A Journey to India - Part 5 - Haidakhan Baba

The old Hairakhan baba

The old Hairakhan baba

Tobias and I went to the area around Nainital in India mainly to visit the places where the two saints Neem Karoli baba and Sombari baba stayed when they where alive. You can read about our visits to these places in the earlier parts of this article series.

However, we knew through K.K. Sah's book Deva Bhumi, as well as Ram Dass's book Be Love Now, that another great saint had lived in the same area up in the Himalayan Mountains. Or actually two more saints. One was called Hairakhan baba and was contemporary with Sombari baba and died about a hundred years ago. The other one was called Haidakhan baba and died quite recently, in 1984. Actually, the two names are the same and the differences in spelling are just because our alphabet has no equivalent to the sound that is a bit of a mixture between r and d. Sometimes the name is spelled with an r and sometimes with a d.

Both Tobias and I had read about Hairakhan baba the elder in K.K. Sahs's book Deva Bhumi and both felt a connection with him. He was considered to be one of the most highly developed saints in the area and was held in very high regard by Sombari baba. He was often seen with Tibetan lamas and seemed to have some connection to Nepal. No one really knew where he came from when he one day appeared in a cave near the village of Hairakhan (hence his name) in the 1880s, or where he went when he suddenly disappeared in 1922. Some believe he had lived for a very long time since he briefly mentioned that he had experienced historical events way back in history. Some also believe that he is still alive and there are those who claim that they have seen him even after his disappearance. There are even those who claim that he is the same saint as Mahavatar Babaji, the saint mentioned by Paramahansa Yogananda in his book A yogi's autobiography. A being that has lived for thousands of years and is often called the guru of gurus.

Tobias and I felt we wanted to visit the temples and ashrams that were dedicated to him and on the outskirts of Haldwani lies his old ashram in Katgharia. During the time he was active in the area the ashram was located in the jungle, but today the city of Haldwani has grown around it. The week before our trip to India, I read in Ram Dass's book Be love now how Hairakhan baba had been seen by his old devotees in 1958 during the inauguration of a new temple in the ashram in Katgharia. Suddenly a bright light had appeared above the statue of him and in this light devotees saw Hairakhan baba floating in the air. Several of his old followers went into ecstasy and fainted.

As we went out to the ashram, we quickly became aware that Westerners very rarely visited the place. The ashram was located in the outskirts of the city and was also in poor condition. The people who were there were surprised that we showed up, but they were at the same time happy to see us. The man who seemed to be in charge of the temple allowed us to sit and meditate in the temple where the statue of Hairakhan baba is placed. In the temple there were both pictures of Hairakhan baba the elder, as well as the younger man with the same name who lived until 1984. People here seemed to make no distinction between the two saints.

After we had meditated for a while we were gifted prasad by the temple caretaker and we went for a stroll around the ashram for a while. It was clear that the place needed to be restored, but I assume that a decreasing number of visitors has led to a lack of necessary financial resources. Perhaps it may help that K.K. Sah has written about Harikhan baba in his book Deva Bhumi and that Harikhan baba's story is highlighted in articles like this to help people find this once flourishing ashram.

The younger Haidakhan baba 

The younger Haidakhan baba 

We were also interested in visiting the ashram and the temples dedicated to Hairakhan baba located in the area where he first appeared, near the village of Hairakhan. The old Hariakhan baba had an ashram there back when he was active in the area, but today there is instead a large ashram there dedicated to the younger Haidakhan baba, often called Babaji, the person with the same name who appeared in a cave outside the same village in 1970 when he was a young man and whom died in 1984. The modern Haidakhan babaji is considered by many as being an incarnation of the old Hairakhan baba and therefore you will find pictures of both of them in the ashrams in Kathgaria and the one near the village of Hairakhan. The ashram outside the village of Hairakhan is today more or less entirely dedicated to Haidakhan babaji the younger.

My brother Tobias was somewhat curious about the modern Haidakhan babaji but I didn't feel any pull towards him and I also suspected that he might not have been a true saint. To some extent, I even thought he might have been such a person who attracts Westerners for his own personal gain. I went to the ashram mostly because I thought that the temple on the other side of the river of the ashram was dedicated to the older Hairakhan baba which I held in much higher regards than the modern saint with the same name. We had also been recommended to go to Haidakhan babaji the younger one's ashram by an Englishman and a German woman the week before we traveled to India and they had experienced that it was a place with very strong energies. In other words, I were a little curious about the ashram but did not feel any direct pull towards the place. It was the last location we visited in the area around Nainital before moving on to Rishikesh.

When we got there we walked around in the very big ashram. There were many visitors there, both Indians and Westerners. We sat and meditated for a while in front of the statue of Haidakhan babaji the younger. The Ashram was very nice and lay beautiful in the middle of the mountains, but despite that, I still had some resistance to Haidakhan babaji. I instead wanted to cross the river to the temple on the other side, which I thought was dedicated to the older Hairakhan baba, which I thought was the real deal. We crossed the river to the temple on the other side and quite soon I realized that this place was fully dedicated to Haidakhan babaji the younger and to top it all, the temple was quite newly renovated and many buildings were quite modern. To say the least, I was very disappointed since I had the idea of coming to something much older and, in my opinion, more genuine. In a moment my expectations and ideas fell apart.

