The darker shades of Twilight

Continued from previous post

Sunset and dusk is such a grace-filled time of day. The day is departing, passing into night, silencing my mind.  I find it the  time I  am most able to look over my day to see its moments of lessons and learning.  The sunset and descending twilight felt particularly captivating and liberating, seated on the sand, along side Govindan, on this island shaped like  OM.    I felt hollow and empty, cut off from all psychological sources of fear, anxiety, suffering, and also from desire, attachment.  I felt nothing but the dispassion that one feels when one has everything.  In those moments, I felt sure I lacked for no thing.

Swamiji had said that we should contemplate what we most desired before we began the sacrificial fire.  I could only say I wanted the qualities of compassion and righteousness and strength and aloneness.  How to ask for that?  Perhaps that I wanted my third eye to open wide to encompass the inner guidance required to having and holding these qualities within myself.

The puja items had been assembled and the fire was ignited.   All the Indian sadhakas had taken their seats around the fire and Govindan and I were seated a bit back, like a second tier.  Swami told us to slip in between two other people.   He made them all make room for us.  The fire and incense and chanting was very intense, like nothing I had ever experienced previously. Smoke engulfed my senses and my mind became active with thought and visions.  I was not comfortable at times, as it was all so intense.  The homa lasted for hours. When it concluded I was a bit unsteady and nauseous.  We had to take the boat back to the mainland. I was disoriented. It wasn’t until I got into the room, that I remember what a dirty place it was.

I went into the bathroom to wash my face, hands and feet.  Worms were coming out of the toilet on the floor.  I did not look at them with the same wonder that I had witnessed the rat in Badrinath. I was disgusted.  I placed my shawl on the dirty sheets on the bed and tried to sleep. Govindan fell asleep quickly. He has a siddhi that way.  He wants to sleep, he says he is going to sleep now and he closes his eyes and he is asleep.  At about the same time as he fell asleep, I developed a severe headache that cannot be adequately described. The headache was acute pain across my forehead. It wrapped around my head like an Indian headband and squeezed. I took a shower.  I took Tylenol. I prayed. I drank a liter of water. I prayed. I tried to wake Govindan, but couldn’t.   Perhaps I had to go through this by myself. I opened the outside door and sat in the moonlight and talked to God.  I thought I was going to die and surrendered to the pain.

Why did I have to die in such a dirty hotel room?  Again, I tried to awaken Govindan.  It was past 3a.m. when in meditation, I recalled my conversation with my loyal friend and sadhak Linda.  Just before we had left she had sent me a piece of a pink stone, which she had been given twenty five years earlier. She told me that she had been requested to do so in meditation. I went inside to try to find the stone.  It was in a small pouch in my purse. The pain was so bad, I dropped where I was and put the stone right up against my third eye and rolled it toward my right temple. Literally within seconds the pain began to dissolve.  I held it at my temple and within minutes the pain was gone.  Clutching the pink stone I fell fast asleep.

The next morning I felt fine, not even tired and told Govindan what had happened.   He asked why I had not awaken him?      We went to an early breakfast and took the boat back to the Island.  Not seeing any of the others we thought everyone else must already be on the island. However, only Swami was there.  He had not yet seen anyone else.  He was packed and invited us to go in his car back to Indore, but didnt have room for our luggage.   We had some tea and by the time we had packed the car the others had arrived.  The group told us that they had accquired a van to return to Indore but there was not room for us and there didn’t seem to be another van available.  We  would have to find another way to Indore.  Swami told them that we would be traveling back with him.  I imagine that he had foreseen the situation.  Swami gave one of the men our bags and said that they had to bring our bags with them. “Fit them in somehow.”  There was some resentment. They left to go back to their van, said goodbye and we left for Indore with Swami.

