Seventeen years went by since Dadaji abandoned the sleeping Kripalu. Dejected he returned to his hometown of Dabhoi in the western state of Gujarat and became a prolific writer and published his first collection of poems, Ek Bindu. He also published articles and short stories in well-known magazines. He wrote two plays and was hired as a staff writer for a traveling theatre company. When the company folded, he went to Ahmedabad where he worked as an oilman in a textile mill.
A short time later, a nephew offered him a position as a music teacher and administrative assistant in a new school in Maninagar. Kripalu spent five happy years in this position.
In 1941, he became engaged to a woman named, Jyoti, but the wedding was called off when the two families began feuding. Kripalu became upset and left town and lived anonymously in Bombay for five months. He later dedicated his principle work of music to her, entitling it Raga Jyoti.
Disillusioned now with worldly life, Kripalu left Bombay on a spiritual quest and wandered along the banks of the Narmada River in Gujarat with the desire of becoming a sannyasi. About ten years had passed since his separation from Lakulish, and Kripalu remembered his words.
“In the future, when the spirit of renunciation is born in your heart, find some old cow-loving saint and take sannyas diksha from him.”
Soon thereafter, Kripalu met a high saint named Swami Shantanandji, an older swami with an established ashram. He had a deep love for cows and personally cleaned their stalls every day. He was also a brilliant Sanskrit scholar and Kripalu was impressed with his gentle straightforwardness, simplicity and duty-consciousness. In 1942, at the age of 30, Kripalu took sanyas vows from this saint and became a swami. The saint gave Kripalu the sacred orange robes, and a new name, Swami Kripalvanand (the compassionate one) and sent Kripalu set off to wander and serve the people of India.
“Don’t ever touch money,” the saint said. “Come back here if you need any clothes. Maintain your body by begging for food. Always stay in temples or public residences meant for pilgrims, but not in an ashram. Don’t stay at one place for more than one or two days. While wandering, keep these rules in mind and put them into practice. Keep away from women. Don’t lie or cheat anyone, and don’t put up a pretense. Always tread the right path.”
Kripalu wandered for seven years. He taught music, Sanskrit, gave talks on the Gita, served the poor and prayed for the sick. He quickly became a popular humanitarian saint. His speaking style was so captivating that soon two thousand people would come to hear him talk in the larger villages.
Then one day he received word that his sannyas guru Shantanandji way ill. Kripalu rushed to his side only to find his cow-worshipping saint bed-ridden and dying.
“Now, what’s this?” the saint said to Kripalu when he saw Kripalu’s tears. “Such weakness! A sannyasi should have attachments to no one. As one engaged in spreading the message of the Gita, how can you forget its basic tenet? You should know that this body is liable to perish, that it may be affected by diseases, and that when one’s time is up, one also dies. One should not develop an attachment for it. This creates bondage.”
Shortly thereafter, on January 23rd, 1949, this great saint left his body and Kripalu was crushed.
In Bapuji’s words:
In Rishikesh, I settled down in a secluded place and lived in a simple hut. I realized that the only way to lighten my heart was to see my own beloved Gurudev again, even though 17 years had passed since our parting and I hadn’t received one letter and no one knew his address. But I was a sannyasi now and Gurudev had promised me that he would see me once again after I had become a sannyasi.
With great anguish I began praying daily for Gurudev to come. Sometimes I would simply cry out, “Gurudev! I’ve been a sannyasi now for nearly seven years. Yet, why haven’t you appeared? Is there a flaw in my sannyas? Oh, Lord! You’re forever merciful. Please tolerate my imperfections, pardon my short-comings and mistakes, and please appear before me!”
The auspicious day of Mahashivaratri arrived. In the evening I went for a walk on a nearby hill. On the back slope of the hill I started cutting a soft stick from a tender Babul tree to use as a toothbrush. As I was cutting the stick, I saw a saint clad in a mere loincloth even though it was winter, coming down from another hill. I thought nothing of this, as Rishikesh is a holy place where saints are a common sight.
But a few minutes later, I heard someone say,
I was thrilled to hear my name. Moreover, the voice sounded familiar and resonated sweetly in my ears. The tenderness of the voice was divine. Turning around swiftly, I found a saint about 19 years old, rather short, with glistening eyes and a luminous complexion. The saint was easily the most divine personality I had ever seen. I could have gazed at him forever. I bowed spontaneously to this unknown saint as if hypnotized by his divine charm.
