Thus far, Vivek Naicker has lived a remarkable life – particularly since his journey to Sai Baba’s ashram in India, in 1993. Here he tells of his pilgrim progress residing in Prashanti Gram, and of a celestial visit at Ananda Farm, nr Puttaparthi.
The one that fascinated me more than others, as it does most Hindu children, was the monkey god Hanuman but he was not one of those specifically worshipped by my family. Consequently, my knowledge of his place in the Hindu pantheon was sketchy and gleaned mostly from other Hindu children and English translations of the Ramayana.
Years later, when I married and had children, my only son Kamal was as fascinated with the monkey god as I had been. An Indian comic book based on the adventures of Hanuman that I had given him in his pre-school days was his favourite. It was his constant companion until it disintegrated out of sheer fatigue just before he started school in London in 1976.
With English as his first language like most South Africans of Indian descent, Kamal had his own version of Hanuman’s name. He called him “Honeyman”, constantly cajoling his grandparents into telling him “Honeyman” stories.
Years earlier, when my own religious perceptions began to emerge as I reached adulthood, I grew increasingly enamoured of the concept of a formless, Supreme Spirit. My ancient Saivite ancestry asserted itself, and I had no need for a pantheon of gods. God to my mind was the Supreme Intelligence, the Eternal Energy that pulsates through all beings and all things throughout the universe.
The dancing Nadaraja, symbolising as it does unvarying energy in the ceaseless swirl of protons, neutrons and electrons through all matter and all life, became in my view the greatest work of art ever conceived by the mind of man. I constantly saluted the ancient scientist/sculptor who, in a stroke of unimaginable brilliance, encapsulated the entire nature of creation in that one graceful, swirling form. There was, to my mind, no need to visualise God in any other way but Shivan – awesome, unimaginable Energy.
When I first arrived in India, I realised that Hanuman was very much a favourite in the Hindu pantheon of gods, for there were statues and temples everywhere. When I went to Puttaparthi in a parched corner of Andhra Pradesh for the first time early in 1993, I was greeted by a massive sculpture of Hanuman leaping across a hill overlooking the ashram town.
In my years in South India, I realised that statues of Hanuman were as ubiquitous as the auto rickshaw. There were roadside shrines dedicated to Hanuman almost wherever one looked and statues on temples and on hillsides and among trees in parks. Pictures of the monkey god appeared even on movie hoardings.
By the middle of 2004, after having lived in India continuously for a year and a half, I entered a rigorous phase of my spiritual development. I was aware that I was passing through a period of intensive tutelage, for synchronicity, advice, guides and books appeared in various amazing ways to take me along the path of enlightenment.
Intuitively during this period, I felt the need to go into a prolonged fast and to spend long hours in silent meditation. It was during this phase, as though on cue during a short visit to Puttaparthi from my base in Whitefield, that I met Rajendra, a retired IT technician.
A quiet, unpretentious man, Rajendra was a Sai devotee and had moved to Puttaparthi a few months before I met him. I had arrived in the village a few days earlier for the Guru Purnima (honouring the teacher) festival and had decided to spend a few weeks there. We became acquainted and met fairly often for a cup of tea and a chat. It was during this period that I happened to mention my total fast on certain days of the week, for he had invited me to tea when I happened to be fasting.
One thing led to another and Rajendra asked whether I had had a nadi reading done of my horoscope. I told him that I gave the nadi and nadi readers wide berth because it had become a major scam. Charlatans, westerners among them, charged astronomical figures for bogus readings.
Rajendra knew someone in Coimbatore who he said did accurate readings and offered to have mine done when he went there again. He asked for my thumb print and we went into a photocopying shop for a sheet of paper and an ink-pad. A few days afterwards, I returned to Whitefield.
Nearly two months later, Rajendra e-mailed my nadi reading to me. It was remarkably accurate as far as the highlights of my life were concerned and suggested that for some karmic reason, I should go on a fast and perform certain ritual prayers dedicated to Hanuman. I am not particularly attracted to ritual and I have never directed a prayer to Lord Hanuman, so I telephoned Rajendra to tell him so.
He suggested meeting him in Puttaparthi on my next visit. There he would teach me the ritual as well as a Hanuman mantra. I would then have to start a seven-week fast and perform the simple ritual and chant the mantra for seven consecutive Saturday mornings. He offered to book me a studio flat in the apartment block in which he and his wife were staying.
