Fond Memories of Vasudevan Swami

mohanjichronicles-author-Rajesh Kamath Mohanji Acharya

By Rajesh Kamath

Four years back to this day (July 12th 2020), Vasudevan Swami, a disciple of Bhagavan Nityananda and a powerful Master of the Nath tradition, took samadhi (a saint’s conscious exit from the body) in Ganeshpuri. Mohanji had the greatest respects for this spiritual powerhouse who hid within a bent, frail, old and very ordinary looking frame. One could easily dismiss him for a weak, old man who wouldn’t merit a second glance. His unassuming nature, innocence and purity, coupled with an unshakeable faith in his Master, Bhagavan Nityananda, were the hallmarks of his personality. Mohanji considered him a perfect epitome of devotion. He was the priest of the Nath Mandir at Vajreshwari, where Macchindranath and Gorakshanath, the leading lights of the Nav Nath Tradition did intense penance and were blessed by the Goddess to write the book, the Nath Rahasya (The Secrets of the Naths). This temple has the padukas (divine imprints of the feet) of Macchindranath and Gorakshanath.

Nath tradicija

The previous priest in the temple was designated to be a Shankaracharya (one of the four heads for each of the four directions, who are highly revered leaders of Hinduism). When he came to visit Bhagavan Nityananda, Bhagavan is said to have asked him to choose between fame or liberation. When he decided liberation, Bhagavan Nityananda asked him to leave everything and become a priest of this tiny temple that is right in front of the Vajreshwari temple. The place is extremely powerful, and Swamiji used to say that none can enter this place by chance. It is guarded by unseen divine beings who keep the causal visitors away. Only the fortunate few who have the permission of Bhagavan Nityananda and the Nav Nath greats are allowed by the Divine. It is genuinely so because even the flower sellers right outside the gates are unaware of the spiritual potency of this place. There are hardly any visitors in this temple even though it is literally a stone’s throw from the Vajreshwari temple which sees a steady throng of religious seekers. The priest of such a temple can hardly be an ordinary person, and one can understand the level of purity and subtlety that would be expected of one who is fortunate to bear that mantle.

Interestingly, it was just yesterday that Mohanji was reminiscing about Vasudevan Swami during a discussion on devotion.  Mohanji used the example of Vasudevan Swami’s extraordinarily simple prayers to highlight the power of pure love. If Swamiji missed Lord Krishna, he would say, “Lord Krishna, I have grown old and feeble, and my eyesight fails me. How will I ever get your darshan (divine vision) now?” At these words, Lord Krishna would appear before Swamiji, stay with him for as long as Swamiji desired and leave an imprint of the form he appeared in, on the wall of the temple. Once when Mohanji visited him, he told Mohanji, “I am so happy today. Hanumanji came here today and meditated here while I was doing aarati. I saw someone come and sit behind me while doing aarati. After the aarati, I looked behind and saw Hanumanji sitting quietly and meditating. He just left.” One could see a greasy outline on the wall as if a giant person with oil all over his body had sat down with his back touching the wall. The entire wall was full of such impressions from the forms of the Divine Mother, avatars of Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva, the Naga Devatas (the deities from the highly evolved realm of Naga Loka who take the form of snakes on earth), and so on. Mohanji mentioned that each imprint was like a prana pratistha (an infusion of the living energy of the deity into an idol of a temple). Imagine the power of the place which had the imprint of every conceivable deity in that place. Mohanji further added that his call was so powerful and filled with supreme love and devotion that the Lord had no option but to show up.

Once when Mohanji was in Mumbai, he suddenly told us in the morning that he would like to visit Ganeshpuri, the place forever hallowed by Bhagavan Nityananda. Though unplanned, we always relished a visit to Ganeshpuri to be with Mohanji in the divine presence of Bhagavan Nityananda. Usually, before going to the main temple in Ganeshpuri, Mohanji visited Vasudevan Swami first at the Nath mandir. Mohanji often said that he preferred the peace in Swamiji’s temple to the milling crowds in the samadhi temple of Bhagavan Nityananda in Ganeshpuri. Swamiji loved Mohanji immensely. He was ecstatic to see Mohanji and welcomed him with a lot of love. As we sat down to talk to him, Swamiji told Mohanji that he just remembered Mohanji in the morning. He thought that it would be nice to meet Mohanji but then lamented that it may not be possible given Mohanji’s crazy travel schedule. He wondered that Mohanji could be anywhere in the world and was sad at the improbability of a meeting. Mohanji said, “Swamiji, your single thought was enough to make me so restless in Mumbai that I was literally dragged to Ganeshpuri to pay you a visit.” Mohanji told some of us then that the purity and love in Vasudevan Swami’s thoughts make them commands that the universe must obey. He told us many times that Swamiji does not request the deities. He commands them to make the outcome happen.

He would always give Mohanji the holy ash that was the residue of the incense sticks that he used during his daily prayers to Bhagavan Nityananda. Mohanji revered and respected this offering from Vasudevan Swami and gave it to many of his close followers for protection or as a solution to their situations and problems. Once when I visited him, Swamiji gave me some ash with this disclaimer, “This ash is made holy by this place and by my Guru, Bhagavan Nityananda. If you consider it powerful, it can heal anything. It has healed incurable diseases and fulfilled the desires of all who believed in its power and had faith in my Guru. If you don’t believe, then it is just useless ash. Use it as you will.” He attributed all the powers and the source of the miracles to his Guru, Bhagavan Nityananda. He had no ownership. His insignificance was his strength. Since he needed nothing other than his Guru, he had all his Guru’s powers at his disposal. In that way, I saw in him a reflection of Mohanji.

He once said, “Chant with every fibre of your being. Your very being should resonate with the love of the Lord. When you sing your devotions to the Lord, do it with the power that will bring the Lord before you. Sing shamelessly and loud. Never be ashamed of your devotion to the Lord. Let the whole neighbourhood hear your song. Every breath must sing the name of the Lord all the time. That is the key to being one with the Lord. Always remember that.” I asked him how one can ensure the name of the Lord with every breath. He said that you need to work hard to reach that state. Unfortunately, no shortcuts there. Whenever we visited, he would lovingly enquire about Mohanji and his location, schedule and activities. He would tell us that he prayed for Mohanji’s well being every day without fail.

