Chapter 18

My Personal Journey To Truth

To attain enlightenment is the greatest service you can render to the planet.
Sai Baba

My Innocence?

I had been studying with a Kahuna master for over a year and had moved to Hawaii to immerse myself in his teachings. It was the summer of 1981, and what started out to be a normal day on the beautiful island of Oahu would change the course of my life forever. On that momentous day my teacher announced that there was an Avatar on the planet, an incarnation of God. In that pronouncement I recognized what I had been looking for, for a very long time. I just knew that God was on earth in human form and wanted with all my heart to be with Him. I was going to India to see Sai Baba.

A friend who had been to India to meet with his teacher advised me to travel with a group, as traveling alone was not advisable for a young woman (I was 26 at the time). I just assumed that Sai Baba would arrange. Within a few days a couple walked into Kapahulu Health Food Store where I worked the juice bar as chief cook and bottle washer. I spontaneously found myself asking out loud if they were going to India to see Sai Baba. They were as surprised as I that I should ask and in fact were headed to Baba’s very soon. Their group consisted of eight members and Baba had told them internally that He would be sending a ninth.

We arrived on February 2, 1982, and Baba was in Brindavan, His smaller ashram near Bangalore. My anticipation was at an all time high as this was the first time I would see God in human form. I expected fireworks, neon lights and a tingling sensation throughout my whole body and so much more. It would undoubtedly be the most incredible moment of my life. Finally out came this tiny elegant figure in His simple orange robe and shock of black Afro hair. He was grace in action, gentle and unassuming. I watched His every move. He spoke to some and took letters from others. His every gesture and word seemed suffused with loving kindness; so gracious, so effortless and so tender.  Then slowly, gracefully, He floated away.

I liked Him instantly. However, the experience fell far short of my expectations. There were no extraordinary feelings, sights or sounds. It was all so natural and lacking in sensation. As He was disappearing from view, I asked in my heart, “Is that it?” An inner voice, new and clear, which I immediately recognized as His, said tenderly, “When you know who you are, you will have some idea of who I am.” I had my assignment: to discover who I am. What a profound and simple communication.

The following day Baba asked how many in our group and where we were from. I told Him we were nine from Hawaii. It was a very natural conversation, as though I was talking to a dear friend and we’d known each other forever. He then said He would see us tomorrow. Our group was very excited. We ladies put on our best saris and completed our outfits with fresh flowers for our hair. The men were all in spotless white. When He came out, instead of calling us, Baba invited a group of forty devotees from Australia. As He was passing I asked if He was planning to see us. He said there were already too many and what could He do?

I was crestfallen and felt stood up. How could He promise and then not follow through? His name is Sathya Sai Baba - Sathya means truth. How could He lead us on? I was to learn that tomorrow was not necessarily to be taken literally; after all, time is not real. I stayed another six weeks and found I really liked Baba. In fact I fell head over heals in love. So I wrote Him a love letter letting Him know how wonderful I thought He was and how I appreciated His life of loving service to humanity. One day He was giving a talk to which I happened to take my letter. After the talk He walked up our aisle, right to me. It was such a surprise. He took my letter and looked into my eyes. I felt a transmission of the deepest love. For days I was transported into a state of sweet bliss.

Though I was smitten, I was young, restless and eager to visit all the holy sites in India. I went to Professor Kasturi, who had privately taught me the Gayatri mantra complete with perfect intonation and pronunciation. We had bonded and I adored him, seeing him as Baba’s most ardent devotee. I asked him to advise me where I should travel. He shook his head helplessly and said, “My child, this is the holiest spot in all of India, and even the whole world. Why go anywhere else?”

“But, Professor Kasturi, if Sai Baba is who He says He is, He is in my heart and will be with me wherever I go.”

 He shrugged his shoulders in resignation and gave me a list of his favorite sites in the North, so off I went. I visited the Shivananda Ashram in Rishikesh, saw Anandamoyi-Ma in Haridwar, and lived on a houseboat in Srinigar visiting all the beautiful mogul gardens there. I went to the Aurobindo Ashram in Nanital; to Bhodgaya, Buddha’s birthplace; to Ayodhya, Rama’s birthplace, and trekked the Himalayas of Nepal. Toward the end of my spiritually rich adventure, I lived for a month in a tent in an ashram in Phalgam in the Himalayas at about 10,000 feet elevation and followed their severe meditation practices.

