​Memories of Manu (Story of Atmananda)

When I look back to my time with Atmananda, I can never boast that I really understood him. Initially, he seemed to be a bundle of contradictions, absurdities and inconsistencies. But, when I started accepting it all as part of his character and stature, he started to make sense to me.

Zamisljeni MohanjiPrimarily, he displayed no insecurities. I started seeing his uncanny authenticity, uncompromising conviction, and inconceivable profundity when I started accepting him as he was. Acceptance without conditions made a drastic difference in my thinking process. He told me to focus on myself instead of focusing on him. And it was intriguing. He used to say “Form might lead to delusions. The same applies to expectations”. I was beginning to be aware of that. So, I stuck with his recommendations or teachings rather than his form or personality. Nevertheless, his actions and activities were unignorably influencing my character. Detachment from all things around me was settling in without my being aware of it. And fears as well as insecurities rapidly vanished too. Looking back, in a way, I was possibly imitating him, quite unconsciously. In this context, I would like to quote a few of his teachings. Perhaps they could be considered as silent initiations too.

While walking through a forest area, when we cautioned him of the possible attack of wild animals, He said “If this ‘dead’ body becomes useful for the survival of a fellow being, why not? Consider it a better use of the body than using it for indiscriminate consumption of the wealth of mother (earth). (Atmananda always considered his body as “dead” and spirit as life. And he used to say “My life is not the body. It is now in the body but not affected by the body or even the existence of it. Being unconditionally available is the initiation in the path of liberation. Conviction is the dhuni (fire).”

His explanation of Purushartha, the essence of human existence, was truly profound.

“Purushartha (essence of existence) or the tapestry (DNA) of human existence consists of Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha,” explained Atmananda. “Dharma is the basis of existence of everything. Dharma is righteousness. Right method of existence provides guidance even to the mind-oriented people. Being natural. Being with nature. Truthful. Rightful. Righteous. Righteous living means living in tune with nature; the nature within and outside, without disturbing and destroying anything in and around us. Universe operates on Dharma. Birth is dharma. Life is dharma. Death is also dharma. Every breath is dharma. Earth, Wind, Water, Fire, Space and Ether function based on Dharma. Dharma is inevitable. Dharma operates the whole universe. When we are in tune with dharma, without resistance, we have a complete, unfluctuating life. Dharma protects the dharmic.
Artha is material. Regular karmic existence needs material assistance. Materials include food, clothing and shelter. Artha is important for existence. Artha also demands maturity. Immature handling, possession and control of Artha leads to imbalance and eventual destruction of oneself and the wealth. Artha belongs to the nature. Nature alone can own nature. No being within nature can own it forever.

Kama is desire. Desire for food, shelter, clothing and every aspect of human existence, which is created by destiny is kama. Kama is the fire that keeps life going. Even desire for liberation is kama in a sense.

Moksha is dissolution which is beyond enlightenment. Moksha is total liberation.

Dharma, Artha and Kama exists in all parts of this world, amongst human and non-human beings. Moksha – the thought and sincere conviction for liberation from the karmic cycle of birth and death exists only in Bharat. This makes this land sacred.” Atmananda used to say “Do not take this land that you walk on for granted. Great sages walked this land.” (Masters like Agastya, Vishwamitra, Dattatreya, Vyasa, Valmiki, Sapta Rishis, Nava Naths, Lord Rama, Hanuman, Krishna, Parashurama, Adi Shankaracharya, Buddha, Patanjali, Varahamihira, Bharata, Charaka, Narada, and so many others). “Respect this soil. No other soil in the whole world has mothered so many great masters, traditions and religions.”

Some more events from the life of Atmananda.

Once sitting by the side of fire, I saw master staring at the fire intensely as if speaking to it. Suddenly, he uttered as if to someone unseen to our eyes, staring into the fire. “I have no more incarnations.” We heard that. We waited for further words. For a long time, he kept staring at the fire. Then we heard him speak again “My next incarnation would be sophisticated. I would hide myself behind garbs of that time. I would confuse the world with my attire. I would shake minds with my character, style, nature, methods and habits.” He spoke no further. When we asked about his next incarnation at a convenient time, he did not bother to answer. We gathered that he was talking to someone in the fire or through the fire, or that perhaps he was participating in a discussion with masters. An Avadhoota always remains unfathomable.

I heard this story from a follower of the master. One day, after lunch, we were sitting under a tree. Guruji and others were seated under other trees nearby. This follower told me about an incident in Atmananda’s life: “Our Guruji used to meditate in the neighbouring forest alone for many months, if not years. He would abstain from food and water. As you know, this forest has many wild animals – tigers, snakes, elephants, and so on. One day, our Guruji was sitting in meditation at the mouth of a cave about 900 feet above this forest, on the other side. A tigress came to the cave. Guruji was unaware. Perhaps she wanted to enter the cave. Guruji was blocking it. The tigress produced a scary spine-chilling cry. It was very near the face of Guruji. He opened his eyes and saw the tigress. He looked straight into her eyes and they understood each other. He moved away, and the tigress entered the cave. In the same cave there was a huge serpent as well. It never bothered the presence of Guruji. Neither did Guruji bother the serpent’s presence. Now that the tigress also occupied the cave, the chance for a conflict was inevitable. Yet, perhaps due to the presence of Guruji, the two beings existed peacefully in the cave. Soon enough, the tigress who was pregnant, delivered four cubs. The cave family thus started growing. While Guruji is meditating, the cubs would climb over him and play in his lap. The mother tigress would go out to fetch some food for herself and also refresh herself. So did the serpent. Guruji was almost always fasting or ate some leaves or fruit which naturally came to his doorstep. Thus, Guruji stayed with this strange family of beings for a few months and then went on with his wandering.” This gave me a clear picture about the unity of consciousness which Guruji used to mention. All beings are one in consciousness and there is no separation. All other species know it except humans. Guruji always respected all lives on earth and always ensured that his existence never interrupted or disturbed any other lives.

Atmananda often spoke to himself or beings that we cannot see. He used to stare at something and speak as if it’s a human being. Once I saw him speaking to a “fallen dry wood!” What I heard was “I have to come back. So, it is better to leave quickly to come back. Is it painful? Oh, no. Pain is only in association. I am the consciousness of an atom and this mountain. No shell can give me pain. Pain is with the shell. I am not my shell. I must give myself. I must stop being I. I have kept this body and all that is connected to this body away from the market place. Now, I must keep all of them in market place. I will give my next body for the lions (worldly people) to feed on. If that is the command. I will.”

I often wondered, who is this “I” this perfect Avadhoota is talking about? Later on, I understood, he is referring to a state of his, perhaps his human dimension that we get to see or certain aspect of his state and never the personality that we usually refer to as I.

“I am the consciousness that existed in the atom. Then I expanded to become a cell. Then I became a fish. I came in everything that walks, crawls, swims and flies. I am also the medium (elements) they thrive on. I am the non-attachment that exists inside every shell. I have taken millions of lives. I felt and experienced the pain of separation from each mind from its body identification, each time. I felt the pleasure of liberation after each body too. When each bird comes to liberate a worm, when each tiger comes to liberate an incarnation, each time when death comes to liberate an existence, I shed the garb of illusion and become complete consciousness. I am the consciousness of the eater and the eaten, yet I have no birth or death. Birth and death happen as ripples within my consciousness. I remain complete and immortal always.”

One day he said “There is no use in following me. You are wasting your time with me. Even I do not know where I am going. And I know I have nowhere to go. You are not like me. You have places to go to. So, do not waste your time with this mad wanderer.” Even though we were perplexed by these words, we understood the meaning after some time. Initially we thought that our Guru is asking us to leave. But, his later actions revealed that he wants us to think and be aware. Places to go to are our desires of material gratification. He has no desires. He has no place to go to as well as every “place” is him. We still have desires. This means, if we choose to follow him, let it be without other desires and with only one aim, liberation. A liberated being becomes everything visible and invisible. For my master, He is the final home. His journeys, if at all, are all inside the home of his consciousness. There is no outer journey through the senses and mind for him. This was a strong reminder for all of us.

Mohanji walking, from the backAt one point in time, Atmananda slowed down and started showing signs of detachment from everyone, as if preparing to leave his body. He did not leave the shade of a banyan a tree for a week, and was staring at the sky day and night without eating, drinking or sleeping. All of us decided that he will leave his body soon and that was a tough thought for us. Our anxiety grew day by day. One day, Atmananda spoke: “You fools! Why are you so anxious, upset and crying? You are upset because I may leave this “dead” body? I am ashamed that you have understood nothing by walking with me all these years. Death is inevitable for any body and not the soul. Soul never dies. I never die because I am never born. All that is born will die. This is the truth and there is no tragedy in it. When my work is over with this body, I will leave it. I am not the body and no body can hold me. You will also leave your respective bodies just like I will someday. Crying over a dead body is the silliest and stupidest thing one can ever do. When I die, do not keep my body in a pit (samadhi). Burn it and give the ash to the rivers that bathed it and nurtured it all these years. There should be no visible trace of Atmananda. I will come back again in another body to fulfill every wish of everyone who connects with me. When I come back, I will come back only for the sake of Dharma and will have no boundaries or barriers. It will have nothing to do with this body that people call Atmananda.” Atmananda made this very clear and started his wandering pattern again. We understood that he wanted to give us an important lesson in life.

M in whiteWe rarely saw any emotion in him. He always existed in his own world. One day, as we were walking past a small-town market, we heard one local leader giving a speech attended by an audience of about a hundred people. Guruji did not wait to hear the speech. He abruptly walked past them without paying any attention. Acharya Shankar, who was with us for a few months, was from that town. When we sat down after a short while, Shankar told Atmananda: “Guruji, the man whom we saw speaking to a crowd is a popular leader of my place. He is doing many things for the poor. But, he is intolerant about saints and always speaks of saints and monks as lazy, useless people. He even tries to prevent temples from giving them food or shelter. On one side, he is serving the poor, while on the other side, he is abusing the harmless monks.” Atmananda abruptly intervened, “He is serving himself and nobody else. All his moves are calculated for his advantage. When he pretends to serve the poor, he is looking for their support for his own popularity. He is keeping them poor that way. Monks have no value for him. He pretends to be secular, but when it comes to the defenseless monks who do not rally for him, they are useless for his personal agenda. Only a subtle heart will see the peace these monks are spreading on earth. By not needing anything, they are leaving a message of contentment in this world of greed and political supremacy.” Atmananda was emphatic and seemed a bit angry about what is happening in the hypocritical world around him.