Once when Mohanji came to visit him, he excitedly opened the cupboard and took out many nice, expensive dhotis and shawls and gave them to Mohanji. Mohanji objected and requested Swamiji, “You are wearing tattered and torn clothes while you have these nice clothes in the cupboard. I can’t accept your gift. Instead, I would be delighted if you wore them instead.” He persisted several times, but Mohanji declined and repeated his earlier request. Finally, Swamiji became silent, walked away and sat in the corner of the temple with a sad, sulking face. Mohanji went up to him and asked him the reason for his sadness. He did not reply. Finally, Mohanji asked him, “What will make you happy?” Swamiji said ruefully, “Only if you accept the clothes I wanted to give you.” Mohanji humbly told Swamiji that he would like to see Swamiji happy and would gladly accept whatever he gave him. Swamiji immediately got up with childlike joy and gave the entire bundle of clothes to Mohanji. Once Swamiji had been felicitated by the trust, who gave him a few clothes and a shawl. He wondered what to do with them and connected mentally to Bhagavan Nityananda seeking an answer. Bhagavan Nityananda responded, “Give them to Mohanji.” Swamiji was perplexed thinking, “How will I locate Mohanji? He could be anywhere in the world.” This time again, Mohanji was lovingly “dragged” the same day from a neighbouring city to being in Swamiji’s overpowering and loving presence. Mohanji asked Swamiji why he chose to wear tattered clothes when he had the opportunity to wear better clothes. Swamiji said, “If I wear nice clothes, people will think I am rich and will bother me. Now, they take me for a poor, useless old man and leave me alone. I prefer my peace to other’s glowing opinions of my terrestrial stature.”

When we were at Ganeshpuri for a retreat, Mohanji decided to meet Vasudevan Swami, one morning towards the end of the retreat. He asked, “What’s for breakfast?” Someone said, “Dosa” (a pancake made from rice flour and ground pulses). Mohanji asked to pack some, and we left to meet Swamiji. We couldn’t find Swamiji in the temple or his living room. We then saw him hunched over the stove in the kitchen. He was thrilled to see Mohanji. He said that he would make tea and breakfast for Mohanji. Mohanji replied that he had brought him breakfast. He was overjoyed and almost moved to tears. He said, “Mohanji got me breakfast.” He then requested Mohanji to have breakfast with him. Mohanji said that he had only come for a brief visit and he wanted Swamiji to have all the breakfast. It was only for him. Swamiji reluctantly agreed. They spoke briefly, and Mohanji requested his permission to leave. For the first time, he walked Mohanji to the door of the temple and stepped outside to wave Mohanji goodbye. Normally, he would be seated on his bed or in the temple when we would leave. Before we left, he beckoned Mohanji to come near and said, “I want you to know two things. Firstly, Not a day goes by when I don’t think of you. Secondly, I want you to know that my Guru, Bhagavan Nityananda, lives with you always.” He had tears in his eyes. As we looked back to wave back to him, Mohanji said, “Take a good look at him. This is the last time we will see him in the flesh. This was his final goodbye.” In a few months, he took samadhi while Mohanji was in Croatia (this is explained in vivid detail in this blog post by Madhusudan Rajagopalan)

I feel nostalgic as well as sad as I ruminate over the fond memories of our past moments with Swamiji, and I am deeply grateful to Mohanji for allowing us to meet this epitome of devotion and humility. My most profound and humble prostrations to this gentle saint as I seek his blessings to allow us to follow his example and develop the unshakeable strength of devotion in the Guru and the self-effacing, selflessness to do every task surrendered to the Guru’s will.

Please read the following blog posts to know more about Vasudevan Swamiji and the experiences of Mohanji and the community with the beloved saint:

 

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A Powerful Master of the Nath Tradition: Remembering Vasudevan Swami

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By Madhusudan Rajagopalan

Today (July 12) marks the first anniversary of the passing away of Vasudevan Swami, the frail and humble priest of the Nath Mandir in Vajreshwari. Vasudevan Swami was not a famous Master, at least not in the conventional sense. However, this saint was very well-known within the broader Mohanji family, as Mohanji would always talk about him lovingly as a prime, living example of bhakti (devotion). Though he was physically frail, his power came from his pure devotion and surrender. Those who had the good fortune of meeting him would attest to his stature – I do not know anyone who ever came back from a visit to his abode without rich blessings and immense internal peace.

Vasudevanji, a powerful and loving saint at the Nath mandir at Vajreshwari 1a

Sri Vasudevan Swami was a religiously devout person from a very young age. He worked in Mumbai for most of his life. He eschewed all forms of material pleasures to focus completely on his devotions to the Lord. People would chide him for his single-minded focus and would try to lure him towards, wine, women and other pleasures. They reasoned with him that he was wasting his youth since this was the time to indulge in these pleasures. However, he turned his back on them and continued with his practices and devotions in spite of their ridicule. He got connected and became a staunch devotee of Bhagavan Nityananda of Ganeshpuri. Interestingly, even though he lived during Bhagavan Nityananda’s lifetime and prayed deeply to Bhagavan Nityananda, Swamiji only reached Ganeshpuri after Bhagavan Nityananda’s mahasamadhi (a saint’s conscious exit from the body). The proximity of Ganeshpuri, being a few hours away from Mumbai, allowed Swamiji to come there often to pay his respects to Bhagavan Nityananda. Once, he prayed to Bhagavan Nityananda to keep him permanently in Ganeshpuri.

Through divine intervention, Bhagavan Nityananda arranged for him to be the Mahant (priest) of the powerful Nath temple in Vajreshwari (the temple town next to Ganeshpuri). He moved there in the mid-80s to live in a little room within the temple premises. This powerful Nath temple is virtually unknown even among the people who live right across the temple. Bhagavan Nityananda stayed here when he first came to this region before he finally moved and made Ganeshpuri his residence. Matsyendranath and Gorakshanath, the Nath Gurus, are believed to have done tapas (intense penance) at this spot for over 2 months to appease the Divine Mother. The Divine Mother blessed them with her darshan (holy sighting) and gave Gorakshanath the blessing to work on the Nath Rahasya (the most important work of the Nath tradition). This temple has the holy padukas of Bhagavan Nityananda (blessed by Baba Himself) as well as the padukas of Matsyendranath and Gorakshanath. Swamiji dedicated his last 30+ years to loving service of this temple.