As a service project I was asked to type letters to be sent to all the guru’s students, inviting them to come for Guru Purnima, a celebration honoring the teacher. As there was no facility for reproducing the letter, I manually typed each letter. After about the fiftieth invitation it dawned on me that I ought to see my guru for Guru Purnima. That was just days before the holy festival and I was way up North. Suddenly everything in me knew I had to be with Baba for that holy day and I hurriedly made the necessary arrangements. In my rush, I found myself flying from Delhi to Bangalore late at night. When asked where I was spending the night I conceded that I had made no plans. My questioner warned that it was very late and that Bangalore was not safe for foreigners at night. I trusted Baba to take care.

When I took my seat, the lady next to me struck up a conversation. I told her my destination. It just so happened that she was also going to Baba’s for Guru Purnima and I was welcome to accompany her. Would I like to be her house guest for the night? It all got taken care of without any effort, because I simply, innocently trusted Baba. When I arrived at her home, her walls were covered with pictures of Baba and other Avatars and great saints. Next morning we reached Prasanthi Nilayam and celebrated Guru Poornima with all the joy and honoring that the day represents.

I stayed on for a week after the celebration and then returned home. I had spent seven mind-expanding months in India and Nepal. It was a wonderful adventure and indeed Sai Baba was with me. Interestingly, during my travels a number of seers approached me all bearing a similar message: ‘Very special marriage, age 33.’ I had no intention to marry as I was on a spiritual quest. But after hearing the same future prediction five times, I found I could not overlook it.

A few years later, in an interview, I asked Baba if He thought it a good idea to marry. “Yes, yes, choose husband,” was His reply. I asked Him to choose for me, but He had already turned away and was talking to someone else. After the interview I sat on the steps to my flat and thought about who I would like to marry since the Lord had just given me cart blanche to marry whom ever I wished. I confided to Him in my heart, ‘I would like to marry Your most ardent devotee, someone who loves You as much as Professor Kasturi.’

‘How about Al Drucker?’ came a voice responding to my thoughts. I was startled and turned to see who was reading my mind, but there was no one. I knew of Mr. Drucker as I had attended his lectures to the overseas devotees. He was working as professor in Baba’s university and was very popular among the foreigners.

I didn’t trust that voice and thought it was probably my wild imagination. Up to that point I had regarded Mr. Drucker as an inspiring teacher who provoked deep thinking. Now my thoughts started to revolve around him more and more. Needless to say, it was not so much his teachings that were spinning around in my mind, but rather pure feelings of Divine love and joy. It was my secret though and I didn’t let on to anyone.

The next time I visited the ashram, our group was called up, but Baba singled me out and said very sweetly, “Not you.” I slithered off the verandah and wanted to disappear. Imagine what thousands of people must have thought of me at that moment. Three times with three different groups I was asked to leave in the same way. By the third humiliation, it dawned on me that Baba did not want me to ask my burning question about marriage to Drucker.

 I was determined not to move without Baba’s Divine direction. One day while I was living at a Sai center in California I happened to be accompanying a Sai devotee who was also living there, on her work route. She had undertaken a service project of visiting the elderly. Al’s mother was on her list. I had no idea that Helen Drucker lived right in my neighborhood. We struck up a conversation and became fast friends through our mutual interest in her darling son.

Just a tiny sidelight: Once Al was giving a lecture at an international conference of space scientists on a new missile project that he was instrumental in designing during his stint in the nuclear arms race. His mom was sitting in the back of the auditorium at her insistence that she be permitted to attend. Finally she could contain herself no longer and blurted out in a loud Jewish mama voice, “Mine son! Mine son!” Needless to say she didn’t get to attend any more of his lectures. He couldn’t have been more embarrassed or she more proud.

