by Upasevanam and Mahanidhi
Everything started in 2000. We were searching for something different but we didn’t know exactly what. My husband, Mahanidhi, had secretly been thinking about starting meditation. For me, beginning to meditate was like a "brick falling on my head." From morning to night, nothing else had any importance. Something had happened inside of us, but we didn’t know what we should do.
At that time I worked near a spiritual/esoteric bookshop, and every day I brought home two or three books. We spent hours and hours greedily reading them. In the meantime we were going to free meditation sessions in the same bookshop. It was nice but quite static, boring. It didn’t take us anywhere.
Our dissatisfaction was growing. We wanted a real Master, a living top-class Master. I used to cry every day because I was not born in the era of the Buddha, a real Master. Instead I was living in a period that was empty of living great Masters. Our life was bitter and it seemed hard to keep going.
We decided to move and change our life. We tried to find a spiritual community under the inner guidance of an ancient Master and work for our spiritual improvement. Every weekend we went here and there, but no spiritual community really touched our hearts. We visited all the most inspiring spiritual places in Italy, from north to south.
We were very tired and discouraged, but finally felt that our only possibilities were Auroville in India and a nice community in Scotland. We chose India because we felt some hope that we could find a living Master there. If this was impossible, we could decide to remain in Auroville, as Sri Aurobindo had been such a great Master.
In the meantime, we found a free meditation class by a student of Sri Chinmoy. The teacher in charge spoke about Guru, but we didn’t understand well who he really was. We thought he was a simple yogi. Plus, he was living in New York – so far away and such an unspiritual place! So we didn’t give much importance to that class; India was in our minds, as we felt our real Master was surely there! We had given our applications to be Sri Chinmoy’s disciples, but in our hearts we were thinking we would definitely move to India.
The classgiver told us that Sri Chinmoy would probably be in Pondicherry during that period. The place where he stayed with his brothers and sisters was very close to Auroville. We thought it could be nice to meet him there. I left my job and Mahanidhi took two months’ holiday.
In Auroville we found many nice seekers, but no one who could advise us about a "real Master." We decided to go to the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. Sri Chinmoy would surely be there. When we asked the man who checked our shoes in the garden of the Ashram about Sri Chinmoy, he was very happy to know that Sri Chinmoy was coming. He said: "I am a friend of Sri Chinmoy," and insisted on sending us to the office, where a man could give us the address of Sri Chinmoy’s brother. Sri Chinmoy could be at his brother’s home. We didn’t want to disturb anyone but this man insisted.
So Mahanidhi stayed in the garden, and I entered the Ashram office and asked for the person in charge. I found him and told him that Sri Chinmoy was coming. He was happy and wrote down the telephone number of Mantu, Sri Chinmoy’s brother. I didn’t want to telephone and disturb him, but he insisted and insisted many times. He also explained how to reach Mantu’s house. So I thanked him and left.
When we reached Auroville, we didn’t call for two days. After that we decided to ask if Sri Chinmoy was there or not. Mahanidhi called. Mantu answered.
"Hello. I took a Sri Chinmoy meditation class in Italy. I know that Sri Chinmoy might be there. Can we come there?"
"But…is Sri Chinmoy there?"
Mantu would not tell us that Guru was not there; he wanted just to receive us.
"Whenever you want!"
We waited two more days before deciding to go. Two other Italian seekers we came to know in Auroville wanted to join us, as well as the boy who connects Italy to Auroville. He was very enthusiastic. He told us: "Sri Chinmoy? Oh, he is an Avatar! Such good fortune to meet him!"
"Chinmoy" was written clearly on the wall next to the entrance door. Mahanidhi looked inside. From the door he could see Mantu seated at the end of the hallway. Mantu looked at him and beckoned to him to come in.
We went in and met him. He was very happy and radiant. He started to speak about Guru, showing us pictures everywhere and talking rapidly in good English. His enthusiasm was like a little child speaking about his great father. He was Guru’s best admirer. He was very happy to speak about Guru with a pride that never diminished. He told us that Guru was not there because he was actually with President Gorbachev. We listened to many things about Guru’s past and present, but our English was not very good, so we did not understand everything. A kind woman served us food and drinks.
After showing us all the rooms, Mantu asked us to meditate in the meditation room on the first floor, but we were ashamed to disturb such a sacred place. He insisted and insisted, so we finally agreed. We meditated in a small nice room. We received prasad, and then we thanked Mantu and gratefully left. Mantu and the woman who served us were incredibly kind.
Still we couldn’t clearly understand who Guru really was. We didn’t realise that opportunity was knocking at our door in our city at that very moment. We decided to find our Indian living Master outside Auroville. For the last two weeks of our trip, we visited several ashrams, but nothing grew in our hearts. Plus, we were quite frustrated because the time for returning home was fast approaching, and we had not found our Master! We had been accepted on Guru’s path two weeks earlier, but we did not know while we were in India.
On the last day of our journey, I was very sad because we had to go back to Italy without a Master. Mahanidhi tried to console me. That day, we had a final darshan in the last ashram. Then, something strange happened: flowing inside me, I felt quite a strong desire to return to Italy. The day of our departure happened to be April 13th, but we didn’t yet know anything about this special day, when Guru came to the West from India.
Just as we set our luggage on the floor of our home in Milano, the telephone rang. We were informed that our first real meeting as Guru’s disciples would be that very evening.