Shri Mahant Swami
Ganeshanand Saraswati and Giri, outrageously High Hipster, Rainbow Head,
Psychedelic Swami, Naga baba, Kriya yogi, scientist, scholar, and
British-Indian gentleman, was probably born in Bengal in the 1890's.
Because he had long renounced his past by the time he came into contact with the Western hippies he so loved and who so loved him, the stories Ganesh Baba told were never meant to be taken literally. Thus, little is known about his background - though it was clear that he was exceptionally well-educated, particularly in the sciences.
Wild stories about meetings with a small, big-bellied, white-bearded sadhu who spoke perfect Victorian English, smoked ganja like there was no tomorrow and insisted that everyone around him keep their backs ramrod straight began to circulate in the mid-1960's.
Ganesh Baba served as manager of Anandamayi Ma's ashram for many years before joining the Nagas, the ash-covered sadhus who wander through India emulating the god Shiva, wild-eyed and intense from smoking a potent mixture of cannabis resin and tobacco. Eventually, he became a Shri Mahant of Anand Akhara.
By the late 1970's when Ganesh Baba came to America thanks to Roxanne and Jayant Gupta, the Hog Farm, and a handful of other friends, he was nearly blind. After a corneal transplant restored his vision, Ganesh Baba spent 7 years traveling between hard-core hippie households, and hobnobbing with explorers of higher consciousness, leading edge scientists, and anyone willing to sit up straight long enough to listen to his tall tales and profound teachings.
He traveled in Europe and Japan in the 1980's, staying longest in France with his disciples, Corinne Vandevalle and Christian Pilastre, at Le Vieux Salydieu.
Ganesh Baba died in Nainital, India, on November 19, 1987, and is buried at Alakh Nath Temple in Bareilly.
If you knew Ganesh Baba or are interested in sharing stories about him, please join Ganesh Baba on Facebook.