Hotter than the raging SUN

Dear Seekers of Truth

You may think that proximity to a powerful Avadhoota like Atmananda meant that we got to discuss deeper levels of spirituality all the time. On the contrary, we hardly spoke spiritual matters. I found the same when Atmananda met other powerful masters. They discussed nothing – literally nothing spiritual. To me, the meeting of two masters felt like two suns merging to give more light. No words (medium) were needed. Whenever you get a chance to stay with liberated masters, make sure that you observe, but not imitate them. Imitating them will only give us certain character traits or habits. Observing them will give us detachment and awareness of perfect love in action.

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It is beautiful to watch someone who wants nothing from earth, walking the earth. We start to look with total detachment and even indifference towards every desire of every person who we see around us, or who have come to our Guruji for blessing them with a quick fix solution for some of their favourite dimensions of “glorious” lusts such as money, name, fame, possessions etc. Guruji, detached as he was from himself, would sometimes look at them, sometimes ignore them. He deliberately wore the robe of a powerless, often eccentric, ordinary sadhu. This must have saved him from various greedy bodies.

Rarely, we get to speak something spiritual with Guruji. Usually, it happened as a reflection of someone’s visit. Here are a few glimpses. Once he said. “Buddha has said ‘Human tongue is more dangerous than a sword. It leaves lasting wounds. It injures people more than a sword. The injuries that tongues create are hard to heal.’ ” We could understand that most calamities of life are created by relative truths or partial truths translated by prejudiced and speculative minds and articulated by our boneless tongues. This reminds me of various beautiful things that Buddha has said which perfectly suited our Guruji’s level of existence.

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“The most distant place for us is our past. No amount of money or time can take us there.”

“The biggest, highest and tallest mountain in this world is human lust. Nothing is more difficult to conquer for the human mind than lust.”

“The hardest thing to keep in this world is a tiny promise. Things are easier said than done. If promises are not delivered, man takes more lives too, to complete it. Hence promises are quite detrimental. If unfulfilled, it increases karmic weight.”

“The quality that makes one feel lightest in this world is humility which comes out of maturity and awareness. There is nothing lighter to mind than humility. When man chases name, fame and fortune, this is lost.”

“The closest to us is death. Death is closer to us than any human relationship and is the only unavoidable relationship.”

“The easiest thing to do for liberating oneself in this world is to spread the message of our loving Guru while spreading love with our very existence unconditionally. Your personal wealth has nothing to do with it. If you are afraid to talk about your Guru who gave you himself, you are a hypocrite. Grace will not enter your doorway. Hypocrisy prevents grace.”

One “holy day”, after he spent time with a seemingly aloof wandering sadhu, Guruji said. “We all are liars. We are lying all the time. Whenever I say I am Atmananda, I am lying. This body is called Atmananda. I am not. Whenever people talk with identifications, which are all temporary, they are lying because whatever is temporary is not the ultimate truth. Look around, no animals will tell you that they are a bull or a monkey. They are unbound by their incarnations. We are so eager to maintain our ego and identifications. Whenever we begin to articulate who we are in terms of terrestrial existence, we are further and further detaching from the original truth. Hence, we must realise that we are all liars. Glorious liars who love to maintain those lies and are even proud of it. I am not an Avadhoota or even Atmananda. These are all identifications that the society has given me for their sake about my state and form. This is their need and not mine. I am free.” He continued “Likewise, we identify ourselves with fleeting emotions and make them ours. We are not the emotions either. We are free. Unless this is understood, there are will be pains.

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“Desires are traps. One spontaneously leads to the other. They also change forms and nature. Desires cause illusions and hallucinations. It takes us further and further away from liberation”.

This story is about some of Guruji’s followers like Ramappa, Srinath and my own self as well as some experiences of Guruji that I would like to share that provide a window into his glorious stature. Guruji was like a flowing river. Before joining Guruji, each disciple had traveled a good distance on their spiritual journey along their own paths based on their constitution. Guruji facilitated their orientations – bhakti yoga, jnana yoga, etc – and, subsequently, they moved on and carried forward in their chosen path.

Once a middle-aged person named Ramappa walked with us while we walked with Gurudeva. Gurudeva did not have the habit of acknowledging, welcoming or receiving anybody who chose to walk with him. He probably would not even notice.

Guruji did not like conversations. We have seen Guruji watching cows or other animals intently for hours on. We used to say amongst ourselves that Guruji is liberating them through his eyes. In fact, he looked at animals with more attention than he ever looked at people. One such occasion, which is about a week after Ramappa joined us, Guruji was witnessing a pack of cows in a field. Ramappa went close to him and told him “Gurudeva, my desire of this life is higher levels of Samadhi. Bless me and help me”. Guruji did not answer for some time. Later, he said, “Watch and witness cows.” That was it. He said nothing else. He got up and started walking. Ramappa sat there and continued what Gurudeva was doing and had asked him to do. When we were leaving with Gurudeva who walked quite fast, we saw Ramappa totally absorbed in observing cows.

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Many years later, after Guruji attained his mahasamadhi, (a saint’s conscious exit from the body), I had the good fortune of seeing Ramappa, quite unknowingly, who by that time had attained great spiritual heights. I did not recognise him. I was coming back with a few companions towards my abode from the north of Bharat, after our annual dips in Ganga during Kumbh Mela. We happened to spend the evening and night at the ashram of a saint whom we had not known before. Most ashrams host people going or returning from Kumbh Mela without expectations. This is still the tradition. The chief of that ashram had a flowing white beard and bald head. He hosted us with kindness and elegance.

In the evening, after dinner at sunset, he gave a discourse to his disciples. It flowed somewhat like this, “Gurudeva asked me to observe cows and walked away. (this is when I felt he could be Ramappa) I considered this as a diksha (initiation) and sat at the same place that Gurudeva sat and started practicing. In the beginning, I saw only the bodies of cows. I saw only their activities. Every day, I did this one practice which Gurudeva had initiated me with. A few days later, I could recognise each and every cow that grazed in that field. Soon, I started seeing their character and the difference between them. I started noticing how they behaved. I saw their behavioural differences as well as their hierarchies and mannerisms.

They showed no hurry at any time. They were peaceful always. They ate only what they needed. They were very patient. They never complained or even made an unnecessary sound. They accepted the surroundings and realities without any complaints. They were tolerant. They never complained of rain or sunshine. They were consistent in what they did. They never got bored with the environment. I learned many things from them. Concentration, Acceptance, Consistency, Commitment, No anxiety or comparisons, No complaints, and more than anything stable mind, peaceful to the core. I realised that samadhi states need these qualities. Samadhi itself is a stillness of mind. And these animals taught me that.

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Day and night, I sat near that grazing ground and as these gentle beings wandered, I followed them. They became my gurus. I learned the great secrets of life from them. Everything begins with acceptance. I understood why my Gurudeva always watched animals and sat in meditative state. He was witnessing the states of samadhi that nature displays through every plant, tree, leaves, and all beings of nature. I also realised that they do not eat after sunset and will start eating only after sunrise. They followed the sun. I also surrendered myself to the sun and the sun became my guru too. Ramappa continued.

Ramappa’s explanation ascertained to me that he was referring to my Guru too – Avadhoota Atmananda Chaitanya! He has given enlightenment to many through a casual word or sentence which became a piercing command that time proved later. Here I would like you to understand one important point. My Gurudeva in his usual unassuming way, taught Ramappa and through Ramappa to all of us, one important practice – Practicing Awareness. Usually all gurus initiated their disciples into contemplation (manana) or Meditation (dhyana) or some rituals to reach levels of samadhi. Here, Atmananda taught “Awareness” through observing the cows which is neither manana or dhyana. Cows had no anxiety over future nor much visible hang ups over past. No prejudices and fears as explained by Ramappa. They were in the present always, in tune with their body as well as nature in total acceptance. This is an important lesson in spirituality. Being in NOW. Being in awareness. This is a space between manana and dhyana.

When Ramappa paused his narration, I introduced myself to him and told the audience that I was there when this incident happened. Ramappa could not contain his tears. He got up and tried to prostrate at my feet in deep reverence for my Guru. I did not allow that. Instead, I embraced him. We both could not contain our tears of happiness. We held each other for some time. Then I spoke “Ramappa, I am so happy to see you not only because you have attained higher levels of Samadhi as per your wish, with the grace of our Gurudeva, but because you are imparting and explaining the unorthodox methods of our Gurudeva to your students too. You are keeping his memories alive.

Not many understood our Gurudeva. He has given such guidance to thousands. Perhaps a word, a glance, a sentence or physical demonstration through his own life. But not even five percent of people who came to him understood it or caught that thread and moved on in life as you did. He gave the rope to everybody in a casual way.

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Our Guru has left his body and he insisted that his body should not become a burden to earth. He was formally cremated. (Hearing about the death of Atmananda, Ramappa’s smile vanished and tears filled his eyes.) Also, He has written nothing except what he wrote in our hearts and minds. Ramappa, today I am happy. When I hear our Guru’s words through you, I feel so happy and proud. He allowed us to walk with him and through his own life, he taught us invaluable lessons. A perfect Avadhoota. He had no emotions. He never complained. He never cried. He existed without existing. He lived without living. He was always and is always with us.”

Ramappa said with tears “I just wish that I will not fall again into the lures of this world.”

I said, “When you are under the protection of a master like Atmananda, you never need to worry about any fall in spirituality. There won’t be a state of Yoga Bhrashta (fall from grace). Atmananda as a guru will never permit that. Our Guru was seldom understood because he hardly expressed himself. His life was his message. If people did not understand his life, they did not understand his message also. I have always observed his habit of observing animals keenly. He spent lots of time doing just that. He often forgot his own body, time, hunger, weather and sat watching animals and birds. Now, with your narration, I got a clear insight as to why he was observing them as well as what he was seeing with such interest. He was teaching us the greatest of philosophies, of acceptance and surrender. Thank you”. We embraced each other again with deep and heartfelt emotions.

I was genuinely happy to see Ramappa, especially because of the stage in spirituality that he had achieved and also was grateful towards our Guruji who made all this possible. We stayed the night and left after consuming the fresh breakfast that Ramappa’s disciples served to us. Ramappa did not consume anything after sunset or before sunrise. We did the same and we decided that we will not consume any food after sunset hereafter. We decided to follow the teachings of the sun.

We bid good bye to Ramappa with this comforting thought, “A true teacher never dies. He stays as a thought, teaching or reminder through various minds well beyond his death”.