She invited me back to her home and asked me to read a book Al had published and sent to her. She coyly confessed that she couldn’t read. That started weekly visits. Later, her daughter Goldie became adamant that she move to a retirement home because Helen lived alone. Goldie was afraid she might fall and no one would know for days perhaps. Al’s mom was 96 years old at the time. She asked me and I agreed to move in with her. So there I was making some pretty bold moves into my secret love’s family’s hearts and homes. All part of God’s Divine plan unfolding perfectly?

Some time passed and again I went to see Sai Baba.  Again Baba called our group, and this time I didn’t get sent back. First thing He did was call me lazy. I was surprised, as I am by nature very industrious and self-motivated. I feared He was reprimanding me for loitering at the ashram for six months at a stretch. (I was spending half the year there in those days and the other half pulling together enough resources to go back to India to be with my beloved Baba).

During the small group portion of the interview, He asked how long I was planning to stay. It was September and I hesitated because of my earlier association between lazy and length of stay, but told Him I wished to stay through Christmas with His permission. He exclaimed, “Oh stay for Christmas, for birthday, for Dasara. This is your home. Stay as long as you like.” So sweet, and it cleared up any doubts that ‘lazy’ might be associated with tarrying too long at the ashram.

He started that semiprivate interview by asking if there were any questions, then leaning toward me He commented mischievously, “Spiritual questions only.”  When He got up to go, I was fairly exploding because even though I had promised not to ask, I wanted with all my heart to have some direct confirmation from Him. I blurted out, “Baba?” He playfully responded, “I know your question, I will tell later.” One month later He looked at me deeply, penetratingly, during darsan and then nodded, “Yes.”

By now my timid love had become an all-consuming flame. Four suspense-filled years had passed and I could hardly contain my secret any longer. Baba had called me lazy in the interview. I sat with that and what dawned was that He was directing me to go for the chase. So I wrote a ‘Dear Al’ letter, telling him everything. He happened to be ‘dying’ in the ashram hospital. I sent my letter with his aide and then felt I had done my duty, as I couldn’t possibly ever see him again. What an embarrassing position I found myself in.

As fate would have it, a close mutual friend was off to visit him and insisted that I come with her. I tried to resist, but she was persistent and so I resigned myself to seeing my beloved. As soon as we showed up he pulled me aside and laughingly joked, “So you’re in love with a dying man?” I blushed and words failed me. When we left, I found myself sobbing uncontrollably. At darsan Baba looked at me and I knew everything was going to be all right. In fact Al soon returned to the USA where he made a complete recovery.

And now I was on a mission to land the man I loved. Thus started a barrage of letters intent on persuading Al to marry me. Twice previously he had been instructed not to marry. Baba had told him on a number of occasions, “No ladies.” Baba had also informed him that he didn’t need marriage. So he had concluded that he had been Divinely directed not to marry. It was hard work to try to persuade him otherwise.

Many looked to Al as guide, counselor, healer and storyteller. Some referred to him as the ‘Prince of Prasanthi.’ He was older than me by nearly 28 years, being over 60 at that time. His background was Jewish, mine, Christian. He was brilliant. I was naive at best. I was shy, awkward, a simple preschool teacher and a farmer’s daughter. I had no worldly qualifications to speak of to be going after this ‘very prominent’ Sai devotee. The odds against my convincing him were pretty ridiculous. It was an impossible situation and yet the love I felt for him directed my every move.

Al had been catapulted out of India on his 60th birthday, accused of being a spy, and so was now going back and forth between India and USA. Before that shift, he had lived at the ashram for 8 years, teaching in Baba’s university, giving lectures to foreigners, conducting study circles for the other professors and designing educational programs that were being adopted in universities all over India. When he was in the US, he would come to visit his mom who I just happened to be living with. Each visit, I’d come bounding out of the house to greet him and he’d start off very formal, stiff and protective. By the end of the visit, we were laughing and loving each other. Next visit, it would start all over again. But despite his hesitation, he found joy in my company as I did in his and he warmed up to the idea of our sharing our lives together.

