In June of 2011, we were invited to meet a 125 year old Himalayan Master who lives in the foothills of the Himalayas in Uttarakhand, India. The area is tucked into a far northern corner of India, with Nepal to the east and Tibet to the north. It’s famous for being the home of great yogis and masters like Neem Karoli Baba and the immortal Mahavatar Babaji.

It was in this area that in 1861 Lahiri Mahasaya met Mahavatar Babaji, was taken to his cave and was initiated into the sacred yogic science of Kriya Yoga. For years, the 125 year old Himalayan Master that we were going to see had lived in a cave inside a mountain but now his disciples have built a small mountain hermitage outside the cave. We were exceedingly blessed to have this rare opportunity to meet a saint of his stature and he abundantly bestowed his grace upon us.

For the time being, we are keeping his name and the location of his cave confidential in order to protect his privacy and peaceful lifestyle. We feel that if other sincere spiritual seekers have the karma to meet him, in time they will, when he feels that it is appropriate. We will refer to him simply as the Master.

It seems to be our dharma to connect people with enlightened masters. During Tara and my lifetime we have closely served seven great masters, assisting them in establishing their spiritual organizations and spreading their teachings. Once we’ve accomplished what we’re meant to do, we move on to serve another teacher. People often thank us for introducing them to their teacher but for us there’s no need for thanks. It’s just the flow of love. We love and respect all the saints, sages and enlightened masters. Since childhood, Tara and I have loved reading about the lives of great saints and we are drawn to meet and serve them. We’re merely sharing with others what we love. Joseph Campbell said, “Follow your bliss.” I would add, “Follow and share your bliss.”

When we received the invitation to meet the Master, we were in Bangalore with a dear friend Dr. Varma who is one of India’s greatest Ayurvedic doctors. Dr.Varma is a great devotee of Mahavatar Babaji and has dedicated his life to serving Babaji. Since the Master has had darshan of Babaji three times, we asked Dr. Varma if he would like to accompany us on our Himalayan pilgrimage. He was overjoyed with the opportunity to meet such a great 125 year old Master. Now, we had to decide how to travel to the Komoun Hills. First we had to get to from Bangalore to Delhi and there were basically three options, bus, train and plain. Bus was out of the question. We’ve traveled on enough buses in India and now only do it when absolutely necessary. The plane was too expensive so we chose the middle way, the train. Last year when we attended the Kumbha Mela in Haridwar we took the train from Bangalore to Delhi.

The best train is called the Rajdhani Express. It’s a 36 hour train ride straight up through the heart of India. It’s actually not so bad, once you settle into the experience. You always want to be in the AC cars and nothing less that 2nd class. First class is about as expensive as flying and less than 2nd class is like steerage. So, we always choose 2nd class AC. You have a choice of 2 tier or three tier, which means the bunk beds are either 2 or 3 on top of each other. 2 tier is more comfortable but we were traveling at the peak summer vacation time so we were luck to get any reservations.

Tara call her upper berth the “Monkey’s Nest.” I love the way Tara adapts to any situation. We’ve been traveling pretty consistently for about 13 years without a permanent home and in all that time she never complains, no matter how challenging and uncomfortable the situation is. She’s a real Road Warrior.

Traveling with Dr. Varma is always an amazing experience. Wherever he goes he gives free Ayurvedic consultations. Recently, we were in Bangalore with him and during our time there he gave 87 free consultations. His life is a flow of love of God and service to humanity. Once we were settled on the train, I got involved in conversing with the young men sharing our cabin. Of course they were curious what these two foreigners were doing traveling with an elderly India man.

Once they heard that Dr. Varma was one of India’s greatest Ayurvedic physicals and a great astrologer as well they were very interested to receive his advice. For several hours Dr. Varma read their pulses, spoke to them about their health problems and recommended Ayurvedic formulas. The men were amazed that by reading their pulses for only 30 seconds Dr. Varma could diagnose exactly what their health problems were. One man exclaimed, “I paid the hospital 30,000 rupees for tests to tell me the same thing!”

