My Visit with Guruji

I sit in Prema Drala Ashram in Southern California and receive divine messages from Sri Pranananda’s picture, and write this guidance down in a notebook, as I look at his photo from my Ashram room. I have spent a couple of days in the Ashram, and now it’s time to leave. I pack my belongings, still feeling a little tired from all the shakti I have received here. Zimmaron (who arranged my visit to the Ashram) takes me to say goodbye to Sri Pranananda at his home, down the hill from the Ashram home where I am staying.
My two new friends I met in the Ashram from Australia, who are doing seva for the Guru, greet me as I walk into Sri Pranananda’s home.  I notice what a beautiful place it is, filled with light, air, and shakti. Also there is Samantha, who smiles at me and greets me, and in the background I hear the voices of children playing and see through the window a beautiful garden filled with tall green trees shading a beautiful flower-filled garden. Sri Pranananda is not yet in the room. I sit and stroke the beautiful pure-white cat; and the lovely dog, with her bandaged paw, comes to greet me and lifts her paw to greet me.  I feel the love in the room, and the Australians are smiling. Then Sri Pranananda appears, like an old friend... but he isn’t that really; he is the Beloved, to whom my Master has sent me to learn something. The Guru is full of joy and happy to see me, and we talk as he strokes the cat. The dog jumps up with love for his embrace, and he smiles and bends down to pat her.  We’re all so happy, and the atmosphere is electrifying.

Sri Pranananda wants to show me his garden, and Zimmaron follows with the camera to take pictures.  I know this is very rare, to ever spend precious close time such as this with a Guru. I am humbled, and stay very “aware,”  for I know that (always with a Master) they teach by telepathy; so, I’m waiting for the Beloved as he starts showing me his breathtakingly beautiful flowers—the upside down ones of pink, hanging near the open doors of his Ashram home; the other blooms, all of which Sri Pranananda lovingly touches. He then carefully removes one of the hanging pink blossoms. Then we walk down the pathway, and he bends down to pluck another lovely purple flower, one which is of equal magnificence, together with a red blossom. Then with his fingers, he delicately opens the petals of the flowers, and shows me how the Creator has designed each flower differently:  some petals with red and white streaks, some a darker red, some with magical streaks of white—all God’s arrangement of colors.  I pick up a brown and golden autumn leaf and a feather on the ground. The feather represents an angel close by. “We are walking on holy ground.” 

Then we approach the end of the garden, where brilliant hues of flowers greet us, and I just know as we go by that all the trees, flowers, and bushes are bowing down in adoration. Sri Pranananda shows me all around the Beloved’s garden, to the bottom of it, and then retraces his steps back towards the house. Halfway, he stretches out his hand to pluck two flowers off their branches. The first one is a little white gardenia; and the other is a big red hibiscus. Sri Pranananda places the little gardenia inside the protective leaves of the big hibiscus, and then hands them to me. I gaze at the sheer beauty of them both, the bigger hibiscus protecting the gardenia, and it seems as if the hibiscus is holding the tiny flower in its arms. I feel it is the secret symbol of being embraced forever in the Guru’s heart. No words are exchanged between Sri Pranananda and myself but, telepathically, I understand and smile knowingly. Sri Pranananda then leads me to his orange tree and takes two of the oranges from the tree and carries them back to the house.  Zimmaron and I follow him. I am in a dream of shakti bliss and sheer delight. Sri Pranananda washes, peels, and cuts the one orange in slices.  He then offers me a piece of orange.
I was not quite prepared for this gesture.  For anybody else, they would have been delighted to be offered a piece of orange. But for me it was quite a different matter. I know it was a karmic test. I stare at the piece of orange lying on a plate in front of me. My mind flashed back to the near-death experience I had in a hospital. I felt myself leaving my body, and the doctor and nurses were very concerned. I had just had emergency surgery, and was trying to recover. I was not allowed to see friends or family and was told I wasn’t getting better. I remember praying to God to heal me, and the next day at breakfast the doctor recommended that I drink orange juice after the surgery to build up my strength. I did, but I had an allergic reaction to the juice, and after a few swallows, I couldn’t finish it. Years later, when I tried to drink orange juice, I could not, as the memory always returned to that incident. Now, as I face Sri Pranananda with the orange, all these memories flood back into my consciousness. I panic inside.... How am I going to get out of eating this orange? I haven’t eaten oranges since that hospital stay, and now I’m been asked to eat this fruit.

