Questions and comments on Babaji

Question: What do you recommend to hear and connect with Babaji?

What we all reach for on this path is to open a channel for the ready flow of Insight, Intuition and Inspiration.

What is required for that is a mind that is progressing towards purity and increasing its capacity for stillness and freedom from absorption in its own limited actions.

What we really attain is awareness and an ability to reflect or enter into the conscious presence of the Self.

It is all about becoming aware of one’s beingness, which has immense power.  This power is called prana shakti.   This is the shakti evident naturally in every moment.   It is felt spontaneously as Active Presence.       It exists even on the lower levels of existence as mental and vital and material cosmic energy from which all our mental, emotional and physical activities operate.       Active Presence can be a felt as Babaji  or  experienced as a sudden strong will,  or aspiration, increased dynamism, delight, attraction to know Him, adoration, or desire to be one with Him.

The mind can become conscious of a presence high above the mind and a pouring of something of Itself into us.   The mind can become aware of an intuitive light permeating all that we are, think, will and do,  feel and experience, or become conscious of Him all around us.   Our personality may widen, as a wave of His ocean of spirit, or we may become aware of His presence in us and His actions there.   We can feel Babaji influence  on our own present form of natural existence.    This is the influence of Insight, Intuition, Inspiration originating from above the mind,  raises us towards a higher spiritual status.

With the intensity of one’s  Yoga practices it is possible to touch infinity and the shakti can for some time raise the being to a higher spiritual plane.    At this time  one might feel quite close to Babaji.    However,  one can just as quickly  reach a plateau and the closeness can wain.   This is a natural progression towards transformation from the normal to the spiritual.      A complete link with  Babaji can only be made if one consistently applies higher knowledge and mental and spiritual action to all activities of existence.

Only when  we lose our individuality in Him (when the center of action  no longer arises  from our individualized ego sense ) do we become “universalized” and experience  our mind, body and life as part of something much larger than ourself.   Only then can one see that the universe is working itself out through our life and passing through without leaving any real impression on us.   This is the ultimate goal of this Yoga, not only  to realize the highest spiritual power and become one with universal action, but to realize and possess the fullness of this shakti (Babaji) in our individual being and nature.

The Divine Shakti (Babaji) can become so completely aligned that Divine Intelligent Will, formulates itself and  Its’ light and power will shape all thoughts, will, feelings, and actions without any reaction from  individual movements.

Can you become aware of Babaji as Divine Shakti?   Will you call this  shakti to you to fill your whole system to take charge of all our activities.

Can you relinquish the ego idea, the ego as the doer?    Can you imagine being able to relinquish the idea of your separate will or individual energy conducting your own actions or even initiating actions or having any control over the result of actions?

Can you merge the sense of action with the Universal Shakti originating and shaping the actions of yourself and others, for its own purpose through you and all the people and forces in the world?

Babaji can manifest in us and relate various spiritual experiences of which the mind is capable.    He can pull down the Highest Light of Consciousness and transform all the lower energies.    However, one must work to reduce the influence of the ego in order to see one’s actions, as not one’s own, but as those of the divine Shakti (Babaji) working in a lower form and on even inferior levels of one’s being.     One must indeed see oneself as a part of a universal power working through one’s own individual mind, life and physical existence.

The ego in us can make a claim on the Divine (Babaji).    Such is an egoistic claim and intrinsically contains elements of reactions and falseness.    The ego sense is always an intrusive element, a filer of ignorance, distorting or contaminating the potentially pure shakti and its higher actions and spiritual workings.     We must be ever vigilant and content in our attempt to become only a more perfected vehicle of Nature.     If the influence of the ego is not reduced it can pervert the flow of true  inspiration.    When we first become aware of a new channel of inspiration, the impulse of the egoistic mind is to take it and use it for egoistic purposes.    The ego takes delight in a great sense of power and strength and will not await the purification process, but will use it for its own unpurified and selfish, arrogant actions.    This undoubtedly leads to spiritual decline and lost of true insight and intuition.  And considering oneself as a spiritual instrument is no remedy for ego, for a strong ego will continue to meddle in the matter and continue to  make one feel “special and important.”    The only remedy is to understand that the grace of Higher Inspiration can only be maintained,  if one lessens personal effort and individual ambition.

Once you have established a relationship with Babaji you will begin to have experiences of Him in your dreams, meditations and even along your life’s path.   At the Kumbhamela,  Govindan on the last day prayed to have an eye to eye meeting with Babaji before he left.  As he walked alone back to the hotel through a deserted forest path, with this thought in his heart, he was passed by a beautiful sadhu whom he had not seen before.  Their eyes locked for nearly a minute and again several time more as he walked ahead.  Govindan was filled with love and bliss and although the man did not look at all like Babaji, Govindan felt that itwas an answer to his prayer.  

I too had an experience that I attribute to a gift from Babaji.  I had been sick in bed for days and  decided to take a walk to try to shake it.  Within minutes, I had been brushed by a man on a motorcycle, annoyed by the shrill blare of horns , assaulted by the smells of rancid oil and spices, disgusted by the sight of a dog eating his vomit just feet away from a tea and chapati walla.  I turned onto a main street and my sense of tiredness and  irritation grew with the growing  flow of people, motorbikes and rikshaws moving toward me, against me, on the dirty  busy street.   I had had enough!  Mid-step, I spun around and began to walk back toward the hotel and back to my bed.   Within moments, I heard a strong voice from behind me, “Try to have a nice day!”    No one in India says,  “have a nice day.”   I took a couple of steps and then stopped full, and  turned around.   There, still at least 15 feet behind me walked a very tall Indian sadhu.   He smiled at me and said, “Have a nice day!”  I pranamed and said, Oh Babaji!  and thanked him.  (of course, all babas are  called Babaji in India, but my heart smiled as I said it.)  I was immediately filled with peace and joy, all my irritation left me and I felt well.   I continued back to the hotel.  Govindan was there and said that I looked like I was feeling better.  I said, funny enough, I am!

Finders and Seekers

I am back in Florida.   Govindan went back to the Quebec ashram to give an Initiation.   I will go there this week for a few days and then we both return to Florida for a month.    I am working on a new book called, “Balance and Harmony Guaranteed!”  It is a book of 14 different Yoga sessions for health and happiness.

I was a bit jet lagged after two months in India, but waking at 3 am or 4 am has been nice.    I have gotten so much work done in those extra early morning hours.

At various times while at the Kumbhamela many of us had an experience or felt a reassuring hand and had mental images of Mahavatar Babaji.  As I think back on the last two months, it is those moments I most recall.

I received an email today from a man in his forties who, quite out of the blue has had experiences with Babaji and Higher Consciousness.  He was not a yogi, in fact never practiced Yoga and didn’t know who Mahavatar Babaji was until he discovered his name and photo on the Internet.

He writes “…there was a shift in my consciousness and a meeting and receiving what i can only call Divine help. I cannot explain with words the intensity and profoundness of my experience… all I can say, has anyone ever come to you because they met or saw Babaji before? I searched all over the internet to find something, or someone that could tell me who this man is, his name initially. And in my search, I came to find that he taught Kriya Yoga (and other things I am sure).    I cannot forget my experience or Babaji and as far as I am concern there are no religions, only consciousness and humanity…”

His words, and these kinds of experiences are so sweet to me.

A few blogs ago, a woman wrote wanting to know more about Babaji.    So I will share a bit,  for  all Seekers and Finders.

Kriya Babaji is a great yoga master who lived in Tibet and the Indian Himalayas in relative obscurity from the outer world. With the publication of Autobiography of a Yogi in 1946, Paramahansa Yogananda brought Babaji’s existence to the attention of a wide audience. In fact, Yogananda cites Babaji as the master who, in 1861, initiated Lahiri Mahasaya into the kriya yoga techniques that brought him to Self-realization. Lahiri in turn initiated Sri Yukteswar, who subsequently revealed the techniques to Paramahansa Yogananda, who then brought this knowledge to the West. Paramahansa explained that Babaji has lived for a very long time — many centuries — and that he has exercised, mostly anonymously, an enormous uplifting influence upon mankind by guiding many spiritual teachers, often at a distance, without their knowledge.

In 1952 and 1953, Babaji personally dictated three books to V.T. Neelakantan, a well known Indian journalist.    These three books, after a long period of being out-of-print, were reprinted in 2003 by Babaji’s Kriya Yoga Order of Acharyas as a single volume entitled The Voice of Babaji: A Trilogy on Kriya Yoga.   The following passages are taken  directly  from the “The Voice of Babaji.”

Babaji’s State of Being, Satchitananda

I Am Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute. I am That by very nature. I cannot be anything else but That, as I am That alone without a beginning and an end. It is My real innate nature. I am the Absolute and Supreme Self, both within and without the finitude. I am Truth, eternal and everlasting…..I am the changeless One in the midst of all changes. I am the Formless in all forms. Change is linked up with form and form is labeled with change. But I am beyond the two. I am not susceptible to all the ills of the flesh that exist crawling under the feet of form and change. I am the monistic unity, here, there and everywhere and at all times — nay for all times. Where is happiness, except in perfect realization of the One without a second? …. I seat Myself in the very heart of delusion undeluded. I am ever steady and steadfast in all its tumblings and stumblings. I am always firm in all its fleetings. I am the One eternal Truth, in all falsehood. I am pure Bliss of Perfect Freedom. I am the simple life of Eternity. I am the one Light of everlasting Truth. I am the virgin love of Immortality. I am the essence of all-pervading Infinity. I am the sole breath of all Nature. I am Truth, Freedom, Life, Light and Love. I am Eternity, Immortality and Infinity…..I am beyond concentration, meditation, Yoga and all other practices, I am indivisible and of the nature of self resplendent consciousness…. What can make me afraid? I care not for the nature’s laws. Death is a joke to me and I am the death of death. I am the Infinite, the Eternal and the Immortal Self. (pages 233-234)

Some of the most memorable passages on Spiritual Wisdom from the Voice of Babaji.

