When I first met Swamiji, I had been engaged in a Yajnam (fire ceremony) which continued for many months. At that time, I had a fire altar made of brick set up and a space to sleep. I would wake each day and eat a little food and then began making offerings to the fire. When it got dark, I would eat a little more food and sleep. Perhaps once in a week, I would walk around. As I walked, I could see the karmas of the people who passed by. Sometimes I would also see the people's relatives and acquaintances, though they were not physically present. Some people had illnesses; others had problems with their career or relationships. I could see as I passed by, that these karmas were shifting. It was not from anything I was doing, but from the shakti (energy) of the Lord manifesting in the physical realm through the pranas (subtle nutrients) of the ghee, rice, flowers, and herbs which had been offering into the sacred fire. I typically did not will for any of this to happen, but simply observed. Sometimes, random strangers or people that I knew would approach me and tell me of their problems and I would pray for them. But most days I simply sat making offerings into the sacred fire. I did pray that the Lord help the world as He see best as I made offerings and I tried to simply serve as an instrument in His hands for that purpose. It would be revealed to me which mantras and offerings would be most useful at a given time. Sometimes I was aware of specific situations or energies that we were working to mitigate, but many other times there was no such knowledge and I would simply make the offerings I was guided to.
At this time, I was not in the habit of conversing much with people, reading magazines, internet or new papers or watching television. I was very much out of touch with current events and culture. I did not hear about world events, popular music, fashions, celebrities, or politics. Yet one day, I saw a Swami appear beside the fire. He looked to me like I would imagine an ancient sage would look; long beard, beaming grin, thin figure, simple robes and wooden Padukas (sandals).
He smiled and said "Come see me," and then he disappeared as suddenly as he had come. I had no idea who he was. I had never seen him before. I noticed he wore the Kavi robes of a Sannyasi (monk).
I said "Wait! Swamiji, I don't know who you are. I don't know where you are. How do I 'come see' you?"
Disturbed by this command which I had no idea how to fulfill, I concluded my offerings and walked away from the fire altar. With no idea what to do, I paced around anxiously and suddenly came across a magazine opened to a page with an ad for a teaching given by Swami Paramanandaji. The ad had his photo, and I recognized immediately that he was the same Swami from my vision by the fire. By some great luck or more likely on account of the karma of previous lives, Swamiji gave several teachings in nearby towns which I had the opportunity to attend. As I approached the event, I could feel Swamiji's shakti for nearly a kilometer. Coming into the physical presence of that Saint was like coming into an supercharged energy field which shook me to the core. Everything felt heavy around him. The gravity pulled down more in that space. I felt I understood why they call such a teacher a "guru" (guru means heavy in Sanskrit). I could feel my body tremble as it was flooded with Divine shakti and I felt the wall of maya tremble. The world shook around me and what was false began to fall away in the presence of the master. As he spoke in Hindi through a translator, I could not really understand his words or those of the translator. My awareness went inward and there was great difficulty to focus on the outer experience of words. As I sat in his divine presence, I felt many deep-seated pains in the body, of which I had been previously unaware. A tightness in the chest, fear in the back, sharp pains in the neck and head... These pains seemed so intense it was difficult to bear. The intensity was so great that at times I feared the physical body could not possibly sustain the experience and that it would surely perish. It was possible in this Saint's presence for me to tap into previously inaccessible sensations. Though his awareness helped guide and stabilize my efforts, it was a definite struggle for me to come to a place of stillness in relation to each of these intense experiences. They came one after another by the dozen, for days as I had the great fortune to be in the presence of this master. Each experience, seemed more intense than the last. But eventually, with great effort, I would come to a place of acceptance of the experience and it would pass. As these experiences passed, I felt as if imposing weights were lifting from my body and I saw brilliant colored lights dissipating from my aura.
Later I witnessed Swamiji conduct a surprising feat involving fruit. It was during a subsequent meeting with Swamiji when he had come back to the town where I was living a different year. Swamiji was conducting a discourse after which the attendees were to be invited to come forward to receive Swamiji's blessings. At this point, I knew a few of his disciples who had made arrangements for the event. I heard them discussing the arrangements with concern. They had estimated that only a couple dozen people would attend the event, but as people continued to arrive, the actual number was closer to two hundred. Swamiji had requested that they buy a small amount of fresh fruit for him to give to the people attending the event as a blessing. They bought more than they thought they would need, but it was clear that there were many more people than fruits. They asked Swamiji if they should rush to a nearby store to buy more fruit, because it seemed clear there would not be enough for everyone there.