In the fall of 1988, Al returned to the ashram and I followed a few months later after finishing my teaching responsibilities. In February of 1989, at the coconut stand at Baba’s ashram, I confided to Al my plans for return to USA. He happened to be flying back on the same airline on the same day and we became a couple. Back in California, we enjoyed the Big Sur Coast for several months and then came to stay with Al’s mom. She was 98 and we doted on her until her passing. After putting her affairs in order, I wanted nothing more than to go to the ashram for Baba’s blessings. I wanted very much for Al to come along. He was reluctant. I persisted and he came. When we arrived, Baba was in Brindavan. As He walked by, He gave Al a quick frown. Next day when Al reached the gate, attendants blocked his entry. He was not permitted inside the ashram. He went to Puttaparti where he had a flat and stayed there for a few days. Our group was called for an interview. Inside the interview room, I asked, “Baba, may Al Drucker and I have Your blessings to marry?” He retorted gruffly, “Why do you want to marry that man? His body is filled with cancer.” I responded, “I love him, I’ll take care of him.” He shouted back, “You’re worse than an animal!” I was not alone and that pronouncement spread through the ashram like wildfire. I was branded the seductress who had stolen Baba’s boy.

Previous interchanges with Baba had been the purest, sweetest love, but now it was time to go to work. Once in a dream Baba and I were in the forest playing hide and seek. It was so much fun. Then He came face-to-face, so close and laughingly asked, “Will you play with Me like this when I’m Prema Sai?” (Prema Sai is to be His next incarnation – Baba’s mission of planetary transformation will span three incarnations of which the present is the second). “Oh, no, Swami, I want to BE Prema Sai with You.” He seemed pleased, though compassionate in my behalf, and commented, “That won’t be so easy.” I had been warned.

Al and I married and a year later, on my next visit to the ashram I wanted more than anything for Baba to take Al back. I asked the office to please request in my behalf. One hour later, two tall strapping men knocked on the door and asked if I was Mrs. Drucker. I acknowledged that I was and there upon was asked to leave immediately. Their instruction came direct from Baba. He told them I was a disgrace to the ashram.

 Before my trip I had paid a visit to a friend who happened to have a new deck of tarot cards. He asked me to pull one. I pulled ‘disgrace.’ He said, “Great card! It means God’s grace. Dis or Dios means God.” It seemed a stretch at the time, but when I heard that pronouncement, I immediately remembered and took my dismissal as God’s grace. Was this drama all God’s grace unfolding as part of His Divine plan to help me relive that moment of terror when I traded in paradise for hell, so that my error could finally be healed?

A year after I was thrown out, I felt the urge to go to the ashram again. With trepidation, I arrived. Baba called me in for an interview. Al had just finished the Sai Baba Gita book. I gave Baba a copy. He looked through it slowly and seemed very pleased. He didn’t say anything and I couldn’t resist plucking up the courage to ask if Drucker could come back to the ashram. “Why?” He asked gruffly. “Because he loves You, Baba.” He said some strong words and then raised His hand as if to strike me on the cheek. He stopped just short and then turned abruptly away.

I was holding onto His feet. As He briskly turned away, His feet didn’t flinch. There was no tension in them at all. The message seemed to be, ‘hold on to the feet,’ the idea being that no matter what it looks like on the outside, peace and succor can be found in that which doesn’t change. I was totally surrendered and trusted that He knew best. After He turned away, another lady in the room said, “Baba, I love You.” Immediate He responded with all the sweetness of a thousand mothers, “I love you too.” There was no anger whatsoever, though He had appeared livid moments before.

The next year I was back for more. I was resilient and never stopped loving Baba or trusting His inscrutable ways. Another interview - this time I was smarter. I determined I would not ask about Al and thereby avoid another clobbering. But to my surprise, He asked very sweetly “How is husband?” and tears of relief tumbled down my cheeks. “He’s fine, Baba; he sends his love.” He gently patted me on the head.

On my next visit, Baba manifested the ring for me detailed in Chapter 9. He was restoring my self-worth. In a subsequent interview during the same visit, He sweetly asked, “I made ring, you like?” “Oh Baba it is beautiful and I love You very much.” He answered, “I love you too.” Then He went into a blissful trance and the whole room was transported into ecstasy. Later, He looked at me as though to elicit a question, which spontaneously, effortlessly, flowed from my lips without any forethought, “Baba, I long for husband to come back to the ashram.” “I know your longing. He is a good man, a very good man, and YOU are always working for Me.”