I was not entirely enamoured of the idea of the ritual and it went against the grain to submit to it, but Rajendra insisted that the prayer and fast were crucial to my future well-being. I thought it over and came to the conclusion that being alone and vulnerable in India and with few local friends, the fast and prayer could do no harm. I agreed to go to Puttaparthi as soon as I completed some tasks in Bangalore.
With a synchronicity that by then had become routine, towards the middle of November a few weeks later, I received an e-mail from Joan McIntosh in Puttaparthi to inform me that she was going to Noida in New Delhi for Christmas. She would be accompanied by Maria and they would be away for two weeks. Would I like to stay in Maria’s cottage at Ananda Forest while they were away? I had already stayed in the guest house in September and had loved the peace and tranquillity. I was overjoyed; I could learn the Hanuman ritual from Rajendra as well as stay at blissful Ananda Forest.
Both Joan and Maria were Australian devotees of Sri Sathya Sai Baba and they lived in Puttaparthi, the once-quiet rural village that has swelled in the past twelve or thirteen years to become a small, fast-growing city. Some eight years previously, Swami had advised Joan to buy eighteen acres of a bare hilltop some four kilometres from Prashanti Nilayam, his ashram on the outskirts of the village.
Joan complained that the hillside was barren and that nothing would grow there.
“Plant a forest”, Swami had replied.
Not one to argue with the World Teacher, Joan had bought the barren hillside and had started to plant hundreds of indigenous fruit and other trees as Swami advised. Using drip-irrigation and permaculture methods advocated by her fellow Australian Bill Mollison, Joan recruited local people to work at planting the hillside, paying them from her own savings. The forest thrived.
When I first went there early in 2004, many of the seven-year-old trees were already some thirty or forty feet high. Among the clusters of trees, Joan had built five little cottages for the workers. Two of them housed three women who helped her with her project, two from Australia and the other from Scotland.
A year earlier, Swami had instructed that a guest house should be built higher up the slope and this was done. When I saw it the first time in July, the cottage was heavily draped in passion fruit creepers in a cluster of neem and flame of the forest trees. It was empty except for a family of rather fat geckos. I had asked Joan whether I could use it for a few days sometime in the future. I wanted to write about her project, which she had been advised by Swami to christen “Ananda” – bliss. Ananda is also the second half of my name.
Joan had promised to ask Swami’s permission to let me stay there. When He had instructed Joan to build the guest house, He had said that nobody should be allowed to stay in it without his express permission. Consequently, it had been unoccupied for a year until I arrived.
I had almost forgotten about it when she e-mailed me nearly six weeks later to inform me that Swami had given permission for me to stay at the guesthouse and that I could come whenever I wished. I had decided to go during the second week in September, to spend my birthday there.
It turned out to be the most blissful week of my life, so much so that when the time came to leave, I was sad to go.
Following Joan’s invitation to stay on the farm again at Christmas and use Maria’s cottage, I went to Puttaparthi at the end of the first week in December and stayed in the studio flat arranged for me by Rajendra. I had started my fast which meant not eating from sunrise to sunset and giving up salt in my food. I had already turned completely vegetarian two years earlier and do not drink or smoke, so there was nothing else to give up.
The first prayer and ritual chanting was to start on Saturday a few days hence. Rajendra told me to buy a length of cotton to paint a large picture of Hanuman. I bought a three and a half metre length of cheap, rice-glazed cotton in a village shop and drew an imposing picture of a nine-foot Hanuman in conte crayon.
On Saturday, Rajendra came to my studio flat where I had hung the drawing on a wall. He created a small shrine at its base and suggested I make notes of the ritual. He lived with his wife in the flat next door. His wife came in with a tray containing flower garlands, camphor, water, ghee and incense. She placed these on the floor next to her husband.
For the next hour, Rajendra explained the significance of the ritual and taught me the mantra. I noted each step carefully and wrote the Sanskrit mantra phonetically after repeatedly checking the pronunciation with Rajendra. Satisfied that I knew exactly what to do, he let me conduct the ritual while he watched and supervised.
While Rajendra kept watch, I went through the motions of the ritual. He said that it had to be perfect to be effective and was eventually satisfied that I would manage on my own. I would do the next prayer in Maria’s cottage on the farm the following Saturday. For the following next six Saturdays, I would have to do the ritual alone The seven-week series would end early in February, in my own flat in Whitefield in the rural outskirts of Bangalore.
