Tale of the meeting of Raj Varma with
'Guru Dev' Swami Brahmanand Saraswati
Extracts from pp255-256, 'The Way to Maharishi's Himalayas', Elsa Dragemark, Stockholm 1972
'Doctor Varma continued his story:
It was when Guru Dev had come out from the jungle that I first met him. Then he was not yet Shankaracharya. Guru Dev was the pure and holy man with strict rules of life that he had been reputed to be. He was not interested in acquiring disciples and was therefore extremely restrained on the subject. In the 24 hours the public was allowed to meet him for half an hour. That was between six-thirty and seven o'clock at night. A brahmachari guarded his door.
I came to the house where Guru Dev lived and asked the brahmachari for permission to enter and to sit at Guru Dev's feet, but he said:
- No, no don't be in such a hurry to see Guru Dev.
I came evening after evening, but each time I was staved off in this way.
The brahmachari asked everyone who came to see Guru Dev:
- What is your name? Do you desire to see Guru Dev?
He made a note of the name after which he went to Guru Dev and asked if such and such a person might have an audience.
Guru Dev closed his eyes for a moment and answered either "Let him come in" or "Ask him to leave", for by knowing the visitor's name he was able to tell what kind of person he was.
That was remarkable. I observed these incidents with wonder and excitement.
One day a rich, but dishonest and insincere jeweller came to seek an audience with Guru Dev. The brahmachari asked him:
- What is your name? Do you desire to see Guru Dev?
- My name is Shuldrin Seraf and I desire an audience with Guru Dev, the man said in a superior manner.
The brahmachari went in to Guru Dev and said:
- Shuldrin Seraf seeks an audience.
Guru Dev closed his eyes for a moment and then said:
- No, tell him there will be no audience today.
The brahmachari came out and gave the message to Shulrin Seraf who then had to leave.
One day I decided that it would now have to be either a "yes" or a "no". I thought that I had waited long enough and couldn't wait any longer. I asked the brahmachari to place my name on the list and added:
- Tell Guru Dev that I can wait no longer.
The brahmachari answered:
- You will gain nothing by forcing the master.
He again placed my name on the list, but it was no avail this time either and I had to wait still some time before I was allowed to enter and sit at Guru Dev's feet. It was in 1939 - and then I was also initiated.
Guru Dev visited Jabalpur six months later. It was then that Maharishi [Raj's nephew] first met Guru Dev.'
Extracts from pp61-72,'Strange Facts about a Great Saint', by Dr. Raj R.P. Varma, M/s, Varma & Sons, 1980
'On 27th August 1940, in the morning I had gone to the market. While returning, on the way I saw two men, who were talking together that a Siddha Yogi Mahatma had come in our city.
The other man asked him, "What is his name?"
The former said, "I do not know his name."
The latter asked, 'Where is he staying?"
The former replied, "Somewhere in Wright Town."
When I heard their talk, I got interested to know more about the Siddha Yogi Mahatma. I enquired from them the location of the house in Wright Town.
One of them said, "I have only heard this much."
This was a sort of message from Maharaj Shri of his coming to Jabalpur. Just then, I resolved to have his darshan, the same day. I thought so because such Siddha Yogi Mahatmas were very rare to be seen.
At 3 p.m.. I locked my Studio and started to find Maharaj Shri in Wright Town. The sun was shining brightly and there was no trace of any cloud on the sky, I was going at abnormal speed.
Then all of a sudden a call was heard from behind, "Varma ji Varma ji." I stopped, turned back and saw a man waving his hand for me. I went to him. He said, "Your friend Shankar Prasad a tantrik wants you."
I saw Shankar Prasad sitting in the room and asked him, "When did you arrive?"
He replied "Only two days back." He asked me, "Where are you going so swiftly?"
I said "I have heard that a Siddha Yogi Mahatma has come to our town and I was going to have his darshan."
Shankar Prasad said, "Yes, he is a great Yogi Mahatma."