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Another disciple of Guruji was Srinath who was like a shadow to Guruji. He joined Gurudeva before my time and was with Guruji until his mahasamadhi. He never mentioned about his past but someone had mentioned that one of his parents remarried and his step parent was not very happy with him. He would be stting quiet all the time, not doing any work and always in a meditative state. His parents thought that he was wasting his life and will have no food to eat after their death. So they threw him out of the house so he could find a job and support himself. Having left the house, he did not really care much and would be sitting by the side of a shop or in the park or in some other place in isolation.

Sometime later, an avadhoota passed him by and told him only one thing, “Your path is the sky!” Since he did not have any initiation, he would keep sitting and staring at the sky. His whole meditation was being the sky, nothing else! He only needed one sentence as a means to connect. His mind was connecting to the sky continously. Sky means full of expansion – blue sky, cloudless sky. Over time, he spontaneously shifted into shyambhavi mudra and he expanded beyond the body.

Nothing mattered to him anymore and that was when he met his Guru, Atmananda. He was sitting by the side of a shop staring at the sky, as was his usual practice, when Atmananda was walking past him. Atmananda just looked at him, didn’t say a word and gestured with his eyes to join him. Srinath immediately followed Atmananda and never left him. He saw the sky in Atmananda i.e., his Guru had the form of the sky (his body was as vast as the sky). All his life, Atmananda, except for his presence, did not give him anything – no guidance. When he found the Master, he realized that his Master was the sky i.e., he had no boundaries. That was what the avadhoota meant when he told him that his path was the sky.

He would be sitting like a statue almost like Guruji. He was an introverted person and hardly spoke. Whenever somebody asked him something like,”When would Guruji wake up? Is there something you can do?”, he would just stare back blankly at them. Hence, he was completely ignored by people since there was no point in talking to him. People would tease him and make fun of him. But that never bothered him. Whatever Guruji said, he immediately did blindly without thinking whether it is right time, right place, right situation, etc. No questions asked and absolutely no thinking or reasoning before carrying out the command – that kind of attitude. If Guruji had asked him to jump off a mountain, he would jump. That kind of perfect obedience.

Guruji usually never did rituals for the most part. However, sometimes he would light a fire and make some offerings to the fire. It would be for somebody probably in some  part of the world (or universe) but he would never explain why he was doing it. Like he would take food in his hand and offer it to the fire because someone was probably hungry somewhere or something was meant to happen elsewhere. Once, during the rare occasions that Guruji was doing some ritual, he asked Srinath to take a bath in the river and come back immediately. The river was overflowing and it was extremely dangerous to enter the river since one would just get swept away by the swelling waters.

That did not deter him at all. He just jumped into the river and was pulled into the river by the gushing waters. The river dragged him a a couple of kilometers away before he could manage to swim and somehow get to the river bank. From there, he ran all the way to reach Atmananda just in time as he was finishing his ritual. People asked him if he was gone mad to jump into a river in spate. He did not answer and just smiled.

When Atmananda was sitting under the tree before taking mahasamadhi, he was also sitting under the tree. Their consciousness merged and he became like a shadow of Atmananda by the time Atmananda left the body. Atmananda had taken over, removed whatever karma was left in balance and dissolved him. Soon after Atmananda took mahasamadhi, he also left his body in about two weeks. Just as Atmananda had done before taking samadhi, he also sat under the tree and stopped eating and drinking. By that time, he must have reached high levels of samadhi. But no one knows. Since he never articulated. He never displayed himself. He never tried to prove.

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Atmananda neither had any kind of habits nor was he concerned about food. He mostly ate whatever he got in hand. Otherwise he never cared. He never went in search of food or to gather bhiksha (alms). There are some places where bhiksha was provided, but he would just say, “Let’s walk”. Some of his followers would want to stay back and have bhiksha. For e.g., like there were certain places pockets where the king used to ensure  bhiksha. Atmananda never cared so people seldom brought food for him. Even if they brought food, he would take a look at it and then just feed birds or cows – he will feed whoever is around and not take the food himself. There was nothing much to do for Atmananda. He didn’t need any service. Basically, we can’t serve a Master.

My Gurudeva, Atmananda, was an epitome of freedom. Listen to him in deep silence. You will hear his words echoing from deep within us.

“When you think you are something, it is ridiculous. When you say you are nothing, it is ridiculous too. When you realise you are NO THING, you start experiencing FREEDOM.”
“Beyond personal identifications and frames lies the TRUTH of existence.”

Atmananda said, “No hearts connected to consciousness will starve for presence.” I have experienced this many times. One time, before I started wandering with my Gurudeva, I was stuck in an argument with a group of people over a small matter, I was about to get beaten up because of my aggression. I had only met Guruji once or twice at that time, that too within a few years gap. As usual, He had shown indifference to me. My ego considered it as “indifference”, instead of a test of endurance, and decided to not to meet him anymore.

When this incident happened, the young ruffians was almost getting ready to beat me up. Suddenly, I saw Guruji walking in and with a firm voice said “Stop. He is my follower. Leave him alone.” The people who were trying to beat me froze and then retreated. Guruji looked into my eyes and said, “Mahendra, come”. I have no idea how he knew my real name. We never spoke let alone give details of where I was from. Anyway, he started walking and I followed him. That is the beginning of my journey with him. I never left him ever again. And it surprises me to no ends when I wonder how he reached the spot that I was at during that moment of crisis. Later, I realised that his seeming indifference is only a mask. He is well aware and well in control of everything that is happening around him and beyond him, especially in the lives of people who connect with him with love and honesty.

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I shall conclude this by one more narration. Some glimpses of his stature or state. As I mentioned earlier, he was unbound and free; he was not attached to anything nor detached from anything. He was in everything. He treated a human and non-human with equal respect. He had command over weather and the elements which he seldom displayed. He would walk in rain and thunder while we know that he could either choose a shelter or stop the frenzy of rain. When we pester him to stop until the weather clears, he would say “Do not disturb the elements”. I later realised that we should not interfere in the eternal flow of nature even if we have the power as well as we should keep our internal elements in harmony for a good life without excesses.

I looked upon Gurudeva as the likeness of the water element – always going with the flow. After his mahasamadhi, I endeavoured to create a likeness of his image to allow me to keep him in memory. My sincere love and respect for him created this unselfish desire. However,  I was mindful of the fact that Gurudeva had clearly told us that he did not want any trace of his existnce to remain on earth. That prompted his final wish to be cremated and the ashes to be dispersed in the holy rivers. Despite the doubts, I used all of my sculpting skills to create the statue and installed it on the bathing ghat where I used to take my daily bath. This allowed me to be in his presence and worship him every day. A few years later, the river was in spate and the flooding waters came by and took the statue away leaving no traces of my Gurudeva’s existence as he had desired.

Following this incident, I consecrated a set of padukas (holy sandals) in his name and installed them at the ghat. My Gurudeva’s power was evident by the fact that the water from the river would gently touch the padukas and recede. The same river that washed away the much taller statue never flown over the padukas. In hindsight, I feel that my doubts relating to his final wish while creating the statue resulted in it being washed away. If my unselfish desire was resolute, I would still have had the good fortune to worship his physical form in the form of the statue. Doubts shake the foundation that is cemented strongly by faith.

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I was also very fortunate to get a glimpse that he existed well beyond the boundaries of earth. That left me in awe. One evening at a sanctuary near a forest clearing, when all were asleep, I had left Gurudeva near the fire that he always kept burning whenever we could. He would sit there the whole night looking into the fire. Fire is a symbol of existence in nonexistence as it easily converts any matter into ash. It was a mild fire. Where Gurudeva was sitting there, I saw that it was just fire. There was no form of my beloved Gurudeva. Just fire. I realised at that moment that Gurudeva is definitely not the finite body that we are used to. He could easily convert himself into any of the elements that constituted the body. That time he had dissolved all elements and became just fire to talk to the external fire.

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On another occasion, when a village head came to see him with some dakshina (offerings), he asked him to talk about his Guru. Guruji just looked blankly at the sky and said, “How can I ever praise the glory of my Guru? I can never fathom him. Nobody can know him. My limited intellect cannot measure his dimensions. It is only his grace that gets revealed within me as an awareness of his presence, let alone his stature. I am far too small to know his stature. Nothing can describe him. He is truly unfathomable.”

He stopped, thought for a while and continued “He is hotter than the raging fire. Cooler than the coolest breeze. Brighter than a million suns. Faster than the swords of lightning. Louder than the drums of a thousand thunder. He is more innocent than a newborn child. He is purer than the purest. He is action in inaction. He is my mother and father and all relatives put together. He has no father, mother, beginning or end. The whole manifested universe is nothing but a mole on his glorious face. He is unfathomable. He is free. He is not bound by the universe and the universe is not bound by him. He is freedom. He is bliss. He is myself.”

That sums up the stature of my Gurudeva. I humbly submit this at His lotus feet.

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Yours

Mahendra Manu

Disclaimer:

Atmananda is a fictional character created by Mohanji to explain the Tradition. Any resemblance to the living or dead is purely coincidental.

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Causes and Effects – Satsang with Atmananda

Atmananda was walking alone for a few months without companions. These situations of walking alone happened only a couple of times in his life of 49 years in the body known as Atmananda. The incident given below happened during his parivrajaka (wandering monkhood) time soon after he left his Gurukul (Master’s abode). Atmananda was sitting in meditation at a ghat (river bank) in Benaras (Varanasi) after taking a bath. It was early hours. Some people brought a dead body for cremation at the ghat. Some relatives were crying as the dead body was washed before the cremation. Some people looked relieved. Before 7 AM, about six dead bodies were treated and prepared for cremation at the ghat. Atmananda was in deep meditation and was not aware of anything around him. At around 8AM, he opened his eyes to see a group of men and women standing around him to have his blessings.

He was usually averse to any attention from anyone. Being perhaps in his early 20s at that time, he was not yet ready to wear the burden or responsibilities of “Guruhood”. He tried to get away from this looming crowd. But, they started falling at his feet and closed all escape routes. So, he sat down and started blessing them. They took extra care not to touch Atmananda because of the belief of being impure after the cremation. As per the Hindu system, relatives of the dead usually stay away from sacred spaces and people such as Gurus or God’s premises for about 14 days after the death of a relative. Soon after this prostration ritual, one elderly bald man requested Atmananda to clear the doubts of some of the people who assembled there. Atmananda who was practicing levels of silence with his Guru and while wandering as well, half-heartedly agreed. What follows is the communication that happened between Atmananda and the mourning group that had assembled there.

Q: Death is inevitable. We all know that all that is born will die. Then why are we suffering so much?