The drive back was unforgettable.  Swami would stop ever so often to prove to me his theory that there were stones everywhere in which OM is embedded. He said,” they are everywhere I look, you just aren’t looking!”   He would randomly tell his driver to stop the car and then he would go for a short walk and find a stone with the OM…  It never failed.  I asked him if he had a pocket of OM stones. He laughed… I do not know if  he had  the siddhi to engrave OM on any stone he picked up, or if he had the siddhi to find them.  He was a marvel and a wonder and a delight!  At another time, just as he was saying that Babaji is really accessible although always anonymous, a man ran up to our car, saying “Halt!” to the driver. He was a youngish,attractive  man, in modern dress. He came up to our window and folded his arms across my door, poked his head right into the car and said, “Well hello, don’t’ I know you?   …Do you know me?”  I just looked at him and then at swami who was in the front seat. When I looked back he had backed away from the car and gave a quick salute and smile. Swami said nothing and when I asked,  “Do you know that man?” He said, “who?”

When we arrived at Barfani Dham Ashram,  there were a great number of people assembled.  His Holiness Barfani Dadaji was dressed in a dark red long dress and seated outside by a telephone and completely surrounded by hundreds of his devotees.   He seemed to be communicating with  many people at the same time and completely at ease with everyone’s demands  on him.    People were taking blessings at his feet, some were requesting things in person and to others he was talking on  the phone.  The phone would ring again  as soon as he would hang up.    Swami told us to go do pranam to His Holiness and then to meet him inside the mandir.

Swamiji then told us to go meditate in a special room,  as it would be a while before Sadguru Barfani Dadaji would be free to speak with us.  The whole time I meditated I felt Ramanandacharya’s Presence.   He was there with me, not interfering with new thought, nor eavesdropping but as a Witnessing Presence.   It was a warm and reassuring Presence.  After our meditation, we walked back to where Swami was resting to find His Holiness there with him.  And for the next few hours  we were bathed in the Presence of these amazing Holy men.  Swamiji had now broken his Silence and his beautiful voice translated Barfani Dadaji’s Hindi.  H.H. told us miraculous stories of how it was living with Mahavatar Babaji in a cave for months on end and of his other cave–mates.   One rishi he lived with was covered with hair almost like fur, he had endlessly long fingernails that had never been clipped and eyebrows that hung over his eyes.  He looked and smelled more beast than man.   Dadaji chuckled as he reminisced and  then his whole body began to  vibrate with laughter.    We would look back and forth between His Holiness and Swamiji as they related the stories, first in Hindi, then in English.   They  wondered if we knew Krishna Das, who visited H.H.  often and then he  talked about Neem Karoli Baba and how H.H. had awaken him in the early 1950’s to the path he was to take.

We asked His Holiness about the situation with the Himalayan Siddhas and what would be involved in resettling them in Quebec.  Govindan had a long list of all the things that one must provide to sponsor such a move.  Barfani Dadaji laughed heartily at our naivete.  “There is not one thing you need to do for the Siddhas to resettle, as  you put it.”  Presently all is okay where they are now.  There had been a certain state of emergency when I sent that message to you.  However, they have helped to pacify the energies and rectify the impending situation.  However if things once again change, I will notify you.  I have seen your ashram property.  It is a good place with all the trees and water.”

Govindan was most insistent, “well how does it work!”

His Holiness continued. ”How it works is this, the siddhas feel the energy building and pray to God.  God broadcasts the news. I fortunately am able to hear that broadcast, and I will phone you! H.H.  smiled.   They will not need a Canadian Visa or plane ticket either! Ha Ha Ha!”

What a blessing we were being granted –just to have the attention of these two High Souls.  Jai Babaji.   Before His Holiness left for a rest, I asked him if I could ask him for a great favor.   Ramanandacharya looked at me suspiciously.   I knew from his expression that this was a defining moment – what I asked for would define my sincerity.  At least that is what I gleaned from his look.

I bravely blurted, “I only want, but very much desire to have His Holiness’s blessings on our upcoming marriage.”

