Pavhari Baba was born near Varanasi of brahmin parents. In his youth he had mastered many branches of Hindu philosophy. Later he renounced the world, led an austere life, practised the disciplines of Yoga and Vedanta, and travelled over the whole of India. At last he settled in Ghazipur, where he built an underground hermitage on the bank of the Ganga and spent most of his time in meditation. He lived on practically nothing and so was given by the people the sobriquet of the ‘air-eating holy man’; all were impressed by his humility and spirit of service. Once he was bitten by a cobra and said while suffering terrible pain, ‘Oh, he was a messenger from my Beloved!’ Another day, a dog ran off with his bread and he followed, praying humbly, ‘Please wait, my Lord; let me butter the bread for you.’ Often he would give away his meagre food to beggars or wandering monks, and starve.
Swami Nikhilananda, Swami Vivekananda: A Biography, Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center of New York, 1953. [PDF]