The most consummately beautiful thing in the universe is the rightly fashioned life of a good person. That kind of life is not an accident….It is a highly creative work of art. A person’s life must first and foremost be a beautiful creation. Life’s greatest achievement is the continual re-making of one’s self, so that at last one may know how to live everlasting life. When we encounter this rare individual, we cannot help noticing his moral beauty. It is an exceptional and striking phenomenon, one never forgets it. This form of beauty is far more impressive than the beauty of nature. It gives to those who possess its divine gifts a strange, inexplicable and incomprehensible power. It increases the strength of the intellect much more than science, art and religious rites. Moral beauty is the basis of civilization. (page 32)

Intuition and instinct have more to do with the shaping of character and behavior than intelligence or imitation, or impulse. Let the heart, the Inner Man in the heart, guide you, rather than emotion and intellect. Try to get nearer and abide by the “I” in the “I” at home, in the tram, in the bus, alone, in company, by the seashore or near a flower or a plant, abide by and in the “I.” Build up your individuality slowly and surely. Self-dependence is needed. Independence will not do. Freedom alone is not enough. (page 27)

Never again get into the snare of the cycle of births and deaths. Always keep close to the “I” that is nearest to the heart and never slacken the vigil over the straying of your mind. Day after day, night after night and hour by hour try to bring out, make it a point to irradiate the Inner  “I,” which alone gives you a personality and a meaning to that personality. (page 26)

Make a note of this. Wisdom shines from the temple of the pure heart. Wisdom is the crown for the structure of life. Hence my child, you must express in redoubtable  terms the Infinite Light of Divine Wisdom in all your writings, your books and more particularly in your daily round of life. (page 33)

By practice, you may develop your thought power to be active and responsive at the same time, daily and systematically. Thoughts are effusive. They are elusive. They must be made captive and held fugitive. Be calm and collected, focus your mind to one point and…wait. Thoughts of the light of satchidananda (truth-consciousness-bliss) will then steam out and flow from the source, the fountainhead of all thought. (page 32)

Be always in your own company and enjoy it. There is no society, club, institution, association, general body or governing body to go and join, that guides and rules. You rule in and out, absolutely. You and yourself alone are the general body. The “I” in “I” in you is the governing body, governing director and directing governor. Silence and meditation (mounam and mananam) are the twin aids to peace, power and prosperity.  (page 31)

The physical discomforts or the unkind treatment of others should not ruffle the serenity of your mind. Let there exist no trace of melancholy in your presence. The ups and downs in life are the order of nature. They chasten your character and smooth its angularities, leading it ultimately to perfection. Have a heart of crystal sincerity.   (page 39)

Listen carefully. You must be all attention. I want you to grow up as an integrated, calm, steady, stable individual. Give your self to the “inner man,” then you can meet the challenge of any man, anywhere and everywhere. Don’t go in to ruminate, but get in and dominate. Will you?  (page 32)

The Underlying Oneness of Religions

The spirit of religion is one, though its expressions vary. Those who do not know, quarrel with and hate one another in the name of religion. But those who know, honor all religions while following that form of faith which suits them best. (page 34)

There is no set form for worship. Whatever form one’s devotion takes, it will culminate in the realization of God, provided, there is sincerity and faith; for all paths lead to Me.  (page 34)

Remember that true religion does not divide but unites; does not injure but heals; does not kill but saves. It is your privileged lot….to ceaselessly endeavor to broadcast (at any opportunity) the true principles of divine living, which alone can save man from destruction. (page 33)

Different religions are but different forces in the economy of God. They are necessary to maintain the equilibrium of the world and enhance the richness of creation. They are not antagonistic, but complementary. Like the different photographs of a building taken from different angles, different religions also give us the picture of one truth from different standpoints. Various religions are but flowers of different colors, which we should tie with the chord of love into a beautiful bouquet and offer at the altar of truth. (page 63)

Impressions and Transformation

We have departed Haridwar and are now in New Delhi.  We fly out tonight.   Acharya Satyananda from Germany is leading the fourth group.  Thank you Satya!  The crowds at the Mela should begin to increase steadily now.   The biggest procession will happen on the 15th and from then to April 15th, millions will descend on Haridwar.

The fourth group is made up mostly of German speaking students.  Meeting with them on the first night, they seemed both expectant and eager to partake fully of all that the Mela will have to offer them.  None appeared tired although most had arrived in India only in the early morning hours and had had no sleep.  For a flash of a moment, I found myself wistfully thinking it would be nice to share in the experiences of this last group too. — Only for a moment —- I remembered I was ready to leave India.  We had been here since January 13.  That is 54 days.

Today has been a gentle day.   The weather here in Delhi is delightful, a cloudless and blue sky, plenty of sunshine and a cooling breeze.  We ate breakfast about 9am with two of the four students who still remain at the hotel, awaiting their evening flights home.

After a leisurely breakfast,  Govindan and I as Trustees of the registered Babaji’s Kriya Yoga Trust-India, wrote letters in favor of granting  Swami Shankardas his cave back and addressed them to the Uttarkand District Ministers of Tourism and Ministers of Forests.  Post offices are closed on Monday, but we were able to find a Speed Post office which was open near Connaught Place and post the letters. They should arrive tomorrow in the government offices located in Dehra Dun.

Two days ago we had spent about 9 hours with Swami Shankardas, reading through all his legal documentation and discussing his case and had decided that unless pressure is placed locally and this becomes a “human interest” story, he may not get his cave back.  It does appear that Swami Shankardas was illegally evicted.  But now his cave is locked and sealed and there is a certain legal power in that action.   Reading through his legal papers from the court, we find that nothing was officially declared and no judgment was taken by the Supreme Court, other than he was given permission to apply to get the cave back.  Perhaps he has a chance. But without some inside and outside pressure, it seems unlikely.   On one hand, the cave itself is not located within the Wildlife Preserve, as was originally claimed by the Forest Department and Swami’s Satguru, Tat Walla Baba was granted a lease for the cave and surrounding land in the 1940’s.   But on the other hand, the lease was not renewed and although the lease was registered originally, Swamiji does not have a copy of the original lease deed.     It is a complicated case.

Govindan was planning to write an article for Hinduism Today about the case and submit it when we return home.   But in the meantime he sent an email to some of his contacts at the magazine about it.  They responded today, saying that it is a shocking story and they want to interview Swami Shankardas soon.  They will be arriving in a few days to Haridwar, so the timing is perfect!

Swami Shankardas has been an important part of our Mela experience, even though he never attended one day of it.  We discussed some of the personalities we met at the Mela with him.  He was interested in it all.  We told him about the Baba who has kept his arm raised above his head for 35 years.  He quietly said, “he is doing this as a penance for the benefit of the world.”  We asked him about his impressions of the Nagababas and the ganja they smoked incessantly.  He said ganja held no benefit for them. In the beginning it clears the mind of thoughts and desires, but quickly it dries out the body and becomes nothing more than an addiction for all of them.  We explained that Pilot Baba buries himself under the ground for days to demonstrate the power of his Samadhi state and Consciousness.  Swami laughs and calls this “frog samadhi.”  “It is a skill, but it is merely like hibernation.   Frogs do it, snakes do it.  It is not a high state.  It is not the same thing as Enlightenment.”

For me, the transformation of many of the Kriya students is more amazing than any one Baba I met.   I want to relay a few of the transformations I have seen over this Mela, without naming names.

First, there was a man in his late forties, who came to the Kumbhamela with us, who just did not fit in.   When I first saw him, all I could think was, “what are you doing here?”    He seemed so deadly serious, undoubtedly rigid, and really a bit dark and surely pessimistic, a smile-less man who, I judge, probably believes in nothing and no one!  He appeared to be a stranger in a strange world with no possibility of ever appreciating the culture he was to explore.  “Why would such a man come here,” I kept asking Govindan?  Govindan said that he was a bit surprised when he signed up.  I kept asking questions about him.   “Was he really a Kriya Yoga student?  What do you know about him?  Why would he come?”    I actually found myself pondering him.

The first night, I found this man wandering around Haridwar, while the others were at dinner or taking rest.  He seemed to be “casing” the town.  The next day he did not come for morning sadhana but was seated at the restaurant I had told him about on the first night, when we all came for lunch. He did not respond to my smile and wave, but seemed to look straight through me. He was at a corner table, able to see anyone entering or exiting, and also often glanced sideways through the two opposing windows.  I was very curious about him.

We both got sick on the second day.  We both had violent stomach upset and then cold and flu symptoms.  He was in real distress and I wondered just how deep the dis-ease went.  I would only see him for a moment every few days.  We never really spoke.  When I would ask how he was doing, he would just nod.

Then on Holi, the day when good triumphs over evil, when love, devotion and friendship replaces ambition, I began to see cracks in this man’s armour.  While I was seated with a student having tea and talking in the hotel restaurant, avoiding the chaos outside, he came in with another man.   He was a multi-colored phenomenon.  Every part of his body was a different color.  At least all the parts I could see.   His face and neck were purple!  His chest, all shades of red and pink.  I had never seen anyone covered as he was! I burst out laughing!   He had been literally bathed in the colored powders.   He did not seem amused.    The man with him told me that a group of Nagababas had literally grabbed him, held him down and threw powdered colors all over his body.  He said they were all laughing and smearing him in a sense of great fun and joy! I told the becolored man that this was true grace!   He looked at me quite sternly, perhaps angered by my amusement of his situation.

This was the beginning I am sure of a major transformation for him.   That night, he got sicker, in fact very, very sick.  A true purging was taking place.  When he finally came out of his room, days later, he looked different.   He had some temporary deafness in one ear, but he was different.   He was open and light and even smiled.  I did not see the dark, angry, suspicion-filled man I had seen before.  He was transforming in front of my eyes.  He told me that he thought he was going to die in India.  I said, perhaps he had in a way.   I told him that I too had been very ill and over my many trips to India had had acute illness that I believe could have ended my life.   It is part of the process of India.  This is not a place for tourists.   It is part of the power that is India, when one is on the spiritual path.  I told him that it is a Grace and that the Holi powder bath had also been a grace.  He still dismissed my words, but I think I saw in his eyes, at least, an opening to the possibility.    He took a moment to reflect and said, “ Well, we’ll see?”   I smiled at him and for the first time, I could say, I liked him.

