The Shaktipat system of Yoga begins with Swami Gangadhar Tirth Maharaj. Although this system is quite old, it has existed secretly like an undercurrent in Hindu society and has been known to a few spiritual aspirants in different places from time immemorial. The end of the nineteenth century witnessed the revival of this tradition with Swami Gangadhar Tirth Maharaj. Swami Gangadhar Tirth was born into a Brahmin family in District Mathura in the northern part of India.
Who initiated him into the Shaktipat system, what was the extent of his realizations, and where he stayed during his formative years is not known. What information has been gained about him is only this: He had a small cottage near a pond named Chandan Talab in Jagannathpuri in the eastern part of India. This swami was so full of renunciation, fond of solitude and engrossed in his spiritual practices that he neither left his cottage nor invited people to come to his place. Even people living nearby did not know that a realized soul was living near them. During this time, the revered Swamiji was only attended by a single devotee named Karali who used to arrange for food by begging in the nearby village. Swamiji was so indifferent toward the world that he initiated only one disciple into the system of Shaktipat. This one disciple, named Kali Kishore, came to be known as Shri Swami Narayan Tirth Dev Maharaj. It is also a mystery as to when Swami Gangadhar Tirth Maharaj left his mortal body because his only disciple, Swami Narayan Tirth Dev Maharaj, had gone back to his home state of East Bengal after having been initiated into the system of Shaktipat.