Some old devotees of Babaji, who had known him in the early days, used to tell of his love of movement, the way he changed his residence from one part of the country to another, staying in one place for a while and then moving again.
They would mention the names of several places where he is said to have spent parts of his early life, and also the names by which he had been known.
Their regret was that they did not know all the places where he stayed and all the names given to him. They were emphatic that no one except Babaji himself knew them, and he would not reveal anything.
There is nothing unusual or unnatural in such movement by saints.
Saints, or realized souls, have no attachment for any place or person. For them, all are the same.
Saints who are not living the lives of householders do not have the problem of moving family members, transporting household effects, being tied to assets or property, or setting up a new household. There were no such problems holding Babaji; he was free to move. But what was the purpose or the motive behind his movements? We can only speculate about it. There is a class of people in society who run from place to place using assumed names to escape the clutches of the law. They are lawbreakers—outlaws. But no one who had ever had any glimpse of him could imagine that Babaji was moving and changing names to escape the dragnet of the law! The saints are guardians of the Creator's law and live as faithful law-abiding citizens, binding themselves with all the laws meant for people living in society. This is necessary for peace and harmony, for the paths of our sadhana here and for the ultimate goal of life—union with the divine. The saints, working for our upliftment, teach us obedience to the laws of the family and take care to separate the spurious from the real, the substance from the shell, so that the full benefit of obedience to the rules of the household and society can be achieved.
We have to seek for clues elsewhere. It was not for evading that Babaji moved about, but for obeying in full spirit the self-imposed law which was working on him, with no allowance for any lapse in its fulfillment. One of the reasons that Babaji was a fugitive was to escape from the people gathering around him. If he stayed at one place for a long time, he would attract people with all their cares and offerings, and they would try to bind him by creating a new family around him. All that was left was to stealthily run away without leaving any trace of the route he had taken.
He hinted at something like this at Kainchi in May 1972. We had just arrived from Allahabad. He was sitting before the bathrooms surrounded by devotees. After the preliminaries about our journey and the distribution of prasad, he looked me in the face and said, "Dada, next winter I shall not come to Allahabad anymore."
My reply was, "So do not come. What is the difficulty in that?" Some people were not happy with my reply, and when Babaji did not come the next winter, they started saying that I had prevented his visit.
On hearing my reply, Babaji kept silent for a while and then said, "Dada, take leave for six months, so that we can move about visiting places. I love movement and do not like to sit at one place." After some time, while talking to others, he got up and caught hold of my hand. Before moving, he said in the presence of all, "Do not be sad. I have been coming there regularly for the last fifteen years and this is not good for a saint. Meeting too often creates an attachment, and attachment is not good for saints."
The way the whole thing was done was unique, and gives an insight into his way of dealing with us which we seldom noticed. That he would not come next winter was not given as an announcement from the 'higher' one, but was extracted from me as if with my full consent, with his patting and cajoling me. In our hurry, or in our desire to talk to or hear him, we missed this delicate and human aspect, a part of him which was all but unknown to us. His reference to attachment was our attachment for him—not his attachment for any one of us. He had no attachment for anyone or anything, so there was no need of saving himself. It was only to save us from our attachment to him that he stopped coming to Allahabad.
Who knows but that this was not a hint of the coming event, when he snapped the root from which all our attachment sprang. He wanted us to cut our attachment to his body, and the belief that his body was there for us. The container, however precious or attractive, is not the substance we aim to acquire. We are told to set aside the container by taking hold of the contents. When we could not separate them, or failed to let go of the shell, he snatched it away himself and threw it off. The real Babaji is always with us and cannot be lost. Only the imitation one which stood before us creating illusions is gone.
Children play with sugar dolls, choosing them by form and size—the outward look. But wise ones smile at the ignorance of innocent children who are taken by the look without knowing what lies within. The dolls are merely the outer form of the real thing—the concentrated and congealed sweetness. When the doll the child is playing with breaks, he cries. All is lost. A dear one comes, picks up a chip of the broken doll and puts it in the mouth of the crying child. He gets the taste—the sweetness—that is the real thing the doll has. He forgets the unbroken doll he had played with and begins to collect the sweetness.
