Then, of course, there was another type of darshan. One day in the early sixties, Babaji came out of his room and he looked like Hanuman. I had heard from so many devotees that Babaji was an incarnation of Hanuman, but Didi and I still had our doubts.
The next day, Maharaj ji asked Didi to scratch his back. She found his body to be so bulky, so big, that she was actually perspiring while trying to reach her hand across his back.
In 1968, Didi did not go to Kainchi during the summer; she was in Allahabad with her mother, so I came alone. It was the day of the June fifteenth bhandara, the anniversary of the inauguration of the ashram.
After taking his food, Maharaj ji went around the ashram checking on all the activity and visitors.
Afterward he went to the riverside and sat on the wall. He talked about an old devotee from Unnao: "He is an old man now, but people say he was the leader of the dacoits, taking money from the rich and distributing to the poor. He defended the helpless although he terrorized stronger people. He used to carry two revolvers, one licensed, the other not. I told him he should surrender one. He read the Ramayana very well. He used to read it for me."
Then I.C. Tewari, an old devotee who has since died, said, "He's the person whom Babaji once asked to read the Ramayana. When he asked, 'Baba, wherefrom shall I read?' Baba said, 'Read from the part where I am talking to Vibishan.'"
After that we were walking around and Babaji caught hold of my hand. When he did that I would sometimes experience such a heavy pressure that I felt my hand would break. He was leaning so heavily on me, I was afraid that if I fell down, he would also. It was early afternoon and we came before the mandir where many people were sitting. Babaji sat before the Shiva temple, my hand locked in his. He said, "Baitho, baitho." [Sit, sit.] I wanted to extricate myself, but could not.
There were a number of persons whom I knew sitting there—Vrindaban Baba (the old Hariakhan Baba's successor) and many others. Now I was feeling as if I were suffocating, as if my breathing were coming to an end. My hand was so tight in his grip that there was no question of getting free. Then I saw, not Babaji, but a huge monkey sitting there, long golden hair over the whole body, the face black, the tail tucked under the legs. I saw it clearly. I closed my eyes, but still I saw it. After that, I don't know what happened.
At ten o'clock that night, I found myself sitting alone down by the farm. Purnanand, from the tea shop, came and said, "Dada, here you are. We have been searching for you all evening." He took me back to the ashram.
Babaji had not gone inside his room yet; he was sitting on a cot and many devotees were around him. As soon as we came across the bridge and near the temple, somebody said, "Baba, Dada has come." He just said, "Accha, thik hai." [Very good.] There was nothing to take notice of, nothing to be excited about. I was feeling very depressed. I didn't want to talk; I just wanted to be alone and go to bed.
The next day Gurudat Sharma and Siddhi Didi and others kept asking me what had happened. They told me that we had been sitting there in front of the Shiva temple, surrounded by many people, when suddenly we were both missing. Then Baba and I were seen walking on top of the hill. An hour or two later, Baba returned alone. I knew what I had seen—that it was actually Hanuman. It was not a dream, not a mistake. How the time passed, I do not have any recollection.
The next day the normal routine started again. On the third day, I was alone with Babaji in his room. I said, "Now look here, Baba. I am not interested in your miracles. I have had enough. I know you are Baba and that is all I need."
This was the end of a stage in my journey. Now I had to come to accept that Babaji was more than a human being—that he was superhuman, a divine incarnation. When I would think about him in this light, new difficulties arose. Being what he is, why did he go out of his way to show us his grace, his compassion, his help and assistance? For me, there was no question of asking him for anything, at least not for myself. I would act as the spokesman on behalf of many of the Mothers, the westerners, and other persons, but I never asked anything for myself. Babaji would say, "Dada, what do you want?"
"Tell me, what do you want?"
"Tell me, I know what is in your mind."
"So why are you asking me then?"
He said, "Oh, I was just asking."
