Meetings with Great Yogis - Swami Shankaracharya interview by David Rivers
Meetings with Great Yogis
My first area of enquiry is into your initial contact with the awakened current. Can you tell me about the first stirrings of spiritual desire and the spiritual quest in your own life?
I was working in aerospace engineering in the mid-‘60s, which was when the psychedelic revolution and the hippie movement started in the United States. During that time, people were really looking for answers. I started spending time with them and that led me, in 1967, to begin a world-wide search for realized masters. In 1970, this search involved a year-long pilgrimage to India. I hitchhiked. It took a few months going overland to get there. In India, I wandered as a sadhu (renunciate) with no money and lived on temple prasad. Since then, there have been many trips to India.
After spending time with a number of yogis there, I brought back Guru Maharaj, who had just turned 13, to Boulder, Colorado and helped establish his Divine Light Mission in Denver.
In 1974, I went to see Baba Muktananda, who was on tour in the United States. The first day I went for his darshan he said, “You’ve worked for Guru Maharaj, now you’re going to work for me.” I thought, Wow! That’s amazing. How would he know that? I became strongly involved with Baba and eventually ran a center and gave Shaktipat for him. That was between ‘74 and ‘77. Coincidentally, it was at Baba’s ashram in Ganeshpuri that I first heard about Dhyanyogi and Anandamayi Ma. At that time, I didn’t think I’d ever meet either of those beings, who later became major influences in my life.
Later, when I was visiting a friend in California, I heard that Dhyanyogi was up the road at Chico, and we decided to go see him. When we first entered the house, he came out from another room and greeted me, saying, “So, you’ve come!”
It just so happened, on that particular visit, that he recited the seed sounds of the chakras for the first time in the United States. Each time he would repeat the sound I could feel it inside. It was a very strong experience. Baba Muktananda had a much larger organization, so it was a rare opportunity to be with a being of that magnitude in such a personal and intimate way. I couldn’t pass it. I decided to become his disciple.
Years later, while I was living in Westfork, Arkansas, Dhyanyogi came and stayed at my house. Besides being a great blessing, I found it very interesting, because at the last darshan with Baba, in 1977, he gave me a pair of blessed sandals and said, “You’ll run a large ashram and take many people across the sea (of samsara.) I’ll come and live in it. I’ll visit your house.” It was the Guru principle, coming in a different form. Baba said, “I’ll visit your house,” and Dhyanyogi came. During his stay, Dhyanyogi performed his once-a-year Navratri anushthan (9 days of austerities) in my meditation closet. Navratri is a time especially sacred to the Shakti. Here was Dhyanyogi, this great Siddha, staying in my bedroom, doing his once-a-year anushthan! And besides that, I was blessed to be able to give him daily massages. It was really strong.
After that, Kali started manifesting strongly in my meditations. Dhyanyogi suggested that I come and help him with the establishment of his ashram in Soquel, California. So I moved there. And, when he returned to India, I followed him. It was during that trip that I had the experience I call, “God Alone Is.”
How many years was that awakening from the time that you contacted the awakened current?
It was ‘67 to ‘81.