Atmananda – Ownerships and attachments of relationships and familiarity. We become used to the presence of bodies around us, start owning it and start developing emotions around those bodies. You are sad because of your attachment and ownership.
Rewards of life are fruits of your own attitude, expressions, and actions. Your mind is your own enemy and friend. Whatever you experience is your own creation born out of your own disposition. Every experience has its own invisible root spreading itself into the past.

Q: My uncle (whom we just cremated) suffered a lot before his death. In fact, we are all relieved that now he is free from suffering. What kind of action or karma causes that kind of suffering?

Atmananda – Actions of impure nature causes that kind of suffering. It could be from this life or other lives. When one goes against another person, displays hatred, anger, jealousy, so on and so forth, they accumulate heavy karma. If the collection is such karma, suffering is inevitable. Whatever we do against another, comes back to us, sooner or later – in this life or another. There is no escape or reduction possible in karma. What you do in life, good or bad, affects not just you, but leaves an inherited impact on all the people born in your lineage. Every person in every lineage must know this and be responsible.


Q: What is the solution?
Atmananda – Good deeds. Merits that we earn through good thoughts, words and actions. Lead a conscious and contented life. Do not greed over other people’s possessions that karma has distributed as per their karmic merits. Be aware that your own actions have brought your experiences of life. Nothing can be changed. Future can be changed if you lead a conscious life today.

He paused, thought for a while and continued, “I advise you to avoid a situation, a place or a person that disturbs your mind or your mental stability. Avoid being influenced by other minds. If you cannot totally avoid, at least ignore all of these and do not take inside the effects of their presence. Instead, focus inside and chant the name of your chosen god or guru. Stay away from things that make your mind restless and give preference to inner peace and tranquillity of mind. When everything we do is in surrender to God or Guru, we come close to the supreme consciousness. Embrace external things that do not affect your inner tranquillity. Avoid the rest. Live a simple, benevolent life.”

Q: Will our actions affect our children and their children?
Atmananda – Yes. Whatever you earn, your children and their children will inherit. Lineage always carries the burden of individuals that it has given birth to. Lineage holds collective karma of family members. This is inherited in various degrees by all its off-springs. When family members do great acts of good deeds, the effects reach every person in the family just as a feast in the family reaches every stomach.

Q: What can be the worst situation for any lineage?
Atmananda – Passive, selfish and indifferent people as well as insensitive generations born in it. Just like the air in a room becomes stale when the windows and doors are closed for a long time, selfish and passive people of a generation stagnate the lineage. Selfishness and self-centeredness is bad karma. Giving and sharing from the heart brings fresh air into the room. We can call it grace. created out of positive action.

Q: What can we do from today?
Atmananda – Be responsible. Know that you are not just an individual. You are a lineage. Respect your position and the power to make the lineage a better place for those before you and those that are yet to come. Be good and do good. That is the secret. Share and grow. Life should be totally selfless and free. Give more than you take. Be kind always. Be generous. Respect saints and spiritual people. Respect farmers as they are working hard in the rain and sun so that you do not sleep hungry. Respect the lawmakers and law protectors. Because of them, you are safe and protected. Respect children, because they learn from you to respect their contemporaries. Maintain purity and maintain peace. Never compromise inner peace for anything external. It is not worth it.

Avoid all situations of praises and applause. Even if destiny brings you accolades and applause, understand that everything is temporary and be humble about it. Never fall prey to ego or get addicted to your possessions and relations. Consider everything you have as a gift from God and handle it with respect. Be always aware that whatever comes will leave too. Never cry over what is lost and disrespect what you have. Life is moment to moment. What this moment has given you is your present (gift). Next moment may take it away and replace that space with another reality. Keep flowing through these realities without attachments or expectations. We can own nothing here. Nothing belongs to us here. All experiences have eligibility behind it. We earned those experiences – good or bad. Be grateful when the world respects you or disrespects you. Both are just experiences as well as lessons. Learn to detach from everything using awareness as the thread. The key awareness is the basic nature of our own existence – impermanence. Your own conscience is your personal guide. Be a friend to your own conscience and never do anything that will affect it. Rest in your conscience which is your personal protection from all negative karma. Adulation is an addiction. It is indeed a trap. The result is spiritual stagnation. Mind rules instead of giving way for the consciousness to shine forth.

Q: What can we really call ours?
Atmananda – Memories of experiences, desires and merits/demerits of our expressions and actions. Merits and demerits of our past lives determine the flavour of this life and the lives beyond. If one has done spiritual practices with concentration and dedication through lifetimes, he will be born in the company, family or lineage of saints and holy men and will have the opportunity to continue their practice until dissolution based on the quality and quantity of their karmic baggage.

Q: What is the core of human existence?
Atmananda – Dharma, Artha, Kama, Moksha (Righteousness, Materials, Desires, and Liberation respectively) – which is together called as Purushartha.

Q: What is the wise way of handling these aspects of existence?
Atmananda – Let Moksha be the thread. Make Moksha the thread and make the other aspects the beads of the garland. When liberation is the thread, all other aspects will remain pure and righteous. When the key theme of life is liberation, life will be pure and truthful.

Q: Is that why these young men are sitting here near the burning human bodies?
Atmananda – Some are sitting here just to avoid the cold winter as they have no money and nowhere else to go. Some are sitting to conquer their fears of death. Some, who are much more advanced, are witnessing the state of the dead who used to walk the earth with pride and ego, over their possessions and achievements. And the ash they wear on their bodies is a reminder to themselves and others that we are essentially just ash. Ash is also the sign of total detachment from all possessions of life.

Fire is a sign of the truth that has no discrimination. Death is the inevitable truth. Minds fear truth. It fears death. Fear is ignorance. When mind constantly watches bodies burning to ashes, it overcomes its fears and establishes itself in inevitable truth. Fear is against liberation. Having no fear is a sign of the liberated state. Those who are sitting here with abundance are avoiding the fearful society ridden by emotions and they are not interested in material possessions including name and fame. Everything can become detrimental and delay the liberation process and induce more births and deaths. So, one must be steadfast in his determination for liberation. Nothing else matters.

Q: Karma follows man beyond his grave. How can we prevent karma?
Atmananda – Good and bad actions maintain duality of existence. Good actions are those that make us lighter, expand our hearts and earn us merits. Bad actions are those that come out of hatred, revenge, enmity, and anger which makes us heavier and binds us to the web of relationships by earning us demerits. Both good and bad actions keep us in the web of karma and keep bringing us back through many wombs. Dependency on the external world keeps us in the karmic web. Ownership of actions and manipulations of mind maintains us here, birth after birth. Turning inward and steadily getting out of all dependencies of earth, and establishing oneself into oneself is the only way to break the karmic web.

Reduced dependency on anything and anybody, as well as no expectations over anything, will help us maintain detachment. Awareness that this body is decaying every moment and we are all walking towards our inevitable end is essential. All that is born will die. Hence, the state of not being born must be explored and established into. This is essential for liberation. At some point in life, like you just did, this question will come to everybody’s mind – what is this drama for? The answer is, divinity is experiencing itself in multiple frequencies using duality as the medium. This is the awareness that is needed to stay afloat without drowning into the pool of karma.

Q: Do we have a choice?
Atmananda – Yes. Always. Staying detached as a witness from emotions and expectations is our choice. Always being aware that this whole life is a show and looking inward to our stable soul that is unaffected by anything inside and anything outside is our choice. Avoiding ego and identification to this incarnation is our choice. Detachment from our outside and inside world is our choice. Avoiding ownership of people and possessions is our choice which helps us stay liberated. To share, care and love ourselves and all things around us, is our choice.

Q: Can you be our guru?
Atmananda – No. Your guru is already within you. People like me are only guides.
A short while later, he added, “I am a wanderer. I carry nothing with me. If you walk with me, I will not object, because the path belongs to everyone who choose to walk. But, walking is your own choice and responsibility, as well as staying or leaving is your prerogative. I will have nothing to do with it.”

Q: Guru and grace are synonymous. Is it not guru’s grace that helps liberation?
Atmananda – Remembrance is important. We forget the grace aspect of life when mind marries negativity and pessimism. That leads to disillusionment and depression. Therefore, we have stories of masters and avatars in literature. We call them “good history” or “good stories”. If we forget the good things a guru has given you and remember only the imaginary bad things which pessimistic minds churn out from illusions, usually based on concepts and prejudices, the negative aspect of it, like poison, spreads through our “bloodstream” (system) and will waste many lifetimes. Grace flows when surrender happens. When grace stops, negative feelings envelop mind. Like a person looking through yellow glass sees everything as yellow, man sees only negative things around him. Mind will convert everything positive into negative. Guru and grace leave such minds.

Atmananda got up. Everyone got up too. Bowing down to his audience with full reverence, he walked away without looking back.

Disclaimer:
Atmananda is a fictional character created by Mohanji to explain the Tradition. Any resemblance to the living or dead is purely coincidental.

​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 (the essence of existence) or the tapestry (DNA) of human existence consists of Dharma, Artha, Kama, and Moksha,” explained Atmananda. “Dharma is the basis of the existence of everything. Dharma is righteousness. The 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 lead to imbalance and eventual destruction of oneself and the wealth. Artha belongs to nature. Nature alone can own nature. No being within nature can own it forever.

Kama is desire. The 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 the 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 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 the 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 marketplace. Now, I must keep all of them in the marketplace. 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 a certain aspect of his state but 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.”

brahmarishimohanji-Mohanji and the Guru Mandala

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 anybody and not the soul. The 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 nobody 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

Disclaimer:

Atmananda is a fictional character created by Mohanji to explain the Tradition. Any resemblance to the living or dead is purely coincidental.

​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.

Disclaimer:

Atmananda is a fictional character created by Mohanji to explain the Tradition. Any resemblance to the living or dead is purely coincidental.

Fruits of Tradition

The Beginning

Centuries ago, in the current state of Maharashtra lived a humble saintly priest named Vishnu Sharman with his family. He had only one son, named Vamadeva. He was a quiet but brilliant boy and both the parents were proud of him. Vamadeva grew up and it was time for his formal education. When this discussion happened in the household over dinner, Vamadeva insisted to his father Vishnu Sharman, “I want to go to Varanasi to surrender to the tutorship of Maharishi Shantananda”. Vishnu Sharman was taken aback by the insistence of his 8 year old son. Varanasi was a month of travelling away from their village. He tried his best to dissuade Vamadeva. More than the distance, he could not digest the fact that he will not be able to see his only son Vamadeva for many years. If he had gone to any nearby Gurukul, he could have visited him whenever he felt inclined to see his son. The same was the feeling of Vamadeva’s mother. But, Vamadeva insisted that he would only go to the school of Shantananda. Even though both his parents did not understand the reason for his insistence, after a lot of reluctance they agreed to fulfil the wish of their only son. They also realized and told Vamadeva that Maharishi Shantananda is very famous for his extremely strict methods of teaching and also it was not easy to get his acceptance as a student. He rejects his aspiring students for seeming petty reasons. He never displayed any soft corner towards any disciple. He even seemed indifferent. He believed in extreme uncompromising discipline. And his tests for admission were also equally difficult. None of this could deter Vamadeva and he still insisted on going to Shantananda.

