Our journey from Rishikesh is an interesting story.  Someone brought our bus tickets to Rudraprayag. How the communication goes from either Maharaj or guruji is not known.  They do not use any phones including mobile phones.  They do not even touch money.  If they need something, they have to get it organized through somebody.  They often go without food.  I don’t think that they are ever hungry and if they are hungry, they can control it.  They have the will power to overcome their hunger. I am not able to resist hunger and thirst till now. Our journey took about three hours.  Since we travelled by bus, we could not get down to enjoy the nature’s beauty. When we got down at the bus station at Rudraprayag, the temperature could be close to ten degrees. The clock in the tower showed 11.30 in the morning.  Mist is present in spite of being close to the noon.  I could not bear the chillness and I took the shawl and covered my body. As usual guruji had his towel on his shoulders. 

“Shankaraaa, we have to walk some distance.  It could take more than two hours to reach the spot.  We can walk slowly, but in cold weather like this, one has to walk briskly, so that heat is generated in the body to counter the cold weather. In another few yards, we have to walk through a jungle. There will not be any regular path.  The muddy path will be slippery and you have to very carefully tend your way.  After walking through dangerous zones, we have to reach a cave known as abaddha cave. Abaddha means unrestrained or unbound.  The cave is not a big one.  It is difficult to find this cave.  It is surrounded by well grown trees.  Just by the side of the cave a miniature creek of Ganges flows through.  There are plenty of herbs and fruit trees.  In that cave lives an Aghori Baba by name Bhagola Aghori Baba. Bhagola means star studded heaven. Aghori means the worshipper of both Shiva and Shakti. Unfortunately they are being misrepresented.  They mentally affirm that everything is Shiva and nothing but Shiva.  We are going to meet him now.  I had been to this place only once during my decades of association with these great men.  Bhagola Baba does not permit anyone to meet him that easily. He wants to be on his own and he does not want to speak with anyone.  If you are blessed enough to see him, there is no need for you to pursue your spiritual path as he would take you to Shiva directly.  He has immense power and he never uses it. Only very few know him.  Maharaj is his disciple and had met Aghori Baba only a couple of times.  Only during his second visit, I have accompanied Maharaj to have darshan of Aghori Baba.  Though Aghori Baba has given permission to bring you here, we may have to wait for long, even number of days to meet him.  He places his gross body inside the cave and astrally travels to higher realms with his subtle body.  At this point of time, we do not know when we are going to meet him.  We have to wait for his darshan outside his cave, bracing the weather. But it will be a worthy wait on two counts.  The place itself will be like being in the heaven and the wait is worth for his words. Each of his words carries extraordinary power and meaning” guruji gave a detailed account of Bhagola Aghori Baba. 

As guruji said the path towards his cave was dangerous.  In some places we had to walk on the bridges made up of trunks of trees and if you look down some rivulet of Ganges will be flowing with force.  If you are not walking with confidence, you are bound to fall down and hit the waters which could be half a mile below the bridge. You have to have immense amount of confidence and faith to reach the cave.  But the scenic beauty is dumbfounding. We rested in some places and in some other places we stopped to enjoy the bounteousness of the Nature. After three hours of trekking, jumping and walking we reached the entrance of the cave.  I saw some very thin old man lying down at the entrance of the cave.  I told guruji that someone is lying at the entrance of the cave.  He said it can only be Aghora Baba.  His face was facing the cave and hence guruji could not identify him easily.  Guruji became very tired and sat down, little away from the sleeping man.  Guruji was about to collapse.  At the age seventy plus, this was surely too much for him.  Probably, the lack of adequate food could also be the reason. Guruji also lied down flat.  This is the first time I am watching guruji becoming sick.  I was worried about his health.  I did not even know Aghora Baba at this time.  It is drizzling and the weather has turned very cold.

The old man got up now.  He looked at me and asked me to come closer.  I moved closer to him.  My heart was pounding.  He looked at me casually. 

“Are you Shankara?” he asked.