I enquired from him, "How do you know him?"
He said " I know him from a long time and yesterday I had his darshan."
I asked his name and he said, "His name is Shri Brahmanand ji Saraswati Maharaj, a Dandi Sanyasi Mahatma. He is a Siddha Yogi."
I said, "I am eager to have his darshan, so please let me go now."
He said, "This is not the time to see him. At 6.30 p.m. daily his door is opened for men only. No woman is allowed in his premises to have his darshan and after 30 minutes at 7 p.m., the door is closed. It is 4 p.m. now, better wait, we both would go to have his darshan."
I thought to myself, "What a peculiar incident has happened. Instead of my own effort to find out the location where Maharaj Shri was staying, a suitable guide like Shankar Prasad has been arranged for me. The saying is true, Where there is a will, there is a way."
So I was waiting, taking with Shankar Prasad. In the meantime a gust of wind came and heavy clouds began gathering on the sky, wind was still blowing strongly and in no time the Sun hid behind the dense dark clouds. Darkness spread with terrible thunderstorm and the rains started.
It was 6 p.m., I asked Shankar Prasad, "How could we go to Maharaj Shri in this stormy weather?"
He said, "This time it is not safe to go out."
We would go tomorrow surely. Our plan was upset due to bad weather and I had to go home disappointed.
Next evening at 5.30 p.m. I went to Shankar Prasad. We both purchased garlands and reached the building where Maharaj Shri was staying.
I had no idea how to meet or behave with a Siddha Mahatma till then. So I thought to follow Shankar Prasad's way of meeting him. I was very alert in this regard.
There was a brahmachari standing at the main doorway, Shankar Prasad told him his name for permission. The brahmachari took the name to Maharaj Shri for his darshan. He consented and the brahmachari allowed us to enter.
In a hall, Maharaj Shri was seated on a comfortable chair. Shankar Prasad was the first to enter the hall. As he got the glimpse of Maharaj Shri he bowed down and went near him to garland him. On my turn, I too did the same and garlanded him. Beholding him, my alertness vanished and instead of moving aside to take my seat, I sat down near his sandals as if charmed by his Divine influence looking at him all the while, I had lost myself in his Grandeur. For a minute or two, I was in that position but all of a sudden I got a hint from within, "Where are you sitting?" I felt ashamed of my folly. I got up and sat down aside.
I again looked up to see if Maharaj Shri had taken ill of my unmannerly sitting at improper place but I noticed no change on his face as if nothing had happened. I was happy that no wrong was come on my part.
There were some 30 or 35 men in the hall sitting around Maharaj Shri but all were quiet. I wished to hear him but how? It was a tough problem. Nobody dared to speak. I moved to an aged gentleman and whispered into his ears requesting him to bring out a question to hear Maharaj Shri. He said to me "You put a question." I was helpless because I had no question.
Then Maharaj Shri himself said "I am not in the habit of giving discourses but if any question comes, then adequate answer will be given to it."
Since I was inquisitive to hear him, I apparently thought it my concern to find out some question.
There were a few minutes to 7 p.m. and thinking whatever difficulty I had to face in my business, I should put before Maharaj Shri.
With due respect I said, "Maharaj Shri, I am an Artist and a Photographer running a studio, here in Jabalpur. Customers come to my studio, I take their exposures and they deposit some money as advance. I note down their orders and give them dates to collect their works. I complete the works before the due dates but very often I observe that they do not turn up to collect their packets, in time. I cannot ask them to pay in full, in advance. This is my difficulty. How should I overcome it?"
Maharaj Shri paused a while and said, "You know family men, very often, have to face one problem or the other. If they have money and no time, they cannot come. If they are out of station then also they are helpless to collect their works. But as and when they are capable, they would surely come. It is a question of patience."
I said, "Maharaj Shri, there are many accumulated packets in the studio now."
It was 7 p.m. and he asked all the men present to leave. All of us, one by one left, bowing at his lotus feet. I resolved to come daily as it was very pleasant to have his darshan.
