Journey with a Himalayan Master
by Dr. Prakash Keshaviah
Review of Journey with a Himalayan Master Swami Rama by Dr. Mohan Swami
Dr. Mohan Swami’s book, Journey with a Himalayan Master Swami Rama, is a chronicle of his spiritual journey with his Gurudev H.H. Swami Rama, whom he met in 1990 after reading Swamiji’s autobiography, Living with the Himalayan Masters, a spiritual classic. This book, a gift from his father-in-law, lay unread, in a drawer of their prayer room for four years. Coming upon the book by chance, while cleaning the prayer room, Dr. Mohan read and re-read the book all night and by the light of dawn, he decided to go to Rishikesh to look for Swami Rama, a guru who would guide him on the path to enlightenment. At that time, Mohan was successful in his medical practice in Malaysia, had a young family and no financial or personal problems. But deep within there were seeds of discontent. This clearly indicates that unless the appropriate time and circumstances are met, such life changing events cannot transpire. As the saying goes, “When the student is ready, the Master appears.”
Soon after, Mohan arrived at Swami Rama’s Rishikesh ashram at 2 am on a cold, dreary rainy day. Swami Rama was not at the ashram and they did not know when he would return. Not long after, Mohan saw the headlights of an approaching car on the ashram driveway and recognized the robed man alighting from the car as Swami Rama. He ran outside and unmindful of the cold and the wet ground, he prostrated full length at Swamiji’s feet. Swamiji blessed him, hugged him and said, “At last you have come!” Swamiji asked him about his wife Mira and the children, by name, gently reprimanding him for having run away from his clinic duties. Swamiji asked him to take a bath in the Ganga and come to him for mantra initiation. The ceremony was simple without much ritual but was a spiritual awakening that indicated to Mohan that he was now linked to the Himalayan tradition of gurus and sages. Swamiji told Mohan that he had known Mohan in his previous birth as well and that the time had now come for resuming that relationship.
Mohan wanted to give up the life of the householder and become a renunciate, but Swami Rama told him that the time for renunciation had not yet come and he had a lot to accomplish in the world. He told Mohan about his hospital mission and that Mohan needed to remain in the world and take up business ventures in order to help Swamiji with the hospital project finances. Swamiji allowed Mohan to stay in the ashram for two weeks, pretending though on several occasions, to pack him off to Malaysia. He allowed Mohan to bask in his love and provided spiritual guidance, while at the same time testing his commitment, faith and surrender.
In the intervening years, Mohan continued to receive Swamiji’s guidance on his visits to the Rishikesh ashram and to Swamiji’s institute in Honesdale, Pennsylvania. He was also closely involved in the development of the hospital project at Jolly Grant, Dehradun. When Swamiji’s body began to succumb to the ravages of cancer, Mohan arranged for Swamiji to receive radiation therapy in Malaysia. Swamiji had already fixed the day for his casting away the fetters of the physical body. He, however, went through the rituals of medical treatment only to please his disciples.
As promised earlier, Mohan was able to be at Swamiji’s bedside along with a few other disciples, when Swamiji voluntarily dropped his physical body on November 13th, 1996. Before his departure, Swami Rama had installed a Presidential Body to manage the Himalayan Institute Hospital Trust. Mohan was named to be one of the members of this body. He continued his visits to the hospital and along with the members of the Presidential Body and the Governing Body, ensured the realization of Swamiji’s vision.
In his saga, Mohan talks of some of the amazing experiences he had of Swamiji’s grace. At the Rishikesh ashram, he was able, with Swamiji’s blessing, to single-handedly move a massive stone sculpture, which earlier that day, he and a few others had been unable to budge even a few feet. At his prayer room in Malaysia, Swamiji would appear as a figure of light to bless him and to assure him of his guidance even after dropping the body. When Mohan experienced business and political turmoil, Swamiji provided the necessary spiritual, moral, physical and financial support to help him face and overcome these troubles. Through a medium in Penang, Mohan was able to contact divine beings, including the Divine Mother, for guidance, blessings and instructions to overcome the political turmoil that he became embroiled in for about 3 years from the years 2001 to 2003. Initially it seemed to Mohan that Swami Rama had abandoned him and he felt helpless. He realized later that these challenges and Swamiji’s seeming absence were meant to strengthen him and help him understand the hidden workings of sages and divine beings.
