Skanda Vale and London – Part 2

In the first part of the testimonial, I wrote about Mohanji, catching the plane to Manchester just in time, the suitcase miracle and the amazing Protection Ring story. 

After the delicious meal at the Mexican restaurant, we continued our journey to Skanda Vale through the beautiful rolling countryside of Wales, which was a treat in itself, and we could not tell Rahul, who had graciously consented to drive us, how grateful we were. Fortunately for him, it was like a vacation trip. Just a day away from two busy kids. A win-win situation. I like that.

Arriving in Skanda Vale felt like coming home. At home with dedicated people with a beautiful frequency and at home in nature: a world without Wi-Fi. Although it took some getting used to, it was precisely this freedom from radiation, emailing, and apps that proved to calm my overheated mind. 

The wooden cabin with the bunk bed where I would sleep turned out to be very basic indeed. And quite dark with a small window. The toilet was further down the road in a detached building, and the showers were a little further still. But I was grateful that I had a place to stay, and I was used to some sobriety in terms of sleeping in an ashram. However, I did have a young and flexible body back then. 

Selma had really provided everything I could have wished for: a warm comforter, sheets, towels and even a warm, woolen vest and socks because she knew that could be needed in Skanda Vale. I felt blessed. Vijay and Brother Andy seemed much more bothered by the fact that I didn’t have a luxurious room than I was. I reassured them. After all, I had known about it from the beginning and was not forced to say yes to it by anyone. They wouldn’t hear me whining. 

Fifteen minutes later, Brother Andy came walking up to us happy. Someone had just cancelled, and I was immediately given the key to a beautiful room with a bathroom and a sweeping view of the valley! The building was called Saraswati, which is the equivalent of my Indian Swami-given name Bharati. Everyone was elated, including me, because everything felt so predestined and welcome. And my cold problem was solved because there was heating and the bed proved to be good support for my osteoarthritic shoulders. I slept wonderfully there. 

We slipped seamlessly into the ashram routine, from puja to abhishekam, from Murugan temple to Shakti temple to Vishnu temple. A Shirdi temple was still under construction. We were scheduled for four hours of seva each day that consisted of helping serve and clear food, cleaning, and cutting vegetables; fortunately, these were the only chores that we were capable of, as Nico and I had some disabilities. The heavier work in the gardens or around the Samadhi of Swami Subramaniam was done by fitter and more muscular residents and visitors. 

What dedication among the resident Brothers and Sisters! There was a quiet mood of devotion, seriousness, humor and work ethic. Nothing was too much for the Swamis and Sisters. ‘We just do the work in front of us, and we don’t think beyond that.’ Unceasingly one saw them working in many different places in the ashram. Then again in jeans, then in a sober brown habit or in dark blue rain pants. Rain or shine, the open-air pujas also continue throughout the year with a little bit of adjustment. A high energy frequency is built up and radiates from the area… one would almost wonder why there is still darkness left in the world. 

On Wednesday, Mohanji participated in the Vishnu puja. An elaborate puja for the large statue of Vishnu, who lies on a huge snake surrounded by water. We were seated under a canopy, but the statue of Vishnu was in the open with only the sky as a roof. 

After the puja, all attendees walked to the statue of Dattatreya, situated next to the Vishnu temple. Mohanji would partake in the arathi ceremony and waited quietly for his turn, with his hands in a namaste gesture in front of his chest. He bowed reverently to the statue, and I saw that he was making the same gesture – very subtly – to a small bird that was searching for food under the bush behind the statue, watching curiously as to what was going on. 

The deity had been placed in the open, embraced by the trees and the birds. I looked intensely from Mohanji to the statue and thought of the morning when I had inwardly asked him: who are you? At the time, I had known him only for a few days and knew virtually nothing about him. He answered immediately and unexpectedly, “I am Dattatreya.” I had heard the name dropped but hardly knew who that was and looked it up on the Internet. 

There I found not only all the information about Dattatreya but also the connection with Mohanji and the Tradition. Dattatreya was an incarnation of the trinity from Hinduism: Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva – the creating, sustaining and destroying aspects of the universe. I was truly amazed by the magnificence of his state and since then have not seen him as my big, wise brother as I had initially, but as all-encompassing. In everything and beyond everything. The totality. 

While looking at the deity, the thought occurred to me that Mohanji – as soon as he finished the arathi and came down the steps, would look directly at me and at no one else. There were many of us standing. But he would say something to me. It didn’t matter what. It wasn’t just mind-matter, and it had nothing to do with me. It was a kind of knowing. It would be a confirmation of the inner statement that he was Dattatreya. 

In that high-energy bubble, I followed the puja. Mohanji always confirms one’s state. If it had been only the mind, there would have been some doubt. But there was none. Mohanji walked down the little stairs after the arathi, carefully watching where he walked. At the bottom of the steps, he looked up and straight into my eyes. His gaze confirmed what I had already felt. He and Datta are one consciousness, one state of being. 

He then said, “Nice sari,” which seems like a nonsensical comment in this context. But it was another confirmation. A double one, even. The sari I was wearing I had picked out and put on with love that morning. It had been given to me by Swami Gopal Baba. My Master who had passed away in 2020. An Avadhoota from the same Tradition as Mohanji. Swami loved saris, and when I wore this same color (white, with orange borders) for the first time in his presence during an interview, Swami made almost the same comment. 