“Swami!” he said again with a shining smile. “Don’t you recognize me?”
The saint’s eyes overflowed with divine love and every cell of my body thrilled to receive it. I knew about Gurudev’s extraordinary powers and now I knew for sure that it was him. I burst into sobs and rushed toward him and hugged him. Gurudev held me dearly to his chest, comforted me, and caressed my head gently.
Then I realized that I hadn’t offered pranams to him, so I fell to the ground and touched his holy feet.
“Gurudev!” I sobbed. “If you hadn’t called me by name I wouldn’t have recognized you. Your voice has the same sweet tone, but this body of yours is different. You look like you’re only 19 years old!”
“Beloved son,” he said. “This body of mine is the one purified by yogic fire. I used that body you saw earlier in Bombay for only one and three quarter years. I discarded that body the day after I left you under the tree in Delhi.”
“Because I had entered the dead body of a sadhak named Pranavanand before coming to Bombay. I had achieved whatever I sought through the instrument of that body.”
“Then this is your true form, and that body I saw in Bombay was a false one. Now I understand why you told me that your age was only one and three quarter years.”
“Yes, now you know the truth.”
Then I was full of questions.
“What’s your name in this present physical form?”
“My son, by divine fortune you’ve chanced to see this real body of mine today, and you’ll come to know my real identity in a similar manner in the future.”
“How many years have you been in this true form?”
“You’ll know that at a later time, too. For the present, I can tell you that this body is many, many years old. It has an interesting history that you’ll have to investigate in the future. But it’s appropriate that everything happens in its ordained time.”
“Why did you choose to enter Pranavanand’s body?”
“Because it was pure. He had purified his body through the practice of yoga over a period of 17 years.”
“When does the body become purified?”
“After a yogi becomes anashanavrati.”
“What does that mean?”
“A yogi is said to be anashanavrati when he conquers hunger and survives without food.”
“If Pranavanand could conquer hunger, why did he die?”
“He had exhausted his karmas so he died.”
“When did he pass away?”
“At midnight of the Yogini Ekadashi in year 1986 of the Vikram Era.”
“When did you enter his dead body?”
“The next moment. That body didn’t remain in a state of death for even a second. As Pranavanand’s soul passed away, my spirit entered his body. The moment his body became lifeless, I revived it.”
“After assuming that body, did you go straight to Bombay, or move about elsewhere?”
“Pranavanand left his mortal coil here in Rishikesh. After assuming his form, I retreated to the solitude of the interior Himalayas. There, in a desolate cave, I passed 12 days in uninterrupted samadhi.”
“Why did you do that?”
“For complete purification of the newly assumed body.”
“But you said that Pranavandji had purified his body. Where was the need for further purification?”
“The bodily purification attained by Pranavanand was of a lesser degree than that of a siddha. Hence it was necessary to purify his body fully in yogic fire by remaining in samadhi for 12 days.”
“What did you do after that?”
“From that cave I went to Haridwar, and then straight to Bombay.”
“Did you travel to Bombay or just appear there in a twinkle of an eye?”
“It’s custom to act as an ordinary person after adopting an ordinary body. So I traveled either on foot or by train.”
“Guruji, if a yogi attains body-purification but fails to become a siddha in the present life, is he required to begin the practice of yoga from scratch in the next life?”
“Yes. He’s required to make a fresh effort to practice yoga once again. However, because of the efforts made in his previous birth, his destiny is so designed that the subtle impressions planted in his mind draw him spontaneously to the practice of yoga. Also, he makes progress quickly and without much effort on the strength of his practice in the former life.”
“What happens if such a yogi fails to get the favorable circumstances and necessary guidance in his rebirth?”
“This apprehension is misplaced. The destiny of such a yogi is so shaped by the grace of God that he gets the necessary inspiration and facilities in his rebirth without fail. Even if he doesn’t find a proper guru to guide him, he’s endowed with the discriminative intelligence required to make progress on the path of yoga without direct guidance.”
“Does a yogi who reaches bodily purification obtain the Divine Body in the next birth?”
“Attainment of the Divine Body depends on how strongly, faithfully, and abidingly one pursues the goal in his next birth. Generally, if one has practiced yoga for many births, he can surely attain the Divine Body in the current life.”
“Isn’t it possible to attain the Divine Body in a single lifetime?”
