I think it was 2015 when I got my hands on ‘If Truth Be Told: A Monk’s Memoir.’I was quite fascinated when I started the book. I was confused if this is a real life story or some fictional book. In this confusion, while being in the midst of exams, I don’t remember if I completed the book at that time. Honestly, I don’t remember that even now. I tried recalling it many times but couldn’t. I think I didn’t because I don’t remember how I felt after reading the last chapters. I only confidently remember how I felt after reading the first few chapters. How confused and fascinated I was reading the first few chapters. Maybe, it was not the right time for me, yet.

In the next few years, I got busy with my life. Fast forward to 2018. I was having some religious discussion with my room partner. He was telling me about the importance of a guru on this journey. And I was arguing my viewpoint that why do I need that. “I have faith and devotion in my lord, He’ll guide me, He will be my guru.”

“No, but you need one in human form.”

“But I don’t think one could find a genuine guru in today’s world. I feel all of them are trying to make money or some fame out of this. None of them have any experience (of sadhana). At the best, they could be philosophers. And I don’t want that. Some even end up in jails after some time.” (I admit how naive I was then).

After some more thoughts on this, I added, “Oh, but wait, I read this book a few years back. I feel he could be genuine.” Now with hindsight, I could see that still, I was not looking for a guru-disciple relationship.

“Let me google search for that book and his name.”I googled Swami. Got ‘The Ancient Science of Mantras: Wisdom of the Sages’in the top searches. I said, “Oh look, he has written this one more book.” At this point, I was quite intrigued by this yellow colored book that I received in my recommendations. I think I got so engrossed in ordering and figuring out more about that book, that I didn’t even pursue or conclude my ongoing discussion. As if nobody, nothing existed at that moment. This was only the second time I somehow got aware of Swamiji’s existence. A few days later, I received the book, read it ferociously. Reading that I felt this is exactly what I wanted all my life. This is it, what I was looking for subconsciously in all my dreams and ambitions. Picked up the first sadhana and started my first purushcharna (at least in this lifetime:P)

Also, I would like to mention this small incident that happened at the beginning of 2018, a few months before the above incident. I went on a trip to Kedarnath and Badrinath with my friends. At Badrinath, I silently prayed, “O Lord, I am tired of figuring out things in this life. I have exhausted my limited intellect. I don’t have the wisdom to read Your scriptures to get answers. I am weary of all these signs You give. Now I surrender to You, please come to my life as You came in Arjuna’s. I’ll fight my own battles, please just be my guide. I have no desires, just tell me what I should do. What battles to pick?” I didn’t know that Swamiji was here a few years back.

Within the next few months, I read more books by Swamiji. Watched many/most of his YouTube videos. I was happy practicing what I read in “The ancient science of mantras.” I felt everything is good, I’m on the right track. Just need to keep walking on it patiently. I was happy and content with the way life was going. But then came the books that were the turning point in my life. The ones that made me restless again and took me to the ashram. “The book of faith” & “Om Swami: As we know him”.

I was very excited and curious after reading those two books. After that I thought, even if just one of the numerous incidents mentioned in the two books is true then I should meet him. If someone like him exists in this day and age then I should surely visit him. So I checked out the ashram website to make a booking. There was a question to specify the objective of the meeting with Swamiji. There were four options. Three I don’t exactly remember but something on the lines of seeking help from Swamiji. The fourth one was for initiation. I was a bit confused as none of them was exactly what I was looking for. To be honest, it was more of an exploratory visit for me. But I thought, “yeah maybe I could select initiation. After all, I want to walk this path. It would be nice to get initiated from him. He seems genuine and everyone says it is important to have a guru.” I filled out the form, which to my surprise was quite long and extensive.

But no surprise now, the result was to wait. It said that it is important that he sees me in person, even if it is in a group meeting (I wasn’t aware of this requirement back then). He said a few more things and I was over the moon. (Once in a while I re-read that email to feel ecstatic again:) He also requested to bring this email for his record whenever I see him in person.

With that letter, I set out to meet him. At that point in time, I already had great respect for Swamiji as a learned, wise monk. My bond was strengthening but still, it was difficult for me to revere any human the way I revere the divine.

कबि न होऊँ नहिं चतुर कहावऊँ, मति अनुरूप राम गुण गावऊँ॥

कह रघुपति के चरित अपारा, कह मति मोरी निरत संसारा॥

Read part 2, here.