“It does not matter if he is not a ‘devotee’…

In 1957 Bhagawan was on a short tour of the North to rejuvenate the celebrated shrines and holy places located there and to make them powerful by restoring their pristine glory.  But though it looked as if it was designed to bring joy and happiness to a deserving few who had the good fortune of being selected to accompany Him, the visit unmistakably met a greater aim of fulfilling the ‘Thapas’ of His ardent devotees over many births.  Let Prof. N. Kasturi, Bhagawan’s biographer, tell us the story in his inimitable style.

“On the way Baba stopped the bus at a place, where a thin little iron rod carried a half distinct name plate “Vasishta Guha”.  He proceeded to descend the rather precipitous incline to the river bank, as if He had been there often before and as if He became aware of an engagement with the occupant of the Cave…The Vasishta bears a hallowed name; it has been sanctified by the austerities performed therein by many great recluses and monks in the past.  Swami Purushothamananda, a disciple of Swami Brahmananda of the Ramakrishna order, initiated into Sanyas by Mahapurushji, another direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna, who had been in the caves since thirty years welcomed Baba as if he too was expecting Him.  He was more than seventy years old and he had spent the major part of his life in asceticism of a most rigorous kind and in the study of scriptures…Baba reminded him of the travails he endured when he first came into the cave, leopards and cobras and the three day trek to Rishikesh and the desperate struggle for salt and matchboxes.  He spoke of the succour that came to him through sheer intervention!….He also gave Purushothamananda a japamala of shining sphatika (crystal) beads, which manifested in His hand.

“But more mysterious and significant was the vision He vouchsafed to Swami Purushothamananda that evening…After sending everyone outside the cave, Baba and the sage went into the inner room, Sri Subbaramaiah, President of the Divine Life Society, Venkatagiri describes what he was able to see from outside the cave thus: ‘Even now that picture is imprinted in my memory.  I was standing near the entrance of the cave.  I could see what was happening.  Baba placed his head on the lap of Swami Purushothamananda and laid Himself down.  Suddenly his entire body was bathed in divine brilliance.  His head and face appeared to me to have increased very much in size.  Rays of splendour emanated from His face.  I was overwhelmed with a strange inexplicable joy.  The time was about 10 p.m….When pressed later to divulge the Vision, Baba informed us that it was a vision of Jyothir Padmanabha!”

Still more wonderful was  the mercy of the Omnipresent all powerful Lord who did not miss a call from another devotee, a yogi, unknown to all others, who prayed for divine intervention to save his life.  So, while returning from the cave Baba ‘left His body for a short while’.  When pressed prayerfully for details, He asked them to contact one Subramanyam in the entourage to give details.

“He begged pardon for not informing Baba immediately about it, for, he had seen a corpse floating down the Ganges, but, being a thing of evil omen he refrained from mentioning it in the holy atmosphere.  Baba laughed and said it was not a corpse at all, though the Yogi who was floating down the flood was so dead to all external occurrences that he did not even cognise his plight.  He was being swept down by the torrent.  It seems he was seated on a rock by the side of the river, lost in Dhyana.  The current, meanwhile, was fast eating into the mud underneath the rock and, the rock tilted over, throwing him into the flood.  ‘It was like a dream for him at first’ said Baba.  Later when he found that he was being carried away by the Ganga, he bagan praying to the Lord.  Baba heard his call.  He slowly led the floating “corpse” to the bank, a few miles above Sivanandnagar, where there was a homestead available to give him warmth and comfort.”  The Sadhu was saved after a 30 mile float!  Observes Kasturiji who rightly draws a conclusion thus:  “It does not matter if he is not a ‘devotee’ “.

II Samasta Lokaha Sukhino Bhavantu II