January 21, 1988 was different from all other days. Usually we came to see U.G. and talk about our seemingly endless personal problems, but this day we were all assembled to discuss U.G.'s problem. His difficulty was strange: why had we for so many years come to him again and again despite his repeated announcement that he could not help us at all, that he had no wares to sell, that we were wasting our time if we thought we would get anything? He said that he could not make himself available to people for this reason. He added that he wanted it made absolutely clear that what he was saying should never be given any spiritual or mystical overtones by us. Whatever he said was to be stripped clean of any and all religious content, period.

I, unfortunately, happened to be sitting right under his nose. So, looking for someone to direct his rage, he said to me, "Why do you come day after day, wasting your money, knowing that you can't get a thing here? Why do you and others come here for years in spite of my rude, blunt cynicism, my insults, and open refusals to offer you any solutions for your problems?"

Suddenly turning to me he said, "Lady, you please give me one reason why you come here." "I like you," I said. "But I don't like you," he responded. It was like a slap in the face. I was quite piqued even after he tried to console me by saying that he jolly well understood our sentiments, but that it was impossible for him to reciprocate anyone's feelings. The great summit meeting went on, everyone offering solutions to the problem, only to have U.G. brush them all aside.

The problem remained unsolved. U.G. gave up trying to get any help from us. An idle car on the road led U.G. to suggest that I go home. This was the end, and I, as had happened many times before, vowed never to look at his face again. "Why single out my face? Is it so bad as that?" asked an innocent-looking U.G. The next morning every trace of anger had vanished. I was waiting for a call from U.G. with prayers and expectation.

When, to my undiluted delight, the call came, he told me that Mahesh was in the same mood (the same foul mood and with the same resolution never to see U.G. again as he had the night before), and that I should grab Mittu, my notebook, and make haste to Poornakuti. As I entered the room a heated conversation on enlightenment as ultimate pleasure was well under way. This time the animated questioner was a German, very intent upon convincing U.G. of his seriousness and ardent desire for enlightenment. U.G. did not spare him: "You have chosen a fine form of escape for yourself, but there is nothing superior about it. You should stop fooling yourself if you think you are helping the world in any way. You are only adding to the already existing confusion in the world.

U.G. then broke off his conversation with the German and asked me to read from my notes to the assembled group. Nagaraj went up in arms. Whenever I was asked to read from my notes he would slip out for a smoke, admitting that he was thoroughly bored with my repeated narrations. Anyway, I had no choice in the matter. Mahesh seemed quite pleased with a few points that he had not heard before.

Mahesh then asked U.G. for a quick review of the new book coming out entitled Mind is a Myth. "Any fool who buys and reads that book is wasting his time and money." Mahesh repeated this line at least a dozen times until it began to sound like a nursery rhyme.

Lunch was soon over, and the obsession with the idle car arose once again. Plans were laid to take the kids and ladies to the Ashoka Hotel so that we could watch the video cassette in Mahesh's room. Mahesh could not understand the need to put the car to use and said, "I must put my hands to use and strangle somebody." We made it to Mahesh's room and enjoyed some coffee at his expense. As the video blared Brahmachariji, Chandrasekhar, Suguna, and Subramanya all showed up, making conversation nearly impossible. We watched "Moonlighting", a movie about a lady trying to get a black belt in Judo, an accomplishment that could not happen soon enough for U.G. He, however, recommended the next movie, "Moonstruck", as much superior. But once again plans were soon made to return to Poornakuti, as the car was once again sitting idle. Its disuse had become a joke by that time. Upon our return I was once again asked to read from my notes, to the delight of Subramanya and the disgust of Nagaraj who went out for a timely smoke. U.G. suddenly announced that he would take up the challenge of seeing to it that my notes would see the light of day, if not in India then in America.

Mr. Subramanya asked if he could bring in some professors from the Institute of Science of the Bangalore University to meet and talk with U.G. Apparently he did not notice the obvious fatigue on U.G.'s face. U.G. diplomatically deferred the matter to the next day. Nagaraj asked U.G. why, if he was serious about not meeting with people, he continued to make fresh appointments. U.G. said that in spite of the fact that he was not in the least interested in gathering people around him, he was not capable of saying "No." Nagaraj gave up, saying that he did not know what to make of it all. When Nagaraj said he was sorry for pushing the idea U.G. forgave him even before he had asked for forgiveness.