Nath tradicija

Much has been written and shared about Vasudevan Swami, both by Mohanji Himself as well as by several other devotees who visited him over the years. Readers can check these old articles for more information:

Mohanji on Bhagavan Nityananda

The Power of Devotion

A Tribute to Sri Vasudevan

I first met Swamiji sometime in 2015, based on Mohanji’s guidance, after a visit to Bhagavan Nityananda’s Samadhi in Ganeshpuri. Subsequently, I had the opportunity to meet him many times as I live in Mumbai which is only a couple of hours away. He showered immense love and poured out blessings on us because we were Mohanji’s children. He took special care of us diligently showing us around the temple, letting us know the latest divine beings who came since we last came (to satisfy our inquisitive questioning :-)) and spending as much time with us as we wanted. He would also give his special vibhuti (sacred ash) from the incense sticks that he offered to the Masters during aarati. It had wonderful miraculous powers and had cured many people, offered protection to others and solved issues for many more. He would also offer special prayers to the Lord if you requested for them. Mohanji used to say that his prayers were commands to the Lord because of the pure selfless devotion with which they were rendered. Mohanji said that his prayers were simple, “My dear Lord, this is my request. Make it happen.” 🙂 🙂

His thought had tremendous power of manifestation. Once Mohanji was in Mumbai and suddenly said, “We need to go to Ganeshpuri. I would like to see Vasudevan Swamy.” When Mohanji met him, Vasudevan Swamy, as usual, received him with immense love. While they were chatting, he told Mohanji that some people from the Nityananda trust had gifted him with a nice shawl and some books in English the day before. He had wondered to Bhagavan Nityananda about what he was supposed to do with the books and even the shawl (since he only wore simple and almost tattered clothing). Bhagavan Nityananda told him to give it to Mohanji. He told Bhagavan, “Mohanji is always traveling around the world. How am I supposed to reach him?”. Bhagavan did not respond to his query. He said I was just thinking, in the morning, about how to reach you. Mohanji laughed and told Swamiji, “Swamiji, you were not just thinking. Your thoughts got me so restless in Mumbai that I had to come here. You literally dragged me here.” 🙂 🙂

Mohanji_VasudevanSwami

Sometime in March 2016, we had a weekend program with Mohanji in Ganeshpuri. On the last day of the program, before leaving for Mumbai, Mohanji went to meet Vasudevan Swamy in the morning. Before leaving for the Nath temple, Mohanji arranged to have some breakfast from the retreat (dosas and chutney) packed for him. Swamiji was overwhelmed when Mohanji gave him the packed breakfast. He said, “Mohanji, you got me breakfast. I don’t know what to say. You must have it with me.” Mohanji told him that this was only for him and he should have all of it by himself. Swamiji said, “I won’t feel good to eat it alone if you are here with me.” So Mohanji said, “In that case, I will leave so you can have the breakfast in peace.”

This time he came to drop us to the temple door which he seldom did. He had tears in his eyes. He told Mohanji, “I want you to know two things. 1. There is never a day that goes by when I don’t think of you 2. Always remember Bhagavan Nityananda walks with you.” This was very similar to the words of Baba Ganeshananda Giri. He had also said, “Always remember that wherever you go, I am behind you and my master, Shirdi Sai Baba, is always behind you.” When we left the temple, Mohanji told us that this meant that Vasudevan Swamy’s time was near and this was their last physical meeting. Mohanji said that Swamiji wouldn’t be around for too long and asked us to take care of him and his needs as best as we could. Accordingly, we visited him a couple of times over the next few months and provided him with some groceries and other basic needs.

Mohanji-with-Sri Vasudevan -at-nath-mandir_saint

One fine day, I received a message from Mohanji (who was then in Croatia) that Vasudevan Swami was very unwell and ready to drop his body any moment. This was on July 4th at about 3 pm. I was in a meeting at my workplace. I immediately acknowledged his message and then, somewhat stupidly, asked him if I could go the next day to see him. I guess I was trying to be intelligent and to optimize my work schedule with this situation. He asked me what would be the use of that if Vasudevan Swami was leaving his body as we were speaking! Well, I then felt what can only be described as a loving slap on the face. 🙂 That did the job of beating the tamas out of me. Tamas is anything that causes postponement. For sure, Mohanji’s sharp question brought urgency to the fore and reset priorities in my head! I rearranged my schedule immediately and headed home to leave for Ganeshpuri. I learnt that Dr. Gajanan was with Swamiji and had been trying to feed Swamiji. Swamiji was struggling to even move from his bed.

Dr. Gajanan is a reputed homoeopath and he had communicated Swamiji’s ailment to Mohanji through one of his homoeopathy students in Serbia. So though I was in Mumbai and Dr Gajanan was in Ganeshpuri (just 60km from Mumbai), the route taken by the message was Ganeshpuri – Serbia – Croatia – Mumbai; goes to show that when an important message has to be delivered, distance doesn’t matter and a way is always found! As I was on my way to Ganeshpuri, Mohanji had given me only one clear directive, “We are his relatives. Do whatever it takes to help him.” So as we headed to Ganeshpuri, we coordinated with Dr Gajanan so that we could pool together to support Swamiji in any possible manner. We were also concerned about reaching on time, given the heavy rains over the last few days. We finally reached Vajreshwari around 5.30pm.

Sri Vasudevan 2

We were shocked to see how much Swamiji had shrunk from his already frail frame. He told us about how he had taken ill a few days ago, just after he completed a bhandara (food seva for a large group) at the Nityananda Trust. Soon after that, he said he sat down and since then he had been unable to move around, unless someone helped him. He said he didn’t have much time left and was praying to Baba (Bhagavan Nityananda) to take him soon. Though he was weak, he was fully in control and very clear about his plans. He said “Bahut seva kiya hai. Ab jaane ka time hai” (I have done a lot of service. It is now time for me to go).

