By Hari Bansh Jha

Seventy-year-old Doodh Dhari Baba lives on two liters of milk a day and nothing else. His deep brown jatta (dreadlocks) has been growing for 52 years, ever since he received his Vaishanava initiation at the age of 18. It is now far longer than the height of his bone-thin body. The soft-spoken saint lives in Ram Mandir, opposite a cremation ground called Arya Ghat near the famed Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Baba adopted this uniquely austere diet nineteen years ago not for health but as a form of tapas or penance. He attributes everything good in his life to this one central spiritual commitment. Except during pilgrimage when he may fast four or five days at a time, Baba takes only milk–and that only from the local Nepali cow. He once politely turned down a German devotee’s offer of a purebred Jersey from Europe. He feels milk helps him attain spiritual depth and peace. According to Hindu thinking, milk is part of a sattvic or pure diet, and Baba reports that worldly feelings such as sexual desire and anger simply do not have much impact on him. He sleeps five hours a day and performs long meditations and personal worship each morning before dawn.

Thomas Yarema, M.D, medical director of the Kauai Center of Holistic Medicine and Research in Hawaii, affirms that cow’s milk has the all-important carbohydrates and complex proteins necessary to sustain life. It is, he said, the only food that can fulfill this function. He does, however, qualify this by saying that not all people have the specific colonic bacteria necessary to break down the sugars, utilize the oils and convert milk’s other food elements into essential vitamins and fatty acids. But the body, which has more colonic bacteria than cells, can significantly improve its ability to digest cow’s milk through the practice of yoga, and Baba could be a dynamic example of this. Dr. Yarema further states that what we get back from the cow in nutritional value is strongly determined by what we give to the cow in love and care.

Because of the milk, Baba says, he is aware of many developments before they occur. He forecasted the fall of the Berlin Wall some three years before it happened and knew about the fall of the Babri Masjid. He predicted the tragic murders of India’s Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi a year before they occurred. Recently, he has speculated that Kathmandu will be razed to the ground within ten years because of some natural calamity like an earthquake!

Baba’s ashram is popular with local residents and foreign tourists as well. He counts among his close disciples 100 Nepalese and 300 from other countries. With their generous support, Baba has travelled extensively, not only throughout Nepal and India, but to 20 countries around the world. When he travels, he gives discourses on the Ramayana, teaches meditation and sings songs in praise of God. Baba has three messages for the world: “Do your duty. Remember God whenever you have leisure. Remove your mind from worldly pleasures.”