A young man from Asia arrived with us who was painfully shy. His body, mind and personality was so stiff and he refused to even look anyone in the eyes.  He spoke no English and although he really understood a lot of English, he claimed to know none.  By the end of the trip he was literally dancing in the streets. This transformation also happened on Holi.  By the end of the trip he seemed to have cracked wide open and was positive, happy, self-confident and friendly!

Many participants in all the three groups spoke of the external friction which helped them to discover aspects of themselves that had been previously unknown or unseen.  Some shared that they had been able to see the habitual bantering and bartering of their mind. Some were able to break through lifelong fears, self doubt, and anger or found their self able for the first time to forgive and felt able to move on with life, as it is.  Most everyone mentioned being more confident in their Yoga practice and in their lives.

The pilgrimage was not easy for anyone, and I am certain that everyone was brought face-to-face with what is consistently clouding their mind and disturbing their peace.  I know I was.   Unfortunately, not everyone took the opportunity to let go of what disturbs them and obstructs their progress.  Some just packed it all back up and brought it back home with them.

Some people spoke only of external events. Some remained tourists.  Some, only able to see the defects of others, missed that obvious reflection, within themselves.  Some boasted about attainments.  The ego resists.   It takes time.  Perhaps the pilgrimage should have been 48 days.

He says, “it’s a small thing!”

Over the last week, many students have gone to Pilot Baba’s camp to receive diksha from him. They have been given a mantra and a new name. They have had nice experiences. We have been pleased at their experience. One day one of the students mentioned that he teaches our Kriya Hatha Yoga 18 posture series. She had seen them in a book by Pilot Baba being sold in his camp’s bookstore. I was surprised because ours is quite a unique series of postures and questioned that surely it was not the same series. It is exactly the same series, she replied, except that there was no mention of Om Kriya Babaji Nama Aum, and the Song of Sunworship was different. I mentioned this to Govindan.

 The next day Govindan stopped at Pilot Baba’s camp and went to his bookstore to see if he could find the book. And indeed prominent, in a book entitled, “Mahayog Yoga Academia” was the18 postures of Babaji’s Kriya Yoga!  Furthermore, the whole series was a verbatim reproduction of Govindan’s book, introduction, description and benefits.

I had only briefly met Pilot Baba weeks earlier.  I had looked forward to meeting with him. He often comes to NYC and there is some story of him meeting Mahavtar Babaji in the Himalayas. I had not gotten a solid impression of Pilot Baba during that day. All I could say was that I was not drawn to spend any more time getting to know him.

We had sat with him. He was busy with his people and in the preparation of the camp. I closed my eyes to get a feel of him and meditate. Within a few minutes he said to the group, “go and have some lunch!”

I did not want lunch, but as it was that everyone seemed to be getting up and leaving, I too got up to take leave of his Presence. I followed Govindan towards the big tent where food was being served but told him that I was going to leave the camp. I did not want lunch and I did not “feel it.” He told me that some Russian students wanted to interview him and that he wanted me to be part of that interview. A Russian woman rushed up to him. I told them that we did not want lunch and that we preferred to go back and sit with Baba and that perhaps later we could do an interview. The woman (an Ukranian) followed us back to where Baba was sitting and we sat back down with about five others.  Pilot Baba seemed very distracted and spoke only briefly to those seated with him. He saw that we had returned but did not ask about us or if we had questions. He shifted in his seat and said rather dismissively, “Well, I will go have lunch!” He got up and left. The Russians swarmed for the interview. That has been my only experience of Pilot Baba.

When Govindan found the copyright infringement in the book, he walked straight over to where P.B. was sitting, surrounded by a group of people.  Govindan sat next to him and discretely handed Baba two books. One was the book he had just bought, Mahayog Yoga Academia, written in 2009 and the other was his own book written first in 1991.   Pilot Baba was taken aback.

 P.B. told Govindan that he would stop selling the book immediately.  And then later said that he could perhaps continue to sell the books but give Govindan some credit or reference his book.  Govindan stepped away, looked at him and said, “Just do the right thing!”

 I saw the two books.  The text had been lifted straight from Babaji’s Kriya Hatha Yoga and retrofitted in this new book, Mahayog Yoga Academia, as the Yoga of Pilot Baba.  Only, Om Kriya Babaji Nama Aum was replaced with Om Suryanarayanan Namah Aum and a traditional Song of Sunworship in place of the Tamil Song of Sunworship. The series was even laid out in the same fashion and not a word had been changed.   And funny to me that even some the little mistakes in the old drawings had been incorrectly performed in the photos.

Govindan wrote a letter to Pilot Baba that day and also wrote to the Publisher making an official complaint and offering a quite generous solution, that all books sold in the future reference that the description of the 18 postures and their benefits had been reproduced from the book “Babaji’s Kriya Hatha Yoga” with the permission of Marshall Govindan and Babaji’s Kriya Yoga Order of Acharyas Trust, with the Trust’s postal address and telephone and email address.

The next day Govindan and Rohit went back to Pilot Baba’s camp to speak to him privately. Rohit was there to translate anything that was not clear. The interview went smoothly.  Pilot Baba said he had removed the books from the sales counter.   However, it was surprising that Pilot Baba said two other things. First, he said: “it is a small thing!” And later repeated it.   And second, after agreeing that Govindan be referenced for the reproduction of his book, he said, with a tone of arrogance, “Yes, I will give you the credit for this in my book and so you will become famous all over the world!”    Rohit immediately retorted, this book has already sold more than 150,000 copies all over the world for the past 20 years and has been translated into more than 17 languages.

There was a long pause in the conversation. Then P.B. said: “I am sorry.” That was all Govindan was waiting to hear.  He left.

It had been just  days before, when Govindan and Andrew Cohen had a 20 minute discussion with Pilot Baba.   Andrew asked him whether he would tell us about his experience of Enlightenment.  There was no reply. So Andrew asked him another question: “Is it Enlightenment or Transformation which is essential.”   Pilot Baba replied: “Enlightenment.” He added, that everything else happens automatically, according to karma.   Later he added: “all these people who write about Enlightenment and Yoga are just copying each other without having experienced it.  It was a subtle criticism of the two interviewers, but it also reflected what he had done with regards to copying Govindan’s book!

Andrew Cohen, upfront and across the table

We were in Rishikesh yesterday. We spent time with Swami Shankaradas again.   I felt a sense of sadness leaving him as he stood smiling goodbye on the rooftop balcony of the Rajdeep Hotel. We had to take an early leave of Swamiji to have time to reach the Sivananda Ashram auditorium where Andrew Cohen, the American spiritual guru would be giving a talk on Evolutionary Enlightenment.  I told everyone to choose what they wanted to do with their time, that we would meet at 7:30 pm at the arranged place to board the bus back to Haridwar.  Some people chose to remain with Swamiji, surely Swami  who had lived in a cave his whole life would have more for them than this American would.

 Most of us rush back to the Sivananda Ashram, down the hill and across the Ramjhula bridge and up the winding street and back up at least a thousand steps to the spacious open reception area that had been set up for Andrew in the Auditorium.   The room was flooded in sunlight and beautiful bouquets of purple orchids, yellow gerbera daisies and red gladiolas were set out around the chair upfront.   A lady in a dark blue kirtan pulled curtains here and there, blocking some of the direct sunshine and allowed  a cooling breeze to flow throughout the  room.   I had entered the room looking for Govindan who had already arrived and was seated in a chair next to a window; it’s curtain was flowing lightly in the breeze.   Ah, he  had saved me a chair near the window and close to the door, perfect!

 I sat down and enjoyed the next fifteen minutes, watching all the variety of  people who had come to the  Sivananda Ashram to hear an American iconoclast speak on the Evolution of Enlightenment.   There were a lot of serious people seated in these chairs and on the floor. There are swamis and lay-people, westerners and Indians.  Although the majority were western,  almost all were dressed as yogis in ochre and orange and pink and yellow or white. There were a lot of shaved heads.   

 Andrew, on the other hand, walked into the room laughing and wearing the loudest outfit I have seen since the 70s!   He was wearing a  charteuse long sleeve shirt and a vest of gold with flowers printed all over it.  His hair is cut short and he is sporting his characteristic moustache. He has more grey hair than I expected, but then so do I. 

 He took charge of the room immediately.   He begins  to talk about the deep states of meditation and even Samadhi that many of us are experiencing.    He says that is in those states where the thoughts disappear and the breath disappears and time disappears and the body disappears that we can find God as Ecstatic Urgency.   He says that God wants us to want to be here fully expressing life.   That Spirit is within each of us and It shines as Positive, Creative Urgency.    He says that Kundalini is God and that She can be seen in the as an expression of Creative Urgency, evidenced first as sexual desire.  

  He says that we have to some extent developed the strength of our separate selves by having experienced high states of consciousness but that many of us have become lost in our own self-infatuation. We don’t lack for confidence; we are self secure. A huge problem in society is today is the opposite, narcissism. 

Andrew also speaks of an overwhelming numbers of young people in their twenties and thirties who suffer from negativity.   Their mind so full of confusion and existential angst,  they can see no reason for life, no reason to be here participating in the play of Consciousness.  They sit and stand as if they have the weight of the world on their shoulders.

 Some of the people in the audience respond by shifting their posture.

 The world, he says, has never before seen a time when so many people are able to live so well. Never before have so many people had so much money and the capability to do whatever it is that they want to do.  Of course, he admits, as a sense of compassion flashes across his face, there are also millions who are without the basic necessities of life and live lives of suffering. But, also, he begins again,  there are so many millions who do live with all they require for a good life and still they suffer.  

The suffering  is because they do not understand that God is within their very own self.   God is closer than their own lifeblood and the meaning of life is that God wants “you” to be here, to be present, enjoying and creating anew.   God is positive dynamic energy.  God is available to each one of us in our evolution into more conscious human beings.  God is expressing Himself each time we do something creative, in each “impulse to create something that is new.”   It is in those people who are so full of dynamic creative energy and a sense of  urgency that they work without sleep, fully fixated on the task at hand.

