The lure of sadhana had overpowered Swami ji. He went to Varanasi looking for an ascetic who could guide him to have darshan of the God/Goddess which was his ultimate aim and obsession. After wandering in the lanes of Varanasi, tapping sundry doors in company of a local guide, he ultimately heard of a naga Baba who had mastered tantra and who did exhibit some signs of sadhana . ” His small but still eyes had a hypnotic pull; they instilled fear and awe at the same time “. Appearances can , however, be deceptive , as Swami ji later realised.

In my view, Swami ji had a romantic notion about Varanasi. I once visited Kashi Vishwanath Temple long ago. There were various idols placed in a niche at every corner of the temple and jealously guarded by a pundit. I made some offerings to the idols but the pundit attending to it asked/ rather demanded a specific amount to be offered. I ignored the call and met with a contemptuous look in return from the pundit. I felt vultures had gathered at the temple of such repute. No wonder this viral must have spread to other temples and ashrams as well , possibly with some exceptions. I feel , Swami ji should have explored ashrams in Himalayas where some true yogi and sadhak can be found, particularly at higher Himalayas , starting from Haridwar, Rishikesh, Uttarkashi and even higher up, where the solitude of place and realized sadhaks could be found sans the bazaar mentality of crowded ashrams in the plains .

Swami ji believed in rigid guru-shisya parampara and was prepared to do every bidding of the naga Baba in the hope that he would initiate him and show the path to God. Baba made him toil from morning till late night in sundry jobs and offered him to sleep on a tattered dirty mattress where he had to keep the company of mosquitoes, crawling scorpions and rats jumping about. Swami ji ,who could afford any luxury of the modern world, put up with the insufferable conditions just to prepare himself for the ordeals in days to come. The food prepared very unhyginically was served to him . Swami ji offered to prepare his meals himself but even this gesture was denied to him. The Baba wanted some renovations to his room . Swami ji offered to furnish his room with Air conditioner and also power generator so that he may sleep soundly, but no such consideration was extended to Swami ji. The Baba was planning to construct a school building for girls and asked Swami ji to pull out Rs 6 lakhs for the venture. Swami ji willingly did so but in the bargain even milk given to him in the breakfast was denied to him with the result Swami ji survived on biscuits and water. The attendants to the Baba took the cue from the Guru and were generally hostile to him presumably because he was not one of them. He was an outsiders and his eminent qualifications were a cause of jealousy. ” Besides, I realized that every thing I experienced here was a lesson for me. Life was tteaching me every moment . One of the most important things I learnt at Baba’s ashram was the type of yogi I NEVER WANTED TO BE”. The only person who treated him kindly was one Ranjay Pandey and his doctor wife who used to visit the ashram some time. Seeing the plight of Swami ji, he said to Swami ji that he was being exploited in the ashram. Swami ji replied, ” I know , Ranjan. BUT THE TRUTH IS THAT I MUST ONLY LOOK AT MY OWN KARMA AND NOT THE KARMA OF OTHERS. ULTIMATELY, IN THE GRAND SCHEME OF THINGS. OTHERS ARE JUST MEDIUMS OR TRIGGERS FOR MY GROWTH; I’M SIMPLY LEARNING MY LESSONS HERE. AND I WANT TO DO MY DUTY TOWARDS MY GURU UNCONDITIONALLY ”. Some construction workers came to the Baba demanding wages. Baba reacted furiously and abused them in filthy language. Swami ji was horrified at this side of his personality but more was to come. While sleeping , Swami ji took out a book to serve as a pillow but out came a scorpion which stung him badly. This resulted in high fever. Swami ji lost his appetite. Ranjay and his wife took good care of him. She gave him intra -venous antibiotics. Ranjay then drove him back to ashram. Baba instead of commiserating him at his poor health and sullen face remarked in an abusive way which cast reflections on his mother also. This was the proverbial last straw and Swami ji decided to walk away from ashram. ” Varanasi had no charm left for me. I asked myself if I could find God in these noisy, crowded streets, amidst the garbage and the chaos. Would the moment of realization dawn here ? At times , I felt that God had long abandoned Varanasi. There was no sign of him, not in the temples, not in the priests, locals or pilgrims. Bookish, dry knowledge was what prevailed.”

Swamji took a train to Haridwar… ” On my way to Himalayas, I looked up at the sky, I looked within , and I said, ‘ O God, O Mother

Divine, if you truly exist then please hear this : henceforth , I will never, ever knock on any human’s door. Never again will I seek answers from any guru or preacher. If you exist, either show your form to me or I’ll perish in meditation. If I’m convinced you don’t exist , I’ll go to all corners of the world and tell people not to waste their time with you; I’ll tell them there is no God “. Surely this was an anguished cry of a frustrated person but this was a temporary outburst, as we will see later.