Various quotes from my master Atmananda:

“Experiences die when the experiencer dissolves”

“I am not here to experience anything. I am here to prove that experience is nothing but a projection of the experiencer, just like the waking state reality is a projection of consciousness which has nothing to do with any of the three states”

“Desires maintain thoughts. Thoughts maintain mind. Liberation is a state of no thoughts and hence no mind, let alone desires”

“My existence is a reminder that you are unbound and hence you are freedom. You are free.”

“Just like fire uses materials to express itself, the Source uses matter (bodies) to express itself”

“As long as thoughts exist, you exist; Only if thoughts exist, you exist”

“Prejudices make the good look bad while love makes the bad look good. Our world is as we are and not what it is.”

Pic 16 - Mohanji and Thea, into the Light

“Acceptance is the first step towards liberation. Seed of liberation starts sprouting only from the nirvitarka samadhi state. Yet,states are not stable unless carefully nurtured”

“You are a complete incarnation like any other. You are not creating or uncreating anybody’s destiny. All are complete incarnations that came here for experiences and expressions. Their only bonding and binding factor would be emotions”

“Life is all flavors. Life must be taken in its totality. Nothing is absolutely right or absolutely wrong. Karma dwells on relative truth, experiences and expressions. Karma carves destiny from nothingness.”

“Understand you are a unique expression of the divine and you need to do nothing about it”

“Events are impermanent, and emotions are experiences for the mind. Consciousness has nothing to do with it”

“If you consider consciousness as spirit, it is beyond mind and emotions. Soul is beyond consciousness too.”

“You as consciousness are not the doer nor the experiencer. Unattached, you are witnessing both. And soul is witnessing the witness.

“What have I got to do with you? And what have you got to do with me? Minds made us. Truth will dissolve us.”

M from the back

“My only experience is that I do not exist”

“My love is absolute because I am love”

“Those who invoke and maintain emotions are enemies of liberation”

“Truth can only be found in silence”

“Connection between minds is the lowest possible connection. Awareness of unity in consciousness is one of the highest possible connections”

“Expectations maintain mind. Expectations distort truth”

“Every rejection, every denial has its positive side – Strength. If you swap your natural despair and dejection from these into your strength, you will become invincible in life”

“Friends who put prejudices into your mind should be considered as your enemies”

“Those who love you unconditionally will not judge you ever”

“Those who stay with you against all odds should never be abandoned”


“Doubts, like gossip, is deadly poison. Even a drop of it can kill faith and push the seeker backwards in evolution of awareness. Doubts reverse spiritual progress.”

“Compassion does not mean you accept negativity, pessimism and prejudices from the world around you. Compassion means their mind becomes free from it all because of their interaction with you”

“Do not be afraid of friends becoming enemies and enemies becoming friends. Both are bound by illusions of mind. Truth is that everyone is oneself.”

“Those who pretend, criticize, judge, scandalize and condemn others are usually hypocrites. They are either afraid to be authentic or are jealous of authentic people. They are even afraid or ignorant about their originality or the law of karma. Deficiency creates anger, jealousy and prejudices. Society is full of such hypocrites. They only see what they are programmed to see. Absolute truth is not accessible to them. They cling on to relative truth and form their opinions. Do not waste your time on them. They keep you prejudiced and bound with their ignorance of reality”

“No karmic being has the right to criticize, judge or condemn another. All are same in the law of karma”

“If you fear criticism, you will be a compromiser. You will not have growth and evolution. If you have no fears, you will have growth in awareness. Those with firm conviction on eternal truth will never consort hypocrisy. They will not fear enemies”

“Greed breeds crime”.

“Every bit of darkness is afraid of brightness. Even a tiny spark of light means death for darkness. Hence, darkness will try its best to avoid all kinds of light. Extreme conviction and focus are required to bring light to life and to keep it alive always.”

“Fire symbolizes heat and light. Fire symbolizes life”

M sun in the hair

I shall conclude this with a few one-word answers of Guruji.

1. What is the reason for poverty? “Inner Poverty”

2. What is the reason for ailments? “Suppression”

3. What hinders liberation? “Ignorance”

4. What causes sorrows? “Inner darkness”

5. What is success? “Contentment”

6. What is the highest human expression? “Compassion”

7. What is the sign of a true seeker? “Patience”

8. What is downfall in spiritual journey? “Desires”

9. What is being absolute? “No Mind”

10. What is the ultimate? “Nir Beeja – No Seed state”

Until some other time –

I bow down to my divine master and re-enter my silence.

M in peace

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​Divine Designs of Life (Story of Atmananda)

“I cannot believe that I am so limited! I cannot feel I have a body. Bhagawan, (Lord) What is this?”, Manu asked Atmananda. Atmananda paid no attention to his words. There are many such exclamations from his followers that he is used to; and he knows the cause of such surprises – Mind. He was never impressed with anything that minds ever produced. Why should he? Mind is all that he saw around him. Walking, talking, sleeping and dreaming minds. Heavy minds laden with concepts, prejudices, fears, memories and desires. Nothing else.

Mohanji - za Atmananda blog
Manu had experienced a trance state by simply connecting his mind to the heart centre of the ever meditating Atmananda. Manu sat a few feet away and just concentrated on the heart centre of Atmananda. At that moment, a melting, dissolving feeling enveloped his mind as his heart centre merged with that of Atmananda. He has been doing that ever since he started following Atmananda. Finally, on that day, he saw, or rather felt, in his inner eye the fathomless, unlimited vast sky of Atmananda’s heart centre. The whole universe seemed to be resting there. That glimpse pushed him into a blissful trance state and he stayed like that for a few hours.

Atmananda never guided him into this state nor did he pay any attention to it. He knew that one can only feed minds. Consciousness needs no food. His very presence was his highest teaching. To the eligible ones, he delivered the unasked just by his presence. Eligibility was in inner emptiness, unshakeable faith, lack of doubts, surrender and clear purpose of liberation. On the tree of liberation, healthy leaves seeking the ultimate remained on the tree, while the leaves that are dry, confused, prejudiced and decayed with heavy emotions, kept falling off periodically. Every breeze, let alone storm, was a reason enough for those leaves to fall off. Whenever this happened, and someone commented or asked about it, Atmananda would reply calmly, “They are not ready for liberation. It is not their time yet.”

Sun had set. Atmananda stood up and started walking. He moved a few steps towards the path that led to the river bank. Obviously, his intention was to take a dip and meditate at the nearby temple. The local temple priest always gave him and his followers some food whenever this wandering monk came that way, even though they never asked or expected anything from anybody, anytime.

On the way, they met an old woman. She was limping and walking with the help of a stick. She was rheumatic and seemed to have a frozen leg. Atmananda would always ask “Have you eaten?” to every old and sick person he met on his way. He asked the same question to this lady. She said “No. It has been 2 days.” This place was away from the city and sparsely populated. Hence, it was not a favorite place for wandering monks and helpless old people. Atmananda turned to one of his followers called Ramakrishna and said “I gave you three fruits in the afternoon to keep. Do you still have them?” This was given to Atmananda by a fruit vendor as Dakshina. Ramakrishna said “Yes Gurudeva.” Atmananda said “Give it to her.”

Ramakrishna hesitated for a moment because that was the only food that this group had at that time. Atmananda repeated without any emotions, “Give it to her.” Ramakrishna did not think again. By that time, Atmananda had already started walking ahead. Ramakrishna rushed to hand over the fruits to the old woman and then catch pace with the usually fast and agile Atmananda. In fact, all of them were quite hungry and there was no assured food source at hand. Yet, while walking with Atmananda who never ever stayed at one place for more than three days, nothing was assured. This was a test for most disciples. Atmananda never cared who dropped off and who stayed. He continued wandering.

After bathing and performing the “Sandhya Vandan” (prayer/meditation ritual during sunrise and sunset), they walked to the village temple. Lord Krishna was the principle deity there, the sweet scent of basil (Tulsi) garlands that adorned the beautiful idol of Lord Krishna greeted them. The idol shone in the light of the ghee lamps.

Atmananda always had a clear reason for taking his followers to temples – purification. It was never for his sake. Purification has multiple aspects. First the senses, then the mind. Senses have no meaning or existence without the mind. Eyes capture the bright, shining, decorated positive glory of the idol, which is nothing but the representation of an ideal. Every idol in the Sanatana Dharma path is the representation of a particular ideal or dimension of our existence, such as action, will power, abundance, wealth, love, knowledge, peace, etc. Ears are awakened through mantras, bells, drums, conch and other sounds of the temple. Nose is awakened by the fragrance of basil leaves, flowers, incense sticks, camphor, and perfumes used on the idol. Skin is awakened by the application of sacred ash, turmeric paste, sandalwood or vermillion. Tongue is awakened by the sacred water, offered fruits or other offerings. Sound of conch which supposedly is as powerful as a thousand Om, powerful enough to ward off all negative elements and awaken the human nadis. Finally, the mind is awakened through all these senses as well as the vibrations of chants and songs, which detach the mind from the outside world and keep it steady in the present. Thus, the whole body is awakened. This helps inner and outer purification. Apart from that, the offering the devotees give at the temple signifies sacrifice and surrender. Humility is the most important aspect of human existence that brings forth grace in abundance.

