Brief Sketches of a Paramahamsa – The Gate

Swami Vibhooti Saraswati

The Sita Kalyanam program was fast approaching and Sri Swamiji was out on his tour of inspection after many months of sadhana in strict seclusion. Everyone was new to the situation, so it was all systems alert and stand by at the ready! The air was electric with the expectancy of darshan and the buzz was passing round the whole ashram – “Swamiji’s out, Swamiji’s out!” “Where is he?” “Have you seen him?” “He just passed that way!” “No, he’s on the other side of the ashram.” But Sri Swamiji moved around so fast and came and went so unexpectedly that it was difficult to know just where he was at any given time. So, darshan was not available to all this time round.

On that particular day I was working in the office and suddenly the message was given to me by a swami in high panic to open the Tapovan gate immediately. “Which one?” I asked as I grabbed the key and started to run. “The big one or the small one?” “The big one,” came the frantic reply. I ran at full speed towards the gate, not even looking right or left, and thinking that something very large indeed must be coming through, maybe a bus full of karma yogis or unanticipated early arrivals, or a load of clothing for distribution to the poor and needy during Sita Kalyanam.

Something very ‘BIG’

When I reached the gate I breathlessly threw both sides open wide. Expecting to see some large vehicle approaching, I quickly looked up and down the dirt road for warning signs. But nothing special was in sight in the simple rural scene – only a few unconcerned goats, some stray dogs and several munching cows (who seemed to be totally oblivious to the fact that Sri Swamiji had finally emerged from the fifth dimension), and open fields stretching into the distant countryside. All was an idyll of unconcerned peace and quiet.

However, when I turned round I saw that something definitely very BIG was coming from a direction I had not anticipated – behind me! To my surprise (and also confusion) the hugely tiny figure of Sri Swamiji himself was steadily approaching, magnificently alone, supremely grand, across the Tapovan compound towards me, with his majestically measured, even strides, flowing beard and free hair falling on his shoulders. He was wearing only a kaupeen (loincloth) and his wooden karao (sandals).

Am I a bull?

My heart began to beat faster and my legs to give way. I began to wonder as he came nearer and nearer, if it had really been necessary to open the big gate when the small side gate was more than adequate. All too soon Sri Swamiji had reached me and I received the answer to my silent question. “Why have you opened the big gate?” he reprimanded me sternly. “Am I a bull?” he asked. “Am I a truck? Have some common sense!” he added with strong emphasis as he passed like a king through the big gate.

Well, I caught the message loud and clear along with the reprimand, but I also caught something else as he swept regally through the abundant space before him. A wave of bubbling joy which welled up in my heart at having received his darshan so close at hand after so long, at his wonderful way of teaching through a blend of strictness and humour, and at having been blessed enough to have been spoken to by him at all!