The talk lasts two hours, but there are many questions from the audience afterwards–some interesting, some merely narcissistic. 

Govindan goes to shake hands with Andrew. Andrew reaches his hand out before he gets over to him.   “Hi Marshall, Andrew says!  We finally meet. Carter Phillips sends his regards.”  They have known of each other for a long time.  Govindan had given a rather provocative interview  with Carter Phillips in “What is Enlightenment” many years ago. 

The next day I am sick with a headache, nausea , congestion and cough.  I do not get up to walk over for morning sadhana at the camp. I go down to the lunchroom around noon and see a few of our group enjoying a late breakfast.  We chat about when do we know what it is we are supposed to do in life?

Govindan comes into the restaurant with Andrew Cohen, his wife and an entourage of about ten others. I meet Andrew personally for the first time. He is very easy to be with. He has no airs about him, none of the “guru” personae he maintains when he is on stage teaching.  His wife is Indian and lovely, also very open and friendly. She orders food. She seems to know precisely how much of everything to order. She tells me I should try kechari without spices to help my body heal. Unfortunately, the kechari still has spices and so much salt, I can eat only a small serving.  It doesn’t hit the spot.

We talk about many things, his magazine, Kriya Yoga movement and various spiritual personalities we have met and not met, conspiracy theories we have recently heard of, and also seriously about young people and this particular “me” generation and their lack of energy to be here.   He says this generation require strict mental discipline and he says, “Don’t you want to just shake them and say snap out of it? “ He wants to take them by the shoulders and shake them and smack em across the face saying, Wake Up!   I ask if he has written a book yet addressing this Generation.   He says no.  I ask why not and suggest he writes a book directed at reaching them,    He says it is a good idea.   I say they need a guru, to whom they can relate.    Both Andrew and his wife smile broadly. I hope it is an idea that manifests into a book soon. 

 I like Andrew Cohen.

Govindan spent the rest of the day with him and his group. They visit Nagababas. One who is 95 looks about 60 and demonstrates how he has been able to eliminate all all sexual desire. He wraps his penis around his sword and tucks it under his legs. He says that this action destroys all sensual sensation, eliminates all sexual desire and transmute energy. All sexual energy rises to the higher chakras. Andrews group film all the meetings. None of the naked sadhus refuse to be filmed.

After visiting the Junakhada camp, they visit Pilot Baba and spend about an hour with him discussing various things. Pilot Baba recognized Andrew immediately, but Andrew does not recall ever meeting Pilot Baba. Pilot Baba tells him that they spent an hour in his hotel room in NYC about 5 years back! Finally both Andrew and his wife recalled the meeting. Andrew thought it was so strange that he had forgotten the meeting. Andrew asked PB if his goal was transcendence or transformation. PB says, transformation and says that transformation is not possible in Maya. This is a classical argument that was not possible to continue due to the particular circumstance of the meeting. It would probably have been most interesting for both of them to have been able to delve into both sides of the issues deeply.

Govindan tells me how much he likes Andrew and that he felt he and Andrew had struck a sort of “friendship” by the time the group left Haridwar for Rishikesh.   

 Today is Holi, the day of triumph of good over evil, devotion over ambition.  It just seems to be another crazy day in India…a day when everyone seems to delight in dropping water on unsuspecting strangers  and throwing brightly colored powders all over each other.  The colors tend to stain clothes and the skin, so it is important that one not wear anything that they hope to ever wear again. Everyone in the hotel is splattered with colors, even the restaurant servers and room maintenance men.

Everyone is  in a very good mood. It seems that this particular  holi day  is just a day of fun and frivolity.

Tea and Aum

This is now my 6th week in India and it has been a marathon.  Since arriving at the Kumbhamela we have walked 6-8 miles each day to and from the campgrounds, and about Haridwar and Rishikesh,  practiced Yoga postures and meditated deeply.  We have met with many yogis and nagababas, mixed daily with and taken prasaad (blessed food) of water and sugar from the hands of these babas, all the while, mixing with masses of  coughing, sneezing devotees.    Amazingly,  I have stayed healthy.

Two days ago I was sitting with Patrick at lunch discussing the importance of deepest purification to reach the State of Truth and Reality. I said the kind of cleansing that removes all desires, all conditioning, must require a godlike saint on the order of Anandamayi Ma.  I said I believe that such a Being is required to move us into the highest realms of Samadhi.  Patrick was telling me about his Guru who is described as a divine incarnation and said to be hundreds of years old.  His Guru refuses to answer questions regarding his date of birth, but mentions people he has met,  suggesting he is several centuries old and an ancient soul.

That night we went to a Kriya Yoga ashram in Haridwar.   The cave where Lahiri Mahasaya often meditated is open and people are free to meditate in it.   However, meditating anywhere on the ashram grounds feels like a boon, even though it is on a main thoroughfare with  constant lorry traffic.  It is a place to go to meditate deeply and is part of our lineage.   

Returning to the hotel I took a light dinner — a grilled veggie sandwich and lemon ginger tea.   An hour or so later I became violently ill.  I vomited all night long, had severe abdominal distress and diarrhea. 

I am still in bed, two days later, but can at least sit up to type some for my blog. 

 Throughout the trip a few participants have gotten a throat infection and flu-like symptoms.  No one  else has complained of digestional tract distress.   I am at least happy to have had a deep internal cleansing from the ordeal.

Four students went early this morning to the campground of Pilot Baba and received diksha from him.  They were dressed in ochre, given spiritual names, a mantra, touched at various points and given a rudruksha for use when meditation is difficult.  They all seemed very happy.

Another group is having a holy bath in the Ganges.  From the bath they will go back to the Kriya Yoga campgrounds and start a Homa and begin a 4-hour mantra yagna.  A wonderful dinner is planned for them at the campground tent. I may try to walk over and participate in the yagna.  Or I may just participate by meditating in my bed.

I hope to be fine by tomorrow and walk over for early morning sadhana.  Tomorrow evening we will go to AnandaMayi Ma’s ashram for arati, surely Her Divine  energy will heal me of any lingering illness. ..  I feel dizzy and must sleep.

Morning arrives and I feel cold and begin coughing.   I am exhausted.  I have not sleep  well.   Govindan goes onto the camp.  I dress and go down to the restaurant for a pot of boiling water and perhaps some porridge.  I meet a group of kriyabans downstairs, two are going to Rishikesh until they return home on March 2 and the other four will stay on in Haridwar until then.    These lovely people have been here with us since January 13.    They rescheduled their return flights, deciding instead to stay on at the Kumbhamela.  They are receiving a lot from their experiences here.   They know that I have been down with a stomach ailment.

 All their faces were bright and shinning; although two of them had also had a day of vomiting and diarrhea and one had not slept in a week.  The sleepless-one says that he has been able watch his mind during this time, but has not been able to meditate at all.  I fall silent, I communicate with thought and gesture.  They are very dear to me.

I have slept little over the past month and now have not eaten in several days.  I too do not feel sleepy, nor do I have hunger.  I feel introverted and self-contained.   Self-contained like a cocoon, protective of myself, careful of what I eat or drink or breathe or draw into myself on all levels.   The hotel and the streets are noisy and cooking smells are strongly scented with spices.   I find myself longing for the quiet, pure air of home.

I get a pot of boiled water and take it back up two flights of stairs to my room to make some tulasi and lemon tea.  I had planned to walk over to the camp, but just the walk upstairs has tired me.    I decided to write a bit on  my blog before beginning the several miles to the camp. 

A few days ago while we were at the Kriya Yoga ashram where Lahiri Mahasaya meditated, we met a long time disciple of Kriya Yoga, a member of the Y.S.S./S.R.F.  He gave each of us a rudruksha bead with three faces from the tree in the garden there.  In addition he gave Govindan a book written from the writings of the God-intoxicated Saint, Swami Ramatirtha, written in 1905.

Swami Ramatirtha speaks brilliantly, illuminatingly about “finding oneness with the Lord by establishing some sort of relationship with Him, who is indescribable, beyond words, who is one without a second. He can be known, Swamiji says, through AUM, which signifies His all pervasive universalism, which includes your very own Self.”

To chant AUM correctly fills the heart and mind with peace, tranquility and bliss. One can experience the limitless ocean of power and energy within and without you.  To chant AUM is to  take a refreshing, invigorating bath in the Ganges of Peace and Serenity.  

Each time the conch shell is blown by the sadhus,  the AUM is produced, and  peace, concentration and self-confidence is radiated into the atmosphere.   It helps devotees merge with the Lord in their heart.   I have  experienced this here at the Mela on several occasions. The conch is blown daily in all the camps.

I sit in my room at the hotel,  aware of incessant sounds, people chatting,  men on the street selling wares, motorcycles, cymbals and bhajans,  crashing and banging and screeching tires and horns, but all the while listening for the AUM working through the universe.  It is a good practice.

 I chant AUM aloud, yet silently and with a prayer that my body  be strengthened.   I sip some more tulasi lemon tea.

Two Swamis with a Mission

Two days ago we visit the Kumbhamela camp of Sohambaba. Yesterday we visit Swami Shankaradas again in Rishikesh.   They both have a mission.

Sohambaba has been known to us since we arrived at the Mela.  There are many various  billboards about him, carrying his image and his message.  His verbal message is simple: “take care of the earth by planting trees and picking up garbage.”  When we go to his campground to  meet him we are impressed by the thatch roof mandir under which a huge homa, fire pit is burning.  To one side of the camp beautiful vedic prayers and being chanted by Brahmin priests.  A white clothed yogi sits under the thatched roof chanting scripture. 

  First thing, a naked Nagababa comes out of a very large tented building.  He walks with a procession of folks to the homa and sits down for a  few minutes in a seat of red cushions.  He smiles alot and speaks in Hindi to a couple of people dressed in ocher cloth seated near him.  The people who followed  him out from the tented building also sat down around the fire.    I wondered how many people understood what the Baba was saying, as  most looked to be Westerners.  Rohit translates some for Govindan and I, but I can’t presently recall anything from the conversation.  The talk was about seeking God.