Towards the end of the following week I moved from the studio flat to Ananda Forest and installed myself in Maria’s picturesque little cottage opposite the forest nursery. I renewed my acquaintance with several of the workers I had first met when I had stayed in the guest house in September.
It was the start of ten idyllic days and I revelled in the peace and tranquillity and incredible variety of bird life although I kept a weather eye out for the snakes, particularly cobras, that abound there. Throughout my stay, I never left the house without my stout bamboo hiking staff, although I never quite worked out what I would actually do with it if I should encounter a 12-foot cobra swaying its hood at me on a pathway.
That was to happen many months later, when I went in November, 2005, with Brendon and Toni to say goodbye to Maria before returning to South Africa after three years in India. When we had arrived at the forest, Brendon and Toni walked into the trees at the entrance to the forest where a small cottage in which they had once stayed had been recently demolished. They fell into discussion with someone they knew while I walked up the dirt road towards Maria’s cottage. Unknown to me at the time, it was Maria, who was supervising some workers among the trees at the entrance to the farm, to whom they were talking.
I continued to walk along the unpaved north road, expecting the couple to catch up with me. As I went around a bend in the road I sensed rather than saw something emerge from the grass on the left side of the road. Not realising what it was, I continued walking.
Within seconds, I saw that it was a large snake, I stopped walking and stood motionless. It was some seven or eight feet away. Becoming aware of my movement before I stopped walking, it instantly raised the first two or three feet of its thick body into the air. Flattening its hood, it turned majestically to face me as more of its body emerged from the grass. Only then did I become aware of its enormous size.
Strangely, I was not afraid but rather enchanted, for I had never been this close to a large snake in the wilds before. I realised that its eyesight would not allow it to distinguish me from the background if I remained motionless. Despite its beauty, it was not a king cobra but the more common brown variety of those parts. Yet it was not the usual darkish brown but a light silvery-fawn that appeared translucent. It glistened in the afternoon sun, giving it an almost ethereal aura. I thought it must have recently shed its old skin.
This time I had neither my hiking bamboo nor any intention of harming the beautiful creature. For reasons I could not later fathom, I put my palms together and said quietly, “Om Namah Shivaya”. The animal looked at me rather intelligently, I thought. Then it relaxed its hood, lowered its body to the ground and continued peacefully on its way.
It was only when the head reached the other side that I realised that the rest of its body was still emerging from the opposite side of the twelve-foot wide road. The snake must have been closer to fifteen or sixteen feet in length, the largest I’ve ever seen in the wilds of India, Africa or Australia.
Toni and Maria appeared on the bend behind me, with Maria following them. As they approached, Toni suddenly let out a surprised little titter and jumped away, for a metre-long snake suddenly appeared in the low grass at her feet and skittered away in shock on the tip of its tail. Quietly laughing in her characteristically calm way, Toni seemed more amused than alarmed.
The snake appeared even more surprised than Toni and I caught sight of it disappearing quickly into the long grass at the verge of the road. Later, when I described my own experience to Maria, she said in her usually casual manner when talking of snakes, “Oh, you must have seen the female of a very large pair that live here. She usually crosses the road where you saw her to return to her lair somewhere on the property next door. She comes to the forest only during the day to hunt. The workers and I see her quite often.”
Swami had once written in a note to Joan that nobody would be bitten by a cobra in Ananda Forest, but added, as an afterthought, unless it was in their karma! I felt the encounter with the large snake on the eve of my departure to South Africa a good omen, especially the way it immediately relaxed its hood and went its way when I greeted it in the name of Lord Shiva.
Ravi and his wife Maliga who lived in the cottage up the hill from mine came twice each day to see if there was anything I needed. Maliga usually tidied the kitchen and bathroom and swept out the little cottage while Ravi watered the flowers and shrubs.
As they passed my cottage on arriving for work each day, the workers would greet me and Jeelani, the young Muslim foreman, would stop at my porch for a chat and a cup of tea. He would explain the routine of the farm and often invited me to observe him laying the micro-irrigation pipes, demarcating new areas for tree planting or preparing the new pond.
Just after dawn on Friday morning, I left my cottage to walk to the tarred back road to the town, then crossed the paddy fields and an ancient grove of tamarind trees to the old village where Swami was born, to buy fruit and other necessities for the first Hanuman prayer I was to conduct alone the following day. Maliga came early the next morning to sweep out the cottage and wash the floor of the bed-sitting room where I was to conduct the prayer.
