Shri Shivabalayogi Maharaj was a self-realized master of meditation in the tradition of the ancient and modern yogis of India. He attained Self-realization through twelve years of arduous tapas, meditating in samādhi (state of total thoughtlessness) for an average of twenty hours a day. Tapas is the most advanced stage of meditation in which one remains absorbed for long periods in the non-dualistic state of consciousness known as samādhi
After he completed tapas, he assumed the name Shivabalayogi, which some devotees had already begun to use for him. The name means "Yogi devoted to Shiva and Parvati." Shiva is God in the form of a yogi. Bala is one of the many names for Parvati, God in the form of a yogini. The name reflects that Shivabalayogi is a manifestation of both the male and female aspects of the divine (Ardhanarishwara). The female aspect represents the invisible energy of the Divine through which the entire creation operates, while the male aspect represents the pure consciousness of existence beyond all imaginations. Generally, devotees called him simply "Swamiji" meaning "respected Master".
For three decades he traveled extensively in India and Sri Lanka, initiating over ten million people into dhyana meditation. From 1987 to 1991, he traveled in England and the United States.Shivabalayogi's teaching is consistent with the Vedanta, emphasizing the need for sadhana (spiritual practice) to achieve Self-realization.
Around the age of twelve, Sathyaraju made his way to the nearby Draksharam temple, where he prayed to Lord Bhimeshwar to grant him peace and also the understanding of his relatives for certain actions he had to take in accordance with his strong moral principles. Eventually a profound change came over him. In contrast to his normally outgoing nature, he became withdrawn and introverted. His appetite began to shrink and he lost interest in worldly activities.
Sathyaraju experienced samadhi (enlightenment) on August 7, 1949 when he was fourteen years old. He was sitting on the bank of the Godavari irrigation canal just outside the village, eating palmyra fruit that he had divided up between him and his eleven friends. As Shivabalayogi described the incident, he was squeezing the fruit when his body began to tremble with vibrations; a bright light emanated from the fruit in his hands, and he heard the cosmic sound of Aum. As he watched, a black lingam (a lingam symbolizes the absoluteness of the Divinity), about a foot and a half tall, appeared in his hands. The lingam broke in two and a tall, handsome man emerged standing in front of the boy.
The man was in the form of a jangama devara, an ascetic who worships and dresses like Lord Shiva. His dark skin appeared smeared with light ash. He wore a white cloth (dhoti) wrapped around his waist, a necklace of rudraksha beads, and his matted hair piled on top of his head, all in the manner of the yogis of ancient times. He was extremely handsome with large, beautiful eyes. A bright light emanated from him, and all Sathyaraju could see was the yogi and the divine light.
The yogi instructed Sathyaraju to sit in a cross-legged position and close his eyes. The yogi touched the boy’s forehead at the spiritual third eye (bhrikuti) between the eyebrows, then gently tapped him on top of the head. Sathyaraju immediately passed into samadhi.
None of the eleven other boys with Sathyaraju saw the spiritual vision that he experienced. To them their friend was sitting as if in deep meditation. They thought he was acting. But when they were unable to rouse him from this state, they were afraid Sathyaraju was either possessed by a spirit or dead. They ran to the village for help. The villagers also tried to wake the boy and carried him back to the front porch of his mother’s house, but the young yogi remained in samadhi. When he regained partial outer consciousness, he returned to where he had been initiated.