On the Path of the Divine – Swami Nirvichara
We are excited to launch a new series On the Path of the Divine. Each month, one of our Isha Brahmacharis or Sanyasis shares their very own background, motivation, and experience of what it means for them to walk this sacred path. Here, Swami Nirvichara, who has been with Sadhguru since 1994, offers some precious glimpses of the early days in Isha and his own path, including a whole year wandering the subcontinent as a mendicant.
Swami Nirvichara : Again, it was Monday, my day off. Again, I sat for hours weaving through my thoughts and emotions to understand where my life was taking me. Again, I got no answers. I still remember, it was way back in the 1990s and life was otherwise good – food, movies, and adventure – but I had an overbearing discontent within me, and I would try doing odd things to fulfill myself. One day, I simply resigned from my job without any reason. But dropping the job didn’t change anything for me either. It took another two more jobs, some rather bad fights with my father, and a lot of emotional upheaval within me before my mother compelled me to do the lsha Yoga class in April 1994. And from then on, it all settled for good – or unsettled for good.
Soon after the class was over, I began volunteering on every Sunday for the lsha classes that were happening in Tamil Nadu in those days. I also came to volunteer for the 90-day Wholeness program with the intention of staying for a week – however, I stayed on for nearly the entire program. During that time, the revelation of Sadhguru’s spiritual dimensions, seeing an ordinary person attain Nirvikalpa Samadhi (the highest state of Samadhi before one attains Mahasamadhi), intense meditations and equally intense moments of solitude in the ashram, are still among the best memories of my life.
After the Wholeness was over, I left the ashram with the burning desire to be near Sadhguru. In December 1994, I heard that Sadhguru invited applications for people to receive Brahmacharya. I didn’t know anything about this path then, but I applied for it so I could be near Sadhguru. On 27 February 1995, on Mahashivaratri, I was initiated along with seven others – the great tradition of the Brahmacharya order began in lsha.
Fun Days with Hard Work
It wasn’t difficult at all for me to come to terms with the change of lifestyle in the ashram – no matter how meagerly we lived, those were utterly enjoyable days. Just a handful of us, Patti’s wonderful cooking, no scheduled work, daily mud bath in the stream, forest walk, swimming in the water tank, Sunday cricket, watering the flowering plants and trees, constructing the "Igloo" (a place made for sadhana) with the others, sadhana, and occasional ashram visitors – life was wonderful and easygoing.
Then the first-ever Samyama program happened in the ashram in May 1995, and subsequently, Dhyanalinga consecration work picked up some speed. Slowly, the ashram started to get a bit more organized – though absolutely nothing like what we see today, either in scale or scope. My work responsibilities included taking care of the production of Sathumavu (Sanjeevini) Kanji for 3 months, as well as handling the electrical, plumbing, and flooring work during programs, of course without any training or prior experience.
One of our activities during those days was to help with the lorries and trucks that brought construction material for Dhyanalinga. We had to push these lorries through the slushy muddy road from Thanneerpandhal to the ashram. The helpers on the trucks got off the truck while we pushed it, but many times, they would refuse to walk after us through the slushy road. So we would have to unload the material ourselves once we reached the ashram. I particularly remember this one incident when three of us unloaded a truckload full of Kadapa stones, each weighing around 10 kg.
Another time, the helpers who came with the truck that carried cement bags for us, asked for Rs. 2 per bag to unload them. We were willing to pay even up to Rs. 1.75 a bag, but they would not budge, assuming that we anyway had no choice in this remote place. They did not know us very well: two other brahmacharis and I, along with a labor from Dhanikandi, unloaded all 200 bags quickly – to their astonishment and ours too.
Cracking the Linga
It was around June 1996 when the Dhyanalinga stone arrived in the ashram. Then after 1–2 months, all the residents were called one night to gather around the Linga for a process with Sadhguru. The Linga was laid horizontally on a sand bed with the top portion of Sahasrar facing south. Sadhguru applied vibhuti to the Linga, and made a big circle with the vibhuti around the Sahasrar. We were chanting Aum Namah Shivaya with closed eyes. At some point Sadhguru clapped, as he normally does to raise our energy.