Ram Nam, munching papads, and natal charts....

It's really great fun to have Mahesh around. That day was a special one, and we were all having chapatis in his honor. Nobody cared for or paid much attention to U.G.'s "Down with Hindi" refrain and his "nothing from the North" broadsides. Chandrasekhar was busy trying his hand at operating the video camera, which made me very self-conscious while he taped me eating. U.G., oblivious of the camera's prying eye, happily munched his papads.

Between bites he told Mahesh that he had given me a new mantra which was sure to send me into instant ecstasy. Everyone sat up and listened as U.G. recited it: "Ram nam bore hai, bhakti mukti jhoot hai." Everyone, including U.G., joined in the hearty laughter.

The next day we were discussing the astrological chart made by an Italian astrologer who had never met or even heard of U.G. Nevertheless, the predictions and character analysis was remarkably coinciding with U.G.'s actual life and behavior patterns. We all found it most interesting and fascinating.

A visit from a troubled J.K. fan....

The next morning there were not many people around, and it promised, for a change, to be a quiet, uneventful day. But soon a Mr. Hinduja arrived, and after polite enquiries about each others' health and the like, he finally came out with his question. He was a seasoned and disillusioned J. K. fan, and all the years of attending J. K.'s talks had obviously not helped him at all. So here he was asking U.G. why the mind remained such a problem for us. I was all ears as U.G. began his unprepared response in a very natural way. He said, "The mind is a disease. Any medicine that you try is only going to prolong the suffering. Its only effect is to keep the disease going a little longer. The death of the mind will free you from suffering at once. But you do not want to die. Actually, you seem to enjoy the suffering, and that is why you continue looking for some medicines which will give you relief. Of course, the doctors and medicine makers have to make a living and will take full advantage of your hopeless situation.

I was so happy listening to all this. But after a few moments of silence the man asked another question: "Are you always happy, Sir?" U.G. instantly shot back, "I really do not know what happiness is. So I can be neither happy nor its opposite, unhappy."

Hanging out with the Poornakuti gang....

The next afternoon I was a bit tired from teaching simple interest problems to my daughter who was having her arithmetic tests the following Monday. So, after finishing lunch, I was enjoying a well earned snooze when the phone rang. Rudely awakened, I heard U.G.'s voice on the line. It was worth being disturbed. He said that the conference there was interesting, that Brahmachariji, Adri, Nagaraj, and the rest of the gang were all there and in good form. That was enough for me. The sleepiness and laziness flew out the window, and within the hour I had joined the group.

I entered to find U.G. and Brahmachariji sitting on the cane chairs, Nagaraj relaxing in the corner, Lalubhai sitting calmly in another corner, and Adri sitting on the floor close to U.G.

Of horrible men, palaces, and chanting slokas....

There is no end to the jokes and laughter with the lively combination of U.G. and Brahmachariji. U.G. asked Brahmachariji if he, after knowing him for some twenty years, "really, honestly, truthfully and sincerely" thought U.G. was a `horrible man'. Brahmachariji hesitated momentarily as we eagerly awaited his answer. He hedged around the question and said that courtesy demanded that he kept his opinions private. Then Lalubhai, trying to be very helpful, said, "Do you have any other word to describe U.G. than the word `horrible'?" We all found that a very witty remark and laughed heartily.

U.G. then enquired Brahmachariji why he kept coming all these years, despite the fact that he did not agree with one simple thing that U.G. had said. Before Brahmachariji could think of an answer Nagaraj asked U.G. why he could not throw Brahmachariji out of his system. The simple answer came: "I just don't want to. It was, after all, he who brought me to Bangalore and made it possible for me and Valentine to establish a home here. I am forever thankful for this."

Nagaraj then asked U.G. why he didn't provide for Brahmachariji's material needs. U.G. held forth thus: "I would turn this house into a palace for him" Brahmachariji inserted a vociferous "But..." at this point, and U.G. continued, "I would provide him with anything he wanted, but my gratitude is so overwhelming that nothing which money could buy could ever express it. U.G. doubled up with laughter, so pleased was he with his joke.