Meanwhile before we reached, Dr. Gajanan had arranged for Swamiji to speak to Mohanji on the phone so that Mohanji could convey his respects to Swamiji. Swamiji sent his blessings to Mohanji. As Mohanji wrote in a private group, “I spoke to him. He said he did not want to be admitted in the hospital. He wanted to leave his body in the temple at Bhagawan’s feet. He said he always thinks about me and wanted to hear my voice one last time. He said that his blessings are always with me. This was so touching”. Mohanji asked us to check if Swamiji would like dosa and chutney or any other food that he felt like eating in his current state. He also asked us to offer fruits, gangajal (sacred water from the river Ganga)  and coconut water to him.

It was almost 7pm by then and I wasn’t sure if the local stores would be open, especially given the weather conditions then. In any case, I decided to check and thankfully, I was able to get gangajal, coconut water as well as flowers for the temple shrine. When I offered the gangajal to Swamiji, he gratefully accepted it and said “Thank you. This is my medicine.” We told his attendant to give him the coconut water later, and then took his leave after a while. That’s when we realized that the rains had stopped while we were on our way so that we were able to reach on time, meet Dr Gajanan, Swamiji, coordinate with Mohanji and get Gangajal for him – another 30-40 minute delay and none of this would have been possible. As Mohanji pointed out, “Nath leela” was in play!

Sri Vasudevan 4 July 2016

Before we left, we also asked Swamiji how he would like his body to be dealt with once he left – would he want a samadhi or would he prefer to be cremated. This might be a squeamish conversation for most of us, but I had realized from my earlier experience with Swami Ganeshananda Giri that saints don’t care about their body and deal with it in a matter-of-fact way. Vasudevan Swami was very clear that he didn’t want a Samadhi; he said “Who will take care of the Samadhi? Why trouble people? Just burn the body.” Since our trip to Badrinath was coming up in a few weeks, we asked him if he would like his ashes to be consigned to the holy Ganga, which he gladly agreed to. He also asked us to do a bhandara (food seva) in Ganeshpuri. So the plan was then clear – when he decided to drop his body, he would be cremated, his ashes would be distributed between Nashik (Godavari) and Rishikesh (Ganga), and we would do a food seva on his behalf.

I decided to come back the next day (July 5th) morning to check on Swamiji. When I visited him, a local shopkeeper was at the Nath mandir talking to Swamiji. Swamiji was talking to him about me and saying that I was going to visit him. Five minutes later, I entered. When I left the previous day, I had not planned on coming back and had certainly not shared that with Swamiji. Yet he knew I was going to come. Well, for a saint who calls deities like Hanumanji and Lord Krishna just with his devotion, I suppose calling mere mortals like me should have been child’s play! This time around, I brought him food from home (idlis + chutney) as well as more Gangajal. We had collected this gangajal ourselves from the river Ganga in front of Vashishta Caves, Rishikesh. Hence, its authenticity was guaranteed. He drank the gangajal immediately and said that he would eat the idlis later. He also looked noticeably brighter. Mohanji later explained that this was a sign of the soul shining bright and his last physical glow before leaving.

While I was sitting with Swamiji, he spoke about the arrangements he had made already. He had given cheques to the trust to take care of his cremation. He was also keen to give away his possessions stored in his little cupboard. He gifted us with a few dhotis and towels – these were then distributed among fellow members of the Mohanji family as precious blessings. I also took down the details of the nearby shopkeeper so that we could coordinate for collection of his ashes whenever the final moment arrived. This was a strange setting – a day ago, we were filled with sadness that Swamiji may not be around for much longer, and also if we would even get to see him. A day later, the mode was all about practicality, action and how to deal with the eventuality of when Swamiji would actually leave. This again was a sign that the Nath tradition was at work here – all purpose, no nonsense, no emotional drama – purely focused on the present moment and on the work that needed to get done.

Sri Vasudevan 1

When I was leaving Swamiji, he said “It feels good to meet our people. Come again tomorrow”. I hadn’t planned on that, but once Swamiji said it, that became an order. I soon realized that the next day (July 6) was a holiday on occasion of Eid (the Muslim holy festival). Hence, it would be actually easier to come down without having to worry about schedules, etc. So, I went again on July 6th and took some sevaiyya kheer (milk-based dessert with semolina that is served during Eid) for him. This day, my timing was such that I reached late morning and spent a couple of hours with him. He confirmed that he was drinking Gangajal twice a day – this was considered important as a purification process before leaving the body. On the day before, another group had come to visit him and given him a rudraksha mala from Kathmandu. Swamiji had begun to wear this mala since then.

It was as if he was just going through a series of steps before the final moment. He kept talking about how it was just a matter of time now, and he was praying to Baba to take him soon. Finally around 1230pm, he asked to eat the kheer and I had the opportunity to feed him. In terms of timing, it couldn’t have been better as Bhagavan Nityananda’s noon aarti ends around 12:30, so it was as if one was offering to Baba Himself after His arati. Mohanji had remarked earlier about the perfect synchronization that is characteristic of the Nath tradition. The events of these days with Vasudevan Swami were clear evidence of how this worked.

Finally, I left the Nath Mandir that day (July 6, 2016) after taking Swamiji’s blessings, and conveying to him that we were available to help him with anything. By this time, many people in our Mohanji community had come to know about his illness so there was a stream of visitors already. Our friends Jeanetta and Deva from the Fire Mountain Retreat (in Nimboli, near Ganeshpuri) had visited him the previous day and were seeing him regularly. The local shopkeepers were doing their bit. Dr. Gajanan had agreed to take turns and visit him in the coming days as I was travelling out of Mumbai later that week. I intended to come back and meet him when I returned to Mumbai after a week.