In the temple complex there were nine depictions of Hindu gods that I showed my respect to, mostly because you where supposed to do that, but it all felt fake because I really felt disappointed about this place. But when I had shown my respect for the ninth god something strange happened. As I walked away from the statue, I suddenly and spontaneously slipped into a higher state of consciousness. I felt how energy flowed into me, or maybe it was out of me, and a kind of divine inner clarity came upon me. Suddenly I could see how wrong I had been and how my ego had locked itself in with ideas and expectations. I saw how I had been chasing the spiritual for so long and how the whole trip to India had been a search for something that always exists here and now, no matter where I am. I saw how I had put some saints higher than others completely based on my false ideas. And above all, I saw how the whole trip to India, the visits to the places we had been to, had been excuses for finding something that was already within me. I saw how my strong spiritual experience I had the day before in Kainshi Dham, the ashram dedicated to the saint Neem Karoli baba, really had been triggered by myself and not, as I had assumed then, by Neem Karoli baba. I realized that all the visits to these holy places had only been to give my ego permission slips in order to open up for my higher self and that the excuses were not really needed. But at the same time they had been necessary. For if I had not had these permission slips, my experiences of my higher self had not happened. I needed something to believe in that gave me permission to see myself, but now that my ideas and permissions slips had shattered in Haidakhan babaji the younger's temple, who I thought was a fake guru, and I still had a strong spiritual experience, I saw it for what it was, me using excuses to find myself. And Haidakhan babaji, the guru I thought was false, proved to be the one who gave me the best lesson, that I do not need the permission slips, but that I can go into these states of consciousness anywhere, anytime. The permissions slips in the form of external circumstances were no longer needed, they had fulfilled their purpose now that I saw them for what they were. The trip to India had fulfilled its purpose. It had taught me that the trip was not really needed, since what I was looking for was already within me. But paradoxically, I had never learned this without having made the trip. I realized that external circumstances can help as an permissions slip to the day you realize that it's never really the outside circumstances that do anything to you, but yourself.

This strong experience came to be the highlight for me during our trip to India. And it happened at the place I wanted to visit the least. The place I had previously concluded was fake was the place where the lessons was shown, and it was obvious why. You cannot have ideas about the truth if you want to find it, because the truth is nothing you can imagine what it is. You must therefore be completely open and receptive to everything. But with God's grace, I had gained this insight despite my delusions and I was overwhelmed with humility.

When we went back to the ashram, I felt I wanted to go back to Haidakhan babaji's statue and this time give him the respect he deserved. I had now seen his true greatness. With tears in my eyes, I prostrated in front of his statue and showed my respect, this time with full affection and genuine reverence. The guru I thought had been false was the one who helped me understand. Still fully established in the higher state of consciousness that I went into back at the temple, I apologized and showed my reverence.

When I came out of the main hall and out to the yard, an old man ran up to me with a big smile on his face. We had recently passed him as we walked from the temple back to the main hall with Haidakhan babaji's statue. The man gave me a big hug and asked me how I felt. I responded that I felt very good and without saying more words, I knew intuitively why he had come running to me. In this state of consciousness, all the answers came to me without effort by them selves. He had felt what state of being I was in when I passed him and was bursting of joy that a visitor had an experience like this in his gurus ashram. That he once again got to see his guru's loving work and that I had discovered his guru's true greatness. I could also see that the man was pleased that someone who came to the ashram understood and experienced the truth. I sensed that it did not happen very often, especially not for Westerners. We hugged each other once more and then me and my company left the ashram. Just outside we crossed a store and for a brief moment I got eye contact with a young man who worked there. He ran out of the store and took my hand and I could see that he sensed my state of being as well, just as the old man had done. For the third time during this trip, I was able to see how many people in India have a completely different contact with the divine than many in the West. How many there, but far from everyone, can see and feel when someone is awake spiritually.

We then went back to our hotel and gradually I returned to my normal state of consciousness, but nothing would ever be the same again. What happened to me in Haidakhan babaji's ashram changed me permanently. I now know that I no longer needed the permission slips to experience my higher self. And I now know that a judging heart is a heart that is closed. If I cannot see God in everything, I cannot see God at all. Thank you Haidakhan babaji for this, thank you.

Om Namah Shivaya.

 

The Barking Dog

Once I came across a parable that compared thoughts with a barking dog. I thought it was a very entertaining parable and since then I have found it to be true. The ego is very complex and if you've ever carefully observed how it works then you've probably seen that it always finds a way to take you away from the present moment. It's like a barking dog that never keeps quiet. When it looks at something or hear something it starts to bark and makes a lot of noise. The same goes for our thoughts. Our thoughts tend to create a picture of what is happening and instead of finding ourselves in the present, we are drawn into the image that the thoughts created. Just like when a dog begins to bark, we lose our focus and our attention is focused on something else. We try very hard to keep the dog silent. We scream and we get frustrated when the dog does not do what we want.

This usually continues from the moment we wake up to the time that we fall asleep. We may be present a few occasions during the day, but rarely for a long time, and rarely do we find ourselves fully in the present moment. Our thoughts always want something to bark at. When you wake up in the morning, you want to check your phone, look at social media or read the magazine, so your thoughts will have something to react to. Therefore, I think it is very important that we instead begin our day in a calm place where we can be present.

Meditating can be very useful to gain control over your thoughts. Initially, when we start meditating, thoughts can become even more active. As we close our eyes, we remove something that our thoughts can respond to. All that remains is the black space and our thoughts will make everything they can to make you open your eyes. It's all about trying to get you out of balance and coming up with things from your past or creating anxiety for the future, hoping to get you out of the present moment.

Initially, it may be very difficult to avoid this phase. The thoughts want to survive and when there is nothing new to bark at, it starts to bark even higher in panic. The important thing is to master your thoughts. Only then will the barks cease. Once you have shown that no matter how much the dog barks, you will not give in, then the dog will realize that it should be quiet and obey. The key is to show who's the master. By not responding to the thoughts that appear, you are showing that you are in control.

Once you've practiced your mind it will be like a well-behaved dog. It will be your best friend who will always be there for you. And when it's not advisable to help you, it will lay quiet next to you. In order to find the present moment, you must master your mind. It must be your best friend who will be with you when you need it, but stay quiet when not needed.