We think ourselves to be wise, not realizing that we are also behaving like the ignorant children, tied to the form and look of the things we value. When someone out of sheer mercy puts a chip of the broken thing in our mouth, we get the taste of the real thing. Enjoying the taste, we forget all that we have lost or left behind. The real wisdom dawns only then. The saint, coming as benefactor or guru, teaches us what is real and what is superficial in his bid to keep us from shedding tears over broken dolls. This is the grace of the near and dear one in our lives.
In September 1973, when Babaji announced his decision to leave Kainchi for Agra, no one could believe it. It was so sudden. They did their utmost to persuade him to postpone the departure by a day or two, but he was adamant. He had a date which he himself had fixed; he had to be present at Agra the next day. He allowed only one young devotee to accompany him. This was unusual for the older devotees, who considered themselves so very near to him that they couldn't believe he could leave without one of them with him. Little did we know that there was no attachment for him, no near and dear one holding him back. He played his game so skillfully that most of us felt we were his near and dear ones, and he could not do without us.
Babaji's excessive zeal to keep to his date and brush aside all resistance may help us to understand what made him a 'fugitive' or a 'tramp' in the first place. His way of helping others in distress was by adhering to his own law; it was his most sacred duty to be obedient to it. He had dates with many persons in many places which he had to honor.
This might appear as a make-believe explanation, but there does not seem to be a more satisfactory one. Sometimes the date was at some solitary place, alone with someone. Others may have been in places among unknown persons, and yet others before witnesses. I shall offer some stories to illustrate his way of helping others in distress by adhering to his own law of keeping his dates.
Once when we were in Bhumiadhar, Sharma, a taxi driver and devotee of Baba, came one morning for darshan. Babaji came out and sat in his car, asking me also to get in. While driving, Sharma stopped the car at several places, thinking Babaji would get down for his morning toilet, as he had been doing for the past few days. However, on this day, Sharma was asked to proceed, and until the last moment did not know Babaji's destination.
After some driving, he was asked to stop at the side of the road under a tree. Pointing at a building covered by trees, Babaji told me I must inform the person there of his arrival. It was the quarters of the doctor in charge of the nearby Gethia Sanatorium. He was busy brushing his teeth, but hearing of Babaji's visit, he came running. Babaji accompanied him to his quarters, which was some distance from the road, and told him he wanted to stay there to rest and would not meet with anyone, so the doctor should not inform anyone of the visit or allow anybody to come. I was asked to send the driver back after telling him not to talk to anyone of Babaji's visit here.
When I returned after sending Sharma away, Babaji told me that people would now know and start coming here. When I told him that Sharma promised me that he would not talk to anyone, Babaji shouted at me, "What do you know of his promise? He will go to a tea shop and while taking tea he will lose no time in telling them that Babaji is in the doctor's house, and how he had brought him there driving in his car. He will say this is a secret which he is telling only them, and they must not talk to anyone. Then reaching Bhumiadhar he will tell others of his secret and he would do this because of their kindness to him. I stopped them from coming with us, but now they will come." When I reminded him of Sharma's promise, he retorted, "It means nothing to him. He'll forget it at the first opportunity to talk." All this was being enacted with full gestures and mimicking the tones of Sharma.
The young doctor present there with his wife and sister-in-law enjoyed it in full. When this was over, they came out of the room and asked me what prasad they should prepare for Baba. They had milk and some fruits in the house, and the market being far off, they could not get any sweets at this time. When assured that milk and fruits were enough, they felt relieved. Babaji was new to them—a very distinguished guest honoring them by visiting unsought—and they were at a loss to know how to entertain him. A glass of milk for Babaji was given to me, and they brought some fruits on a plate. Babaji took the whole glass of milk, gave them each a fruit with his own hand, and asked them to leave the plate with him. The way he talked and gave his attention and prasad to everyone, it did not take much time to release them from worries and tensions the unexpected visit had created in their minds. Now that they knew his needs, they were able to return to their work with all enthusiasm. After they left, Babaji told me that they were very good people, but did not know what they should do for his meal and other things for him, and that I should advise them about it.
Then the doctor said that a couple of nurses of the Sanatorium had seen Babaji come in and were waiting for his darshan. Babaji told him to bring them and he gave them prasad of the fruits and sent them away. This was just the beginning. Soon other nurses and staff members started coming. They were given a couple of puris and some potatoes as prasad. Babaji told me that soon people all around would know of his stay and come crowding and it would be impossible for the doctor to give prasad to all. "He has got a jeep in the hospital—ask him to send it to Kainchi." He told me to advise the driver that he should tell them that prasad—puri and potatoes—should be sent in plenty, along with some persons in his jeep. They should not delay.