M in white giving Shaktipat

Humility has four aspects. The feeling of insignificance in a positive way is one aspect. If one feels lower than the lowest, it’s a clear sign of established humility. This is also why people prostrate with full body at the feet of the idol or spiritual master. Total surrender, making oneself insignificant, so that ego is brought down to the lowest possible level. Man minus ego is equal to God. Second aspect is being tolerant, nurturing high level of acceptance, without judgement of oneself and the world around us. Acceptance of oneself and the world around keeps our mind steady and calm. Resistance, judgement, prejudices, hatred and anger towards everything is the opposite of this. In that case, mind remains turbulent. Third aspect is acceptance and respect of all beings, human and non-human. Respect them as you would like to be respected or more. Fourth is no expectation. Do not expect respect, acknowledgement or anything at all while giving forth our best. This is symbolized by offering variety of stuff to the temple or idol. Idol represents an ideal and each deity is representation of different dimensions of human existence or different ideals. All these put together becomes the experience called Humility. Humility ensures grace in life.

And of course, temples are meeting places for sharing and caring as well as nurturing and expressing our innate goodness and kindness. Rejuvenation, purification and nurturing goodness are the reasons why Atmananda took people to the temples. He never encouraged prayers of requests for material and even spiritual benefits from the deities. He used to say, “Increase your inner space – you will carry more grace.” Whenever people asked Atmananda “What can we do to get the state of God?”, Atmananda always answered “By doing you only get more karma. Only though non-doing or detached existence from actions and the results of action, while in action, you can realize God. You cannot “get” God. God can only be realized. God is always there. Godhood has to be earned through emptiness. In silence, you become aware of it. Actions and expressions often take that opportunity away.

There were hardly any devotees in the temple that day. It was a village temple and away from the city crowd. An old woman and her teenage granddaughter walked around the temple in circumambulation chanting “Aum Namo Bhagawate Vaasudevaaya,” the sacred mantra of Lord Vishnu. When he saw Atmananda and his entourage, the priest had came out of the temple and handed out some flowers, sandal paste and two bananas which were offered to Lord Krishna earlier by some devotee. The priest said “Don’t go. Let me complete the rituals and close the temple. I would like to share some more food with you.” He went into the temple to complete the evening poojas (rituals). Atmananda gave one banana to the old woman with the girl, who came near him to touch his feet. He did not allow her to touch his feet. Instead, he touched the ground near her feet. She howled, “Oh no Swamiji, your touching my feet will bring me a big sin!” Atmananda smiled and said, “If I am the cause of your sin, I shall take it away too. Bless this son, mother. I am touching my mother’s feet.” This episode ended there because Atmananda is a man of few words and almost no emotions. He lived the life of a perfect Avadhoota.

Mohanji blessing, sight

Atmananda and his group of 9 at that time sat outside the temple expecting the priest to close the temple and join them. The priest lived about 100 feet from the temple. He usually carried the rice and fruits that devotees offered to Lord to his house after every daily ritual. With that his family of five people survived. They never complained of poverty nor worried about their sorrows. He came to Atmananda, brought some broad leaves from a tree which served as disposable plates, spread them on a flat stone seat near a banyan tree, and with his hand, started serving rice. He served almost half of what he had got on the leaves. The rest he kept for his family. From a smaller vessel, using a spoon created out of a leaf folded in a particular manner and pinned together with a twig of a plant, he poured some ghee on the rice. Atmananda was sitting quiet watching this. The priest looked at Atmananda apologetically and said, “This is all I have. Please accept my humble offering and bless me.” Atmananda held the hand of the priest in gratitude, which still had remnants of the rice on it, and said “Great embodiment of unconditional love, your generations will not know what is hunger.” The priest’s eyes welled up. Atmananda said, “You have hungry mouths waiting for this food. You gave half of it to us. They may sleep hungry because the food you have is insufficient for five people. I will not allow that.” He took a plantain leaf and covered the vessel that the priest held in his hands, tapped the vessel thrice and told the priest “Do not open this leaf until it is time to serve. There will be sufficient food for all.” By then the priest was already overwhelmed. He tried to prostrate at Atmananda’s feet. He did not permit that. He held him and said, “You are taking good care of the beloved Lord Krishna without any demands and expectations. You are a pure and selfless man. You never care about you and your family while sharing food with any stranger who wanders this way. Your family is also good and pious. Only goodness and blessings will come to you. You may be materially poor. But you have a rich heart. You will never be short of anything from this moment. Your next seven generations will experience the goodness of your actions.” He sent the priest off with tears of gratitude in his eyes.

He closed his eyes, chanted some mantra and touched the food left on the leaf plate by the priest. Nobody knows how that little food became sufficient food. Everybody ate rice with ghee to their hearts full and nobody realized the original quantity was not even sufficient for one person, let alone nine. Same thing happened at the house of the priest. Everybody ate sufficient food and still there was more. {And the vessel that Atmananda touched stayed with that family for five generations. Their house never had any dearth of food.} All assembled were amazed how the most unassuming Atmananda performed an act of miracle. While they witnessed it, they did not think of it as a miracle because of their terrible hunger. Later, it hit them and all of them realized that they really did not know Atmananda, nor how he operates at any time.

They left the temple premises the same evening and settled in a school veranda about an hour away from the temple. Atmananda always walked at least an hour after the evening meal even though there was no dearth of walking ever because they were walking almost the whole day, every single day. Before the break of dawn, Atmananda set out to take bath and do the morning rituals. This school was away from the river bank. So, they took bath by drawing water from the well. Atmananda did his rituals a few yards away from the well, sitting on a stone. When the neighboring village women started to come towards the well to draw water, Atmananda got up and started to walk away. His team of nine followed him.

It was still dark. They walked for an hour in dark. There was a root of a huge tree on the walk way which was not so clearly visible. Atmananda who was walking ahead of everybody, tripped on it, fell and had a bad injury on his right leg. He could not get up or walk. His followers lifted him up and carried him to the clear space, to a flat stone on which various travelers used to rest when they were tired. This stone was near to the village path way. He was bleeding. They did not know what to do. Atmananda asked them to get some leaves of a very common wild plant. They brought the leaves. Atmananda crushed those leaves and fixed the paste thus made on his injury. There was no cloth to tie it. He removed his own towel, which was his only cloth except his loin cloth, and tied it over the crushed leaves.

Because of the excruciating pain Atmananda could not walk. His followers offered to carry him, which he refused. He sat on that stone from morning till evening. Atmananda and his followers had no food. They managed to get some water from a neighboring well. There were no houses in the neighborhood and the path had only a few travelers. If they walk a few miles backwards, they will reach the school and the village where they spent the previous night. Yet, Atmananda was stubborn. He never cared about hunger, but his followers were not so. Some of them expected Atmananda to do some magic and get them some food as he did before. Nothing happened. One by one the followers started protesting among themselves, standing away from Atmananda, started talking into receptive and sympathetic ears. They said “If Gurudev could materialize food for a priest, why can’t he do that again for us?” One of them said “My sight is blurred with hunger. I cannot even see a thing.” Another mused “Is the guru testing us?” The third said “Are you sure he materialized food the other day or did we imagine it?” One remarked “No way. He did. We all ate.” Another said “I am pretty much sure he has no such powers. It is probably the temple, Lord Krishna and the priest that made it possible. If he had such powers, he would not allow us to starve. Why can’t he do that now?” “If he has power to know our minds, he should be knowing that we are hungry. Why is he not doing anything about it?” Another person said “Is he sleeping, pretending sleep to fool us, or actually meditating? One of them said “He never asked us to follow him. He will never ask us to leave also. It is entirely up to us to stay or to leave.” Another one replied “What is his plan? Is he going to sit on this rock until he is healed which may take weeks?”  That was a scary thought for everyone.

It was almost midnight. None of them had eaten anything. There was a village if they travel backwards. There was no clue about what lied in the way ahead. Some decided to go back towards the school. They took a few steps but the forest pathway was dark and scary. They feared snakes and nocturnal animals. They stopped and returned. Atmananda seemed to be sleeping unaware of all this. Manu and Ramakrishna sat on both sides of him focusing on their Guru seated in their heart center and they did not feel any hunger. The other seven people were in total confusion. Some of them tried to lie down and sleep, but the bizarre sounds of the jungle, piercing hunger and the fear of prowling animals were seriously affecting their sleep. Finally, it was a few hours to sunrise. Atmananda woke up. He asked Manu for two sticks. He used them as crutches and walked forward. His hungry, confused, sleep-deprived followers reluctantly followed him. Atmananda was not wearing anything except a loin cloth because his towel became his bandage, covering his newly acquired wound.

Luckily, after they walked forward about an hour, they found a water well, made by the king for the comfort of the travelers. They drew water, washed themselves, drank from it, some washed their clothes while taking bath, while Atmananda cleared his wound, applied more leaves and tied them with the same cloth again. There was no food in the neighborhood. It was a long starvation. After doing his morning rituals, Atmananda started walking. As always, he never told anyone where he was going and how long he will walk. He just started walking. Seven of his followers had only one thought in their minds – FOOD. Sunrise brought out colorful birds from their nests, flowers bloomed, and the forest pathway looked pretty and heavenly with various flowers and dew drops decorating them with sun rays. Only Manu and Ramakrishna could enjoy this. The others were looking for fruits, leaves, roots or even seeds that they could eat and quell their hunger. Atmananda walked on with his crutches. He never asked or cared how his followers felt. He never asked anyone to follow him in the first place. And he was an Avadhoota, very introverted and a perfect loner too.

Finally, it was noon time. All the seven people were tired. By that time, they reached a stream coming down through the forest and flowing towards the river. They washed their tired feet and faces and drank a lot of water. Atmananda sat under a tree and closed his eyes. Manu and Ramakrishna sat next to him and connected to his heart centre and dissolved themselves into it. The seven confused followers moved away from them and started taking decisions. The leader of the group and perhaps the hungriest of them all named Amara said “I am leaving. I cannot see any end to this journey. I cannot sit like Manu with empty stomach. And I am convinced that Atmananda has no divine powers. He is an ordinary wandering monk.” Another one said “I agree. He has no spiritual powers. At the temple, I am sure, it was Lord Krishna who performed that seeming miracle.” Third one said “I too cannot exist this way. He is not concerned about us. He is too much into himself. And, after all, what exactly did we learn from him so far?” Fourth said “This is true. Why are we walking with him? It is always uncertainty and no training. He is teaching nothing. And he is confusing me to the level of frustration of all kinds. I am leaving.” Another one said “I am leaving too. This uncertainty is not worth it.” Amara said “Friends, he is an ordinary man. He fell and got himself injured. He cannot heal himself. He cannot feed himself or others. He is so helpless. Can’t you see? He is an ordinary man. We are deluded.”

