Searching for God
Blessed Selves, dear readers! It's not proper to praise yourself, as there is neither pleasure nor good in extolling your own virtues. It is far more pleasant to write about the achievements of others. However, as author of this book I should also speak of my personal experiences with Mahaprabhuji and about the many wonders that I had the opportunity to witness with my own eyes. The time that I spent at Mahaprabhuji's side was certainly the most beautiful and precious of my life.
Karna, the great hero of ancient India, once introduced himself by saying, "The circumstances of my birth, nobility, colour or family, have been determined by my fate, but my actions are under my present control. With these I create my own future and it is within my power to set my goals. Therefore only my accomplishments should stand as recommendation of my person and these are thus my introduction."
A swami’s spiritual devotion, power, progress in yoga and spiritual development serve as his introduction. Therefore I would prefer to have you know me personally however, since we are not meeting in person but on paper, I will give a few details about my childhood and development.
I was born in the Pali district of Rajasthan, in the village of Nipal on September 11, 1923 and given the name Tekchanda Garg. My father was Pandit Sri Lalchandji Garg, a learned astrologer and humble devotee of Lord Shiva and Lord Rama. He led the life of a brahmarishi.
My mother, Srimati Sarasvatidevi Garg, had a very pure, spiritual nature. She was the epitome of kindness and, like Mahaprabhuji's mother, she would go hungry herself before she would turn away anyone from her door. Since her childhood she was especially devoted to Lord Krishna and some of my earliest memories are of my mother telling us children (there were six of us) stories about him. She would tell us again and again that devotion to God is more important than life itself.
"Never lose your devotion," she said. "Always keep searching for God. Live in this world in harmony and fulfilment of your duty to God. He has given us life that we may spend it in devotion and love for all. This life should not be wasted on meaningless things. Serving the poor and those in need is the highest principle of right religion. Parents are the children's Gurus. They mould them for the future."
Five generations ago in my family, there was a great and famous karma yogi named Ami Chandji and often my mother would tell us stories about him. He was a siddha, one that possesses siddhis or supernatural powers and my mother always emphasised that all his powers were the result of his hard work. In India we have a saying, "Work is worship," and this my mother believed with her whole heart.
Ami Chandji was well-known and he impressed many people with his way of life and vast powers. He could, for instance, predict the future with unerring accuracy. The maharaja of Ghanerav was impressed by these abilities and gave him a large piece of land which is still in the family. Once the same ruler gave him an elephant, which he subsequently presented to someone else on the occasion of his son's wedding. That was typical of his selfless, generous nature. Ami Chandji led a very spiritual life and died the death of an advanced yogi by entering mahasamadhi.
From early childhood, I felt strongly attracted to God Krishna. I even used to weep in my relentless longing to see him. I was sent to school but had quite a difficult time there because I could not concentrate on the lessons, my thoughts were always on Lord Krishna.
My father thought that my problem was that I did not like village school, so he sent me to live with my elder sister in the village of Rupawas, where there was a Sanskrit scholar, Sri Gisa Ramji Ghanchi. He was a religious and virtuous man who lived according to his beliefs and principles.
He taught me with great love and my sister, Srimati Phuldeviji and her husband, Sri Krishna Ramji, were also very loving to me. I stayed with them for several years but still my performance at school did not improve.
Eventually I returned to Nipal and began to read and study The Bhagavad Gita every day. I prayed to Surya, the God of the sun and to Durga Mata, the Holy Mother. I used to go on nine-day (navrati) fasts for her, but most of all I prayed to Lord Krishna to be merciful and appear to me in my meditations. How bitter were the tears I shed, loving him so much and not being able to see him!
In those moments I frequently had the feeling of a voice within me saying, "Be calm. The Lord will come to you."
One day I was again praying to Lord Krishna from the depths of my soul, "O Krishna, my Beloved God. I have heard your holy promise deep within me. How long must I wait? When will I see you?"
In that moment a glorious vision of the Lord appeared before my inner eye.
"Three and one-half months from today, at ten o'clock in the evening, you will see me with open eyes," he said. "Remember this."
He disappeared, leaving me with an unworldly sense of security. The Lord of Gods Himself, I knew, was going to take care of me.
