The Guru Who Came Down from the Mountain

By Roshen Dalal

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I reached his room and stood in the doorway watching him.He was lying in bed, his face exhausted, thin and pale. I had a brief recollection of how I had seen him last,he wasn’t tall as I am, but his yearsof yoga exercises had made him lithe and strong. What a transformation had taken place!I steeled my heart to feel no sympathy. I used my intellect to discard the reverential awe I had always felt for him. He was a fake, he had ruined thousands of people. I was no longer his disciple.

He opened his eyes and looked at me. ‘Ah, Nitya,’ he said. ‘You have come. Come here, come near me.’ He held out his hand.I took a few steps forward, but ignored his hand.He let it fall on his chest, and was silent.

‘You wanted to see me,’ I said. My voice was cold, I didn’t want to be in the same room ashim.

‘Why don’t you come closer,’ he said, ‘are you afraid of my disease?’

‘It’s not your disease I abhor,’ I said, ‘it’s you.’

‘High-sounding words and oh-so-righteous as usual,’ he replied. ‘Sowhat are you accusing me of?’

‘Do you still deny all those accusations Serina and othersmade against you?’

‘No, Nitya. I won’t deny everything now. I’m on my deathbed. But still I need your sympathy, and not all the accusations were correct.Haven’t we always had a good understanding?Haven’t I helped you, transformed you, cured you of the depression you were in when you joined me? Can you forget or deny all that?’

At times I asked myself why I could not be grateful and happy for what I had– a good job, a pleasant house, a wonderful loving wife. The answer came to me one day, something I knew all along, but had been suppressing. Gita did not love me. That was the reason why she did not want to have a child. And perhaps, perhaps she loved someone else? She had lived in Dehradun before we were married. Could she have met someone, been in love, but been forced by her parents to have an arranged marriage with me? Could she perhaps, even have had sex with someone else? I remembered that first time between us, so wondrous for me, Gita didn’t bleed or have any pain. I knew from my reading that that wasn’t essential, but still…

I could not bring myself to spy on her, but as the doubts grew in my heart, I had to ask her. ‘Do you love someone else, Gita? Is that why you will not have a child with me?’ Three months had passed since she had told me the story of Pururava and Urvashi. I held her hand as I asked the question, but I could not look at her. She was silent, and when I raised my eyes to her face, it was pale. ‘Well, Gita,’ I said, ‘won’t you answer my question?’

‘I do love someone, Manu,’ she said in a faint voice. ‘But it’s not what you think. It’s not a real person. It is someone who often appeared to me in dreams, both by night and in the day.’

‘Tell me about him,’ I said, feeling quite calm, and slightly superior. Dreams were no threat to me, surely. Of course, I hadn’t seen my own dream woman then, that would come later.
‘His name is Varun,’ Gita continued. ‘He is tall and slim and his face shines with an inner glow. He appeared to me first when I was thirteen yearsold. He told me I had been married to him for many lives in the past.But in this life, for some reason he was unable to explain, he could not take his birth in the world to be with me. He wanted that I should die young to be with him, but his Elderstold him to let me be. He did not wish me to marry. As soon as I saw him in my dream I fell in love with him. He was like the god Krishna, so glorious and handsome. He appeared to me almost every day until I was eighteen yearsold. Whenever I was alone, he would come to me. We walked and talked together, we shared everything. On my eighteenth birthday, he told me he had to go away for a while. I should not forget him, he would always love me, and one day he would come to me again. I didn’t forget him, but as one year passed and a second, I told myself perhaps these were childish imaginings. I felt very alone, for with him as a companion, I had not sought others. I could not tell the old brigadier who had paid for my education about my love, would he have believed me?He brought me several marriage proposals, but I refused to consider them. Many yearspassed without a glimpse of Varun and when the brigadiersuggested I marry you, I agreed. But the very day after our wedding Varun appeared to me again. Now I did not know whether to be happy or sad. But he consoled me. “We’ll be together in other lives”, he said, “not this one. The Elderswanted you to be married, and to this particular man. Be happy with him, but do not have a child. If you do, you will have to leave him. And nor will you be able to return to me immediately. I am giving you this warning because I know things you cannot know. I will teach you two mantras now, keep them secret. The first will prevent childbirth. The second will bring me to you, but only if it is an emergency, and that mantra can only be used once. This separation is necessary for us now, but one day we will be united in eternity.”

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