A Course In Miracles Deepens Understanding

Back at home a couple moved into the neighborhood and started A Course in Miracles study group. We both attended the first meeting and then I continued to meet with the group. When I again left for the ashram Al decided to attend in my place. Upon my return to the USA, the ideas in the course had taken hold and he was impassioned. We started to go to workshops in Roscoe, New York and Sedona, Arizona. We held study circles in our home after the couple that got us started moved on. We found ourselves living, breathing, studying and teaching the course. And we were filtering it through our own understandings, thus found ourselves differing on what Jesus meant in many of the passages.

When next I went to the ashram in the spring of 1999, I took the book with me and read it from cover to cover. Upon leaving Baba appeared in a dream. “Baba, I’m studying A Course In Miracles,” I blurted out excitedly.

“Yes, yes, I know, very, very happy. But you haven’t understood it in your gut.” He pointed to His tummy. “Don’t worry. I’m sending you a teacher.” I find it interesting that He didn’t say that I hadn’t gotten it in my head or heart. It was in my loins that I was to get it, in the deepest recesses of my being. I also think it interesting that He used the word, ‘gut,’ as Baba is very refined. It turns out that the teacher He sent, by contrast, was coarse, and so ‘gut’ was to confirm that I was not mistaken when, after some time, I had doubts about whether this was really the teacher He had in mind.

Upon my return to USA, Al told me about a teacher of a group that was studying the course. They would hold a function in San Francisco shortly. He had already booked a flight and I was welcome to join him, so I did. I liked the teacher and the group. They seemed dedicated, loving and full of joy. We joined their academy for the summer of ‘99. Most people at the academy stay on in a total commitment, giving up all previous connections and giving themselves fully to the teachings of the course as interpreted by their teacher. It was great. We felt alive again, having been given a new purpose and a greater extended family.

By the end of the summer we proceeded to our residence in Colorado. Months later when I again left for India, Al returned to the academy. I took my course book with me. This time as I read it, the pages jumped out at me as never before. I fairly drank them in. I was experiencing epiphany after epiphany, revelation after revelation. Everything came together. My summer at the academy had opened the door to profound and deep understandings. It was the catalyst that drove me to do my own inner research. I was looking for support for what resonated deep in my heart as it differed from the way Jesus’ teachings were being presented at the academy. On my own, I would never have bothered to search so deeply. The teacher was the irritant that would produce a pearl, which made him the perfect teacher for motivating me to understand the course in the very essence of my being.

On a subsequent trip to Baba’s ashram in 2001, I had a most profound spiritual awakening. I saw the underpinnings of the whole ego thought system and emerged free. I exploded into light. It was such a liberating moment and precious gift. Every detail of the drama leading up to this moment had been a perfect prop for my enlightenment. Mariah, a psychic friend sitting next to me, whispered, “Yaani, whatever it is, your aura has just expanded to infinity and you are shooting off sparks of love and joy to all humanity.” In that moment I understood everything both in my personal life and for all of humanity. All my doubts about who I am and what my purpose is disappeared. It was as though the code had been broken and ego stood exposed. Ego was seen as the nothingness it has always been. It was a glorious, victorious moment.

During that same trip, I had another powerful experience - a dream with the teacher of A Course in Miracles assigned to me by Baba in an earlier dream. In this dream, he had just finished his teaching session and requested me to dance with him. As we twirled around the room I couldn’t help but notice that all the faces looking on were glowing in the recognition of the power for good for the whole of humanity that our coming together signified. Then we came to a standstill and our minds totally merged in a surge of energy that caused my body to collapse to the floor. There was a deep sense of his total honoring of Al as my husband, and a perfect equality with no taint of him in the role of teacher or me in that of student. It was an experience of utter purity and the deepest compassion in service to all humanity. I awoke with my whole body trembling and my kundalini vibrating as I have never experienced before or since. It was so beautiful and confirming of the heavenly experience of two minds perfectly joined as one in truth.

Confirmation Of Enlightenment

In the summer of 2002, I took off for the Himalayas. It was a surprise to me, as it was the last thing I thought I’d ever be guided to do. My friend Deva clairvoyantly directed me that this was my next step. When I asked for what purpose could I possibly have to go there, she responded, “For marriage to Shiva.” She also said something about needing to anchor in my enlightenment. After much resistance on my part and much support from the universe, I took the leap.