“Yes svamiji” I said.

“No. Do not use svamiji.  Svami refers to the God or some great spiritual preceptors. I am neither the God nor a preceptor. I am like anybody else.  People call me Bhagola Aghori Baba.  You tell me Shankara when we say that Shiva prevails everywhere, how I can be called by any other name other than Shiva.  If you call different objects by different names, the concept of omnipresence of Shiva is lost.  Am I right Shankara?”

His voice was piercing. I do not know how to explain his way of communication.  He does not speak to your ears.  He speaks directly to your mind.  You have to listen to him very carefully to understand what he says. I do not know about omnipresence as I have not been taught previously on this.

“Oh, they have not taught about God.  First you should know who the God is.  Then only you can become God.  There is only one God and He is Shiva.  Shiva’s power is known as Shakti. In the whole of universe, nothing prevails except Shiva and Shakti.  Shakti is also Shiva’s creation.  Well, how did you find this place?”

“My guruji brought me here.  He is tired and he is lying down there” I showed my right hand where my guruji was lying. Aghori Baba walked towards my guruji.  He stopped for a moment and went around guruji in anti clock wise manner. The moment he finished one round, guruji got up. 

“Come with me” Aghori Baba called guruji.  He took him inside the cave.  I could not see anything from where I was standing. I was afraid to go inside without his permission.  I stayed back.  Within a few minutes Baba came out with guruji.  Guruji was standing in a posture that is the combination of more of respect and less of fear.

Guruji began to explain about me to Baba, but Baba stopped him. 

“Shankara, there is going to be floods in Cauvery river in another one hour.  The flood water will enter your place for the first time in several years. Your land and house will be totally wrecked.”

“My mother is alone.”

“She had completed her assignment in this birth. She has more work on hand in the next birth.  You know karma cannot be dissolved.  One has to undergo karma, both good and bad.”

“Please save my mother.  She does not know anything” I cried to Baba. Guruji was simply watching.

“Death cannot be avoided Shankara and you know that. She is destined to leave this world in another 67 minutes from now.  Her body will be consigned to water.  It is good to consign a body to water as water is the best amongst all the purifiers.  In that way, your mother is lucky” Baba said. 

I started crying aloud.  Guruji began to console me but any amount of consoling is not going to help.  My situation is very strange now.  In the first place, I am not sure the flood will ravage our place at all, as our place was never inundated by water in spite of heavy floods in the river Cauvery.  Going by the history, I am not able to believe Baba’s predication. If I believe in his prophecy, I have no choice except to seek his intervention to save my mother. I quickly decided to seek his intervention.   In spite of my intense spiritual training, I still believed that I can save my mother from her death.  At least, I am trying to postpone her death till my return. I approached Baba to help me.

“Death is not in our hands.  At the appointed time, death is bound to happen and nobody can prevent it. But I can do a favour for you.  Death due to asphyxiation is really difficult and one’s life should not end by acute suffering.  I will pray to Shiva to take her life just before floods hit your place.  You have no other option now” said Baba. 

Guruji looked sad.  He signalled me to accept the favour.  I conveyed my decision to Baba.  Baba sat in the same place in lotus posture. He went into meditation which led to his trance.  His body stood like a rock, not even the signs of breathing.  Suddenly there was a hailstorm. Hailstones were huge in size and they hit his body and hurt him badly.  I was not sure whether I can do something to prevent hailstones falling on him.  Because of fear, I stayed away from any adventurous acts.  I felt sad for my mother.  I suddenly remembered about Mangalam.  I ran to guruji and told him about Mangalam.  He told me that Mangalam had gone to the nearby town to buy provision.  He assured that she will be saved. 

Baba got up from his deep ecstatic state.

“You mother died before floods could hit her.  She died of sudden cardiac arrest.  At the time of death she did not think about anybody.  She had a peaceful death.  Before her body lost its warmth, she was swept away.  Her body will not get caught anywhere and will flow to the deep sea.  She had watery grave, a very rare gesture shown by Shiva” Baba said looking at me.