In the next few days, things stayed more or less the same. Swamiji would eat a little bit of kanji (porridge) now and then. On his next visit, Dr Gajanan gave him some protein powder in milk to compensate for his weight loss. But Swamiji wasn’t getting any better. I last spoke to him on the 7th of July, a day after I met him. And finally I learnt via Dr Gajanan on July 12th that he had breathed his last around 11am. The gentle saint had finally passed away peacefully in his own temple, just as he had wanted.

Bowing to Nithyananda 2

While this was sad news at one level, we had been expecting it, so the immediate priority shifted to our duties – we had to procure his ashes so that we could consign them to the holy Ganga river. Since I wasn’t in Mumbai at this time, we had to coordinate with the local people. Dr Gajanan asked his contact to collect some ashes. I had asked Swamiji’s attendant to keep some ashes for us, and the local shopkeeper I had met the previous week was also going to collect some ashes for us. Mohanji had asked us to ensure that the ashes were authentic, so we had to be doubly sure that there was no mix-up of any kind. I was hopeful that with three different contact points, this was taken care of.

We also had to arrange for the bhandara (food seva) at the Nityananda Sansthan and I began that process. It so happened that July was a busy month, with the occasion of Guru Purnima (July 19) as well as Bhagavan Nityananda’s Samadhi day (Aug 8) coming up. Our initial attempts to get the dates for this bhandara threw up dead ends – Guru Purnima day booked out, day 28 (coincided with Aug 8 = Bade Baba’s Samadhi day) or day 41 (Aug 21) were unavailable too. We wanted an early date, ideally before we left for the Badrinath trip, but there were no dates in July. Anyway, we put out a prayer to make this work out, just like everything else had worked out till then, and let it be. And lo and behold, I got a call back on the same day that July 27-28 (Wed-Thu) had suddenly opened up in the calendar. This was perfect for us as it was just a few days before we had to leave and we immediately blocked those dates.

Soon, I called up our local contacts to let them know that we would pick up the ashes on those days. To my shock, the first 2 people (Dr Gajanan’s contact and Swamiji’s attendant) mentioned that they had already consigned it to the river as they couldn’t keep it beyond 10 days. Desperately, I called up the local shopkeeper to check on his quota of ashes, and my call was just in the nick of time. He said he had been wondering what to do with it and, thanks to my call, he would now keep it carefully till we arrived. I then understood why we had to ask 3 different people to collect the ashes. If this third person hadn’t collected and stored it, our promise to Swamiji may have remained unfulfilled. But then the shadow of the Nath tradition’s grace was over us and ensured that all hurdles were crossed. On the appointed date (July 27-28), the bhandara was done in a grand fashion as per Swamiji’s wishes. We distributed photos of Swamiji to all the participants in the food seva and left another set at the Nath mandir, so that future visitors would also get to know about this great saint.

Soon, we were on our way to Badrinath. During our visit, we arranged for another food seva in Badrinath in honour of Vasudevan Swami. On our way back, we stopped at Vashishta Caves in Rishikesh to pay our respects to the shrine there and to take a dip in the holy Ganga. After we finished our holy dips, Mohanji took Vasudevan Swami’s ashes and finally consigned them to the river.

Since the Badrinath yatra was followed by the Kailash yatra, we also had the opportunity to offer Swamiji’s photo to holy Mansarovar lake as well as to the sacred Kailash mountain during the Inner Kora pilgrimage. At Rishikesh, after the dips in Ganga, Mohanji said “I’ve done my job”. With the further prayers in the most sacred places on earth, this could only mean that Swamiji was now nestled in Bhagavan Nityananda’s lap in the higher worlds.

For those interested in visiting the Nath mandir in Vajreshwari, please go ahead and do this at your earliest convenience. I have visited a few times after Swamiji’s demise and the temple is well-maintained by the trust. The local caretaker (Swamiji’s attendant) is a simple soul who goes about his job with great sincerity and welcomes people very warmly. As before, this temple is not known to many people and only the genuine seekers find their way there.

I consider myself blessed that I had the opportunity to meet and serve a pure Nath saint such as Vasudevan Swami. We have so much to learn from this modern day Hanuman, and his life was an example of selfless service and devotion. If only we can adapt some of this to our own lives, we would be doing ourselves (and therefore our society) a great service. My gratitude to Brahmarishi Mohanji for providing this opportunity to me, as it is only His grace that set this up.

Mohanji and the Avadhoota of the Nath temple

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A Tribute to Sri Vasudevan

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4th July 2016

Mohanji (was in Croatia at that time): Sri Vasudevan is unwell. He may leave his body soon.

(about an hour later)

I spoke to him. He said he do not want to be admitted in the hospital and want to leave his body in the temple at Bhagawan’s feet. Madhu is travelling to Vajreshwari as we speak. Dr. Gajanan is already there. He said he always thinks about me and wanted to hear my voice one last time and his blessings are always with me. This was so touching.

Madhusudan Rajagopalan (was with Sri Vasudevan in Vajreshwari), “Swamiji is not ill, he’s just weak and says he doesn’t want to be around for long… he’s fully in control.

(later)

We just left from Vajreshwari, conveyed pranaams from everyone. He was very happy to spend time with us.

Mohanji asked us to give him Gangajal, we got it for him and he drank one small glass of it. He said, “This is my medicine. Thank you for getting it.”

Absolute blessing to meet him today. All thanks to Mohanji.”

5th July 2016

Jeanetta and Dewa, who manage Fire Mountain Retreat, a centre near Gareth puri, first met Swamiji in March when we conducted ‎our Weekend program with Mohanji at their venue. They visited him every day since last week and paid their respects to him.

“We have great gratitude for being invited to visit beloved and super respected Vasudev Swami … it was such a joy and blessing to receive the darshan of this holy man experiencing the bliss of his faithful service and and his impending transition to glory.  Mohanji’s loving presence saturated the house during the time while we were there.

We brought an orange cloth that had wrapped Bhagwan Nityananda’s murti and flowers blessed at the samadhi shrine. We honoured and shared these gifts with Vasudev Swami for empowering his journey home.

He asked for nothing and said he was taken care of well.”

