After spending ten years in Germany, I returned to India in March ’96. At this point of time, I looked, spoke and thought like a German. The Guru gave me about eight months to acclimatize, and then he appeared for the first time in this incarnation. Years later, I realized, that it had been a long wait for him, for a Guru loves the disciple strongly, and only the Guru has the strength to wait for decades till the disciple is ready again in his/her new body. When the Guru appeared, the last thing on my mind was discipleship. Then, I was suffocating under the apathy and corruption prevalent in my homeland, and was still coming to terms with the culture shock I had suffered upon returning to India. Yes, India had changed. Parts of it and some of its people had become even more western than the West. The red-tapism and the bureaucracy were at an extreme, but apparently not peaking yet. The slums and the pollution had drastically increased. The country was in shambles. And now I had this monk sitting in my office, asking for a food-donation for one of his Ashrams, which somehow broke some barrier in my system, and I started lamenting about my country in a very loud tone in front of the monk, as if everything were his fault. One thing lead to another, and the dialogue got louder from my side, whereas the monk remained calm. I finally got down to yelling that had his boss, the “amazing” God, and his linage of Gurus, not the eyes to see the appalling state of India and to do something about it? The monk had had enough of the insolence, and he banged his palm against the table (the one and only time I have observed him losing his cool in the last seven years), took out a small paper pouch from his dhoti, took a pinch of “Vibhuti” (ashes from meditation/prayer practice) from the pouch, and gave me the Vibhuti, commanding me to mix it in water and sprinkle it over all the property my family owned. Such was the power of this outburst that I quietened down. During an incarnation in India, the Sanskar of obedience to men of God gets ingrained into the system, and is followed even unconsciously. I obeyed the monk without realizing the meaning of this ritual. A few months later, I realized that the monk had taken my entire family and me into his protection, and the sprinkling of the Vibhuti was the reflection of this occurrence on the physical plane.
Amongst all this commotion, I noticed that the monk was experiencing pain on speaking, and the voice was only a hoarse whisper. Later, I found out that at that point of time, Krishnanandji was in his 21st year of a 27 year fast, in which he would only eat fruit and take milk, water etc., but no “Anna” (even slightly heavy food) as they say. [This fast ended in 2002, and I went to Krishnanandji’s main Ashram in Hardwar to obtain part of the fruit of this fast. During the 27 years of this fast, Krishnanandji was popularly known as Phalahari Baba, or the monk who survives on fruit.] But why the pain on speaking? The monk had just completed another penance of standing on one leg for two years at a stretch, and one result of this penance was that he experienced pain even on speaking. But why undergo such a penance? “So that what one wills happens”, was the exact answer of the monk. Over the years I was to find out that this monk had performed severe penances. He had roamed over entire India bare-feet for six years, surviving on alms. The rules of the penance were that he was only allowed to beg from 5 houses per day for food. If he got nothing, he could not beg from a 6th house-hold, and had to go hungry. Before this, he had spent six years shut in a cave in the Himalayas, the parameters of which barely allowed one to stand. This was after he had gained complete control over his 5 senses and attained communion with the Almighty in 1970. [A few years ago I asked him about life in the cave. He said that life in the darkness of the cave made his practice so intense, that “he began seeing maps of the entire realm of God” (to quote him exactly).] Then, after his wanderings and after establishing the Hardwar Ashram, for eight years he did not lie down, doing everything (even sleeping) while standing. Upon knowledge of this penance, a big “Why would anyone do this?” flashed across my mind. Gurus can read minds, so to answer my question he showed me a photograph of him during the 7th year of this penance. Till above the knees, both the legs had gone totally black with blood clots. [He was burning his disciples’ evil Karma by taking their pain on to his body.]
