Maarten you are known now in the European Babaji circles as our western Acharya but many people do not know much about you. When and how did you arrive at Babaji’s feet ?
I was only 24 in 1980 and came in contact through rebirthing. I ended up in a meeting which Bhuri had arranged to organise funds for a cable car across the river in Herakhan. I was then following Osho and wearing his mala, but I felt it was not my life. He was somehow unreachable. It was fun for a while but it was finished. In that meeting with Bhuri I saw a picture of Babaji, and I immediately felt that this is where I wanted and needed to go. So later I had a letter from Babaji saying that I could come for Christmas. It was not a smooth trip so I arrived late. I was walking in Delhi, and by chance I met Babaji walking on the road close to the Hanuman Temple. I had to check with a picture I had of Him but then I was sure. He looked at me but He did not greet me at all. I followed that group and saw Him again later, and then He gave me His blessing. I went to Herakhan but Babaji was not there. After a month without Babaji present, I went to Vrindavan with Swami Fakiranand and there I had my first good contact with Babaji: He was sitting on His assan and laughingly asked me “Where have you been all this time?” After that I went with Him to the Punjab, and at the end of this trip He told me to go home. But I returned in autumn that year and stayed some time. I came back every year to spend time in Herakhan with Babaji. I kept this going for 8 years until Shri Muniraj married me.
How you did you get into this Pandit work that you are now doing so well ?
It was my passion! Playing with all these puja items and learning all these mantras was my great joy. Already as a child I had a small altar that I played with as I loved the magic of it all. I started to look around and learn more and more. I began service in the dhuni and later Shri Muniraj named me the international pujari.
Meanwhile you have gathered quite some knowledge about the rituals and the sacred scriptures ?
Yes, it started little by little. What I did not know, I did not care about. I just did what I knew and slowly that became more with time. In the beginning I had lots of problems with the pronunciation of Sanskrit, but the drive I felt was so strong that this became better and better through the years. When at a certain point it began to come from the inside, it all started to go faster and better. Now I feel at home with this, I feel relaxed and it flows. Of course it is still a learning process and more things are added to the things I do for Babaji. I just had everything checked by Vinod and he said that it was all good.
Now Besides the Puja and havan you do marriages, Name giving, House blessings, Funerals, Janeo initiations.
Yes all the regular pundit jobs. It was a process, and at a certain point I asked Babaji for help: “You have to send me somebody who can help me with the Sanskrit grammar”. Shortly after that, a Dutch man named Avinash walked into the ashram who had lived and studied for many years in India and he had graduated from the Hindu University. After talking with him, he said that he was happy to be of service, and it is now many years that I go to see him one day each week to study more and resolve language issues. It is also his passion and he is doing it free of cost for me. The learning process will continue, and I feel it is through my passion and love for Babaji that I can be of service in this way.
Raghuvir Writes: In the autumn of 1981 I sat down next to Maarten in the chai shop in Herakhan and started a chat. He was looking a bit worried and I asked him if everything was OK. He said that he had such a strange and strong dream that it kept going through his mind. I asked so what’s the dream? He said that he was in a field somewhere and a UFO landed, some beings came out and took him inside this craft. Walking through this strange space ship they told him that they would bring him to see the commander. He entered a space with screens and monitors with some people there. Then the commander turned around and it was Babaji. Then he woke up. Now there was not much talk about UFO’s in those years, and when he told me about this back then, I was very impressed with this story. Nowadays there are lots of stories around the idea that the human race has leapt forward in its development by the influence of extraterrestrials. Now I am not suggesting anything or believing this with certainty, but I found it an interesting thought to play with.