He left for Badrinath by bus. After the usual travails, he reached there. ‘ Suddenly , the skies roared, the clouds broke and rain came pouring down. Streams of tears continued to roll down my cheeks; the more I cried , the closer I felt to the Divine. They were not tears of pain, they were not tears of joy either; thy were tears of love and surrender.The door hadn’t opened for me but I knew I was home “.

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There he looked for a cave where he could perform sadhana. On the way he met a Bhairavi who could read people’s mind and make predictions. Seeing Swami ji dismayed , she comforted him by saying that, ” in less than a year, you will have her most unambiguous vision and then you will visit the tantra peetha , Kamakhya “…She further said, you have become a sadhu but you are a king and will always remain a king…your guru will burn in hell till eternity “. Buoyed by these words of Bhairvi, Swamiji continued his sadhana for 40 days in a cave. Each day he took bath in the freezing water. He completed his sadhana for forty days and rounded it up with yajna. ” An insight began to emerge on the horizons of my mind : beauty does not lie in the eyes of the beholder but in the mind of the perceiver. The cleaner the mind , the greater the beauty; the quieter the mind , the more enduring the experience… where else could I have experienced this divinity ? With all the challenges they offer, be it through the harsh elements or through the difficulties of living in the wild, the HIMALAYAS , FOR INEXPLICABLE REASONS, REMAIN THE ULTIMATE PLACE FOR MEDITATION….hAVING BEEN AROUND THE WORLD, I CAN SAY WITHOUT THE SLIGHTEST HESITATIONTHAT WHEN IT COMES TO SPIRITUAL VIBRATIONS AND A CERTAIN PURITY, THERE IS NO OTHER PLACE LIKE THE HIMALAYAS “.

The next abode for sadhana was a thatched hut at a height of 9000ft . The place was solitary except that wild animals could be heard at night prowling around in search of prey and inside the hut rodents played merry ready to chew anything- edible or not. Not far behind were spiders, insects, wasps but Swami ji managed to live and let live with them. Fortunately, Swamiji got a help by the name of Pradeep from Odisha who had taken immense affinity to Swamiji and served him faithfully in that wilderness. He would prepare meals for Swamiji and also store water for bathing . The duration of sadhana sometimes was upto 16-18 hours in the still ness of night with snow all around adding charm and awe to the locales. Sometimes hail, storm and rain would strike with their fury but Swami ji remained unperturbed . The only disturbance was from Pradeep. He was an incorrigible talker and talked endlessly when ever Swamiji came to his hut for one time meal. He was there in the wilderness only for the sake of Swamiji. He had none to talk to, no TV or Mobile or family. How else he would spend his time in that inhospitable environment ? Swamiji put up with his daily quota of talks benignly as it was a test of his patience and calmness.

When Swamiji was immersed in deep meditation, a celestial form, approached him. The form kept calling him by the name given to him by the naga Baba which none else knew about. Swamiji , then realized, that the Divine Mother, with her splendid form , had come to bless him.

” AT my bidding , and because of my unrelenting and persistent cries , she had come ; yet .now that she had, what did I have to offer her ? Nothing. She , the owner of the Universe, sat on an uneven , dirty floor in the broken hut in the wilderness. Someone as magnificient as her should have have been on her celestial throne. I didn’t know how to welcome her , and wondered how a beggar was to offer hospitality to a queen. I had nothing pure enough to offer her. My heart , my body, my mind were all impure. I had no naivedyam,, I idid not even have flowers, but I wanted to give her something. What could be purer than her own name, I thought. A eulogy to Mother Divine sprang out of me, gushing forth from the deepest recess of my heart… She gently swayed me back and forth one more time and gave me the most enigmatic smile full of compassion, love and mercy. She then put me down and disappeared. She was everything I ever wanted , all that I had ever known “.

Swamiji continued his sadhana for some more time in Kamakhya, and then back again to Himalayas to get over the dizzyness of the experience until the sensation subsided .Swamiji realized that, ” THE ETERNAL TRUTH IS THAT YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO LIVE YOUR LIFE TO THE FULLEST. EVERY MOMENT. THAT IS THE LEAST YOU DESERVE. THE FACT THAT YOU ARE BREATHING AND LIVING MEANS NATURE WANTS YOU, LIFE WANTS YOU. AS LONG AS YOU HAVE A COMPASSIONATE VIEW AND YOUR ARE NOT HURTING OTHERS, EVERYTHING-WELL, ALMOST EVERYTHING -IS OKAY. LISTEN TO YOUR INNER VOICE. THIS VOICE IS THE PUREST VOICE YOU WILL EVER KNOW. YOUR TRUTH IS ALSO THE GREATEST RELIGION, THE HIGHEST GOD. A SENSE OF FULFILLMENT COMES FROM WALKING YOUR OWN PATH. FOR SOME IT MAY BE MEDITATION, FOR OTHERS IT MAY BE MUSIC, DANCING, PAINTING, WRITING OR READING. FIND WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY AND PURSUE IT ”.
……………..( CONCLUDED)

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