The naked Baba got up after about ten minutes and walked toward a SUV, again with a large entourage.     Swami Sohambaba, who was talking with some other people walked  to the SUV  to give the Nagababa a proper send-off and then  told his people to invite all those who wanted to meet him and have questions,  to come into the large tented building for darshan.  

  As we entered the tent with  three massive rooms, our eyes widen like saucers.   The tent was covered floor to ceiling in red and gold silks.  The only word that describes it accurately is opulent.   This could have been the tent of a rich Maharaja or sheik making his way across the desert.  There were golden thrones and silver chairs and bejeweled furniture and diamond and emerald and saffire umbrellas.   Sohambaba was sitting in a second room on a massive and quite beautifully ornate ‘ivory’ bed.   It looked like real ivory!   Amazing silk covers and pillows adored it.  He  talked abit about himself and what he is accomplishing all over the world.  He  invited us to come often to his comp and to participate in the clean-up of the banks of the Ganges and to support his mission in the various countries in which we live.  We have not yet seen anyone of his disciples actually taking part in a cleanup around Haridwar, although it would certainly be a good way to impress us all immensely.  If that were his goal.

Sohambaba talked about his center in the Netherlands and then turned to his work in South America, when one of our students asks him about it.   He says  in Peru, he is helping to bring attention to the arsenic laden water and implementing some process of bringing fresh drinking water to the peoples there.  “Mass numbers of people have suffered painful deaths from this arsenic contamination,”  he states.  He seems to have many disciples and “friends” in various parts of the world.

His message is a good one, and particularly significant in India where garbage is simply tossed out in a toxic heap in back alleys and street gutters and buildings seem to still serve as public toilets.   Plastic and packaging liters the streets and roads and animals, cows, pigs and dogs eye candy wrappers as eatables.  But unfortunately meeting Sohambaba irresistibly invites disbelief and even irritation.  His “over the top” dress  in red robe and turban makes him look much more like a king from some ancient Asian tale.    Perhaps his opulence  is a façade but it  distorts at least for me, the purity of  his message.   And it creates an atmosphere of suspicion. Moreover Sohambaba has three security guards placed around him, all the time we are with him.  Dressed in black, wearing dark shades, even inside the huge tent, the three speaking into their mouthpieces, presumably with each other; totally in control of the situation.   But what situation, one wonders?

Swami Shankaradas says everything has changed in the sadhu community.  Sadhus are rich these days.   He says sadhus are like  police;  they wear a special color cloth and become personalities. They lives luxurious lives and need guards to protect all their many possessions. Then, also there are the beggars who also adopt the persona, put on orange robes and do nothing but sit and beg.  There are those who are addicted to the drugs they smoke and whose mind is  no longer clear.  He shows no sense of judgment only observation.

All Swamiji says he wants is the cave of his guru’s back, the cave of Tat Walla Baba’s Samadhi. He says he owes it to his Guru to get it back into his possession and that it for His devotees.   We discuss perhaps he needs to create a Trust to help him procure it.   H e says that Trusts are most untrustworthy in general as the moment people are given some authority they take control and often even oust the sadhus!    This he says has happened at the Gita Ashram which is close by.  We know of it.   His face drops a moment in reflection.

 Swamiji tells us some stories of his life with Tatwalla Baba.  So little is known of his Guru’s life. No one even knew his name.  Tatwalla means “jute”… which was the fabric he wore around his loins.  He wore nothing else.    Swami speaks of the importance of asana, pranayama, meditation and of having a mantra. “One mantra is all one needs, but this must create a direct connection between you and your Guru.” Someone asks about the need for a Guru. “It is absolutely required, but ultimately,” Swamiji says,” the guru is your own soul.” God is created emotionally. “You must have a guru to initiate you. And if you leave this guru, you must not leave the teachings. Keep them, practice them always.”

 He says that he did seva for his Guru, whatever was asked of him, he did, without thought, without asking for anything in return.  He never asked directly for anything, not even a mantra or meditation.  He received everything that he required always immediately or the next day after arising from sleep. This includes food, cloth, or practices, samadhi or direct knowledge.

He was asked about the importance of idols and rudrakshas for one’s personal practice. He says idols are not important. But that it is easier to worship God outside oneself, and for beginners it is recommended.  He says rudrakshas are good for mantra japa, and also  for lowering or balancing blood pressure.   He says spiritual relationships are the most important support we can have on our Yogic path.  We require high spiritual vibration in order to progress the body, mind, brain and heart.

Swamiji receives many questions  that he avoids answering with, “Yes, but that is my secret.” I  am hoping that at some point, we will be able to welcome him at our ashram in Canada and he will open up with us and share some of his “secrets” for the benefit of so many in the world who seek sincerely.   It is certain that he has things in his heart, about Yoga to share.  He seems no longer to desire the exclusivity of cave dwelling.   He seems to accept that he will share his Knowledge.

He has been working on a procedure to prolong healthy youth of the body and clarity to the brain.  He wants to offer help to bring innocent purity back to the mind and heart. He speaks about bringing the elements into harmony in the body.   He talks about the importance of cleansing the physical body and says there are ways to cleans the brain waves through Yoga. “Ignore the emotions and what disturbs you and their influence will slowly dissolve. ” Swami says. 

 He  is these days very animated when it comes to speaking about the problems created by the world religions.   He wants a  new religion to rise up in the world, a religion in which the foremost tenant is “Respect Human Life.”   He says he wants to share a meditation to young disenfranchised men and women who willingly sacrifice their life (i.e., suicide bombers) out of ignorance and religious fanaticism. He wants them to have a direct experience of what happens at death so they can know that death and heaven is not anything like, that which they are told. And  that killing will never bring about  martyrdom. 

 I see for the first time the “fire in his belly.”   He has a target other than his cave; a reason d’être, something that justifies his existence still in this body.   His eyes are intense.  It has not yet been revealed how he is to be of service in this regard    “All humanity is one, he say, “ever feeling, thinking the same. 

  “Success,” he says, “I still  need some success.”    He needs something else to happen within himself, something which he has not accomplished to his satisfaction.  Some inner work is not yet complete.   With success he can begin to share what he knows and he seems to want to share it widely.

The night of Siva

On the night of the eleventh of February, we had an all night chant and mantra yagna around a sacred fire (homa).  This was the beginning of Maha Sivaratri, the night of Siva. This is the night when yogis pay their deepest respect to Siva for allowing them to receive the teachings of Yoga. Yoga is that scientific system that helps those who are able to concentrate their mind, energy and will, to unite with their inner divine Self.  The goal of a yogi on this evening is the ecstasy of union with Siva in an ecstatic dance of Consciousness.  It is a night that can stimulate deep internal consequences that creates transformation.

We began at 6pm just before sunset and completed just before sunrise, 6am. It was very sweet. There were about 130 people tending to the fire chanting throughout the night.  Those attending to the chant are from Europe, Russia, Brazil, North America, Sri Lanka, Singapore and all parts of India.

It is a night to reflect on the questions in one’s soul. It is a night in which one can make a prayer from the heart and expect to receive an answer.   I pray to be able to see the unadulterated truth on all levels of my life and being and to know  it, when I see it.  I make my prayer and hand it over to the fire. 

We go to the bathing ghats in the morning. There are thousands of people in an area that we expected to be relatively empty.  Nowhere today, can one find relatively empty space, not even in back alleys.  There is a large procession, perhaps the largest of all the processions, and people are loitering and cruising the streets waiting for it to begin.  The time and routes are held a secret to the crowds.  We know only where the parade of sadhus will conclude and that is at Hari ki Pari, the main bathing ghat, where it is said that Brahma first welcomed the Ganges.

 We return to the campgrounds for breakfast of iddly and uttapam and chai. The lentil delicacies and warm spicy tea are nourishing and nurturing for all of us, and even if we are a bit sleepy and cold we are also delightfully content.

Before we can consider where we might go to view the parade, a procession of nagababas passes us in the streets. So many naked men covered in ash; young and old, all shapes and sizes,  muscular, skinny and really chubby  walk pass us.   A woman close to me squeals, startling me.  She begins to cry hysterically.  She claims a baba has given her saktipath and she rushes over to him laying her head on his the feet.   He is brusque with her, pushes her off and marches on.    Other people rush him to pranam, perhaps hoping for shaktipath or some boon.

A large magestic  float is coming toward us.    Hundreds of disciples of Sohambaba walking with tree seedlings in their hands, precede it.    Sohambaba is an environmentalist who preaches bringing peace to the world and the planet.   We see Sohambaba standing on the float, surrounded by others in shades of pinks, yellow and orange.  He is very bright and has a shinning face and eyes.  He looks down at us and seems to recognize Govindan.   There are many sadhus on horses and it is all very impressive, but the crowd begins to close in on us.  We are all shoulder to shoulder and it is impossible to step aside.  Then pushing starts from behind us. One can do nothing but push back and hold one’s ground.  A security police uses his stick to force us away from his car.   I consider that it will not be possible for us to view the procession at  Hari ki Pari.  It is much too congested.   We are not used to such crowds .   Govindan and I, along with four Indian students are able to break free of the growing mob of people moving like a single force in one direction and head for our hotel. We choose to eat lunch in a quiet restaurant and talk of Kriya Yoga. We discuss our mutual interest in having an Indian acharya.

Many of the nagababas of the Juna akhada are seated naked in their tents chatting with visitors of all kinds, doing pujas and of course smoking.  They are very friendly and sweet, however they smoke a lot; it seems almost constantly.  They smoke herbal intoxicants from a pipe called a chillum.  The herbs are ganja, bhang or bhatura.  The smoke tames the senses.   It squelches desire for both food and sex they say.   Those babas who speak English seem open and willing to tell their life stories to sincerely interested visitors.  

They seem to know who we are or at least I often hear them say Mahavatar Babaji and Badrinath when I walk slowly by their camps.  Perhaps that is just a coincidence.  In the night all the camps are alive with ecstatic chants of Siva.   There is a celebration in the air over Haridwar, which lasts over several days. It is like the weekend-long wedding parties of India.