In the year 2010, Mohan started to experience severe bouts of diarrhoea and vomiting and was unable to keep down any solid foods. He became cachexic and lost 21 kg. in six months. None of the medical tests were able to provide a diagnosis. He checked into a hospital in London, was pumped full of steroids, put on liquid drips and was faced with the possibility of multi-organ failure. Many years earlier, Swami Rama had told Mohan the exact date and month in 2011 that he would leave his mortal body. Mohan calculated that he had a month left. Finally, a diagnosis of celiac disease, an auto-immune disease, was arrived at. The doctors tried hard to reverse the damage done to his organs and recommended a non-vegetarian diet. As a vegetarian, Mohan had a very hard time drinking lamb soup, taking it slowly like a medicine. Early one morning, Mohan feeling that he was now ready to give up his body, prayed to Swamiji. Suddenly, he sensed someone behind him. It was Gurudev in his maroon robe, who thumped him on his back and said loudly, “Oot (get up).” Mohan fell into a deep sleep-like state. He woke up full of joy, recalling the instructions received from the Master in his sleep-like state, knowing that he had been given a new lease of life. Mohan pulled out the drips from his arms, had a shower, got dressed and got himself discharged from the hospital after the doctors performed a bone scan which was normal.
Mohan continued to prosper in his many businesses, created new institutions including medical colleges and was recognized for his contributions by being awarded many honorific titles of the Malaysian government like Datuk and Tan Shri. He established a close association with Swami Veda Bharati and was appointed President of AHYMSIN for life. He took on the responsibility of Chancellor of Swami Rama Himalayan University, a State University, sponsored by the Himalayan Institute Hospital Trust. However, in his personal life, he started eschewing the luxuries he could well afford and instead started to make his personal life very simple and spartan, sleeping on the floor and reducing his diet to a simple meal once a day. He continued to receive instructions from Swami Rama and blessings of the Divine Mother, furthering his spiritual life. He kept longing for the day when he could renounce the worldly life and take on the robes of a sannyasi.
This book has been published as a suitable milestone to mark the culmination of Mohan’s life as a householder and businessman. Mohan has wound up his business affairs, organized the weddings of both his sons and provided material resources for his family and other institutions that he created and nurtured. He is ready to embark upon a new phase of his life, that of a forest dweller and ultimately a sannyasi. He now plans to go into the Himalayas looking for the guidance of the Himalayan sages of the tradition that his Gurudev, Swami Rama, had initiated him into.
As a reviewer, I am struck by Mohan’s devotion and spirit of total surrender. His devotional nature was nurtured by his mother who was a very pious lady. Mohan also received the blessings of many saints and sages like Shirdi Sai Baba, Mata Amritanandmayi, Swami Shantananda of the Shivananda tradition and Visiri Swami of Tiruvannamalai. Mohan’s devotional nature was initially expressed through religious rites and frequent visits to temples and shrines. Through Swami Rama’s influence, his devotion was turned inwards to discover the indwelling Divinity. Mohan received Swamiji’s love in greater measure than many other disciples who were around at that time. This is clearly a reflection of Mohan’s depth of devotion and surrender. Swami Rama reciprocated Mohan’s love and surrender by establishing with him an ever-present channel of communication, love and guidance. May this book inspire others to greater devotion to the Guru and a more intense seeking of the Divinity that resides within us all.
Journey with a Himalayan Master Swami Rama has been published by Sayantan Chakravarty. Printing Solutions: India Empire Publications. Pages: 518. First Edition: November 2016. ISBN No. 978-81-923819-3-0. The book is written in English.
Journey with a Himalayan Master Swami Rama is available for purchase through Himalayan Yoga Publications Trust (HYPT). International buyers should follow the link http://yogapublications.org/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=127.
For Indian buyers, the link is http://yogapublications.org/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=128.