India Trip 2017
If you have been a LiveAndDare subscriber for a few months, you’ll know that I was planning to visit North India in March this year (2017). In February, I sent out an email asking for recommendations from my readers, and I was humbled to receive over 120 personal replies, including people sharing important tips, offering to guide me in my trip, or even welcoming to stay at their home!
This was such a heart-warming feeling. Thank you all for sharing! It makes me feel how LAD is not just a blog, but really a community.
The purposes of this trip were to:
- meet advanced (yet little known) meditation & yoga masters, spend time with them, and absorb as much as possible
- visit sacred temples
- spend time meditating with Shivarudra Balayogi
- get exposed to different paths, techniques, worldviews, and systems of spiritual practice
- change my environment for a while, to get new perspectives on my life and work
- be available for serendipity, in ways different from what life in Sydney provides
- find some particular books I was after, which are rare or out of print for decades.
Here are some pictures from my trip.
I feel this trip accomplished many of these goals – although not without great difficulty and discomfort. While I don’t feel inclined to write at length about my trip, I will briefly share here my serendipitous meeting with a master called Yogiraj Acharya Maharishi.
There is much about him and my meeting with him that is either private or he specifically asked me not to share, so I’ll share here only the bare minimum, for the sake of those that intend to travel to India, and might meet him. Please bear with that…[Needless to say, this article will only be of interest to the reader that is also a seeker, or at least has inclination for the spiritual aspects of meditation.]
Yogiraj Acharya Maharishi
On the morning of the 29th of March, I had asked, in my prayers, to be guided to meet a true spiritual master.
That day I went walking around in Rishikesh and was visiting several shops. I had a very specific statue I was after.
In all shops they would just say “No, I don’t have that one”, or wouldn’t even know about it. But in this last place, after the shopkeeper said “No”, a man sitting behind me, intrigued by my question, intervened and started to speak in detail about the meaning of that statue. He had a very magnanimous and peaceful air about him, and clearly had a lot of practical knowledge regarding all things related to Yoga, Meditation, Vedanta and Kundalini/Kriya Yoga.
A friend of mine, from Brazil, was also with me at that time, witnessing the conversation. Then she asked him if he knows any good astrologer in Rishikesh, to which he said he was also an astrologer, and could perhaps help her clarify her questions.
Keeping the story short, she had a session with him, and was shocked with the amount of detail that he could see from her life, just with her birth details. Things like very specific past events, including the years they happened, and the psychological impact they had on her. He later gave her some very specific (though “weird”) spiritual practices to work through her current life challenges, and she later told me that they are very strong and effective practices.
I also went to talk to him – and before I could even tell him my name, or anything about what I do, he said, “You were born to be a writer.” He also said he can see health problems related to lower back – and it’s true, I have a mild scoliosis.
Later on, the owner of the shop where I met him said that Yogiraj made astrological predictions for him back in 1998, and year after year his life happened as Yogiraj predicted.
I still was somewhat skeptical and had my doubts. But I was intrigued, and I enjoyed his energy – there was something very spiritual and genuine about him. So I decided to spend more time with this yogi, and get to know him better.
After spending the next two days with him, talking for some hours, I was positively impressed. Unlike many teachers and gurus out there, Yogiraj has a heart full of humility, devotion and compassion. He is a bhakta, in love with the Divine. He rejects fame, wants to keep his work known to few, and is very critical of the commercialisation of spirituality, so common in his own country as well as in the West.
When I asked him what is his philosophy of life, and his “mission”, he said:
[You can check out some pictures and read some more of his quotes in his Facebook page.]
My life is simply to share, care and be aware.
My philosophy is love everyone – hurt no one.
He has no goal, no desire to have a following, and no business card. Yet he told me of many famous people (well-known meditation teachers, yoga gurus, and even celebrities) that, just like me, met him serendipitously, and left elevated or inspired. Some of the people he mentioned I personally know, and could reference check. In any case, out of his desire to remain somewhat low profile and not to indulge in ego-aggrandising, he expressly asked me to not mention the names of the people that came to him.
He is constantly practicing meditation and mantra; even while talking, his mantra beads are rotating in his hand.
His presence is very loving and flowing. He follows his heart only, and no rules. He doesn’t believe in forcing life, but rather in flowing with it – simply remaining aware and observing everything as a witness. Enlightenment for him is a continuous unfolding; a direction and way of life, rather than a concrete goal to be strived for.
It was only after long hours of conversation that he finally confided to me who his guru was. I was satisfied in knowing that his guru is an accomplished yogi, although little-known. And later I found a YouTube video showing the two of them together.
He and his guru have very different personalities – Yogiraj is flowing and talkative; his guru is disciplined and silent. It’s still a puzzle for me how Yogiraj got all his knowledge, because his guru doesn’t speak – he has observed a vow a silence for decades…
Yogiraj also has a strong affinity with Paramahamsa Yogananda, and the Kriya Yoga of Mahavatar Babaji.
Yogiraj also told me of his predictions, a couple of years ago, of Trump winning the election, and also of 2016 being the year when the downfall of US politics and economy starts. I couldn’t verify that he made these, though. Additionally, he predicts that by the year 2033 India’s political, economical and social influence will reach a zenith, and people will be turning themselves more towards Indian social values and spirituality.
(Well, if meditation and yoga – two of the shiniest pearls of Indian spirituality – counts, then the process has already begun…)
Yogiraj gives no courses, runs no retreats, and has no books. His work is all one-on-one, with the very few that somehow find their way to his door.
If you want to meet Yogiraj, you can try contacting him via the Facebook page that one of his students created, although I doubt he monitors it personally. My best guess would be to be in Rishikesh during a Mahasivratri, and see if serendipity works in your favor.