Because it was Christmas eve, the workers had gone home after tea at ten that morning. Ravi and Maliga came to tell me later that they were going to her parents’ village for the weekend and would be back only on Monday. Except for the watchman and his wife who lived in a cottage at the farthest end near the cowshed, I would be alone on the property. With everybody except the watchman and his wife gone, total silence settled over the forest and even the birds seemed to be quiet.
After shower and a change into kurta and pants, I hung the nine-foot drawing I had made of Hanuman on a wall against which I positioned a low table on which to place a small oil lamp, an incense holder and offerings of fruit, milk and rice cooked with fried black sesame seeds as I had been instructed.
I placed a cushion to sit on the floor facing the drawing and the shrine I had created against a south wall. On my left was the main doorway with a screen door facing east. I left the main door open but shut the screen door for Maria had warned me to be wary of snakes. On my right was a window overlooking the west side of the farm and the top of the hill.
Rather clumsily for I am not used to ritual, I lit the lamp and the incense sticks and placed camphor and rock incense in an incense burner and struck a match. The room filled with pleasant-smelling smoke. I settled down on the cushion and sat quietly absorbing the ambience. After a few moments of silence, I took up my japamala of rudraksha beads and started the Hanuman Chalisa.
The complete ritual involved repeating the four-stanza mantra 1080 times. Each time I completed a set of four stanzas, I counted off a bead on the 108-bead japamala. I had to count off the 108 beads on the japamala for a total of ten times each.
At the end of each circuit of the 108-bead japamala, I removed a marigold blossom from a tray of ten blossoms next to me. The number of flowers remaining in the tray would indicate the number of remaining circuits of the japamala. The entire process took a little less than two hours.
I had counted off nine beads on my japamala when I heard through the window on my right what I thought was a strong wind rising on the west side of the farm. Leaves were rustling as though agitated by a strongly gusting wind, the sound advancing rapidly down the hill. Then I realised that it was not wind that was disturbing the leaves and branches but some large animal or several animals, for I could hear what I thought at that instant were the pounding of feet or hooves. By then the wind had started to howl.
Other than the three Brahmin cattle in the stable near the watchman’s cottage, there were no other animals on the farm. I could not imagine what animal could be coming down the hill, for the footfalls were heavy and the agitation of the leaves and branches indicated an unusually large animal, much larger than a large Brahmin bull. The rapid footfalls were rushing towards the cottage. All this happened very quickly but I had paused only momentarily in my chanting.
Then something burst through the papaya and banana trees growing densely on the west side of the cottage. I could hear banana leaves tearing and branches snapping. There were two heavy footfalls directly outside the window on my right and the small cottage trembled. My eyes had been closed while I chanted but I sensed a strong impulse against opening them even though I was dying of curiosity. Intuitively, I also knew that I must not turn my head towards the window, but I had no idea why.
I was surprisingly calm even though I sensed something awesome was outside the window, for the hairs on my face and arms were bristling as I felt an icy cold wave passing over me. The urge to open my eyes was overpowering, but I was made to resist it by some overwhelmingly mysterious energy that seemed to clamp both sides of my head so that I could not turn it.
Startled yet not fearful, I had decided to continue with my chanting when I heard a sharp intake of breath and a tremendous noise that sounded like part grunt and part roar, part animal and part human. Then I heard footfalls and the rustling of the leaves again, but now the sounds were receding from the cottage and going rapidly up the hill. I was no longer afraid but intensely curious. Yet I instinctively knew I must not look out of the window.
The rest of the chanting took just more than another hour and a half and when I finished, I rose quickly and went out through the front door. I went around the cottage to the garden on the west side, expecting to see the papaya and banana trees shredded and the branches of the fruit trees beyond the kitchen garden to be smashed and lying on the ground.
I thought there would be footprints among the lettuce and spinach beds, but there was nothing. No banana or papaya leaves were shredded and there were no broken branches even though I had distinctly heard much tearing and snapping. There was no sign of the slightest disturbance. Complete order and tranquillity prevailed in the cottage garden, with only the gentle cooing of turtle doves breaking the silence.
Puzzled, I took up my bamboo staff and walked up the pathway to the watchman’s cottage and the cowshed. The watchman was sitting in his porch. He rose, placing his right hand to his heart and greeted me with a polite “Sai Ram, sarr” and we exchanged pleasantries. Then I asked whether any of the cattle had broken loose and he said no. He walked out from the porch and we went together to the cowshed where all three Brahmins were securely tethered and calmly chewing cud.