We are enjoying our sadhana times as much as our visits to the various camps and enjoying our repeated visits to Anandamayi Ma Ashram and Swami Kebalananda’s ashram where Lahiri Mahasaya meditated.  It is during these times when we are all most often granted a glimpse of a hidden world and  experience the most profound peace and beauty.   We are all grateful for the  flowering of the spirit which is a source of joy to us and to those around us.

Who was that?

We visit our good friend Swami Shankaradas living in a Rishikesh hotel. We have known him for some 8 years now.   We first discovered him when he was still living in his cave in the forest around Rishikesh.  He had first arrived at that very cave when he was 17 years old, some 45 years earlier.  He had come from Bombay in search of God.  As a young boy of 7, he had heard that God lived in the Himalayas.  And although he doubted that God would actually be found residing there, he felt he could at least find someone who knew His address.

The boy found himself in Rishikesh and heard that there was a great sage, hundreds of years old, living in the forest nearby, who knew God.   He immediately found his way to the cave. When he reached the cave Tat Walla Baba was standing outside it, hands folded as if waiting for him.  The great sage looked very young.  “How could he be so old?” he questioned silently.  Babaji looked deeply into the eyes of this 17 year old boy, whose spouted out,  only, “what is God address?  Do know God’s address? ”   The corners of the yogi’s mouth registered the glint of a smile and the sage spoke only one word, “yes.”  With no other word, he walked back into his cave and the boy remained outside wondering, who is this man?  Is this God?

A few minutes later a worldly man came to the cave.   He walked straight into the cave to see Tat Walla Baba.   This man was dressed like a business man and carried a black purse under his arm.  Swami Shankaradas tells that  seeing this man, he  doubed  Tat Walla Baba.  “Surely,” he thought,  “such a man could not have such easy access to God.  Still even  he might know His address.”   So the boy remained even though months would pass before Tat Walla Baba would speak again to him.   The fact is the boy never left Tat Walla Baba’s side.

Swami Shankaradas is a great being and has much to share with seekers about his life and experiences with his Guru and the world in which he himself lives.  He is a jnani, he knows the reality of the Universe.  He discovers the truth through prajna, insight, direct experience.  We have spoken for the past years about collaborating on a book.  I would help him to gather his story and wisdom teachings  in the form of a book.  He has asked me to stay in Rishikesh for several months. I have asked him to come to Canada for several months.  I ask if perhaps this is the year to work on his book. He smiles. It is up to me, he says.   He seems to enjoy sharing with students who are sincere and have questions and doubts.  He is a sweet and gentle desireless soul, who says he must create some desire in order to stay in the body.  The only desire i know that he has is to return to his cave.

Several years he was evicted from his cave home of 45 years by the forest officials. We arrived to see the initial notification being served of Swamiji.  We climbed along the narrow path to his cave and found Swamiji speaking with two men in dark brown uniforms. He was visibly disturbed.  When the men left we asked him who they were.  He said that they had come to evict him from the forest and were asking for back taxes, which was equivalent to about $40,000 USD.  A year later we found Swami Shankaradas living in a hotel in town.  Since that time he has brought his case in front of a judge in New Delhi and was actually awarded his cave back. However, due to corruption and a new push by evironmentalists to leave the forest to the animals, his cave is still locked. Swami seems fully accepting of his life in the Rajdeep hotel.   Perhaps a new experience…flying to Canada and staying at the ashram in the late summer and fall,working on a book…might sew at least a seed of interest?

In midmorning of the next day, as we were just beginning hatha yoga practice we were visited by a delightful Nagababa, a bhakti sadhu covered in ash, wearing only a loincloth and carrying a drum. He was chanting Om Nama Shivaya and blessing us all. He tapped us on the head and drummed and danced around more like a spirit than a man. He seems to float off the ground at times. He does not leave us even when we turn back to our practice.  As we continue our asanas he practices with us. He is an overachiever with regard to the asanas and takes off with the poses, deepening into them with kapalabhati breathing.  He seems to be a hatha yogi, easing into them effortlessly. He only grimaces with padmasasana.   He stays with us until we have completed our whole sadhana and continues to chant and dance. His face is ecstatically happy and his eyes show a fierceness.  He is  never to be ignored. He both arrived and disappeared at our camp a bit like Siva and one wonders if we have not just had darshan of Him.  I say to Govindan that if we never see him again at the Mela, I will certainly wonder, “Who was that?”

Today we met Pilot Baba who has a large campground, quite elaborate with geodesic domes and fountains and spaces which appear to be decorated with all the planets in our solar system.  Pilot Baba is an imposing presence. He seems quite occupied with the construction of his campgrounds and directing the many volunteers who surround him.  He has a large dining hall and invites us all for tea and then later a meal.  It is a busy bustling place.  We will return on another time and see how the camp is transformed.  It is sure to be a showcase. Already in the news it is called a 5 star camp.

There are many Russians there.  It seems all the westerners in the camp are Russian.  A woman quickly approaches Govindan seeking an interview.  Apparently his book, Babaji and the 18 Siddhas book is well known in Russia and he is recognized immediately.  About ten people surround him and Govindan requests that I participate with him in the interview.  There is a professional translator with the group and they are very intensely sincere in their questions. The questions are to the point and reflect a strong interest in Mahavtar Babaji.  Everyone wants to personally experience this legendary Immortal, or at least everyone seems to want to believe in his everlasting presence in the world and hear of first hand communications with him. We enjoy the personal exchange and I imagine that we will see them again next time at our campground, which is a nicely appointed tent about 2 kilometers away.

We invite the Russian group to come for morning sadhana and to our all night Mahasivratri chant to take place on the evening of the 11th, early morning of the 12. The night of Siva is the night to seek the self as Siva. It represents the dance of Lord Siva, the “tandava,” the primal dance of creation, preservation and destruction. It is such a significant day, that it is said a devotee of Siva who worships Him sincerely all through the night will be absorbed of karmas and attain liberation. There is high anticipation of this date throughout the Mela. You can feel it in the air.

Soon, a second group of kriyabans will be arriving for the pilgrimage in New Delhi. I will leave to meet them. Govindan will return to New Delhi on Monday with the group who are leaving for home. Our two buses will pass each other on the way.   Quite a few are staying over for a few more days.  Only a few people seem to be ready to leave.     We are still in negotiations with the hotel here in Rishikesh concerning the rooms.  For some reason twin beds are not desirable as double beds and so there are never enough and we have to be fairly demanding and request extra beds for the rooms.  We are still discussing bout a couple of rooms with deficiencies in hot water or showers that directs water upward rather than downward.  The owner of the hotel will be here with his family members, so there is some discussion about which rooms we are being allotted. Ah, the intricacies of being in India. The hotels are packed over the three days surrounding Sivaratri, (10-11-12), which means that Haridwar will also be packed and the streets will be difficult to negotiate.  Another procession of sadhus will take place in the afternoon, about the time I arrive in New Delhi.

Day to day experiencing

Today was a very nice day.  After early morning sadhana we left Haridwar for Rishikesh, which is about 45 minutes away.  It was a Monday and Rishikesh was quiet and so lovely. The weather was perfect and the air sweet and free of pollution. The crowds of the weekend were gone and it felt as if only the locals were about.   We began at Sivananda’s Ashram.   The Samadhi Shrine temple was empty when we arrived, but within a few minutes pujaris began a abishekam (ritual anointing) of the Shiva Lingam. The samdhi shrine of Swami Sivananda is as powerful as any I have experienced. The chanting began and was beautiful and the hall immediately felt full to capacity with  energy, even though we were the only people in attendance.

I spent about half an hour in the library and was able to find rare books written by V.T.Neelakantan, in the 1950’s and 1960s. He had been a devotee of Swami Sivananda and I was happy to find that the library had a copy of at least four of his books. They had copies of ‘The Voice of Babaji’ and ‘Masterkey to All Ills,’ ‘Death of Death’ and a book I had not yet seen called, ‘One in Three and Three in One.’   I think how special it is that I find this book today, a book I knew nothing of and randomly discovered in a locked cabinet in Sivananda Ashram.

The new book elaborates on the idea of sadhana of what he calls ‘Trinity in Unity and Unity in Trinity,’ the trinity referring to:  Self-Reverence, Self Knowledge and Self Control. He discusses in the book, the importance of this particular sadhana and suggests that without proper focused concentration on these attainments spiritual process cannot be made, regardless of how many techniques one practices. This is what we are sharing in our Yoga sessions and the synchronicity of the message is not lost on me.

We must of course enlarge our range of power and develop our inner and outer sensing by stimulating and  developing our potential inner energy but just as importantly we must develop an inner identification with others. Perfection is created when there is no division between the consciousness of oneself and others.  This is so rare, but when it is Present, the pure soul has emerged and the mind has expanded into a liberating wideness that contains true knowledge.  Only a pure mind is capable of being present without dividing or comparing or classifying something as better than or less than, or defining it as good or evil.  A pure mind will not even pose the question,  “why is there evil in this world?”

We next visit the Kriya Yoga Ashram of Swami Shankarananda. I am so pleased that we are visiting this ashram for the first time and Swami is presently residing there. The beautiful white ashram with life- sized murtis of MahavatarBabaji ,Lahiri Mahasaya and Sri Yukteswar among all the Kriya Yoga lineage is awe inspiring.  Swami Shankarananda has designed the ashram and has been overseeing every step of its building. It is uniquely shaped in a perfect dome, which seems to represent the universe itself.  As one walks within the meditation chamber one hears the sound of his/her own footsteps reverberating.  The sound of a clap in the center of the meditation hall creates 16 proportional echoes.  It is quite remarkable. Swamiji gives us a tour of the whole ashram, and with its chambers and caves designed to offer an environment for deepest meditation.  

 Shankaranandaji normally resides in Orissa, but he is in residence in Rishikesh now due to the upcoming Maha Sivaratri celebration on February 12th.  He gives a little talk about the astrological relevance of the Kumbhamela and discusses the quality of asuddha or impurity that arises at this time when Jupiter enters Aquarius and of the particularly powerful configuration especially with the illumination of the full moon, which occurred on January 30.  This movement of  the planets and heavens on that date affected movements  within the chakras.   He specifically identifies the date and time  when the moon rose into  ajna chakra.    The bath is symbolic for what we must do to purify the powerful malas or taints that arise in this time.  And, while the timing of the Kumbamelas are not auspicious for the average worldly person, as it is not good for monetary wealth or sensuality and brings with it many difficulties, it is a most auspicious time for the yogi as it can bring about a purifying transformation.