I don’t know how to get out of it, without appearing impolite.
Sri Pranananda is cutting the orange up, then he hands me a slice.  My heart is beating rapidly, I don’t want to look at the orange, I don’t want anything to do with it. Sri Pranananda is bringing up all my old ‘stuff,’ and he looks at me knowingly. Slowly, I pick the piece of orange up, look at it, and place it back down on the plate in front of me.
I know I must pass this hurdle. Do I trust the Guru or not? Slowly, painstakingly, for the second time, I pick up the orange. I put the piece in my mouth, and slowly (as if it is a foreign object I have to eat), slowly I chew it, all the time hoping Sri Pranananda doesn’t see my discomfort. I know one should never refuse prasad that has been blessed by the Guru.... Finally, after I have swallowed the piece of orange, I see that I am still breathing normally again. I look around, breathe a sigh of relief. I feel alright; I am safe. Only a Guru could have finally helped me overcome this karma.

I breathed a sigh of relief, and thought, “Does Sri Pranananda know how difficult it is to act normal and eat around him, because, in an Avatar’s presence, one can hardly breathe and talk, let alone eat, for fear of losing the Guru’s shakti?"
Sri Pranananda talks and laughs with the two Australians who have spent the day taking care of his home and making sure his food is cooked and everything is in order. They are lovely and spiritually beautiful ladies in their 60’s, whom I’d met the night before and struck up an instant friendship. In the Ashram, devotees are drawn by the Guru’s love and share the wondrous communion of living together for one common purpose, to be closer to God.
Early meditation that morning in front of Sri Pranananda’s picture had all Ashramites present, and in the early morning light His presence was so keenly felt as we said our prayers of invocation and for world peace.
Back in Sri Pranananda’s home, I am struck by how beautiful everything is:  with Sathya Sai Baba’s photo adorning the wall; and in the living room two enormous purple crystals, almost five feet high, adorn the living room; and a picture of an exquisite landscape painted and gifted by an Australian devotee, who miraculously was cured in Sri Pranananda’s presence, stands shimmering on the wall. There is a photo of Mirabai, the South African Guru from my home country; and up the winding staircase, hanging on the wall, is a picture of Ammachi, the famous Indian Guru.