Did he hear the wind just over an hour previously I asked, but he said no, it had been very calm and still the whole afternoon. A bit of wind would have been welcome on that still day, he said, but there had not been even the slightest trace of a breeze. Did he hear anything unusual at all? No, he said emphatically, there was nothing but the usual silence. I was more puzzled than ever.
Going back to the cottage, I walked around it and examined the cement paving along the sides. On the paving below the west window, there were two large, damp patches of sand, but not having a clue about the cause of the noises, I could not imagine what could have made them. I thought of that possibility only much later.
I telephoned Rajendra to tell him about the strange happenings. He said he would send up an auto rickshaw to take me down to the village. I thought it would be a good idea to go to the afternoon darshan. The auto came surprisingly quickly and I met Rajendra at the Ganesha gate of the ashram after the darshan.
Over a cup of tea at a nearby café, I told him about the strange experience I had had at the cottage. He listened without interrupting. I told him that the almost deafening part roar, part grunt I had heard could not have been any animal common to those parts.
Rajendra decide to accompany me when I returned to the farm. He walked around the cottage and inspected the cluster of banana trees and the new seed beds beneath the mango and sapota trees. None of the trees were damaged and the seed beds untouched. When he came to the two patches of damp sand beneath the north window, he raised his eyebrows.
“You’re quite right”, Rajen said. “That was not an animal common to these parts. It is unmistakable who that was and I am not surprised. It seems that Lord Hanuman Himself responded to your chanting. You must have done the ritual with much love and dedication. Now, perhaps, you will understand why you were instructed to do the fast and the prayer.”
I was totally dumbstruck. If someone else had told me the story, I would not have believed it for I had always considered the pantheon of Hindu gods, including Hanuman, to be mere mythology or folklore and stories relating to them as allegorical. I realised only then that the two large patches of sand on the cement pathway around the cottage were giant footprints.
Fortuitously, several of my South African friends had come to Puttaparthi for Christmas and they visited me at the cottage. My old friend Devigi Govender of Durban came to spend a day and share the lunch I had cooked, as did Sue Kelly Christie and her sons Robin and Casey on another occasion a few days later.
Devigie listened carefully as I recounted my puzzling experience. She was especially interested in my account of the fierce wind-storm that sprang up on what until then had been a perfectly calm and windless day.
“Do you know who Hanuman’s father was?”, she asked me. I replied that I did not. My knowledge of Hindu mythology was sketchy as it had not been part of my English Christian education.
“Hanuman’s father was Vayu, the Wind”, Devi said. “Now do you understand why His visit was preceded by a windstorm?” My belief since my early youth that stories of super-beings in Hindu scriptures were nothing by myths evaporated in that instant.
Memories of the violent wind storm were still fresh in my mind and nothing would convince me that it had been anything but a real experience. I had even been afraid that the roofs of my cottage and the others would be blown off.
On reflection in the ensuing months, I came to the conclusion that somehow, perhaps as a result of the mantra I was chanting for I had been was told that it was powerful, I had slipped momentarily through a chink in the curtain between dimensions and experienced an other-worldly reality. Instinctively, I sensed that the episode had not been accidental; as part of a Divine plan, it had been programmed to happen as an aspect of my spiritual tutelage.
Early the following year, when my friend Chandra and my brother Radha from South Africa visited and we went with Kiara to the Oneness University near Varadapaliyam on the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal, near a Hanuman temple we had passed on the way, I told them the story of my experience. Chandra smiled as I told the story.
When I finished, Chandra, who had been married to a Bengali Brahmin, said: “Do you know that it was written a long time ago that in the time of Kali Yuga, Lord Hanuman would be present on earth to protect those faithful to the Avatar? Consider yourself extremely blessed to have His special protection.”
The episode had a sequel months later when my friend of many years Chris Parnell, an interspiritual minister from Australia, visited me in Whitefield. I told him of my Ananda Forest experience. He concurred that I might have momentarily slipped through an inter-dimensional curtain.
“I am not surprised you were psychically restrained from looking out of the window when it happened”, Chris said when I had finished the account. “Had you looked, you would have left the earth plane not long afterwards.”
He said that it was ancient Hindu belief that anyone catching sight of Lord Hanuman becomes so enamoured of Lord Rama’s greatest devotee that he or she invariably follows him out of the earth dimension within forty days of the sighting.
