I opened the curtain of my room at Hotel Jivanta, a fresh new hotel in Shirdi. Probably I am the first guest in that room. I am here for the inauguration of Madhuban Restaurant as well as Ahimsa Vegan Restaurant. Dawn is breaking. I am late to rise. I was late to go to bed as well because we arrived quite late and checked in late. That is definitely not an excuse to wake up late. In fact no excuses are allowed in our path. Whatever the time to bed is, rising and shining should match up with the eternal SUN. The phone was beeping. I opened the Pandora’s Box. Opening the phone in the morning is not a good idea. Time vanishes in front of sundry messages from across the world. Suddenly I remembered the words of Sai Baba “I am single. I have no family of my own. I have no relatives or so called friends. I have no wife or children. I have no possessions, money or houses. I have nothing to guard from thieves. Yet, Maya tests me and lures me time and again.” So, what about those who have everything that is mentioned above? Being a truly spiritual householder is not a small matter, especially if you have something to do in the world around you. Most people may not understand this truth and demand more and more from you.
In a short while, after my morning chores, I was ready for the external world. A beep materialised from my phone. A boy from west “Mohanji, you said every Viswamitra will have to face their quota of Menakas in life before perpetual attainment. Please explain”. I decided to answer that before I walked across to the neighbouring room where Avadhoota Nadananda was staying. I replied “One has to exhaust all his karmic entanglements before he becomes full and complete. Menaka represents the lures of terrestrial existence and not necessarily a female. Everything must come and go. Everything must happen. Whatever has to happen in one lifetime will happen at its appointed time. This is the play of duality of a terrestrial existence. There is no good and bad in this. Rise and fall are part of life. There is no pride in rising or disappointment in falling. Watch both with clarity and equanimity. Watch the show by being the projector. Every Vishwamitra will have his set of Menakas to go through, the associated happiness as well as sorrows.”
Most of the things of life cannot be avoided. When you choose only to give love under all circumstances, we will have to face and tackle multiple phases and faces of dualities of existence, all the mirages of life. The struggle between what you love to do and what you have to do. In the spiritual journey, it is nothing but what you have to do ignoring completely what you love to do which has zero value as it is always from the choreographed mind. With these morning thoughts in my mind, eager to see Avadhoota Nadananda – a saint without any pretensions, I walked towards his door.
People had already assembled on the floor around him. He was sitting with his back towards the window. When I entered, people moved aside to accommodate my entry. Guruji – as everyone affectionately calls him – beckoned me “Welcome Mohanji”. He is humble, simple, straight and extremely, palpably loving. His love is unmistakable. I kneeled down to him in respect and got up to hug him. Hugging him is merging into him. His energy is motherly. Strict and severe when needed and totally loving and selfless otherwise. He has zero tolerance towards someone who betrays his guru or tradition. He reacts with the intensity of Mother Durga towards those who cheat, steal, betray or do things unethical in life. He is simple and an epitome of pure love towards those who are suffering and helpless in the world. He loves his disciples like a mother. He sings and dances even though he suffers from 5th stage lung cancer. Nobody will even doubt that his body is in so much pain even though his mind has no suffering. The whole life is a sacrifice for him, often towards the undeserving. He never displays his state of body or his consciousness but never lets a good visitor go empty handed from his grace. But, if one tries to be over smart and try to outsmart him or lie to him, that person will lose even whatever he has. His energy matches a teenager. He takes rest only a few hours every day and keeps working for the welfare of the poor and helpless. He protects his disciples. He says “Even if I leave this body, I shall be on earth and will work as I do now, without change for the next 300 years. I will be as tangible as I am now”.
Scriptures say that if one betrays his own guru or disowns him, they will have to take numerous births starting from the lowliest of wombs before he gets back to a human birth. In other words, he has to repeat the cycle of evolution completely through about 845,0000 wombs, before he takes another human birth. Lord Vishnu tells Sage Narada “If someone abuses me or my name, I pardon them. If someone abuses his guru or his name, even if the Guru pardons him, I will not”. We can see this aspect in display in Avadhoota Nadananda. One person approached him for initiation. He asked him whether he has obtained initiation from anyone else. He said that he has received initiation from four different masters before he came to him. Nadananda became furious. He asked him to leave his presence immediately. He said “One who cannot respect his own guru has no place in my world”.