 

 

M walking, from the back

Finally, they all agreed that Atmananda is just an ordinary wandering monk with no extraordinary powers or knowledge and prepared themselves to leave him. They decided to go to him and bid good bye. When they approached him, they saw the three of them sitting with their eyes closed in meditation. They did not have the patience to wait until they opened their eyes. They just walked away. About half an hour after they left Atmananda, they saw a tree with some delicious fruits. They ate as much as they could and packed a few for the rest of their journey. After eating and resting for a while, Amara said “See, Atmananda does not even have luck on his side. Only after we left him, we found food. We starved the whole day and even night, looking at him and hoping that he will move. We made the right decision. We are free now and luck has favored us in the form of food.” Everyone agreed. Atmananda, Manu and Ramakrishna came back to terrestrial reality soon after the group left them. Atmananda tried to get up. Manu held his hand and helped him. Atmananda got his sticks and started walking. Ramakrishna said “Gurudeva, I shall fetch the others. They might be sleeping somewhere around. Please kindly wait for a while.” Without looking, Atmananda said without any emotion or concern, “They have left us. Let us move on.”

After walking for hardly 10 minutes, they found a small farmer residence. When they came close to it, the farmer’s wife, a young lady, came out of the house, invited them and asked them to be seated. She offered them water and freshly cooked food. They all ate well. Atmananda blessed her “Anna daata Sukhi Bhava” (May the one who served food always be happy and be in abundance). She became happy. She told Atmananda that she is pregnant and sought his blessings for a good and healthy child who will make their lineage proud. Atmananda blessed her “Tathasthu” (So be it). Even though she requested them to stay back and have the evening meal and stay the night over accepting their limited facilities, Atmananda politely refused that offer and decided to walk on. The farmer’s wife also offered some plant medicine for his wound. He politely refused that also. They started walking. The lady was at the gate with hands in position of deep reverence for Atmananda.

Before the road turned, Manu looked back to say a final goodbye to the woman. When he looked back to see if the lady was still there, he did not see the lady, the house or cattle. There was no trace of any habitats. It was only thick forest which blocked even the rays of sun. He could only see the village path behind him, as far as his eyes could go. As usual, Atmananda never looked back. He kept walking. And both Ramakrishna and Manu noticed that Atmananda was walking without sticks and there was no trace of an injury on his leg! They wondered the reason for this divine drama and concluded that it was to shake the tree and shed the dry leaves, dry of spiritual conviction. Atmananda always said “Conviction is essential when one chooses to walk the path of liberation. Perhaps conviction is more essential than faith. Passion and fearlessness are just by-products of it.

One leaf from the life of Atmananda ends… here.

A Siddha of Himalayas and A Farmer’s Son

A Siddha of Himalayas and A Farmer’s Son

Mohanji - A Siddha from Himalayas blog
“When I came back to the usual waking state, I realized, what a powerful avadhoota this Mooli Baba is. I went back to him immediately.”

Atmananda’s Memoirs – The story of Mooli Baba

It was many years ago. During one of my journeys to the Kumaon region of Himalayas, I happened to meet an interesting saint whom the villagers called Mooli Baba. Mooli means radish. (the whitish vegetable which is used as part of the green salad in the Northern part of India.) When I met him, Mooli Baba looked close to 60 years of age. I was curious and I asked one of the villagers, as to why he is called in the name of a vegetable? He replied “We do not know where he came from and what his name is. He suddenly appeared in the village and started wandering up and down, sleeping at various odd places, ignoring rain and sun. First he was considered as a mad beggar. But then we realized that he is not begging at all. Instead, he is buying one particular vegetable – radish, from the money that he dishes out from his own rough shoulder sack. We used to wonder how he has the money. None dared to ask him. Soon, he settled down close to the jungle trail, by erecting a shelter for himself with bamboo, sticks and raw clothes. It was not sufficient to contain the constant rain. But, he seemed to be satisfied. Soon, people started recognizing his stature and began to visit him.

Since we saw him eating only the vegetable Mooli, everyone brought Mooli to him as their offering. And as remedy or cure, he always gave everyone Mooli. Once, for a patient with throat cancer, he made him open his mouth and pushed a mooli inside and pulled it out thrice. He screamed in pain, but was instantly cured. His methods were strange. One lady drank the juice of the Mooli that he gave and it cured her stomach ulcer. His Mooli cured all illnesses spontaneously. But, some days, he will never come out of his tent or meet anyone. And on those days, if anyone comes near, he will throw Mooli at them and drive them away. And if the Mooli hit them, it healed them instantaneously. He was so powerful. The strangest thing I ever heard was his pushing a mooli up the anus of an old man suffering from piles and it healed him! They say that blood poured out of him and became a pool around his feet and people were frightened that he may die. He cried aloud in fear and confusion too. Soon, he became normal and he left on his own, fully healed!”

“Mooli Baba only articulates one word – AUM which sounds like Hmm from his mouth. He never asks anyone anything and whenever he needs something, money just appears in his hands and he pays for everything with cash.”

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Unfathomable are the powers of Siddhas. Masters walked the earth to wake the mankind from its deep inertia and bring forth their full potential.

I had to meet Mooli Baba. The pull was so strong that I could not imagine moving away from that village without meeting him. I spent seven days and seven nights in this remote village, repeatedly visiting the make-shift abode of Mooli Baba. There always used to be a small crowd in front of his tent. I always waited because patients have to be given preference. And as if to test my patience, he always went inside and drew the curtain of the tent, ignoring me, as soon as the last patient left the tent. Seven days later, one day, he threw a Mooli at me. I took it and walked to my accommodation. That evening, I ate only that. And something shifted in me. I fell into a deep trance which lasted for a few days. I did not leave my room; neither did I eat, sleep or use the toilet. I did not even consume water. When I came back to the usual waking state, I realized, what a powerful avadhoota this Mooli Baba is. I did not waste a minute. I went back to him immediately.

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“Something shifted in me”

Rain was pouring from the dense skies. Thunder and rain. There was none on the village path. I did not have an umbrella. I was determined to see Mooli Baba or at least be in His presence. Water was flowing knee deep through the village path and it was difficult for me to walk. I cared for nothing else. Nothing could stop me from going to the abode of Mooli Baba. I waded through the water and reached the forest clearing near the tent of Mooli Baba. The cloth shutter was drenched and swayed in the rain and wind. It was cold. I was shivering. When I came close, I saw a hole in the cloth through which I looked inside. Mooli Baba was sitting there, with his eyes raised to the heavens, totally still and motionless, while the rain poured over him through various holes of the sack roof of his hut! He was totally unaffected by the weather! I stood looking at him for some time. I also could not move. I was standing outside his tent in rain while Mooli Baba was sitting inside his tent in rain. The same rain covered both of us. I felt as if both of us are under one umbrella of the nature called rain! When this thought occurred in my mind, Mooli Baba looked at my direction. He threw one Mooli at the cloth, which hit the cloth and fell back inside his tent. With his eyes, he motioned me to enter. I entered. He uttered “Hmm”. I replied “AUM”. He looked into my eyes. I Bowed down at his feet, making sure I did not touch his feet, but I touched his feet in my mind. He again said “Hmm” as if acknowledging my intention. He hit the back of my head with a Mooli. I went into a trance again. I do not know how many days or nights I stayed like this on my knees with my head touching the ground. When I came back to my terrestrial consciousness, Mooli Baba was not there. I was alone. Me or the villagers never saw Mooli Baba ever again. All I could see when I looked around was a small pile of mooli near the entrance of the tent. And it is true that those who chose to keep those Moolis, which I distributed to the villagers a few days later, saw that they never decayed even after years. They always remained as fresh as ever. Pieces of those Mooli cured many diseases too.

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” I left the body…There was no pain or fear in this plane. There was no ego or loss. There was no duality or oneness. There was nothing. It was like a hallucination. When I returned from this plane, my vision had changed. I could see through things around me.”

The two times that I went into trance, I had different experiences. The first time, I had left my body and was roaming in a plane of existence where there were only white bubbles all around. Totally naked men and women floated like fairies in the bubbles. I could see myself as if I am looking at myself from outside. I could see myself through others too. Everything was transparent. Then I realized that white conglomerates all colors. All colors came together to create white. So, in fact, this world is multi-colored! There was no pain or fear in this plane. There was no ego or loss. There was no duality or oneness. There was nothing. It was like a hallucination. When I returned from this plane, my vision had changed. I could see through things around me. Immediately, despite the rain, I went towards Mooli Baba’s abode.
The second time, when Mooli Baba hit my head with the mooli, I became like a splash of light. Everything gross dissolved. I became light. Just light. I saw many like me, but, they were all essentially me. I could not understand if they were within me or outside of me. The light was blinding, yet soothing. The body was well beyond earth and stars. I was light and there was nothing else apart from me. I am the creator, maintainer and destroyer. I am the witness too. I am everything and I am nothing! There was nothing neither created nor destroyed. There was a thin veil between my earlier identity and now, which was now fully torn to extinction. Nothing existed anymore.
When I came back to my body, I realized that I cannot be this body. As a reminder of my shift, or as a witness to it, only a few moolis were on the floor. There was none else. And Mooli Baba disappeared forever. Did he really exist? Or, did he exist only for me? Or did I visit this village for Him? Questions which needs no answer. Questions that does not matter! The current state is the only reality!
I stayed in the same village, in the same tent curing people for three years, as my humble offering to the great saint, Mooli Baba, as my Guru Dakshina. I fulfilled his tasks as best as I could, in my own humble way. The people whom I gave mooli got relieved of their nagging afflictions. When the divine call came for me to leave the place, I took my bag and left.  As soon as I walked out of the tent, it collapsed completely and merged with the earth!. No sign of its existence! It had miraculously stayed on all these years until I decided to leave the village. I faintly realized that I and Mooli Baba were in fact one. And I did not exist.