U.G. got up, went to the cupboard where the "archives" were kept, and pulled out the poem Brahmachariji had written about him back in 1979. U.G. read aloud some of the verses. He read the part which expressed Brahmachariji's frustration and bewilderment of trying to spell out just exactly what U.G. was, a Madhawa or a Mareecha, a God or a Devil. He also patiently read out U.G.'s astrological predictions penned by Brahmachariji as well.

Suddenly U.G. asked for a pen and a paper. He said that there were circular movements of energy starting from the inner corner of his eye, and another which commenced from his ear, which operated on different levels but never clashed with one another. Both circular movements ended in the forehead region. He asked Brahmachariji if he knew of any sacred verses that referred to this curious movement. Brahmachariji and Shashidhar began chanting some slokas that described the various gods which resided in the hands, ears, eyes, etc. U.G. sat quietly with his eyes and said, "All those verses were no doubt written by aspirants who wanted very much to be `there'. But assuming that someone is there, then all these descriptions are of no value whatsoever to that person. Further, it is very disturbing to his body, because the very act of describing creates an unnatural division there. Once the division takes place it creates a painful tension in the forehead, which the body is obliged to handle in its own way. There is no `individual' there to handle anything."

Generalizing, he went on to say that these chantings are of no use to this person, or to the person who thinks that through chanting he can attain some wished for spiritual goal. In fact, the very chanting itself becomes the obstacle. It is the same with anger, greed, and other emotions which, when regarded as things to be free from, become their own obstacles.

He turned to Nagaraj and said, "Don't try to be free from the so-called negative emotions--greed, anger, lust, fear, etc.--let them remain, leave them alone. When you are free from anger then you will find yourself freed from property, relatives, children, etc. also. I myself resolved everything into just one burning question: `Is there really something called enlightenment?' Nothing else mattered. I did not attain moksha or enlightenment, which were my goals. The question just burned itself out. The very demand to know the answer to that question, and to be `free' from anything was entirely absent, that's all." We all found these flowing, crystal-clear statements most interesting and instructive.

Bhujangas, special treatment, and a devoted friend....

U.G.'s body always went through changes during the full moon. He was telling the assembled gang that the swellings had already started, and showed us the rope-like band of swellings around his neck. He said that on Shivaratri day the swellings took the form of a cobra. He surmised that this was probably the reason why pictures of Shiva showed a coiled cobra around his neck. He insisted that these were purely physiological manifestations, having absolutely nothing to do with mysticism or spirituality, and merely showed that such an `individual' was open to and affected by everything around him. He didn't have to do a thing.

Nagaraj pursued, "How are we different from you, U.G.?"

U.G. answered, "It is the same for you, Sir. You are in no way different from me. It is only because you have created a thought barrier around your fictitious self that nothing physical takes place there."

We all found this most inspiring and relaxing. To me it was certainly worth missing my afternoon nap, and I felt lucky to be a participant.

Brahmachariji was in a hurry to leave for an appointment with his brother with whom he had promised to spend the weekend. But U.G. kept him there for another hour, showering hospitality upon him. He offered fresh idlis, coffee, and charges for his taxi. After Brahmachariji made his belated departure, Nagaraj asked U.G. why Brahmachariji received such special treatment. "I have nothing against him, but I am determined that Suguna not be burdened unnecessarily. I don't want Brahmachariji to feel that he has any right to hospitality. I have never failed in anything so miserably as in my attempts to wean Chandrasekhar from him. With many others I have succeeded, but not with him."

Crying for help, bodies washing ashore, and hard-core movies....

The second book of U.G.'s conversations, Mind is a Myth, was about to come out, but the whole thing was being delayed, primarily due to the negligence of the publisher. The date for the release of the book had been publicly announced, and the ministers had all been invited to help inaugurate its release. The publisher had fallen behind schedule, so he was getting desperate and crying for help. He was ringing up U.G. every three hours from Goa, seeking his advice and counsel. U.G. was the least involved, saying he was not really in the picture at all. He raged that the first book was a mistake and the second was unnecessary, and that he had nothing to do with the whole business of publishing and printing. True, he had not even read the first book, The Mystique of Enlightenment, and depended upon its readers to tell him what it was all about. The only thing he knew was that the size of the audience increased after its release.

