Sunday, March 31, 2013

Concert at the Yoga Farm: Uma Reed & Friends

Yesterday, at the Yoga Farm, there was a concert by a kirtan group Uma Reed & Friends.  The kirtan program was enjoyable, but what I found more noteworthy were the stories by one of the members of the group, Shivaya.

Shivaya had spent a number of years as a wandering sadhu in India.  He had spent time with Neem Karoli Baba in Rishikesh in the foothills of the himalayas.  Neem Karoli Baba didn't have a very high opinion of many of the practicing gurus at that time, but he did have a high regard for Swami Sivananda (the Yoga Farm was started by a disciple of Swami Sivananda).  He told us a couple of interesting stories of Neem Karoli Baba.

The first story was about a time when Swami Chidanana, a disciple of Swami Sivanada, who succeeded Swami Sivananda as the head of the ashram in Rishikesh, came to meet Neem Karoli Baba.  He brought with him a bag containing six oranges.  That day, as visitors came to the ashram, he'd pick an orange out of the bag and give it to them.  After more than twenty people had visited and they were about the leave for the day, Neem Karoli Baba handed the bag back to Swami Chidananda who was surprised that there were still six oranges in the bag.

The second story about about several occasions when Neem Karoli baba visited the Sivananda ashram in Rishikesh; the chowkidaar (security guard) at the front gate never noticed him entering or leaving.

I was intrigued by Shivaya's background (from living as a sadhu to returning to the material world), so I went up to speak to him after the program.  I asked him why he left the life of a sadhu to return to the material world.  He said it was thrown to him as a challenge by someone and somehow he was able to carry the peace with him.  He also told of his miraculous healing from gangrene while he was a sadhu.  I asked him if he had ever met yogis that were very old. (I had heard about such yogis from a person that visits holy places in the himalayas regularly.)  He mentioned he had met one that was 138 years old and another that he knows to still be alive at 163.

When I got back home, I googled around for information about Neem Karoli Baba.  I found it interesting that Julia Roberts was inspired to practice Hinduism because she saw of a picture of his.

I wrote this post to share a couple of stories I heard that my scientific mind finds hard to believe.  I don't know that I have resolved for myself whether material life only, spiritual life only, or both are important.  For now, I'm trying to live a little of both.

Update 11/5/2013

Shivaya passed away on 11/02/2013

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