Vincent meets Shankar Das Ji, his God-brother
A foreign disciple of Sri Tatwale Baba once visited Baba’s Ashram (Sri Tatwale Baba) at Rishikesh, long after Sri Baba left his body.
Sri Shankardas Ji, a prominent disciple of Baba, was the caretaker at that time.
The two god-brothers met each other at the humble Ashram and exchanged many memories of their divine preceptor, Sri Tatwale Baba.
The foreign disciple, Vincent by the first name stayed at a hut along with Shri Shankardas Ji Maharaj.
Vincent and the Energy in the Tomb
One day, very early, Vincent woke up by the ruckus created by some nocturnal creatures.
It was normal that the hilly terrain of Rishikesh was infested by many creatures.
These creatures often played all over the ancient, forest-covered Ashram setup.
These creatures had found their way into the main accommodation area.
It was still dark and Vincent sat up, startled and wide awake.
Hearing the noise, Vincent slowly crawled along the ground and made his way out of the hut, into a cave that was just adjacent to the hut, where the Samadhi or tomb of Sri Tatwale Baba was established.
Vincent had an experience of some strange mystical power gripping him.
The power waves seemed to emanate from the tomb of the Baba.
Usually, sadhakas or practitioners of spiritual routines are especially sensitive to these energies.
It seemed that Vincent was crawling towards a red-hot furnace.
That was the type of experience.
Vincent Meditates for a Long time
Vincent arrived very near the tomb and some energy got him to sit straight with his back erect and perpendicular to the ground.
Enveloped by the mystical energy, Vincent automatically closed his eyes and sat in “Shanta Mudra” ( a yogic pose that reflects tranquil calmness).
Vincent would appear freezing if there were to be an onlooker.
Nearly five hours passed by.
It appeared to Vincent that only a couple of minutes had escaped his notice.
Internally Vincent was quite aware of the sun rising behind the silvery sky-clout.
Vincent Observes Shankardas Ji
He could also feel the presence of Shankardas Ji, carrying out his morning chores, only that everything seemed to happen at an extreme pace.
The meditation experience seemed to leave a lasting calmness throughout Vincent’s being.
It was 8:00 AM when Vincent slithered out of his meditational experience.
He saw that Sri Shankardas Ji began his daily set of yogic practices which included Asanas and Pranayama.
As Vincent saw his god-brother doing those practices, it reminded him about his own childhood desire of being free in all respects and of spending his time in some hilly terrain, as yogis would.
The trail of thoughts also carried him to the many tense thoughts which grip all beings time and again and they wish to become free from the rat race of life.
At the same time, he was feeling very proud that he had a great god-brother in the form of Sri Shankardas Ji Maharaj, who was actually living the dreams that he had nurtured during childhood.
Vincent could not separate his identity from that of his god-brother.
He could feel a strange oneness that united him with his god-brother.
Shankardas Ji: An Epitome of Simplicity
Sri Shankardas Ji Maharaj lived a very simple life, simplicity which, probably even the Oxford English dictionary could not dare to define.
There was no electricity or gas to supply artificial light or heat.
There was a natural fireplace that helped cook food.
Toilet was in the natural environment of the deep-forest.
Yogis take a natural shower under the waterfalls of the terrain, irrespective of whether it was winters or summers.
There was a small pipeline that brought water into a single tap, inside the premises of stay.
Yogis in the region would consume natural fruits or berries.
They would even consume leaves and roots when fruits became naturally scarce in the region.
Once in a while, there was a supply of some rice, cereals, and vegetable for yogis from people who visited them.
Shankardas Ji’s Philosophy: Lesser, The Merrier
This lifestyle was also the one that Shankardas Ji lived by.
He ate one meal and very rarely had two meals.
Yet, he was strongly built.
He did not have anything to do with automobiles or other kinds of vehicles.
Wherever he went for whatever reasons, he walked and walked a lot.
He knew about Video players, Television, and other electronic gadgetry because sometimes visitors carried these items with them for their own entertainment, but he had personally nothing to do with these city gadgets.
Swamiji ( this was how Vincent addressed Shankardas ji Maharaj) was content with whatever little he had.
The little, the merrier.
This was his simple philosophy.
Although articles were scarce at Swamiji’s place, he had a large and compassionate heart.
He lived in the vicinity of his Guru’s tomb, with the mood that his guru was still alive in flesh and blood.
This was Vincent’s understanding of his god-brother’s nature and character.
Swamiji gets together with Vincent for discussions
These thoughts reeled in Vincent’s mind as he observed Swamiji perform his unfailing morning routine.
After Shankardas Ji finished his set of yogic practices, Vincent approached his god-brother.
He sat down on the ground in a crouching position with his knees close to his chest and his hands tightly holding his legs drawn close to the rib cage.
With a tilted head, Vincent inquired, ” What was Guruji’s age? Was he really old as people claimed?”
Swamiji looked pensive.
Regaining his sitting posture, he consummated his yoga routine. Swamiji answered, ” Well, Guruji stopped aging after he was 35.
That was what people knew about him.
I guess he must have been ninety-five, at the time when he was shot.
“How did you meet Guruji?”, continued Vincent.
Swamiji’s eyes lit up with a diamond-like glint as he reminisced his first meeting with the great preceptor.
Shankardas Ji recounts his first meeting with Tatwale Baba
Swamiji said ” I was 7 years old then.
I wanted to see “Shiva” and I was adamant about this desire of mine.
I left home at that age and roamed all over India, submitting myself to the wishes of Shiva.
Some yogis told me that I had to meditate in order to get access to the Lord of Lords.
Then I read somewhere that without a Guru, Liberation is not possible and without Liberation, meeting Mahadeva was impossible.
I went to Manikut Parvata (mountain) to do my Tapasya (austerities), hoping that someday I shall find my Lord Shiva.
“When I came up to this mountain, I saw Sri Tatwale Baba seated on that stone.”,
Swamiji (Sri Shankar Das Ji), pointing to a stone near his hut.
Swamiji continued, ” Baba looked to me like Shiva.
When I saw the form of Baba, my body started trembling and I started losing balance.
My heart pounded heavily.
It terrified me, looking at what was happening to me.
Therefore I started running away into the deep forest and took refuge under a wide tree.
For the next 3 days, I fasted and lived on Ganga water alone.
I read the Gita ( Swamiji had a copy of Gita always with him, even as he left his home).
All lost, I kept praying to the Lord for guidance.
Somehow I gathered courage and came back to Tatwale Baba.
My fear was gone.
I stared at Baba and Baba smiled at me pleasingly.
From that day onwards, I never left his side and he continues to live with me.”
Swamiji’s eyes welled up with tears and some deep emotion choked his voice.
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