Sri Vasudevan 4 July 2016
Photo taken on 4th July, a few days before leaving His body

12th July 2016

Jeanetta and Dewa, “We have just returned from the burning ghat as well as the house and shrine where Vasudev Swami lived.  The man tending the cremation fire is very kind and respectful.
As we stood at the ghat, chanting Triumbakum Mantra for our Dear Friend, one of our Trust’s staff members drove up. He speaks English as well as Marathi and Hindi. Then, as we talked, two more men drove up. One man had been sent by A Dr. Amberker, to collect the ashes.  We were told this man would collect the ashes and deliver them to Dr. Amberker who was planning to take them immediately to Nashik tomorrow. Half of the ashes were to go to Nashik, and half to the River Ganga.
We have had several sweet moments of sharing love with Vasudev Swami these past few days.  And continue to feel his loving Presence even now in his transition…
The old man who has been by his bedside every day we visited him, his friend, was deeply sad at the death of his beloved. We held him as he grieved and cried.  We too will miss the joy of Swami’s earthly Presence at this shrine, but forever find him in our hearts.”

Mohanji wrote, “Vasudevan Swami of Vajreshwari left his body at around 11AM IST today. I still remember his words when I bid good bye in March 2016. Unlike other times, he came out of the temple to see me off. He had tears in his eyes. He said, “Remember two things. There is not even one day that I do not remember you. And remember Bhagawan Nithyananda is always with you. Worry not. You are always protected.” I bowed down and left.

I told Kamath who was with me, “This seems like a final good bye. I may not see him again.” He merged into eternity today morning. Given are the pictures of his decorating me with a shawl.

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12th March 2016, Sri Vasudevan wrapping Mohanji with Bhagawan Nithyananda’s shawl

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Swami Vasudevan was decorated with a sacred shawl by Bhagawan Nithyananda’s devotees. The shawl was offered to Nithyananda for consecration. Swami Vasudevan was wondering what to do with this gift. Bhagawan told him, “Give it to Mohanji.“ He thought,“How will I meet Mohanji? Perhaps he is not in India. Bhagawan brought me to him last evening prior to our retreat in Ganesh Puri. He decorated me with the shawl. Divine Leela. What else can I say? Totally humbled.
While parting he told me,“One thing I am sure and shall tell you. Bhagawan Nithyananda is with you always and will be with you forever. I have no doubt. Trust me.“ His bhaav was overwhelming when he said that. He said, “Never be afraid of adversities. Your existence has purpose. Purpose is much larger than any adversities of existence.“ It was almost like a grandfather blessing a grandchild. While parting he also said,“Not one day goes by without me thinking about you. I remember you every day.“ In the myriad world of misunderstandings, this one understanding is worth the breath. Humbled. Grateful.

He was powerful. Deities visited him at his mere call and left their residues on the wall for visitors to witness and perceive. Life does not end. Only body ends.
Love to Swamiji. Love always.”

Vasudevanji, a powerful and loving saint at the Nath mandir at Vajreshwari 1a

Rajesh Kamath, “Mohanji used to say that when Vasudevanji prays for someone to a deity, he tells the deity that it should be done. Such was his power and yet so unassuming in that frail frame. He attributed everything (the visitations, the miracles, the healing, etc) to the grace and blessings of Bhagavan Nityananda. He used to say that you will surely reach the goal when your every breath chants the Lords name. His life was one lived only for the Lord while ruthlessly removing all worldly desires. A truly divine soul who was the epitome of bhakti. When Mohanji met him the last time, Mohanji asked to pack a South Indian breakfast for him. He was so touched by the gesture. Mohanji said while leaving, “It looks like this is the last time we meet.” Sadly, and as always, those words were true. Rest in Bliss.”

Swamiji and Mohanji, on my T-shirt, says Madhu
“Swamiji and Mohanji (on my T-shirt)” says Madhu

Madhusudan Rajagopalan, “He passed away peacefully in the Nath mandir as he wished. His last rites were done in the afternoon. We are planning to collect his ashes and consign them to the Ganga.

When we met Swamiji last week, he asked us to do a bhandara (food seva) in Ganeshpuri in his name. We will coordinate and do this via Ammucare in the coming days.

The food seva through Nityananda sansthan (trust) will be done. This was Swamiji’s specific instruction… In fact, he told us that he did annadaan and abhisheka for Bhagwan Nityananda just before he got ill. He added that since then he had been praying to Baba to take him soon. And it happened…”

Narendra Bhandari: “I had the opportunity to seek his blessings on 29th March 2015. Rest in peace swami Vasudevanji.

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The picture of his footsteps after concluding the prayers at samadhi in the backyard of the Temple.

Mohanji: We shall fulfil all his wishes as he told us including Annadaan in his name. We shall distribute his picture also along with food so that all those who  can bless him.
We shall immerse part of his ash in the river nearby Vajreshwari and part in the Ganga. We shall do this in July itself.

During a recent satsang, Mohanji told a story: 

A true story of Sri Vasudevan

I’ll tell you a real story. I always visit this place near Bombay. There is a small room with the presence of Bhagavan Nithyananda, and two Nath Gurus, Machidanath and Gorakhnath.

An 84 year old man, Vasudevan has been serving in the small temple for many years. He just washes the place and keeps the deities ready. People rarely visit the temple. This man is unbelievably powerful.

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One day somebody gifted him a book in English about Bhagavan Nithyananda. He wondered, “What will I do with this book?” And in the evening Bhagavan Nithyananda came to him in a dream or in real, and said, “Give this to Mohanji.” He asked, “How will I meet Mohanji? He is always out of India.” Next day I reached there. He said, “Yesterday I was thinking how to see you and you came.” I said, “You were not thinking. You were pulling me! HA HA.” I was there during Kumbh Mela in September.
His mind is totally empty. Every thought is powerful. Do you know how he prays? He doesn’t pray in detail, he is very old. He says, “Oh, Lord Krishna, I haven’t seen you for a long time. Now my eyes are very weak, when will I see you?” And Lord Krishna appears. He not only appears, but leaves His impression on the wall. So it’s not imagination. He becomes excited like a child. If you go there and ask him, “Where did Lord Krishna come? Where did masters appear?” He will be very happy to show you, “Come here, I’ll show you.”