After days of walking, bullock cart rides, camping in various shelters and inns, after a journey that lasted close to a month and a half, Vishnu Sharman and his son Vamadeva reached the city of Varanasi. All through the journey, Vamadeva was quite silent and contemplative, while his father Vishnu Sharman was talking all the time as if he would not get such a chance ever in life. Vishnu Sharman was hoping against hope that perhaps Shantananda may reject his son or Vamadeva may change his mind against staying and studying at Varanasi.

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Varanasi Collage (source: Wikipedia)

After reaching Varanasi, they rested for a few days, visited Lord Kashi Vishwanath temple which every Hindu is supposed to visit at least once in his lifetime, bathed in Ganga and drank the nectar like water till their hearts filled and started inquiring about the ways to meet Shantananda. They came to know that every morning at 3am, Shantananda used to come for bathing in the ghats with his disciples, irrespective of rain or cold weather. They decided to wait and meet him at the ghats. They waited.

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It was 3AM the next day. Maharishi Shantananda walked in with three of his disciples. He was handsome and majestic with flowing beard and soothing eyes. His face was an ocean of calmness. Eyes were deep pools of wisdom. His every step was majestic. He was tall and elegant. Vamadeva and Vishnu Sharman prostrated at his feet on the ground. Shantananda paused. Looked at them and asked without words, with his eyes which meant – “Who? Why?” He did not ask this verbally.

Vamadeva bowed his head down and said  “Great Master, I seek your discipleship”. Shantananda’s eyes penetrated the young boy’s constitution. His eyes pierced through the visible into the invisible. A faint smile dawned on his elegant face – perhaps because of recognition from another life, perhaps because of what he saw in Vamadeva. Shantananda was a man of few words. He observed silence almost always except when it was extremely essential to speak.

Shantananda: What is your name?

Vamadeva: The ignorant restless walking corpse called Vamadeva, Guro

He asked “What are you seeking?”

Vamadeva: “The Ocean, Guro”.

Shantananda said “The path is right here within you. Why not walk?”

Vamadeva replied “Ignorance, Guro. Need fire. Need light. Need guidance to enter the journey, Guro”.

Shantananda “What is the destination?” (Where do you want to reach?)

Vamadeva: “The non-perceivable and the unknowable, Guro”.

Shantananda “Where shall you walk from?”

Vamadeva: “From the darkness of ignorance inherent in the terrestrial mind, illusory knowable, identifications, bindings. Illusory pleasures as well as sundry delusions, Guro, into the stillness and bliss of absolute and unchangeable and unknowable truth”.

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When the seeking ends, man becomes FREE.

Shantananda smiled and said “Come with me.” Vamadeva won his test and was accepted! The eight year old truly surprised his father. He looked in awe as to how his son acquired all this knowledge without formally learning anything from anyone so far! On one side, he was deeply impressed by his son’s stature at such a young age without any formal education. On the other hand, he feared he will never understand his son. Vishnu Sharman did not understand the conversation. He guessed a little and as a result, a deep fear dawned in him. A deep premonition. A kind of conviction and associated fear that he is perhaps losing Vamadeva forever. Is this the beginning of a path of renunciation for Vamadeva? He is seeking silence. Will he leave everything and take the plunge into the anonymity of the saffron dress?  As a regular father, he wished his son to have good education, marry a good girl, have children, settle down and have a regular life like anybody else. But, he could perceive that his wishes are getting shattered right in front of his own eyes.

Shantananda never spoke to Vishnu Sharman even though he acknowledged his presence. There was no discussion on where he is taking Vamadeva, or how long he is expected to stay with him for the sake of education, or any other thing. There was no conversation at all. As Vamadeva walked away with Shantananda with just a glance and a nod towards his father, he sat under the Banyan tree and cried. So many unanswered questions rocked his mind. The most predominant were, “When will I see him again? And “Will I ever see him again?” Then, “What will I tell his mother?” He wept uncontrollably. Then he walked to the ghat and looked at the footprints with water on the steps, that of his son, Maharishi and others that disappeared into the wilderness of the city. He sat down and wept bitterly. Then he removed his clothes and plunged into the freezing, yet warm arms of mother Ganga. He immersed himself and his sorrows in her bosom. He took many dips. When he returned back to the shore, he felt better. He was calmer. He walked towards the temple of Lord Viswanath. He wanted to remove the rest of his emotions at the feet of Lord Shiva. Earthly emotions and relationships are almost always heavy and binding.

Nothing affected Vamadeva. He had just found his path, the reason for this incarnation. He was happy. He was excited. His Guru’s feet were the only reality for him. There was nowhere else to look. Nothing else to see either. Vamadeva walked with his Guru and his fellow students to his abode, not so far away from the ghats.

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The Gurukul

Shantananda’s abode was disciplined, neat and clean. A medium sized house with big verandas on all four sides. At the time Vamadeva joined, he already had 8 disciples of different ages. Vamadeva became the 9th disciple. Mostly, the disciples slept in a row on the Veranda on the front side of the house. There was an open court yard at the front portion of the house. Between the gate and the house, the open court yard was paved with cow dung. Shantananda’s household consisted of himself, his wife and one son, a few cows and calves. He treated his son and his disciples alike. He treated the animals the same way too. Some local house helps came in the morning from their homes and assisted Shantananda’s wife Rukmini Devi in her house hold chores. But, mostly, it was the students who helped the major chunk of work including tending the cows, washing and cleaning clothes ad the ashram floor etc. They took turns to do the household chores. Shantananda insisted on practicing the silent lung breathing to increase the concentration of his disciples. When a set of students are immersed in the practice, the others used to do all the work. The next day or a couple of days, the rest will practice and the others will take over the duties of the household. This went on beautifully without any hindrance, without any reminders or even compulsion of any kind. There was perfect symmetry and synchronicity in the ashram of Shantananda.

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Every student did more or less everything. Tending cows and calves, taking them to grazing grounds and back, cleaning the yard and the house, washing clothes, helping kitchen, attending to Guru’s needs, attending to lectures, which was very random as mostly the Guru spoke through Gautama, his assistant and principal disciple.

Gautama was one of the more senior disciples. He was always very close to his Guru, attending to the gurus needs and the rest of the time, helping the guru’s wife in household chores. He also found time to orient the students with the key teachings of the master. His daas bhaav (total surrender and servitude) was so amazing and spontaneously became a living example of how a disciple should be to all the other students. It was interesting for Vamadeva to witness the humility and surrender of Gautama to his guru. Shantananda was a man of few words. He spoke very little. Gautama was one disciple who read the silence of his Gurudeva and acted on it. It was indeed a feast to watch how Gautama translate Gurus silence into deep and appropriate action without a word being uttered between the Guru and the disciple. The unspoken commands gave strength to Gautama to serve the Guru and his mission unfailingly. And it was perfect synchronicity. Shantananda’s silence was his strength. He taught his students mostly through silence than his words.

Everyone closely observed and then imitated Shantananda. Shantananda’s key teaching was silence and witness hood. He was always calm and unshakeable. No events or activity reached or touched his unshakeable silence. His presence itself was powerful. His daily routine included a trip to the ghats in the early hours of the morning as well as his time with his dhuni (the ever burning pyre that burns samskaaras and empties the cup of terrestrial identifications from the causal layer). In both these, his disciples participated. Shantananda’s son Mukunda was about three years older than Vamadeva. He was a very quiet and silent boy, with lots of humility and love towards everyone. Shantananda never discriminated between him and his disciples.

Shantananda had a small farm a few miles away from his abode. His attendants ploughed, sowed and reaped the harvest. Yet, Shantananda and disciples used to visit the farms a few times a week and work there. During the non harvest season, they took the cows and calves to the farm and allowed them to graze the whole day. Even though the Shantananda household used milk, they never kept the calves away from the cows. They only milked the excess after the calves drank to their fill. They always treated their animals with respect and love. Everyone lived together in perfect harmony.

Whenever the junior students like Vamadeva had doubts, they preferred to speak to Gautama. Shantananda did not spend much time with his students every day except during the ghat visits and fire ceremony.

Gautama was the mouth or the communication aspect of the silent Shantananda. Whatever Shantananda wanted to convey to his students, more often than not, he conveyed through Gautama.

Some Teachings

BAD KARMA

Gautama explained about bad karma based on an incident of one student betraying another on a small issue, and another incident of a village boy eloping with the wife of a neighbour leaving behind his wife and children. Shantananda prohibited the villagers from chasing the eloped couple and asked them to have patience. He was against all kinds of violence. He told the elders to allow them to have their chosen experiences even though it amounts to betrayal and hence it is against dharma. He said that once they are contended, they would return back. He told them to accept them like before, when they return back, because every incident has its karmic provocation and repercussion. All causes and effects are accounted for. Those who sow must reap. Allow karma to play out completely and reap the fruits of it as well. No external interference was appropriate.

Gautama said “Betrayal, cheating, stealing and such acts that create pain in the other should be avoided at all times. Betrayal is bad karma. Very very bad karma for the one who performs it and also the ones who supports it. It will haunt the one who performs it beyond lifetimes and similar experiences will disturb him time and again. Those who betray others will be betrayed much more. Same goes for victimization and character assassination. It is equal to assassination. Be aware. Never engage or support any of that. Lead your life as cordially as you could. Always tell truth, convey your mind without prejudices and live a clean life. Extreme guilt will haunt those who betray and cheat others. You may win some initial success, but you will lose your conscience, which is close to your soul. What is the use of winning the world by losing your soul? Eternal damnation will befall those who cheat, steal, betray and character assassinate others.”

He continued “Every cause has its effect. Every effect has its cause. This is unavoidable. The only thing we humans can do is to avoid acts of emotions, cruelty and in-sensitiveness. Avoid bad company. Always walk with elevated friends or at least those who are good at heart and benevolent by nature. Never be lured by spiritual powers or its demonstrations and resort to practices of dark nature to acquire them. This will affect you through life times. Always stay with the light path of our gurus and tradition. Help ever and hurt never. Never harm any being, let alone another human and never harm any saintly people through thoughts, words or action. You will never come out of its implication for hundreds of lifetimes. Bad causes will give bad effects. This is the major cause of all the sorrows of the world today. Insensitive actions – resulting in bad results.”