Sometimes I would hear U.G. talking to Goa on the phone, "The publisher, the printer, and the distributor can all jump in the river in Goa. But don't try jumping into the sea. The salt water will make your bodies float, and there would always then be the possibility that the stinking bodies might wash ashore!" Woe to the poor man on the other end of the line! After putting down the receiver, U.G. walked calmly upstairs asking me if I knew the name of the large river running through Goa. He made me jot it down for him and spelled it out loudly, "Mandavi."

Jack Nicholson, sex cassettes, and cheap fuel....

The conversation rolled on in a meandering way and somehow J. Krishnamurti's name came up. U.G. quoted American actor Jack Nicholson who said that the difference between the `60s and the `80s is that now the Krishnamurti tapes are played in between the hard-core sex movies. Just then Mr. Ramaswami arrived and discussed his visit to the ophthalmologist in Madras, who informed him that his left eye was almost gone. U.G. gaily asked if the right eye was to follow. They got on to the subject of T.V. programs. Ramaswami expressed surprise that U.G. had never seen even one J. K. tape on the T.V. when he was in the United States. U.G. asked him if he had ever watched hard-core sex movies. R. said that he did not. "There," ejaculated U.G., "How could you have seen J.K.'s tape cassettes when they are always presented between two porno movies? No wonder you missed them." He enjoyed Ramaswami's bewildered look, and, turning towards me, laughed with joy at the hilarity of the moment.

Not satisfied, he went on to tell Ramaswami that the cremating of human bodies was a waste, because some scientists had recently discovered that the bodies could be made to produce a cheap fuel if submerged in an acid. He thought it a fine way to remember your ancestors, because every time you turned on the gas you could say "That's my grandmother" or "That's my great grandfather." It doesn't seem nearly as funny when written down; you had to be there. Ramaswamy had had enough for one day, and took his leave. In high spirits we marched down to see what was awaiting us for lunch.

Valentine, Lalubhai, and Jnanadeva....

Mr. Lalubhai had accompanied U.G. from Bombay, and I was curious to see him. As I entered the room I noticed that U.G. had had a hair cut and looked different. I was introduced to the quiet man sitting beside him. They were watching the Republic Day of Switzerland on the TV Valentine, a Swiss citizen, was enjoying it. But before long she lost patience and left the room. Soon she was busy trying to revive her old socks. U.G. asked me to keep an eye on her. Almost like a little baby she was trying to remove her socks without help from someone. She finally succeeded at the task. U.G. said, "See, that's the intelligence I am talking about."

After some time U.G. asked Valentine to come and sit out on the sofa. With her memory loss and advanced age, she resisted such efforts, but found herself inexplicably seated next to U.G. on the sofa. She looked at him and said that he was "worse than disgusting" for giving her all this trouble. She laughed and appeared to be in a good mood. Then U.G. joked about her age, asking her if she was eighty or fifteen. "Are you eighty? Are you seventy? Are you sixty?....Are you fifteen? Are you fifteen Valentine?" U.G. repeated. Valentine seemed to recognize the joke and laughed. Of course she had no idea, but, as far as I could tell, she seemed to be enjoying the whole thing. Lalubhai joined us for lunch. While we ate he mentioned that he enjoyed reading the classic book Jnaneshwari written by Jnanadeva, a Marathi saint, but since meeting U.G. had found himself unable to read it or any similar books. I said that it was not at all surprising.

Dead palmists....

The next day I was preparing once again to visit U.G. at Poornakuti when in walked a good friend who was keen on palmistry and astrology. She offered to accompany me to U.G.'s. I warned her that a famous astrologer had died a few days after seeing him and attempting to read his palm. She replied that since she was already very sick and had many complications, it didn't matter to her. So we set off.

She was not invited to read U.G.'s palm, but was content just to meet him. As I had suspected, the moment U.G. learned that she had a working knowledge of palmistry, he eagerly stretched out his hand for her to see. He was enthusiastic as he held his upturned palms, acting as if his whole future and well-being depended upon her predictions.