A Journey to India - Part 4 - Kakrighat

 

From Nainital we started the journey towards Kakrighat to visit the ashram where Sombari Baba spent his time during the winter. Getting to this ashram was a bit more problematic as the road was in worse condition than the roads to the previous ashrams we had visited. It took an hour before we reached our destination because there was a lot of construction work at this time. Even though it took a long time for us to get there, it felt positive that they were working on improving the accessibility to this particular place.

Eventually we arrived at our destination. While outside we became very unsure if it was open to visitors since the gate was closed. Fortunately, we noticed that there was a small door on the gate that could be opened. We stepped into the area and were greeted by a smaller garden. Shortly thereafter we came to the temple area. We stepped in and met two temple caretakers who seemed incredibly happy to see us. They explained that this was the place where Sombari Baba and Neem Karoli Baba spent their time when they were alive.

We felt a huge calm inside of us when we visited this place. The time stopped and an inner peace emerged. We walked around and were met by the huge tree found in the middle of this temple. Under this tree, Sombari Baba used to sit while he was at this location. It felt unreal to sit in the same place as this incredible saint had sat.

I sat down to meditate. This particular day I felt sick and had a fever so it was very hard to for me to go into my meditation. Suddenly it was as if a voice came to me saying that I should go down to the river and wash myself. Sombari Baba always asked his visitors to wash themselves in the river before they stepped into the area. I was ashamed that I forgot to do this and immediately went down to the river. I cleaned my face, arms and legs. As I stepped out of the river, all feelings of fever disappeared and I did not feel sick anymore. I felt as if it was Sombari Baba who had made me recover and I felt incredible grateful.

We spent a few of hours in the area and we bathed in the feelings of well being that this place gave us. It was so soothing to be in this place and my faith to Sombari Baba became even stronger.

Within this temple there was also a section dedicated to Neem Karoli Baba. When he was alive he wished that a temple would be built at this spot because Sombari Baba had stayed here. It is the Kainichi Dham ashram who is responsible for preserving this place, demonstrating the incredible reverence that Neem Karoli Baba felt for Sombari Baba.

Inside the temple there was a statue of Neem Karoli Baba and pictures from when he was alive. Being able to feel the presence of these two amazing saints in one place was powerful. This location has left a memory for life and we long for the next time we will get the opportunity to visit this temple again.

Nearby there is also a temple dedicated to Swami Vivekananda so we decided to visit this place as well. Unfortunately, it was in very bad condition, but they were working hard to restore it. At this place Swami Vivekananda had one of the most important experiences of his life. He saw how the whole inner and outer world is one and that God exists in everything. It was while meditating under a tree that he gained this strong experience, and around this tree they have built this ashram. Unfortunately, the tree is no longer there since it died but they took a sapling from it and it's slowly growing tall again. Hopefully, the new tree will be a place where more people will experience the same amazing experienced that Swami Vivekananda had.

A Journey to India - Part 3 - Padampuri ashram

One of the places we wanted to visit when we were in the area around the small city of Nainital up in the Himalayan mountains was the Indian saint Sombari baba's two ashrams in Padampuri and Kakrighat. This area of ndia has hosted many great saints like Neem Karoli baba, Hairakhan baba, and of which Sombari baba is considered one of the most developed spiritually.

 Sombari baba is relatively unknown in both the West and in India. Much because it is close to one hundred years since he lived. Therefore, his ashram in Padampuri is not very well-visited where it is beautifully situated in a valley between the mountains a bit from the city of Nainital. We were the only visitors when we were there and the place is more neglected and less expensive compared to Neem Karoli baba's ashram Kainchi Dham. Nevertheless, it is one of the most beautiful places we have visited and a place we want to visit again. If you want to know more about Sombari baba we have written about him here.

 The first thing that struck us when we got there was that it was bigger than we expected. The ashram lies next to a small river and we knew that Sombari baba never allowed anyone to come in without first washing their feet, hands and face in the river. In order to respect this, we did this before we entered the ashram where one of the area's most developed beings spent a great part of his life. Once inside we were met by an incredibly peaceful place. It felt like you could walk around there without a thought of wanting to do anything else, hour after hour after hour. You did not feel the need for anything else. Even though we were the only visitors and we quickly saw all the parts, it was impossible to get bored there. You just wanted to be. Nothing more. What prompted us to leave after some hours was that our taxi driver waited impatiently on us outside.

 We could feel that Sombari's presence was still strong here and it was a strange feeling to sit at his dhuni that was still there, his sacred fire that he kept burning the most of the time. In the building above the fireplace there was a portrait made of stone of Sombari baba and this building was built at the place where he used to sit. We meditated for a while in front of this image and let us be immersed into his presence and energy.

 In one of the buildings a young man sat and repeated a mantra while another young man swept the pathways. It turned out to be the caretakers of the temple. They gladly talked about Sombari baba in bad English and offered coffee as prasad. Although we had difficulty communicating with speech, we easily talked to each other with the language of the heart. The young men were incredibly hospitable and happy about our visit and the meeting with them came to be one of the greatest memories of the journey. We hope they will be there the next time we come to visit because it is a place we both want to visit again.

 The week before we traveled to India we were on a retreat with Sri M in Switzerland. There we met an Englishman who turned out to have visited Sombari baba's ashram in Padampuri seven years earlier. That fact that we encountered someone who has actually been there the week before we left for India was an incredible synchronicity, given that very few westerners have been there or even heard of Sombari baba. The Englishman said that when he was there, a 119-year-old yogi had been there and the Englishman had never encountered a more loving person. We asked the two caretakers if this yogi was still alive and they confirmed that he was now 125 and lived in the ashram during the summer. However, we were there before the summer really started so the yogi now lived at his winter residence in Haldwani. We actually got his address from the temple caretakers but we never had the time to go there and maybe it was not meant to happen. Maybe we'll encounter him the next time we're there if he's still alive. We are happy anyway, because it was Sombari baba's ashram who caught our hearts.