Swamiji said "Don't worry about it."
When Swamiji's discourse had come to an end, the devotees were anxious about the fruit situation and asked Swamiji if they should change the plan of telling people that he would be giving fruits as a blessing. He instructed them to put the fruits into a few baskets and not to worry. So they did as instructed. I was fortunate to be able to sit close and watch as Swamiji gave his blessings to all the people who had attended the event. Somehow, he gave a fruit to every one of nearly two hundred people from a couple baskets holding several dozen apples and oranges. Quite a few people received two or more fruits, presumably for people close to them who had not been able to attend the event. When the whole event concluded, I rose in respect as Swamiji walked away and watched with devotion until he had departed. After Swamiji had gone, I noticed that there were many fruits still in the baskets and scattered around the place where he had been sitting, many more than had originally been in the baskets of fruits brought by the devotees. Though most people who attended the event had no idea what had happened, I saw some of the devotees who had expressed concerns about the fruit before the event cleaning up afterward. We grinned at each other in acknowledgement.
It was at another teaching Swamiji was giving around the time of this event that I had an amazing experience. I prostrated before the master and as I arose, he grinned radiantly and pointed above my head. Then I saw a bright golden light, which appeared like a large candle flame burning just above my head as if ignited by his gesture. It was warm and bright. The light was so bright in fact that its vision made it difficult to see other things. For about a week I struggled to see with the physical eyes as the inner eye remained focused on the flame growing and becoming brighter above my head. I could not walk around or drive because it was hard to see anything other than that light. I desisted from all scheduled activities, because it wasn't really possible to do much of anything else apart from focusing on this experience. Apart from the difficulty I was experiencing to see things, there were intense sensations as the light above the head seemed to be affecting me. It felt bright and pure and I felt quite differently. I felt that I must come into alignment with its radiance, and also that it was burning away certain attachments and fears. It seemed to have an affect of exposing what darkness was within. As this darkness would come to light, I would experience it acutely. Sometimes I would have to simply sit focusing on what had arisen with dedicated attention until it passed. Sometimes, the physical body would respond as if it was ill as toxins were purged from the body. It was an extremely intense experience, but not unbearable.
Once I felt that I had become somewhat more comfortable with the presence of this light in my realm of experience, I saw it begin to expand. I saw what had appeared like a large candle flame burning above the head descend into my body as if it was bathing my aura. Though it seemed to dissolve into my body, it also remained above the head. Then I watched as the flame above the head began to extend to a greater area. First it seemed to project for several feet, but gradually this increased until it extended hundreds of meters. I noticed that the light seemed to have an affect on other people around also. It appeared to illuminate what darkness was present in them and to feed and sustain what light was there. For some time I felt somewhat self-conscious and concerned that people would be uncomfortable with this experience, but gradually I felt more at peace with it. Every person is affected in a subtle way by the energy of the people they come in contact with. This is simply the way of the world. I reasoned to myself, why should it be any different in this case? I saw that most people seemed to be repelled by this light but a few felt drawn to it. For many it seemed to cause outbursts as it purged what difficulties they were bound to. For others it facilitated healing and a sense of calm.