Pretty soon, they were asking if he could help their mothers, fathers, brothers, sister, aunts and uncles. There was one young man who insisted that Dr. Varma read his pulses even though Dr. Varma told him that he was in good health and didn’t need it. Every chance he got, he would thrust his hand forward saying, “Now read mine.” Dr. Varma replied, “No need. You’re in good health.” Dr. Varma can read a person’s health by several indicators: physiognomy, palmistry, astrology and by intuition, or simply by reading their energy.

It’s a long 36 hours train ride from Bangalore to Delhi. They serve meals that people tell us used to be quite good but now are just okay. To make the time pass quicker, I usually read a good book. This time I decided to reread Yogananda’s “Autobiography Of A Yogi.” I was amazed by how much more I got out of it than when I last read it. As we headed for the Himalayas, I read Yogananda’s description of how as a child he longed to run a way to the Himalayas. The passages about saints that he met made me think about how many great masters India has produced over the ages. This is India’s greatest treasure and it’s greatest gift to the world. For thousands of years, high in the Himalayas and deep in its jungles, there have been divine souls who abandoned all worldly desires in order to pursue only one thing, God Realization. These great Mahatmas, far from the modern gurus who hire public relations companies and fly around the world selling spirituality, lived simple lives far from the tumult of ordinary society. They knew that all worldly attainments were transitory but that there was only one attainment that was was permanent and eternal – becoming One with God. All of these great masters agree on one thing, that human life is precious because it gives us the chance to attain enlightenment. Hence, to waste this human birth by not striving for enlightenment is a grievous error. As I rode on the train as it rolled north toward the Himalayas, I contemplated this profound message and renewed my commitment to not let worldly attachments distract me from life’s true purpose – Enlightenment.

The way the train trip proceeds is you leave Bangalore around 9 at night, eat dinner and fall asleep by around midnight. When you wake up in the morning, you’re already to Hyderabad. Then, you have all day traveling northward. You sleep another night and when you wake up the next morning you’re pulling into Delhi. So, it’s one full day and two nights. Not too bad. Arriving at the Delhi train station is always quite an experience and not a pleasant one, especially when it’s the middle of summer and the temperature is hitting 107 degrees with 80% humidity. I’m always amazed that the train station in the nation’s capital is so in need of renovation. The airport is another story. It’s a state-of-the-art modern international airport but the train station badly needs a make over. We had nine hours before we were to take our next train from Delhi to Haldwani and there was no way we wanted to spend it in the train station so took a taxi through packed streets and checked into a reasonably priced hotel. Later that afternoon, we boarded the train and departed for Haldwani, one of the several cities that are considered gateways to the Himalayas.

Arriving in Haldwani before midnight we checked into the Maharani Hotel. It was a very modern hotel, with clean rooms reasonable priced at 1,200 rupees or about $25. We chose it because Dr. Varma is a member of the royal family of Travancore and is descended from Maharajas and Maharanis so it seemed appropriate. Feeling glad to finally be off trains, we enjoyed a considerably better dinner and a good night’s sleep on a comfortable bed.

The next morning we hired a taxi to take us up into the mountains to where the Master lives. As we rose higher and higher though dense forests, we enjoyed the beautiful views of the surrounding mountains with terraced hillsides and rivers flowing through lush green valleys.

When we passed through a small village we stopped to purchase rice, vegetables and fruit to take to the Master’s hermitage. The closer we got to the master’s hermitage the more anticipation I felt. When we arrived at our destination, we removed our luggage and backpacks from the taxi and I took my first look around the surrounding area. I was in Heaven. It was incredibly peaceful and quiet. Everything looked so green. It appeared that every available inch of the hillsides were terraced and being utilized to produce whatever they could. Our host informed us that the local people eat all organically grown local fruits and vegetables. A flight of stairs went up the hillside to the Master’s cottage. With great anticipation I climbed the stairs, wondering what this 125 year old master would be like and what kind of interaction we’d have with him.