Upon arriving in Delhi, I traveled by bus to Rishikesh and then from Rishikesh to Gangotri. The scenery was as spectacular as the hairpin curves were treacherous. I went during monsoon season. There were torrential downpours where the heavens fairly opened. Frequently the roads were washed out and we would find ourselves stuck for perhaps several hours on the side of the mountain, about as far from civilization as one could ever hope to be. There’s something thrilling about it actually. Monsoon season generally lasts from mid-July through mid-September. Then it gets sunny again for two months before winter sets in and everything closes down for the season. The up side of my timing, beginning of August, was that there were hardly any tourists.

When I arrived in Gangotri, I took a room at Mandakini Hotel, fairly clean and decent. There is no electricity so one has to adjust. They turn a generator on when it gets dark, which gives you only lights and also noise. Living conditions are appallingly stark for the shopkeepers and guides. After a few days, I shifted to Yog Niketan, an ashram, where I had my own little cabin. It was cozy and offered spectacular views of the jagged peaks from my door. You can telephone, but no opportunity to e-mail, so communicating with the outside world is not easy. I liked not having the temptation, as I really went for my God connection and gave myself a break from my focus on personal matters.

In Gangotri, I bathed in the River Ganga, sat on her banks and took lots of hikes. The scenery is breath taking and there are plenty of trails to enjoy. There are also lots of babas to visit. I discovered a few genuine ones, but most of them were not really renunciates in my opinion. The mauni (silent) babas were gesticulating wildly with their hands, or writing in the sand and there was a lot of smoking of gange (pot). Some even confessed that they were attempting to blow out their lungs so they could get to God more quickly - I don’t think so. Almost all of them wanted something from me, a white face. When I asked the purpose for their renunciation, there was rarely a lofty answer.

I met one young man whose company I enjoyed very much. His name is Lakshmana and he shared his experiences of his teacher. It turns out his teacher was Ramakrishna in a previous birth. In this life his name was Sri Ram Sharma Acharaya. He recently left his body, but had some fascinating experiences with the Rishis in the Himalayas. His account helped me to appreciate just how fortunate I was to be there. The rishis directed him to keep a candle lit 24 hours a day and to chant Gayatri for the uplift of all humanity, as well as eat a simple diet consisting mostly of specially prepared barley. I adopted his practice with the eternal flame and the Gayatri while in the energy of the rishis. It was so effortless. The Himalayas are a huge repository of spiritual vibration and while there I found spiritual focus naturally became foreground and life’s vicissitudes simply lost their hold.

On the 13th day I went to Tapovan where the great Rishis are said to reside. The trek from Gangotri is about 24 kilometers. You can arrange to have guides lead the way and horses to carry your packs. I went on foot with Bhagavan (God) as my companion. When I neared Gomuk, the headwaters of the Ganges, I was warned not to cross the glacier without a guide as it was breaking up and there were unexpected and dangerous crevices. I trusted Swami to take care and indeed when I arrived at Gomuk, there was a man with a guide who invited me to join him after he had his bath. I took the opportunity while waiting to bathe as well and then we embarked on the one-kilometer crossing of the glacier, followed by a very steep ascent at high altitude. Tapovan is at 13,000 feet elevation.

There are some babas living in caves, though they generally don’t give darshan to the tourists, as they are continuously absorbed in the Absolute. The air was so charged and the energy so clean, that I reacted to my thoughts as though they were violations. But Gayatri came effortlessly. I spent the night in a cave with a mata-ji who cooked extraordinarily delicious food for us – a miracle considering where we were. Next morning the sky was crystal clear and Shivalinga Peak stood unveiled in all his majesty. It was truly a spectacle to behold and a rare blessing that the sky was so blue and free of rain or clouds. Every day I had asked Baba if I should make the ascent and was directed internally to wait. The day He finally gave the go-ahead was the first clear day.