While I was sitting there, Hanumanji was meditating in the temple. He said, “You know, this is where he was sitting.” And there is an impression of Hanumanji on the wall.
This time when I went, he could not even stand upright, he was bent. He was taking a bucket of water and cleaning. I asked him, “How are you lifting it?” “No, no, no, this is ok, I am serving God. I have no pain.” I know that he cannot walk and is full of pain. There is sacred ash emerging there. He keeps all the ash, and if any person with any ailment goes and says, “Please pray for me,” he will use the ash and it’s guaranteed to heal. I sent many of my followers there just to demonstrate to them what devotion is. Masters come to you not for the countless chants but for the purity of your heart.

I told some people, “Get him some nice clothes” since he wears torn clothes. When I met him next time, he kept all these clothes there. I asked him-
Mohanji: Why are you still wearing the torn ones? Where are other ones?
Vasudevan: Mohanji, don’t send me good clothes, I was afraid to look at them, because if I wear all these, people will think I am a rich man. You take it.

This time also he gave me a lot of clothes.

Mohanji: Don’t give me all these clothes, I have clothes.
Vasudevan: No, I kept them for you, take it.
Mohanji: I can’t take all these clothes, there are too many.
Vasudevan: Ok.
Mohanji: What will make you happy, if I take all these clothes, or if I leave it?
Vasudevan: If you take all these clothes, I’ll be very happy.
Mohanji: Ok, then give them to me.

He is an amazing man but local people don’t even know him. His neighbours have no idea who he is. When I visited him this time, he told me how at night some people threw stones at him. Being partially blind, he couldn’t see who threw stones. No stone hit him. I asked him, “Did you tell the police or anybody?” He said, “You know, that’s the beauty of karma. If somebody throws stones, it is their problem, not mine.”
(Laughter)

I remembered Sai Baba’s incident when someone threw stones at him and one stone hit his head and he started bleeding, he said “The injury is on this body. Pain is with God”
Vasudevan Swam said, “We should not even think bad about anybody. When they throw stones, they also take the karma. We should not be worried.” His eyes showed that he has just a few more months maybe. One person came to him while I was there. I asked, “So you have an assistant now?” He said, “No. He is just visiting”
There are various people like him but not visible to us. You cannot estimate the power of a master because if you start analyzing, you lose him completely.

When I told the story of Dipaka, I suddenly remembered this man. Unfortunately after his death, this temple will probably also wither away, unless someone with understanding and selflessness takes over with commitment. If you just tell him my name Mohanji, he would start crying out of deep affection – there is so much love, he doesn’t know what to do. I met many masters like him but they are not in the public light. You hardly see them, but if you want to experience real love, you have to meet such people. Apparently, this is the very location where the great book Nath Rahasya was delivered to human kind.

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Sudeep (July 2012): From “Pilgrimage to Nithyananda’s Shrine at Ganeshpuri”

Finally we left the Ganeshpuri premises for Vajreshwari another 3 kms towards Bhiwandi and went straight to a Nath temple. From the main road one cannot easily find the temple. This is also a very powerful place where Bhagwan Nityananda would often sit and meditate. There are padukas of Maschendra Nath and Goraksha Nath of the ancient Nath tradition. The priest of the temple who is very old and frail looking told us that both Maschendra Nath and His disciple Gorakhsha Nath did penance there for two months to appease the Goddess and that the spot is very sacred.

Bade Baba later converted that into a temple. The original padukas of Bade Baba are also there at the altar. The priest is a great Bhakta and very saintly. He mentioned that it is not possible for ordinary people to reach there as the devatas there do not permit the same. This place lies well hidden and only those who are truly “invited” can reach there. The priest also is not just a priest, he is a great saint, but totally unassuming. He has the power to manifest any God at will. When he saw Mohanji, he asked him to stay with him or at least have food with him, which he would willingly cook for Mohanji!

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Mohanji with Sri Vasudevan at Nath Mandir in July 2012

Many visit Vajreshwari Devi temple across the road or even Ganeshpuri but rarely somebody visits Nath temple, because it is not visible at all. This saint is deep into Bhakti and is totally established at the being level. He does not do any great spiritual practice.  He is a saint and does not even realize that He has great powers. I have met Him several times before and always felt so, but never saw Him exhibiting any powers, just like any true saints who will never display any siddhis. He is very pure and humble.

He has had darshan of all Deities, Gods and Goddesses inside the temple and He showed their impressions on all the four walls of the temple to Mohanji, with a lot of enthusiasm. He also mentioned that if the inner eye is not open, one cannot even witness the residue left behind by the great Avatars, Gods and Goddesses. He had Bhagwan Nityananda’s live darshan several times there. Outside the temple in the garden there is Samadhi of Swami Ram Teertha, another disciple of Bade Baba who was asked by Baba to look after the temple before this priest. In fact the priest told us that Bade Baba gave His padukas blessed by Him at Kailasa to Swami Ram Teertha to place in this temple and worship.

We all did pooja here and the priest blessed us with the udi (sacred ash) of all the three energies. He mentioned that the udi is very powerful and bestows one with all the achievements in life! Mohanji bowed down and touched the feet of this saint which was very touching! We all touched His feet. Mohanji later revealed to me that God sent me there to the Nath temple to have darshan of this saintly priest who is so pure that He does nothing except devotion and always stays at the being level. All Gods, Goddesses and Deities come and give darshan to Him while we are busy doing some or other sadhana to fill our space and evolve spiritually. We go to temples and holy places searching for God. While Gods visits this simple man! This is the truth of spirituality one must clearly understand. All you have to do is increase eligibility through being-ness and nurturing purity within. God will guard you. Mostly we seek God and do pilgrimages to have Their darshan but its special and different when Gods come to us and give darshan. We should elevate our purity to that level in non-doing mode i.e. at being level by constantly being aware of each moment of our lives.

The saint told us many stories that he had encountered in the temple and was reluctant to let us go. It was so homely for Mohanji too, as he truly belonged there. While we were leaving, the saint was standing at the door and waving at us until we moved away from his vicinity. We felt as if we were leaving our own home and our parent was wishing us from the door step. This is the beauty and bonding of our Tradition. The Tradition never leaves your hand and it comes around as reminders whenever we walk away from it.