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” I became like a splash of light. Everything gross dissolved. I became light. Just light. I saw many like me, but, they were all essentially me. I could not understand if they were within me or outside of me. The light was blinding, yet soothing. The body was well beyond earth and stars. I was light and there was nothing else apart from me. I am the creator, maintainer and destroyer. There was nothing neither created nor destroyed. There was a thin veil between my earlier identity and now, which was now fully torn. Nothing existed anymore.”

Atmananda and the farmer’s son

While I was wandering further north from Kumaon, I stopped for a meal at a small way-side hut owned by a farmer. He had a tiny farmland. He grew seasonal crops there. He took care of his wife and a son with his income. He also served refreshments to the stray wanderers who traversed through the village path in front of his house, for a reasonable cost. There were no restaurants anywhere close by that place. Thus, that afternoon, I became his guest.

He was a selfless man and always served fresh food. When I told him that I am a wandering monk and I would like to have some food, he asked me to sit on a cot which he had kept outside his hut and went inside. I heard him conveying the arrival of a customer and also that he is a monk from whom money cannot be collected, to his wife. Then I heard his wife asking him if it is fine to give me the remnants (left-over) of their lunch since it is charity. He objected to her idea and insisted that to monks and saints’ old food should never be offered. The obedient wife silently went out of the house to the nearby well to fetch water for cooking. I sat observing the last rays of the setting sun casting a golden halo over the forest. It was a clear afternoon.
As the husband and his wife were busy cooking a meal for me, I saw his teenager son entering the house. He looked at me and bowed slightly, with a ritualistic, obligatory air, without any reverence and went inside. He asked his parents what they are doing and if they are cooking their supper. They said that they are cooking a meal for me. I heard the boy objecting. “He is a wandering monk. He has no money. He will not pay. Just give him the remnants of our lunch or a banana and some water and send him off before sunset. Otherwise, he will creep in for supper, too.” And as a continuation, he told his mother “Ma, my father does not have any concern for our tomorrow. At least you should guide him not to be so extravagant”. Quickly, his father intervened in a hushed voice,  “Hush! silence my son. Not so loud. Do you want the sadness of a hungry saint to affect our family? Keep quiet. It is our dharma to feed the hungry monks. Their blessings will keep us free from illness and poverty.” As his wife was cooking, perhaps to take him away from the periphery of my audibility, he took his son to the back side of his hut. I could still hear their conversation; perhaps it was even more audible to me.

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“My son, never ridicule saints and monks. God can appear in their form…”

The farmer said “Son, have you heard the story of Adi Shankara? While wandering, once he reached a house and called out for alms. The householder was away hunting for work and daily sustenance and his wife opened the door and saw a young monk calling out for alms. She told him with deep humility, “Pardon me Maharaj, there is not even one grain in this house. How can I serve you?” Adi Shankara looked at her and said, “Kind mother, I am very hungry. There will be something in the household. Please check all vessels and bottles.” The lady of the house searched and found one gooseberry in brine in one of the bottles kept in the kitchen. She gave that to Shankaracharya and he consumed it as if it is a delicious full meal. He was happy. He blessed her with the famous Kanakadhara Stotra. And golden gooseberries started falling from the skies and rolled on the ground. It goes without saying that the family became very rich and lived happily ever after.” He continued “My son, never ridicule saints and monks. God can appear in their form. Lord Shiva has appeared to many, as monks, saints and beggars! He appeared to Adi Shankara as a cobbler, to Sage Narada as a boatman! So, never count the money that you spent for their food. God will reward you with much more. If you scandalize a saint, as the scriptures say – eternal damnation will happen to you and your succeeding generations. Never bring wrath on yourself and your family, my son. God has given us sufficient food, water, clothes, this modest shelter as well as good health. Why not we share a bit of our food with a noble, wandering saint?”

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“We may not understand the stature of a holy man nor do we understand their method and action. We accept them, we respect them. They will shower grace on us.”

There was silence. The farmer’s son thought for a while and asked his father “As you said, it is a deep sin to scandalize saints. What if they are not saints and they are just lazy people pretending to be saints to enjoy free meals where ever they go from people like us who work hard day and night in the field?” The farmer said “Everyone will enjoy the fruits of their action, my son. You will get what you deserve and they will get what they deserve. Pretensions often become costly bargains and pretenders suffer terrible damnation. Nobody can fool the world forever. This should not be our concern, but that of the just God Almighty”. He added “My dear son, scriptures say that all the 68 places of pilgrimage reside at the feet of the holy saints. And one who abuses a holy man will be cursed with spiritual blindness or be spiritually crippled without any progress in lifetimes and also will be in the hell of suffering – life after life. We may not understand the stature of a holy man nor do we understand their method and action. We accept them, we respect them. They will shower grace on us. What is material richness worth, if the inheritance is deep suffering? And liberation will be taken away from him and his kin, if saints are abused! And the cursed ones will roam in the 8.5 crore types of wombs available on earth including worms and insects and suffer agonies in each existence. Why my son, since a bit of kindness can ensure our liberation, why should rude, unkind words tilt the whole equilibrium of our whole family and the generations to come? Let us honor saints and let us be rich within which is the true richness.”

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“Everyone will enjoy the fruits of their action, my son. You will get what you deserve and they will get what they deserve. Pretensions often become costly bargains and pretenders suffer terrible damnation. Nobody can fool the world forever. This should not be our concern, but that of the just God Almighty”

Soon, they brought a hot meal outside to me and both the farmer and the son served me wholeheartedly. After the tasty meal, I prepared to leave. They requested me to stay the night over and leave in the next morning, as there were no places to stay anywhere nearby, ahead of their abode. I could not accept their further hospitality as I had to reach further north and decided to be on my way. Before I left, I gave them three moolis and I told them. “Farm these moolis in your yard before day break (brahma muhurtha) tomorrow. You will have no dearth for wealth.”
The whole family came and prostrated at my feet and I left them and walked away into the moonlit village path, towards north.
I love YOU
M

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“…I decided to be on my way”

The Eternal Wings of a Grand Tradition

I Bow and Surrender Everything to the Light of Wisdom eternally Flown to us by the tradition of Great Masters of the Grand Universe... Samastha Loka Sukhino Bhavanthu...Aum Shanti....

Today, on the 23rd of February, I surrender this blog, my humble contribution, as flowers offered at the feet of our grand tradition and all the Great Masters, Great Guides, Selfless entities, who walked ahead of us, lead us and are still leading us, with deep gratitude and surrender. The tradition has no beginning nor end. It flows eternally. There is no room for ownership or ego. All are part of the grand design. All are integral. All are significant. All are insignificant too. All exist and do not exist. The grand tradition flows eternally. This is where we belong; this is our real family. There are no boundaries. Tradition has no gender barrier, no caste, color, creed, country, culture, custom barrier too. One father and various aspects and expressions of that one father. Ignorance alienates us, while understanding and awareness gather us. Man minus ego is GOD. I bow down to all the children of this rich tradition of supreme un-conditionality. I bow down to this rich tradition built and cemented with FAITH and SUPREME LOVE.

This Soul and Body, time and space, are all Gifts of the Tradition. What can I offer you, my tradition, which is not yours already!!!

We belong to a grand tradition of selflessness. We are its offsprings as well as its torch bearers. But, we live in a world of make-believe and pretensions. We pretend to be happy and we pretend to be what we are not. We pretend our karmic inevitability and helplessness as liberated existence, all the while resisting everything internally!!! We even express our non-understanding of the true meaning of liberation through strange behaviors such as smoking, drugs, drinking, variety of indulgences, wild and destructive habits and actions, restlessness and many other things. All these are helplessly binding us to earth.  Some pretend till death. Some pretend for a short span of time. Everyone pretends. In our times, people are looking for quick remedies, instant Nirvana. Is it possible? In such a world, the methods of Atmananda  Chaithanya and many others saints of our grand tradition will not make sense. We would rather hold on to our phobias, fears, anxieties and ego, and walk the familiar path of certainty which we are used to, rather than tread the ever uncertain path of pathlessness. This is our attitude. Only a very few see the light. Most choose darkness, because in the darkness, we can hide. We can hide our true nature in the cloak of darkness. They relish their coward nature and even justify it to feel safe and sane. They chant “Light means sorrow, my children. Darkness is bliss”!!! Are we some of those cowards refusing to face ourselves? Think well. If I have not offended you enough, please read on… A story about practical education by a surreal saint. Practical education for an unlikely student!

Time is unstoppable. Life is transitory. The gush of the river reminds us of the eternal flow of the transitory time...

The story of Manav and Atmananda

Manav sat on the steps leading towards Ganga and stared at the water flowing in a hurry. It was just like time. The moment you think of the present, it has already become the past. The moment you look elsewhere, gallons of water have rushed past!!! This is Life! What a mad rush!!! When will this restless rush end? Where will it end? Where is all this water going to? Where is the time going to? Time has no problem. It has always been like this. Only those who chose to watch it, became tired. Time is never tired!!! Everything goes through time. The people, the seasons, the events…. everything. Just like the big log that rolls up and down over the waves of the river, quite helplessly, uncontrollably and unconsciously, life flows through time. Then, just like the log, people vanish. Then new people come. Then they also vanish. Thus, time and river have lots of similarities. What are we holding back? What can we hold back? Manav looked up at the sky in helplessness, as if seeking a divine communion. Where is the answer? Who can give the answer? That moment was decisive in his mind. He decided to leave everything and walk to the north. NORTH! North of India are the Himalayas. Ganga flows from the Himalayas. So, Manav is already in the North. He stood up and walked further up north. Somehow, in his mind, NORTH means some kind of surety. Some kind of refuge, which he does not yet know. Anyway, what more can anyone lose, than his life? Manav believed that he is not afraid of death and darkness. He considered himself quite brave, in terrestrial terms of bravery. So, he walked into the darkness of uncertainty, and embarked on his search for the unknown, and walked further towards North.

Every Communion is Important. Every Meeting has Meaning. Terrestrial Bravery is situational!