In this context, a bit of flashback…
It was the beginning of March 2016. I was about to embark on my tour of the western countries and South Africa. A hectic schedule was awaiting me. And before the tour there were other programs in India as well. Guruji asked me to come for the inauguration of Ugadi at Kurnool. His call is a command. Myself and a close associate went to Kurnool for a day. While a few of us were sitting down with Guruji and chatting various things, a dog came there. Guruji displayed deep affection towards the dog. He “introduced” the dog to me as well. I patted him and he seemed very happy in our company. Guruji said “Mohanji, his name is Sudhir in this life. In his last life, he was Sudhirananda. He had taken vow of renunciation. But, he failed in his loyalty to his practices and his loyalty to his guru and became a dog in this life. He met me again and I will redeem his human form in his next life.” It may sound like a fairy tale. But, I have seen many such incidents of the state of Yoga Brashta (Fallen from grace) in my short existence in the spiritual realms of this incarnation. The key reason for that is betrayal of one’s guru. A guru need not be a guru who initiated us to any path or practice. It could be even one person or personality who we consider as our guru even in the mind. Once we consider anyone as our guru, even once, we should pay respects and honour his name and form. If we fail to do so, due to whatever reason, we may slip down in the path of evolution of consciousness. It is through various births in various wombs that we have attained a human birth. And it takes various human birth to evolve into the state of “animal – human” to “human – human”. It usually takes many further births to become “god – human”. Hence, we must never judge, criticise, scandalise or betray anybody let alone one’s own Guru, even if the guru is good, bad or ugly. (The book Bhagawatham explains this in detail) Take your time to accept someone as your guru. Take lot of time. Once accepted, keep the devotion steady and stable. This was the fundamental lesson Sudhir, the dog is giving to the world every day, by just being present in this world as an example of fall from grace.
Interestingly, when Guruji was introducing the dog to me, even though many people were around us nobody saw this event or took pictures of it. This I came to know when I was looking for pictures of this incident. Nobody remembers it. I spoke to Guruji and he said everyone cannot see certain levels of subtleties. This incident was real and this meeting had a deeper subtle meaning and hence no one else saw this. He also mentioned that everything is atom oriented. It is possible to increase and decrease density as well as change form at will when one changes his operating level from the mental to spiritual substratum.
I stated this here so that the reader could understand the consciousness of an avadhoota, who never tolerates injustice towards others even though many might have committed injustice towards him. We very well know that many have committed injustice to him through his brilliant autobiography.
Nadananda briefed about the service projects that he is doing along with Ammucare and he said that he is pleased and happy to be associated with Ammucare. This brightened the face of Sakshi who was listening to our conversation along with others. She has been leading Ammucare since the last 4 years and in 2016 Ammucare has started contributing within its capacity towards some of the projects of Guruji. Every organisation has its limitations. The requirement always remains larger than the means. This is the case of more or less every legitimate charity organisations.
Guruji’s autobiographical works will be published internationally in the name of Autobiography of an Avadhoota. An agreement was signed between myself, on behalf of Mohanji Foundation,Rameshji on behalf of Ashraya Trust, verified and approved by Avadhoota Nadananda himself. This book will soon be released globally in print, digital and audio version through Mohanji Foundations globally. I believe that a taste of true spirituality should reach the hands of every seeker of truth. This book is an honest and straight forward account of an incredible and often impossible journey a man of determination undertook against all odds and attained what was probably unimaginable in one lifetime. This is a no nonsense book. I believe this book has the power and ability to awaken the truth in every reader just like the Autobiography of a Yogi did in the world from 1950s onwards. This would be a modern day classic.
Before we embarked on the Shirdi trip while speaking to Guruji, he told me “Mohanji, you and I alone should walk the streets of Shirdi. Can you give me some time for that?” I said “Guruji, your wish is my command. Do consider it as done.” Hence, soon after breakfast, me and Guruji started walking towards the temple of Sai Baba, Dwarakamai and the Samadhi Mandir. He said “We shall not go into the Samadhi Mandir. Those who must meet us will meet us here in the streets.” We walked seemingly aimlessly, but, I presume Guruji had a particular purpose in taking me alone through the sacred streets of Shirdi. While walking together, he said “Mohanji, see how many thousands of people are eating their food in Sai Baba’s name today. How many shops, restaurants, hospitals and schools get their sustenance in Sai Baba’s name! While Sai Baba was in His body, he hardly had any food to eat. Hardly anybody offered him food or shelter, except perhaps a handful of people. You and I have the same situation today. Today, we may not have sufficient, but tomorrow, so many will thrive in our name. The likes of us receive discrimination and betrayal while living and glorification after death.” Spot On! Guruji uttered a naked truth, perhaps to wake me up to a reality not to expect much understanding from contemporaries while the posterity may understand my existence far better.