People were coming in small numbers and getting their prasad. I also had my share at breakfast. Then it started raining, perhaps to save the family from embarrassment by checking the flow of visitors. After a few hours the rain stopped and the sun began to shine and people resumed their visiting. By the middle of the day many had gathered and more were coming, but the timing was perfect: the jeep with baskets of puris and buckets of potatoes arrived. There was no difficulty in giving prasad to everyone. In a short while, with so many persons returning with their prasad, it looked like a bhandara going on.
Someone came and reported to me that two mothers had come from Kainchi and were waiting under the trees, drenched by the rain. I brought them to the doctor's sister-in-law, gave them clothes to change into, and made them sit there with them. They had heard a little late that Babaji was here, and were caught in the rain when they started to come. There were no shelters or conveyances available to them, so they got drenched. When I told Baba about it, which of course he had already known, he shouted at me, saying, "It was a mistake for you to bring them here. When I told them they should not come, they have come on their own. They should go back like that." People were left wondering why he was annoyed when the right thing was done in giving shelter.
The bhandara continued until afternoon. I was busy meeting people, seeing to everyone getting prasad, talking to some, and moving from one place to another. I noticed a very tall, healthy-looking person moving behind me, as if trying to talk to me but not getting his chance. When I stopped, he greeted me and asked wherefrom I had come. Hearing that I was from Allahabad, he said, "You are Dada! I have heard of you," and he touched my feet! As he was talking, Babaji shouted for me, so I ran away. We did not get a chance to talk again.
It was getting late and we were to return. The ashram jeep which had come with the additional supplies of prasad was standing by the road. The tall man sought Baba's permission to come with him, but was told to go to Kainchi and stay the night there. We returned to Bhumiadhar, and Babaji sat before the temple giving darshan to all. The tall man I had met at Getia, Brij Mohan, as I came to know his name afterwards, was coming on foot. When I reached the temple, Babaji told him to go straight to Kainchi and spend the night there, so he continued on his way. Late that evening, we returned to Kainchi. Brij Mohan had already arrived and was sitting before the temple waiting for Babaji's darshan. Babaji told a boy standing there to give a room to Brij Mohan and when food was ready, to feed him. After his food, Brij Mohan tried to acquaint me with how Babaji had helped him in the most critical period of his life.
He had been a poor village boy, more or less an orphan in one of the worst situations of his life when, "An unknown person came as a messiah and rescued me from my utter distress and then vanished. That was more than three decades ago, and I never knew who the person was. I am a rich man now with a prosperous business and with large property in land and buildings, giving me plenty of rent. I live with my family. They are all the gifts of that unknown person, whom I recognized only a half-dozen years ago as our Baba, the great saint known to us as Neem Karoli Baba."
While he was narrating how he had his first darshan at Dehradun station, Babaji shouted for me and I had to run. Brij Mohan waited for me for a long time, but could not wait for any longer, as he told me afterwards. The next morning, after taking prasad, he had to leave. I expressed regret that I could not hear the whole story. I smelled something uncanny about this affair, something like my encounter with the unknown visitor at Dakshineshwar who forced me to take mantra from him. Both of us had been in our earlier years of life, in some critical situation, or critical period of life. In both cases, the course of life was laid down on sound foundations. Brij Mohan displays his assets in the form of land, property, money and assets in the bank. I cannot boast of having such things, but I am not stranded. Babaji has admitted me as a member of his large family. We share and enjoy with each other the assets and properties of the family of which we are members. Everything we need, with all the security and anything more one could want. These were the idle thoughts and speculations that rushed to my mind at the time Brij Mohan left with his story untold.
When I came to Babaji's room, he asked me what Brij Mohan had talked about, and what I thought of him. I told him the little he had told me and said, "He was keen to talk and I was equally keen to hear him, but you cut it short." He said, "What had I to do with it? People tell all kinds of stories, making much use of their imaginations. You become interested in them, as if there is nothing else for you to do." I was sorry for missing Brij Mohan's story. Babaji gave me his warning but would not deprive me of listening to his devotees when I was keen to hear them. I can never forget that my knowledge, whatever that may be, had come from just such contact and the stories I heard from his old devotees.