The next morning, when I went near the Linga, I noticed a line cutting across the vibhuti circle that Sadhguru had made the previous night. On a closer look, I saw the line was extending sideways, and it could be a hairline crack in the linga. We informed Sadhguru, and he came immediately with me to check. Then he asked Srinivasan Anna to tell the suppliers to send someone to check the crack further. Some experts came from Chennai two days later and confirmed that the hairline crack would not extend further or damage the stone in any way. Sadhguru asked us to cover the Linga with white cloth after they left, and a few days later we built a thatch roof over the Linga.
It was only two years after the consecration of Dhyanalinga, in a satsang, that Sadhguru spoke about the crack. He said that to avoid the linga cracking at the time of consecration, he cracked the Linga in the initial stage itself just with a clap during a process. When the Linga was erected later, the cracked portion was at the back of the Linga. This is where it is even now.
It was September 24, 2001, 7 p.m., and I was asked to meet Sadhguru in the Shrine. I knew what it could mean, and yes, as soon as I entered, Sadhguru gave me one of his used long shawls and a note that said, “One year. Varanasi and Kedar.” The next day I left the Triangle Block at 5:40 a.m. and found Maa Gambhiri and Swami Nisarga standing there with a bag for me. The bag had a woolen shawl, a begging bowl and the first Biksha – my next meal. I tore the shawl that Sadhguru gave into three – I used one part as a towel, one as a dhoti, and another as a loincloth. I was going for the Parivrajaka sadhana yet again. The previous year in December, Sadhguru had sent me on this sadhana for one month.
After having darshan of Dhyanalinga, I left. For one moment, I experienced the agony of leaving the ashram for one long year, and I gasped for breath as soon as I stepped outside the ashram. However, this emotion left me immediately to be replaced with questions – What will I do? What will I eat? Where to sleep? Where do I go? All these thoughts rankled me just for one day. I knew I could never go back without completing the sadhana. So without any purpose, I roamed the length and breadth of the country. I walked through all kinds of terrains, came across all sorts of people, ate whatever was given, and went through varieties of problems and sufferings. Even after I came back to the ashram, life was never the same again.
I first went to Varanasi, and then visited the Bhojpur Linga near Bhopal. My dhoti got torn there, and at the place I went to have it stitched, I saw a poster of the 12 Jyotirlingas. I was excited to see that there was one very nearby. So I visited Mahakaal in Ujjain. I went from one Jyotirlinga to another, and to Kedar in summer. I even went to Agra to fulfill my childhood wish of seeing the Taj Mahal. I truly tasted what it was like to be a wandering Sadhu. There are a few incidents I particularly remember...
When the Guru Pooja Did Not Flow
One morning in the Himalayas while I was walking, I couldn’t chant the entire Guru Pooja for some reason. No matter with what determination I tried each time, I would stop after a few verses. "The day Guru Pooja cannot flow within me, it’s better I jump off into the valley,” I decided and started to walk towards the edge of the road to jump off. Immediately, I was filled with the verses of Guru Pooja, and it happened effortlessly within me. This was the first time I realized that Sadhguru was always within and around me in that one year.
When an Unforeseen Hand Helps
I was going up to Hemkund Sahib. The pathway, covered with snow, was just about 1.5 feet wide, and was being used both by pilgrims and coolies. I was going up the mountain. Suddenly, another person came down in a hurry. I was on the edge of the path looking over a valley, and as he crossed, my foot slipped over the edge. Just at that moment I saw how deep the valley really was. There was no way I could have escaped the fall, but it didn't happen. It was as if a hand stopped me. How? I don't know.
When People Throw Rocks in Your Path
Just before I reached Hyderabad, I walked in the rain for over 10 km and got a severe cold and fever. It was Dussehra and celebrations were on in the city. While I was crossing Hussain Sagar Lake, some boys followed me and started to tease me. Consequently, I didn't get a place to sleep until 4 am when I slept at the footsteps of a shop in Secunderabad for two hours. At 7 am, I found another place to do my kriya. Just when I started, a drunkard tried to force me to drink his pocket liquor. After some time, I couldn't take it anymore and started to cry. I got up again to find another place.
