leave the place with the stolen goods, Baba woke up. The thief got frightened, he threw down the bundle where he collected all stolen goods and started running. Pavhari Baba promptly picked up the bundle from the ground and started chasing the thief.

After a long chase, Pavhari Baba finally caught the thief. The thief thought that Pavhari Baba was going to beat him badly. But surprisingly, Pavhari Baba folded his hands before him and then told in a humble way—
Sir, I noticed you worked hard to collect these goods from the hermitage, but somehow you could not bring this bundle with you. So, I have taken this for you. Please accept this. These are all your Narayana (God).
Saying this Pavhari Baba handed over the bundle with stolen goods to the thief. The thief stared at Baba with disbelief and surprise. He was wonderstruck and started feeling ashamed for his act.

When Narendranath heard about this incident, he did not fully believe it. Nor we find any mention of this in his letters written in 1890.

Vivekananda's meeting with a Sadhu of a high order
Years later Swami Vivekananda was wandering in the Himalayas and one day he met a Sadhu. After some conversations with the Sadhu, Vivekananda understood that the Sadhu was of a very high order.

But Vivekananda was very much astonished when the Sadhu told him—
I was the thief who attempted to rob Pavhari Baba's place. When Pavhari Baba chased me and handed over all the goods he had and called me Narayana, I could not believe it, I started realising how mean I was and the crime I was committing. Then I renounced everything and came to this place of the Himalayas and started meditating.

Swami Vivekananda's recount
This story, specially the Sadhu's confession deeply impressed Swami Vivekananda. He himself mentioned about this experience too.

From Sketch of the Life of Pavhari Baba[Source]
. . . everyone has heard of the thief who had come to steal from his Ashrama, and who at the sight of the saint got frightened and ran away, leaving the goods he had stolen in a bundle behind; how the saint took the bundle up, ran after the thief, and came up to him after miles of hard running; how the saint laid the bundle at the feet of the thief, and with folded hands and tears in his eyes asked his pardon for his own intrusion, and begged hard for his acceptance of the goods, since they belonged to him, and not to himself.


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This page was last updated on: 19 May 2014, 10:32 am IST (UTC+5:30 hours)
Number of revisions in this page: 1


  1. Minor edit. Swamiji had already taken sannyas in 1886. So you can safely use 'Swami Vivekananda' or 'Swami Vividishananda' in place of Narendranath.

    1. It is very unfortunate that some of our best comments in this website are "anonymous". I don't know if they follow followup comment.

      Anyway, no, most probably Narendranath was not named Swami Vivekananda until 1893, we tried discussing it here It is a confusing issues. At Wikipedia too when I was working in Swami Vivekananda project, we started using the name Vivekananda "after" mid 1893 (safe).

      We may write Swami Vividishananda or Swami Sachchidananda, but those are uncommon names.

  2. I liked this article about Vive kana d's encounter with the the if turned seer and Pav hard Baba.I m totally impressed by that theif seers reformation..great...

  3. Pavhari Baba was a true saint. I remember I was in college when I first read about him and his meditation and Tapasya.

    I admire him as a Guru and a saint

  4. I agree, I was also inspired by Him.


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