I moved into contemplation mode. I was digesting this truth. Like a flash, the people who misunderstood me and left me came to the canvass of my mind. At that moment, some words were transferred into me “Those who left do not deserve you nor do you have anything to give them. Bless them and leave them. Those who stay are for you to give more to. Give them more.” Was it Sai Baba talking or Guruji? How does it matter? Truth is the relevance of message. It was relevant. We were walking past Dwarakamai in silence. Suddenly Guruji spoke “Mohanji, do not worry. I shall never leave your hand. I shall be with you through time. Just continue to do your best irrespective of what the world thinks of you. We shall protect you always. This is a promise!”
Maybe he brought me to the sacred land of Shirdi to deliver this promise from Divine Mother and Gyan Ganj that he represents as its 48th Peethathipathi (pontiff). These words filled my heart. A promise that no forces in the world can break and change! This is also a clear sign of deep connectivity and integration into the tradition of Avadhootas. A clear sign of beingness and being part of the tradition. Tradition invariably comes forth to deliver. There is no need to chase anything in the path of spirituality. He continued “I have decided to confer the title of Brahma Rishi to You Mohanji on the most auspicious day of Datta Jayanti. I shall make all arrangements. Be there on the previous day.” I met Avadhoota Nadananda on the previous day of Datta Jayanti in 2015. One year is elapsing. So many things happened within this one year. A title that comes without asking for it, is meant to be. Whatever is given is real. Whatever comes to us is earned, probably through lifetimes. This thought filled my heart with gratefulness. Suddenly another thought happened in the canvas of mind. “I am an ordinary man. I am not learned in rituals, scriptures or philosophies. Am I eligible for a title as grand as this? And that too from the pontiff of Gyan Ganj?” Suddenly without asking, the answer came from Guruji “You are Brahmarishi. We shall make it official on Datta Jayanti”.
It is impossible to meddle with anyone’s natural karma without your hands getting burned at least to some degree. Not many masters involve in the karma of others. They witness impartially and allow them to complete it naturally, irrespective of suffering or pleasure for their minds. Guruji has interfered quite willingly in serious karmas of people time and again and took it all on his own body. His body has multiple ailments, but, I was told that the medical reports showed NO ailments. He himself told me that he is suffering from fifth stage lung cancer and is vomiting blood every night. But, you will never feel him as a cancer patient as he jokes, chides, sings and dances with us at the age of 75. He makes life a complete joke and rightfully so. Every person who is a healer must remember this. There is NO healing without their karma coming in the way. True masters out of sheer compassion may take it on themselves. We have seen that in the stories of masters such as Sai Baba and many others. Guruji is no exception. This is nothing but overflowing kindness. But the disciples, let alone society may not even understand the size of their work. Many people who have been immensely benefitted often ungratefully shift camps at the drop of a hat. Guruji explained to me how people who he loved and gave everything possible just walked away without any kind of remorse or guilt and even scandalised him, spreading hatred towards him amongst others with paltry reasons.” One day I’m God to them and another day I’m the devil. It doesn’t take much time for insecure people to change their mind because their vonnection is conditional.” I told him that I have experienced the same time and again in my life too. We still keep giving.
When he was talking about betrayals by closest people who were loved dearly and were given all what we could, he had tears in his eyes. I asked him, “Guruji, should we feel this way? Should we feel at all, when people betray our trust and even leave us for that matter?” He said “Remember, we have taken a human body. Hence feel as a human would.” Every experience should be felt to the core but we should have nothing to do with it. That means, feel, experience and move on without a stain of the past. When we came out of the satsang with Guruji, one companion asked “Mohanji, you know these things. I have heard you talk about levels of attachment and detachment. Why did you pose this question to Guruji? Were you testing him?”. I said “Never. I respect him. I never test any master, let alone a master of Guruji’s stature. Remember, whenever I go in front of a master, I am a total disciple. Empty to the core. I have no stature of my own except as a disciple or a seeker of truth. When I deliver satsangs, I assume a different stature, that of a teacher or a guide. We must never go to any teacher with a filled up cup. We should go with a totally empty cup and zero ego. We should forget about what we know or what we are and surrender completely and absorb their gifts like a sponge with humility and gratefulness.”
