Without The Guru by Mike Finch
Excerpt pp 24 - 26: Mahatama Gurucharanand
It certainly seemed worth investigating. So a day or two later I went up to London to meet Mahatma Gurucharnanand, who was a `mahatma', one of Maharaji's main helpers and his representative in England. He had arrived in England as Maharaji's ambassador in October 1969. In fact, apart from some of Maharaji's disciples in South Africa, there were no others anywhere outside the Indian subcontinent. He was the first of Maharaji's mahatmas to go to the West, the first of many as it turned out, though we did not know that then.
He was living in a small basement apartment in West Kensington, London. I was immediately enchanted by him. He was dressed in the saffron robes of an Indian Yogi renunciate, with shaved head, radiant skin, a soft and beguiling voice, and shining eyes that suggested deep spiritual secrets. He appeared all that I had imagined a true Yogi to be, the picture I had of Yogi Ramacharaka, whose books I had devoured two years earlier.
I actually asked him if he had heard of Yogi Ramacharaka. After my slowly spelling out the name, at his request, he announced that not only had he not heard of him or his books, but that no such Indian name existed. Oh well, one dream down, but it seemed a small price to pay for all the other dreams that were beginning
to coalesce around this remarkable man, this mahatma, and his twelve year old guru.
The basement apartment was very small, with one bedroom where Mahatmaji slept. I, and most people, called him 'Mahatmaji', the suffix Ji being a mark of respect in India (similar to 'Guru Maharaj Ji', a contraction of 'Guru Maharaj Ji'). His full name, Mahatma Gurucharnanand, was too long for everyday use, and he later told me that he was happy not to use it, since it had the word 'guru' in it, and so some people mistook him for being a guru. The name in Sanskrit means "he who has bliss at the feet of the guru", which we all thought was a wonderful and a truly fitting name for him.
Apart from Mahatmaji's bedroom, which was the biggest room in the apartment, and where we all met to hear him talk, there was a small kitchen, and that was it. There was a small patch of garden at the back. We could hear the traffic on the main road going west out of London. the A4, which was only one block from the apartment; but it did not disturb us. Fortunately, the apartment was long and thin, so that there was a long corridor going all the way from the front door to the garden at the back, and it was in this corridor where many small and informal talks and meetings happened, amongst the piles of shoes which had to be taken off before their wearers could go into the 'satsang' room to hear Mahatmaji.
The word 'satsang' translates literally as 'the company of Truth', and it was the term we used to mean a meeting where *truth' was spoken, meaning a devotee of Maharaji talking about his guru and all things related. Of course, by far the most important satsang to hear at this point was that from Mahatmaji himself, Maharaji's representative in the West.
About this time I got a job driving buses, and every day after work I would drive the forty miles up to London to hear Mahatmaji speak. Perhaps up to fifty people would sometimes squash into his bedroom in an evening to hear him talk. He would sit on his bed, upright and cross-legged, and he held us enthralled - 'us' being an assorted
group of ex-beatniks, hippies, spiritual seekers, drop-outs, artists, the inquisitive, and people who had just wandered in off the street, wondering what was going on in this small basement apartment.
He talked of peace within, and the possibility of finding it; of the divine spark that was our true nature, and how Guru Maharaj Ji could lead us to it. He often told us stories of Hindu saints and their parables, sometimes having one of us read from the Hindu scriptures - the Ramayana or the Mahabharata, perhaps, or Ramakrishna's talks or the writings of Kabir or Guru Nanak.
But what was said at these evening satsang meetings was only a small part of it. The reason that I made the journey most evenings to sit in this small crowded bedroom, with smelly socks all around me, was the exuberance, the enthusiasm, the love, and feeling of just coming to my true home at last.
For there was no doubt that Mahatma Ji had a presence; he radiated hope and love and serenity. We all loved him. Because I was one of those rare visitors who actually had a car, during my days off work I often drove him to places. He would visit Hindu temples in and around London, for although his allegiance was to Guru Maharaj Ji, he was still a traditional Hindu renunciate, and all Hindus respected him and came to hear him talk at their local temple.
Not everyone loved the Mahatma, Finch is forgetting that the majority of people who came into contact with DLM mahatmas and members were very unimpressed and simply did not return. Finch soon had reason to understand that the "mahatma" was not a realised soul but a loveless fanatic when Gurucharanand rang Finch to tell him he was the worst of the worst and was disowned for his "crime" of marriage. Unfortunately Finch did not have the clarity to see that at the time.
Copyright (c) 2009 Michael Finch
All rights reserved.
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