From the first contact I had with him in 1935, and during the second stage from 1955 when I came to know him, I resisted him. He took so much time, but he never gave up or abandoned me. After having his darshan as Hanuman in 1968, whatever doubts I had cleared away and my whole perspective changed. I was not afraid; I would speak openly and frankly to him. One day Mr. Barman told me, "Dada, you can talk so easily to him, but we are frightened."
I said, "What is there to be frightened of? We make mistakes, we make blunders, but he is so very indulgent, so very forgiving, he doesn't mind our lapses. Doesn't he know what is in my mind, what I am going to do? If it were wrong, or unworthy, he should have checked and prevented it in advance. Is it not so? Therefore, I am not frightened."
From the beginning at Kainchi, Maharaj ji had the Hanuman temple, a Lakshmi-Narayana temple, and a Shiva temple. Much later a Devi temple was built. He told me, "Dada, the people in the hills do not accept and worship Hanuman ji as God. They say he is nothing but 'monkey, monkey.' They are devotees of the goddess, Devi. So long as there is not a Devi temple in the ashram, many will not come. But there is a difficulty in that the people often sacrifice goats in their Devi puja." So he had a Devi temple built there, but it was called Vaishnavi Devi, the devi that does not touch meat or take sacrifice.
The murtis of Hanuman and the other gods and goddesses are considered to be alive. But how do they come to be alive? In Bengal, at Durga puja and Kali puja, murtis are made of clay, straw and bamboo sticks. In my childhood days in the village, I would help in collecting and gathering straw for the elders to make the murti. The last stage was painting and dressing. When the murti was to be installed as Devi, the priest came and did the ceremony, pranpratishta, that is, bringing pran [life breath]. Until then it is not Devi, just a statue. The puja brings breath, making it living. But the love and devotion of the devotees also makes the murti live. Hanuman ji and the others would be just statues if they had not been consecrated and made alive by devotion and love.
In Allahabad, near Rambagh Station, there was an old Hanuman temple. Maharaj ji used to call the Hanuman murti there "Controller General." He often sent people to see it, saying, "Go and meet Controller General." It was a very old temple on a high pedestal with narrow stairs and not much space, so a new temple was proposed. Ojhaji was on the committee, along with Mr. Barghav, and they came to discuss the project with Babaji. They thought there should be a new murti also, but Babaji said, "No, no. No other murti. Take this Hanuman ji there."
Mr. Barghav didn't like the idea, so he said, "Maharaj ji, I cannot decide this myself. I shall put it before the committee."
After some time, Barghav came and said the committee did not approve; the old murti was to be left and a new one installed. Maharaj ji said, "Thik hai, if Hanuman ji wants, he will come there himself." A few days later, the old temple collapsed and, although the murti fell down, it was not harmed. There was then no alternative but to install it in the new temple.
One morning, Maharaj ji, Mr. Barman and I started to drive to the newly constructed Hanuman temple in Kakriaghat, not far from Kainchi. The river which ran beside the road was in high flood stage and was saffron-colored from all the sand in it. We reached a place where the flood waters had covered the road with sand and our car became stuck.
Babaji said to me, "Chalo, I must urinate." To Barman, Baba said, "Don't worry, someone will come and get us out." After an hour, we returned and found that the car had been removed from the sand by some boys. We started back to Kainchi and came to a depression full of water. Maharaj ji said, "Take the name of Hanuman. Take the name of Hanuman." We drove safely through the water, but as soon as we made it across a big slab of rock crashed down onto the road behind us. Babaji cried out, "Hanuman has saved us!"
I happened to glance at Maharaj ji's hands and noticed that his palms were bright red. [The palms of Hanuman's hands and the soles of his feet are bright red.] Barman also noticed, but I motioned him to keep silent.
Back at the ashram, Vikram Soni had been waiting with a car to take us to an appointment with the Sonis in Bhowali. Seeing him, Babaji began abusing me, saying, "You made us so late. You did not remind me we were to go." While at Soni's in Bhowali, Maharaj ji had taken his food and lay on a bed, telling me to sit beside him. Mrs. Soni saw that the soles of his feet were very red. Thinking Babaji was asleep, she asked me to come to the other room to talk about it. As I started to get up, Maharaj ji shouted, "Where are you going? Stay here!"
