It was the year 1978. All the passengers from the international jet liner had disembarked but Swami Niranjan was not among them? I checked my papers to he sure that I was meeting the correct flight. Yes, all was in order. He should have been among them, but he was not. Around me people were greeting one another, hugging, meeting one another after long years of separation, and slowly but surely moving into their awaiting vehicles. The once crowded airport was suddenly desolate. He was nowhere to be seen. I started to recall Paramahamsaji's words per his visit, over and over. Yes, he had to be on the flight so I must start looking for him.
After some time I found an Olympic Airlines official and asked him if he had seen anyone of Indian nationality dressed in geru robes. He asked another and yet another. Eventually one of these men came up to me and informed me that such a person was on the flight and that they were making preparations to send him back on the next flight.
I showed all the papers I had agreeing to Swami Niranjan's entry into Greece for a period of time. All had been duly stamped by numerous officials. After a lot of explaining and convincing, he finally agreed that he could enter the country providing I took full responsibility.
I waited. Four hours passed and again it was quiet. Then the moment came. He was there a few metres in front of me. Young, tall, radiant, wearing a geru poncho and geru dhoti around his head. I remember clearly the first moment I saw him. I can recall it at any time. Then he smiled and I went to greet him and welcome him to Greece. There is an old saying (I think most cultures are familiar with it) that it is the first impression that counts and bears great importance. Well, that impression was of colour, warmth, radiance, strength, playfulness, an iron will, and perhaps on top of all that, one who understands. Then everything happened very quickly. We were ushered info a waiting car and driven to the hotel where a lecture had been scheduled for that evening. Thus began my first days with Swami Niranjan.
During our time together I asked him what in his opinion was the highest virtue an individual ran have. His answer was one word; 'Understanding'. I connected this word with him when I first saw him and I still connect it with him today. An individual who understands is one who can put himself in another person's position immediately and answer according to his needs. And what is more beautiful than to be with someone who understands you? Words are not so necessary, explanations are uncalled for as the other person simply knows what nerds to be known, and can say just the right word at the right time to help you, and enable you again to stand On your own two feet. There were times when we were together and when he spoke to me that I felt as if Paramahamsaji was looking through his eyes, speaking through his lips and that in his entire being there was Paramahamsaji also. In those days the ashram in Athens was very small - just a sadhana room, changing room and kitchen combined and a bathroom. He immediately settled into the changing room. He did not complain, he did not ask for a bed for we did not even have any beds. He just settled himself in and adapted, adjusted and accommodated himself. He asked for nothing and accepted what came. He requested no special food, nothing. He just fitted in because he understood.
In looking back it was not the official times we spent together, where he delivered lectures, held satsangs, gave seminars, met people, gave interviews, etc. (although these had everyone spellbound that one so young knew so much) but the unofficial moments that I recall when we just spent time together. Sometimes he was very serious, withdrawn, appearing to be in another space. At other times we played, toured and had so much fun laughing with life. The people of Greece responded both to his mental prowess and his fun-loving side.
Later we went to Zinal in Switzerland where he conducted a Kriya Yoga Seminar for the European and French Federations of Yoga. There were teachers there who had been teaching for fifteen to twenty years or maybe more. They were waiting to learn Kriya Yoga. What did Swami Niranjan teach them? He taught them Pawanmuktasana and they loved it! It was totally unfamiliar to them and I think they had the most enjoyable Yoga seminar of their lives. They certainly left smiling and with a fresh outlook on what Yoga is all about. In between classes when we went climbing up mountains Swamiji always chose the highest to climb and then at breakneck speed he would begin his descent, I was trying to keep up with him. At the bottom of the mountain when the rest of us were gasping for air, he would suggest a game of tennis. Such energy! And so we would go and play tennis. Then, on the way back to the room with just minutes to spare before the next class he would sight a volley ball game and we would join in that. Every moment of the day was filled with his energy and activity. Not a single second was wasted which makes me think of those lines of Rudyard Kipling: 'If you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run, yours is the Earth, and everything that is in it, and, what is more, you will be a man my son!'
I will close with a reference of Paramahamsaji's and of an ancient Greek sage by the name of Diogenes. Diogenes was a renunciate who had no possessions and lived in a wine barrel. He was considered to be one of the great masters of Ancient Greece and day and night he would walk around the city with a lantern in his hands. People asked him why he went around especially in the daylight with a lighted lantern in his hands. What was he looking for that the sun could not reveal? He answered, 'I am searching for a man.'
If Diogenes had met Swami Niranjanji he could have blown out his lantern. Paramahamsaji always said, 'It is very easy to he a Guru, a leader, a pontiff etc., but it is very difficult to be a man. Because to be a man one has to have killed everything inside so that one is empty, and only then the purest consciousness flows through that one.'