Since there are very few pictures on this beautiful ashram circulating, we are sharing plenty of pictures here and we hope that more people will go to Padampuri and hopefully also donate a small or big sum to the ashram so that it can survive and and perhaps even flourish once more. Perhaps this article can pay back a small part of what Sombari baba and Padampuri gave us.

Sombari baba's ashram in Padampuri.

Sombari baba's ashram in Padampuri.

Tobias next to the ashram entrance.

Tobias next to the ashram entrance.

Sombari baba's dhuni.

Sombari baba's dhuni.

There was also another, now deceased, guru living in Padampuri ashram after Sombari baba. We don't remember his name, but there was a statue of him in one of the buildings.

There was also another, now deceased, guru living in Padampuri ashram after Sombari baba. We don't remember his name, but there was a statue of him in one of the buildings.

A small temple containing a shiva lingam. Shiva was the hindu deity that Sombari baba was mainly associated with. 

A small temple containing a shiva lingam. Shiva was the hindu deity that Sombari baba was mainly associated with. 

One of the temple caretakers sitting and repeating mantras.

One of the temple caretakers sitting and repeating mantras.

Magnus sitting together with the temple caretakers. 

Magnus sitting together with the temple caretakers. 

The small temple with a stone image of Sombari baba, built on the place where he used to sit.

The small temple with a stone image of Sombari baba, built on the place where he used to sit.

Sombari Baba

A saint that is not that well-known in the western world was a man named Sombari Baba. A big reason for this is that he passed away back in 1919 and at that time there were very few westerners who ever had the opportunity to meet him. This was also a time when it was difficult to spread information so even in India he is still quite unknown. However, he has begun to have a greater spread in the West in recent years. Especially because of the book Deva Bhumi recently released. In the book, the author Krishna Kumar (K.K.) Sah presents a series of stories about this amazing saint.

The word Sombari means Monday and Sombari Baba got his name because he always gave food to those who visited him during the Mondays. No one knows for sure when he was born but many claim that he was born sometime between 1815-1825 in a small town called Pind Dadankhan.

He lived a selfless life and had very few possessions. His only possessions were a small cloth bag, a tiger skin and a chillum (pipe). He radiated an enormous peacefulness and kindness. He requested nothing from anyone else. He never preached, never wrote any books; instead, his way of living was an expression of the highest spiritual doctrine.

He spent most of his time in Kakrighat during the summer and in Padampuri during the winter. In Padampuri it became very cold during the winter that the nearby river was frozen to ice and there were several meters of snow on the ground. Nevertheless, he wore nothing else but a small piece of cloth and even refused to let the devotees build a simple shelter to protect him from rain and snow. 

People who were with him explain how all their problems disappeared in his presence. Those who were with him never wanted to leave his side. He always radiated happiness and love and never showed any anger. All negative feelings and thoughts vanished in his presence and were replaced by a sense of divinity. This feeling could be felt within them for a long time after they left him.

Sombari Baba knew the past, the present and the future. If someone came to him with a problem, they did not have to say anything. The answer usually came before the question was asked. Even though he knew all, he loved everyone unconditionally and helped those who came to him with an open heart. Another proof of this was that he always knew if anyone would visit him without receiving any prior information about this. On several occasions he prepared food for visitors and just as he predicted they showed up.

Another miracle that he performed was that there was always enough food no matter how many people visited him. Even though it should have been impossible that the food would be enough for everyone, there was always food left and Sombari Baba always ate last of all. Only when all visitors were fed, he ate. In the book Deva Bhumi, K.K Sah tells stories about how the food never ran out of the bowl, even though they served far more than would fit inside. No matter how many people ate from the food in the bowl, there was always food left inside of it.

Those who visited Sombari Baba explained how they felt an divine protection while they went on the dangerous road to the ashram where he lived. At that time, this part of India was much more dangerous than it is today. They didn't have the kind of roads that exist today and getting there was a big challenge. Especially because there were wild animals along the roads, including tigers attacking the people. But everyone who visited Sombari Baba was always unharmed while traveling to and from the place.

Another sign of the greatness of this saint was that other saints showed great respect for him and he's regarded as one of the highest and purest saints who ever lived in the area. Neem Karoli Baba chose to build his ashrams in the places where Sombari Baba had stayed. Thanks to this, these places are still available today and you can visit them. We recently visited the two ashrams where Sombari Baba lived and we will explain the feelings we felt while we visited these wonderful places in upcoming articles.

A Journey to India - Part 2 - Hanuman Gadh

When we planned our trip to India, that is, we who run this site, Tobias and Magnus Ahlberg, we both wanted to visit Kainchi Dham. It is the ashram that is most associated with the Indian guru Neem Karoli Baba, also known as Maharaj-ji. The guru that Richard Alpert, or Ram Dass, made famous for the western world. It was there Ram Dass and other Westerners such as Krishna Das spent a lot of their time when they visited Neem Karoli Baba back in the 60s and 70s, and it was the first location we went to when we arrived at the small city of Nainital up in the Himalayan mountains. Kainchi Dham is just a few miles away from the city and you can read about our visit there in this article: A Trip To India - Part 1 - Kainchi Dham

We have both been drawn to Maharaj-ji for quite some time, especially the unconditional love he showed humanity. He had no big complex teachings but kept it simple. Love people, serve people and remember God. This was his small, but yet great teaching. Often he answered questions with "Sub ek," all is one. You do not need to know much more than that in order to reach God.

Kainchi Dham was one of the biggest reasons we traveled to India in the first place. However, we also wanted to visit some other places in the area that we felt drawn to as well, but the place we will describe now was actually added to our list of visits mostly because it was close to Nainital and we had some time left in our schedule. None of us knew much about the place or felt any special attraction towards it.

