The Wonderman in the Holy Wonderland of Rikhia

Swami Vishwashakti Saraswati, Slovenia

So many memories of Sri Swamiji are floating before my chidakasha, and I am saying to myself, “Release the memories. Write them down. Do not try hard to make them something special, let them come as they are.” So, this is my chidakasha dharana with Sri Swami Satyananda.

In 1993, I came to Rikhia for the first time with my husband, Swami Omkarmurti, after Sri Swamiji ended his panchagni sadhana. At that time Rikhia was a very small village and it was not easy to reach it. The ashram was also very small. When we entered the tapobhoomi, Sri Swamiji was sitting on the ground on a small asana giving darshan. I looked at him and our eyes met. I had a profound sensation of prem and respect. He looked like an unusual being, as if he was in a different dimension than us. His skin was almost burnt from the sadhana, he had long white hair and a flowing beard. His eyes were special, so clear and piercing; they pierced right through my soul. Then he started to give satsang. For two hours he told us about his sadhana and many other things. When he finished, he asked us to leave immediately or he would release Bholenath!

What did I receive from that satsang? He told us about the time of autumn in India. Even now I can hear his voice saying, “Feel the vayu, you can feel how clear, thin and cool it is. Smell the vayu, there is a beautiful smell of vayu in the autumn of Rikhia.” I tried, and for the first time I experienced autumn in that way. From then on, each year when I go to Rikhia I feel and smell the autumn vayu, air. It is truly special, unlike anywhere else.

The Rikhia autumn was the first wonder which I received from Sri Swamiji. Many more followed, and Rikhia became a wonderland for me and Sri Swamiji the beautiful wonderman.

Each year I returned to Rikhia, my only home in India. I had not been very fond of India in the past, but Sri Swamiji made me love it. As his magic began to work through me and I rediscovered my own homeland, I began to love all the people in the street whom I would always avoid before. Now I understood them, I began to have compassion for them.

One year during the chanting of Ramacharitamanas, Sri Swamiji suddenly said to Swami Niranjan, “Give the book to Vishwashakti.” Swamiji said, “She does not read the language.” Sri Swamiji said, “Just give her the book and she will read.” Swamiji gave the book. I looked at it and wondered what to do with it; I had forgotten my language. I opened it, looked at the page, and slowly began to recognize the words. I was reading the book! I could follow the chanting. I looked at Sri Swamiji and he was smiling. From that moment, I have been able to read my language (not as fast as the pandits!) and even speak it. If this is not a wonder, then what is?

The year 1995 was when Sri Swamiji transmitted his prana and jnana to Swamiji. He showed us his crystal lingam and said, “Through this crystal lingam I can see you all wherever you are. From now on Swami Niranjan will watch over you.” This was a very tender moment. We all had tears in our eyes. That evening he called Swami Omkarmurti and me and said, “Today you will both perform sandhya arati to Devi with Swami Niranjan.” I looked at him in surprise, as I knew it is not customary for a non-Hindu to enter the mandala and perform pooja. Sri Swamiji said, “From my childhood I’ve heard that God is in everybody, so God is also in Omkar. How can we not allow God to enter his own house?” So Omkar and I had the good fortune of performing the arati while Sri Swamiji observed the ceremony. When we came out we were in a trance and Sri Swamiji said to Omkar, “It was my honour that you did it.” It was a divine day for us.

It is said that the guru knows everything about his disciples. I was always afraid of cows. One year during Sat Chandi, Swami Niranjan said to me, “This year you will start the prasad ceremony; you will give a cow to a villager.” I looked at him in great fright. How was I going to do this! For the next few moments, I could not think of anything other than the cow. I had visions of me lying flat on the ground with thousands of people staring at me. I looked at Sri Swamiji, and he was smiling. Gathering courage, I slowly ventured near the cow. Swamiji said, “Wait with the cow till I tell you to start.” So there I was, standing miserably with my cow and thinking I would not be able to fulfil the command of my guru. But slowly something started to happen in me. Something started to change. For the first time I looked at the cow and saw what a calm and quiet animal it is. I went very close, looked at its eyes and she looked back at me full of calmness and peace. I touched the cow softly. Sri Swamiji was watching me. I realized that he knew about my phobia and this was an opportunity given to overcome it. So I walked down with my cow in a relaxed and elegant manner and handed it over to the villager, telling him to be nice and kind to it. I looked at Sri Swamiji and felt he was satisfied with me, which made me very happy. This had been another wonder indeed.

When I first came to Rikhia I had many pains, physical and emotional. Immediately after I received Sri Swamiji’s darshan, when he raised his hand and sent his blessings, I was cured. The pain in my body and soul disappeared. This was a wonder too. I used to say to my friends, I am going to my guru to receive an energy injection. And it is true. Each darshan of Sri Swamiji was divine and full of love. Each time I received answers to all my questions and returned to Slovenia with a clear vision.

When my mother passed away, I was in Rikhia and Swamiji said to me, “Sri Swamiji is sending you the message that your mother passed away on a very auspicious day, she was a lucky person.” I could not believe it! He knew that my mother had passed away without my ever mentioning it.

One year before our journey to Rikhia I decided that I will buy all the necessary things for pooja in India and start doing pooja regularly. It was the day when sannyasins were receiving prasad during Sat Chandi. Even today I can’t believe this: I received a beautiful pooja set! In surprise I looked at Sri Swamiji. He was laughing and said, “Start doing your pooja regularly.” With tears in eyes I replied, “Yes, Swamiji, I will do pooja to you.” Later I told this story to Swami Satsangi. She looked at me quizzically and said, “Sri Swamiji chose that set for you some months ago. ‘Vishwashakti will need it,’ he said.”

I remember the year when Sri Swamiji was standing at the main gate with a pot of water and washing our feet. It was a practical lesson on how to be humble and kind to everybody. Yet another year he presented each of us with a flower garland. We were all feeling very important on receiving them, but immediately after he told us that he gave the garlands so the widows from the village who had prepared them could receive some money. The lesson was, “Don’t think of yourself as important, be humble and simple.”

There are endless stories of divine wonders and practical lessons with Sri Swamiji. We have all been witness to how he changed us through those twelve years of Sat Chandi. We all became simpler, humbler, softer and a little more tender.

Sri Swamiji liked to make us happy and sometimes he played with us. One year he made Swami Omkarmurti wear a Bengali dress and walk around the whole area. As he modeled, we were all laughing and clapping like children. At another time Sri Swamiji received a beautiful flower crown made of rajanigandha flowers. He called me and placed it on my head. Can you imagine my feelings at that moment? I felt like a queen!

Apart from all the personal wonders, the biggest wonder that Sri Swamiji has given to us is Rikhia. Through what he has accomplished there, he has taught us the art of giving, of daan. The way the place has changed and is still changing is incredible. Rikhia is indeed the wonderland of Sri Swamiji.

Sri Swamiji taught us all about yoga and yogic philosophy; we received enormous wisdom and knowledge from him. When we read his books, we should read them very carefully as there is so much hidden knowledge underlying every sentence. But the best wisdom which we have received from him is, “Be good, do good and help those who need your help.”