Even then, I had lovingly put on the sari for him five minutes before the interview because I knew he appreciated it. And maybe you know how difficult it is to put on a sari, but in those few minutes, I had managed to go up and down three flights of stairs and wrap the sari elegantly around myself. Mohanji confirmed his oneness with Swami, the Tradition and Dattatreya with a penetrating look and two simple words: “Nice sari.” In the same manner, Swami Gopal Baba had always spoken, short and sweet. And with the same loving look in his eyes. 

On Thursday morning, I meditated while sitting on the lower part of the bunk bed in my room. In Skanda Vale, my alarm clock went off at 3:33 every morning. Then I had plenty of time for personal grooming, yoga and Kriya before the 5 o’clock Murugan puja began in the temple. Everyone staying at the ashram was expected to attend the daily pujas. Since I was rather groggy, my eyes threatened to close. I heard inside, ‘Don’t fall asleep.’ I asked, ‘How?’ ‘You can stay awake.’ Again I asked, ‘But how? I fall asleep.’ ‘Fall awake!’ was the surprising and original reply. ‘This is Shakti. It is within me.’ 

How unique! Fall awake. Normally we fall asleep. But for me, that often happens with a little jolt when I sit up. Then one is actually startled awake from falling asleep. And often, because of such a small ‘fall’, I am afterwards clearer and more expansive than before. I thought about it often that day and shared it with whoever wanted to hear it: Fall Awake! 

During several moments that week, especially moments with Mohanji, I was overcome by an intense need to fall asleep acutely. You can understand that I seized all those moments to ‘fall in the vastness of being present.’ It was not easy; I have to admit. Fortunately, everything Mohanji said was so catchy that I had a good reason to want to stay awake. 

More than one week later, back in the Netherlands, I understood the real reason for his words. When I go to sleep, I often listen to Mohanji’s mediation while lying in bed, and within minutes I feel safe and relaxed and fall asleep listening. It felt a little like cheating, but I didn’t want to be too hard on myself and allowed myself my divine ‘sleeping pill’. 

But it turned out to be a bad idea, after all. The body had gotten quickly programmed and seemed to express: when I hear Mohanji’s deep resonating voice, I fall asleep! That is exactly what happened during every Q&A during the week in Skanda Vale and London. As soon as I heard Mohanji’s voice, I would start yawning. And I would try to hide it for Mohanji, of course, for the last thing I wanted was to look disinterested. You can imagine that there was no meditative ‘Mohanji sleeping pills’ hereafter!

After the Murugan puja in the temple, I did my Kriya practice at the statue of Dattatreya. I sat there very awkwardly on a wobbly, wooden bench, and my hands and feet got cold. I visualized a warm sun in my solar plexus chakra but to no avail. So I stopped my visualization attempt. As I was about to get up to leave, my hands and feet began to radiate lovely softness and warmth from within. I stayed. And enjoyed it. Normally without an external source of heat – once I was cold – I did not get warm. This was really exceptional. 

In the evening, like on other evenings, we went to the Shakti temple for puja. High up on the mountain, near the enclosure of the three elephants, the bird sanctuary and the horse stable. The temple was full, and fortunately, I was practically sitting in the doorway because I could breathe freely there. The low ceiling and the many visitors made it stuffy. Suddenly I saw Chris, Mohanji’s executive assistant, Tea, the photographer and Subhasree, Mohanji’s personal assistant. Where there is Chris, Tea and Subha, there must be Mohanji! And indeed, I had not seen him coming at all. The mood and the bhav were intense. The energy rose to the ceiling, as did the warmth. 

During the last mantra, we walked forward in a line to pay our respects to Kali (an aspect of Shakti, the Mother Goddess / universal energy). Mohanji is Kali, I thought to myself. So before I bowed to Kali, I looked Mohanji straight in his eyes as I walked past him, bowed to him and chanted the Kali mantra to him. Mohanji looked at me with an intense and piercing gaze and blessed me. Another confirmation of his omnipresence as any form of God. I continued walking towards the altar, glowing with Shakti. 

It wasn’t until the next day that I realized how much more depth this brief event carried. After all, Mohanji’s inner guidance from yesterday morning had been: ‘This is Shakti. It is within me,’ which was a bit of a puzzle for me back then. That is why I had kind of ignored it. Now clarity started dawning. 

The day before we left Skanda Vale ashram, I was lying on my bed and suddenly got overwhelmed by the dread of the possibility that Mohanji could be attacked by dark energy. Or by people’s actions. My creative mind took over quickly. What can we do to protect him? I prayed to Sai for a solution. Mohanji would never stop his mission out of fear. And he wouldn’t ask for anything for himself, either. That only left a possibility for the devotees. Could we not pray for him altogether? Back then, I didn’t realize that my prayer had already been answered by Dirk’s donation of the Protection Ring. I had heard Mohanji talk about the story of the ring while having lunch at the Mexican restaurant, but the word protection had not reached my ears.

Part 3 to be contd…….


Edited & Published by – Testimonials Team, 18th August 2022


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