 Swami Shankarananda spoke of the upcoming Maha Sivaratri and its importance for sadhaks and devotees. All the planets are there on that day, he says. It will be a grand and auspicious day for a ritual bath (snan) in the Ganges. It will be like bathing in the Grace of the Guru.  Many of the participants with us now are considering extending their stay to be at the Mela on February 12th.  I am especially happy that we had such a wonderful experience with our brother and sister kriyabans in this way.

The day was full of joy and peace , and little sweet experiences of Oneness, and we ended it seated at the ghats of the Ganges witnessing another arati and worship of the Ganges by waving the lights to Ma Ganga and listening to the voices of the young boy choir from Param Niketan Ashram. It was uplifting, devotional and emotionally gratifying.

A new day awakes us and after a breakfast of porridge and sweet chai, we walked to our camp and enjoyed a long sadhana. The energy of the camp was peaceful and silent, even though the trucks and tractors were still involved in the construction of nearby camps.

 There is another procession happening in Haridwar as I sit in a Dehra Dun bank transferring money for the Badrinath construction.  Today another sect of Babas,  the Nirinjans will be marching to their camp.  They are a wealthy order and the procession although much smaller should be impressive. Years before helicopters have dropped flowers onto the parade grounds as the Babas marched.

 We are presently trying to take care of the next steps in the construction of Babaji Kriya Yoga Ashram in Badrinath, so Govindan, Bobbi and I  traveled to Dehra Dun in the afternoon to rework some of the details with the architect, since the amount of land we were finally able to buy is reduced. Instead of  10,000 sq ft we were only able to purchase 8337 sq ft.  The plans are still beautiful and we are encouraged even with the many disappointing delays.  Badri doesn’t reopen until May 15 this year… so the season in which we can build is short, especially since the monsoons stop all building for at least a month during parts of July and August.   Each step takes so much time that we feel that the date of completion will be September 2013, not 2011 or even 2012.  Surely it will be worth the wait.  Delays seem unavoidable. What can one do but surrender to the process.

We visited Anandamayi Ma’s small ashram today just outside of Haridwar, and even though she left the body in 1982, the grace of her presence remains still. Anandaymayi Ma is best known as the beautiful bliss-permeated saint from Paramhamsa Yogananda’s ‘Autobiography of a Yogi.’   We arrived at about 3pm and discovered arati would take place at 6:15pm. We decided that the group should just stay there, meandering about the bookstore and the grounds and meditating until time for the arati.  I took a quick walk through of the bookstore and found a biography of Anandamayi Ma, written by Swami Mangalananda, a direct disciple of Ma and someone I have corresponded with, who lives on the island of Omkareshwaram.  Apparently he was at the ashram just the previous day but according to the manager of the bookstore has left, only to return in March.  He is expected to come to the USA in March, so this news surprises me.  I imagine that we will see him in the coming days on the Kumbhamela grounds. 

The ashram is small but lovely, tall colorful dahlias in all colors decorate the walks and there are majestic trees shading the garden grounds.  One is a towering rudraksha tree, covered with green rudraksha pods.  The  Temple is lovely which holds the large Samadhi shrine of Anandamayi Ma. Even though there are signs both in English and Hindi that demand Silence, cell phones and loud conversations echo in the hall from time to time.  Still, it is an easy place in which to meditate  I do not know how long I sat there. I do recall hearing a didgeridoo and thinking it strange.  About 6pm young boys dressed in yellow dhotis and maroon sweaters and caps file into the Samadhi shrine area and begin to chant. Their voices are sweet but perhaps not yet seasoned.  I listen as I would to children’s voices in a shopping mall at Christmas, reverently and with appreciation.  The bhajans continue for about 30 minutes, prior to the start of the arati worship.  The actual waving of the fire lights begins.  A nun, who is probably in her late 60’s and a direct disciple of Ma begins to wave the smoky camphor and ring a bell and almost immediately the energy in the temple begins to shift. 

 Her gestures create a divine dance and my eyes are fixed on her hands.   My hands close into a pranam and then begin to clap in a definite syncopation instinctively from my soul.  Within minutes the rhythm swells and takes me along with it.  It has been a long time since I have felt such a powerful arati. Anandamayi Ma is Present in the room and within moments my heart is so full I overflow. This is unexpected. Bliss permeates all … inside and outside.    Everything begins to expand, the chanting the instruments, the bells, drums and cartells.  A  conch blares among the other vibrations.  I keep glimpsing up at Ma’s photo above my head and am convinced that her smile broadens each time I look at her.  She speaks to me and to me alone, just as she must be speaking directly to the others in  the room.

The next day takes us back to Rishikesh and to Vasistha Gufa lying just outside of Rsikesh on the wildly curving road into the Himalayas. The cave is large and conducive for not only meditation but for transformtion.  it has a sacred history as it was the cave in which Sage Vasistha sat contemplting Vedanta in ancient days. In more recent times it has been used exclusively for deepest meditation. In 1920 a great sadhu by the namef Purushottamananda was told by his guru,  Swami Nirmalanada, a direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna Paramhamsa, to travel to the jungles of Tehri Garwhal district of the himalayas to find this cave.  Without the help of maps and with great challenges, Purushottamananda found the cave and lived an exemplary, selfless life, readily willing to help others and totally surrendered to the Supreme.  He lived there until his Mahasamadhi in the 1960s.  In 1952, his disciple Chintanya came to live at the cave in a small house just outside. He is now in his 80s and lives there still. A small ashram has formed around him.   THe cave is at the edge of a rocky beach on the Ganges.  there is no lovlier spot in or around Rishieksh.    There is much to tell regarding this trip, but the internet is very crowded and his computer is driving the equanimity from my heart  so I should complete todays sharing.  Everyday something new to see or experience, either inside or out….

Moonlight energy

It is very difficult to use the internet here. Even when a hotel offers service the servers are normally down or unavailable.  I am finding communication to be very difficult.  Perhaps that is part of the pilgrimage.   Perhaps I should just be keeping my thoughts to myself.

Arriving in New Delhi, amidst preparations for the 60th Republic Day celebrations, which included major security anti terror arrangements.  Ground to air security was being put  in place, snipers along the route, anti-sabotage check points, elaborate air defense deployment of helicopters to patrol the skies.  Delhi  turned into a fortress tonight and we hoped to be able to get out early in the morning along the few open routes and avoid all the festivities and fireworks. 

We had to take taxis the next morning to the bus which could not get near the hotel. The bus was stationed 10 kilometers outside.  All went smoothy.

At the same time, Jupiter was entering Aquarius, we were  arriving in Haridwar on one of the auspicious days of the Kumbhamela when an order of Himlayan sadhus and ascetics began a procession for the snan, to take a rejuvenating dip in the Holy Ganges.   Normally on these special days the Babas are given privileged exclusive access to the Ganges.  The number of pilgrims will swell to millions.  Presently only the   Nagababas and ascetics of the Juna, Dasnamai,  Narajana orders have arrive.

We were met today at our tent by five Nagababas of the Juna akhada (order).  Dattreya is their deity and Jnana or Wisdom is their goal. We were very fortunate that one of the younger babas is very attracted to Mahavtar Babaji and has been seeking him and his darshan since he was a young boy.  He tells us that he has read the book by Marshall Govindan and wants initiation into Kriya Yoga.  His English is very good.   He tells me that he never received instruction in English, but learnt it in his dreaming state when he was quite young.  He is most definite about this and seems to want me to understand that this is so.  I smile at him and say that he has an amazing grasp of English.  We were introduced to his Gurudeva and his Gnyana Guru and two other gurubais. He said in introduction, ‘this is my family.’  They were dressed in orange, oche and browns, they wear their hair long, wrapped on top of their heads. There is nothing particularly fierce of frightening about these five Babas seated before us, for although they have intense eyes, their demeanor appears open and even a bit curious.  They ask uus what we are looking for, and why we had come to the Kumbhamela. He says the difference between him and us, is that he knows what he is seeking and willing to do what it takes to find it.  We are invited to come to their monastery tonight at 5pm for darshan with the whole order.  I think to myself that probably means they pass around the ganga.  They tell us we are welcome to travel with them to the Himalayas, if we are willing to accept a traditional guru- disciple relationship. Social dharma is what they speak about for the most part. They are anti-Hindu and anti religion, even though their ashram or monastery has a large Temple to the Goddess in all her forms. Even Chinnamasta is there, Mother at her fiercest.

There is a sadhu here who carries his arm above his head and has done so for the past 24 years. His fingernails have not been cut or broken off during all those years so they curl rather disgustingly around his hand.  I wonder how long they are if you stretch them out? And I have an immediate urge to clip them.  I see him move his arm only about 6inches toward and away from the top of his head. He never drops his arm. It seems particularly significant since I have a frozen shoulder and can’ lift my arm as high as he has been holding it for the past 24 years.  Perhaps it is frozen in this position.

I am leading asana in the morning and have found that during the class I am able to lift my arm much higher than I can any other time of the day.  The first time it happened it felt like a miracle.  During meditation at the ashram were Lahiri Mahasaya used to meditate in Haridwar, I asked that the pilgrims in our group could begin to see high beings, even if I did not see them.  As we were walking from the ashram temple, a sadhu with a large trident and glowing with shakti was ringing a bell.  Apparently everyone in our party, some 36 people saw him, all except me.  Govindan was very pleased to see this high being and came over to me, and said well are you now satisfied that we  now have seen such a rishi?  I was speaking with a woman named Maya from Switzerland and turned to Govindan to ask, “what rishi?, ringing what bell.?  Maya answered, “you saw him, he walked in front of us.”  I had not seen him or heard his bell.

