My first day and night in the Himalayas were quite hectic. Contact with a Yogi, who was a friend of mine, led to my agreeing to meet him in Hardwar at noon on such-and-such a day. (Haridwar is a famous spot for Yogis, the location where the fabled Kumbha Nela is given every 12 years.)
Luckily I found someone who would drive me there for a small fee. I had no inclination to ride the old bus; I would have had to balance myself precariously on the roof, hanging on to my baggage and ducking my head each time we came to a tunnel.
When we arrived in the town of Haridwar I asked the driver if he would wait a few minutes while I connected with my friend. Unfortunately, I was unable to do so, though I thought I followed the written directions correctly. He just wasn’t there. So I then asked the driver if, for a small additional amount, he would drive me to Lakshman Jhula, a little way past Rishikesh. He agreed.
On the way, there was an incident that left a lasting impression on me. A soft, steady rain had begun. I was gazing idly through the windshield when I saw a vehicle ahead, a flat cart pulled by a bullock. On the back was a load of what looked like hay, now dripping wet, and on top was standing a beautiful boy of about ten or 11 years of age. He had his arms out as though doing an Indian dance, and he was laughing wildly and, apparently, singing as our car passed the cart. For a moment I felt that I was seeing a youthful Krishna shouting his joy of life, and I looked for the inevitable flute. All too soon we passed, and I was sorry to leave this scene of great ecstasy, spelling out what the Tantrics said, that every cell in the body could be brought to a point of ecstasy.
Reaching the bridge at Lakshman Jhula, the driver collected his fee and immediately took off. I was alone, but not for long. A group of older men and one youth were eyeing me with curiosity. Thinking it might help, I took a pose as though I was meditating. They looked puzzled, but, finally, the young man nodded and waved to me to follow him. He put one of my two bags on his head, and we took off through the forest.
I had hurt my foot in Baroda and it had not healed, so I was limping along, dropping farther and farther behind, when I heard what I took to be thunder. When the young fellow turned around, I motioned to the sky. He shook his head and exclaimed excitedly, “Tiger!” My foot healed quickly after that, and I caught up and stayed close to him.
Finally, we reached a clearing, and I later found this was the entrance to the ashram. Eventually I found one man, and he spoke English; he was evidently the caretaker of the grounds. He didn’t look like a Yogi to me. After he pointed out the small hut where I would stay, he left abruptly. Only then did I find that there was no way to get inside. The door was locked.
Since it was continuing to rain, I looked for a place to stay dry. Fortunately, there was a small overhang over the front of the hut, and I huddled under this. There was no way to get anything to eat, so I prepared to spend the night shivering but, hopefully, dry.
In the middle of the night I awakened to hear shouting, then a bugle blowing. By now there was a wild storm going on and the sound of the bugle was eerie and unexpected. Strange noises went on the rest of the night, but it wasn’t until the next morning that I found out their meaning. Some sort of a constable had come to lead away a holy man, who had evidently blown his top from doing advanced Kundalini practice without a teacher. He was smiling and jovial as he was led away, his hands bound. I later found he would be taken to a curious clinic (which I would later use one time), not to a jail. It was not unusual for such events to happen.
This article is published in Spiritual Odyssey.