The Naga Baba

“It is all bullshit. This Baba business,” he says while he rolls out his insanely long rasta hair. It must be almost double the length of his own body height. I can’t manage to hide a smile, not about the content of his words, but about the words he choses to express himself with. It is really the first time I am having a proper conversation with him. This Baba is a familiar face to me. I have seen him often, sometimes daily during the years of living here.

After an initial invitation by him for tea in his small hut, which I kindly refused during my phase of solitude, we somehow established a respectful wordless Namaste bow towards eachother whenever we occasionally take dips at Ganga Ji at the same time. I am relieved and grateful for this mutually established silent friendship over the years. Too often I meet overly eager “Babas” who urge to sit next to me, oblivious to my obvious attempt to sit in silence and meditation. They don’t mean wrong. It is just a natural curiosity that arises in many when they see a foreigner and white woman. “Where are you from?” is the most asked question I hear. Yet not from my familiar unknown Baba friend. We never asked questions till today when I finally sit in his hut.

From trivial conversation of “Where is your puppy?” “It was eaten by a leopard” to anecdotes of his life. When he was a six years old boy a Baba asked his parents for him, their son. It used to be an ancient custom: if a Guru asked his devotee to pass on their child into the Guru’s care-taking, they would often follow and respect his wish. It was the same fate for this Baba. From the young age of six years he was initiated into the spiritual path and became part of the Naga Tradition under his Guru’s guidance. Now he lives for many decades in this region of the Himalayas, seeing a once secluded jungle area turn into a rather urban setting. “Really, I like you very much” he proclaims repeatedly. His English is quite basic, so expressions rather blunt. “You respect our culture and the sacredness of Ganga. Each time you take a dip you wear proper clothes.” While in the West it is natural to jump into water with a bikini, here in India, women dress very differently; more so when in proximity of Sadhakas and Babas. Women wrap a big shawl fully around their body, exposing nothing more than bare arms. Often Westerners are simply not aware of different ways of living, dressing and expressing while mingling with people in India. It is highly unusual for Indian men to see cleavage, uncovered legs, tight clothes on women; at least still in the rural and most certainly in spiritual areas. Not all of the Sadhakas are yet firmly rooted within themselves and detached from their sense impressions. Most choose solitude in order to strengthen their internal awareness. It takes the migthest strength to exist without securities, identity and to give oneself entirely to the path of God and Self. Unless experienced, one can not comprehend the strength it takes and the sensitivities it invokes. It is the greatest achievement to be a Nobody! Steadily over time the mind of a Sadhaka acquires incomparable strength and purity. Yet once immersed in Sadhana and celibacy one’s entire system is very highly sensitive, to the tiniest impressions. Every little external encounter is internally perceived with manifold depth by them. Shaking hands, hugging, unnecessary trivial worldly conversations with Sadhakas should be avoided and their path respected.

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