I cried aloud for some time.  Both of them allowed me to cry.  When cry turned into sobs, Baba asked me to take bath in the nearby creek.  It was still raining and I did not have any problem in taking bath in the creek.  I got down the creek.  The water has some fragrance.  The creek is not very deep.  Its depth is only up to knee level.  You have to use your hands to have a good bath.  The water is not as cold as the rain water.  I came out of the creek.  Baba took me inside the cave.  He showed me a fire pit where fire was burning.  He asked me to collect some logs placed in a corner and place them together.  He asked me to take an earthen pot and asked me put some rice and water in it.  I placed the pot on the fire.  After some time, I took the pot out.  The rice was completely boiled.  The rice was allowed to cool down.  He asked me to make a ball of rice and place outside the cave, some distance away, remembering my mother.  I did so and some birds and animals came and ate away the entire rice ball.  I returned and stood before Baba.

“Shankara, I am sorry that you have to face this immediately on your arrival here. Now you do not have anyone on earth to think about you.  You can pay more attention to your practice. You are progressing very well, but you need to know more.  Practice and knowledge, both are important.   Practice is nothing but initiation into spirituality. It is implementing your knowledge.  When you dig a well, you suffer till you dig the well. Once the well is dug, you enjoy the fruits of your hard work.  You have water whenever you need it.  Unless you strain every bit of your nerve in the initial stages, you cannot enjoy the eternal bliss.  Hence, practice is a prelude to liberation.

“You must understand that God is one for the whole universe.  He is Shiva.  Different religions call Him by different names.  There is nothing wrong in that.  It is their faith and belief.  After all name and form are not going to help anyone, particularly when we say that God is omnipresent.  Unless something is extremely subtle, it cannot be omnipresent.  The omnipresence of God is often misunderstood. God does not mean all that is good.  God also represents bad things.  Not only flowers represent God; even faecal matters also represent God. When you are accepting flowers you have to accept faces also. If you do not, then you are not a realized person.  A realized person will never distinguish between the best and the worst.  Both are the acts of God.  You cannot realize this ultimate fact, unless you gain knowledge.  There are two types of knowledge. One is the textual knowledge and at this state you try to know what is what.

“Textual knowledge gives you an idea about kundalini and the methods to transport Her from one chakra to another chakra. But how would you know that you have awakened your kundalini.  In majority of the cases, kundalini is not aroused consciously.  According to the level of devotion, it ascends, may be up to navel chakra.  You begin to feel some pulsation at the various chakras because of the movement of prana.  Movement of prana is not kundalini.  Kundalini is highly powerful.  You cannot stop Her from blasting through your spine.  You can sit for hours doing kundalini meditation deploying various techniques.  But ultimately you do not see any results. When your kundalini rises, you almost become unconscious.  She blasts straight into your ajna chakra and then to crown chakra.  At one point, She will stay only between these two chakras and will not come down.  You need not worry about this.  She is so fond of Shiva that She tries to stay with Him all the time.  But the cosmos does not permit this.  If Shiva and Shakti stand united all the time, the universe cannot be sustained. 

“People fail to understand the difference between Shakti and Shiva.  Looking from the aspect of God being One, everything is Shiva alone.  God has two aspects, static and dynamic. Static is Shiva and without static energy, kinetic energy cannot be produced.  In the process of creation one originates from the other. Take this creek.  This creek originates from a rivulet, the rivulet originates from the Ganges, Ganges originates from Himalayan glaciers, Rain water become glaciers, rain precipitates from the clouds, clouds form due to evaporation of water and the process goes on and on.  If you begin to search for the original cause, you are led nowhere. It is called the cause and the cause is Shiva.  We don’t pay attention to the cause as we are satisfied with the effect.  The effect is right there and visible.

