Maharajji passed from this mortal existence yesterday.
Although I have not been to Rishikesh to see him for perhaps 8 years, Hans Raj Maharajji remains a great soul who has both directly and indirectly transformed this life. Just as my Granddad was my first spiritual mentor, Maharajji had been my Grandguru.
As far as I'm aware, Maharajji didn't teach much, if at all. His presence was his teaching. Although I couldn't express it at the time I met him, he embodied the non-dual (advaita) consciousness that I yearned for. (I was a seeker who didn't know what was being sought, who hadn't even heard of non-duality.)
As I think back to him, our first meeting comes to mind. It was 1996 and I had arrived in Rishikesh to be with Shantimayi – my guru and Maharajji’s disciple. It was my first journey to India, and I was wide-eyed, soaking up the experience like a long forgotten memory.
After a couple of days I was in Maharajji’s ashram, Sacha Dham, doing seva (voluntary work) – slashing scrub with the edge of a spade. Across the ashram I saw a slim, diminutive figure with white beard and matching white robes step out onto the veranda of a small multi-coloured house. I immediately recognised him from a photograph that I had seen previously.
I rushed eagerly across the ashram, excited to meet the man who Shantimayi had described to me as my guru together with her. After I sat on the ground below the veranda I was joined by about half a dozen other people, and Maharajji seemed oblivious to us as he gave what seemed to be menial ashram instructions in Hindi to another man standing with him.
After some minutes Maharajji turned to go inside his house. With an afterthought he looked back at us for the first time, and said in English, “I am going inside now.” As he turned away to leave us his eyes swept over me, and with that a wave of energy coursed over and through me. I wept uncontrollably.
There are no tears now as he turns away this time – only deep gratitude. The universe is a better place for his presence.
With regards to this photo, Shantimayi had invited me to do a couple of photo shoots of them at the ashram. This is one of my favourites. It symbolizes the transmission from Maharajji through Shantimayi to the viewer.