Swami Nirmalananda Giri (Blog)
It might seem strange that I am writing about Neem Karoli Baba because I have no stories about him. But I did see him, and since it was one of the most memorable events of my life, I want to add my voice to those who speak of his greatness. (If you do not know about his life, please read some of the books about him. They are a great inspiration.)
I was in Brindaban with some of the members of our ashram for the Samyam Sapta with Anandamayi Ma. After a few days quite a number of Americans and Europeans began showing up for Ma’s darshan, which was a sign that Neem Karoli Baba must be in town. We knew where his ashram was, so one morning we went to see him. And that was all we did: see.
Spies, spies, spies
I have no idea why, but for decades the police in that area had been paranoid about American and European tourists and really made a nuisance of themselves. A few months before my first trip to India one of my close friends went to travel with Ma Anandamayi, and every single day she was in Brindaban officious fools came and pestered her, acting as though she was a spy or mad bomber. Over the years I heard about these antics, though I never experienced any myself.
But they apparently had decided after so many years that Anandamayi Ma’s devotees were not spies and had shifted their suspicion to the devotees of Neem Karoli Baba. As a consequence when we got to the ashram we found the gate was locked. A man who saw us came and explained that the police had been especially troublesome to all foreigners, so Neem Karoli Baba had asked them to all leave the district and wait until he went to one of his ashrams in a more sensible area.
However, there sitting at some distance was Neem Karoli Baba all alone. So though outside the wall we went opposite to where he was sitting and bowed to him, then got out our movie camera with a telephoto lens and took turns looking at him through it. For the one with the camera it was like standing hardly a foot away from him. But the real benefit was how we felt all the time. Every one of us was filled with intense joy. It is no exaggeration that we were drunk with the bliss (ananda) that poured from him. We stood there a long time not wanting to leave the source of such a heavenly condition. Eventually we had to go, but the memory was permanently etched in our minds.
Later it occurred to us that since no one was around he was sitting there just for us to have his darshan, even if from a distance and through a lens.