Swamiji smiled broadly and His Holiness too smiled and said, “You have my blessings, and if you go on yatra with Swamiji to Mount Kailash, you come back here to Barfani Dham and have your marriage here.”  Another Blessing!

We spent another couple of hours with Swamiji who showed us his photo albums and talked about his path to Mahavatar Babaji.   We talked about the pilgrimage to Mount Kailash and we spoke with the Indians who we would be traveling with on the yatra.  His Holiness told us that he would not be going as he had much to do here and that  Swami Ramanandachary would take us.  But there was so much going on during that day at Barfani Dham.  We were engaged in so much activity with so many different people.  So much was going on just under the surface, emotions and egos and pride and prejudice.  It took months for us to digest it after we returned.  Govindan began to feel ill and very tired.  The large gathering of people was becoming a bit tiresome and a botheration to both of us.  Just the idea of traveling in this caravan all the way to Mount Kailash entangled in the karmas of so many others began to weigh heavily on us.

We meditated deeply on whether we should go or not to go and spoke at length with  Ramanadacharya who told us, “You have to go, You must go!”  He told us that we could go alone, by ourselves, but that was a bit daunting as we had not prepared adequately for the trip alone. We had no idea how to go it alone.   The long and the short of it was that we decided not to go to Mount Kailash, even though it was what we both wanted.

We both felt that we had been given so much in this week at Indore and Omkareshwar.  Ramananda promised me before we left to go back to New Delhi for our flight home that he would remain with me always on my path to Mahavatar Babaji.   He would never leave me.

Just before our taxi came to take us to the airport,  I told him telepathically that I wanted very much to hug him goodbye.  I asked that he show me if that was inappropriate.   He looked a bit shy as I looked up at him, after my silent question.  He put his hand on my shoulder.  I was not to hug him.  He whispered to me to go do pranam to His Holiness.  When I placed my forehead on the feet of His Holiness Barfani Dadaji, he was engaged in a telephone call and in conversation with another disciple. He never looked at me, but I felt love swell in my own heart.

With only a wave to these Divine Beings  I would have called Guru, we left.

I corresponded by email on several occasions to Jadguru Ramanandacharya.   He was very happy about our marriage and kept telling me that I should now change my name to take on that of my husband.   He had been quite adamant.  I kept calling myself Durga Ahlund and he seemed quite put out by that.  We talked of a trip to Quebec to meet Kriya Yoga students at the Quebec Ashram.

Then on February 25th 2004, Jadadguru Ramandandachary Swami Rajeev Lochanacharya Ji, of Yoga Shakti Peethadheswar, disciple of Barfani Dadaji of Barfani Dham Ashram, Malviay Nagar, Indore, Madhya Pradesh and Mahavtar Babaji of Mount Kailash, passed away on just after midnight of Mahashivaratri at 12:30 a.m., while doing puja at Mount Kailash.

Press Release from Hinduism Today:

“Swami Rajeev Lochanacharya was on the holy pilgrimage of Kailash Mansarover and suffered from breathing problems at the height of 20,000 feet. On this yatra he was accompanied by his two disciples, Shri Deepak Rawal of Ahemdabad and Shri Manoj Bhai of Mumbai. Swami Ji crossed the China border on February 14 and reached Kailash Mansarover on the 18th. He did his special Mahashivaratri Puja Archana there. After he suffered from breathing problems/asthma attack, he was taken from Tarchen to Taklakot where he was hospitalized and given oxygen. After receiving oxygen, he was feeling better and undertook puja again at 10:30 p.m. When both his disciples, told him to take rest he laughed and told them, “Nothing is going to happen to me. However if something does happen, make my samadhi here itself.”

I was shocked and heavily pained to hear of the death of the Dearest of the Dear to my heart, Swami Ramanandacharya.  All his disciples were shocked to hear of his death and cremation on the banks of Lake Manasarovar.  I heard directly from a Swami who lives on the island of Omkareshwar that Barfani Dadaji brought his ashes back to Omkareshwar.     On that day the news spread all over the island.

