It was on the eve of Kark Sankranti (month of July). The next day Sri Swamiji would commence his chaarturmaas vrat. Preparations for chaarturmaas had already begun a month earlier.
Ganesh Kutir, the abode of Swamiji during the four months of chaarturmaas, had undergone kaya kalpa (renovation) and was wearing a festive look to welcome him back from his long retreat at Raghunath Kutir, the dwelling place made from pure mud where he resides during winter, spring and summer. The black flag, a symbol of his period of sadhana, was flying high over the Akhara in observance of all the rites and rituals which Sri Swamiji was conducting before he undertook the chaarturmaas vrat.
All of a sudden the stillness of that wet and cloudy evening, silent except for the chanting of mantras and ringing of bells which were emanating from Swamiji's kutir, was disturbed by the fierce growl of his loyal attendant Swami Bholenath, a clear indication that there was an intruder at the gate.
A swami went to the gate and was greeted by a devotee from Bhagalpur who informed her that he was assailed by troubles and had come for Sri Swamiji's darshan and aashirwaad (blessing). She explained to him that he should return home as Swamiji has undertaken the chaarturmaas vrat and would now only meet people in Marga Seersha (month of November). But he was so caught up in his web of worries that he paid no heed to her explanations of the rules and regulations of the Akhara during the period of Sri Swamiji's sadhana, which not one of us would dare to break as they were the aadesh (order) of Sri Swamiji himself.
Yet for this devotee no amount of reasoning would work. His own turmoils had gained such great magnitude in his mind that nothing else was of importance. The swami informed me of the devotee who had taken up dharna (vigil) outside the gate.
I went there. The devotee was a karma sannyasin wearing geru robes. The following is the conversation which took place between us, and which I am recounting for all of you at the aadesh of Sri Swamiji so that you may learn the essence of aashirwaad.
(In this conversation KS=Karma Sannyasin, and SSS=Swami Satyasangananda Saraswati.)
KS: I am in deep trouble. I have come for darshan and blessings so that I may overcome my anguish.
SSS: Well, you have come to the right place. It is known as Baba Baidyanath Dham. Lakhs of people come here every year and pray to him to relieve them of their afflictions and each person's prayer is answered, otherwise why would they keep coming? You should go there too and pray with a pure heart, and he will surely listen to you.
KS: But Swamiji is my God and that is why I have come to him. It is he who can relieve me of my problems.
SSS: Who has seen God? And yet people pray to Him day in and day out and say their prayers were answered. Prayers are not spoken with the mouth but through the heart. A simple prayer uttered through a pure heart has such high potency that it can even reach someone whom you have never seen and whose address you do not even know. Then why do you clamour for darshan?
Let us say that for you Swamiji is God! Perfectly alright! Although he would strongly object. He says, I am an ordinary man. Do not impose your emotions and neurosis onto me. If anyone comes to him with problems, he tells them to go to Baba Baidyanath. He says, When the Master himself is here why do you come knocking on the servant's door?
To get back to the point, if you believe that Swamiji is God, can you not receive aashirwaad without seeing him? A simple prayer can receive much more than hours of darshan if the devotee opens himself to guru and God in much the same way as an innocent child calls out to his mother when he is afflicted. Aarshirwaad depends entirely on the quality of your call, and not the quantity.
There is no need for despondency. Nor is there any need to bow down before us and beg us for Swamiji's darshan. We are merely servants of Swamiji, we can do nothing. His aadesh is final. Nothing or no one can change that.
You are uncertain and unsure. Therefore, you seek solace in having darshan. But if you truly had the faith that an innocent child has in his mother then there would be no room for doubt. Then if you call you are sure to be heard no matter where you are and where the guru is. Just as despite the fact that no one has ever seen God face to face, but yet they pray to Him, in the same way it is not at all necessary for you to have darshan to receive his aashirwaad.
The devotee prostrated before the dvar (gate) of Sri Swamiji's tapobhumi (place where austerities are performed) and left.