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Stay in an ashram (Sogal) - 2

Read previous - part 1

Next morning, we all got up, late, at around 7 a.m. Swamiji was not around and it was obvious that he must have gone early because he gets up as early as 3 a.m. to do his meditation. Mr. Potdar told me that he observed Swamiji leaving the room around 4 a.m. and carefully closed the door behind as he left so as to not disturb us. When we were getting up and opening our eyes, Swamiji entered the room and asked us to get ready and have breakfast. When we went to his cottage, he asked us to go about our morning chores and it slowly unfolded to us that they never used toilets and everything was natural and so was this task. We all pondered over and discussed over this issue and finally decided that we would rather walk down the hill and use the paid toilets there than be out in nature :) We had to take our bath too and this we decided we would under the natural falls near the temple. It was a natural fall of about 30 feet that fell on the stony ground and people preferred to have a bath under this waterfall; it was known for its freshness and healing too. We went downhill, had tea and then after the morning chores and some snaps on the beautiful hill, we took a bath under the waterfall. Then we hurried to our room and we got ready quickly and went to the cottage where Swamiji was sitting waiting for us. As soon as we entered breakfast of upma and banana was served to us along with me. Swamiji, as his usual gesture of signalling us to begin, began having breakfast. He looked at me and smilingly said, “Upma and pazzam” which means upma and banana in Malayalam. I laughed and acknowledged his saying to which he laughed. We then washed our utensils and kept it back. Then Swamiji took us to the farm and showed us some medicinal plants. He plucked out a few tender plants and told us that its leaves had the power to crush kidney stones and it could flush out stones within 2-3 days. He gave us the plant to be planted and given to those who need it. He also revealed to us that urologists from Belgaum have also met him for this plant and for the cure of kidney stones. This plant he told us that he had got from Kerala. He then asked us to go visit the Jeeva Samadhi of Maathanand and the caves in which he meditated. There was another old sanyasi who was staying at that time with Swamiji who was called by all as “ajja” meaning grandfather. He wore just a thin cloth around his waist and had a half-bald with fully gray moustache and beard that revealed his age. He took us around to the Samadhi shrine joyfully singing songs and being in great vibrant energy. Though he did not look highly advanced spiritually, his chants and divine songs did. He was more of ritualistic. I sat down in front of the shrine for a few moment and then we continued going up the stony steps to the cave on the hilltop. The cave where Maathanandji meditated before taking Samadhi was beautiful and was cool and had those calm energies in there. We all meditated for a while, relaxed for a while and then left back. When we reached the temple area Swamiji was not around and we just lazed around for a while. The energies were too soothing, calm and peaceful. There was so much of serenity everywhere. So wonderful it felt to be there. I was busy with only two things in there, one is enjoying the peace and energies there all the time and the other was observing and admiring Swamiji all the time. He told us to look within and everything would be found. He mentioned that people leave everything and go in search of God, which in fact is not necesaary and one needs to go within where everything is found. He pointed out to the open door and said, “That is outside and this is inside where we are. If we have to look within the house we can see everything in the house and if we have to see the outside we have to move to infinite space to see everything which is impossible.” So beautiful example this was!

I am sure that Swamiji knew that I was observing him. I say so because I experienced this twice or thrice. Twice, when someone came to fall at his feet, I used to look at how he reacted to someone falling at his feet. Both these times, no moment they touched his feet he would in a second flash his look on me and I would pull away my glance at him. Many times when I used to observe him eating he would glance at that very moment at me and I would pull my sight off of him. I somehow had a feeling that he was reading everyone all the time. Though he knew we had come to learn something from him, he never asked us to do anything or stick to any timing or never initiated to teach us anything until we approached him. We had to request him to brush us up with his technique before we left as we were scheduled to leave in a few hours after lunch. In fact, when we asked him what next he told that we can have food and leave by 3 p.m. It also seemed to me like he was not very enthusiastic to teach us anything special. I guess it was because he knew what we were not ready for it. To the logic mind it seemed as if he was just passing his days there, but my soul refused this all the time. I knew there was something special in him. In fact, his ego was so absent that he did not even talk about his practice, his experiences, or anything on his own that would have made him feel superior. He was humble all the time. When I asked him when he had come to that place, after a moment of pause and thought he calmly said he had come there when he was 21 years old! Now, he seemed to be in his mid-50s. About 30 years in that isolated place! It was impossible for me to believe that he lived without any experiences or methods which was lively visible in his physical and mental health. He never asked us our names too!