On the way down, I met Steve from England, who invited me to join him in his vehicle back down to Uttar Kashi. It had been exactly two weeks and Deva had said that I would be given the next step in two weeks. Gangotri had been a perfect indoctrination, with the swirling gush of the mighty River Ganga hurling pell-mell from its source nourishing and enveloping me and filling me with its power. Even at Gomuk, now the source of the headwaters, the river made its entry with tremendous force. The glaciers have receded some 18 kilometers from Gangotri since the Ganga alighted on Shiva’s crown thousands of years earlier, as the story goes. Ganga is a mighty river, huge and powerful, interlaced with several gorgeous picturesque waterfalls in Gangotri.

Lakshmana, the friend I met earlier, lived in Uttar Kashi and had invited me to visit him. He had returned about a week earlier. So I took a hotel room nearby and stayed for a few days and read his teacher’s book, My Life and Inheritance. In it he talked of Kedarnath as a strong Shiva spot and as I was keen to go for Shiva energy, I felt led to go to Kedarnath next. I took the bus to Gaurikunj, the last point for vehicles. On the way someone told me to visit Triyugi Narayan, a nearby hamlet, as that was purported to have been the place where Shiva and Parvati had married thousands of years earlier. That sparked my interest as I was always looking for clues to what Deva meant by marriage to Shiva.

I felt a yearning to have some clear confirmation that I was really on track in being in the Himalayas as I still felt uncertain about needing to go anywhere to get anything. On the five-kilometer trek to Triyugi Narayan I asked for a sign. I prayed, “Baba, if You are with me, please show me by feeding me lunch.” When I arrived I was shown the marriage spot where there is now a pandal and beautifully embossed stone. There is also an eternal flame and a fire pit in a very ancient temple. It was explained to me that Shiva and Parvati walked around the pit seven times. I asked if I could walk around it. The priest asked where my husband was. I persisted. So with Shiva before me, behind me, within me, above me and around me, I walked the fire pit ceremoniously seven times. I put on my shoes and started to leave, when a renunciate called me over. I asked if he wanted Dakshina, (money) as I was kind of tired of all the babas pestering for something or other because of my white face. He laughed and assured me he only wanted to extend his love and to meet me as his sister. His genuineness warmed my heart.

After some chatting, I asked his purpose. He said he was praying for a vision of Parvati, Shiva’s consort. He invited me to have lunch with him. He bustled around fixing the most delicious and wholesome food and fed me till I was nearly bursting, and then still he wanted to feed me more. He was so childlike, innocent, joyful and pure. It was very refreshing to meet him. Then, worshipfully, with sacred chants, he put sandal paste, kumkum and vibhuti on my forehead and reverently anointed me with oils of a heavenly fragrance. He treated me like sister and also Goddess. So he was not only praying for a vision of the Goddess, he was seeing the Goddess in his sister. I walked away totally transported, saying to Baba, “I only asked for lunch and you gave me everything.”

The next day I was up at 5 am and reached Kedarnath by 9 am, after an 18 kilometer trek. On the way, I exchanged greetings, “Jay Kedarnath,” and “Bum Bum Bole,” with the other pilgrims on the trail. We were all joyfully transporting each other Godward. By the time I reached the temple I was so ecstatic I was fairly walking on air. I reverently took off my shoes and pack and went into the temple to pay my respects to the different deities.  At one point someone behind me insisted I take a bindi (a red dot worn on the middle of the forehead). I thought he felt I would be more respectful by wearing it in the temple, so I placed it on my forehead. No, that was not his intention. It was customary to use it for worship of the next deity - Parvati, Shiva’s consort. I assured Parvati that I honored her holy union and that I had no intention of stealing her husband from her.

Kedarnath being complete, I took the bus to Badrinath. The ashram director at Gaurikunj had insisted I not miss Badrinath, as I was so close. As I alighted the bus, I made eye contact with a very striking young man from Hydrabad traveling with his younger brother. There was an instant recognition, although we had not met earlier. At the first landslide we had a chance to talk. In the course of our conversation he informed me that he was a Yogananda devotee and had had visions of Yogananda and Leheri Mahasye as well as the immortal Baba-ji. Shailendra described some powerful kundalini and third eye experiences which he had undergone. He also mentioned that he had had an inner visitation from me. I did not remember, but there was a definite connection.

