Bholenath Sadhana

Swami Nirmalratna Saraswati

Satsangi said, "Swamiji says he'll be very angry if Bholenath bites you because it will mean that we haven't been careful." A double-edged warning to heighten my awareness - and my 'welcome' to the Akhara.

Well, considering Bholenath's reputation, everyone living at the Akhara had been bitten, and my work which would involve my moving in and out of the office ten metres from where he keeps duty over Swamiji in sadhana, how long would it be until he tasted my blood and left his prasad on my shoulder or buttocks (his favourite parts)?

I was still new to Akhara life when Bhole first came for me. I suppose he wanted to make it quite clear that I was encroaching upon his territory... I'd barely entered the gate... he sped from the far boundary wall to greet and to eat me. Yes! Those teeth and claws looked sharp... his eyes glared angrily into mine!... First time lucky? Fortunately I only received the prasad of the inner warmth that's there in the depths of his eyes - if you care to brave a look.

Another time, when he was supposedly 'not around', he suddenly landed at my feet. I think he must have flown through the air. After we'd 'danced' together to the tune of his death rattling growls I lost my timing and tripped backwards on the footpath, regaining my balance however, before hitting the ground beneath the paws of his powerful body, and still managing to maintain tratak on his eyes. He continued growling and dancing around me - neither he nor I would give in to each other. Then, just as Swamiji appeared in the distance - disturbed from his sadhana because of Bholenath's uproar, I again tripped backwards, this time landing on the lawn on my back. Now my eyes closed and I prepared for pain. This 'attack' actually gained Bholenath my utmost respect. He had the chance to rip open my heart, my neck, my face, my eyes...any part of my body he fancied. He didn't touch me! (Thank God that Bhole too, is afraid of Swamiji's bite! Swamiji would always yell at him when he came for me, "Bhole! Come here" Come here! I'll beat you if you don't obey me! I'll beat you if you don't obey me! I'll beat you if you don't obey me!!!'')

The exhilaration one feels after Bhole's very, very, very close encounters could be taken as good practice for samadhi. It takes you into an awareness of another dimension of yourself and leaves you with a wonderful buzz of energy pulsating through your body. If you care to stand still while he charges you'll see that, from the moment he runs for you, life begins to move like a slow motion picture show around you. The fine workings within your body, mind, emotions and whatever else you can perceive inside during those moments before Bhole's onslaught of teeth and paws will seem to move at a pace and in a space beyond the average daily perception. Then, when the meeting is over the whole mind-body complex is charged with energy - Bhole's 'Bliss'.

I think Bhole's presence has helped to heighten my awareness of internal prana more than any Yoga practice. All my excess nervous energy can be expended in one short encounter with him. He is a panacea for my emotional idiosyncrasies and a tremendous charge for my powers of concentration and determination (not to be beaten).

Darshan at the Akhara is always heralded by the barks of Bholenath. He knows when any stranger arrives outside the front gate; whether they arrive on foot or by bicycle without any sound, no-one can escape him! (And that's a warning). Throughout any darshan visit Bhole makes it known to all that, although he's not in sight he is within close proximity and ever-ready. After all, he's Swamiji's close disciple and does his duty well!

I've seen him standing on his hind legs with his sleek and rippling muscle-bound body fully stretched out in order to retrieve his ball from atop the roof of the kitchen shelter. And there he was only at play! The power in his paws alone is enough to knock you down. Believe me, it's true. I remember the time one paw was pushing my left shoulder backwards, the other tearing my dhoti from around my waist, his teeth ripping the bag slung around my chest... the power of his contact demanded my firmest footing or I'd have lost my balance and become his prey. Let's say, if Bholenath bites me, if he ever does sink his teeth into my flesh and drink my blood, he'll deserve it!

Bholenath is the protective deity of Paramahamsaji when he performs his panch agni sadhana and the finest teacher for the swamis and visitors wanting to expand their awareness. He also keeps the construction aspect of Akhara life under close surveillance. Once a tool was missing from the evening stock list check. Although Bhole hadn't been near the village construction site that day he was able to immediately identify the culprit and the missing tool was returned at once, before bloodshed. So, if for some reason you escape his vigilant watch on the Akhara verandah, his intuitive powers will psych you out.

There are four people in Bholenath's close family and with each he seems to play a different roles the protector of Swamiji, the ever loving companion of Swami Niranjanji, the playmate of Swami Satsangi and the child of his mother Swami Gyanprakash.

Bholenath is a legend in his own time. From inside my room one Sunday morning I heard a village child talking quietly to his father as they walked along the road near the boundary wall. "Pitaji, Pitaji, Bholenath lives there. Oh! Bholenath don't come out. We're just going to the bazaar for rice. Please don't come here. Please don't bite us!" Bholenath barked a few times from the other side of the wall to let them know he had heard.