It was a turning point in my spiritual growth, eventually convincing me, despite my initial doubt and scepticism, that beneath His disarming façade, my gentle Neighbour in this former remote Deccan village was none other than the Kalki Avatar of Kali Yuga, awesome Shiva energy manifest yet carefully veiled, here to herald and oversee the momentous changes that are at hand in the rising consciousness of Man on his journey to spiritual liberation.
Although there was no indication at the time, that celestial visit turned out to be the precursor of other miraculous experiences in the years that I lived in close proximity to Sri Sathya Sai Baba of Puttaparthi.
There was a flow of unusual if not decidedly mysterious experiences through the years afterwards to remind me intermittently that my Celestial Protector was always close by. The first of these happened in the early months of 2010, some six months after my only son had tragically passed away.
Hazel, a clairvoyant English lady I had met through my close friend Sue Kelly Christie, saw my late son Kamal next to me on two occasions. The first was when Sue took me to visit her at her flat in the same building in which Sue had her penthouse.
As she opened her door and greeted Sue and shook hands with me, Hazel looked over my shoulder and asked, “And who’s this handsome young man with you?”
I glanced behind me but there was nobody.
“Oh, I am so sorry, Hazel apologised, “He looks remarkably like you but I see that he has passed over to the other side.”
The second time was when I saw Hazel again a year and a half later. I was on my way to the airport in Bangalore to fly to South Africa via Kuwait. Hazel saw my son next to me again.
“Your son is very excited because you’re passing through a country to which he has never been before.” I hadn’t told Hazel that I was going abroad or that there would be a five-hour wait in Dubai for the connection to South Africa.
She said: “There’s someone else with you and your son but his features are not clear and I cannot make out who he is. He is much taller than either of you and seems to be watching over you both.” Instinctively, I knew it was my son’s beloved “Honeyman”.
After my son passed on in 2009, I often felt his presence in my home and told my friend Chris Parnell of Shepparton, Australia. He said that it was not good that Kamal should hang around me.
He strongly recommended that I do Phyllis Krystal’s “Cutting of Karmic Chains” ceremony at the Hanuman Temple near Swami’s birthplace in Puttaparthi.
“He needs to get on with his spiritual evolution and not worry so much about you”, Chris said. I bought Phyllis Krystal’s book and asked Sai Bharathi to make the arrangements for the ceremony at the Hanuman Temple in Swami’s birthplace.
I has asked Sue to join me at the temple for the ceremony and she arrived just as the priest was starting his chanting. Her eyes widened as she looked about the temple. Afterwards, she told me that Lord Ganesha and Hanuman were also there near me. Sue, whose father was Irish, is psychic and clairvoyant.
The Origins of Humanity Unfolding
In 2010, I was invited to join a group of South African friends attending a spiritual course at the Oneness University close to Varadapalyam near Nellore on the Andhra Pradesh coast. While there, a special havan (fire ceremony) was performed for me in a bamboo hall built in an old mango orchard.
Two Hindu ladies from the South African group, Leela Naidoo and Shireen Singh, were invited to the ceremony in the orchard. Heavy monsoon rain throughout the night and the next morning had delayed their arrival. They had to splash through a stream of water to get to the entrance.
A poojari was performing the havan (sacrificial fire) on the mud floor in the middle of the spacious, high ceilinged hall with two local women assisting him. He lifted his head when we heard my friends splashing through the water outside. Shireen and Leela ran in, soaking wet from the rain despite a large umbrella between them.
“H-a-re R-a-a-m!” Shireen exclaimed loudly as she burst through the door, not knowing that the ceremony had already started. She put her hands together and covered her mouth in apology when she realised that she had interrupted the havan. She stared wide-eyed around the hall, looking above our heads as we sat with the priest around the havan (sacrificial fire).
After the ceremony had ended and we could talk, Shireen excitedly told us that gods and goddesses were present in the hall, including the elephant-headed Lord Ganesha and the Goddesses Lakshmi, Shakti and Saraswathi. Deceased members of my family were also there, including my son.
“And Lord Hanuman towers above everyone else, with his head almost touching the ceiling”, Shireen gasped.
In the years since that incident, I have covered much ground along the spiritual path. I had re-read the Mahabharata and the Bhagavad Gita. Most importantly, I had read and re-read all nine volumes of Vladimir Megrè’s “Anastasia” many times over. In my opinion, “Anastasia” is the most important spiritual work of the Kali Yuga age.
Om Shri Hanumate Namaha,
Om Shri Sai Ram,
on occasion of Hanuman Jayanthi
19 April 2019