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Possessiveness

An eagle was flying with a piece of meat clasped in its beak. He was in a hurry to take it to a safe location and eat peacefully. The meat was a bit larger than he could easily swallow on its way. Suddenly a school of crows started chasing the eagle. They flew with him and started attacking him. The eagle was helpless. He could not retaliate because he had this piece of meat between its beaks. The eagle did not realize for a long time, why the crows were attacking him. Finally, he realized that the crows were after the meat between its beak and not him. For some time he was reluctant to let go of the hard-earned meat. Then wisdom dawned with the intense suffering due to the attack of crows. Finally, he dropped the meat. Immediately, the crows left him and followed the piece of meat.
We all are like this eagle. We always refuse to drop the cause of our suffering and suffer eternally, often unconsciously and unknowingly. We work hard and earn our possessions suitable for our body, or mind or intellect. When we have those possessions, irrespective of whether they are material possessions or siddhis of spiritual nature, crows of the society starts chasing and hunting us. They come to take our hard earned possessions from us. We refuse to let it go because we believe they are legitimately ours. Neither us nor the crows understand the fact that these possessions are temporary and truly never ours or theirs. Everything passes hands sooner or later. But, we do our best to defend our possessions. In the bargain, we may get hurt. Finally, when we become helpless, we will reluctantly let it go. Otherwise, death will detach us completely from our worldly possessions. The more our possessions are, the more we will be attacked by the world. Lesser the possessions, more free is the life. Human beings hold on to their possessions and attract many such crows. When he lets his possessions go from his body, mind and intellect level, the world of crows stops bothering him. Avadhootas are walking examples of this level of non-possessive detachment.

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COWS

On another day, while attending to the cows of the ashram, Gautama said “Our gurudeva says cows are sacred. The vedic wisdom never gave so much importance to any other animal except cows, even though it is rooted in ahimsa and respected all beings.”. Cows are considered as celestial beings. Do you know why? Students nodded their head in the negative sense. Trees consume carbon dioxide and releases oxygen which is beneficial for human existence. Similarly, cow is the only animal in the planet earth that has the capacity to take the negative energies of the society and releases only positive material. Cow in the society absorbs all the negativity of the society in a subtle level, stores it in her body and releases only good things like Milk, Dung and Urine – all of which nourishes life. They are all medicines as per Ayurveda. They are all used in our ceremonies and worships as well as farms and for organic cultivation of crops. The dung of a cow is also antiseptic. The dung of a cow eating pure stuff will have no odor. We spread it on our yard and on the floor to make it antiseptic. A cow’s meat should not be eaten because in subtle level, it contains all the toxins of the world which it absorbs every moment from the society. They are subtle beings and never engage in conflicts and fights. They absorb, store and give out only pure stuff. This is why a cow can be compared to a tree. A tree takes in used and polluted air and releases pure air which is good for our lungs. This is also why we are always sitting under the trees during satsangs. The pure air is refreshing and rejuvenating us. It is making our minds sharp and receptive. This helps us absorb more wisdom. The ancient sages used the dung of no other animal on earth except that of cows for the purpose of safeguarding themselves from bacteria and also as fire wood when dried. Its sacredness is its antiseptic quality. It can even heal wounds and injuries. A cow’s entire body is useful.

Our scriptures say that the entire body of the cow is the abode of many deities. Each deity has a functional purpose. This purpose is fulfilled through the body of the cow. It includes purification from gross to the ultimate subtle. Cow stores all negative subtle that she takes it in her body and destroys it at death. Thus the world is kept purified. Those who respect cows, are spontaneously sattwic in nature. We drink its milk. Hence, the cow is like our mother. We respect our mother. We respect the cows as our mother. Who can kill one’s own mother? Our predecessors, saints and sages constantly asked us to stay away from “himsa” of any kind. Himsa is Violence. Violence disturbs the vibratory level; both inside and outside of us. Violence in thoughts, words, and actions bind us to emotions and emotions lead us to further karmas. Karma has its root in unfulfilled desires combined with emotions which reinforces an operating character and constitution. So, a true sadhak (Seeker/Practitioner) should be aware of such traps of the path of liberation and stay clear at all times. We should not harm any beings of any species. Be compassionate and kind always. Never be selfish and upset anyone’s life. Life is the bed where you experience your karma over time. Keep your bed always tidy and clean.

FEAR

Fear destroys like fire. Fear is one of the formidable enemies in the path of liberation. Religions and possessive masters sometimes use fear to control their subjects which eventually affect themselves and their path adversely. In the path of liberation, before one sets himself to the conquest of his mind, he should conquer all his fears. Guru is the epitome of fearlessness and our leading light. We dissolve our fears in the consciousness of our Guru and lead a life of total emptiness and lightness. We have no reason to fear when we have unshakable faith in our Guru. Guru takes care of us every step. Faith destroys fear like water extinguishes fire. Faith is the most reliable water that destroys the flames of our fears. Awareness is the permanent way to tackle our fears.
In other words, the best way to conquer one’s fears is to face them and burn them in the fire of awareness. A rope feels like a snake in darkness to an ignorant mind and corresponding fears happen; but when he gets the light of awareness, the fear disappears. Likewise, most fears are related to darkness, death or unknown. They have no value in the daylight of awareness. Fear is the trap. World uses fear to bind people. This is wrong. When we delve deeper and deeper into our inner silence, all the stored fears will begin to surface. Watch and let go. Watch and let go. They have to escape through the conscious mind. Do not panic nor meddle with them. They are to be released gracefully. Fear is ignorance. It’s remedy is awareness. Your guru is protecting you, watching over you. All fears are illusions. Let go of your illusions and you will be established in the absolute truth.

FIRE

Be aware that we are essentially the fire. The fire of creation that rested in the belly of the Sun became the Galaxy. The fire of will in the consciousness of the supreme Para Brahma manifested as the universe. The fire of your mother’s womb created you. The fire in your stomach sustains you. Existence is connected to fire. Fire is the only element that burns everything and never gets contaminated. It just leaves behind ash which is beyond flavour and design. The flames of fire only go up and never down. Hence, it is considered as the chosen carrier of offerings to all deities. It is always pure. It is always sacred. This is why our tradition keeps fire as our closest ally and fastest friend. We offer all our impressions and afflictions to the sacred fire. All our sankalpas and all our samskaaras are offered to the fire every day. Fire takes it on and releases us from its bad effects each day, yet it never gets contaminated by it. We worship Sun as the source of this platform called galaxy where life could thrive. We worship earth because she gave us the platform for our gratifications. We keep our bodies sacred and lust free because our only plan and aim of life is liberation. When we burn all our identifications and identities along with the stored impressions in the causal layer, we dissolve into the supreme Parabrahman. When we stop existing, only the supreme unsullied consciousness exists. Thus, we nullify ourselves.

Guru Shantananda

Our guru is an avadhoota. He is a great yogi. He came accomplished. Those who come fully accomplished can be considered as avataric births. They chose their births consciously while most of us chose our incarnations out of the need to fulfill the unfulfilled desires from our past incarnations. They have taken birth on dharmic basis to preserve dharmic causes. They abide dharma and their life itself is their biggest teaching. Those who come accomplished have nothing to achieve in this incarnation. They have only to deliver over time. They reveal themselves accordingly, as per the necessity and need. They do not display anything off which are unnecessary. They will never pretend nor will they expect anything from the world. They are totally detached from the samsara or the mundane existence yet will perform as per the demand of the incarnation and time. Most teachers are only acharyas. They are teachers. They have only acquired knowledge. The problem with acquired spiritual prowess is that, the power achieved through the mantras and practices have to be maintained through abstinence and rigorous practices an  are difficult to maintain. They need to perform sincere practices on a consistent basis while abstaining from many lures of earth to keep what they earned or else will soon lose them. Some people observe strict celibacy. Some stay away from people. Some immerse themselves in severe practices. But the ones who come accomplished will walk and talk like ordinary men as they have nothing to do with the names, titles and vain glories or fame of the world. Such ascetics can never be compared with the acharyas. They strictly follow the divine will, in divine order and will never deviate an inch even if it costs their life. Their only interest is the establishment or re-establishment of sanatana dharma, the basic ground rules for harmonious existence. They have neither excesses nor demands. They expect nothing from anyone and none can do them any favour. They accept alms and bless the giver with abundance of spiritual bliss – they never beg nor they ask. They accept what comes to them spontaneously. Even small acts of kindness are deeply appreciated and nurtured.

Love is their food and offering. Fire is their ally. Silence is the bed on which they exist. Consciousness is AUM. There is nothing apart from them. So, friends, do not be confused between an accomplished master who has no interest to prove anything with an acquired saint who is eager to display what he has earned through books or practices. People who do not understand the inherent silence will not connect with these established saints who often look like nothing.  Restless minds will leave them. The restless mind wander towards acquired teachers who display their earned prowess. Such seekers easily get trapped in activity which maintains the inner noise for a lifetime and sometimes beyond. So, even a spiritual enthusiast may take a long time to find his path, and even if he has found it, to recognize and marry it totally. An accomplished master like our guru Shantananda is full and complete. A pot filled with water never makes a sound. The noise happens only when the pot is half filled with water. It shakes and spills. So, be full pots and never compromise ever. There is nothing to prove in the external world. But you have to stay rooted in your inner world and this needs alert attention. Inner silence is your highest treasure and greatest blessing. And the association of an established master will spontaneously and effortlessly remove the age old karmic blockages and set you firmly in the direction of dissolution. So, never confuse between inherent siddhis (powers) and acquired siddhis. Inherent always stays and acquired can vanish any time.

As an example, Gautama narrated the story of another monk in the monk’s own words to a question as to how he acquired enlightenment at such a young age?