We asked him to refresh us with the knowledge he had imparted. We then walked to the room and we sat in front of him. He began demonstrating the kriya once again to us and at the same time answered many of our questions. I asked him how does one overcome the obstacles that come in our day to day life of spiritual practice. He answered, “Obstacles are bound to come. Face it and allow it to happen. During our spiritual practice we are striving for nothing but to overcome the obstacles and then why be worried when obstacles come?” He advised continue doing sadhana persistently and all the obstacles would fade away on its own. He told us that we need to not only use this as a technique but be doing this breathing all the time being consciously being aware of it and then every moment becomes meditation. He said that people at any given moment of work do two things. One is the task at their hand and the other is constant thinking. He suggested that with work let the mind consciously focus on the breathing instead of the thought. If one can multitask by thinking various thoughts while working why not multitask conscious breathing with work? He then spoke about anger and how it causes trouble in most of our lives. He told us that by constantly doing this technique one could conquer all negative forces like anger, greed, lust, etc. He explained how the mind functions through the five senses of taste, smell, touch, hearing and seeing and how we can transcend and conquer these five senses. He further explained that these mind that seeks fulfillment through these senses are always temporary and the senses never are contended or fulfilled and it is wise to transcend beyond the senses. He tipped us to wear clothing that was very light during the hours we spend at home, especially during sadhana. “Swamiji,” I asked “how does one know whether one is growing spiritually?” He immediately said, “It is possible to know. When you see yourself having control over your speech, control over your anger and other senses easily then you will know you are growing. There will be stage where you will see things beyond these things.” I asked “What is the next stage that happens?” He said, “One loses interest in material things and crowd and prefer solitude. One will prefer to be in a blissful meditative state and things like hunger also will not affect. One will long to merge with that divine blissful state.” Sashikant then asked him about significance of dreams and one such incident in his like, which Swamiji spontaneously explained to him. He told that one can transcend beyond the dream state too. He went on to say that there are three states of mind – awake state, sleep state and dream state. I asked him about the fourth state – the turiya state, which is the state that happens during meditation and it occurs naturally during few hours of deep sleep too. To this he immediately nodded and said there was the fifth state too (which I don’t remember as to what that word was) which he called it as the state which is the final moksha state or nirvana (merging with Consciousness). As he was mentioning all this, I was very well imagining and could get it crystal clear what he was trying to say. I acknowledged that I understood what he had to say and he was happy he did not have to stress anything further. He then went ahead to say that energy was precious and one needs to conserve it. It is even lost by speech and that is why great yogis hardly speak anything because they know even speaking is waste of energy. He said that nobody is perfect but one should strive towards it. He also mentioned very quickly “If we had achieved it we would not be speaking so much” :) Then, there was a knock outside and one of the attendants told us that food there was a “mangalaarthi” (a puja) and Swamiji with no reaction of any sort got up and politely told us that there was mangalaarthi. I pondered over his last words where he said no one had achieved it otherwise we would not be speaking so much. I adored that quality in a sage who having lived as a renunciate all his life. His life is a mystery to me which I would someday want to know about. We then went into the cottage where we found that ajja (the old sanyasi) was going to perform this puja. I have never been interested in rituals of any form or of any religion but since Swamiji was there I had to be a part of it. Neither resisting nor being excited I joined in the puja. Before that ajja wanted to apply vibhuti to everyone’s forehead, to which Swamiji said, “Apply if you want it to be applied.” I told Swamiji it is okay with me and told him to excuse me since I had a Christian background and never knew about the said “procedures” and Swamiji assured me it is okay if I did not want to apply. I remembered him telling us a few hours back in the room how photos of Hindu gods are depicted with various weapons, forms, poses, etc and how all that was tried to be depicted there was the symbolic meaning of those props and had nothing to do with it being looked at in its actual presentation, which is what people mistake it to be. He had also mentioned about people who try to recite mantras for a certain amount of time or recite them in sets without actually meaning them and how it never would work. 
When ajja asked him about applying vibhuthi on Swamiji’s forehead, he said laughingly, “Apply if you wish so.” As ajja sang song and the puja was performed we all stood there with it. After a long bhajan, ajja stopped and asked Swamiji “Is this enough or do I sing another para” to which Swamiji replied “It is enough but let it be as per your wish” to which ajja started singing the other para. It was cute to observe Swamiji saying that to him not encouraging nor discouraging but at the same time participating in everything that happened around him and in everything that people wanted him to do. After the puja Swamiji asked us to have food and we all sat down together. This time there was shira (a sweet dish) with food and this time I was careful to take only how much I felt my stomach could take in. Swamiji mentioned that  taking milk and ghee for a month or so and would cure any lactose intolerance. After the food, we washed up as usual and this time as I kept my plate Swamiji looked at me and said, “Jesus Christ also once said that whenever he spoke something he felt that something was leaving him - this was 'energy' that he was mentioning about.” As I was keeping my plate near where Swamiji sat, I found this as an opportunity and immediately sat in front of him and also with me sat Shashi. He was speaking and I simply kept nodding smilingly. He said that energy is wasted by speaking too. This was actually a closure of the sentences which he perhaps felt was left incomplete by the knock on the door by the attendant. 

