Serving Babaji in Tapas
An article by Rekha SharmaAn article by Rekha Sharma who saw Babaji before His Tapas and, dedicating her life to Babaji's service, closely looked after Him during Tapas. She is settled in the Ashram and tours with Baba assisting Him in mission work.
It was 18 or 19 of November in 1994, a letter had come from Dehradun Ashram where Babaji has been based since 1974. The letter said that, Bhayya has been sitting in deep, intense Meditation Tapas since 10 of November 1994, inside the room upstairs after the balcony. It further said that He is not taking any proper food, only some liquid vegetable soup or little milk. And that the room He is sitting is locked and nobody goes inside except for cleaning and keeping some liquid food for Him. Nobody knew at that stage how long He is going to be sitting like that. Gen Hanut Singhji, Babaji's Brother Disciple, who had always cared for Babaji like an elder brother, had also assured Babaji to continue Tapas and not to worry about looking after Ashram.
As I read the letter it was awful and my mind could not react to anything. When I saw Babaji as Seenu Bhayya. Bhayya means elder brother. I saw an elder brother in Him. Charming, tall personality. Soon I realised His good heartedness and affectionate caring of all devotees coming to Ashram. I had gone to Ashram with my neighbours and all of us had gone to see some land and stayed in the Ashram. Always smiling and forgiving . Attracted by His noble character, we regularly used to attend all functions of Gurudev Swamiji in Dehradun Ashram. Soon I realised that Bhayya did meditate quietly in the backyard secluded spots under the trees after attending to Ashram duties. Always smiling and a duty-minded workaholic, He answered so many of our queries regarding spiritual truths, meditation, mind and consciousness. I was amazed at the profound knowledge that He had. For me Babaji's sitting into Tapas was just one more step for Him, as He had already gone into such deep, intense meditation for long time. Babaji had the knowledge of the truth, yet remained very humble. His Guru used to come for few months every year and that was hectic for Babaji, since working was His sadhana. Maybe He kept His mind calm all the time while dealing with the Ashram work of service, helping devotees of Swamiji by looking after their school-going and taking care of mentally-challenged children. But after Swamiji went away from Dehradun Ashram, after attending to Ashram duties, Baba used to meditate for 7 to 8 hours. For me He was a born Saint.
From 1993 Sept, we used to organise bhajans in Delhi. Babaji, then called Seenu Bhayya, used to come every month do keertans and talk about his Guru Swamiji. On 28th of March we got news that Gurudev Swamiji had dropped His physical body. After that Babaji had become more quiet and withdrawn. But He was coming for Delhi keertans. He came for the last time in the end of October, and on 2 Nov was my birthday. After blessing me, He left for Dehradun. I had gone to the bus station to see Him off. I never thought in my dreams even that we would not see Him in that form. Outward transformation was to happen for sake of the Mission for which He had come. It is the good fortune of a disciple when inspiration and guidance come from the Guru in right time and circumstances. That was what had happened. Gurudev Swamiji had revealed to the world Seenu Bhayya as Baba Maharaj Shivarudra Balayogi.
We all had developed such attachment of devotion, that already He was a Saint and an Elder Brother. Naturally I wondered when I saw the letter, who will be taking care of His needs? What food Bhayya would be taking? This is an opportunity to serve and look after Him, who has served His Guru and Guru's devotees for so long. It was twenty years since Bhayya had come to stay permanently in the Ashram. With my father's permission, finally I arrived at the Ashram. First two days I could not muster courage to go and see Bhayya in Tapas. I was wondering, what clothes He would be wearing? Has He grown beard? So many thoughts were coming. Next day I made some vegetable soup for Bhayya and went to the room where He was sitting. People in the Ashram were rude and said, "Don't call him 'Bhayya' any more, now He is Babaji.” Finally I went with them. The room in which He was sitting was totally dark. Again, I could not feel the courageous to go in. I told others who were in the Ashram, "You all go." They went and after some time came out and said, "Babaji is calling you." Slowly I entered; dark green clothes were put as window screens to prevent light coming inside.