I marked that all the packets were cleared off within three days and I got good amount. The customers concerned gave the same explanations of their late coming to me, as Maharaj Shri had told me, three days back.
Daily I went to have his darshan.
On the fourth day, when I requested the brahmachari for permission, he said, "You need no permission now you may go."
I said "I do not want to violate any rule of Maharaj Shri. Please take trouble to go to him and get his permission."
He said "Last evening when I went to take permission for you, Maharaj Shri told me precisely that whenever Varma ji come let him come in. so you can go."
I was astonished, why this relaxation of his rule for Varma ji! I went in and bowed down at his feet and sat down. The brahmachari came naming a man, who was dishonest and of loose character, for permission. Maharaj Shri pausing for a while said, "Tell him, there is no darbar (meeting) today." The man was not allowed to come in.
Wonderful it was to mark that only the name of a man revealed the full character of the man.
Previously, I had decided not to make Guru in my life because I had been marking that the so-called Gurus make disciple for their monetary gain and couldn't do any good to enlighten the disciples. They themselves were not evolved spiritually nor they had Vedic knowledge.
A blind cannot lead the blind.
But when I got Maharaj Shri, fortunately I became earnestly desirous to make him my Guru. So on the fifth day of his darshan, I requested him reverentially in loneliness, to make me his disciple. He said "To make a Guru, one should test him thoroughly."
I said, "Maharaj Shri, I have no knowledge to test a Guru but this much I know that your revered self is far beyond any test. The very moment I got a message of your arrival in Jabalpur, while I was going to the market on the road, my mind became restless to have your darshan, for I have heard that only by the darshan of a Yogi Mahatma the beholder is benefitted. Kindly, therefore make me your humble disciple."
Maharaj Shri said, "There shouldn't be hurry in choosing a Guru."
I said, " I am 41 years of age now and think that I am already very late to make a Guru. At what age should a man make a Guru Maharaj Shri?" At this he was silent. Then I asked him, "Should a man make a Guru, in his old age when his senses are weak enough to act to the wishes of Guru Dev?"
Maharaj Shri said, "No, not in old age." Then again I requested him kindly to make me his disciple. Maharaj Shri said, "The Guru also has to see whether a man is worthy of being a disciple."
I said, "When a name is enough to read the character of a man, I am here in person. Maharaj Shri, your revered self needs no time to know about me."
Maharaj Shri then said, "You are getting late to get home, so you may go now."
I said, "Maharaj Shri, kindly excuse me for taking so much of your valuable time." I bowed down and left saying that "My humble request is still at your lotus feet."
I was happy to have his darshan daily. After the meeting was over, every day, I talked to him with reverence about my request. He talked of this and that but there was no approval of my request so far.
In this way, 12 days passed in suspense. The twelfth day when I returned home and lay down to sleep, my mind was uneasy and I could not think what to do. Maharaj Shri had not given his consent to take me as his disciple even to that day.
Instantly, it struck my mind. "Take a vow now to request Maharaj Shri to free me from this painful state of suspense by saying yes or no regarding my request. I took a vow.
Next day, after the meeting was over, I requested him, "Kindly free me from this painful suspense today. If I am considered worthy of being a disciple, kindly say "Yes" otherwise "No". If approved I shall feel very fortunate and happy and will be in the service of Shri Guru Dev for the whole of my life. If not, even then, I have already made Maharaj Shri my Guru Dev. Eklavya had done so when Guru Dronacharya refused to enrole him as his disciple. So please be kind to pass your worthy decision today, because I do not want any suspense of mind now. It is intolerable to me."
Hearing of my vow, Maharaj Shri laughed and said, "Why only today and not tomorrow?"
I said, "Maharaj Shri it matters little after tonight tomorrow comes and your will is supreme."
So next day, September 13, 1940 was fixed for my test, and I was asked to come at 9 a.m. I bowed down at his lotus feet and left.