I returned to Allahabad in August when the university reopened. A few days after my return, when I came back from the university, my mother had told me, "Brij Mohan has come from Shri Nagar to meet you. He has gone out after his meal and will return soon." He returned when we were taking our tea and stayed for a couple of days. This way his first visit, but he came again several times afterwards.
Brij Mohan had received help from an unknown person under unusual circumstances when he was desperate and utterly helpless. He narrated, "This could only have been some divine dispensation. This realization came much afterwards. I was young and much too obsessed with my own distress when this person came to my help. There was no thought of knowing or inquiring who the person was and why the help had been given to me. All my thoughts were focused on my good luck, the fortune that I had acquired, and in measuring and testing it. When an unknown hand rescues a drowning person from a flooded river, the only thought that comes to mind is that he is saved—he is alive." By the time he thought about it, the man with the helping hand was gone. Brij Mohan did his utmost to make me realize the enormity of the help he had received, and how he got lost in his own thoughts, taking no notice of the man who helped him. He was left guessing until he found his savior in 1960.
Brij Mohan was born in a village in Gharwal in a family of modest means. As a young boy he came to Mussorie for his education and was living with a relative. One day he went to Dehradun with his school team for a match with the boys of a local school. They came on bicycles, but before reaching the field his cycle broke. He felt very helpless, and as he had borrowed the cycle from a friend, he told the teacher that someone else should play in his place because he had to get the cycle repaired.
"At a cycle repair shop the man said that a part was broken and had to be replaced, and the charges would come to one rupee eight annas. It came as a thunderbolt to me. I had only a four anna bit in my pocket and the friends with me were in no better position. The place was new to me, and I knew no one nearby whose help I could solicit. The cycle had to be repaired, and I must earn the money. But how was I to do that? I remembered what our teacher used to tell us about students in the western countries. Many students worked, earned pocket money, and even paid part of their education expenses. They were not as dependent on their relations as we were. The various kinds of jobs mentioned by the teacher that the boys used to do there were not open to me—newspaper vendor, hotel boy, or polishing shoes—but something had to be done quickly.
"Ultimately I decided to go to the railway station and work as a porter. For a Brahmin boy, this was very repugnant. I told the man at the cycle shop to repair the cycle and accept my woolen pullover, which was much more costly than the money I was to pay him, as earnest money. He was a kind man; seeing my helplessness, he agreed to do that.
"While going to the station, which was not very far away, thoughts started cropping up in my mind. When would the trains arrive? What kinds of passengers would be on it. Who would engage porters? How heavy would their luggage be? These thoughts filled my mind and I took no notice of the places I passed through or the persons living nearby. Reaching the station, I entered the crowded platform. The main train was coming, so people were getting busy. I stood on the platform in front of the gate waiting for the train to arrive so I could run to my task.
"In a few minutes, the train stopped and the first class bogey stood before me, as I learned from the porters who were rushing toward it. I became nervous, fearing that I would not get a chance with so many persons who were clever in their job. I stood silent, more or less giving up all hope of finding anyone to engage my service. Several minutes passed, the crowd in the front of the bogey had thinned down, and seeing no more passengers alight from it, the porters moved away. I was standing there, not able to decide what to do, when someone shouted at me, as if to wake me up, "Are you a porter? Come into the train." With great surprise and renewed hope, I looked for the person who had called me. He was tall and bulky, and spotlessly dressed in a black suit tailored by expert hands. A colorful tie, black shining shoes, a felt hat, and the way he talked to me, assured me that he must be very noble and generous and would help me out."
We two were sitting in the study when he was narrating his story. He was getting emotionally worked up while describing the appearance of his benefactor. Seeing me sitting silently, he felt discouraged, fearing I was indifferent to his talk. I assured him that I wanted him to narrate faithfully the details of his meeting with the person. My silence was due to the scenes that were passing through my mind's screen of the events of 1935 at the Dakshineshwar temple, but I became all attention to his story.
"When I got to where the man was standing, he pointed to a small bedding roll and an attache, and asked me to carry them for him. Both were light. I had carried heavier loads on my back in the hills. At the gate he gave his ticket and was allowed to go out, but I was stopped there. The ticket collector hurled a question at me, 'You are not a coolie. With whose luggage are you running away?' I had no reply and felt very nervous. The gentleman standing outside only looked at the man asking the question, and I was immediately allowed to go. While walking behind him, I looked neither right nor left. My whole mind was occupied in figuring out how much I was going to get, and whether that would be enough for me to pay for the repair of the cycle. I had no idea how much a porter earned for a trip.