The monk’s face reflected youth, yet the body and the teeth were of an aged person. He required a stick to walk. When he spoke, one couldn’t help noticing that the structure of the gums was such that the monk must have been practicing Khechadi Mudra for years on end. Upon being asked his age, he went into a trance, emerged a minute later, and came up with the answer that he had been friends with Krishna during childhood, but they had gotten separated, and he hadn’t seen Krishna physically since then!!! [He also added that he had been following my progress since three births!] He lived for 8 months a year in his cave in a forest near Joshimath, and came down to the plains for 4 months a year to look after his Ashrams and give Satsanga to disciples. Apart from the main Ashram in Hardwar, he ran an orphanage in Hardwar, an Ayurvedic hospital in Benares, a cow’s haven (Gau-Shala) in Sonepat, was building an Ashram in Ghaziabad outside Delhi, and planned to build an Ashram in Panipat. None of these institutions were registered in his own name, but under the name of disciples. They were being run completely on donations. Amongst his disciples were the rich and the poor alike, and some of the rich would donate huge sums regularly for the running of the Ashrams. The Ashrams and their responsibilities would become reason enough for the monk to come down to the plains at regular intervals (totalling about 4 months a year), and the disciples would get their Satsanga regularly. It was a beautiful cycle.
Whenever he crossed Panipat, Krishnanandji would drop by at my office and give me Satsanga. A relationship began to build from my side too. Guruji, as I had started calling him now, came again to my factory after my engagement to Nidhi. I told him that I had gotten engaged. He said that this was the happiest day of his life. Much later I would realize the meaning of this statement. Normally I would give a small donation for his Ashrams, but this time he commanded, that it was imperative for me to donate Rs. 11000 at this stage, and I would obtain the fruit of this donation very soon indeed. So forceful was this command, that I made the donation. Upon obtaining this donation, he immediately got up, said something to the effect of “watch how the fruit of this donation is given to you”, blessed me and left. During our courtship, Nidhi and I used to be on the phone before bed-time. A week after this donation, I noticed that Nidhi’s voice was sounding very tired on the phone, and she was yawning away. I told her that there was something unusual about her voice. I asked her to call her father, since I wanted to bring this to his notice. She said that everyone was asleep. Strange, this, at 9:30 p.m. I sensed something, and immediately ordered her to wake her father up that very instant. After 5 minutes a yawning father-in-law came on the line. His voice sounded funny too. Drugged was the word I was looking for. I warned him about what I felt, and he immediately controlled and saved the situation. Actually, the entire family had been drugged by the servant, who had mixed 20 sleeping pills in the food. Nidhi had stayed awake waiting for my call. Had even she gone off to sleep, the entire family was doomed, because outside in the bushes was waiting a gang of four robbers to rob the household (later all were apprehended). This gang was known to kill upon the slightest retaliation by any family member. Since the donation, the commanding voice of the Guru and this incident occurred only a week apart, I knew that somehow the Guru had saved the day. Nidhi’s grandmother woke up three days later, and her mother suffered hallucinations for two days, but the situation had been saved. Thank God, and thanks to the Guru.
The Guru never stops testing the disciple, so there he was again, a month later, with the same commanding voice, asking for another Rs. 21000 to be donated urgently. This was a big sum, and I said that I could not go through with such a big donation at this stage. He said that in that case I should donate whatever I deemed fit. I made a small donation of about 20% of the amount asked. He seemed a bit disappointed, but he left. Within a week there was a raid on my factory by government officials and because some papers were not in order, I faced either a fine of Rs. 600,000 or immediate arrest. An arrest, that too fifteen days before my wedding, could have dampened all future prospects for me. Luckily for me, my father and my uncle controlled the situation and avoided the arrest, but had to shuck out the huge fine to the very penny. It was a big loss. I wished that I had listened to Krishnanandji and had made that donation of Rs. 21000.