U.G. often acts interested in astrology and palmistry, and very convincingly at that. He starts with questions like, "Will I travel? Will I see foreign lands? Will money come pouring in?" She said that there were only two lines indicating travel to foreign lands, that money would never be a problem for him as he would not feel the need for it, and that he had a very strong mind. I asked him if he had a mind at all. He answered that if it was a strong mind, he certainly had it, otherwise he did not have a mind at all. She said that there were signs of there being many breaks in his education. He repeated his favorite line, "I am an illiterate." I had sincerely believed this line when I first met him years before. I had read somewhere that the highest saints and sages had not attended school or read beyond the fourth grade. So I was pleased when U.G. wrote his initials on a piece of paper for me, and was duly impressed at his fine command of English. I had no inkling of his background, and did not know that he was pulling my leg. I said to him, "Geniuses never have time to become literate."

The whole afternoon was spent in the same easy, frivolous way. My friend was thoroughly pleased. I knew she was hooked! As we were leaving U.G. suggested that I come by the next day, and to bring my daughter. I reminded him that the next day was Shivaratri. He said that we would be all the more welcome, as we would be fasting and would not be a burden on our gracious hostess, Suguna.

Throwing it all away....

It was Maha Shivaratri. I left for U.G.'s as early as my mundane duties would permit. I reached K.R. road around 10 O'clock. When I arrived I found Shashidhar and Satyanarayana ready to chant slokas and Chandrasekhar preparing the video camera. The crowd was larger than I had hoped and expected. I had my heart set on some Japa and getting into my best religious mood for the great day. I wondered what the day would bring, knowing it would be in the company of the unpredictable U.G.

Before long the drone of the chanting commenced. U.G. sat quietly with his eyes closed. Arhat sat cross-legged. Shivaram snoozed, Lalubhai was, as usual, the patient spectator, and Mittu worked on her arithmetic. I allowed myself to be pleasantly lulled by the singsong of the chanting. The Vedas were being chanted, but they found it difficult to synchronize with one another. They pleaded that they were amateurs and should not be measured on the same scale as the professionals.

As the chanting concluded U.G. said that there was some reference in the Vedas which asked one to throw everything away. But it was flawed in that it was part of a suggestion of a path for some aspirant to follow.

Satyanarayana then read out a verse from the Vedas which stated that an enlightened individual functioned in an entirely different way. It went on to say that such a person's every utterance becomes the Vedas.

U.G. added that such a person need not quote any authorities, and whatever was there should stand or fall of its own merit without any outside support. Such a person would not write any commentaries on the Gita, or any such text. Therefore, all those teachers, including Shankara, Madhvacharya, and Ramanujacharya, were just intellectual metaphysicians. He remarked how surprising it was that they could interepret the same text in so many different ways.

Then they discussed the various ways of defining Sanskrit words. U.G. told us about the pundits who sit on the banks of the Ganges and have hairsplitting discussions on the real meaning of certain words, or how a particular acharya used a certain word.

U.G. then talked about Satya Sai Baba and how painful it must be for him to vomit up so many lingams. He went on and on about it. I protested at length saying that it all sounded like blasphemy to me, especially since I was quite devoted to Shirdi Sai Baba since my childhood, and had come from a family of Baba devotees. I refused to write all these nasty things U. G. said about the saints whom I still very much revered. Lalubhai was listening to my heartfelt protestations and interceded with, "Lingam-vomiting is not nasty, but is actually a very heroic deed and a thing of great valor."

I told Lalubhai about some of the famous saints and sages I had met in my life. I mentioned Nisargadatta Maharaj. Lalubhai said he had also met him. He had asked the revered sage why he chain-smoked beedies. The latter replied that he smoked them only if and when his son brought some, otherwise he did not smoke them. U.G. had chimed, "He could not escape the consequences of smoking."

Nagaraj was genuinely surprised at the large number of saints I had met and asked me to total them up and give him a number. U.G. blasted away saying, "There are as many as there are hairs on her head. I can tell you that getting rid of them will be a very painful process."

Deterioration in human values....