"After some time, we came before a small bungalow among tall pine trees and stopped. He told me to put down my load on the porch and go, saying that I should meet him the next morning for my fare. This was a big shock. I was almost in tears in my disappointment, as I had thought that my troubles were over. All my agonies returned. I felt that he was treating me like this because I was such a small boy, but there was no way of quarreling with such a big man. I was standing there unable to decide what to do when suddenly he turned to me and said that he had forgotten to pay me. With this, he took a new five-rupee note and handed it over to me. I could not believe that the whole of it was for me. Seeing me hesitating, he said the fiver was for me, and I was not to return anything from it. I was expecting a nickel when the gold coin came. Now I had so much—a windfall! I returned without looking to my right or my left, as before, but now I was only thinking how much was I to spend, and on what, and how much to save.
"These were the questions turning over in my mind. I forgot to look back—to look at my benefactor and the house and the locality I left behind. I rushed to the repair shop and took my cycle and the pullover after paying the charges. There was time enough for returning home so I went to a sweet shop and ate sweets to my full satisfaction, as if it was a celebration of my liberation. I spent a little more purchasing something for the children at home. After all my expenditures, I had two rupees three annas left in my pocket.
"While traveling back home, my friends were busy narrating all the details of how they had scored a victory over their rivals on the field. There was jubilation all around, but for me it was of a different type. My mind was occupied recalling my experience, and I was eager to tell my story, which was so fresh in my mind. When that opportunity did not come, there was no jubilation for me. At home, I was asked to take my food, but I felt both my stomach and mind were full and I needed nothing."
"Life returned to normal—the routine of study and going to school, attending to household duties, games and recreations; these were enough to keep me engaged. I had tried in the beginning to share my adventure with others, but very few persons took it in the light as I had seen it—as the working of some divine spirit. All persons, young and old, emphasized that the help I had received might have been unusual for me, but it was not extraordinary. There were always some generous and large-hearted people around and sometimes help came unsought from them; charity and mercy were not extinct from life. There were many examples of such charities which they could quote.
"All my efforts to convince them were futile, and I was advised to be sensible. They said that the man must have been a very rich and high-placed person and the five rupees that I received were just like a copper which he could easily part with. They assured me that it was foolish on my part to associate the hands of a sadhu or an unknown spirit with my luck.
"The matter ended there for me, but I could not brush it away fully from my mind, or bury it deep in some obscure corner of my heart. Whenever I was free to be in a relaxed or happy mood, the old picture came before me of the outstretched hand passing a new five rupee note to me. The poignancy of the experience was increased because at that time in my part of the country there was a story in the mouths of all about a drowning man being saved by an unknown divine hand. My distress was in not being allowed to connect the hand giving me protection to any divine hand. Had I been able to do that, my problems about the mystery of the hand would have been solved, and in my mind I would have enjoyed the good luck that had come to me as divine grace.
"However much we may denounce the common people's beliefs—benevolent and hostile—as superstition and ignorance, they have an advantage over us. We, the educated ones, boast of our disbelief, and do not take anything for granted without testing and scanning things fully. Where is the place for superstition and false beliefs in our searching minds? I do not envy their minds, but I do sometimes envy the uneducated who face the problems in life not with hair-splitting logic, but with simple faith in the divine hand and trust in God. They face all the challenges of life, and struggle to rise above them, believing fully that the results of their actions are not in their hands. If they come out victorious, they thank the divine for his grace; when something goes amiss and sufferings come to them, they take it to be punishment for some lapses on their part or sins committed in some unknown time. The sufferings are also to be taken as grace, and God is to be thanked for helping them bring about retribution and purification. I envy these people, and regret that I cannot be fully like them—trusting in some divine power to take care of me even in moments of utter depression."
Brij Mohan narrated the story of how the divine power worked to save the drowning man. A roving sadhu came to Badrinath from his parikrama (circumambulation) of the sacred places and temples in the mountains. He stayed for a few days by a stream not far from the Badrinath temple. Seeing him often sitting in the open before his dhuni (sacred fire), some devotees began coming to him. One afternoon, a village woman came with some fruits. The sadhu asked about her teenage boy, who had not come with her that day. She said he had gone to town to purchase provisions for his tiny shop near the temple. People were talking to the sadhu and asking him various questions. While replying to them, he suddenly stopped and sat stiff. Sitting there he spread out his hand and started murmuring something, which they could not hear.