We’ve know enough different masters in our lives to know that each is unique and has their own style. Some are aloof and some are easily accessible. Some speak only their native language and some are fluent in English. Some speak a lot and some maintain silence (mouna). I wondered what this one would be like. I’ve learned from experience that it’s best to have no expectations and to accept with gratitude whatever happens. If this master maintained silence, I would be receptive to the blessings that flowed from his enlightened being.

When, we reached the top of the stairs we were shown to the guest room which is a large open space with two beds at one end and a cooking area at the other end. We were invited to come have darshan of the Master. As we walked into his small room, not more than 10 feet by 15 feet, we saw him sitting on his bed, greeting us with a smile. We knew we were in the presence of a great soul and we felt exceedingly fortunate to meet him. We pranamed and bowed at his feet. Dr. Varma expressed his deepest heart-felt wishes to meet Mahavatar Babaji in this lifetime. The Master spoke to us briefly and then recommended that we go rest and have dinner.

We retired to the guestroom and began to prepare some vegetables to cook with rice and dal. The master joined us along with two neighbor women who come to perform seva (selfless service) for him. The atmosphere was relaxed and friendly. After eating a delicious meal, the master invited us to join him again in his room.  Suddenly, a storm blew in, rain pelted the cottage and the power went out.

Meeting this Himalayan Master was a very profound spiritual experience for us. His eyes twinkled with Divine light. He and radiated tremendous shanti (peace) and ananda (bliss). I immediately felt totally comfortable with him, like being with a grandfather you love. Despite his age, his mind was crystal clear and his energy was strong. He spoke perfect English and laughed heartily.  There was no feeling of being unable to approach him or ask questions so I began to ask whatever my heart yearned to know.

I began by saying that we were devotees of Mahavatar Babaji and that we feel great love in our heart’s for Babaji but we long to meet him, to have darshan of him. I asked what we can do to have that experience.  The Master replied “Prayer. Prayer is the only way. You must pray deeply to him to give you the ability to see him. You don’t see him with your physical eyes but with your spiritual vision. Only he can give you that ability.”

The Master told us that he has had darshan of Mahavatar Babaji three times. The first was at the Kumbha Mela in 1927 and the last was in the cave where he now lives. He also had darshan of Paramahansa Yogananda in Calcutta and Lahiri Mahasaya in Varanasi. He knew many of the greatest masters of modern time including Neem Karoli Baba and Sombari Baba. He also spent 10 years with the “Bliss Permeated Mother” Anandamayi Ma who Paramahansa Yogananda wrote about in Autobiography of a Yogi. He told us that he received many blessings from her.

A huge storm blew in and the power went off. We sat in the darkness for about an hour while I continued to ask questions. His response to each question was about 10 to 20 minutes long. I felt that he was open to questions and that this was a rare opportunity to ask questions about the Himalayan yogis so I proceeded to ask whatever I wanted to know. He spoke at great length about the great yogis, adepts who have lived in the Himalayas for thousands of years and how they are the spiritual lighthouses of humanity. He said that they radiate powerful vibrations through mantras that purify the area and bless all beings, not only on earth but throughout  the entire universe.

The Master said goodnight and we retired to bed. In the morning I explored the entrance to his cave. The cave is large and can hold more than 20 people. Tara and I have been in other caves that yogis frequent that are much smaller. One time we were doing the pradakshina (circumnabulating) of Arunachala mountain in Tamil Nadu and a sadhu invited us into his cave. It was so small that three of us could barely squeeze in.

Outside the Master’s cave there is a dhuni and altar with a door on the left that leads to stairs that descend down to the cave. Because the power was out due to the storm, we weren’t able to go down in the cave but the master said that when we return we can meditate with him down there. In the entrance way to the cave there is an altar and on the walls of the hermitage there are quotations written in Hindi.

After breakfast we met again with the master. At one point he asked us what kind of sadhana we do and I told him that we were initiated into Kriya Yoga by Yogiraj Gurunath Siddhanath. He said “good” and invited us to return soon to spend a week meditating in the cave where he had darshan of Mahavatar Babaji.

We took some photos before we left and prayed that we could return soon to spend a week at his hermitage meditating in the cave.