Then we left for the darshan of Vajreshwari, Renuka and Kalikadevi at an ancient temple on the little hillock. After the darshan we bowed at the Shiva temple there as well as the Hanumanji temple. On the right side of this temple at the back is the Lord Dattatreya temple under the only Rudrakasha tree with pictures of Bhagwan Nityananda, Swami Muktananda, Swami Ram Teertha and Sai Nath of Shirdi.  The priest at the Nath temple told me that Bade Baba would sit for long periods at this place as well.

Dhritiman Biswas: In the early 2014, I went to meet Sri Vasudev ji near Ganeshpuri (Maharashtra). I had already met Sri Vasudevji the previous year. We talked fondly about Mohanji. He remembered Mohanji’s visits to this Nath temple with a twinkle in his eye.

Mohanji and the Avadhoota of the Nath temple

He showed me Mohanji’s eye cards and a printout of the blog on Mohanji’s universe about him! He asked me to translate the blog and smiled as I read it out loud. He also enquired about Bibaji and Mila. A dhoti was presented to him on behalf of Mohanji, at his lotus feet.

He narrated a couple of interesting incidents about Bade Baba and Gandhiji. Once Gandhiji came to pray at this same Nath temple before an agitation against the British. Bade Baba told him, “You are Paramguru. Why have you come here? You go and do your work.” When Gandhiji was in London negotiating with the British Government, Bade Baba instantly told his followers in India what had transpired (in those days, even a telegram took days to reach). Next day, the newspaper declared exactly what Bade Baba had told his followers!

Sri Vasudevji asked me to meditate inside the Nath mandir and then showed me the forms of Gods on the wall. I had the honour of drinking tea made by him for me. He also gifted me pictures of Nath Gurus, Sai Baba, Devi Mata and Bade Baba (now kept at my home altar)!!!

Preethi Gopalarathnam: (Kumbh Mela Trip in September 2015)

I would like to share my experience during the visit to Ganeshpuri on our way back from Nashik.

Mohanji said he would like to spend time with Vasudevan swami (a highly evolved saint at the Nath mandir in Vajreshwari). He asked us to proceed to take darshan at Nithyanand Bhagwan’s (Bade Baba’s) Samadhi and meet him back at Vasudevan swami’s place. It did cross my mind why he did not want to come to the Samadhi mandir after coming all the way to Ganeshpuri. We dropped Mohanji at Vasudevan swami’s Nath mandir opposite Vajreshwari temple and went to Bade Baba’s shrine.

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As our group had a couple of first timers we went to Kailash Bhavan first to show them the place where Bade Baba used to live. We sat opposite his chair and meditated for some time. The place was as powerful and full of energy as it always is. Numerous devotees have felt and seen Nityanand Bhagwan in and around Kailash Bhawan even to this date. I have had the grace and good fortune of having his darshan too on one such visit. I will write about it separately some other time.
There is a room opposite the bath tub which is sometimes open to visitors. This was where Baba used to sleep. The last couple of times the room was open and we got in and meditated there for some time. I tried to open the door but it was locked. I put my head on the door and peeped in and thanked Bade Baba for this darshan when I got a very strong fragrance of vibuthi once again coming from inside. I instinctively recognised it as Mohanji’s fragrance, the same one I got at the snaan. As I kept my head there I also got a strong smell of sandalwood and after a while I could smell other multiple fragrances coming from the room. Madhu, Nikunj, Arusha and Vidya each put their head there, smelt the fragrance and their forehead began to pulsate as the energy inside was very high. Every single one of us were amazed! At that moment we knew Mohanji was inside with Bade Baba and I felt a couple of other masters were there too. We then went to the Samadhi mandir right in time for Aarti and needless to say the darshan was magical. We left after the Aarti without waiting for the Prasad as others in the group would be waiting for us at the Nath mandir. Once we went there I saw Mohanji and asked him what he was doing at the Kailash Bhavan? To which he replied with the same twinkle in his eyes that he did not have to be physically present at Ganeshpuri to take darshan of Bade Baba. He also confirmed there were a few of them there at the room. It was an amazing moment for me as a reconfirmation of how one’s own experience cuts out the doubts set forth by the mind. By the end of our trip I understood that what we see physically is a miniscule of Mohanji’s stature and presence. I remember what he told me when I met him at the Mumbai centre, “Try to understand me then you will never leave me”. My single prayer to him is to help me understand him, as I would never want to leave him ever and I pray it always remains that way.

Aparna Nazre (Kumbh Mela trip in September 2015)
I would like to share the most memorable visit to Vasudevanji. My one last wish was to visit the holy saint Vasudevan in Ganeshpuri. And since my flight was at 3.30 PM, Mamuji said that I might have to cancel the Ganeshpuri visit, as I would miss the flight otherwise. I was sincerely praying that I would get the opportunity to meet Vasudevanji. And not surprisingly, I had enough time to visit this saint along with Mohanji. The visit was so amazing.

Saint Vasudevan explaining where Gods were coming and left their trace

Vasudevanji was an epitome of humility and a normal person can just pass him as another human being. I was just not feeling like coming out of the house, by which time, Rajesh and Mamuji started calling me saying I needed to hurry or I would miss my flight as it was already very late. After taking the blessings of my Guru and Vasudevanji, I hurried towards the cab to get my luggage. At that moment, I got a call from an unknown number, which I didn’t intend to pick, since I was terribly late, but somehow picked it to know, that my flight was delayed to 4.20 PM. Phew!!! What a timing… Now I had enough time to reach airport on time. What grace and unconditional love Mohanji is!!! Sheer joy and I was almost ready to jump of happiness. I bid goodbye to Mamuji and Rajesh and the entire group with a heavy heart. I was indeed able to make it to the airport on time.  Miracle after miracle is what I saw in this trip.
In conclusion, what I learnt from the entire trip was – have the best intentions and surrender to Lord – Things will definitely turn out well.
My sincere gratitude to the entire team and fellow travelers.