“I served the master in his house so I could observe him closely. And day and night I stayed looking at the master. He never looked at me so much. I sat on the ground and stared as the master went ahead with his work. Initially, my mind was restless. And I saw the master restless and often irritant too. I still kept doing the same practice. Master asked me nothing. I asked the master nothing. Slowly, I started feeling some emptiness inside me. Some things were leaving me. Perhaps I was merging with the master’s consciousness. What left me was my restlessness. Mind started to settle down. When I looked at the master, he also seemed pretty relaxed and settled down. No restlessness manifested in him. I continued. My inner silence became deeper and deeper. A kind of ecstasy started occupying the space. When I looked at the master, I found him ecstatic with uncontrollable joy. When I asked a man sitting next to me why the master is so happy, he asked me “Do you see happiness? I see anger and restlessness”. I decided to follow my own awareness which was the best thing to do. Truth was delivered to each according to his state of mind and capacity. Emptiness increases the capacity. We must be true to ourselves. We must trust our own experience. Ever since, I asked no opinions about my guru to anybody. My inner silence made me immobile. I started sitting at the same place in deep silence with the absence of mind from morning till evening and even through night sometimes. I never bothered about food or water. Often, they became a hindrance to my state of beingness. I understood that I have no other realms to conquer. I have attained the highest Everest of consciousness. I waited for Guru’s command. He never looked at me. He still played his role as always and different people saw his different flavors and thought they knew him. He played this illusion and existed as long as it takes. I felt complete, yet there was no “I” to feel that completeness. I asked nothing from my Guru. I never even asked him if he is my Guru. I just watched, watched and watched. I realized that i am watching myself when I am watching him. He is my SELF. He is my soul manifested in another form. I understood the core of existence. I understood that I have no existence apart from the universe. “I” died. Master called me one morning. He put his hand on my head and said “I have emptied you. You have become me. Now go into the world and be a beacon of light unto the darkness of ignorance. Be like a tree that gives shade to the woodcutter and the nursing mother alike. You have no separation from me. We are essentially one. I gave you emptiness, which made you complete. Now I give you freedom. Be free.”

Govinda’s story

Govinda was a classmate of Vamadeva. Same age and size. They were close friends right from the beginning. They bathed in the river together and slept in the same mattress. They even had a bit of resemblance to the extent that some thought they were twins. Govinda was a few months older than Vamadeva. But, he behaved as if he was the elder brother which Vamadeva accepted and allowed.

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When they grew up and both moved to their late teenage years, Govinda started developing love interests while Vamadeva fell in love with isolation and silence. At every opportunity, Vamadeva would withdraw his mind from outside materials and would plunge it into the inner pool of consciousness, while Govinda would be busy chatting up with his girlfriend who was the daughter of a shopkeeper not so far from the Guru’s ashram at Varanasi. Many times, he tried to bring Vamadeva to his path of pleasures in vain.

Vamadeva had no interest and he was getting deeply settled in the pool of inner silence and making his mind float on it like a log of wood, unattached to anything. Slowly but steadily, as his dependency on the outside world reduced, his mind was getting dissolved into the pool of silence. His mind matter became lesser day by day and finally, it totally dissolved in the pool. The technique of swimming in the inner pool of silence was delivered by his guru Shantananda in silence. One day, Shantananda nodded to Vamadeva to come to him in his room. When he entered his room, Shantananda was sitting on the floor on a rug in lotus posture with his eyes closed. He stood in front of him until he opened his eyes. It took a good half an hour. He nodded Vamadeva to sit facing him. When he settled down in lotus posture, Shantananda looked into the eyes of Vamadeva. He was probably measuring the depth of the pool of silence. His eyes penetrated through both his eyes into the inner ocean. Vamadeva sat mesmerised. Shantananda plunged into the ocean of silence that was waiting to be explored inside his disciple Vamadeva. The waves of the ocean of silence roared and rolled in silence at the steady stare of Shantananda. He was activating something. He was delivering as well as collecting and removing the remnants of sound from the pool. Vamadeva felt as if he is floating, whirling uncontrollably and dissolving. He dissolved. He had no awareness of his body or what happened. Total stillness! Unbound joy of stillness! No person, no personality, no world outside. Only when there is a personality, there is a world outside. We witness the world according to our personality. Everything dissolved. Only silence existed. The sound of the ocean was silence. When Vamadeva came back to terrestrial awareness, it was well past midnight. His guru had left the room. He sat there much longer, until daybreak just being in silence without the push of thoughts in total and complete bliss. He knew that he had arrived. His guru has given him the greatest gift. He had arrived. The consciousness that he has been searching for within, had LANDED! Gratefulness welled as salt water in his eyes. It started flowing onto his cheeks. When he heard the sound of guru and his fellow disciples leaving for bathing in the ghat, he also got up to accompany them.

Govinda could not understand the sudden change in his friend neither did Vamadeva explain anything. His lack of interest for almost all worldly things came as a big time confusion for Govinda. He tried his best to make him sane. He even introduced some of the prettiest girls of the neighborhood to Vamadeva and took him to places of pleasures. Nothing worked. Vamadeva remained as aloof as ever, but never denied his company for Govinda’s pursuits. Vamadeva was more like an inevitable shadow for Govinda – inevitable yet, non-interfering.

The key to Govinda’s charm was his ability to predict future. It was partially skill and partially intuition. But, it always worked. Starting from his girlfriend who later became his wife to even the old and toothless women who would check with him if there was marriage in their cards; all were enchanted by his prowess. It was Gautama who initiated Govinda into astrology as per the instruction of Shantananda. The guru’s assessment was accurate, as always. He had known that Govinda will lead a terrestrial existence immersed in his personal glories and accolades. What he gave to Vamadeva was exactly what he came there for. Every disciple always got exactly what they deserved.

Govinda’s journey was colourful, but not always very smooth until his marriage. The shopkeeper father-in-law of Govinda never really liked him. His talkative nature and display of power to predict did not go so well with him. He believed that Govinda was an upstart and would eventually abandon his daughter for other women. In those days, two or three wives were a status symbol. He understood that Govinda may walk that path to show off because he ate, lived and bathed on applause. Hence, at one point in time, Govinda had to elope with his girlfriend and get married at a temple in the next village. Vamadeva was his companion in this adventure too. Even though silent and preferring isolation, Vamadeva was never afraid. Likewise, all the display of romance of Govinda never created any ripple of desire in the still consciousness of Vamadeva. Finally, when he came back, the helpless father in law was forced to accept his flamboyant son-in-law. That was the beginning of Govinda’s settlement in the city of Varanasi as an established soothsayer visited by the rich and the famous as well as the poverty ridden classes of the society. He was a good man with a good heart. He helped selflessly. Eventually, he became rich and popular and lived happily with his wife and children.

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Govinda always cared for Vamadeva even though the latter preferred isolation and silence. Later on in his life, whenever he could catch hold of Vamadeva, he would bring him home and get him to give lectures on philosophy to an audience he would gather effortlessly. But, more often than not, Vamadeva would recognize his hidden agenda of meeting up with a girl or forcing a matrimony and would escape from the place. Often, Govinda never told Vamadeva what to expect and invited him to his house in the pretext that his wife has been inquiring about him or that he has not seen Govinda’s children for a long time. Vamadeva loved children and he could not deny such invites. When he would arrive there, there would be lots of people waiting to see him or attend his satsang. He would immediately take a U turn and disappear or if Govinda’s grip was firm, would escape whenever he could. After a few years, as Vamadeva wandered away from Varanasi, they did not meet for a long time. They did meet one time before Vamadeva left his body at the age of 49.

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The Farewell

After 14 years in the presence and guidance of Shantananda, it was time for Vamadeva to leave. Govinda had left the school before he got married. Vamadeva stayed on bathing in the pool of silence of his guru and the tradition. He also nurtured new disciples in the absence of Gautama. Unlike Gautama, he was a man of silence. Hence the students liked Gautama’s classes much more than Vamadeva’s. Vamadeva was almost like his guru – always engaged in unshakable silence.

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It was the day of departure. Vamadeva felt no emotions. The world that he was deeply involved in was within him. There was nothing outside that he considered as his own. When the old maid asked for a cloth, he gave his only spare cloth to her. Why did he have to  worry? The heat was inside and he was always basking in the inner heat. How could the outside cold bother him?

Shantananda’s words were very few, deep and pregnant. He said in his deep and matter-of–fact tone. “Never give into pretentious images. Stay true to your true image which is formless. Do not display yourself or your stature easily to people. If you do, it will only enhance their expectations over you. It will not enhance their inner silence. Reveal yourself to those who are ripe and ready to dissolve. Then, they would need no display to know who you are. Walk the path inside. There is nothing outside to conquer. You have already earned your throne. The throne is eternal. You will always be watched and protected. You need not to care for anything. You need nothing because you have become everything. You have nothing to do with the pretentious world. You have nothing to do with the worldly possessions. You have to visit your parents one last time, serve them for a year before you start your journey, thus completing the dharma of a son. You will not stay in one place for more than three days. You will not develop attachment towards anything. You will have followers and not disciples. Even though you are a Raja yogi who is established in silence, you will be known as a Jnana yogi. In your next incarnation, you will be a complete Raja rishi. But, do not worry about any of these titles, name or fame which are all earthly lures and bindings. Be always aware of who you are and stay true to your true image.”

“From now on, you will be known as Atmananda Chaitanya and will be recognised as an Avadhoota.”

Shantananda took his vessel filled with sacred water from Ganga, took some in his hand and sprinkled on Atmananda’s head. He took two flowers, did some silent chant and gave it in his hand and sought Guru Dakshina (offering to Guru). Atmananda took a pomegranate out from his cloth bag and put it at the feet of his guru. He prostrated full length at his lotus feet. The Guru accepted the offering of his disciple; put both hands on his head and said “Be blessed. Be a blessing. Be useful and live the life of purpose until you leave this body at the age of 49. You will again meet me in sookshma (subtle) before you leave the earth. When you see me, you will know that it is time for you to leave. Prepare yourself and leave within two days after. Go now. Do not look back. You have nothing left here to take. Whatever you need for your life ahead, you already have. You are self- sufficient. YOU ARE FREE.” SELF SUFFICIENT… SELF SUFFICIENT…. ACCOMPLISHED… FULLY ACCOMPLISHED… FREE… FREE… FREEDOM… these words kept ringing in his empty inside for a long time, as he left his Guru’s abode with a heart brimming with gratitude. He sat for a while on the banks of Ganga. He looked at her for a long time. Slowly, stepped into the water and dipped himself many times. He drank lots of water. Wiping himself with his only towel, he wore the only cloth over the wet underwear and started walking towards the direction of his home and parents.

Gratitude
M

Disclaimer:
Atmananda is a fictional character created by Mohanji to explain the Tradition. Any resemblance to the living or dead is purely coincidental.

Born from FIRE

Mohanji Fire
Be one with the elements when you are in your body and you will remain in equanimity with the nature.

Atmananda Chaithanya was taking bath in a river with disciples. Standing completely naked facing the river, he was washing his few terrestrial possessions – a loincloth and a towel like cloth. He had nothing beyond that apart from a vessel and a small cloth bag. He usually tied the cloth around his waist. One of his five disciples who was next to him said to him, “Maharaj, others are watching you.” Atmananda turned around, looked and laughed, “To see what?” and as if to himself, muttered “Foolish people. Senses drag their mind and total slaves of senses. What can they see? Nothing.” Unaffected, he washed his clothes, tied the wet clothes around his waist and climbed up to the river bank. He sat down on a stone, away from people facing the rising sun and meditated, totally absorbed and oblivious of the movements around him. Time went by. Atmamanda continued to meditate. The rock started to get hot.