Tough terrains of existence. Tough times. Unknown paths. Unknown destination. Unknown people. Everything strange. All are strangers. Amongst the strangers, he found familiarities. Familiar strangers. One man asked him. “Swami hey Kya?” (Are you a Saint?) Manav replied “Nahi. Saadhak houn”. (No. I am a Seeker). The stranger asked “Mila Nahi Abhi tak?” (Did you not find it so far?) Manav stared at his eyes without answering. How can he tell him that “getting it” was not his primary search. Knowing what to search for, was his primary search! He took his backpack and walked further. The stranger shouted from behind. “Atmananda ko zaroor milna. Milega tumko, jo tum ddhoont rahe hey”. (Definitely meet Atmananda. You will get what you are searching for.) He did not look back and kept walking. ATMANANDA. The name stuck in his mind.  Where will he find him? Or, did he meant “find happiness (ananda) in your own atma (soul) and you will find what you are looking for”? The long and winding path of uncertainty lay ahead of him. The question was whether to walk it up or stay where he was! Walking ahead means facing uncontrollable uncertainties. Staying back could mean eternal stagnation. Manav thought “This is exactly what people call Between Devil and Deep Sea”. Death is sure in any case!!! Manav feared stagnation more than uncertainties. He decided to walk further. This was a great decision of his life.

The third day from there, he met Atmananda at Rudra Prayag. A local temple priest guided Manav to Atmananda.  To Manav’s great surprise, Atmananda resembled the stranger who told him to meet Atmananda. He was confused. Was it the same person who came to guide him a couple of days earlier? Nothing made sense. He became more confused.

Atmananda was sitting in the middle of a couple of dozen people, was cracking jokes and laughing aloud. Even though Atmananda looked at him, he did not show any recognition. He carried on with his jokes. Everyone was laughing. What sort of a saint is this? Just cracking jokes and laughing? For a moment he thought. ” Was I searching for laughter? Maybe I was!!”. Laughter is indeed an expression of happiness. All people are searching for Happiness and they never find it, except the fleeting or momentary ones!! “Ah! I still do not know what I am looking for!” After a while of contemplation, Manav approached Atmananda who continued to ignore him. He seemed to be busy, involved in applying sacred ash on his forehead and various parts of his body, after stepping out of the dip in the river. He was illegibly mumbling some mantra.  Manav waited and when Atmananda left with his disciples, Manav followed him. It was only on the third day that he actually got to talk to Atmananda.

When Faith Nullifies the suffering of pains, Man takes another step towards liberation...

The first thing that Atmananda said after looking at Manav was “Jad hey” (This is dead). “Jeevan kithar hey”? (Where is life?”.) Manav did not know the answer. Atmananda did not wait. He kept walking. Manav followed as if mesmerized. Finally, the whole entourage reached a city. Manav hated cities. He was fine with the relative isolation that great mountains provided. He wondered why Atmananda loved the city so much, that he walked all the way downhill, over days and weeks, to reach this place of filth and greed! As if reading his thoughts, Atmananda turned and said to no one in particular ” I exist in the mountains, yet my feet are on the ground. My body does not signify my “size”. What I see is what you cannot see.” Was this a statement or a warning? Manav struggled to figure out the meaning behind these seemingly pregnant statements. Atmananda kept walking….

Manav wanted to return back to the Mountains. The Himalayas! What Peace! What Tranquility! He felt as if part of himself was still staying back in the mountains. Attachment!!! One part of his mind wanted to leave Atmananda and go back. The other part kept saying that Manav had finally found his Guru. But, Atmananda did not seem to be of Guru material at all. He was just wandering all the time and was never teaching anything significant to anyone. This was such an irony for Manav. No one around him seem to be bothered. None seemed to care about the uncertainty and hardships. Everyone seemed to just enjoy his company and wander aimlessly! Is this spirituality? Manav became even more confused than before.

Atmananda looked at him and said “Whom can you wake up?” Atmananda himself answered. “Only those who are actually sleeping and not the ones who are pretending to be asleep. What ever you do, those who pretend to sleep will not wake up. Many in the Himalayas are pretenders. I am collecting pearls in the market place!”. This was a revelation for Manav. He thought he understood the real purpose behind Atmananda’s visit to the city, but was never sure. It was very difficult to put him into any frames! He is here, perhaps to “wake up” the ignorant sleepers to ultimate realities or truths. This made some sense. This was probably his mission. A noble mission indeed. But, in this drama, what was Manav’s role? Again, deep uncertainties conquered his mind.

Love is the Food of Life. Nothing Can substitute this food. Our world is starving - for LOVE..

Atmananda again read his mind. He looked intently at Manav’s eyes and in a stern voice, like a command, he said “Go begging. Do not return back for one week. Bring whatever you can save after spending for your basic needs”. Manav was completely shaken with this suggestion. Many disturbing thoughts flocked into his mind. Manav thought “Go Begging? Why? Do Atmananda or his disciples need the money or food that I may gather through begging?” Atmananda did not look at him, nor read his mind nor answer that question. He just repeated “Go begging from tomorrow.”. He would not explain any further. The whole night, Manav did not sleep. Many conflicting emotions ran through his mind. He had not witnessed Atmananda asking anyone in his entourage to resort to begging. So why Manav? Did Atmananda hate him, and want to teach him a lesson?

Manav hailed from a good family, a reasonably rich one. He had no dearth of food or facilities ever in his childhood or youth. He was now 23 years of age. He never had to beg for food. While wandering, whenever he felt a need for money, he did odd jobs and earned some money. He was good in finance. He worked and earned his daily bread, whenever needed. The rest of the time, he traveled to holy places or to the Himalayas. He thought and thought. He could not bring himself to beg from anyone. And he also felt that he would not look like a beggar at all and that people may humiliate him. Other beggars may look at him as competition too and may ridicule him too. This would mean great embarrassment for Manav. He didn’t want anything to do with it. He could not make up his mind until morning. At 3 am, Atmananda woke up and saw Manav sitting under a street lamp. He walked towards Manav and said ” You did not sleep? Good. When you look tired and unshaven, you could fetch more money”. And he started laughing aloud. It sounded like a cruel joke. Manav became angry and upset. By then, he was resonably convinced that Atmananda’s intention was to make some money using him. Atmananda is no saint!. He is a businessman who knows his trade! Manav felt that he should leave Atmananda and leave immediately. Ignoring Manav’s emotions, Atmananda handed over a broken bowl into his hand and commanded “OK, Leave Now.” “Come back after a week”, and without waiting for any response or reaction from Manav, Atmananda walked towards the river to take a bath. Manav stood there, undecided and utterly confused. Finally, before day break, he made up his mind. He decided to go begging!

Mind Poses Conflicts. Conflicts create Stress. Ego Reins. Liberation Slips Past...

As the day broke, people started rushing up and down every street of the city. Manav started his journey in the street with his begging bowl. He had left his backpack with one of the disciples of Atmananda, who accepted it in a matter-of-fact way and expressed no compassion whatsoever at Manav’s predicament. Manav thought that even this man was as insensitive as Atmananda!

Partially out of anger and resentment against Atmananda and partially out of determination and ego, Manav took nothing with him except the broken bowl that Atmananda gave him. When he extended his bowl towards the pedestrians, some people gave him some coins. Some shooed him away. One man ridiculed him “Look at you, a healthy boy and begging!; why can’t you do some job and earn a living? You lazy bum, it is easier to beg than work eh?” Even though he begged till noon time, he could not gather sufficient money for his breakfast or lunch. Nobody seemed to be bothered, let alone compassionate! He felt a deep urge to throw the bowl away and do something more meaningful and dignified; to fetch some money and buy at least a basic meal. Atmananda will not know. He could return back after 8 days, with some money that he earned through work too. After all, it is only the money that Atmananda is after!!! But, something stopped him. It could possibly be a revenge attitude towards Atmananda or a strange satisfaction at this self-inflicted pain. There had to be some unknown reason for Atmananda to instruct him to beg. He did not know the reason. But, slowly, as the day grew, his hunger also grew and strangely, so did his determination. All day, he had survived only by drinking water from the street water taps. By evening, he got sufficient money to afford some bread. He ate that bread and drank more water. At night fall, he slept under a banyan tree in front of a temple. It was cold and windy. He had carried no blankets or any other protection against the cold. The wind was blowing and he could not sleep. He shivered. His teeth chattered. He also started developing many fears. Every sound made him shiver more. He had led himself to believe that he always braved darkness and death. Both these fears surfaced now.  And he had to face his own fears, quite alone. He felt that he could be attacked by some unknown creature, a ghost perhaps, and even be killed, if he happened to close his eyes. The darkness and shadows of everything around seemed alive, potent and heavily threatening! He realized that deep within, all the seeds of all possible fears had been existing and lying dormant, waiting to germinate in the right environment. He spent the second sleepless night in fear and confusion. Atmananda had warned him not to go back to him before the completion of 8 days. Somehow, Manav decided to fight it out. He was more worried about Atmananda ridiculing him and making fun of him in front of the others. His ego did not permit him to stop begging or go back to Atmananda. Strange are the ways of ego indeed, even at the toughest of times!

Who Knows Who comes to you with a Begging Bowl? It could be GOD too...

At day break, he walked towards the nearby river, he brushed his teeth using some tender leaves of a mango tree  crushed into a paste, which he made himself, using a stone. He used his finger to apply it on his teeth. Then he removed all his clothes except his loin cloth and kept it on the bank of the river. Many others were also taking a bath in the river. He did not want to drench his clothes as yet, as he had no spare clothes with him. Even though the water was ice cold, the bathing rejuvenated him tremendously. He took many dips in the river and felt more and more refreshed and cheerful. After a while, when he got back to the shore, he was shocked to find that all his clothes had disappeared! Everything had been stolen. There was nothing left there, except his broken begging bowl!. It was such a big embarrassment for Manav. How could he go anywhere like this? He only had his loin cloth to cover himself. What could he do now?. “Oh God, why am I being tested like this?” Hunger was creeping in. He walked in his drenched underwear and with his broken bowl towards the main streets of the city. People looked at him through various eyes; such as contempt, pity or compassion. Many thought that he was mad. Some gave him some money, even without asking. Quite surprisingly, in his new costume and without much effort, he was able to collect sufficient money to buy himself a decent breakfast. When he approached any restaurant, they would not allow him to enter. He asked for some bread and curry and paid them the exact change they demanded. Every penny was precious for him. He started taking money seriously and started feeling the value of every bit of it. He even started respecting it. He even thought that he realized the reason why people considered and worshipped money as Goddess Lakshmi!

