At Age Of 9, Visit From A Himalayan Master
Posted by Anuj Pandey on Sep 19, 2019
I was a little more than nine years old at that time.
We, my father, mother, younger sister, my maternal grandmother and myself, lived in a quiet place, not very far from the main thoroughfare. There was very little space between the front door and the gate which opened on to the road, but our backyard was quite spacious – about half an acre filled with many coconut and jackfruit trees and flowering shrubs. Almost in the centre of the courtyard, from the branch of an old jackfruit tree was suspended a sturdy swing. We enjoyed swinging on it and were often joined by children from our neighbourhood who would easily climb over the low compound wall. There was also another jackfruit tree, a larger and perhaps older one, which stood at the far end of the courtyard on the right-hand corner. This was the tree under which the drama that changed my life completely, took place.
Both my sister and I went to the Holy Angel’s convent which was walking distance from home. As soon as we came back home, it was our usual practice to wash up, eat something light and play in the backyard till sunset. At sunset, we were supposed to wash our face, hands and feet and sit for a short Arabic and Urdu prayer with our grandmother. After that, school homework, dinner and sometimes a few stories from the Arabian nights, or her own experiences, told by my grandmother and then off to bed.
That particular day, my sister who was more studious than me cut her playtime and went back into the house earlier than usual. I was wandering around the courtyard doing nothing in particular. Dusk was not far from setting in. The light had mellowed to a soft golden yellow. I thought I would go home too and perhaps find some snacks in the kitchen. So I turned towards the house. However, for reasons I cannot explain to this day, I turned instead and walked towards the jackfruit tree at the far end of the courtyard. There was someone standing under the tree and was gesturing to me to come forward.
The normal instinct would have been to bolt, but instead, I was surprised that I felt no fear whatsoever. A strange eagerness to go closer to the stranger filled my heart. I quickened my steps and was soon standing in front of him. Now I could see clearly. The stranger was tall, extremely fair and his well built muscular body was bare except for a piece of white cloth that was wrapped around his waist and reaching just above his knees. He was also barefoot.
I was intrigued by this strange man who had slightly brown and thickly matted long hair gathered over his head in a big knot that looked like a tall hat. He wore large, brown, probably copper earrings and carried a black polished water pot in his right hand. By far, the most striking of his features were his eyes: large, brownish black, glittering and over-flowing with love and affection. He put his right hand on my head without any hesitation and his kind voice said, “Kuch yaad aaya” in Hindi, which means, “Do you remember anything?”
I understood the stranger’s words perfectly for, although our family had settled in Kerala for generations, we spoke a peculiar dialect of Urdu known as Dakkhini, very similar to Hindi. “Nai” (no), I said.
He then removed his hand from my head and stroked the middle of my chest with it saying, “Baad mein maalum ho jaayega. Ab vapas ghar jao.” (You will understand later. Go home now). I still did not understand what he was trying to convey but instantly obeyed the command to go back home. As I hurried back home, I felt as if his touch had made my heart lighter. Reaching the last step to the rear entrance of the house, I turned around to have a last glimpse of the stranger under the jackfruit tree, but he was gone. There was no one there.
It was also getting darker. I ran into the kitchen with great excitement. What an adventure to share with my mother and tantalize my little sister with. A lovely aroma wafted from the kitchen. My mother was cooking prawn curry for dinner. I opened my mouth to begin my story but no word would come out of my mouth. It was as if someone or something had locked my vocal chords. I tried again and gave up. By then, I was breathing hard. “You are out of breath,” said my mother, “What happened? Ran too fast?” “Yes,” I heard myself saying and realized at the same time that I could not talk only when I tried to relate the strange experience.
On a few more occasions, I tried to tell the story and failed. Convinced that I was being prevented by some unknown power from exposing the incident, I gave up all attempts. It took ten years before I could speak about it to anyone at all. The first person I spoke to about it was none other than the stranger I had first met under the jackfruit tree – my guru, whom I met again in the Himalayas under completely different circumstances. At that meeting, I was formally accepted as a disciple; but we’ll come to that later.
After the jackfruit tree incident, although outwardly I looked like any other boy of that age, my personality had undergone a profound change. A secret life went on within, side by side with the ordinary activities of day to day existence. The inner journey had begun and the first sign of this was that I began to meditate without even knowing the word meditation.
It happened like this. Although I found myself unable to share the extraordinary experience that I had had, the image of those loving eyes never left my heart. One night, I fell asleep as usual beside my mother and sister thinking of this man with the kind glance. Normally, I was a sound sleeper, and in the morning I had to be called many times before I would wake up. But that night was different. Around midnight, I suddenly woke up and sensed a lovely, blissful feeling in the centre of my chest. It was as if someone was tickling my heart with a soft feather. A tingling sensation began to move slowly up my spine. I wanted to sit up but felt that my mother might wake up and get curious. So still lying down, I closed my eyes and tried to look inward. First the loving eyes appeared, then they vanished and in their place was a cool silvery light that came up my spine and filled my heart.
I do not know how long it lasted, this first experience of a trance. My mother’s voice woke me up, “Get up son, it’s time to get ready to go to school.” After a few gentle nudges, I opened my eyes and sat up. No bliss, no light, no tingling sensation, everything had vanished in a moment. I was off to wash, have breakfast, dress and get ready for school. Only the kind eyes still haunted me. Every night since then, the meditation continued. I had some extraordinary experiences but more importantly, saintly men and evolved souls came into my life and the writings I needed to read, fell into my hands as if by providence.