“It was one of the most moving experiences of my life, said Swami Mangalanda.  “Two boats came loaded with people carrying the ashes of Ramananda.   All of us from Anandamayi Ashram stood on the different levels of the ashram overlooking the Narmada and saluted with our hands raised over our heads as they passed, and then went down to meet and show our respect for our departed brother.   In a short time, sadhus from all over the island had gathered at the ghat by Barfani Dham.   Ramananda was very well respected, and had many disciples, both monastic and lay.”

“A beautiful shrine with his picture had been set up, covered with flowers, and the earthen urn with his remains was placed here while the funeral service was chanted. His disciples from Barfani Dham were all having their long jattas shaved off in mourning.  At the end of the service, one Brahmachari lifted the urn over his head and walked to the edge of the river. At this point, everyone spontaneously gathered around him and lifted their hands up to touch the urn, many sobbing loudly.   The Brahmachari waded into the water with the urn over his head, and at this point, many sadhus joined him, walking out into the river. After a few feet they started to swim,  and when they reached the middle of the river, the ashes were dumped into Mother Narmada.   As they mingled with the clear water of the river, many of the sadhus swam in front and bathed in the ashes as they were carried downstream.   Then all the flowers from the shrine were placed in
the river, so that they formed a multicolored carpet covering the whole surface of the water, and all of us present then went in and bathed and offered our prayers for the soul of our respected brother.   I have been at jal samadhi of sadhus before, but this was more moving than anything I had experienced.    The suddenness of his unexpected death, his young age, and the dependence so many people had on him, made the moment very sad.   Although Barfani Dada never shows emotion, I could tell that he was very upset and sorrowful.”

“I later visited Barfani Dham camp at the Kumbha Mela in Ujain and had Dadas darshan. Everyone was still upset and in somewhat of a muddle. Another young Brahmachari, Hanumanprasad, is being trained by Dadaji to try and take on the duties of Sri Ramanandaji, but he is nowhere near the spiritual status of Acharyaji.”

“I, and many, feel as you do that he received a call from Babaji, and this is what prompted his going to Kailash at such an odd time of year when the weather was so bad.   He is no doubt with Babaji this moment in one form or another.   We are both fortunate to have known such a great man.  I would be interested in knowing what the pledge was that he made with you, if you would feel like sharing it with me.”

I share this memorial with all of you who read this blog because Ramamandacharya was the dearest of the dear to me and to so many who walk a solitary path toward God.   His passing brought up for the first time deep contemplation of both death and dharma.   As he told me in July of 2002, “This body will simply do, whatever is demanded of it.”

Om Tath Sath

    • Alex
    • November 29th, 2009

    So very interesting…

    • Johanne
    • June 17th, 2010


    I am really touched by this story. You are truly blessed to meet such fascinating and inspiring people. I am sure they have enriched your life with many blessings. Through your blog, you are a blessing of my own.

    I have a question for you. What do you mean when you say you desired “aloneness”. I can’t grasp the true meaning of this word because I am confusing it with loneliness or feeling lonely. Although I am beginning to see the light (because of my sadhana), loneliness is something I have been struggling with for many years.

    Thank you!


    • Amarabh Chaitanya
    • January 18th, 2011

    Om Namah,
    First being his Disciple for more than 15 years. I could feel that Our Guruji (H.H. Ramanandacharyaji)is still alive. They Just cant exit the way we are thinking. There is deeper connection of the saint with their disciples and on the basis of my deeper intuition, I am saying this thing. May be I am not able to prove it just yet. There is a saying in hindi “That Saints are like a river they never stops for anyone but the one gets the touch of the river gets flourished”. So sister our guruji might be disappear for some greater cause or can say they will appear when the time comes..

    Om Namah

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