Back at Kainchi that evening, the Mothers noticed how red his feet were. When asked, Maharaj ji said, "I was walking in the sand. That is how they got so red. If you do not believe it, ask Dada."
When they asked me, I said, "Of course it is true. But I was also walking on the sand. Look at my feet, they are not red."
Babaji shouted, "Oh, Dada is in league with you. No one believes me."
In March 1972, two days before the Holi celebrations, Babaji told me, "Ask your friend to engage a taxi for us. We start for Amarkantak tomorrow morning at six. The taxi must be suitable for a long journey." My friend returned in the evening saying the taxi had been engaged. Babaji told him the taxi was not a good one, but he argued that it was indeed praiseworthy.
The taxi arrived the next morning. Siddhi Didi, Jivanti, Ganesh and I were ready. While getting into the taxi Babaji said, "It is not the right taxi." The driver and the others argued, "There is nothing wrong with it." We all got in and started.
All through the journey Babaji was saying the taxi would not reach Amarkantak. The ladies were worried. After going 35 miles, Babaji said we must return. It was a great disappointment and the Mothers began pressing me to ask Baba not to return. But we turned around and started back. Suddenly Babaji asked the driver to turn to the road going left, heading for Chitrakut.
Babaji was talking to me all the time, the others were silent. It was late in the day. We had about 10 miles more to go to reach Chitrakut. Suddenly a heavily-loaded truck collided with the taxi and the engine was smashed. The taxi and truck were locked with each other. A large number of people gathered around and started wondering about our miraculous escape. The taxi driver was fighting with the truck driver for for the loss of his taxi, although it was actually the fault of the taxi driver. The truck driver said, "You are fighting for your money, which comes and goes, but think of how your life has been saved. There must be some divine being sitting in your car."
We were not thinking of our own escape. There had been a big jerk, but no physical injury to any of us. When all the quarrels and arguments started outside, Babaji suddenly said, with some excitement in his voice, "How Hanuman has saved you all! He has saved your lives, but He has also spared me from a great punishment. How could I have faced Ma, Maushi Ma and Kamala if I had returned alone? The Mothers would have asked me, 'Baba! Where have you left our sons and daughters?' Kamala would have said, 'Baba, what have you done to me?'" It was a very memorable thing to see him so stirred and talking of Hanuman's grace.
The taxi was tied to the back of a truck and we reached Chitrakut, staying in Shiva's temple with Ram Roshan Baba. The ladies began preparing food and arranging beds. The river was in front of the temple. Babaji and I sat out on the ghat. It was a full moon night and everything was bathed in moonlight. Peace and serenity reigned everywhere. Babaji said, "Dada, you are liking this place. This is a sacred place. You can breathe the air and feel how everything is sanctified here." It was our fifth visit here, but it somehow felt different.
The next morning was Holi. Many sadhus gathered around Babaji and Ram Roshan Baba. Babaji asked me to get jaleebis and sweets, but Ram Roshan took the money from me and said he would get them. The Mothers told me to ask Babaji to take us to Hanumandhara. I said, "He makes his own decisions and I never interfere." But we did go to Hanumandhara.
It was a long journey, with dust, thorns and pebbles, Babaji was in a dandi and I was walking beside him. The ladies and Ganesh, with the food basket, were coming behind. We reached the foot of the Hanuman murti, carved out of the hill with a stream flowing at his feet. Suddenly he asked, as if waking me up, "Dada, are you liking it, are you enjoying it? The Mothers are badmash. They wanted us to go to Amrkantak. How could I go when Hanuman ji has called me here?"
March 1972 was to be the last time Babaji physically stayed in Allahabad, although we did not know it. As usual, there was so much activity, many people coming and going every day. One evening he said, "Dada, there will be Sundarakand tomorrow afternoon. Ask Ma and Maushi Ma and Kamala to finish with feeding everyone so that by two o'clock there can be the Sunderakand."
