The Almighty Lilas are varied and one can never know what he is up to, but only feel the happiness getting immersed in his Lilas. He is the one who is always in the reach of his devotees and goes to any extent to safeguard their devotion. He proves their pure devotion to the world in such a magnificent way that the devotees name gets suffixed with the name of the Almighty. One such devotee is Haathi Ram Baba whose name resounds as one of the greatest devotee of Balaji Bhagwan in the Tirumala hills, Tirupati.
Hathi Ram Baba was born in Ayodhya. His real name was Aasa Ram Baljot. In his young age, Aasa Ram’s family moved to the Banga city of Punjab. Asaa Ram was a great devotee of Shri Ram and he started from home seeking Shri Ram. On the advice of a Brahmin, he visited the Tirumala temple and had a darshan of Balaji Bhagwan and he decided to spend the rest of his life in the service of Shri Balaji.
Aasa Ram offered his services and prayers with total faith and sincerity to Shri Balaji with which the Almighty was immensely pleased. One night, he visited Aasa Ram’s ashram and asked him to play a game of dice with him. Aasa Ram was overwhelmed that Shri Balaji himself had come to give a darshan to him and wanted to play with hm. The game of dice went on till the wee hours of the morning. In the morning, Shri Balaji suddenly realised that he was getting late for his daily worship and hurriedly left the Ashram. In his hurry, a valuable necklace was left back in Aasa Ram’s ashram. When the priests of the temple opened the sanctum doors for the morning, they found that the necklace was missing. Meanwhile, Aasa Ram found the necklace and came to the temple to return it, but none of them believed his story and arrested him on the charge of stealing the necklace.
When the matter reached the king, Aasa Ram mentioned that Shri Balaji had left it in a hurry after playing a game of dice with him. The King did not believe his story and to ridicule him, ordered that the prisoner cell of Aasa Ram be filled with full of sugarcane and asked Aasa Ram to eat every bit of it by morning. Aasa Ram was shocked, but putting his faith in Shri Balaji sat down chanting his name in meditation and fell asleep. At midnight, the guards who were in charge were surprised to see a huge white elephant in the cell which finished the sugarcane in a matter of few minutes and disappeared. When they mentioned to the king, the king was surprised that how could an elephant enter a cell and realised that Balaji Bhagwan had himself appeared as an elephant to save his devotee Aasa Ram. The king realised his mistake and asked for the forgiveness of Aasa Ram. Since this incident, Aasa Ram was named as Haathi Ram Baba (Haathi meaning elephant, and Ram as he was a devotee of Shri Ram). Haathi Ram Baba came to be one of the famed devotees of Balaji Bhagwan and earned a permanent place on the seven hills. The Haathi Ram Mutt was established in his name in 1843 and since then it continues to offer its services to the devotees who come to visit the Tirumala temple.