of Swami Vimalanandaji (left) and Swami Prabhodhanandaji (right)
at Rishikesh, India with his devotees c.1975.
at the Shivananda Ashram.
shown just above my head as the Divinity he is sitting in the shaded
part of the boat as we crossed the splendorous Gangaji.
myself into his presence wherever he was sitting, we ran to meet him and to
hear his discourses on Brahma Gyan, a rear thing in most of Vrindavan.
Once time I was staying in a room at his Vrindavan Ashram enjoying his
discourses, even though my Hindi then was very little indeed! Somehow we
had no difficulty communicating and he always kept me sitting near him
whenever I came.Even after the evening satsang and meal was finished one
was allowed to stay with a very few devotees as he rested and spoke gently
into the evening hours always fanned and served by Swami Vimalanandaji and
Swami Prabhodhanandaji. It was then that he would tell interesting stories and
sometimes make us all laugh adding pure joy to the nights Bliss!!
It was during these days in Vrindavan, that he received an invitation from
Sri Sri Anandamayi Maji to come to her Kankhal Ashram with all his devotees
and give a Srimad Bhagavath Saptha. So, of course I was overjoyed to be one
of those invited to go. Swamiji travelled in his own conveyance with his cook,
and others dear to him. I came with his devotees in the small tourist bus to
Hardwar and we all arrived in the afternoon and were settled into the Kankhal
Ashram rooms each with two or three beds. I was relaxing, happily with these
gentle ladies and someone came to the door and give a message from the
Ashram that foreigners were not allowed to eat in the dining area here, that I
would have to arrange my own meals!
To my surprise the ladies in our room became very upset! They even
wondered why I also was not! But, I had already learned in India that when
the unexpected things happen, that is the time to really watch and see what will
be the will of God! And it is actually when our own plans don't succeed that
the most amazing things happen! Anyway, since coming to India to find a
spiritual teacher, a true Yogi, a real saint, nothing else ever seemed to matter
very much, like food, clothes, or accommodation. I was just always concerned
with having the company and guidance of the saints! When my travellers
checks finished in 1970 I had decided I would stay in India, to be in the
company of saints even if it meant getting a job somewhere here. Strangely
enough being in the company of saints and devotees at that time I never
seemed to need any money!! When a desire came to go or do something
the money also just came!! There are always more lovely places to go and
'sadhanas' to do then there is time to do them. God is truly marvelous and
honestly looks after those who put their full trust in Him/Her! But it has to
be completely faithful, like a child not as if testing God!!
Within ten minutes another knock came to the door and there was another
boy with a message from Swami Akhandanandaji inviting me to have all my
meals with him!! More pure joy from God!! So all of the rest of the days and
nights of the Septha I visited Swamiji at his special cottage in the Ashram and
sat, after he had his food, I would have my meals along with Swami
Vimalanandaji and Swami Prabhodhanandaji.
Actually, the first morning after arrival there I, too went early in the
morning to Maji's cottage, where many foreigners were already waiting to
meet her. They were all discussing how the rules of the Ashram had been
changed and that there was a foreigner staying there!! Some of them were
very upset and all. Soon one of her girls came down and called them to
come forward and hear Ma's new message. It was that Maji, herself, had sent
the invitation to Swamiji and his devotees to come and stay in the Ashram for
the Septha, and that she didn't expect him to have any foreign devotees with
him. So now that I had come she said she would not take back the invite,
and that after I leave the restriction for foreigners would remain the same!
She met me very kindly that morning and remembered our first meeting as
well. She gave prasad always with her own hands graciously as the Divine
Mother. Om Ma!
It was an amazing Septha! The speaker being Swami Akhanandaji and
the listener being Sri Sri Anandamayi Maji!! Ah ho!!
After this Swamiji went on to visit Rishikesh, as you see in the photos,
we all met Swami Chidanandaji of the Shivananda Ashram there. But we all
stayed together in the Swarg Ashrama across the Ganga River. There he gave
discourses for a few days to all the sadhus on Gopi Bhava!
When later I remarked how interesting it was that he never gave that
wonderful talk on Bhakti in Vrindavan, but there he spoke always on Gyan.
He just smiled and nodded his head with a gleam in his eye. Om! Hari Om!
~*~ In Rishikesh ~*~