The Jivamala
The Life of a Shiva Devotee

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Section XI - Becoming a Warrior Sadhu

Once Nathdwar had taken my sacred thread, he burned it. He said,

"Now you may take on the sacred name of Bhairavanath properly. Your original guru meant well, but he did not know of your past. Indeed, how could he have known? You were simply the young boy in a family of farmers who wanted to leave. His actions were perfectly acceptable based on his limited knowledge.
I liked the fact that he defended my guru. I think that everything he did was perfect, or at least with the best of intentions. Though perhaps I should have had another ritual, his behavior was still that of a true sadhu.

Then Nathdwar said,

You will have other initiations, in which you will gain mantras, and access to deities. But for now, you have officially been accepted as a Brahman, and renounced your caste. As you are a sannyasi people will not ask you about your past. But this is for you to know - you have had your initiation, and your ancestors will be gratified regardless of your father's possible sins.
I said,
I am happy to please them, but I fear they will be unhappy for I have not married and had children.
Nathdwar said,
You have brothers to do that. I will give you prayers to say for their welfare.
So I gave offerings, and said prayers for them despite the fact that I did not know who or where they were. Though I had renounced family and caste, kindness is allowed for all beings.

As I did not wander, my life became a routine. I awoke early, and did meditation on the rising sun. I called on the Lord Shiva and praised him. And even though we are supposed to be detached, I did prayers for the soul of my guru that he might reach the garden that he saw.

One night he visited me in a dream. He wore a shining blue cloak, and now his hair was combed and oiled. He no longer wore ash, and his skin glowed bronze. He said,

Child, I am pleased with you. You have obeyed my wishes, and now my own guru has a disciple that is worthy of him. I have come to the Lord that has called me, and now I am part of the great light of his cave. I shine at his will, and I am part of his vast consciousness. But I loved you, and chose to visit, and the Lord allowed it. I am happy here - do not fear for me. Obey Nathdwar. Be kind to others. Do not be tempted by the love of women. Meditate upon the Lord, and he will bless you.
Then I awoke in the tiny room bathed in light. It faded away as I remembered the dream. I slept in a room at the monastery, in which I had a pile of weeds on the floor, and little room for anything else. But my bowl and water pot glowed, and it seemed that each bead of my mala sang out praises to Lord Shiva.

I lived for years in the monastery but I missed traveling. Everything was safe, and meals were provided by donation, but here there was nothing new. Though I sought to obey Nathdwar, I wondered if the outside world had changed while I was here.

So I went to Nathdwar, and I told him of my concerns. He said,

"I suppose that wandering was your earliest sadhu training, and that it is reasonable for you to miss it. But there are no wanderers here, and it would be good for you to be able to defend yourself. A few people here were once warrior sadhus - I will ask them to teach you about fighting. I know you are peaceful and will not want to learn this, but this is the order of your teacher.
He was right. I had no desire to learn fighting, which should be left to soldiers and householders. But I obeyed. The warrior who came to me was called Nagapanthideva, and he taught me to fight with my staff, and to wrestle. He was strong, and a dedicated sadhu.

Section XII

So I learned to fight, and the Naga-man had me eat more food than I normally would have. He said he wanted to see muscles on me, not just bones, and I must eat to train properly. It seemed against sannyasi rules to eat more than the absolute minimum, but I had to follow my teacher's wishes. So I ate more and gained weight, and the training made it go towards my arms and legs. I told the Naga-man that my former guru said that eating too much made men long for women. He said I would be too busy doing exercises to think about women. He was right - I was eating more, but I mostly worried about being sore and exhausted.

After a month or two, Nathdwar called me in to speak. He said that the warrior felt that I could now defend myself. He suggested that I go to Shiva's sacred mountain, Kailash, or to his sacred city, Varanasi. I had no desire to see crowded cities full of sinful people, while Kailash was very attractive to me. I told him that I would seek the mountain. He said that he thought I would want that, but it was good to have a choice. It was likely that I would run into sadhus on pilgrimage, and those would be better for me than wealthy merchants, and beautiful courtesans.

So I left at the next sunrise, and I brought my sadhu things, an extra blanket, and a bag of food (again at my guru's insistence). I walked for days, and then for weeks, and as the terrain got higher, I was glad to have that blanket. I stopped at pilgrim houses, and the owners were willing to give me small amounts of food in exchange for blessings. My path to the mountains was uneventful.

But when I started to climb, I ran into a pilgrim group, who wanted me with them for luck. I did not think this was a good idea, but they begged me, and said this was a blessing I could give them. Besides they could give me food and pilgrim houses were rare at this height.

So I went with them with grave doubts. And sure enough, trouble came. They were attacked by bandits a few days after I had joined them. I was not sure what to do. Sannyasis are supposed to be detached, dead to the world, ignoring its joys and sorrows. But here were innocent pilgrims attacked by evil men, and I had learned to fight. What should I do?

A man attacked me, and my choice was made - I felt the power of Bhairava in me, and I was true to my name, Bhairavanath. I took my staff, and I attacked him until he fell. I then went on to protect the women and children, and felled four more attackers. I think that the bandits would gladly have felled me, or made me retreat, but they didn't really want the death of a sannyasi on their souls. When it was clear that I (or the Bhairava within me) would fight to the death, they retreated and ran away.

Many were hurt, and I bound their wounds, and brought them water. We made a fire, and I found plants for some healing teas (not many, the vegetation was sparse). I was not able to save the life of my beloved guru, but here I saved the lives of people by fighting. Does saving one life make up for lives that one could not save? I do not know. Our lives are at the will of the gods.

But a great problem arose. I could feel the eyes of a woman on me, in a way that they should not look at a sadhu. A young women that I thought was not yet married stared at me whatever I did. The widows on the trip watched me furtively, and one of the wives without a husband there came up to me on several occasions, and brushed against me. I could ignore them for the most part, but the young one was beautiful.

To continue with the life of Bhairavanath, click on the [ NEXT ] link below :

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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