What is Life without Kindness? What is Life without Compassion? We are all just visitors here...

The waiter of the restaurant delivered the bread and curry into his broken bowl, as they did not want to give any of their utensils to a “mad beggar”!. This was further humiliation for him. Quietly swallowing his pride and humiliation, he sat under a nearby banyan tree and started to eat. As he was about to put the first morsel in his mouth, he saw a small girl sleeping next to her mother under the banyan tree looking at him from under a blanket, which was covering both her and her mother. She smiled at him. A cute little smile. She looked as if she was hungry. Her mother was still sleeping. He smiled back and extended his hand to offer her the bread which he was about to eat. She got out of the blanket and crawled towards him, smiled again and opened her mouth expecting him to feed her. Not being very familiar with children, he showed her the bowl of curry, expecting her to join in his meal. She smiled again, innocently. Manav knew that she was too young to be technically qualified to eat her own meal. He took charge of the situation, dipped a piece of bread in the curry and put it in her mouth. She had very limited teeth, yet, she chewed well and swallowed it. Thus, he fed her most of the bread and curry. She ate quite a lot! She was really hungry, but Manav observed that she did not cry or wake up her sleeping mother, even though she was starving!. She was probably used to the hunger!!! What a lesson to learn about hunger management, that too from a small toddler!!! She smiled at him, as if in gratitude, and went back to her mother who was still sleeping. Manav found himself left with only a very little remnant of his own meal!. But, somehow, he felt deeply satisfied with this whole event. He looked again at the small girl. She was already cuddling under the blanket of her mother and was probably going back to her sleep. Manav was lost in thought for a few minutes. This lady could be a single mother, living in the street. Maybe she was a prostitute. The child might never know her father. For a brief moment in time, Manav felt that he fulfilled the role of a father to a hungry child! A deep satisfaction welled in his heart. He felt ecstatic with joy, despite his seeming tragic situation. He started understanding his mission. Manav got up and walked towards another busy street.

For the poor and hungry, FOOD IS GOD! There is nothing more noble and holy than giving food to the hungry...

In the new street, he encountered many beggars who shouted at him and threatened to beat him if he entered their territory. He experienced the competitive behavior of the commercial world there. He silently walked away to another street. This time, he did not feel any ego or humiliation.

He again started feeling his hunger. He saw a small restaurant at the corner. Even though he did not have sufficient money, Manav approached the restaurant, expecting some compassion, and asked for a banana, which was displayed outside. He thought “any food will do, even if it is remnants from a used plate”. His pride was steadily evaporating. The restaurant keeper shouted at him, showed him a stick and threatened to beat him, if he did not go away. They did not want anything to do with a naked mad man in their premises. He slowly moved to another restaurant nearby. They also did not give him anything. When he approached a table where some of their customers were having their food, the restaurant owner threw hot water at him and drove him away. Thus, hungry and drenched and also a bit burnt, he sat under a tree, with his begging bowl kept in front of him. Suddenly sadness, isolation and hunger overpowered him. He cried. He cried bitterly. Many passers by, who saw him crying, put coins in his bowl. Slowly, his sadness subsided, and he also found sufficient money for a couple of meals.

He had a good lunch. Again, the restaurant owner did not allow him to enter his restaurant. He packed the food and gave it to him outside. This time, he had over-eaten a bit. He did not eat anything in the night. Again, fears gripped him. Still he could sleep for a few hours. There was nothing to protect. He had nothing on him except his loin cloth and his begging bowl. He did not even have a blanket to cover himself. He hid behind a wall in front of a shop and sheltered himself from the cold, howling wind and spent the night there.

Thus, he spent his 8 eventful days. He begged, managed to save some money after his expenses, and returned to Atmananda after 8 days. When he reached the place where he had left Atmananda, he could not find him or any of his disciples. They had already left the place. Nobody knew where he was and because of  Manav’s condition, nobody would even talk to him, let alone guide him. He was naked, shabby and quite unpresentable, in social terms. Using his intuition, he walked towards the north. Two days later, on the 10th day, he found Atmananda. He approached him and gave him the coins he had saved from his begging trip. As he had expected, Atmananda did not display any compassion, kindness or even a smile or signs of recognition. Atmananda took the money and without saying or asking anything, immediately distributed it amongst the people who were around him!. Manav felt like crying. Every penny of that was quite precious to him, because it represented the great pain and humiliation he had endured. Atmananda did not even say a word of consolation or even respect his hard earned money! Manav even thought of committing suicide. He was reaching his nerves’ ends.

Tradition Sometimes Seem to be Cruel, only out of Kindness and Compassion for the seeker...

Atmananda looked at Manav and said “Take a bath, you stink”. This was the limit! A frustrated Manav immediately left Atmananda, collected his baggage from the keeper and went to the river to take bath. On the shore, he sat and wept uncontrollably. He felt useless and like a complete waste. He felt stupid and lost. After shedding all his tears and after a good bath, he felt slightly better. After getting into some clean clothes, Manav started feeling even better. He had made up his mind to leave Atmananda and pursue spirituality on his own. He could not accept nor did he like the style in which Atmananda operated. He considered it as quite insensitive, sadistic and cruel.

When he came back to tell Atmananda about his decision, the saint said. “So, you are now ready to be with me. Good. You have come to terms with all your fears. You have conquered your fears of being alone, being naked, having to beg, and having to ask strangers. You have already conquered your ego to a great extent. Now, you are fit to be in my path. The path of pathlessness. The path of simplicity. The path of purity and lack of expectation. You are welcome to travel with me.” Saying this Atmananda started walking.

In the lap of a Grand Tradition...Life Eternally Flows....

Manav found that he no longer had any anger in him. No feeling of humiliation. In the 10 days of living the life of a beggar, he had faced many harsh realities, which had smoothed all the sharp edges of his character. He had many experiences which helped him to see life from different angles. It helped him in his detachment towards life. He started respecting everything, every being. He started seeing value in everything. He started respecting food, clothes. He started seeing the difference in awareness of people. He started feeling the value of kindness and compassion. He started feeling and understanding the relevance of LOVE in the existence. So many changes in 10 days. He understood why so many people were following Atmananda. He understood the way in which he was imparting knowledge. Practical training and complete annihilation of ego. Thus Manav found his path of liberation. He knew that he would never be the same again.

Love YOU

M

Every Thought, Every Word and Every Action is offered as Sacred Water of Mother Ganga at the feet of the Great Tradition of Supreme Masters...

In Search of The Precious – 4

A Day in the Life of Atmananda

Through the Obscurity of TIME, Eternal messages Shine Forth...

Swami Atmananda Chaitanya was a wandering monk who lived in India a few centuries ago. He never cared about any of his identities and corresponding details such as date of birth, place of birth, name and stature. Many people followed him in his seemingly aimless  journeys – some out of curiosity, some out of faith. He never stayed at one place for more than 3 nights and, irrespective of the climate, he always continued his journeys without fail.

During one of his journeys, he reached a city close to a great river revered by many. He and his entourage stayed near a big Shiva temple. In those days, usually outside the temples, there used to be shelters for wandering monks, provided by the local rulers free of cost. They also provided two meals a day.

Gratitude and Surrender Get Expressed as Temples. Deities Happen...

Many people knew Atmananda because of his constant journeys and presence in many places. So, naturally, many people came to see him to take his blessings. That day, the local magistrate and his wife were visiting the temple for worship. They saw an unusual crowd in front of the temple. The magistrate sent his attendant to check what is going on there. He came back and said “there is a famous saint sitting at the pillar. People have assembled to take his darsan and blessings.” The magistrate and his wife decided to take the blessing of the saint, as it is customary in India to respect saints, even though one may not know their identity or the system they follow. This tradition continues to some extent, even today (This could also be the reason why so many criminals and “un-saintly” people wear the robe of saints and cheat the authorities and people even now. Those who fail in every other areas of life, escape into saffron (the color of the clothes that denote renunciation) too. Many seeming saints are escapists. This is the truth of our society. You may not agree with this point. It does not matter. Kindly read on…) 🙂 .

The magistrate and his wife came to where Atmananda was sitting, and prostrated at his feet. Atmananda blessed the official and said: “You have prostrated at my feet today. Next year this time, you will come to the same temple with a baby boy.” The magistrate and his wife were surprised at how this Swamiji knew that they were childless, even though they have been married for more than 12 years!!! The magistrate was overwhelmed by this spontaneous prediction. He went and explained that day’s event to the Collector of the City, a British man called Stephen Howard. The top position of the city was that of the Collector. Stephen was a good and kind man. Well educated and full of respect for his foster country and its culture. He wanted to meet the saint and took off to do that, without further ado.

Our Past Creates our Present. Memories get erased. We fail to see the eternal lineage and swing between happiness and sorrow...

When Stephen reached the temple premises, the crowd had already increased. Being the ruler of the city, he was given way and thus soon arrived in front of the saint. Atmananda looked at Stephen and said: ” Your color belies your inherent nature. An Indian born in England!!!” Stephen did not understand anything. Atmananda explained about Stephen’s past birth in India and his lineage from his past family(the family he was born to in his last life)  till the current generation who are alive in the family of his last life. And incidentally, Stephen had met these people whom Atmananda was talking about, after he came to India. And surprisingly, he had felt a strange familiarity and affection towards them, as if he knew them from the past. He gave some of them jobs in government departments and thus ensured their proximity to him. Now, everything made sense to him!!! He was indeed an Indian!!! He still has a heart full of love for India. This was his home!!! He was so fascinated with the British and their ways in his past life, that he took birth in England in this life, but, came back to India with the heart of an Indian. He felt at home in India.

Atmananda asked, with a knowing smile:  “Who are you?” (Stephen had not disclosed his identity as yet)

Stephen replied with extreme humility: “My name is Stephen Howard.”

A: “That is your name. My question is who you are.”