In 1999, Krishnanandji arrived with a dark and robust man who started giving me Satsanga. During this discourse, Guruji sat quietly, watching me. I sensed that something unusual was at play. Looking at the dark fellow in the ochre robe, I, then studying physiognomy, saw that his thumbs were those of a dacoit. I then only paid attention to Krishnanandji, not once looking at the dark fellow. After the two had left, I got a call from my grandfather, who asked me to invest Rs. 200,000 on some shares which promised a return of Rs. 35000 within two months. I told grandfather that as a matter of principle, I did not invest on the stock-market. All he said was that for once I should please listen to him. Actually, grandfather was never really forceful, but now, there was forcefulness in his voice. Again that strange feeling that odd forces were at play. I followed grandfather’s instructions and purchased the stipulated shares, making sure that when the promised return of Rs. 35000 was ripe, I cashed in on the Rs. 2,35,000. Grandfather seemed satisfied, and I was beaming from inside, for I now had Rs. 35000, generated out of nowhere, and I thought I would donate them, bit by bit, to Guruji. The next day the dark fellow landed up with another fat fellow, both in ochre robes. They said that Guruji had met with an accident and was lying in hospital. His life was in danger, and the doctor had to operate urgently. The cost of the operation was Rs. 35000, and they had come to me on instruction from Guruji to obtain this money. I promptly gave them my entire earnings at the stock market without any further clarification. They left. Two months later, a beaming Guruji entered my office. He couldn’t have looked better. I enquired about his accident. He said that he hadn’t had any accident. Then it dawned upon me that I had been duped, but on second thought and after meditative insights, I feel that Guruji had focused a chunk of my karmic debt upon the dark fellow, and had then sparked him off indirectly to go and obtain this debt. So that I wouldn’t really incur a loss, the earning at the stock market through an abnormally forceful grandfather came about, again ignited through Guruji, I felt. And, killing three birds with one stone, Guruji was able to test my reaction when confronted with the question of his life, a test which I had passed with flying colours. This was a master-stroke, Krishnanandji, a hole-in-one. Guruji closed this meeting with the instruction that if anyone wearing an ochre robe came to my doorstep (apart from himself), I were to offer a glass of water followed by a cup of tea and a donation of Rs. 11, and nothing else. Sure enough, regularly ochre-robed persons come for donations, and I openly apply Guruji’s maxim of water, tea and Rs. 11.
Between 1999 and 2002, Guruji one-pointedly would concentrate on the value of charity during his discourses. Somehow he would make it a point to make me feel that if I thought that I was one of the most charitable persons going around, I was mistaken. He would then narrate episodes from the classics about when the protagonists of the episodes would donate their children to the gods for sacrifice without wincing, the whole thing being a test for the protagonist by the God. The Gods would return the children unharmed after the test, of course. One protagonist even donated a child to a God only to see the god tear the stomach of the child with a saw, and the protagonist did not shed a tear, thus passing the test and having the child returned to him, healthy, unscathed. Guruji was trying to get it across to me that true charity was done without shedding a tear and without the expectation of a reward, and after the performance of the deed, true charity was soon forgotten by the performer. Any expectation of reward and any pinch felt while making the donation reduced the value of that donation in the eyes of the Lord.
In September 2002 came the big test. Guruji expressed a desire to travel all over India and give Satsanga to as many people as possible. His itinerary was such that this 6 week tour would cost him Rs. 3,00,000. He had chosen three disciples who would finance the trip, each having to donate Rs. 1,00,000. I was one of them. Around the same time, for the first time in my life, I had felt that there was something lacking in my life. Nidhi and I had been married for four years then, and we did not have any children. Both of us had just started to want a child. For the first time in his life, I had an unfulfilled desire. Firstly, would he make this donation? Secondly, would he make it with or without the expectation of the reward of a child? Thirdly, would he feel the pinch of donating the huge sum of money? I had been practicing Kriya then for nine months then and had been a disciple of Guruji for six years. Something must have rubbed off on me, for I recognized the test in its full and complete form. I then made the donation without wincing and without the expectation of any reward. Krishnanandji was able to travel to remote parts of India, feed many hungry persons, and give Satsanga to those who would otherwise never have had the opportunity to meet and hear him. I had passed the test, and the moment I handed him the packet of money, he patted me on the back many times and beamed, brimming with joy and shouting “You have passed the test.”
On the path of Sadhana, the tests get more and more difficult. The current test is the most difficult I have ever experienced in my life, having to do with two Sanyasis having to conceive by physical means. The task is very difficult, and Guruji is using the situation to annihilate as much of his disciples’ evil karma as possible by jugglingly magnifying the situation to cause prolonged but bearable amount of mental pain to his disciple.
Meanwhile, Sadhana and the Guru’s tests have made me partly numb towards the pain, apathy and corruption prevalent in India. Both of these have helped me establish my own mental niche, which is essential for the survival of any evolving soul, especially in India.
Paramhans Krishnananda is a part of our lives. He can barely read or write. His visits are tests. We look forward to them, but know that we will be examined. One cannot define Paramhans Krishnananda.