When Help Comes Your Way
When I was crossing Adilabad, I was wheezing too much. Luckily, I found a doctor who treated me free of cost and served me biscuits that night. Biscuits were always something I had in my pocket, because of the generosity of people. One day, I walked all day over 30 km on just half a bottle of water. But in that entire year, it was only on three days that I did not get food. Whenever I needed it, somebody gave me a shawl or sweater or blanket. Muslims were particularly generous in giving me food whenever they saw me hungry.
When the Agony of Hunger Strikes
One time, I witnessed the torment of hunger, but it was not mine. I think it happened in Rajasthan. There was a person walking in my direction on the road. He seemed to be searching for food on the roadside. About 50 meters away from me, I saw him kneeling down to pick up something to eat. The place looked like a patch of mud from afar, and I wondered what he could find there.
I went closer to see, and what I saw shook my insides in way that I still shiver to remember. It was dried vomit, and he was picking up chunks of it to eat. In that moment, I felt like the sky was breaking and falling on me. Somehow, I composed myself and called him to give him my biscuits. He was not in a condition to even thank me; he just sat there and started eating the biscuits with both his hands.
A few times in that year, I had also picked up food from the roadside. The Parivrajaka sadhana didn’t leave me in ecstasy, neither did I experience any spiritual outpourings in that one year. But the fact is that it got me to come to terms with hunger. I will not die of hunger, for sure.
When there’s Trouble at the Borders
When I walked from Somnath temple to Porbandar via a beach road in Gujarat, I was stopped once by the highway patrol and twice by the local villagers who wanted to verify that I'm not a refugee from Pakistan. All my belongings were checked. From that time onwards, I avoided the border routes.
From the Himalayas, I travelled to Amarnath, then to Pashupatinath in Kathmandu, Nepal. From Pashupatinath, I headed to the northeastern states and visited the Kamakhya Devi temple in Assam. Since there were always BSF soldiers on the street, I immediately headed back to Kolkata. Then Sambalpur, Kadapa, and finally my heart filled with joy as I entered back into Tamil Nadu.
When I Saw the Master Again
I happened to be in Salem, my home town, on the day of the Salem Mahasatsang. This was after eleven months of wandering. I stayed on the ground, watching the preparations. No brahmachari or volunteer could recognize me, except for one. I left the ground, but came back for the satsang in the evening. I went close to Sadhguru briefly and then immediately slipped off into the crowd. However, a volunteer came behind me and gave me a packaged dinner. Just a few years previous to that, I had lived in that town in the comfort of my home. That night, in the same town, I slept on the steps of a shop. And I slept well.
The Bonus after Twelve Years of Sadhana
A few brahmacharis were initiated into Sanyas in January 2003; however, I was not one of them. Though it upset me for some time, I then realized that Sadhguru knows best. I got initiated into Sanyas in December 2006, almost 12 years after my Brahmacharya initiation. In our tradition, 12 years of sadhana is usually the waiting period before the next initiation. After the initiation, many of my bondages and compulsions fell off. Slowly, I understood that this was not a promotion but a process of dissolution. I realized I have reached a point in my spiritual life from where there is no turning back.
Conducting Kalabhairava Karma
I feared anything and everything as a child. It is ironic that now I am always at funerals and with burning bodies. In 2011, I was the first brahmachari to get trained in a simple method called Kalabhairava Karma by Sadhguru. Now there are many other brahmacharis who have been inducted into doing this process. I don’t really perceive what happens during this process, but I just follow the instructions as given by Sadhguru. However, being a part of this process on a daily basis has made death a very close part of my life. I feel one day I will really experience the play of beings beyond the five senses.
I Want to Live as Long as Sadhguru Is
Enlightenment is not my goal. My attainment is Sadhguru's goal and he won't fail on this, I am 500% sure. I don't have to worry on this account. I wish this is not my last birth and I come back just to be around Dhyanalinga. When my Guru has chosen to be here for another 80 years in his subtle body, how can I miss the opportunity to be with him and have him use me for work?
Editor's Note: Watch this space every second Monday of the month as we share with you the journeys of Isha Brahmacharis in the series, "On the Path of the Divine."