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Ishwar Totapuri (also Tota Puri) affectionately known as "Nangta Baba" (1780-?), born likely in the Punjab, India, was a parivrajaka (wandering monk) who followed the path of the Advaita Vedanta, a fact that is disputed due to the meager information that exists on Totapuri [1]

By the time he arrived at Dakshineswar Kali Temple in 1864, he was a wandering monk of the Dasnami sannyasin of Adi Shankara, and head of a monastery in the Punjab claiming the leadership of seven hundred sannyasins. He is said to have initiated Ramakrishna into Advaita Vedanta [2], as well as Anandpuri Ji from the Advait Mat tradition [3]

Totapuri taught Ramakrishna that the sole reality of the impersonal Absolute could only be realized in a state of consciousness devoid of all conceptual forms.[4]Totapuri was "a teacher of masculine strength, a sterner mien, a gnarled physique, and a virile voice". Ramakrishna affectionately addressed him as Nangta, the "Naked One", because as a renunciate he did not wear any clothing[2].


  1. Comans. Michael, The Question of the Importance of Samadhi in Modern and Classical Advaita Vedanta, Philosophy East & West. Volume: 43. Issue: 1. (1993) pp.33.
    "The time [Ramakrishna] spent under the direction of Totapuri, who was said to be an Advaitin, was much shorter than the time spent studying Tantra, and the information available on Totapuri is very meager, so it is difficult to be sure whether he was actually an Advaitin rather than a follower of yoga.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Swami Nikhilananda, The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna (1972), Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, New York
  3. Geaves, R. R., From Totapuri to Maharaji: Reflections on a Lineage (Parampara), (2002). Paper presented at the 27th Spalding Symposium on Indian Religions, Oxford. March 2002.
  4. Von Dehsen, Christian D. (Ed.) WritersPhilosophers and Religious Leaders p.159, Oryx Press, 1999