By Preethi Gopalarathnam
It’s been my dream for a very long time to experience the Kumbh Mela in all its glory but I didn’t know I was going to get so lucky when I got to know that I could go there with my Guru Sri Mohanji. I think I did win the lottery there!
I got double lucky as by the guru’s grace, we, my spouse Madhu and I, took our two young girls (aged 4 and 6.5) too. There are times in your life when you can sit back and say “That’s it. I don’t want anything more!” that was my state when I came back from this beautiful and sacred pilgrimage.
We managed to take two dips in the Godavari river on mahasnan days (13th September and 18th September). On 13th September 2015, our entire group met Mohanji at the hotel lobby at 3.00 AM in the morning. The kids not only got up promptly but got ready and were in very happy mood which itself is a miracle! I got the opportunity to sit in the Innova which had Mohanji (Father) in it. Therein started what I realised later was Father’s leela! Rajesh had done a recce a day before and he mentioned that we need to park our cars at a parking and walk 2.5 km to reach the ghats. Somewhere in the middle we lost our way and google maps was showing us many different routes!
The car for an outsider would have been comical to watch with Mohanji sitting there, calm and composed and the backseat had three men (Madhu, Rajesh ad DB) desperately trying to get GPS connectivity and hence hanging out of the windows. A little behind the car, a group full of oblivious devotees in the bus with ‘Datta’ the bus driver (an ironic name indeed!) followed chanting in bliss, with no idea about the confusion in the car! At some point Father asked the guys, who were by now beginning to panic, to ask for directions at a few places. Before we knew where we were, we got down and realised that we had managed to park 5 minutes away from the actual ghat in some gulli (lane) which was closed to public. Imagine our surprise that we didn’t have to walk 2.5 km as we earlier thought we should but reached the ghat in 5 minutes and we managed to find a spot for our snan at a place which had very few people. So we could actually take a relaxed dip in brahma muhurth, without the push and tug and the maddening crowd we were expecting. It was unbelievable to say the least!
As Father entered the river for his dip, all of us followed and the whole place was charged with amazing energy. Bhakti, joyous devotion and sheer gratitude for what we were experiencing was evident in every face I saw. Once we finished the dip where each of us had taken dips for our guru and lineage, ancestors, family and friends we came out feeling completely fulfilled and took the blessings of Father our Sadguru.
He was looking so mesmerising with the majesty of Lord Shiva, compassion of Sai Baba the love of Dattatreya all rolled into one; Mohanji our Father, Parabrahma, the light of our heart, in Nirguna and Saguna state. Simply Blissful indeed!
As I was standing next to him I got a very strong fragrance of vibuthi or sacred ash (udhi) and I commented about it to Mohanji. He had a twinkle in his eye when he asked me why I was surprised by it. That was when I realised the significance of one’s own experience. To read about it in books or to hear about others’ experience is good but when you have your own experience it instills the deepest faith in you. I also understood the significance of why it is important to write our experience – the mind keeps questioning and negating and creating doubts all the time as that is its nature. But when you have your own experience and record it somewhere, then it’s not very easy to shake your faith.
Deepest gratitude to my guru, Sri Sadguru Mohanji Maharaj for his grace and love. Deepest gratitude to everything and everyone who helped us in making it to the Kumbh Mela at Nashik.
Our next snaan was another miracle but Madhu my husband has written about that in his experience so I will not steal his thunder!
Another amazing experience I would like to share is the visit to Ganeshpuri on our way back from Nashik.
Father said he would like to spend time with Vasudevan swami (a highly evolved saint at the Nath mandir in Vajreshwari). He asked us to proceed to take darshan at Nithyanand Bhagwan’s (Bade Baba’s) Samadhi and meet him back at Vasudevan swami’s place. It did cross my mind why he did not want to come to the Samadhi mandir after coming all the way to Ganeshpuri. We dropped father at Vasudevan swami’s Nath mandir opposite Vajreshwari temple and went to Bade Baba’s shrine.
As our group had a couple of first timers we went to Kailash Bhavan first to show them the place where Bade Baba used to live. We sat opposite his chair and meditated for some time. The place was as powerful and full of energy as it always is. Numerous devotees have felt and seen Nityanand Bhagwan in and around Kailash Bhawan even to this date. I have had the grace and good fortune of having his darshan too on one such visit. I will write about it separately some other time.
There is a room opposite the bath tub which is sometimes open to visitors. This was where Baba used to sleep. The last couple of times the room was open and we got in and meditated there for some time. I tried to open the door but it was locked. I put my head on the door and peeped in and thanked Bade Baba for this darshan when I got a very strong fragrance of vibuthi once again coming from inside. I instinctively recognised it as Mohanji’s fragrance, the same one I got at the snaan. As I kept my head there I also got a strong smell of sandalwood and after a while I could smell other multiple fragrances coming from the room. Madhu, Nikunj, Arusha and Vidya each put their head there, smelt the fragrance and their forehead began to pulsate as the energy inside was very high. Every single one of us were amazed! At that moment we knew Mohanji was inside with Bade Baba and I felt a couple of other masters were there too. We then went to the Samadhi mandir right in time for Aarti and needless to say the darshan was magical. We left after the Aarti without waiting for the Prasad as others in the group would be waiting for us at the Nath mandir. Once we went there I saw Mohanji and asked him what he was doing at the Kailash Bhavan? To which he replied with the same twinkle in his eyes that he did not have to be physically present at Ganeshpuri to take darshan of Bade Baba. He also confirmed there were a few of them there at the room. It was an amazing moment for me as a reconfirmation of how one’s own experience cuts out the doubts set forth by the mind. By the end of our trip I understood that what we see physically is a miniscule of Father’s stature and presence. I remember what he told me when I met him at the Mumbai centre, “Try to understand me then you will never leave me”. My single prayer to him is to help me understand him, as I would never want to leave him ever and I pray it always remains that way.
To summarise I would like to share this beautiful write-up on the Guru-Tattwa by Swami Sivananda. “ The disciple’s self-surrender to Guru and Guru’s grace are interrelated. Surrender draws down Guru’s grace, and grace of Guru makes the surrender complete. Guru’s grace works in the form of Sadhana in the aspirant. If an aspirant sticks to the path tenaciously, this is the grace of the Guru. If he resists when temptation assails him, this is the grace of the Guru. If people receive him with love and reverence, this is the grace of the Guru. If he gets all bodily wants, this is the grace of the Guru. If he gets encouragement and strength when he is in despair and despondency, this is the grace of the Guru. If he gets over the body-consciousness and rests in his own Ananda Svarupa, this is the grace of the Guru. Feel his grace at every step, and be sincere and truthful to him.”
Bless me Father that I feel your grace at every step and remain sincere and truthful to what you stand for. Jai Mohanji!