A long time passed. Slowly he relaxed his limbs and withdrew the hand that was outstretched. As if much relieved, he told the woman, addressing her as mother, how her son had caused him serious trouble. While returning with his purchases loaded on the back of a donkey, he suddenly fell into the river Alakananda flowing nearby. He was caught in the current and cried for help. "I heard his cry and could not sit idle." The mother was crying bitterly about the passing away of her only son. She was sure that one caught in that current would die either by drowning or by his head being smashed on the rocks under that water. The Swamiji could not convince her that her son was alive and safe, and was being taken care of by a villager on the river bank. He urged her to stop crying and go to the village near Joshi Math.
When she reached the river bank, some persons took her to the house where her son was resting and warming up drinking hot milk. The villagers narrated how her son had been snatched from the jaws of death. The boy exclaimed how he had been saved. "Just when I had given up all hope of being alive, I heard a voice shouting at me, 'My boy, do not get frightened. Do not get disheartened. You will reach the shore safely.' I looked toward the place wherefrom the voice was coming, and saw Swamiji standing in the water, his outstretched hand trying to catch hold of me. Afterwards I lost consciousness.
"When I was conscious again, I was lying on the river bank surrounded by people. I searched with my eyes for the owner of the outstretched hand, but there was no trace of him. Hearing my query, the people said that when they saw me being washed away, they stood there helpless. Suddenly, someone pushed through the crowd and jumped into the river. Stretching out his hand, he began assuring me that I was going to be saved. They said that when I was brought onto the shore, they were all busy looking at me. But when they looked around for the other person, he was nowhere to be seen. They easily accepted the great miracle wrought before their eyes as divine grace coming to a deserving and virtuous person."
Brij Mohan's rambling and wailing narration suddenly stopped as if he remembered something. "My doubts and questions came to an end when I met the owner of the hand which had helped me at Dehradun railway station. Before you can understand how it came about, I must tell you what happened in my life between the period when I was studying at Mussorie and when I met him in 1960. My life was full of hard work and struggle, but many persons who knew me called it a successful life.
"I had completed my education and started my career as a doctor at Shri Nagar in Tehri. I was not a doctor with a degree from a medical college, but only with a certificate from a medical school. Along with my practice of medicine, I also started a business. The business was doing well, earning me money and helping me to build up property. I worked hard, but it was all selfish work, earning and accumulating without any thought of doing service for the benefit of others. I used to hear people speak of nishkam karma (selfless action), but that was not for me. My motto was work and earn. The idea of helping others in distress did not appeal to me.
"The memory of myself as the porter getting five rupees at Dehradun had faded from my mind. I was lost in work and the feeling that I had only to look ahead and move. Along with that, there was the religious life that was part of every Hindu household—pujas, rituals and celebrations of festivals which we observed regularly. Uttarakhand, a land of temples and sacred places, has many sadhus living over the whole area. After many years, when the family members began helping in my business, I started visiting the temples in Kedarnath, Badrinath, and other places. I became acquainted with many of the sadhus, sometimes helping them with money, or giving them blankets, utensils, and such things.
"Without any conscious effort on my part, I became more interested in such things and was drawn toward the sadhus. Shri Nagar is an important place on the route to Badrinath and Kedarnath. Many sadhus passed through every year. I had met many of them, heard their advice and discourses, and had sometimes helped them with provisions. It was certainly not with the aim of earning merit that I visited the sadhus, or made the gifts of charity. I did not attach any special importance to it. But now, looking back, I see that there was a purpose working behind it all which was unknown to me: to prepare me for the darshan that was to be granted to me.
"I am saying these things with much hesitation, and you may consider them foolish, but I cannot help telling them to you. I went to Kainchi for the purpose of seeing Babaji, whom I had come to know unexpectedly, and also to meet some of his disciples who might help me to get over the conflicts and confusion disturbing my mind. I started for Kainchi, but stopped at Gethia. Seeing the crowd and hearing that Babaji was there, I joined them. I tried to talk to you several times, at Gethis, Bhumiadhar, and Kainchi. Failing that, I had to come here. I had heard of you from several of his devotees, and when I sought their help in my difficulties, they advised me to go to Babaji and talk to him, and that you could help me to do that."
