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”

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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