I will cut to the chase, to talk about the first of a zillion “What Babaji means to me” stories.
The time period was 1977-1978. I had already had a rather difficult long haul getting to India, as we all did in those days. The physical journey started in San Francisco. Eventually, through a laborious circuitous route, the last plane arrived into New Delhi at the usual 4am. “Now let the Games begin.” The assault to the senses included th
e very air itself, which had a “peculiar to India” smell of smoke and body odours. Visually, the atmosphere could only be described as a dense brown haze that tangibly “hung there” letting the newly landed visitor or the returnee know that one had truly “arrived” in India.
Off I went with a perfect stranger to Arvind Lal’s clinic, where Babaji had told me, through letters, to go immediately upon arriving. Once there, a funky, black Ambassador taxi cab, with a white turbaned driver, agreed to take a few of the latest arriving devotees to Haldwani. Ten dusty hours later, the taxi dropped us off in front of Muni Raj’s rather small storefront. We sat inside on a long bench, while Muni Raj conducted business with three gentlemen. He read the newspaper, smoked a cigarette, served tea, and then arranged for us to be taken by bus to the Dam site. I seem to remember a huge mound of unwashed potatoes in one dark corner. Nobody ever talked to us directly, either. More hours drifted by. At the Dam site, we walked across a suspension bridge stretching the width of the river Ganga below. We had no guide. None of us knew each other, nor had we ever been to Babaji’s ashram. On the other side of the swaying bridge, we simply turned left and started walking. Because the river was flooded in many areas, we had to wade across up to our chin in places, 11 different times, switching from side to side, until we could finally go uphill to a jungle pass that took us the rest of the way. We never saw another inhabitant or habitat for that matter. Yet it never crossed our minds to be worried. We knew with a silent, unshaken belief, that we were in Babaji’s territory, therefore, protected. We never even talked to each other the whole trek. The scenery was spectacular, from the far mountains, the green verdant terraced rice fields, and the huge blue sky that stretched forever, to the meandering famous river below. One of the young men from Southern India, coming to see Babaji for the first time, had a relapse of malaria about four hours into the walk. I dosed him with the Bach Rescue remedy so he was able to continue the rest of the day. He thought it was a miracle. 13 hours after we came to Haldwani, we saw the ashram buildings in the distance. That certainly felt like a miracle to all of us, coming across Shangri-La.
My first “Live” encounter with Babaji, found me on my knees, nothing new there, washing my face in the concrete trough, so hot and thirsty, drinking the water right out of the spigot, without concern for the quality. I was so thoroughly absorbed that when I did open my eyes, I was surprised to see two plump brown feet balancing on the edge of the trough right in front of me. I looked a bit higher, stunned by a flash of neon blue silk. Gazing upward, my heart beginning to race, I saw a full on figure of the exact Babaji I had already been seeing in my dreams and meditations for the last year. I finally met His magnificent sparkling eyes, His drop dead gorgeous handsome smiling face, and that ‘Cheshire cat’, all knowing, obviously amused, GRIN! I screamed at the top of my lungs, falling forward in a dead swoon. When I recovered he had vanished.
At Darshan that evening, I went forward in the cue, bowed full length, and then turned to leave. He had Sheila Devi stop me. Babaji put a mala around my neck and said through Sheila Devi:
“It has been exactly 108 years since you have been with me. Lord Lakulish, all the gurus and the teachers you have studied with, have gotten you to this moment. There is nothing more for you to do. You have reached the Top of the Mountain.”