Just outside of Nainital is the first temple that Neem Karoli Baba established located, called Hanuman Gadh. We knew there were more temples than Kainchi Dham where Maharaj-ji and his followers used to stay at and felt that this place could be fun to visit when it was quite close to our hotel. We had no idea what it looked like since we had not seen any pictures of it or read much about it.

The temple does not look like much from the outside. You mostly see some walls and an entrance, but inside the temple you are met by an mesmerizing and beautiful environment. The first thing you encounter when you enter is a large majestic statue of Hanuman, the Indian monkey god that Maharaj-ji is closely associated to, a statue that instantly leads you a connection to the divine.

The temple was also much larger than we expected and is located beautifully up in the mountains overlooking the valley. As we walked around, we quickly fell into a quiet harmonious peace. The temple was a place far more beautiful than expected. It was love at first sight. We strolled around while our smiles grew by the minute. It was a place where Maharaj-ji's presence was strong. A place we want to return to again. Hanuman Gadh surpassed all the expectations we had before the visit.

The most beautiful room in the temple is where Maharaj-ji's image stands. A beautifully decorated room with pictures on Maharaj-ji along the walls and a statue of him at the front. The gate in to the room was closed, but one of the temple workers let us in and said that if we liked, we could sing some kirtan. We stepped in, showed our reverence for Maharaj-ji, and then sat down in front of the murti, the statue of Maharaj-ji. We meditated for a while and then sang Krishna Das's prayer to his guru, the beautiful song "Om Namo Gurudev." Time slowed down, love flowed into us, but most of all the feeling of gratefulness. After a while we bowed again for this big man and started our walk back to the hotel.

That same evening when we returned to the hotel we saw a beautiful display of fireworks over at Hanuman Gadh. It turned out they were celebrating Ram Dass's birthday that just happened to meet the day of our visit. Suddenly it became very clear to us how important Ram Dass have been for the temples in the area and how revered he is by the people there. We felt a deep gratitude for Ram Dass for inderectly bringis us to this place. For him showing the way for so many of us. To Maharaj-ji, to God.

We also talk about Hanuman Gadh in Episode 15 of our podcast.

A Journey to India - Part 1 - Kainchi Dham

We traveled to India in 2017, and in this article series we will share what we experienced in a variety of places. Prior to this journey we had read a lot about Neem Karoli Baba, also known as Maharaj-ji, so we had a big attraction towards visiting the various ashrams he stayed at. Above all, we felt a very strong pull towards Kainchi Dham where he lived in the later part of his life. If you do not know about Maharaj-ji then you can read our previous post "Neem Karoli Baba"  which explains who he was.

We took a taxi from Nainital and drove on the twirly road that take you towards Kainchi. When we arrived, it felt a bit unreal that we were really there. I looked at the temple from a distance for a few minutes just to let it sink in. When we took our first steps in the temple a sense of peace came over me. It was as if time stopped and any worries no longer existed.

As I sat in front of the statue of Maharaj-ji, I got a strange feeling that it was alive. To some extent, it felt like I was sitting in front of him even though he had left the physical body. As I looked around and saw nature around me, I got a strong feeling that he's in everything. I could feel him in the mountains, in the water and in the air. Even though he is not in the physical body, he still felt present.

I closed my eyes to meditate on his presence. After a while it was like he grabbed me and said, "Let go." I had had similar experiences a few times earlier, and once again I felt how my identification with Tobias Ahlberg started to leave me. Unfortunately, I made the same mistake as I had before, not daring to let go fully. After a while I opened my eyes and began to walk around in the temple trying to get a picture of how it was when Maharaj-ji still was in his body. It was great to be there and get an idea of he place where he had received so many seekers.

I felt I wanted to sit down somewhere undisturbed so I sat by the wall at the very end of the temple and then I closed my eyes. I went into myself and just gave up all expectations. Instead, I allowed myself to just be. Perhaps Maharaj-ji's energy was still in the walls of Kainchi Dham, or I just created an excuse to find myself in the now, but the next moment I opened my eyes, I felt a great peace within me. I needed nothing more than my existence to feel happiness. Once in this state, I saw how others met my eyes differently. They could see the peace that was within me and I could see it within them too.

We stayed until the closing ceremony and took part in the tribute to Maharaj-ji. It was a very nice ending to the stay at the temple before we went back to Nainital. On my way home, I felt very harmonious and grateful because I had come to know the place where Maharaj-ji had lived.

Magnus Experience:

We visited Kainchi Dham on two occasions during the week we were in Nainital. During the first day, I let myself be absorbed by the energy the place had to offer. It did not take long for me to feel an inner peace within me after walking for a while at the place where Maharaj-ji spent so much time. The beautiful statue of Maharaj-ji made the biggest impression on me. It felt almost alive, like he was sitting there before me and in any second would begin to move.

The second occasion we visited Kainchi Dham would be a memory for life. Even before we went there I had a strong intuitive feeling that I should go back there once more. It had been a few days since we were there the first time and we had visited several places in between, places we will describe in the coming parts of this article series. When we arrived at the temple there were a lot more people there than the last time. The first time we were almost alone, but now it was a lot of visitors meditating or wandering around. After I had meditated for a while inside Maharaj-ji's room, I sat with down with a group of people and meditated with them in front of the statue of Maharaj-ji. For some reason, I did not feel peaceful enough to sit with closed eyes and meditate, so I opened my eyes a fixed them on Maharaj-ji's picture in front of me, and began to sing. I sang Krishna Das prayer to his guru, "Om Namo Gurudev." It's a beautiful song dedicated to Neem Karoli Baba. In some way it felt like the right thing to sing it directly to him.