The Nagababas have surprisingly invited Govindan and myself to accompany them, the order of Juna akhada on the 12 kilometer procession to the ghat for their first of auspicious baths in the Ganges.  I wonder if the normally naked babas will remove their clothes for the event.  Govindan will most likely participate, however I will probably decline their unusual and most generous of inclusions.  No one knows the route of the procession in advance.  We are told that last year that some bad things occurred, although they would not elaborate. Perhaps there was fighting amongst the various orders for position or what happened may have been external.  He said that his Guru will protect us all.   The army will only announce the route to the various orders in the early hours of the morning.

The weather is already beginning to warm. The nights and early morning hours are still cold, but by mid morning with the rise of the sun, the temperatures reach the 70s and very pleasant.  The crowds are starting to arrive at the train and bus stations.  There are oche robes, matted hair, ashen chest covered with ropes of rudraksha beads.  The people are very friendly, especially the women, who often want to chat with me, and it appears the motor vehicles in the town are being limited so both noise and air pollution is much less.  The procession began very late in the morning and still no sign of the sadhus yet, although many have been awaiting their passing for two hours or more. We hear that they are about 4 kilometers from where we have stationed ourselves. We have a rooftop position and will be able to see every single sadhu on parade.  We come and go from the roof, looking for the splash of orange on the horizon, so far nothing.   A few of the women yoginis from Spain are unhappy that they were not allowed to march along with the Nagababas today. I say that there are no women in the akhadas (sects) present today and wonder why it matters to them so much that they are not part of the parade. These are very sincere yoginis and holy women. I suggest that we Kriya Yogis aren’t interested in finding others appearing holy, but are maintaining internal vision to uncover that most holy part of ourselves.  Perhaps the message is just that…continue to maintain that internal vision even in the midst of this largest and longest running of spiritual displays, the Kumbhamela. 

Tonight the moon is at its largest and brightest. Last night it was full, but tonight there is a special alignment. It certainly has been a good day for meditation and introspection.  It seems everyone has taken a bath in the Ganges today and everyone seems very expectant.  Govindan is walking the 12 kilometers with the sadhus. He is dressed in a white dhoti and white long sleeve t-shirt and flipflops.  I  hope his knee holds out and the sun is not too strong. I have found an Ayurvedic doctor close to the hotel and just in case have purchased some special balm for his knee. So far no naked babas.

Waiting all day for the procession, but it did not disappoint.  It was night before the procession reached us.  The moon was out shining so brightly that we could see the the somewhere around  30,000 Juna akhadas walking among bands and horse driven chariots and elephants who carry those Sadhus and Gurus with the highest status.  There were about 100 naked Nagas and a few of the martia arts were being demonstrated, a kind of stick fighting.  The ascetic who carries his hand above his head so effortlessly was among the first in the parade.   The most unusual  event of the evening was the baba who displayed his strength by wrapping his penis around a long baton and shifting it behind him under his buttocks.  His disciples would then stand on the stick.  I was too far from him to really see what was going on. Govindan was walking in the procession and saw it first hand.  There was only one woman saint, that I could see riding in a float.  We plan to go see her at her camp in the next days. She speaks English and is very open.  The energy is building and I am sure there will be much more to blog about in the days to come.  It is a shame that internet access if so difficult as is uploading photos.    The sounds from outside the internet shop are increasing and one can feel a certain excitement or anticipation in the air. I do not know if it is coming from outside or from within myself.  It is surprising as I have been rather blase over the past few days.  

I was not able to sleep last night, the moon was so full. I sat up and did mantras and meditated and tried to sleep some.   I am not tired today.  The energy in India is different.  One does not require so much sleep.  At that is  required is to drop all expectation and judgment and just go with the flow.

Catching up from South India

Arrived in Chennai and even at midnight the night air was hot and muggy.  A thin layer of smog still blanketed the streets.  Apparently Bhogi revelers on Wednesday had built bonfires and fed them plastic and tires causing such a problem of smog that airplanes were delayed taking off and several of those scheduled to land in Chennai had to be diverted to other airports.   I suppose we were lucky to have been delayed in Washington D.C. and again in Frankfurt.

At the airport we had to sign documents assuring the Indian government that we did not show signs of Swine Flu.  However, there is apparently another more pervasive problem in Tamil Nadu—a mosquito born disease is spreading through parts of the district which includes Chennai. Something called Ross River Fever, very much like chikungunya which causes high fevers, facial swelling and joint pain. No one notified us about that.

We arrived quickly at our hotel. It is very nice, but we are greeted with heavy security precautions.  The whole city is on alert.  Even our conversations with our friends ended up in talks about terrorism and mosquitoes.   It revealed a preoccupation with fear that we have never seen before.   Something has certainly changed since our last visit. The Mumbai attacks have had a serious affect on the psyche of the nation. That, along with the political discord within Andhra Pradesh has made for a heavy atmosphere during the normally joyous occasion of Pongal, the colorful and tasty three day holiday of harvest in Tamil Nadu, which began on the 14th of January.

The 14th was also the beginning of the Kumbhamela in Haridwar. It began quite auspiciously with a New Moon followed by a Solar eclipse.  This combination created the perfect alignment for meditation and for charity.  No bathing was allowed prior to the end of the Eclipse at 3:35 on the 15th. After the eclipse was over the thousands of people in attendance took a quick dip in the chilly waters of the Ganges and then dried off on the ghats in the warm sunshine.  Only a few of the faithful stayed in knee-deep reading the Bhagavad Gita.  There are already so many sadhus, saints and pundits in attendance freely sharing with all who will listen about Truth and giving Wisdom teachings.

The book release function by the Yoga Siddha Research Center for the new editions of  Tirumular’s Thirumandiram in English, V.T.Neelakantan’s, The Voice of Babaji in Tamil and the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and the Siddars by M. Govindan in Tamil was hugely successful.  These books were launched with a great deal of pomp and circumstance.  Over a thousand people attended the event and it was covered by several English and Tamil newspapers.  It sounds like almost 2000 copies of the set have already been pre-purchased. Because of this event, the Tamil Government is impressively beginning a program, to seek out and conserve the ancient Tamil spiritual writings and to publish the religious literary works.  Quite a number of Government Ministers were in attendance at the event, as were Brahmin scholars and it took a while to individually acknowledge each of them and their specific contribution to various projects. There were many brilliant speeches, but unfortunately most were in Tamil.  However,  the message was related well that the emphasis of all these books is internal worship and identification of jiva with Siva, and that love is Sivam. Also the Siddha’s special social emphasis on “no discrimination and no privilege,” and that love is the ultimate law was made clear.   I wondered how these messages were received by the ‘oh so privileged’ politicians and Brahmin scholars in attendance.  Love as thought is truth, love as action is dharma and love as feeling is Peace, or Siva.  The message at least was truly beautiful for all.

Today, Satchidananda and Satyananda are giving a second level Retreat and Mantra Yagna to 90 people outside of Bangalore at a lovely retreat center, called the School of Ancient Wisdom. We have spent the last five days at the Bangalore Ashram, where I have worked on editing two books.  One of the books is by Paramahamsa Vedananda Saraswati Swami, about his pilgrimage to Kailash Manasarovar — To Kailash- In Quest of the Self.  I worked over the week with Swamiji, going through his hundreds of photos and finalizing the book. It is ready for formatting and soon will be in print.  This book will be an important reference for all seekers and will be of special interest to Kriya Yoga Sadhaks.  I look forward to its printing and distribution.

Due to the fact that I had a lot of work to complete during this week, I did not choose to visit  Siddhar Mahananda with Govindan, Satyananda, Chris Brod (who over the past 2+ years has helped with the editing of the whole of the 9 volumes of the Thirumandiram), and Vinod Kumar who is the manager of the Bangalore Ashram.  The Siddhar lives in a 80 acre cavern, which contains a lake, and is found outside the town of Vallalur,  about 3.5 to 4 hours drive from Bangalore.  The Siddhar was introduced to Govindan by a lovely couple, an American and his wife living in India for the past 15 years and by one of the Siddhars closest devotees who is an extremely nice and generous man.  This devotee apparently makes the long drive to visit his Guru from his Yoga center located in Bangalore, three times a week.  The three of them, with the four from our ashram made it seven in the car to meet with the Siddhar.  

It is maintained that this highly evolved Siddhar eats no food and drinks no water at all and instead lives on Fire. He bathes in fire, three times daily to maintain his health and power.  Everyone who met with him this week was impressed with his genuine loving manner, powerful energy and clairvoyance.  He did not demonstrate however, his fire-bathing.  He is an amazing artist and architect who has carved statues of the 18 Siddhas into the entrance of his cavern and is erecting a monumental building and temple with only 30 labors onto the face of the mountain cavern.  He says he plans to cover the temple in jewels. On one hand he says he wants to remain relatively unknown, yet all the while seems to be preparing for huge crowds.

After completing the Silent Retreat tomorrow, we fly to New Delhi to meet the first group of students coming for the Kumbhamela in Haridwar.  We think there will be many Westerners visiting the Mela this year. The army is as always directing the event and maintaining the campgrounds. It is sure to be wildly interesting, once in a lifetime kind of opportunity.   Finding time to meditate in Chennai and Bangalore has been difficult, with the busy schedule, noise pollution and frenetic energy.  The energy here at the retreat center is very nice, only the songs of the many birds pierce the quiet. The group is very large, but everyone seems to be accepting the Silence; only occasionally have I overheard cell phone conversations in the woods. Cell phones are an addiction here in India.  It seems a phone call must be answered, irregardless of who is calling.  Even on the stage during the book release function, cell phones were going off; the loud cry of a baby or a catchy tune disturbing my concentration. I seemed however, to be the only one irritated by the half a dozen rings competing with the speakers.

The Retreat today has been quite sweet.  Breaking the Silence has created, I have noticed, an atmosphere that is quite tranquil and soft.  On arrival the participants were quite excitable, rather loud and chatty, minds dispersed and fatigued from the stresses of the week.  Today the voices are soft and the tone gentle and the speech is one of measured.  The faces are familiar and the smiles and pranams are genuine. The chanting around the fire is devotional and rhythmic.  The questions are sincere and some are intensely personal.

 It is my favorite part of the retreat, when communicate with each other is soulful. It makes one feel as if personal purification and transformation is possible.