While walking in Shirdi with Avadhoota Nadananda, he talked about the attitude of service. Most people who help in charity do it as a favour. We should become both the giver and the receiver. We should hold no ego while delivering and instead, should feel grateful that we were useful in this incarnation for this world in some way.
We sat in the verandah inside the Shirdi complex. He said “There is no need to stand in queue, push and pull and have darshan of Baba. Those who we have to meet will come to meet us.” We sat for a short while. He expressed his deep satisfaction about the association between his organisation and Ammucare. He said that before he met me, he was doing this work practically alone and now he feels good to have the association of myself and Ammucare. I felt happy that he is happy with us.
Suddenly, he got up and said “Come Mohanji. Let us walk. Are you tired or fed up of this old man?” I said “Guruji, this is my privilege and honour. I shall never be tired of you. I am grateful for what you are delivering to me during this personal journey. I may not even understand what you have delivered inside me or how you have changed my software. But, one thing is sure. This is an extraordinary journey. You and I. This is no coincidence and also, I believe there is a very deep meaning to this communion, which I am sure I will recognise or understand in the years to come. It feels like a fairy tale. Our meeting, the subsequent association as well as the events that lead us to the streets of Shirdi where we are walking together as one Consciousness.” Guruji said “I will never leave your hand. Our relationship is lifetimes old. I will always protect you and empower you to do more in the world. Your selflessness attracts me. You will never have any problems in life. We shall make sure of that. Those who have left you or betrayed your trust should not be worried about. They lost you. Do not think about those who have gone. They could not understand you. You lost nothing. They lost you forever. Those who see only our terrestrial side will completely miss the consciousness and the tradition that we represent. Understand that they did not possess the eligibility to walk the Golden path of Lord Datta to the ultimate end. You are not responsible for that. Relax and do more for the world. I shall be with you all through. This is a promise.”
We stopped at the temples of Lords Shiva, Shani and Ganesha inside the Shirdi temple complex. We saw one lean man with matted hair standing looking at the entrance of the Lord Shani temple. Guruji said “Here he is. He is the one who was waiting for us.” He took out a Rs100/- currency which was wrapped up in his cloth around his waist and asked me “Give it to him”. I took the money and walked towards him and when I reached, he turned and looked at me. He looked like a wandering saint with matted hair and sparkling eyes. Looked like a Nath Sadhu. I gave him the money. He received it and bowed down to me. We walked on. Soon we left the temple.
While walking back, Guruji again said “Did you see how many thousands of people are having their daily bread in the name of Sai Baba today. While in his body, he wandered if not begged for food. Same is the situation for all of us. While in the body, people do not recognise us. After leaving, they will come to our shrine.” I said “Guruji, most people who come here are coming to beg for something and not to thank Baba for taking birth on this soil and guiding millions. If he begged for food during his time, most of these people are begging for something from him 100 years after he left the body.” He nodded and laughed at the irony of life. He said “Sai Baba was the 37th pontiff of Gyan Ganj. I am the 48th. Now I am not well. It is time for me to remove this mantle. I am waiting for orders. The power of this incarnation will remain and multiply for 300 years after leaving the physical form. Same with Sai Baba. Same with me.” I was reminded of the statement of Ganeshananda Giri “I wanted to leave my body in Shirdi. But Baba said “Go to Chennai and leave your body there. You will “LIVE” there”. Hence I am going to South soon.” He told this when we met him in Shirdi in December 2015. Such saints who walk on earth do not have any personal agenda. They are just obeying orders of the divine.
The function that we came for, the inauguration of Madhuban Restaurant in Shirdi along with Ahimsa Vegan, was successfully completed with Guruji guiding the whole program tagged along by Sulakhe Maharaj and myself. He blessed the venture and all of us. This is the short summary of a memorable trip to Shirdi in the month of June 2016.
Aum Sai Ram
P.S. The above text is read and approved by Avadhoota Nadananda himself before publication. He said “Everything is perfect. Change NOTHING.”