I just sent out an e mail that had several pictures in it, they were of Shirdi and Satya Sai Baba, Mother Mary and Jesus the Christ, White Buffalo Calf Woman, Lord Ganesha and his Brother Subramanyan, Archangel Michael and Lord Venkateshwara.
I felt pretty happy with the e mail and glad that the presence of the exalted ones was shown through the pictures. I then spent the rest of the evening working on a write up for JAMM ( jungle alliance of medicine and music) a non profit that I founded last year in Peru with gods grace. Suddenly I felt the urge to type in the words I love God and then go on to describe why I love god. This went on for a while and I did not know why I was doing this until I typed in I love Lord Ram and then I felt an immensely strong presence coursing through my arms into my hands onto the keyboard and I knew who it was. It was Lord Hanuman, my childhood idol, my constant goal, my hero. My mother used to sing a song to me when I was a young child that I would repeat over and over again," Ram loves Sita and Sita love Ram and they both love Hanuman. Oh, Hanuman, oh Hanuman, don´t you want to be like Hanuman? Oh, Hanuman, oh Hanuman, don´t you want to be like Hanuman?"
I grew up and got into drugs and alcohol, I dived deep into the cesspool and enjoyed it. I was addicted to cocaine and my heart slowly closed its doors. Ten years went by and finally I (with help from my father) left my addictions behind and went back to India. I had grown up in Varanasi and knew it quite well, I went to the Shiva temples and never forgot to give flowers to the statues of Lord Ganesha but my favorite was Sankat Mochan, the sacred and very ancient temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman.
I would go there in the early mornings, preferably on Tuesdays or Saturdays which are Lord Hanumans days. I would buy sweet ladoos, tulsi flowers and Sindoor paste and give them to the priest who would then place them on Hanumans statue and give me a little back. Oh those ladoos tasted sweeter to me as I knew that Hanumanji had them first. I would then walk out the temple and sit with a blind singer chanting melodious offerings to Shri Anjaneya, Lord Hanuman, Pavana Kumara, son of the wind. All the pilgrims to the temple would then press small coins and offerings into his hand and give thanks for his devotion. Blissed out, I would head home happy and content.
One day I woke up feeling guilty and ashamed. I was feeling the symptoms of withdrawal to the drug which had held me upright for the past ten years. When ever I felt or had to deal with something I would do another line and there, that was taken care of and hidden away in the collection of mismatched boxes and drawers of unanswered emotions and hidden prayers in my heart.
The feelings were so strong, I felt incapacitated and lonely, I had no one to talk to that could understand me or been through my experience. My sadness grew like a veil and pretty soon all I could do was think about how God had deserted me, I blamed him for all of my troubles and ills. God seemed like a bad word and I reveled in the luxurious feeling of blaming someone else for my problems. After a while I started walking without having a clear destination, my feet walked as of their own accord and pretty soon I was at Sankat Mochan, Lord Hanumans temple. I had cursed my whole existence on the way over and played scenario after scenario in my mind where God had deserted me and now here I was at his temple and not happy about it.
I entered the temple without buying any offerings for Hanuman, I stalked into the main courtyard and looked straight at his bright orange paste covered statue and proceeded to roundly insult him, mentally throwing the choicest words of my street vocabulary at him, sparing no names or descriptions I unburdened my anger at Hanumanji, saying, "you were never there for me, if you had been there I would never have hurt so many people, done so many bad things or have gone through so much pain!" I walked over to a dais on the other side of the temple with a view of the statue and closed my eyes and started to meditate or in this case think out loud with my eyes closed!
A few minutes later I hear a bunch of commotion around me, the noise had ceased in the temple and everything became quiet, something touched my thigh and I opened my eyes and looked straight into the dark and wizened face of an old and majestic Lemur Monkey. I had been bitten by an aggressive monkey many years ago and knew from experience that it is not polite to look a monkey straight in the eyes. I glanced at his hand on my thigh, it was almost human like with long fingers and a black Palm, the heat coming from his hand was so comforting, I could see the lines going across its palm and I could feel the lemurs gaze as he looked long and deep into me , his golden mane framing his face. As I surreptitiously looked at him through my downcast eyes I saw something that took my breath away. Tears were slowly falling down his cheeks and my heart raced as the boxes and mismatched drawers started to feel the warmth of love, I thought to myself " oh I did it now, I really upset Lord Hanuman, I am going to get it know" The Lemur ambled away from me across the dais to a place where an old man was reciting the Hanuman Chalisa ( a sacred scripture dedicated to Lord Hanuman) with his eyes closed, the sacred monkey who could be no one else but Lord Hanuman placed both his hands on his devotees feet and sat there. The man upon opening his eyes burst into tears, you could have heard a pin drop, the temple was silent and everyone stood with their palms in the prayer position looking on at the beautiful display of love going on. The lemur gracefully walked across the temple with his tail curled high to finally sit in front of the statue of Hanuman and proceeded to look at the statue and then at me a few times and then he ran up a tree next to the Deity and promptly vanished.
I sat there in awe, my heart pounding and as the blood raced through my body, I felt awake and alive as I had not felt in years. Hanuman had healed my heart. As Iwalked out of the temple I came upon the blind man singing his songs to the lord, I remarked upon my experience and he spoke of the same monkey coming to help him cross the busy intersection that is in front of the temple, stopping traffic as it held on to his arm and briskly ambled through the rickshaws,taxis and people to leave the singer in front of the temple gates.
Many years later when I first went to see Satya Sai Baba, he took a packet of letters from me, the top one being a postcard where a mother Lemur monkey was nursing a baby one. I had dedicated it to Lord Hanuman, thanking him for his love. Sai Baba held the letters in his hand and gazed at it or through it and promptly gave them back to me piercing me with his dark eyes. I did not know what to think, were my letters received or did I do something wrong? Six years later I can happily say that yes they were read and all that was written has been spiritually edited, that which I had asked for and not needed has been removed and that which I receive and experience is beautiful and sometimes hard and surprising but never with out the deep and loving touch of Sai Baba. So when I falter and feel confused I look at Hanuman and see his courage and how he opens his heart to show his devotion to Lord Ram. Let us be like Hanuman being courageous enough to open our hearts to love and devotion.