After a while when I sang, something started to happen within me. Tears began to flow from my eyes, the voice burst while I sang and the feelings of his love flowing into me overwhelmed me. After a while, the tears exchanged for a giggle I could not hold back. I felt how my level of consciousness was raised at a rapid pace. I no longer felt a need to sit down so I walked around feeling high and feeling completely free. I could feel how the energies in my body and the surroundings flowed. Everything I looked at was so beautiful, so divine. I felt drunk on God. It was a state completely different from my normal state of mind, but still everything was alike. I went to our friend Niklas who was with us on the trip and he immediately saw what state of being I was in, because he was there too. We shared the joy together for what we experienced.

When I entered this state of being, I suddenly realized why I had felt a need to go back here again, it was to trigger this experience. After this realization I had no need to stay any longer. Niklas was also ready to go and Tobias had already left the temple and was talking to some people at the entrance. On my way out of the temple, I suddenly met an Indian mans gaze. When our eyes met, we looked at each other with big smiles and nodded silently to each other. I saw that he saw what state of being I was in, and I knew intuitively that he was in it too. I understood the true meaning of namaste, "I bow down to the divine in you." This state of being lasted for about an hour before I landed in my normal self again, but nothing was alike. Something had happened within me. Something big.

We also talk about Kainichi Dham in Episode 15 of our podcast.

Darshan at Mother Meera

I found out about Mother Meera through her website and felt I needed to visit her. An opportunity presented itself and I decided to go to Germany to see what my feeling meant. When I arrived at the small community of Balduinstein, I checked into the hotel and later in the evening it was time for "Silent Meditation with the Mother." I arrived early since I was unsure how long it would take to get there from the hotel. I arrived an hour before it started and I decided to sit down on a park bench near and wait. At this moment, a strong fear came over me. I began to question why I went all the way from Sweden to meet this woman. What was the reason?

An incredibly important question to answer when you take off on your spiritual journey is to find out what you're really looking for. Without the answer to this question, you can easily walk around blind without knowing where to go. Therefore, I consider being honest with yourself and answering this question is one of the most important pieces of puzzle in terms of spiritual development.

The more I sat thinking about this, the fear became stronger and it felt like my ego was drowning and did everything to stay above the surface. There were several scenarios playing in my mind about how my life would be destroyed if I stepped into that room. But at last I realized trying to understand who I really am beyond my body and my thoughts is what drives me forward. When this came to this conclusion, all fear disappeared and an incredible calm was formed inside.

I decided to step into the hall. I sat down with all the others who were there to get her blessing. In the end she walked into the hall and after that nobody said a word the next few hours. She looked out over the crowd before she closed her eyes and began meditating. I became very skeptical and wondered what this really was. I felt nothing special when I saw her but decided to close my eyes and meditate. It did not take long before I entered a deep meditative state. I felt a pressure over my head and energy began to pass through my body. The meditation lasted about an hour and then the mother left the room. I felt incredibly calm and harmonious.

The following two days was darshan (blessing) instead of meditation. One by one we had to go to the mother to get her darshan. I had no expectations but was rather skeptical. In the end it was my turn and I stepped forward to her. She laid her hands over my head and a moment later she looked deep into my eyes. Her look was something outstanding. Even though she only looked into my eyes for a few seconds, it felt like an eternity. I have never looked in a pair of eyes such as hers before. There was something much more behind them. I walked back to my seat and felt a strong energy within my body. I meditated for about 1-2 hours while the mother was blessing all the people in the room. It was clear that her darshan had an effect on me. A sense of peace came upon me and afterwards I could walk away with a wonderful smile on my face.

When I’m writing this some time after I met her, I can not say I'm in any way a newborn man. But a change has occurred within me. The fog within me has disappeared and I can see my next steps in life much more clearly. A security that has not existed previously has taken its hold. All the disturbing thoughts that have existed there to stop me from my spiritual practice have disappeared and my spiritual path feels clearer than ever before.

Thank you Mother Meera!

Kirtan with Krishna Das

One of my dreams has always been to attend a kirtan with Krishna Das. I don’t know how many hours I have spent listening to his music. It always fills me with a sense of joy and understanding that everything is alright. Krishna Das music has also been the main factor behind many of my spiritual experiences. As I sit and listen to the music I tend to float away and where I end up is always different. Due to this I was eager to experience his kirtan in person. I looked at his website and noticed that he had schedule his yearly heart of devotion kirtan & workshop in New York. I knew I had to take this opportunity. I could no longer wait until he might cross the sea to play in Europe. I booked my flight ticket and headed to New York. I didn’t know what to expect and I didn’t want to get my expectations up so I’d end up disappointed.

Finally the day was here. I was about to see Krishna Das live for the very first time. I arrived at the Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew well in advance to get good seats. Luckily I was able to get seats on the front row, sitting just a few meters away from him. The concert started with the special guest Baird Hersey and Prana singing a few songs. It was really beautiful and I was glad I got to experience their music as well. But as they said themselves, we were all waiting for the King of Kirtan. He finally took the stage and sang the wonderful song My Foolish Heart. I could instantly feel the vibration in Krishna Das voice. It touched my very being. After the song he sat down at his harmonium and begun with the Hanuman Prayer. Directly at the first Ohm I felt something. A space was created within me. A space where only the kirtan and my awareness existed. Time and space ceased to exist and I was floating in infinity.

As the kirtan began I started singing along. In this moment I could feel Maharaj-jis presence. Everything else ceased to exist and I could feel only his presence. There was no thoughts that would interrupt. I just kept my eyes closed since I felt that it enhanced the experience. I was in my own cocoon where I took in the experience of God chanting and God responding. But the cocoon I was in was not only mine. It was the space of everyone in the room. With the chanting everything merged into one. There was no separation in the space. It was a hundred times stronger than what I experienced listening to Krishna Das on my stereo. My state of awareness was something beyond that.

The kirtan practice give you an opportunity to forget everything else and enter into your divinity. But it also create an opportunity for practice. As the evening progressed I noticed I couldn't stay there indefinitely. Sometimes my thoughts came in the way and sometimes my body ached which made me come out of it. The same goes for life. There’s always something trying to take away from your true self. The more we can find ourselves within our divine space, which become so apparent during kirtan, the more joy and happiness we can find in our lives.