Hearing him talk like that I said, "It was good of you to come, but as I see it, Babaji sent you in fulfillment of my request. The party you met at Shri Nagar with Babaji came here after that and talked much about you, so I was actually keen myself to see and talk to you. I tried to talk to you at Gethia and Kainchi, but was not allowed to do so. Perhaps the time and the place were not suitable either for helping you to get over the confusion in your mind, or for helping me to know more about his methods and fields of operation. I need not tell you that the mutual help that we are talking about has been possible only because he has brought us together."
He said that he had been helpless, as everyone is some time or other, and had been seeking help from others. "But help came only when I was at the nadir of my helplessness, and there was no chance of any help coming from anywhere else. I was found worthy and it came. He came in the garb of a meticulously dressed and generous socialite because I was thinking in my mind that the help could come only from such a one. The thought of a sadhu or saint was nowhere in my mind. I wanted charity and it came in that form.
"In Shri Nagar in 1960, many sadhus came one after another, returning back from their darshan. This happened as in other years, but this year was a very important year for me as it was in this year I had Babaji's darshan. One day some friend told me that a baba had come with a party on their return from Badrinath. I asked him about the baba, but he could not say anything about him except that he had heard that he was a great saint. Previously I might not have been interested in visiting an unknown baba, but this time I was. When I reached the house, I found a party of four or five sitting before a man in a blanket on the outer verandah. They were all busy talking. Someone, including the one in a blanket, cast a passing glance at me, but no one talked to me or inquired about the purpose of my visit, nor did they ask me to sit down. I waited for some time and then left without finding out anything about the baba.
"In other times, I would not have thought of visiting him again, but the next day I felt an urge to try. When I reached there he was surrounded by more people than the day before. The man in the blanket took no notice of me, although he had seen me enter the room and take my seat. I sat there waiting for a chance to talk with him, but was sent away after a few minutes. It was again a disappointment for me.
"The next day I went again with some hope for luck. I stood near the door of the room, where he was sitting with others. Someone asked me to take my seat. I thought that was good—at least somebody had taken notice of me. I was not interested in his talk with the others—all I wanted was for him to notice and talk to me. Finally he looked at me and asked, as if casually, 'When were you at Dehradun?' I was taken by surprise at the question. I could not recall what he was referring to. I replied that I was never in Dehradun. He looked straight in my eyes and said, 'What, you were not there? How can you say so? You were waiting at the station platform as a porter to be engaged by some passenger to carry his luggage.'
"I recalled the whole scene passing before my eyes in quick succession. I sat silently without a word in my mouth. He did not wait for my reply but went on talking, 'You had become totally disheartened when nobody engaged you.' Everyone started looking at me, anxious to hear what I had to say, but no reply came from me. As if to satisfy their curiosity, and also to convince me that he knew all the details of the incident, he went on with his narrative: 'When you had given up all hope, someone asked you to pick up his bag and bedding. Seeing the man, the perfect aristocrat, you thought that he was very rich and would pay well—you would get one rupee eight annas to pay to the cycle shop. But after reaching his house, when he asked you to come the next morning for the money, you began abusing him in your mind; he was not a generous man, but wicked, and he was not paying his due because you were a young boy.'
"I do not know the reaction of the others sitting there, as I was sitting fully mesmerised. Everything he said was true in all its details, but how did he know? As if to give me some time to understand that nothing was hidden from him, he waited for a little while and then resumed. 'When he said he would pay you right at that time and gave a five rupee note, what did you think about it? You were thinking the whole of it could not be for you, and you would have to return something. When he told you that you should take it in full, you could not believe it. You thought he was very kind—a very great man. Am I wrong? Getting that money, you were happy. How many rasgollas did you eat? Ten? You saved some money also. How much? Two rupees?'
"He stopped suddenly. Enough had been said to show me that what I thought was a closely guarded secret known only to me was fully known to him. Then he said it was late and I must go. While I was getting up to go, he asked somebody to give me prasad and also a glass of water, which I needed. I returned like a drunk man, not talking to anyone or taking interest in anything. My mind had ceased functioning. That I could reach my house at all was simply because I had walked the road for many years. Reaching home I could not talk for some time or reply to questions put to me. The question uppermost in my mind was who was this baba, and how could he know all those things about me which were true in every minor detail? I was left guessing."
