Spiritual leader, founder of Mt. Madonna Center dies at 95


“A quiet mind is a sensitive mind.” —Baba Hari Das (Contributed Photo)

WATSONVILLE — Hindu leader, master yogi, author and founding inspiration of the Mount Madonna Center and Mount Madonna School Baba Hari Das died peacefully at his home in Bonny Doon Tuesday morning.

Known affectionately as “Babaji,” Baba Hari Das was a silent monk, born in 1923 in the foothills of the Himalayas in Northern India. He took his vow of perpetual silence in 1952, which he kept until his passing.

Babaji arrived in the United States in 1971. In 1978, he helped found the Mount Madonna Center for the Creative Arts and Sciences. The center, located in the Santa Cruz Mountains overlooking the Pajaro Valley, has become a well-known spiritual retreat and seminar center for visitors from around the world.

Sadanand Ward Mailliard, who helped Babaji found the center, remained close to him for the past 44 years.

“Babaji taught by example,” Mailliard said. “He was a deep student of humanity; he understood people and treated everyone equally. He didn’t expect you to be anything other than yourself.”

Baba Hari Das also founded the Sri Ram Orphanage in Shyumpar Village, India in 1984. Today, close to 65 children live at the center. The Sri Rama Foundation, a nonprofit organization which supports the orphanage, is headquartered at Mount Madonna Center.

When he wasn’t working, teaching classes, leading projects or yoga sessions, Babaji spent his days writing.

“He was one of the most self-disciplined people I ever met,” Mailliard said. “But he was also spontaneous. He encouraged play. He was always ready for fun.”

After his passing Tuesday morning, a cremation ceremony was organized at Santa Cruz Memorial. It didn’t take long before hundreds of people began lining up to pay their respects.

“I was stunned at the response,” Mailliard said. “He really had such a quiet, yet powerful impact on so many different people.”

Mount Madonna Center and the Sanka Mochan Hanumān temple will remain closed for 13 days of mourning, as per Hindu tradition. A memorial service is planned for Oct. 7 at Mount Madonna Center, 445 Summit Road.

“It was incredible, the effect he had on people without ever saying a word,” Mailliard said.

A full obituary written by Mailliard, including additional photographs is available to view at babaharidass.org.

For information on how to donate to the Sir Rama Orphanage, visit sriramfoundation.org.


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