A small, zero watt bulb was on. Suddenly I saw on a dais, with a loin cloth, in lotus posture, He was sitting quietly. Serenity was overwhelming. I felt as if a dazzling light was there where Bhayya was sitting. That glow of His face was something extraordinary, as if Divinity had descended to bless us. It was such an inexplicable experience which could be experienced by very few, fortunate people of this world. In a short notice such an amazing transformation. Until recently, whatever imagination that we had appeared was very little and inadequate to tell what He really was. Just like Arjuna always thought of Shri Krishna as a friend, and when he saw the Divine form as the entire creation and the creator in Shri Krishna, what an awful situation for Arjuna. Arjuna was shocked, thinking, "Was I very casual with this great spiritual giant, that I thought Him to be my friend. He has come for the sake of the world." Such was my experience. I do not know what others thought of Him, for me, Babaji was Guru. He was the Divine for me and I had mentally dedicated my life for His service. Probably Babaji understood my stunned silence. With a smile on His lips, asked about my welfare and whether I wanted to convey anything. I took a breath of relief and said, "I would not be able to call you "Bhayya", an elder brother, any more." Baba answered, "No such thing is there. I have always been your elder brother and will be your elder brother. If you feel like calling me elder brother, you are welcome. For Draupadi, the wife of Pandavas, Shri Krishna was an elder brother."
Before the permitted time, when somebody used to come with some soup or milk, normally Babaji would have come out of samadhi few minutes before so that He could convey anything if wanted. Otherwise it was not possible for Him to talk anything immediately coming out of samadhi. There would not be any reaction, simply He would take without any resistance, whatever one gave Him to drink. Never complained anything, whether milk was watery or soup had excess salt, or so. It was like looking after a small baby of a few days old. After I stayed for twenty days in that visit my father wanted me to return. Perhaps he was afraid that I may not return. He and other members of family were concerned about my marriage and settling in the world. I had a different intention.
When I came again next month, Gen Hanut Singhji told me it was necessary that somebody who is really devoted and loyal should look after Babaji during His Tapas. Then I started coming regularly to look after Babaji. Early mornings I used to go to Babaji's room, clean up and come down. At night, His milk or soup would be given. Every time Babaji came out of samadhi, He would offer some flowers and worship His Guru, Swamiji Shivabalayogi. Whenever I had seen Babaji out of samadhi, He used to be looking dazed in one direction, as if He was immersed in His soul, SELF. It was difficult for others to understand His status. All other times, His room was kept locked. Gen Hanut Singhji had guided that His hands and legs should be given some massage whenever He came out of samadhi, so that He could overcome the stiffness. Otherwise any part of His body's external organs could get affected.
During night times we used to go and give Him some vegetable soup, then gave Him a little bit of massage on the stiff hands and legs. Normally a little before our entering His room, He would have come out of samadhi. It would take Him some time to respond to the minimum after long time samadhi. That was the time during Tapas when loyal and really devoted people were needed to look after. Later Babaji has told us that even if anybody would have given wrong things to harm His physical body, Babaji would not have been able to react or think that it was a wrong, harmful thing. When the mind is totally above any dualities, it is impossible for such a Yogi during Tapas or samadhi period, to apply mind, brain or wisdom to understand or react. Loyal and devoted service was required. I feel very fortunate and grateful to God and The Divine Guru Shivabalayogi for having such an opportunity.
There used to be so much serenity and peace inside Babaji's room. In the darkness of that room, Babaji was like a sun shining in the darkness of the sky. We saw Him totally composed, effortlessly and naturally at peace. Occasionally a little smile used to come out of His lips. It is not possible to explain His status. It gave us so much of peace and composure. In His presence it appeared there was no conflict in our minds also. All obstacles and peoples' mean behaviour appeared meaningless. I could undergo any test for my own determination. For Babaji also tests came in many ways. All His experiences inside His Tapas, He has explained to some extent in the booklet, 'His Master's Grace'. The Divine tested Him for determination, focus on the Tapas, and in other ways also. People out of selfishness behave in a narrow-minded way. In spite all such terrible people troubling Him, He simply forgave all such. Greed, jealousy, and control dramas, everything happened. Babaji took everything in the manner of a Saint, that He has been naturally even before Tapas, as in, "Forgive them Lord for they know not what they do." Babaji took such troubles with an effortless smile and looked at everyone compassionately.
