September 17, 2021, 08:57:52 AM

Author Topic: Thoughts Between Sessions - Part 7 of interview by Dio Urmilla Neff, Summer 1978  (Read 2907 times)

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Thoughts Between Sessions - Part 7 of the Interview with Babaji, Summer 1978 By Dio Urmilla Neff (printed in the Yoga Journal, 1980)

Although many of the Western devotees saw Babaji as a grand psychological master many Indians saw him in a different light altogether -- as an avatar of Shiva. Shiva is one of the three aspects of God in the Hindu cosmology. Brahma, they say, is the creative aspect, Vishnu the stimulating or maintaining aspect, and Shiva the destructive aspect. The Hindus also believe these aspects of God can incarnate or materialize in human form as avatars. Incarnations of Vishnu, it is said, are mortal -- they eventually must die, but incarnations of Shiva are thought to be immortal.

The Indian devotees I talked to were certain of Babaji's avatar status. First of all, they said, Mahendra Baba had often told his awed followers that their beloved Herakhan Baba and Yogananda's Babaji were none other than Shiva incarnate. And Hindu seekers had long predicted that when Shiva next appeared in human form he would have a scar on his lower right leg, another on his upper left arm, and Shiva symbols and signs of the zodiac on the soles of his feet. Sure enough, Babaji has the requisite scars, and after years of reluctance, finally allowed his feet to be inked and photographed.

And there they were, scattered across his heels and the balls of his feet: a tiny bull, a cobra, the Shiva trident, an "Om" in Brahmic script, the sign of Leo, an Aries ram. My friend from Bombay told me how she and other women had often seen light radiating from Babaji's forehead, and sometimes the light would form various Shiva-symbols: an open, vertical eye; the "Om" in Brahmic script; Shiva's three-pronged trident.

The snake is a particularly significant Shiva symbol. A retired Indian Air Force commander from Allahabad told me of a time when Babaji took a group of devotees to the headwaters of the Ganges. As the crowd gathered on the water's edge, the commander saw a mythic-sized cobra with three glistening heads rise slowly out of the water. He was speechless and tried to catch Babaji's attention. "Did I really see that?", he later asked Babaji. "You did."

I was musing over these anecdotes while cleaning the library one day when I found a book about Satya Sai Baba, the South Indian master so famous for materializing objects from the air. The book said that in 1963, before an audience of thousands, Sai Baba healed himself of a serious illness following an eight-day coma. He revealed that he was an incarnation of both Shiva and his consort Shakti, saying he'd been fulfilling an ancient prophecy that foretold the pair would reincarnate and undergo just such an eight-day illness.

That night I mentally asked Babaji to clear up the issue -- just who was this Shiva anyway? The next day a young Englishman stopped by the ashram library where I was cleaning the books. He told me the story of the time he and a group of devotees had gone to Delhi, where Babaji had been asked to perform a purifying fire ceremony by the temple prophets of the Book of Bhrighu. This book, he said, was one of the wonders of India, a series of ancient book leaves in a barely translatable tongue that would tell the names and needs of any visitor who happened to come to the temple -- even up to the present day. It seems the Book had presented a spontaneous reading one day, recommending that a little-known saint from the village of Herakhan be called to perform a Vedic fire ritual.

And when Babaji arrived, the Englishman said, the prophets found his name in the book and read the following: "Shiva has returned to us, manifest in three forms: Shiva alone, in that sadhu there," the priests indicated a white-bearded holy man watching them from the corner. "And Shiva and Shakti together in Satya Sai Baba, and as Nataraj, the dancing Shiva of destruction, in the form of this young guru, Herakhan Baba."

Of all the facets of himself that Babaji presents to us, the idea of the god of destruction is most puzzling. Yet he does present something of this aspect to his devotees, for what he consistently tells his devotees is that there will be very severe worldwide calamities -- natural disasters and war -- and that they will happen very soon. He says, in fact, that "Om Namaha Shivaya (or the repetition of any name of God) and the practice of truth, simplicity and love is the very antidote to these calamities, and that the people who do this practice, regardless of their spiritual path of religion, will be protected. Babaji's Indian devotees even go so far as to say that, as Nataraj, the most terrifying aspect of Shiva, Babaji is personally responsible for this destruction, and it is his task to destroy the ignorance of the world and bring about a new spiritual age.

He is now gathering together his devotees from past lives, they say, to teach them the new Kriya, repetition of "Om Namaha Shivai," and provide them with the necessary spiritual armor to withstand the coming events. I knew of this prediction and this belief about Babaji before I left for Herakhan, and was familiar with the fierce and warlike Nataraj Shiva portrayed in Indian art and mythology. But nothing in Babaji"s round, golden face of mutable behavior seemed anything like that apparition of destruction.

The more I saw of his playfulness and underlying compassion, the more I speculated about this strange prediction and the whole Shiva issue. I mentally asked Babaji to resolve this puzzle, and a few nights later had a vivid dream about it. I dreamed I saw a candle flame burning in a heart, and knew it represented love and devotion. The candle grew into a hotter, brighter flame, and I could see that it burned and purified all that was not love. Any dark, low things that did not match the love-intensity of this flame were consumed and destroyed by it, but only, it seemed, to make way for the good and the whole that would take its place.

I then felt I understood that the "destructive" Shiva aspect of God was actually an extremely intense vibration of love that passed unharmed through objects of a similar love nature but, also, destroyed immediately all that was of a low vibration -- greed, cruelty or selfishness, for instance. And it seemed that Babaji's designation of 'Om Namah Shivaya' as a protective mantra now made sense. If the Vedantic conception about mantras was correct and repeating this mantra evoked the Shiva aspect of God in a person, then he would naturally remain unharmed when the Shiva-energy passed through him, since that very energy would already be present within.

I woke up, filled with the images of this odd dream. Was it another "message" from Babaji, an answer to my question? Was it possible this destruction/new-spiritual-age notion was true? Was Babaji really working to inform and protect all those he could reach? I remembered his words to my lovely Delhi friend in her early days at the ashram. "I have so much to do," he told her quietly, "And so little time to do it in."


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