The strongest experience during the whole evening was when the band performed one of Krishna Das newer songs called Om Namo Gurudev. As the chants to Maharaj-ji kept repeating I just felt how my heart opened up. Finally I could not hold it back anymore. The tears just started bursting out of me. But it was not tears of sadness, it was tears of joy. I just felt how my life, my existence, the whole universe was a product of the grace of Maharaj-ji. Being able to experience life was all due to his grace. Every precious moment I owe to him. I owe to God. Even though there were so many people in the room I could not hold back my tears, nor did I want to. These were tears of gratitude and I did not want to hide them from anyone.   

As the evening progressed I experienced such genuine joy. People were singing, dancing and there was a smile on every person around me. I remember thinking to myself, I wish I could do this every day of my life. If people would know the feeling that Krishna Das create with his music there would be much less sorrow in the world. I felt so thankful and happy that I would experience it again the next day.

During the workshop there were less people which created a closer feeling. People were asking questions to him and with his answers you could sense the authenticity within him. He was doing all of this from his heart. Krishna Das was very honest with his answers, which I really appreciated. He gave you an answers that made you think instead of giving you what you only want to hear.

I especially enjoyed his stories of Maharaj-ji. He was able to create a glimpse of who this wonderful saint was. Throughout these two days what was amazing was that you could actually feel Maharaj-ji. In the voice and the music Maharaj-ji was dancing. With every answer during the workshop you could sense a lot of it came from the wisdow Krishna Das gather during his time with Maharaj-ji.

I left New York with such great experiences and I had learned so much. Whenever I think back of these two days it brings a smile to my face and I can feel Maharaj-ji within my heart.

Thank you Krishna Das!

The hidden teaching of Buddha

One of the core teachings of Buddhism is that "nothing lasts forever." With this Buddha meant that everything changes and therefore there is no meaning to hold on to anything. Holding on to things will only create suffering since the things you are attached to will someday go away. Your body will decay, you might lose your loved ones or get fired from your job. If you are attached to things and circumstances you will suffer when they go away or changes. Attachment is the cause of all suffering.

"Nothing lasts forever."

Understanding this is the very essence of Buddhism. To conciliate with this truth and hence detach yourself from attachment will liberate you from suffering. But there is also a deeper truth hidden within these words. In these few words Buddha actually described the highest truth about our true nature, the very essence of your Being.  "Nothing lasts forever" can be understood as stated above, that all things will eventually go away, the impermanence of things, but it can also be understood in another way, and both translations are equally true and essential.

The second and hidden meaning of this sentence is that "Nothing" is the thing that “lasts forever.” That "Nothing" is the only thing that is permanent, never changing. So this one sentence delivers two core truths about reality with the same words. It shows that things are not permanent, but it also shows that nothing, or Nothingness, is permanent and unchanging. Of course, "Nothing" is not a thing in the normal sense, since it is truly a no-thing, and that is the very reason why it can never change. Actually Buddhism says that our true nature is "Nothingness" or perhaps more commonly known under the word "Emptiness." The teaching of the nature of Nothingness is mentioned in many places in buddhist literature, but very few notice that Buddha described the nature of Nothingness in the same sentence where he described the nature of things. Once the student starts to understand the deeper aspects of these truths he or she will start to see that many truths are hidden within other teachings. It's the master way of showing that everything is one. That the coin always has two different sides, but it is still the same coin.

Our true nature is a state of "emptiness" or "nothingness" and this state is the only state that creates permanent happiness. Emptiness is something that can be experienced consciously. I say consciously, because emptiness is there nonetheless. It is the true state of everything. It is our lack of awareness of it that creates suffering. When you are aware of the nothingness in everything you see that there is no friction at all, because friction can only exist in the world of dualism. For friction to occur, which is the same as suffering, there has to be more than one "object." There must be someone who can hold on to something. But in the state of non attachment, in the state of nothingness, there can be no friction and hence no suffering. It is a state of absolute stillness and inner peace. There is no-one holding on to anything. You can then see that nothing exists on its own. Everything is part of one seamless, ever-changing landscape and all the parts are in themselves empty.

Nothingness is the same as the state of unconditional love towards everything that exists. When you love everything unconditionally you do not judge any person or circumstance as better or worse than another. You love everything equally, and you therefore experience everything as one. There can be no friction when you love all there is unconditionally. In this state motion stops but yet it continues. You live in the now of what is. There is no time, but yet there is. This is the state of oneness. That which cannot be described, only experienced. The paradoxical experience of Buddha nature. Realization of Nothing. End of suffering.

“Nothing lasts forever” is the only teaching you need, since it holds both the method and the final answer in three simple words. Everything changes except Nothing. Hold on to Nothing and let Everything go and you will be free. This doesn’t mean that you should not involve yourself in the happenings of your life. It simply means that you should not resist what IS. Do not resist change. Do not expect a certain outcome of your actions. Be in the world but let the world be. Let life flow without resistance and be happy.

/Magnus Ahlberg, co-founder of Maldorma.

Author of The Illusion: A Personal Journey Towards Spiritual Awakening and A Book About Love and Happiness.

Neem Karoli Baba

Usually when we think of holy people we think about those we have come in contact with through the religions. In the West, it is primarily Jesus who has received the most attention. But also holy people such as Buddha and Mohammed have many followers. Most of us know these people but it is far from all who think they really existed and instead see their stories as false. Whether they existed or not, I will not argue in this article, instead I will look at a holy man who existed in modern times.

