It was 1994, I was just out of massage therapy school at 21 years old. I had it in my mind that travel overseas would be the perfect accouterment to starting a new career. Starting in Indonesia I made my way to Malay where I became deathly ill in a hotel room for 3 days. No one spoke English enough to help me so I stuffed my belongings in my backpack and forced me to stagger outside where at least I could be found if I passed out. I made my way to the train station and then on to Thailand where the fever I’d harbored for several days finally broke. Another traveler had raved about her experience in India because of the spiritual context it held within the culture there so I decided to give it a go. After obtaining my visa in Bangkok I hopped on a flight to Calcutta followed by a train to Varanasi. Everything in India was in a constant whirlwind for me yet I found that I could navigate to where I wanted to go okay albeit was left with little energy to do anything else. From my hotel room balcony, I decided to go out during the full moon and to try and connect with this ancient foreign place and culture I had so suddenly found myself emersed in.
The full moon could be seen rising up on the horizon over the mystical Ganges river and the evening Muslim chants could be heard blaring out loud-speakers from the nearest Mosque echoing down alleyways everywhere. Giant winged bats took flight as twilight fell and children's roof-top kites dotted the sky in the setting sun. I tip-toed down the narrow alleys in sandals careful to avoid dung and urine-soaked puddles with every step. Water buffalo, cattle, goats, chickens, pigs, dogs, cats, rats, and whole troops of monkeys stormed through the city both day and night. I used my intuition to guide me, to help me in any way it could marveling as I sauntered. I heard some entrancing classical live raga music being played outside one building, beneath a sign which read Vagyoga Consciousness Institute. I peered inside the corridor that led up a staircase where a framed picture of the Indian Saint Sri Ramana Maharishi hung for all to see who entered. I again peeked my head around the corner at the top of the staircase where a man was sitting on a type of throne with the altar of flowers as an honorary guest with musicians, dancers, candles, and incense for adornment. Two servants noticed and quickly jumped up to usher me in, and take a seat on a floor cushion. I was promptly handed a small clay cup of chai with unlimited refills. I smiled offering Namaste in return, mystified by the ambient room filled with prominent men like the head priests of the Ganges temple Ghats who had come to celebrate their Guru’s birthday Dr. Vagish Shastri. After the music stopped and the room cleared and the man of attention sat down beside me. I asked probing questions and he patiently answered, explaining to me what Vagyoga was. Sound Yoga, but with the voice; as sung in the Sanskrit language. The chants were transmissions from the Celestial sounds of deep states of samadhi and recorded in mantra that unlocked ancient codes which contained living powers, Shakti, recorded as mantra and Sanskrit verse derived from Akashic records in realms of the beyond- Siddhaloka. Vagyoag was made up of Para and Apara. The beyond and the gross. Kundalini meditation was taught for the deep states and Apara as the Sanskrit language portion. This apparently, was how the Vedas were written from Guru to villager passed down over the ages. I was fascinated…of course, all in you could say. I agreed to come back the next day and start my training.
And so it went, Shakti pata from Guru to disciple. I was given the name Bodhinatha and shaved my head. I was Indian garb and learned everything I could. Pranayama, mantras, and asanas to take me as deep as I could possibly go into trance like states of meditation with one on one guidance from my guru. Gurudi further taught philosophy through parables that revealed wisdom beyond my understanding at the time. My room was on the roof which had a view of the Ganges which also glared with the Banaras heat by day. On one particular morning I returned to my room only to confront a giant sized monkey standing at my alter holding a shiney red apple in its hand. It let out a terrible howling screech! Mouth wide open to display gnashing teeth that could tear into anything! I took a step back out of the room so as not to trap it from an exit. It blasted through the door and with two steps lept off the edge of the roof 4 stories high. It flew 20 feet or more to the nieghboring rooftop then ran to the edge and stopped to sit down and look down at the apple it had stolen. I was suddenly filled with an urge to fight. I picked up a baseball sized rock near my feet and flung it off the roof at the monkey who had intruded into the room of my sacred space. To my surprise the rock struck the monkey on the back of the head! Bewildered, it turned around and let out another terrible screech but we both knew it was over and I was relieved.
As the rainy season soon came I was stricken with another fever. I realized my time at the ashram was nearing to a close and so decided to leave for Nepal. To further my aspirations for a higher level of development. The experience was so impactful that I returned to Varanasi not but 2 years later to complete the second portion of Vagyoga training; Apara. By in large, India became like a second home to me and my dear teacher an impressionable public figure that I will never forget. Om Gurudji, Om chit Shakti, namo namah.