Sri Pranananda leads me back to the kitchen and says he has some photos to show me. He goes upstairs to his office and comes down with four of the most amazing photos I have ever seen, of himself with devotees:  one in a mountain setting, where a green emerald light appeared miraculously at his side, with the devotees looking on in awe, and the green pine trees swaying in the breeze; another is of a group of lovely devotees in Australia, with Sri Pranananda dressed in Tibetan robes; another is with two Australians being touched on the head by Sri Pranananda, where the whole of Sri Pranananda’s form appears as pure white light in front of these two devotees,  and all you see is this white light and not his physical form—truly a play of consciousness; then another snapshot with Sri Pranananda’s face appearing on the wall, in a mother’s home in Australia. I ask about this photo, and I am told the story of a young boy who, in distress, did not want to go to school that day. The mother, in despair, was praying to Sri Pranananda for help, and the Guru’s face suddenly appeared in an instant Polaroid photo which the distraught boy had just snapped of the wall. I was in awe looking at this photo of  Sri Pranananda silhouetted on the wall, bringing her comfort and reminding mother and son that yes, he was indeed close by, helping her with her son. I remember seeing a photo in which Sathya Sai Baba appeared in a cloud near an airplane in trouble, which Sai Baba rescued from going down. I look at these photos, so filled with shakti, as powerful reminders that indeed the Guru is always near us.
Sri Pranananda then addresses me, saying he has never done this before for a guest, but he would like to show me the rest of his home. With Zimmaron at my side, he takes me upstairs to his sacred quarters at the top of the house, which has one corner for Ariel, his nine-year-old daughter who looks so like him and who is a little Avatar herself. Near the sliding glass doors sits her little altar, filled with flowers, magical fairies, and the things that only children believe in. I look at the picture of the beautiful little Ariel, with a cherub’s face but eyes like her Dad’s, with the look of the Divine. Then Sri Pranananda shows me a picture of Ariel’s late brother (who also has Ariel’s innocence). Then the Guru shows me a photo of him and his son in Africa, where he had taken him on safari... they look so happy together. Afterwards, Sri Pranananda showed me the gorgeous picture of his wife, who lives in Hawaii with their children, and how beautiful she looked after their marriage. Sri Pranananda looks on with pride, then leads Zimmaron and I to look at the photos above his desk, of all the Saints and Masters who have played such an important part in his life. There are familiar faces, and as I peer at them I see the lineage that backs up Sri Pranananda, and the sacred journey he took with these Saints, with all the austerities, which made him what he is today. All the time, my heart chakra is opening and I am bowing in my heart to all these incarnations of the Divine, peering down from the wall. A book about the Sufi pathway lies on Sri Pranananda’s desk, as well as an angel ”thank you” card which I gave Sri Pranananda to thank him for my stay in his Ashram.
We listen to Pranananda tell stories of the Saints, and then I notice the painting of Jesus over his bed. It is the same one that hangs over my bed, which I purchased as a young woman. Bhagavan Sri Pranananda is sharing about his teachings, and I listen intently as we slowly go downstairs again, and I am drawn again to look at the photos he had been showing me. Then Sri Pranananda says I can have these photos, and puts them in an envelope and hands them to me.
There is one piece of orange left, as I am about to take my leave of the Ashram. Pranananda is encouraging me to eat it, and this time I gladly take him up on the offer.
The cat gets up and walks to the staircase, and I get up to pat it one more time, its white fur gleaming. I realize, as I check the time, that we have been over two and a half hours in the Guru’s home.
It’s time to say goodbye. Sri Pranananda hugs me and I hug him, and he gives me another orange to take, as well as the flowers he has picked, all having been lovingly placed in a box for me by one of the devotees. I marvel at God’s handwork in Sri Pranananda, as in the garden he’d shared his plans to revisit certain holy places, Saints, and shrines in India. As he spoke about this, with the sunlight on his face, he looked really Indian, like some of those great Saints, with that loving, peaceful look; but inside I felt, as he said goodbye to me, his face changed and took on the appearance of an Italian, and then a face like Jesus of Nazareth.  As I left the room, I felt surely I had been in the presence of a Divine Being and his angels. This time in my life, when I had cried out to God, “Are you hearing me?” he answered my prayer by allowing me to  meet  Sri Pranananda.
Zimmaron and I said our goodbyes to everyone around Sri Pranananda and headed for the car. Zimmaron is driving me, and carrying the flowers that Sri Pranananda picked from his garden (which he so lovingly packed for me, along with the two oranges, which are prasad). As we drive home I remember conversations that I had with Sri Pranananda’s devotees:  the importance of raw food diet for better health; to not drink coffee or alcohol, as it tears the aura, allowing demons, entities, and illness into the body. I remember the faces of Saints I saw etched in the floor when I looked down at the floor in Sri Pranananda’s home.

I am filled with shakti. I am no longer that person I was before meeting Sri Pranananda. He has given me a new life. As we drive to my home, we are quiet, Zimmaron and I, retaining the shakti of the Guru’s visit. I feel inside that I have experienced a portal of the Universe opening, and the Beloved showing himself, with all the compassion and love in the face of Sri Pranananda.

- J.H.
Los Angeles, CA
2 November 2010

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