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Atmananda Chaithanya was taking bath in a river with disciples

Atmananda was still absorbed in his state of Samadhi. His disciples stood around him until the external heat became unbearable and the fire of hunger started heating them from inside. Finally, one of the disciples named Panduranga gently came close to Atmananda and whispered in his right ear, “Deva, the rock is burning hot. It may affect your body. Please get up”. Slowly Atmananda opened his eyes and looked at his disciples struggling to stand barefooted next to him because of the heated up rocks upon which they were standing.

“If you are born from fire, no sun can burn you. I am born from fire”
“If you are born from fire, no sun can burn you. I am born from fire”

He smiled, “If you are born from fire, no sun can burn you. I am born from fire”. Then he stood up, and started walking. A few steps later, he turned to Panduranga and said, “Be FIRE. That is the secret. Nothing can ever burn you. Nothing in life can dampen you. This is the unquenchable fire of the spirit. This is the fire of our tradition. The white fire.” Panduranga could not clearly understand. He humbly requested his Gurudeva to explain it further. Atmananda did not explain, but casually said, “Your body is made out of elements. Be one with the elements when you are in your body and you will remain in equanimity with the nature. Be one with all elements and they cannot hurt you. Only when you alienate yourself from the very elements that you are made of, your body suffers. Imbalance in elements causes diseases. Beware.”

Atmananda was a wandering monk and the 5 disciples always moved with him. Many others came and joined his group and left him after some time. He never cared about who came and who left. When people came, he shared “food” with them. That was his only sign of approval of anyone’s company. No other approval or disapproval. He just flowed and others flowed with him in absolute faith and surrender.

Atmananda was a wandering monk and the 5 disciples always moved with him.
Atmananda was a wandering monk and the 5 disciples always moved with him.

Once, while wandering, Atmananda was sitting at a village park. The park was in front of a row of shops and one among them was a sweet shop. Panduranga loved sweets and his eyes constantly wandered towards the decorated stalls displaying colorful sweets. Atmananda was sitting with his back towards the shops. Yet, he said, “When the eyes have focused with the mind on an object, the man is lost to temptations.” None, including Panduranga knew the depth or purpose of this statement and nor did Atmananda explain it in detail. And spontaneously, he took out some coins from his cloth sack and asked his disciple Aruna to fetch him some sweets from that shop. Aruna was surprised. In his experience, he has never seen Gurudeva using money, especially for the sake of a sensory pleasure. Yet, he always never asked his Guru “WHY”, so he immediately got up and left for the shop while the others sat around the Guru.

Aruna reached the shop and asked the shopkeeper to pack some sweets that he thought will suit his Gurudeva. The elderly shopkeeper was a very pious Brahmin. He saw the attire of his customer and presumed that Aruna is a wandering monk. While packing the sweets, he asked a few details about him and Aruna explained about himself and his Gurudeva in a few sentences, sufficient for the shopkeeper to get an idea. The shopkeeper handed over the sweets, which were more in quantity than the value of the money that Aruna had in hand. After receiving the packet, Aruna tried to give the shopkeeper the money, which was refused by the latter. He said, “Please allow me this opportunity to surrender my humble offerings at the feet of a great soul, your Gurudeva.” He called his teenaged granddaughter and asked her to handle the shop and set forth to meet the Guru along with Aruna.

When Aruna and the shopkeeper came near the shade of the tree where Atmananda and his disciples were sitting, as soon as he saw Atmananda, a strange kind of recognition dawned in him and the shopkeeper prostrated at the feet of Atmananda in complete humility. He said, “Deva, my life is complete today. You are Lord Dattatreya Himself. I am ready to leave my life at your feet this moment”. Atmananda blessed him and said, “Rama, (His disciples were surprised that their Guru knew the name of this shopkeeper), two steps above and two steps below. One step in the center. This is all you have. When you leave the five steps, you will become me. Nine steps above and eight steps below. One step in the middle. When you complete the 18 steps, then you will become my father. I and my father are one.” Rama started crying like a baby. This is exactly what his Guru had taught him when he was a child. Atmananda’s disciples did not fully understand the meaning. Yet, they kept quiet. Atmananda hugged the sobbing Rama. Aruna and others had never seen their Guru involving so much with anyone. They were surprised and wanted to know their past connection. Yet, they were afraid to ask Atmananda.


The show ended abruptly. Rama left. Aruna handed over the packet and the money that he could not spend to Atmananda and Atmananda immediately opened the parcel and started distributing the sweets to everyone except Panduranga. Panduranga was the one who craved for the sweets and he was the only one who got nothing! Panduranga craved in his mind at least for a crumb. Atmananda ignored him totally and did not even look at him. Atmananda and the four others completed the whole box. When Aruna tried to hand over one piece to Panduranga, Atmananda turned and said, “Yours for yourself.” (This statement was karmically perfect.) One of the disciples whom Atmananda called Kali had tremendous suppressed anger even like a volcano inside him. Atmananda kept him close to himself without permitting any eruption! He never liked sweets. Even he was given more and more. Only the one who wanted the most got nothing.

None of the disciples understood the strange behavior pattern of Atmananda. But, since devotion towards their Gurudeva was absolute, they were never concerned about it. Yet, mind always wanted answers.

Panduranga had joined Atmananda’s group when they visited a temple in the middle part of India.
Panduranga had joined Atmananda’s group when they visited a temple in the middle part of India.

Panduranga had joined Atmananda’s group when they visited a temple in the middle part of India. When Panduranga met him for the first time ever, Atmananda looked at him and called his name. He said, “I have eight years and you have eight years. Come with me and go before me.” Panduranga, as if hypnotized by Atmananda, left what he was doing at the temple and followed Atmananda without even a spare cloth in his hand. His faith took root and grew into a giant banyan tree in moments. It became unshakeable in no time.

As they walked out of the temple, a businessman came, prostrated at the feet of Atmananda and offered him two clothes, one for below the waist and one for above, a few coins and some fruit. He blessed the businessman, gave the clothes to Panduranga, kept the coins in his bag and distributed the fruits among his disciples.

They travelled together just below eight years before they reached this place. They travelled through many parts of India. Atmananda taught them nothing specific. Yet, the disciples picked up many jewels of wisdom from the way he lived his life which transformed them day by day. Simplicity was his style and total unpredictability of the master kept them grounded in the present. This also helped them to stay fluid and flexible.

Atmananda was always on the move...
Atmananda was always on the move…

Three days was the maximum Atmananda stayed at any place. At this place, near the river, Atmananda stayed for almost four days. Each day morning, the elderly shopkeeper brought fresh sweets and some food to Atmananda. And Atmananda distributed the sweets to everyone except Panduranga. Food he shared equally with everyone. And there was always sufficient to appease the hunger of all. They ate only one time a day, as true Yogis did.

Regarding the distribution of sweets, this is not the first or second time such a distribution has happened. In the whole eight years they were together, Atmananda never gave a bit of sweets to the desiring disciple Panduranga. And it was not many times that they received sweets too, except sometimes from temples as offering, which everyone got, including Panduranga. But, his craving was for sweets of the sweet shop, the colorful ones. Panduranga was disappointed to his worst extent by the seeming discrimination of Atmananda.

On the third day, Atmananda sent Aruna to the shop again early in the afternoon, with the same coins that he had given earlier to him. Aruna hesitated to accept the coins as he knew that the shopkeeper Rama would not accept them. Moreover, he has been delivering sweets and food to Atmananda and the group every morning without any cost. Yet, beloved Gurudeva’s words cannot be and should not be questioned. There has to be a higher purpose, behind his every words and actions. Aruna walked towards the shop. The shop was open and the elderly shopkeeper was missing. He called out, “Anyone inside?” The granddaughter of the shopkeeper came out. Aruna asked for her grandfather. She told him that all her relatives including him have gone for a wedding in the village. She also said that most of the sweets have been sold at the wedding to fulfill a commitment order from the bride’s family.

The shop had very little sweets left. For a moment, Aruna admired the devotion of the elderly businessman whom Atmananda called Rama in offering fresh sweets to Atmananda that very morning despite his commitment to provide sweets for the wedding which was his business. He also wondered despite getting the regular quota of sweets in the morning and consuming them as before, why did Gurudeva send him back to the shop to buy more, and that too by paying money? Anyway, some questions need no answers. All you need is absolute faith beyond questions. And in the tradition, the question “WHY” itself signifies disconnection from one’s Guru and fall from the golden tradition of total nullification. “WHY” always happens out of mind, intellect and ego and never out of devotion.

Aruna asked the girl at the shop to pack whatever was available, paid the money and left with the packet. The girl had no problem in accepting money. She looked at him just as another customer. This was around 5PM, almost time for Atmananda and his disciples to go for their bath and evening meditations. When Aruna brought the box of sweets and handed it to Atmananda, he immediately transferred the full box of sweets to Panduranga and said, “It is all yours. No more desires unfulfilled”. Receiving this precious gift from his Gurudeva, Panduranga cried like a baby. He fell at the feet of Atmananda and begged his pardon for nurturing thoughts of hatred against his beloved guru. He apologized over and over again for considering him as partial and cruel. Atmananda smiled and said, “Have your sweets. It is all yours.” Panduranga ate a lot, and when he wanted to give some to others, most of them denied saying “you deserve the whole”. Panduranga was deeply satisfied. It was a feast for him. He could not eat it all. He ate almost half of the packet and saved the rest for another time!

If you flow with time, time is your friend. If you do not, time is your foe.
If you flow with time, time is your friend. If you do not, time is your foe.

After the evening prayers, Atmananda called Panduranga and said, “If you flow with time, time is your friend. If you do not, time is your foe. Have you kept time? Now release time. Time cannot not be held by man. Only immortality can hold time. Remain Blessed. Be Immortal”. He asked Panduranga not to sleep that night and meditate facing the north.
At the time of subtlety, the time of Brahma (Brahma Muhurtha), when they woke up, they saw Panduranga still meditating in lotus posture. When they tried to wake him, he fell backwards. His body had frozen. His soul had left!

The elderly businessman Rama Shastri arranged for a proper funeral of Panduranga on the fourth day. At the funeral Atmananda said to Rama, “His only desire on earth was sweets. He had transcended all other desires. If this last desire was also fulfilled, he would have left his abode (body) much earlier. He had to serve me for 8 years and hence I kept him in his abode. Now, he has to leave ahead of me. His last wish is fulfilled and has attained immortality”. It was only then his disciples understood the reason behind this whole drama.