We visited the temple in Badrinath together. Every time I stepped inside the temple my whole body would start to tingle and I felt as though I was about to lift off. I came to find out that twenty years earlier Sai Baba had installed a Shiva lingam (a very sacred egg shaped object of worship). Shailendra, his brother and I also visited several caves, including Veda - Vyas’ cave and Ganesh’s cave. They were all very transporting but there was one particular baba’s cave that was more than profoundly uplifting. When we stepped inside, I found my hands raising up on their own and I actually had to sit on them. My whole body seemed to have become light. The shakti was phenomenal and I could have stayed forever. When we finally got up to leave, the baba wanted to give us each some prasad (blessed food) as is typically done upon departure.

One of the baba’s disciples had distracted me with a question, so Shailendra said, “Hey Yaani, I think Baba wants to give you something.”  When we were outside Shailendra said, “You have just been blessed by the Gods.” I responded, “That energy was out of this world.” He said, “I’m not talking about the energy, I’m talking about what is in your hand.” In my hand was a rudraksha bead. He explained how that bead was a gift from Lord Shiva.

It is significant that he saw what the baba was giving me, while I was distracted, or else he would not have known that I had received this gift. On my own I would not have given it any importance. Neither he nor his brother received a rudraksha bead. The rudraksha bead is held sacred in all of India but especially in the Himalayas. Many babas string them into 108 bead garlands to wear around their necks and use for doing japa, repetition of God’s sacred name. Shailendra pointed out that the bead is rare and known to be Shiva’s signature and that customarily the prasad consists solely of food. This seemed no ordinary happenstance.

Shailendra went on to explain that when he was in Kedarnath, he had what he described to be a powerful awakening experience, but rather than be a self-proclaimed enlightened one, he prayed to the Gods to give him a rudraksha bead to confirm his enlightenment. Then he would have no doubts. So, he immediately recognized that I was being confirmed, to my astonishment. Shailendra proceeded to tell me that the purpose for which I had come to the Himalayas was now complete.

I protested because I didn’t want to abort my assignment prematurely. I had spent less than a month in the Himalayas all told. He said, “Don’t take my word for it. Meditate on it. I feel you should go to your guru and thank him for the wonderful blessing that has been achieved.” I got truth bumps all over my body and suddenly there was no need to stay a moment longer.

Before I’d left for the Himalayas, I had asked Baba in my heart if I should come to see Him also. He said at that time, “See Me in the Himalayas. No need to come to Prasanthi.” So I didn’t pack any saris or bring any of the other paraphernalia for going to Baba’s. Of course that was a blessing, as I traveled much lighter. But as soon as I got the word, I flew post haste to Prashanthi Nilayam.

A few days after reaching Baba’s ashram, a friend, Madhu, who has a gift of vision, asked why I was not wearing my mangala sutra (a necklace Indian women wear as a sign of marriage). She had seen it on me the first few days I was there and now assumed that I must have taken it off, for she saw me without it. In fact, at no point during that trip was I wearing a necklace.

When Baba spoke to me, it was only to ask where I was from. I told Him I’d come from USA. Again He asked, so I responded, “From You Baba,” as I recognize Him to be my source. He walked away saying, “USA”. Later while having dinner with Franchesca, another dear friend, also a spiritually developed sensitive, I shared my short exchange. She responded that Baba was assigning me to USA.

I also recounted to Franchesca my recent trip to the Himalayas, finishing with Madhu’s noticing a nonexistent necklace. Franchesca suggested that she was seeing an ethereal chain confirming my marriage to Shiva.  All Indian women wear one when they get married and never take it off, therefore Madhu was concerned when she thought I had taken mine off. Shiva dances on the head of ego and that is what marriage to Shiva means to me. I hope this book has inspired you to wake up by dancing on ego’s head and by marrying the Divine within you.

Thank You dear Sai Baba for your love, and for helping me to see ego as the imposter that causes all our needless suffering. May everyone become free of ego’s seductions and be restored to self-love, the kind that flows freely into the hearts and minds of all humanity uniting us all with each other and with God. May love be reestablished on earth now as it was always meant to be.

May all beings in all the worlds be happy and blest, Amen.