That there have been people in modern times who have displayed a divine consciousness is something that very few people know. A big reason for this, I believe, is that we have very little interest in actually exploring whether they exist or not. We are too busy with our lives to find them. During my childhood, I rejected everything that had to do with religion. The stories in the Bible or the Buddha, I saw only as stories without any truth. For this reason, I felt that the whole spiritual concept was false and therefore I stopped searching. It was only when I had my spiritual awakening in 2011 that I opened myself to the idea that a higher state of consciousness was possible. Then I personally experienced a state within myself which was beyond anything I had previously experienced. More about this event you can read about in my book Stepping into the unknown.

After my strong experience I went out on a hunt to try and understand what I have been through. A state in which I felt a unity with the whole universe and an unconditional love for everyone and everything. My search finally took me to a man named Neem Karoli Baba or Maharaj-ji as he usually was called. When I started reading about him, I realized that there had been people who had shown a divine state even in modern times. As a matter of fact Maharaj-ji had been alive until the 70th century and there are people alive today who has spent a lot of time with him. There are a lot of books that talk about his greatness, and the most famous is Be Here Now by Ram Dass. The book explains Ram Dass time with Maharaj-ji, and it is clear that he possessed a consciousness far higher than the ordinary man. The first evidence that Ram Dass explains in his book is when he met Maharaj-ji for the first time. The day before Ram Dass met him, he looked at the stars and thought about his mother who had passed away some time before.

When he met Maharaj-ji the day after Maharaj-ji looked at him and said, "You stood under the stars yesterday and thought about your mother. She died because of problems with the spleen." Ram Dass was blown away and could not believe what he had just been through. He tried to understand how Maharaj-ji could know this, but he had no explanation. This was just the beginning of a series of miracles that Maharaj-ji performed.

We know very little about his time before he became a saint. The name Neem Karoli Baba, he received following an incident at the small village Neem Karori. Maharaj-ji had stepped on a train without a ticket and after the train had started the conductor came up to him and demanded to see his ticket. Maharaj-ji had no ticket and the train stopped at Neem Karori, where he was thrown out. Maharaj-ji sat down under a tree not far from the train station, and the train tried to start but it could not move an inch. They tried everything to restart the train, but nothing worked. Eventually, one of the passengers suggested that perhaps it was because they kicked out the holy man from the train. The conductor walked up to Maharaj-ji and asked him to get on the train again but Maharaj-ji replied that he would only step on the train if they built a new railway station in the small village. The conductor accepted and Maharaj-ji got on the train. The moment he stepped on board, they could start the train again. From that day he was know as Neem Karoli Baba. They also kept their promise of building a new train station.

Maharaj-ji became known in the west through Ram Dass and other westerners began to visit him. Several stories about their encounters with Maharaj-ji are published in books, films and sound recordings. The kirtan singer Krishna Das also spent time with Maharaj-ji and he has through his music spread Maharaj-ji's message worldwide. Maharaj-ji had a very simple but powerful message. He said that the path to inner peace is to love everyone, help everyone and remember God.

He left his body in 1973 but continues to touch people's hearts around the world even though he has been dead for many years. For him, the body was only a shell and he really never disappeared. I have felt Maharaj-ji's presence on some occasions and in my next article I will talk about the first time I was at a kirtan concert with Krishna Das. There Maharaj-ji opened my heart and I got to feel his grace.

The entire universe is within You

From the viewpoint of the enlightened master, there is nothing that exists outside of me. All of you are within my experience. The enlightened master knows, trough direct experience, that there is no outer experience. Think about it. All the input that comes through your senses are internal experiences. The outer world is an illusion, much like a dream. The entire universe take place within me. And therefore, I am the highest God. The creator of all that IS.

If there is a consciousness above me, and hence outside of my experience, I cannot possibly be aware of it, so why would I bother about something that is impossible to know anything about? If something that is seemingly above and outside of me enters my experience, it must­­ take place within my experience for me to experience it, and hence be my own creation and not be above me at all, since I am the one experiencing it. It would, in other words, be me as well. This includes all experiences of God and higher states of consciousness. If I experience them, they are within me. I am the one God.

You are all within me, within my experience, so I am the creator of all there is. But the interesting thing is, that I am within your experience as well. Therefore, you must be the highest God as well, whether you are aware of it or not. All that you experience, including me, is within your experience and hence you are creating it. But if you are within me, and I am within you, this must mean that we are within each other, creating each other. In other words, we are all one. One consciousness. There is no difference between us. The difference can only be in our awareness of what IS. The awareness of what IS will expand in all eternity since everything changes all the time, but as soon as I experience something new, I will realize that I have always been that, I was just not aware of it before.

When you have realized this fact, you will always live as the highest God, because you now know that nothing that you will experience in the future can change that fact. It will always be within your experience. Within you. You stop define things as higher or lower, bigger or smaller, up or down, front or back, it's all illusions anyways. Everything can be turn around. Instead you start to focus on experiencing the NOW, whatever it happens to be at the moment. It doesn't matter, because you know that whatever you experience, it is YOU, and it can never be any better than that. How could it? There is nothing else than you, so why bother wishing for something else? Everything you experience are reflections of yourself. You are the one God. 

/Magnus Ahlberg, co-founder of Maldorma.

Author of The Illusion: A Personal Journey Towards Spiritual Awakening and A Book About Love and Happiness. 

Book release: A Book About Love and Happiness

cover4.jpg

Magnus have officially released his second book, A Book About Love and Happiness. It's a short book explaining how we can create more love and happiness in our lives. Due to it's short length the information in the book is aimed directly at providing you with the essential teachings needed for you to find more love and happiness in your life. 

And best of all? It's FREE! Head over to Smashwords and grab your copy today!

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/673324

New website

In recent weeks, we have worked hard on our new website and today we can finally launch it. Hopefully the information and our content will be more easily accessible now. Here you will find information about our content, and you can easily see when we hold events and courses. Make sure to check back regularly as we will keep the content updated more actively.

We at Maldorma wish you welcome to our new website and we hope you will enjoy your stay!