Rajuda, Mukund and other persons were there and they said, "Dada, don't worry, we shall arrange it."
I answered, "What is there to worry about? Hanumanji himself will be there, he will arrange everything."
Later that evening my nephew Vibouti returned from his evening walk with a picture that a restaurant keeper in the Civil Lines area had given him. It was a calendar with a picture of Hanuman ji on it. I took it and automatically removed the calendar part from it. While I was doing so, Maharaj ji said, "Dada, what is that? Bring it to me." He looked at it and said, "Hanuman ji has got lost; I also have got lost. Put it up in the hall for the Sunderakand tomorrow." But twice or thrice he asked to see it again before it was put up. He said that after the Sundarakand it was to be framed and kept up in the room.
While we were talking I asked him, "Baba, shall we invite this person, shall we invite that person?"
He shouted at me, "Is it your daughter's marriage that you are going to give invitations? Whoever is to come will come. You are not to invite anybody." But after the storm, the soft showers came and he said gently, "Dada, you don't understand? There will be so many persons that there will be no space in the hall."
The next day all the devotees who were there were fed. Mukund was in charge of playing the harmonium and leading the kirtan. He was expert and efficient in that. Everyone was sitting and waiting for Babaji to come and they wanted me to go and bring him. The tucket was empty, waiting for Hanuman ji to come and take his seat. I went to his room to bring him. Now when Babaji had first come to Allahabad from Vrindaban in November or December, he was wearing a black blanket. As was her habit, Maushi Ma had a new blanket for him to wear, which she brought to his room. He said, "Maushi Ma, this is a very good blanket. Keep it for a while, I shall wear it afterwards."
They argued back and forth, but Maushi Ma was adamant. "You will not wear it, you will give it to somebody. I shall make you wear it."
So finally he allowed the blanket to be put on and kept it for a few minutes. Then he said, "Maushi Ma, is it all right now? Now give it to Siddhi, I shall wear it afterwards."
Maushi Ma was not fully satisfied, but had to accept it. So I had told Siddhi Didi that when Baba was to go for the Sunderakand, the old black blanket should not be worn. She should put Maushi Ma's chocolate-colored blanket on him. Siddhi said, "You say it as if it so very easy, but we can't do it. He will push us away and not take it."
When I came to his room, he was sitting on the cot, others were standing around. He said, "Chalo!" and caught hold of my hand. But I stopped and said, "Baba, change this blanket."
"Nahin [No], it is very good."
"Of course the blanket is very good."
"Baba, we are going for an auspicious occasion, for a very sacred ceremoney, and the black is not considered to be auspicious."
He shouted, "These wretched women! They would not allow me to change it. Maushi Ma has given me a good blanket, I have kept it for today!"
I wish there had been a movie camera to record that entrance. We went into the hall, I was holding that monkey, he was looking this side, looking that side. We two came so slowly, with measured steps. He sat there, everyone was so thrilled, Hanuman ji had come.
When Sundarakand was perhaps halfway through, he got up, saying "Chalo!" It was very disturbing for the singers, but he went out to the feeding area and a cot was placed there for him. He said to me, "You are a fool. You have got those refreshments to give to the people, now the Sundarakand will be over and they will go. When will you give them tea or serve the sweets? Have tea prepared and call them out a few at a time." So he sat on that cot and four or five persons would be called out to take refreshments.
When the Sundarakand was over, the picture of Hanuman ji was framed and placed in the hall. He said, "It should not be removed from here." It is still there.
After my experience in Kainchi, when I came to realise that Babaji was himself an incarnation of Hanuman, I became much interested in the life and work of Hanuman. Of course, I had been hearing the Hanuman Chalisa, which the devotees would sing before Baba and at his temples and ashrams. But before that experience, I could not believe that a human being could have the supreme energy, the supreme devotion, the sense of self-sacrifice and self-effacement to be the perfect servant of his lord and preceptor. Ultimately, I found that whatever I came to know about Hanuman was not by reading the Hanuman Chalisa or the Ramayana, but by living in the company of Hanuman himself and his devotees.