If my parents were concerned about my life, others were uncomfortable at my staying there to serve Babaji. The more trouble they gave, the more my determination strengthened. It was by looking at Babaji that I gained this inner strength. It was a test for Babaji and His Tapas. It was a test for my devotion and determination. It is not possible to explain or express every pain that came. Babaji has always taught to let go the past, forgive and look for the next by being in the presence.
That is the way to purify one's mind. Babaji has always emphasised on this. I have always looked at Babaji as an elder brother but Babaji is a Yogi and a natural-born saint. Even unknowingly also, He would not like to hurt anybody. Not simply grown-ups but even small children become attached to Him. His noble Mother came to see Him in Tapas in 1998, October. Ailing and aged, courageously she undertook three days of train journey and another eight hours of road journey to see her illustrious son sitting in Tapas. Accepting Him as a Saint, she touched His feet and left after few days of stay telling, "I do not want Him to get disturbed from His Tapas. God has granted me to see Him in Tapas. It is enough and may the world be benefited." It was another test for Babaji when she passed away in 1999 October, a little before Baba's Tapas was to end. Baba has been attached always to His Mother. His mother has been first teacher for Him on the spiritual path. Being youngest in the family, Baba was looked after affectionately by her and Baba's other siblings.
Baba with His mother
Finally that day came for which we were waiting eagerly. On 23 November, 1999, Kaartik Pournima (Full moon day of the month of Kaartik, according to Indian calendar) after five years of vigorous Tapas , He came out of the room. A large gathering greeted Him with love and devotion, it was a big festival for all of us.
Every year devotees have been celebrating this auspicious day of Kaartik Pournima, falling on different days of English calendar. Five days of Laghu Rudra Homam (Laghu means small) takes place for world peace. Babaji's motto has always been, "May there be Peace for All Beings in All the Worlds." Lot of chants, special worship, bhajans, Baba's message to the world, mass feeding of the poor, all happen. Babaji shows reverence by a special worship to His beloved Guru, Shri Shiva Balayogi Maharaj, who taught Him, brought Him up like His own child, made Babaji to sit for Tapas and commanded for determination in Tapas by telling, "Either you come out as a Yogi or your dead body shall come out. Do not abandon Tapas under any circumstance." Baba kept quiet and smiling for all tests, showed His preoccupation in Tapas by renouncing everything else. Lovingly He has tamed such wrong people into becoming attached to Him. He has transformed many like that.
This year in 2009 Kaartik Pournima fell on 2 November. Programmes were organised by His devotees. These ten years that Baba has been touring the world to share His spiritual experiences in a sincere way, have been such spiritual truths of Holy Beacon for genuine spiritual seekers. He has shown the same compassion to teach, to forgive, to remain smiling. Many dedicated genuine spiritual seekers have come to His feet and are helping Babaji in His Mission. Several who came with a wrong personal agenda to control have withered away on their own. Baba has never allowed anybody to control Him. Babaji says He is guided by His Divine Guru, Shri Shivabalayogi, who manifested throughout His Tapas time to guide and help Him and who continues to manifest and guide Him. Baba has stood firmly and politely to the principles taught by His Guru, that All religions are equal and honourable, no discrimination of rich and poor, caste and creed, status. All are welcome for Him who comes devotedly to learn spiritual truths genuinely
Through sadhana to purify mind, one can be benefited for one's own self and the life of such a one may be useful to others. Then, like this, all humanity can live for each other peacefully, harmoniously. Baba's teachings have come in book form and are available to devotees in the form of talks and transcribed talks. Soon commentaries on the great works of ancient sages are going to be available to devotees, there by sharing Baba's own experiences and opinions. He continues His life, living for others. He says, "If you live for yourself, it is life. If you live for others, it is a mission." Babaji is preoccupied for sake of teaching people of this world to know themselves, to live peacefully, and harmoniously. His life has been a life of Tapas from childhood to youth, since 1974, when He took up monastic life at the lotus feet of His beloved Master, Shri Shivabalayogi to 2009 . I am sure devotees all over the world would love to join in prayers to God and The Divine Guru, Shri Shivabalayogi to keep Him with us in the physical body for a long time to come. Babaji is a precious gift for all of us from the great Master, Shri Shivabalayogi.
In Humble Service at His Lotus Feet and with love and warm regards to you all.