The most common ice-breaker question that the visitors at ashram use to socialize is “How did you meet Swamiji?” or “How did you come to know of Swamiji”. While I always believed that it was Swamiji, who found me and not vice versa yet I have decided to pen down the answer of the most commonly asked question through this blog.

I always dilly-dallied on the concept of spirituality and God.  Sometimes I was a believer and other times I was not. Above that, it was the constant ridicule from my father, who was a non-believer, which made me hesitant even to prostrate before God. But it was my grandfather’s death, which made me give up my faith altogether. I was so angry that I even threw the idol of Radha-Krishna out of the window. Of course, now I regret doing it.

My ego and anger took over the place which was left vacant by my faith. As time passed by I was enslaved by my own ego as I became a clockwork toy of my ego, very true to my own nickname at home which is “Toy”. I guess it would not be appropriate to elaborate on the consequences of an inflated ego considering the brevity of this blog.

Cut two to several years later, I was attending a wedding reception of a friend. By then I had royally messed up my life due to my ego and anger. I lost out on good job offers, got divorced, lost out on many friends and acquaintances. Life had lost its meaning, and lack of faith had further made it a dark tunnel for me. Well, coming back to the wedding reception, I happened to bump into one of my friend’s parents. However, I was not on talking terms with my friend for several years as she had not kept in touch with me after school. I was given to understand by her parents that my friend was looking out for my contact number. Being in no mood to mend my ties with her, I somehow avoided giving my number to them. Again it was my ego, which stood before me.

Several days later I received a call from an unknown number. It was my friend’s father. In a grave voice, he said, ” Beta I understand that you didn’t want to give your number the other day, but I somehow managed to find your number. I now seek your permission to pass it on to my daughter”. I reluctantly agreed. Several days later I received that call.

“Gadhe ! Tuney apna number kyun nahi diya mere parents ko?”, she shouted. I couldn’t answer anything. In order to avoid answering that question, I started to enquire about her whereabouts and her well being, etc. For every question that I asked her usual answer was, “There are many things in life other than work and family”. Finding the answers strange, I decided to probe further. She was not sounding the same Anu, I knew in school. At school, we were partners in crime and rhyme, and here I seemed to be talking to a completely different person. She seemed hesitant to divulge the details but eventually gave in. She revealed that she had a life-changing moment after reading a book. I casually asked the name of the book and I was told that it is “If the truth be told”. “Ahh ! Another book on gyan and stuff”, I thought and immediately dismissed the idea of reading it although I am very fond of reading, but books on ‘gyan’ and self-help do not convince or impress me often.

But that night something came over me. I downloaded the book on my Kindle e-book reader and started reading it. From the very first chapter itself, I was very engrossed in it. The book was simply unputdownable. Chapters after chapters, I was getting immersed more and more into it. By the time I finished the book, I was in a daze. “Who’s he? Did he really? How is it possible?”, were the thoughts that kept circling my mind.

During the next conversation with my friend, I asked her if it was possible to meet the so-called Swamiji. Her answer was affirmative, it was possible. She insisted that I made my booking for the upcoming ashram meet, which I eventually did. When the D-day finally arrived, I set out on my journey to the ashram from Hyderabad. The journey was quite an eventful one, which I shall describe in my next blog.

As I was heading towards the ashram from Solan, the cab stereo was blurting out the Bollywood song, “Mere dil mein jagah khuda ki khali thii, dekha wahaan pe aaj tera chehra hai”. Every line of the song seemed apt as I felt Swamiji occupying the space in my heart which was once ruled by my ego.