“Before a yogi becomes perfected and attains the Divine Body in a particular birth, he must have practiced yoga for many former births. Before he reaches the pinnacle of yoga, or attains the Divine Body, he must overcome all the obstacles—the desires, distractions, delusions, and sins—that he has accumulated over thousands of births. It’s normally not possible to do so in a single lifetime.”
“That means that one should continue practicing yoga and increasing spirituality for many births in order to attain the Divine Body. The Gita says: ‘Yoga can be mastered only after the efforts of many births.’”
“Yes, this is true.”
“The Gita also speaks about a yogabhrashta, a deprived yogi. If a yogi reaches a stage of bodily purification but dies before attaining the Divine Body, can he be called a yogabhrashta?”
“Does he have to be reborn immediately?”
“No. Such a soul can attain the higher realms of the universe effortlessly. Therefore, if he’s wearied while journeying on the path of liberation and intends to take a rest, he may reach one of the higher realms where he enjoys all sorts of happiness for a considerable period. But realistically speaking, these enjoyments prove to be impediments for the seeker of liberation. When he realizes this, he’s filled with remorse. He then takes rebirth on earth in the most appropriate family and continues the practice of yoga.”
“That means it’s better for a yogi to seek rebirth here as quickly as possible rather than choose to rest in some higher realm.”
“Yes, he should do so and avoid the temptations of the higher realms.”
“In that case, Swami Pranavanandji will also have to take rebirth, right?”
“He’s already reborn.”
“Oh, really! When and where?”
“Swami, you had this child-like curiosity to know such things even when you were with me in Bombay. It seems you still possess it! It’s not that I don’t know the answer to your question, I just won’t clarify it.”
I decided to restructure my question still hoping for an answer.
“Was Pranavanandji reborn immediately after leaving his body or after some period of time?”
Gurudev certainly knew my motive, but he continued to answer my questions anyway.
“His soul entered a new embryo on the very day after he gave up his body.”
“Then he must be 17 or 18 years old. Will I be able to meet him again in this birth?”
“Everything will happen in accordance with the bonds of the mutual indebtedness you’ve created in previous births.”
“We have the bond of guru and disciple, so our meeting should certainly take place. But will I be able to recognize him when we meet?”
“You’ll meet him, but you won’t recognize him.”
“How can one know that a particular person is a deprived yogi of the previous birth?”
“Though he looks like a common human being, he possesses extraordinary qualities. These traits manifest in him especially after he once again takes to the practice of yoga in his new birth.”
“What are these extraordinary qualities?”
“In his new birth a deprived yogi appears to be a highly advanced yogi even while he’s still in the early stages of yoga practice. Even as a sadhak, he makes his spiritual impact felt all around. Moreover, his initial yoga experiences will indicate that he inherently possesses vast yogic knowledge.”
“Since he has come of age in his new birth, do you think Pranavanandji might take to yoga again? Who could have offered him guidance?”
“Swami, you have this child-like enthusiasm to go on asking tricky questions. Why do you want to know all this? Whatever is ordained will happen. Why do you bother about it?”
“Though in your spiritual form you’re my real guru, Pranavanandji, in his physical form, is also considered to be my guru. Therefore, I want to know more about his future. If you have no objection, kindly let me know.”
“He hasn’t yet taken to yoga. But he’ll do so at the opportune moment and will receive appropriate guidance. I’ve already arranged for that.”
“Yes. He was, and will remain, my disciple.”
“Truly, then, you yourself are Guru Bhagwan.”
“If Pranavanandji hasn’t yet begun the practice of yoga in his new birth, how could you make advance arrangement for guiding him?”
“I arranged for it from the time I entered into his old body.”
“I don’t understand how you could do that?”
“He’ll receive the same guidance that I gave you after I assumed his old body.”
“You gave me guidance directly. Will you meet Pranavanandji in his present birth and give him direct guidance?”
“A novice practitioner of yoga needs direct guidance. But indirect guidance is enough for one who has practiced a considerable amount of yoga in former births, because such a person attain buddhisamyoga when the time is ripe.”
“What is buddhisamyoga?”
“It’s the spontaneous emergence of the yogic wisdom acquired during former births. As a result, one can easily and correctly understand certain yogic mysteries that can’t normally be understood without direct guidance from a guru.”
“You said that you gave yoga initiation to Pranavanandji in his previous birth. At that time did you meet him in this real form of yours?”
“No, I assumed nirmandeha, which is a body created from nothingness by the yogi’s volition. I met Pranavanand in that body during his pilgrimage to Kedarnath, then later at his residence in Calcutta, and finally for his yoga initiation in Haridwar. But after that I did meet him twice in this real form which you see now.”