Occasionally people would approach me and yell at me or physically attack me. To a casual onlooker, this would have seemed random and senseless. I, however, knew they were reacting to the light my Guru had shown to me. Other times people would approach and tell me they could see a brilliant light in my aura and ask for my blessings or advice. For several years, most people simply avoided me altogether and I remained in my apartment meditating for the most part not interacting with anyone. Those who planned to come to visit me would often suddenly become gravely ill or injured and cancel their plans. After some time I became able to somewhat withhold the energy of this light to make it much more comfortable for people to approach, but I have not learned any way to withhold it altogether. Now it is often still much the same, and many people seem to avoid me or to have great difficulty to approach. But a few have become more able to come close so that I can talk to them about the experiences I have had or offer my insight into their lives. Many others have come to help with our efforts to open a temple and teaching center. But the more they help, the more it opens them to this energy. People still often seem to become overwhelmed with emotion and start yelling or crying, or much more often, they simply flee suddenly. For those who feel the emotions as they begin to arise from within them, this process is much easier. For those who can simply observe as they pass, this seems like a great blessing. Many, however, seem to try to make sense of the feelings instead and become confused and begin to make irrational decisions as they act out the emotions which seem to have a grasp on them. Others seem to lack the ability to allow themselves to feel what is coming up for them and they then begin to experience difficulties in their lives which trigger the release of these feelings. Though most do not really seem to understand what is occurring, they often have a sense that their interaction with me has something to do with the experiences they are having. Some hate me for this, and others seem to love me for this. I don't take any of this personally and I do not expect any to remain for an extended period. It is simply their response to the flame that had been ignited in the presence of my Guru.
I view this all as a blessing which keeps me focused on my spiritual practice. Even if I have hired a contractor for a job, I do not expect for them to finish that job. Suddenly people seem to become overwhelmed by this light and seek to distance themselves. I cannot fault them, I myself have often felt a desire to retract from the light which continues to attack all that is impure within me. But I do not have the choice to retract. Something has begun for me which it seems cannot be reversed. Perhaps when I have more completely integrated this light into my own experience, I will develop an even greater ability to withhold it so that others may come close without being so affected. I do not know. I do not care. I do not really have a choice in the matter. All I can really do is watch as things unfold.
Though I do not see the light constantly like when it was first illuminated by the master's presence, I do feel it with me constantly and I am able to see it in my meditation. I am very much aware of its presence which forces me to focus inwardly. I am very grateful for this presence which focuses me. It is an inner companion to me which is not capable of disappointing in the way outer circumstances are. It is still and steady and ever-present, whereas the outer things are temporary and changing.
On the last time I met with Swamiji, I got invited to sit and eat with him. Swamiji did not finish his food. I thought, we must take this food as prasad. I felt a great desire to take the food left behind by the master. His close devotee took the food before I could and as he took it I felt instantly satisfied. After eating Swamiji arose and we stood in respect. As he walked away I felt I would not meet with him again in the physical form in this janma. He got into a car and I expected them to drive Swamiji away immediately. But there was some delay and Swamiji sat in the car for quite some time, maybe 30 minutes or more. I had been silently practicing japa as japa is many times more powerful in the presence of a Saint. So I sat and watched Swamiji in the car and continued my japa. He closed his eyes and meditated with me. Then I saw a light brighter than 10 million Suns like the scriptures describe when they say Koti Surya. It was difficult to look at. To gaze at this light burned away the sense of self. I could not be and gaze at this light. But by Swamiji's grace I was able to look. I saw it first above the sahasrara and then it descended and filled my body and encircled my. Then my senses became still and awareness merged into the light. The light covered my being and I ceased to exist. I felt an overwhelming and intense sense of transcendent bliss. This was the second time I have experienced samadhi. I do not think that the experience lasted long, though there is no way to be certain as I had no sense of time. I came back to awareness of the body and saw Swamiji grin before they drove away.
The next year Swamiji was scheduled to return to the US, but he had a heart attack and his doctors advised against travel. Some devotees then asked him, "Swamiji you seem to know the past and present and future, did you not know you would have a heart attack?" He said "Yes, I knew heart attack would occur." They looked at him in amazement and asked "Swamiji, we have known you for many year and have seen you heal thousands of people. Why did you not heal yourself?" Swamiji just laughed and asked "Why should I heal myself? Traveling to America to teach is fun. Heart attack is also fun. Why should I second guess the Lord whose will for all is perfect?"
These are just a a few experiences with Swamiji I have been allowed to share. Perhaps in the future, I will be permitted to share even more. I have not seen Swamiji in many years, but he remains within me in the form of this inner light which he had revealed to me. He appears to me and guides me occasionally. I watch his videos lectures with joy and his ashram in Haridwara broadcasts the arti to Swamiji live occasionally. But I my physical contact with Swamiji is extremely limited and I doubt if I will see him again in this lifetime. Long after he has left from his physical body, I will feel that he lives on in me in the form of the light he allowed me to see within. For his ongoing presence in my life, I am extremely grateful.
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