Next morning, I got up early, gathered flowers, made a good garland, took my bath and got ready to start. I reached the ashram at 8.45 a.m. The brahmachari opened the door for me and asked me to sit down and went to inform Maharaj Shri. A few minutes later, I was asked to go to the room where Maharaj Shri was sitting. He allowed me to come in. I offered the garland and bowed down. He asked me to sit in front of him. He knew well about me, in fact, but for the sake of test he put a few ordinary questions which I replied. In the questions there was one particular and that was concerning diet. I said, "Maharaj Shri, I am from Kayastha Community, where non-vegetarian food and drink are allowed but I myself and my small family have no taste for that sort of diet and drink. We are happy to have vegetarian diet. If some times, such occasions come in the society where non-vegetarian diet is arranged I escape from that place any way by the grace of the Almighty."
Maharaj Shri said, "Non-vegetarian food and drink are a great obstacle in spiritual development. Therefore, it should never be thought of in life." He particularly warned me against it. I said, "That will be done by all means." Further he said, "When you come this way, be an ideal."
I said, "Maharaj Shri, I do not know what an ideal is but I with complete devotion assure your revered self that even a small hint would be strictly followed most dutifully by me and eventually, I hope to be an ideal of your wish."
Maharaj Shri then approved me to be his disciple and very kindly said to me, "Come this time tomorrow, (i.e. on September 14, 1940), with some puja samagri for initiation."
I bowed down at his lotus feet with great joy and took leave to go.
Next morning, puja samagri (things required for worship) such as camphor, incense sticks, sandal wood paste, rice, sacred thread, flowers, garland, coconut and some fruits etc., were gathered. I took bath and got ready to start. I reached the ashram at the fixed time. The brahmachari opened the door, allowed me to come in and asked me to sit for a couple of minutes.
I was called in the room where Maharaj Shri was sitting after samadhi (deep meditation). Devotedly I performed the puja of Maharaj Shri and he gave me a suitable mantra to repeat daily in a particular way. I was very grateful to him and bowed down at the lotus feet of Shri Guru Dev.
Thus I got Maharaj Shri, the most illustrious Siddha Yogi, as my Guru Dev.
Two days after my initiation I requested Shri Guru Dev for permission to take his photograph. He said, "To take a photo of me is of no use. You must have seen pictures of deities in the rubbish. People do not take care of them."
I said, "Maharaj Shri I wish to keep one copy of your photo in the puja room for myself and nobody would get a copy without your permission."
He said, "You may take one later."
Next day, I loaded two cabinet size plates in the dark and took the camera to the ashram and told the brahmachari, "Look here, here is a camera loaded with tow plates to take exposures of Maharaj Shri and unless they are exposed the camera would remain here." Saying so I came back home.
The brahmachari informed Maharaj Shri accordingly.
In the evening when I went to have darshan, Shri Guru Dev asked me, "Have you left your camera here?"
I said "Yes Maharaj Shri it will remain here till the plates, especially reserved for taking Shri Guru Dev's photo are exposed."
Shri Guru Dev kindly said, "Then expose the plates tomorrow morning at 8 hours and take back the camera to do your business."
I bowed down and the next morning his photo was taken. In this way I got his photograph.
Shri Guru Dev stayed in Jabalpur for two months during the rainy season and by the middle of October, he left for Varanasi (Kashi or Benaras), City of Lord Shankar, Vishwanath. Benaras is an ancient seat of learning situated on the bank of the Holy Ganges.
In Varanasi, Maharaj Shri got an ashram built in Siddhagiri Bagh, Chhotigaivi. Moreover, a Sanskrit College was established in the memory of his Sad Guru Dev, where students receive free education up to Acharya. The ashram is a three storied building, where fifty families can be accomodated. These two buildings are under the management of Shri Krishnanand Saraswati Trust.
During the stay of Shri Guru Dev, we enjoyed very happy days in Jabalpur.'
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