S: I am the Collector of the city. Mine is the highest position in the governance of this city.”

A: “That is your job. My question is, who you are!!!”

S: (Confused) “Well, as you know, I am from England and on deputation to this city, by Her Majesty’s orders.”

Atmananda laughed aloud: “You still do not know who you are!!!”

S: (More Confused) “Well, I am a lawyer by profession. I have B.A in Administration as my qualification. I am the second son of my parents who live in England. I have two brothers and a sister.”

Atmananda laughed until tears came from his eyes:” HA HA HA HA……… You still did not tell me who you are!!!”

Stephen surrendered. He bowed down and requested Atmananda to save him from this embarrassment and give him the answer to the question.

Atmananda said: “You are neither your name, nor your position, nor your qualifications. Neither are you the relationships that you mentioned just now. All these add up in defining your existence in this life. You are beyond all these. Most of the things that you mentioned are transitory and temporary. They are all relative terms. You are trying to understand your existence in relative terms. But, your existence is not that. You are beyond your nationality, color, qualification and position. You are an eternal soul!!! That is what you are!!! You are eternally flowing through many bodies that you have assumed over life times. You are what you are, during your waking time, dreaming time and time during your deep sleep. All that you assume is in relation to something. While in the waking state, you are a husband in relation to your wife, a son in relation to your father, a brother in relation to your sister, etc. All these identifications dissolve completely when you enter your deep sleep state. You are everything and you are nothing. Your whole existence is in relation to something. You have come to me for this understanding. I bless you. Go in Peace.”

Stephen was spellbound. He stood there, literally spell-bound. He felt that something exploded in his spine. A kind of awakening that he had been waiting for, since birth!! Deep gratefulness welled inside him. Tears flowed from his eyes.

When Man Walls Himself from Nature, When He Stops Listening to The Heartbeat of Mother Nature, Calamities Take Place...

Atmananda then turned towards a group of farmers who had come to see him, completely ignoring Stephen. Atmananda had no fancy for power or people of power and position. He had nothing to do with terrestrial hierarchies. He addressed the farmers.

“Ignorance is not a virtue. Learn the ways of the earth. Apply that knowledge for the benefit of all. Respect nature and her subtle expressions, but never timidly surrender to it. Never surrender to silly emotions, nor exploitation. Surrender to the will of God expressed through mother nature. Accept the will of God with extreme humility. Share selflessly with others and survive during tough times. Sow when the climate is favorable. Reap when the fruits are ripe and ready. Follow the seasons. Never cut a tree that has not fully completed its life and willingly ready for the axe. Worship trees as they are great saints. Never destroy them insensitively. They are benevolent to the whole world. Leave the forests alone and do not farm in the forests. Forests are for the birds and animals who inhabit them. Stay away from forests and do not disturb the wildlife. Co-exist in peace and harmony with all the birds and animals. Build your house with matured stones. They can weather storms. Live in peace and harmony and never disturb the nature – ever.”

Many people had offered Atamananda fruits and he distributed some of them to the poor farmers. They departed with a deep feeling of fulfillment. Stephen watched this with amazement.

To the Police officer who had accompanied Stephen, Atmananda said: ” Thieves and robbers should be punished, otherwise, society will move in the path of anarchy and lawlessness. No violence should be entertained. No contamination should be allowed or accepted. Destruction of public property should never be allowed. Nobody has the right to destroy anything. If the law is enforced, without violence towards the people, this country will prosper. Any country or ruler that exploits the helplessness of its people will undoubtedly perish. Exploiting helplessness is a serious crime. Society will crumble. Children will rebel. Prevention of crime as well as preservation of law are serious matters, which require a lot of sensitiveness and dare. It takes a heart of compassion to enforce law. It takes humility and conviction. I bless you with that.” The officer bowed down in extreme humility.

Laws Should Breed Peace and Liberation in the Society, Not Slavery and Bondage...Society Living in Fear Will Collapse by Itself...

To a prostitute who was in the crowd, Atmananda said: ” Divine woman, you are serving the society. Because of you, your sisters of this city are enjoying peace and security. Because of women like you, other women can walk freely, without fear even at midnight. You are like a candle. You are burning yourself for the society’s well-being. Because of you, lonely men are satisfied. The society trapped you and pushed you into this. You have been sold by your own kin. You are burning inside and you crave for a normal life of a woman, which you cannot. No woman will want to be in your position of such helplessness. Yet, your heart is pure. You mean no harm to anyone. You have no hatred and feeling of revenge against anyone. Your heart brims with kindness and love. I Bless You.

And, the society is satisfied. Because you remove the frustrations of lonely men, the society is cleaner. I bow to you, Divine Woman.”  Many could not contain their surprise at these words. Stephen, who was listening to this told to himself:  “How true. The age old profession and how much it is contributing to the balance of the society!!! Mental balance of people will certainly reflect in the balance of the society because society consists of people. This saint is calling a prostitute “Divine” !!! It is time I change my perspectives. Everything in the society is Divine!!!”

Everyone Serves the Society in their own way. Some Burn themselves to give Light to others..But, They are never remembered!!!....

A businessman came and prostrated at the feet of Atmananda. While he was getting up, he saw Stephen standing there and naturally gravitated towards him. He tried to bow down to Stephen, who avoided him in embarrassment. Stephen thought: “Even in the presence of the holy man, this fool is commercial-minded. He is trying to make bridges with me, not caring about the saint and His blessings.” Atmananda, as if reading the mind of Stephen, addressed the rich businessman: ” My beloved watchman, I believe you have reached a wrong destination. Are you sure you are at the right place?” Suddenly the rich man pulled his attention from Stephen, looked at the smiling saint and prostrated at his feet again. “Dear Watchman, these feet have no commercial value. I believe you are wasting your time.” The businessman felt embarrassed. He thought that Swamiji has mistaken him for a mere watchman. He told Atmananda: “Swamiji, I am not a watchman. I own the biggest jewelery, restaurant, garment shop ………. and I also feed the poor in the temple.” Atmananda laughed aloud. He laughed and laughed. The businessman became completely white with embarrassment.  All people watched with amusement. Laughter brought tears in the eyes of the saint.

Greed Breeds Corruption. It contaminates the entire society, shakes its integrity and leads it to doom...

Laughter is contagious. It spreads like wild fire. The whole crowd except the businessman started laughing. Even Stephen could not hold his laughter. When the laughter subsided, Atmananda asked the businessman to sit down. “My friend, you have come here because your servants told you that Stephen has come to see me. You have not come out of faith in me. You have come to get closer to Stephen which may increase your business prospects. Then, why are you pretending? You think you can fool me? I can see through you. You are a watchman of your own wealth. You have no freedom. You are over-possessive. You do not give any freedom to your workers either. You are treating everyone as slaves, including your own family members. Even though you have a lot of wealth, you never pay your staff on time. Not only on time, you always deduct from their salaries, blaming them falsely for some mistakes. You do not enjoy your life. You have no peace in heart. You are constantly worried about thieves. Your heart is filled with fear and anxiety. You do not sleep. Money has given you sleeplessness. Even the chicken in your house sleeps better than you, despite the threat that you may kill them any day!!!. You greedy man, your children are also suffering because of you. Your whole family suffers because of you. You think that by paying money to God, by conducting elaborate rituals every year, you can relieve yourself from all the sins that you commit everyday. NEVER. God has nothing to do with your lifestyle. You have alienated yourself from God. You are making your own life miserable and your family is also in chains. They will suffer further. You can get nothing from me. You are a filled-up cup. Empty yourself from your ego and attitude and come to me. I will fill you up with wisdom and understanding. When you empty yourself, your life will begin there and then. You will stop being a watchman of your own wealth and family. Remember, all that you consider as yours will come with you only till your death. You will depart alone. Death will forcefully detach you from everything. The fire will burn your body into ashes. Then, you will be just a handful of ash. A life of greed will ensure an end in grief. Greed, envy, Jealousy, ego and all such terrestrial emotions will lead to sorrows and diseases. Beware.”

After a short pause, while all the others remained speechless, Atmananda continued: “Oh, foolish man. You believe that all are respecting you out of love. Nonsense!! People pretend their respect towards you out of fear, because through money, you have gained connections in high places. NOBODY loves you, including your own family members. They fear you. They pretend love. They are suffering. Even your children will rejoice when you die. They will definitely squander the wealth that you have accumulated through your selfishness, as liberation will create corresponding expressions, which are most likely to be wild expressions of freedom from tyranny!!! Sometimes, people who are chained do not know how to enjoy freedom when they get it. This will be the case with your family members. You will suffer more and more through your family members. Your eldest son is already squandering your hard earned money on prostitutes. Your daughter has many lovers. You will see that happening more and more, unless you shed your ego and attitude, and shift to benevolence and sincere, unconditional love. Move away, I have nothing to give you. Even if I give anything to you, you will not be able to hold it, let alone carry it. What I could possibly give you, is more precious than your whole wealth put together. You will not be able to buy it. This poor woman here is wealthier than you (He pointed towards the young prostitute). She has a rich heart, filled with compassion. She just took home a new born baby girl found abandoned in the waste bin, by her unknown glorious parents. Even though she is poor, she is taking care of this new soul too. Have you ever bought a meal to a poor man? Have you even thought about such an act of kindness? Haven’t you abused beggars and poured hot water on them, and drove them away? Haven’t you let your fearsome dogs on poor garbage pickers? Man, Your money cannot buy what I can offer. Do not waste my time, go away.”

Everyone watched this in pin drop silence. Nobody dared to move. The businessman sat there in awe as if he just saw a fearsome ghost. He was stripped completely in front of the crowd. His ego was annihilated unceremoniously. He fell at the feet of the saint and wept uncontrollably. The saint stood up. It was time for him to take bath and get into worship and meditation. It was already well past the afternoon and close to sunset. It was time to move on. Atmananda distributed all that he received to everyone assembled, and he walked towards the nearby river to take bath. Many followed him to the river. He quietly took bath and went into the temple for worship. A typical day in the life of Atmananda. Live in Peace!!!

Remain Blessed.

Love Always, M

The Boon of Deep Inner Silence is Hard-Earned, through Lifetimes