Brij Mohan was narrating, and I did not discourage him. It was necessary for him to talk—a realease from his tension—but it was also very valuable to me. I had seen Babaji for several years at close quarters and shared many secrets with his close devotees. We had built up our ideas about his methods of working and helping people in distress. But what Brij Mohan was saying did not fit in with the pattern we had made of his work. It was for this reason—to find the method unknown to us—that I sat silently, listening to him.
"I was agitated and wanted to know more about that person who had all this secret information about me. How did he get it? Who was he? Was he the same person who met me at the station? But that was not possible, because they were poles apart. Sitting in my room, I started comparing the two pictures in my mind. The man at the station was like a perfect Englishman of class and culture, covered from head to toe. The other picture formed after three days of visits, and sitting before the person for hours, was no more helpful for my study. This man was squatting on the ground with a blue blanket covering the whole of his body, including the feet. His head was not covered, and he would sometimes draw his hands out from his blanket to indicate something or make some gestures. You could see his face with a small beard and a few teeth and his head with a few tufts of hair. The body was covered with the blanket in such a way that you could not peep through it or see the contours of his body nor what his hands were busy with under the blanket. My pictures were useless in my search to know what was hidden behind the blanket. I had the shells, but not the pearls I was searching for.
"When all my efforts failed, I decided to seek help from him first, and then from the persons with him. The next morning when I reached the place, he was not there. Some of those whom I had met the day before were sitting outside, and they told me he had gone out a few minutes back, and it was not known when he would return. When I said that I would like to wait for him, no one objected. It was an opportunity for all of us. They wanted to hear my story and I wanted all the details about the baba whom they were accompanying.
"They heard my story in silence. When it came their turn to talk, they helped me a great deal in satisfying my curiosity. Their baba was known by several names in several places, but to them he was known as Neem Karoli Baba, a great saint associated with many miracles. That they were with him was all due to his kripa (grace), which was always coming to his devotees. When I asked them about the person at the railway station in his English dress, they all said they were sure that he was Babaji himself. They said, 'Babaji did not say anything about it, nor would he talk to you, but know that it was all his doing. You must not worry about it anymore. You are fortunate. You had his grace long back, and now he has given you darshan.' They felt happy at my good luck, and told me about some of their own association with Babaji.
"While we were talking, he returned, and taking notice of me, inquired why I had come again. He said that he was leaving after a short time, and he asked me to return home. When I told him that I was worried and he should allow me to go with him, he said, 'What is there to be worried about? Where would you go with me? Do I have a home? Where could I take you? Go now and meet some other time. Sab thik ho jayega.'
"There was no more reason for me to stay there. When I got up to go, he asked somebody to give me some prasad. I bowed at his feet and touched them with my hands, putting the dust on my head. I can see the feet now. I left after taking the prasad in my hands.
"Several years passed, during which time I met some of his devotees, I enjoyed talking to them and hearing their stories. They advised me to go to Kainchi where an ashram had been built by Babaji, and where his devotees go for darshan. They also told me your name, saying that you might be able to help me in my queries. I met you at Gethia and Kainchi and tried several times to talk to you. Failing that, I have come here. I wanted to talk with you so I could pacify my disturbed mind.
"I believe in everything that his devotees told me at Shri Nagar, and what I have heard about Babaji from many others whom I met afterwards. I have no doubt in my mind that the man at the railway station was Babaji himself, appearing in a different garb because I was praying for a high-class rich person to help me, and not for any mahatma. The Shastra says, 'You see Him in the same way in which you offer your prayers.' My question is: what did I do to deserve his grace? I was ignorant, and from sheer mercy he delivered me, simply because I was helpless. But it was different when he gave me darshan at Shri Nagar—I was not crying desperately for help. That whole period of my life was spent expanding my business with little time or thought of God. The little charity or the few pilgrimages that I had could not have counted for much in getting his darshan and grace. These are my questions, and I request you to enlighten me on them."
I told him that it was not possible for me to enlighten him on his questions. Only Babaji could do that. He sat in silence. All I could do was to emphasise more and more that the baba whom he met in 1960 was the same one he met in the early '30s. The dress was different, but the person within was the same. I said, "You are a medical man. There are various kinds of medicines which are packaged differently, but you know that their substance is the same. I do not ask any questions or seek for any solutions, believing they are not important. Babaji himself will give me any answers I need to know."
He was reconciled at that time after my advice. After spending four days in intensive talks, he left for home. He visited us twice after that but there were no fresh questions and nothing new to report.