“You go back to this creek and find out the original cause.  Clouds form due to the evaporation of water.  Now you have to find out the cause for water.  You will only get back to clouds.  There is interdependence between clouds and water, the one without the other is not possible.  The original cause of all the elements is Shakti.  This is what Vedas say.  It says that space originated from God, from space, air; from air, fire; from fire, water; and from water, earth originated. It is a sequence of events that produced the universe that exists today.  There can be many modern scientific explanations and all those explanations are purely based on the cause and effect theory. You have to first understand the effect thoroughly and then find out the cause. 

“Finding out the original cause is called spirituality.  Spirituality is a science and not a myth.  It is a well defined science.  It talks about five stages of consciousness – active, dream, deep sleep, turya and turiyatitta. The last two stages are beyond comprehension by normal human minds.  The first three stages of consciousness are not permanent.  They come and go.  You cannot continue to remain awake.  You have to sleep to give rest to your organs of action.  During your sleep, you subconscious mind disturbs you as dreams.  But turya is the stage beyond your normal consciousness. It is super consciousness and it is not like the other three states that come and go.  In the state of turya, other three states remain. In the state of turya, your association with your body gets lost.  Your body is always identified by your ego.  When you are able to dissolve your ego, there remains your pure consciousness.  The otherwise pure consciousness is afflicted by the state of “I am”.  In the first three stages of consciousness, you are associated with your body and mind.  In the fourth state you are able to transcend the boundaries of the empirical self.  When you transcend your body and mind, you are able to realize that the Self within you is witnessing all your actions.  He is the cause of your body.  He is Shiva, your soul. This preliminary realization is possible because you are able to move beyond your mind and body. All your thoughts and impressions are left behind when you begin to purify your consciousness. You now observe that Shiva is witnessing your consciousness. In the next state, the state of turiyatitta, you realize the universal Self.  The individual Self becomes the universal Self and beyond this you have nothing to achieve. At this stage you have realized the Truth.  Beyond Truth, there is nothing. This Truth is the Ultimate.

“Knowledge is relative in value only till the ultimate truth is realized.  When the ultimate truth begins to dawn, you begin to shed your individuality to realize your universal experience.  You move forward to a state of pure consciousness, when your own being gets dissolved into true spiritual knowledge and ultimate wisdom, which conclusively elevates you to the level of the Supreme Self.  Our body comprises of both Shiva and Shakti.  Shiva is the soul without which, your body cannot exist. You have to act in order to survive.  Your action is caused by Shakti.  Beyond Shiva and Shakti, there is nothing in your body.  It is Her power of play that makes you to get diverted from Him.  She is a great teacher.  She selects only the best of Her students to progress further.  Those who do not make attempts are dumped by Her.  Without Her help you cannot ever proceed in spirituality.

“You have to pray and surrender to Her.  Ask for knowledge and not wealth.  Materialistic and spiritual living cannot go together.  You cannot go to both Shakti and Shiva at the same time.  You cannot have two masters and if you have two masters, you cannot satisfy both of them in a proper way.  The net result is that you attain nothing. You become more and more confused.  With confusion, you cannot proceed in spirituality.  That is why you are advised to have perfect knowledge before you begin your practice.

“Aghoras are those who see Shiva in everything.  It is foolish to say that they eat human flesh.  Possibly someone could have said that for them flesh of a corpse and a regular food are the same. Since they see Shiva in everything, they are incapable of any differentiation.  There could be someone resorting to drugs and drinks.  If they are addicted,  then they are not agoris.  Agoris cannot do any distasteful and disgraceful acts.  I am an agori and I do not even eat.  I live only on water.  You can draw prana and live on prana alone for years.  But you should know how to live on prana.” Aghori Baba has ended up his long lecture.  As I said earlier, whatever he speaks enters straight away into the mind.  When he speaks, all your sensory organs are automatically plugged.  He speaks to your mind, intellect and consciousness directly.  When he says that you can dispel your ignorance, he really means it and he personally removes all your ignorance by pervading your mind, intellect and consciousness.  He personally enters your inner psychic organs and purifies them.  He directly works on our subtle body by disabling the gross body.  

(to be continued)