After some time I went to visit Thakur Ragunath Singhji, a friend of our family who lived in the neighbouring village of Keshersinghji Guda. He was a great devotee of Mahaprabhuji and he introduced me to another of Mahaprabhuji's disciples who was staying with him, Sri Swami Bodhanandji Maharaj. Swamiji looked simple and ordinary but he was a man of great knowledge and deep wisdom. He impressed me with his words and especially with his beautiful singing.
I was so attracted to his satsang that I decided to visit him every day to talk with him and learn from him. Unfortunately, my parents didn't like the idea and so I used to leave the house stealthily at night after they were asleep and would walk the three kilometres to the thakur's house.
The path led me through a forest which was believed to be haunted by ghosts and spirits. To be honest, I never saw or felt anything but I asked Swami Bodhanandji about it.
"Ghosts are only illusions of the mind," he said, "and this is what the whole world is suffering from because we don't yet know our reality."
I remember a significant story about ghosts.
In a little village there lived a farmer who owned two houses, one in the middle of the village and a cottage on the outskirts of town. The villagers thought the cottage was haunted by ghosts and were afraid to walk near it at night.
One day the farmer held a great feast, to which he invited many friends and relatives, some of whom lived great distances away. There was room for all but one of them to stay in the house in the village.
After the feast, this guest walked to the cottage to setlle for the night when suddenly he remembered hearing people speak of the ghost who was supposed to live there. He grew afraid. The closer he came to the cottage, the more nervous he felt. Finally he got there and casting nervous glances all around, hurried inside and bolted all doors and windows. He quickly grabbed a blanket from a pile that was on a corner table, threw the dust cover back over the other blankets and hopped into bed. He pulled the blanket up over his head and tried to sleep, but his fear kept him wide awake and from time to time he would peek out from under the blanket into the dark to make sure no ghost had appeared.
Eventually the moon rose and a moonbeam fell across the room onto the corner table with its pile of blankets. The next time the man lifted the corner of his blanket to look out, his overworked imagination mistook the covered pile of blankets on the table for a ghost and he became so frightened that he couldn't move a muscle.
He screamed for help so loudly that he was heard in the village and people came running to see what was the matter. They couldn't open the doors or windows because he had bolted them from inside and when they called to him to open the door, he screamed back that he couldn't because the ghost was sitting on his chest trying to strangle him.
Finally some brave fellows broke a window and climbed in, but just at that moment the man succeeded in jumping out of bed. He leaped to the door, opened it and ran outside and the others followed him in great haste. "Where's the ghost?" everyone asked and the trembling man pointed to the corner of the room. Everyone stared at the table with covered blankets and saw just what they expected to see — a terrible ghost! They tried everything they could think of to drive it away. Someone fetched holy water, another brought the priest, but the ghost stood firmly in the corner and wouldn't budge. No-one dared enter the room. The villagers anxiously milled around outside, murmuring confusedly what a powerful and dangerous ghost it was. Finally a man arrived on the scene who didn't believe in ghosts or such things. "But see for yourself," they whispered to him, pointing into the room. The man lit a candle and simply entered the room, where he found nothing but a disordered bed and in the corner, a table with a pile of blankets covered with a sheet. He came out again and told this to the crowd and the people were suddenly ashamed of themselves. The owner of the house remembered that he himself had put the blankets there and the guest recalled how he had taken his blanket from the same pile.
What kind of ghost was that? Where did it come from and where did it go? What made them scared and what ended those feelings? There is only one answer: their own consciousness and this belongs to the world of illusion. Fear arises when there is lack of knowledge. Knowledge doesn't know fear and these ghosts of illusion refuse to disappear as long as knowledge isn't present. The very moment the light of knowledge illuminated the darkness of ignorance, the ghost and fear disappeared.
Swami Bodhanandji explained.
"The reason for all problems and fears is misguided and incorrect concepts of Reality. True wisdom can only be achieved through a holy Master, whom one meets through the mercy of God. But even then, only very few recognise the Master for what he is."
I listened eagerly to his words about holy Masters who dispel ignorance and illusion and then Ragunath Singhji told me about his own Master, Mahaprabhuji.
"My Divine Guru, who is like Lord Vishnu himself, is Sri Mahaprabhuji. With his blessing one can experience the Divine Self, not years or lifetimes from now, but instantly if he so wills it. If you are really searching for a Master, go to him."
brahmarishi = knower of Brahman
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Overview: The author Paramhans Swami Madhavananda