The Jivamala
The Life of a Shiva Devotee

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Section VIII - The Ashram

Nathdwar was not a wandering sadhu. He had settled down in a large house where many disciples lived. I told him that I thought renunciants had to wander. He said they usually did, but they could live a renunciant life in one place if under the command of their gurus. He said that he could take the place of my guru, and order me to stay if I wished.

I was uncertain what to do. So I went off to meditate. There were many empty cliffs along the river, and I went to one which seemed holy. There I called on Lord Shiva, and I told him of my dilemma. I asked him what I should do.

I meditated for many hours, and I did not see him. So I continued to meditate into the night, and the flow of my breath entered the sky and the stars. I found myself rushing along the winds of space, out in the darkness, and part of the great winds of life. They blew over the burning ground and there I saw the Lord presiding over a ceremony of the dead. There were souls who dwelt at the burning ground, and they walked in long lines before him. They bowed or prostrated themselves, and to some the Lord gave a special light, and those souls rushed from the burning ground into the sky. But to others he refused the light, and gave what looked like a glowing red knife, and these souls writhed, and faded away. At the end of the line were sadhus who had not been burned there but their souls had been attracted to the light. To several of these he gave blessings, but one he rejected, and I heard screams of ghostly outrage.

I watched them pass, and when it was over, I stood with my head bowed. The Lord was gracious and saw me, and asked what I wished. I told him that I was uncertain of my future, and where I should go. He said that my guru's teacher was a worthy man, and that I should take him as my guru. His mantras had power. If I wished to live in one place by his order, that was acceptable but I should not become a householder.

I agreed to this and he smiled, and took out his drum. He beat upon it and the ghosts danced, and he danced with them and the whole burning ground danced. I shook, and spun, and I was flown back to my body.

I told Nathdwar that I would follow him as my guru.

Section IX

Nathdwar said he was pleased, for he had respected and loved my own guru, his disciple. He said that I had been toughened by travel, but that I was still young, and in need of guidance. I was to live at his monastery, and learn the ways of other sadhus.

So I did, and was not impressed by what I saw. While some sadhus were righteous men, and rose early to meditate and pray. Others slept late and sought comfort. While many were honest and dedicated, there were some who stole from other sadhus, and who sought sexual alliances with them or tried to use them in other ways. Because I was young, I seemed to attract these men. I told them that I followed an austere guru, and I was not going to become fallen now. Some accepted this, and others tried to convince me otherwise, saying that a few sins would be no problem, and that a few extra austerities would get rid of them.

So I avoided these men and followed Nathdwar. Instead of covering myself with ash, I only made lines in my forehead, and on my shoulders, and heart. We did not beg but accepted donations from villagers. There was enough food for us to live simply. There was a Shiva temple where we went to meditate and pray, and I used a mala (necklace) of rudrakshas [to repeat mantras].

The temple had a pointed roof, and many rooms. It was bigger than most temples I had seen. There was a great statue of Lord Shiva, and many small shrines with lingas. There were separate rooms for Shiva'a wife Amma, and for Ganesh and Shiva's bull, Nandi. There were also rooms for Rama, and Durga, and the lord of the mountain, but these were smaller. There was a special statue I liked of Shiva as a yogi. He had forgotten the world, and thought of only the worlds of the spirit. He was Bholanath, and I wanted to be like him. I made my hair like his, and I sat before the statue in meditation day after day.

Nathdwar asked about my meditation. So I told him about my efforts, and my experiences with the Lord. He was happy to hear this, and said that I was advanced for my age. He said that I could be initiated into some deeper practices, if I thought I was ready. I could not tell if I was ready, but I was curious, so I said yes.

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Lives of Spiritual Awakening      [ NEXT ] Bhairavanath's Life Continued

Introduction | The Bhairava or Spiritual Guide | Lives of Spiritual Weakness | Lives of Spiritual Awakening | Conclusion


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