“Guruji, how many forms do you have?”
“One and yet numerous. I can assume any form and as many forms as I desire.”
“Is the creation of nirmandeha like miraculously producing a fruit or something out of the air?”
“No. There’s a difference between those two processes. They’re based on different principles. The process of producing something out of the air is much simpler than that of creating a new body out of nothingness. A yogi who hasn’t become a siddha can perform the first task, but only a siddha yogi can perform the latter. Moreover, a something produced out of the air is composed of five elements—earth, water, light, air, and ether—whereas the nirmandeha is created out of the highest and subtlest element.”
“Why don’t you travel everywhere in your real form? You preferred to meet me in Bombay after entering a dead body, while in Calcutta you met Pranavanand in a nirmandeha. What’s the reason?”
“I show this real form only to select persons and then only when there’s a special purpose. I choose a different form when I’m likely to meet other people. In Bombay, I had to meet many others besides you. When I met Pranavanand for the first two times, his wife Ashadevi was with him. The third time he was alone, but I chose to appear in the same created form so that he would recognize me.”
“You said that you met Pranavanand twice thereafter. When and for what purpose?”
“When we were in Bombay, I told you that the form I possessed at that time wasn’t real. You expressed a keen desire to see my real form and I promised to show it to you in the future. Accordingly, I’ve met you today in this solitude. In the same way, when I initiated Pranavanand into yoga in Haridwar, I told him that my form was a false one. He also desired to see my real form and I promised that I would show it to him in the future. About ten years later, I met him here in Rishikesh in my real form. Again, six months before he gave up his body, I met him in my real form. My purpose in meeting him then was similar to the purpose I have with you today.”
“You have a special purpose for meeting me here today in your real form?”
“What is it?”
“I’ll not clarify the purpose now since it will be fulfilled in the future. When it’s served, you’ll know.”
“You said that your purpose for meeting me is the same as that for which you met Pranavanandji. If the purpose is a common one, I’d guess that it wasn’t fulfilled in Pranavanand’s life-time and that it remains unfulfilled today.”
“Yes. I have a great resolve that can’t be realized in just a few years. The lineage of my disciples, beginning with Pranavanand, will have to advance this mission little by little over a period of many years. In this lineage certain select souls will take birth turn by turn and enhance the mission further. They will be required to develop high spiritual powers in order to carry out this mission. In this manner, not only will the mission be fulfilled, but those disciples will accomplish their own spiritual development as well.”
“How many souls have been chosen to carry out your mission?”
“Assuming that besides Pranavanandji you’ve also chosen me for this purpose, may I know who the remaining two are?”
Gurudev laughed playfully.
“Swami, you haven’t given up your old habit of pestering me about the future. It’s quite desirable that some things are clarified only in the future and at the appropriate time.”
Then it was my turn to laugh.
“Guruji, just as I haven’t shunned my old habits, you also have retained your old habit of leaving things for the future.”
Gurudev laughed playfully again.
“Well,” he said. “I’ll give you a Sanskrit stanza, then. Ponder its meaning to get the clarification you desire. You’ll succeed according to your level of intellectual understanding:
Parmartha hetau cha
Preritajanaha sardha trivarnanvit
I didn’t have my diary with me, and I didn’t understand the meaning of the stanza, so I asked Gurudev to repeat it slowly two more times so I could memorize it.
Much time had elapsed. The sun was dipping below the horizon and it was getting dark.
“It’s time for me to go,” Gurudev said softly.
I held his holy feet with both hands to keep him longer. My eyes filled with tears.
“Gurudev,” I begged, sobbing freely like a child. “I’m a sannyasi now and I want to stay with you. I surrender totally at your holy feet. You’re all I want in life. Kindly take me with you. I don’t want to go anywhere else. I have no desire to do anything else.”
“No, my son,” he said gently. “It’s not the time. You must still stay amidst the people and purify yourself. It doesn’t mean that I love you any less. Jai Bhagwan!”
I cried even harder and placed my head on Gurudev’s blessed feet. Then I stood up and opened my eyes, but he was gone. Over the years, Dadaji would appear to Kripalu three more times in addition to formally initiating him to formal practice of yoga, to save him from drowning, to instruct him on the rebuilding of his temple at Kayavarohan and on the opening day of the Shiva Temple itself.