It was around 2:45 and I was feeling bad that we had to leave. We had to catch a bus back. Swamiji told us that there are two busses that leave between 3 and 3:30 p.m. and after that there was a bus at 5:30 p.m. I wanted to stay back for those two hours too but since all had already decided to take the 3:30 bus I knew I had to be going. We both then got up and I told Swamiji that we would back after picking our bags. Saying this I fell at his feet and took his blessings. As I got up with folded hands I said “Thank you for everything” to which he just smiled. As I turned to come out of the hut, a sudden emotional wave took over me and tears rushed to my eyes. I felt as though I was leaving someone whom I had known for years. I held back my feelings and walked back to the room where Mr. Potdar and KP were getting ready. Then the four of us quickly packed and hurried back to the cottage where Swamiji came out. Taking his final blessings, we four took leave of him. I don’t know why it felt so bad and it was like I was seeing off someone dear. I held back my emotions once again. We then walked back all the way to the temple stalls where Shashi purchased some things for his family. Soon we were at the bus stand. We got a village taxi cab ride till Bailhongal. All the way the whole taxi was full of people, as many as 24 passengers stuffed into a vehicle meant for around 14 people. It was a bumpy ride with chaotic village talk and children yelling with loud local village music being played as the driver rhythmically tapped his fingers on the steering wheel. Fortunately, the next row after the driver’s seat was a 4-seater place and we four were exactly fit in. thus, we were saved from the misery of the crowd that was jammed in the rear part and the driver’s row of the vehicle.
Another very astonishing happening that we talked about throughout our trip was the ready plan of the divine to comfortably take us to this destination and back. It was as though some power had planned everything well for us. I still wonder if it was Swamiji. Now, I am not exaggerating even an inch of what I am mentioning. The previous day before leaving our homes Mr. Potdar was supposed to pick me up on his bike and go to the bustand. We planned to park the bike there and take a bus. KP and Shashikant were supposed to come directly to the bus stand. Mr. Potdar reached my place at 2:50 p.m. and gave me a call. I took my bag and went to him. Just as I reached him an auto guy pulled up right there near the gate and I asked Mr. Potdar to park his bike there itself and we will take the auto. We boarded the auto and on the way picked up fruits to offer Swamiji. As we were nearing the bus stand KP gave a call and said that they were already seated in the bus going to Bailhongal and to come soon. As we reached the bus stand and got out of the auto, the bus was ready to leave with Shashikant standing waving at us at the bus door. We got into the bus and the bus left. I made this observation but did not take it seriously. We reached Bailhongal and we had to take another bus from there to our destination. We got down from the bus and walked a few steps and there was a bus ready to leave to Sogal. We got into it and in a few minutes the bus left. When we got down at Sogal I made a mention of this “ready and timely arrangement” of conveyance for us to Mr. Potdar and we laughed at it. In the same way, now, after taking leave from Swamiji we came down to the bus stand got into a small hotel for tea, when we saw this taxi cab pull up and the driver said he was leaving immediately. We thought that we could have tea in Bailhongal and got into it. In the taxi, we saw the bus that we were supposed to take crossing us at about 4 p.m., which meant that if we had to not take this taxi we would have had to wait half hour or more. I again thought about the timely entry of this taxi and told Mr. Potdar about it. Now, at the Bailhongal bus stand we got off the taxi and walked towards the canteen within the bus stand. As we moved towards it, a bus pulled up exactly in front of that canteen which would take us home! We asked the conductor and she said we could have our tea and it would leave in a few minutes. Even the tea time was arranged for us. As soon as we had the tea, we got in and the bus moved. I put on the ipod listening to some wonderful music and in a little more than an hour we reached Belgaum. Remembering each and every timely arrangement of travel we walked out of the bus stand for tea. The last bit of surprise was yet to come when we after having tea, walked out of the hotel and an auto guy pulled up right in front of us! Me and Mr. Potdar got into it and laughing heartedly over what everyone sees as “co-incidence reached my place at around 6 p.m. from where Mr. Potdar went home on his bike. I came back home and made a mention of all the miracles excitedly to my mom. The surprises did not end here. I took a bath, brought some lozenges to soothe my irritated throat and sat down with the book “The Endless One” of Baba Nityananda that I had left incomplete. I opened the page where I had bookmarked and continued reading and was shocked! Three points I read were exactly the same what Swamiji and shared with!
  1. About the Sushumna nadi and the kundalini awakening.
  2. About the seeing of internal and external world (seeing within and outside).
  3. Lastly, the kriya that Swamiji taught us was itself mentioned in the book.
I have been reading this book for about two months now bit by bit and never before I had come across the points mentioned above. I was awestruck about the "co-incidence" that these pages had to give me right after my experience with guruji. I knew very well that all these had deep hidden meaning but I couldn’t wait to share this with Mr. Potdar and KP and so immediately called them and told them of my experiences.
This trip and my encounter with Swamiji taught me so many things. It was a divine experience. I left with no expectation and returned with so many surprises! Certainly a lot of things were unfolding for me. With due respect to all divine masters and all their invisible strong support I bow to divinity in everything that keeps teaching all and helping souls evolve.


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