Even though slightly perturbed with the dynamism of these events, when they were securing materials for the cremation of Panduranga, Aruna asked Rama, the elderly businessman, what Atmananda meant by “two steps above and two steps below. One step in the center. This is all you have. When you leave the five steps, you will come to me. Nine steps above and eight steps below. One step in the middle. When you complete the 18 steps, then you will become my father. I and my father are one”.

Rama replied, “I do not know if I have the eligibility to explain this code which the Maha Guru, great saint who walks with you told me. He is Supreme Datta himself. He is verily Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva themselves. I shall explain according to my understanding. Pardon me if I fall short. Our physical body is controlled by the 5. Five praanaas, five koshas (sheaths), five senses, five elements, five chakras of color apart from the higher colorless ones so on and so forth. He told me that I am staying at the fire, the middle. The step in the middle is the space of fire. I have to burn my ego and samskaaras as well as all identities and go higher. I have to nullify everything. I have reached half way. I am lucky. With the blessing of our Maha Guru, I would effortlessly cross over the air and space also and would attain fulfillment in this life and merge with him.”

Progressing into the path of complete dissolution...
Progressing into the path of complete dissolution…

“He also reminded me that in my path of complete dissolution, I have to travel 9 more steps. We are operating from the outside nature and our own inherent nature. Nature stays in various aspects. Every organ has its own nature. Nature of the eyes is different from that of ears. Likewise, every organ has its own unique nature. Every feeling has its own nature and flavor. Mind has its own nature. Each person has a different mindset. Likewise, intellect, ego, emotions, feelings, pain, happiness, have their own nature. Collectively each man has one unique nature. All of us base ourselves on this multiple nature as well as one nature. This is where we are progressing from – into the path of pathless.

In our tradition, 18 signifies completion. Beginning from the first birth until the last body we ever take on earth, the total completion of various aspects of various lifetimes attains its ultimate completion when soul merges with the supreme Parabrahma. 18 also signifies our inclinations, various aspects of vasanas. We have to cross over even the minutest of Vasanas to attain Brahma. 18 is also 8+1 = 9. It also signifies Nine avatars of Maha Vishnu and then comes Kalki, Kalki being a state and phenomenon, it signifies the dissolution with the 10th. Ten = 1+0 which means one, unity or back to the original form. Thus, I may take another 9 births or with the grace of our beloved Bhagawan who has come as Guru to us, much lesser births. I am not worried. As long as I have His grace, I am ready to take another million births too.” Aruna admired the wisdom and understanding of this elderly businessman. He had truly recognized Atmananda. Exactly 8 months after this, Atmananda also left his body and thus fulfilled his initial words to Panduranga.

Aghora Babaji – Rama Shastri’s story

Aruna and Kali were deeply interested to know about the shop keeper Rama Shastri’s Guru. While preparing for the cremation of Panduranga, Rama Shastri narrated. “Our Guru Maharaj Atmananda knows him. It is HIMSELF. Nobody knew his name. He was called Aghora Baba by the villagers because he was mostly naked and sometimes wore bizarre clothes on him. He used to carry a skull in his hand and people were afraid of him. He had many spiritual powers.

He was not exactly my guru, as I was just a small boy of 5 or 6 years when he was walking on this land. I believe he left his physical body, some say he just disappeared along with his disciples, when I was 13 or 14 years old. One day he and his group just disappeared from this place. Nobody has seen them ever again. Physically our Gurudeva Atmananda is much younger to me. So, there is no way that he has seen Aghora Babaji.

“If Babaji commands that the sun shall not rise again, the sun will obey. He is an avatar. Do not fear him. Worship him. He is our protector”.
“If Babaji commands that the sun shall not rise again, the sun will obey. He is an avatar. Do not fear him. Worship him. He is our protector”.


Babaji was my grandfather’s and also my father’s Guru. I was afraid of him and always avoided him whenever he was close by. He lived in this burial ground; people say that he brewed and drank alcohol, smoked and also slept with many women. There used to be almost 25 people with him all the time and many were women of various ages. His eyes always used to be blood red, and looked as if under the spell of alcohol. I even heard that he did many bizarre rituals in the night, where he performed fire ceremonies stark naked in the funeral fire. People say that they have seen him dancing in the fire too. He had a small thatched hut right here where he slept” He pointed at a space at the burial ground.

My mother’s younger brother – my uncle – hated him. I have heard him telling my mother, “He is creating prostitutes here in our village. He sleeps with many women and all men and women do naked rituals in the night with him. He drinks alcohol and uses other intoxicants too. He is immoral. He should not be worshipped. Do you want our young Rama to follow these bizarre habits? You should make your husband and your father-in-law understand. He is not a good guru to be with.” And hearing all these, my mother used to get terribly worried.


When I started recognizing Babaji, he was already perhaps in his 60s. He wore dreadlocks, a scar on his chest, unkempt hair and beard. I have often seen food particles stuck on his beard. Fierce eyes, a bit athletic in structure of his body and reasonably muscular – was his physical form. There used to be many women with him, and most of them wore saffron. And the men who walked with him also looked doped and almost always wore nothing except a shawl around them. This was a strange group. The way to my teacher’s house (gurukul) passed near this land – the burial ground of our village. I had to go via this way every day. No choice. I and my friends used to shiver in fear whenever we heard some sounds from here. We used to have bad dreams about Babaji coming and killing all of us and eating our flesh. Later I realized that even my mother used to have such dreams, which I came to know when I overheard her explaining it to my father. My father laughed and said, “If Babaji commands that the sun shall not rise again, the sun will obey. He is an avatar. Do not fear him. Worship him. He is our protector”.

His blood shot eyes made us shiver...
His blood shot eyes made us shiver…

“One day, I was perhaps 10 or 12 years of age, I and my friends were walking by the burial ground, we landed up right in front of Babaji. His bloodshot eyes made us shiver. One of my friends even relieved urine in his cloth. We tried to sneak past him. He said, “STOP”. We shivered and stopped. He was alone. He called me near him. With trembling knees, I went close to him. He gently took my hand with a lot of love and kindness and instead of the stench of unkempt body that I had expected considering his looks, it was the fragrance of celestial flowers that oozed out of him. His eyes penetrated me with compassion. I lost all my fears. He held my hand and told me the same words our Gurudev told me – which you heard. Exactly the same words! “Rama, two steps above and two steps below. One step in the center. This is all you have. When you leave the five steps, you will become me. Nine steps above and eight steps below. One step in the middle. When you complete the 18 steps, then you will become my father. I and my father are one.” Even though I did not fully comprehend the meaning of these words, it stuck firmly in my memory. He made that possible.

Now, I truly pity my uncle and others who criticized him and despised him publicly and privately. They missed the chance of many lifetimes. They were too absorbed in the superficial incompatibilities, pretentious morality and non-comformities based on their mental notions. They were in the cages of their own mind. Self-created cages of numerous conditioning. Babaji’s aim was perhaps to shatter these conditionings. Total ignorance made them miss it in this lifetime. When will they get another chance? I clearly understood from my father that if we cannot develop the eyes to see beyond the superficial obvious, we miss the opportunity. Especially with Lord Dattatreya, the supreme Parabrahma.

The journey from being mankind to the state of a kind man is not difficult. Awareness is the key.
The journey from being mankind to the state of a kind man is not difficult. Awareness is the key.

Aghora Baba and Gurudeva are one and the same. He came back in this form to bless me and my family again and I got the good fortune of serving food to Him. Before my grandfather died, he had said, “Babaji will never leave your hand. He will watch over you through time. You will meet him again before you leave your body too.” I knew at the bottom of my heart it is true. I experienced the same fragrance when Gurudeva touched me. It is all one. All are verily Datta. Babaji came to destroy our concepts and mind and take us to higher awareness and now Gurudeva is doing the same. I understood that the bizarre lifestyle was to protect him as well as those who followed him. I even feel that the women and men who lived with him naked in the burial ground were not humans. They could be celestial beings. I believe this was Lord Datta and His followers enjoying a terrestrial existence, just like our Gurudev. The fragrance that emanated from his body was unmistakable and totally celestial. Jai Gurudeva Datta. I hope some day, I will have inner eyes to see the glory of my Lord and all the small doubts of my silly mind will vanish for good. It is never easy to understand a Datta Guru, unless they choose to reveal their true stature. In that way, I have not been lucky to see beyond the physical dimension. Unfortunately, our eyes can only see the superficial substance. But, I am satisfied with this confirmation that Babaji has appeared again to touch me and love me. My life is fulfilled. One more thing which you may already know. There were no sweets in our shop yesterday. We had taken everything for the marriage. What you bought had appeared miraculously which my granddaughter does not know. What she gave you happened there just because of the will of our Gurudeva. It was a miracle for sure. That way, what Panduranga consumed before his death were no ordinary sweets. They were celestial sweets. Such is the love of our tradition which provides for us to the minutest detail. All we need are eyes to see and a non-judgmental mind at all times”.

When he said that Rama Shastri had tears in his eyes. Glory be to Lord Datta and His many avatars.

Soul is one. Manifestations are many. When soul manifests in many, normal eyes will see it as many. This is the illusion that binds us and makes us suffer. This is the ignorance that stands as a tall wall between us and the supreme brahma. One soul manifests through all beings because each body helps a different experience.

Take care of the sick, the old, the abused and the abandoned of all species. This will elevate your awareness. Let there be no gender and species differentiation in your mind. Lack of differentiation means Freedom!

Love Unlimited to All of You
M

Soul is one. Manifestations are many.
Soul is one. Manifestations are many.

Disclaimer:

Atmananda is a fictional character created by Mohanji to explain the Tradition. Any resemblance to the living or dead is purely coincidental.

A Siddha of Himalayas and A Farmer’s Son

Atmananda’s Memoirs – The story of Mooli Baba

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.”

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 named after 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 thought to be a mad beggar. But then we realized that he is not begging at all. Instead, he is buying only one particular vegetable – radish – with the money that he dished out from his own rough shoulder sack. We used to wonder how he had 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 visiting 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 it’s 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 was. 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 in 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 need no answer. Questions that do 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.

Mohanji - A Siddha from Himalayas blog - pic 8
“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, if a bit of kindness can ensure our liberation,  should we be rude, and have unkind words tilt the whole equilibrium of our entire 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 Brahma muhurtha (day break) tomorrow. You will have no dearth of wealth.” The whole family came and prostrated at my feet and I left them and walked away into the moonlit village path, towards the north.
I love YOU
M

Disclaimer:

Atmananda is a fictional character created by Mohanji to explain the Tradition. Any resemblance to the living or dead is purely coincidental.

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“… and decided to be on my way”