One morning, Dr. Modi, a renowned eye surgeon who had performed many eye operations free by setting up camps all over India, came to see U.G., and I happened to be amongst the fortunate audience. Dr. Modi asked U.G. why there was a certain deterioration in human values. U. G. replied, "Human nature being what it is, what can you expect? Falseness of human values has ended up in the Church, the monarchy, and politics. We have elected and placed men in power, and with the very same power they will destroy everything. It is nothing but the power game. All heritage is born of a diseased mind. Man is corrupt and lays the blame at the feet of the coined word "heritage". The unwillingness to change with the changing times you call tradition."

Dr. Modi asked about love and compassion. U.G. answered, "`Love thy neighbor as thyself'--more people have been killed in the name of love than anything else. You can't love your neighbor as yourself and even if by chance you do, your neighbor does not love you. He loves what you have." U.G. continued, "There is nothing but greed in operation. Indians are the most mercenary people, and yet you say you don't touch money with your hands. Anybody who talks of tradition should be shot at sight. The whole of mankind is taking a certain path to doom. You can't reverse it individually. And collectively it would mean war."

"Anyway," added U.G., "I always say that man, when he is alive is useful to the doctors or the holy men, and when dead he is useful to nature. Nature uses the dead bodies to recycle matter."

Dr. Modi listened to all this attentively and finally said, "Sir, I am fully blind. Please help me see." U.G. humbly replied, "I am not competent enough to do the operation. I can only tell you that there is nothing wrong with your eye and no operation is necessary." But the doctor persisted that U.G. should suggest some therapy for his spiritual malady. U.G. said, "The therapy is the disease."

The doctor finally got up and took leave. The conversation of U.G. with the eye doctor enabled the rest of us to "see" things clearly.

Souvenirs of extracted teeth....

It was before U.G. moved to his new residence, when he was still at West Anjaneya Street, that he decided that since his teeth were becoming loose he would have them out and get a set of false teeth made. There was a very devoted group of foreigners who offered their car to take him to the dentist and another lady eye doctor who insisted on accompanying them. Now what I am relating is just what U.G. had told me, and I don't know how far take him seriously.

He said that the foreigners, the eye doctor, and U.G. himself all trooped into the dentist's room, much to the bewilderment of the dentist. As U.G. opened his mouth and surrendered himself to the surprised dentist, the foreigners stood before him and showed him the photo of "Lord Rama," their deity of choice. I really don't know why they did that, because U.G. hardly ever taps on any outside source for his undaunting courage. Neither did the dentist need Rama's help to pull out loosened teeth. At the same time the lady doctor, U.G.'s foremost devotee, almost got herself electrocuted because she stepped on the electric wire connected to the dentist's chair, all in the eagerness to collect U.G.'s extracted teeth as souvenirs, reminding you of the temple in Candy (Sri Lanka) built over the tooth of the Buddha.

Purging U.G. out of the system....

While all this was happening I had one of my angry bouts against U.G., and had managed to stay away for at least a fortnight. On the sixteenth victorious day, I was tempted to see the tiger in his lair especially because the ferocious one had lost all his fangs!

U.G. greeted me with a toothless smile. As I flaunted my 16-day victory of independence, he said, "Tell me truly and honestly, how often were you tempted to use the phone?" Yet I would not openly admit how irresistible his power over me was, teeth or no teeth!

Finally he added, "I just can't get my teeth into anybody now." When I told him that one day (I don't know when that might be), I would finally purge my system of his very name, he said calmly, "You won't succeed; it just isn't possible."

Anyway, these sudden outbursts of anger always drive me to attempt to wipe him out from my memory. But there are times when I have thanked my stars for having met the only man on the planet who has his two feet solidly planted on the terra firma.

Speaking about this anger that burned me because of his absolute indifference (from my point of view), I remember one day when Nagaraj, Chandrasekhar, U.G., myself, and Brahmachariji were just having an idle chat after lunch. I asked U.G. if it really did not matter to him if he never saw my face again. This was many years ago, before I knew him well enough and when I still craved for some human emotions from the bottomless pit of the `walking computer'.

U.G., of course, replied callously that if he never ever saw my face again he would not, in the least, be concerned over it. Then I remember how childishly I sprang to my feet and exclaimed, "U.G. Krishnamurti, I am sick and tired of your callous behavior. I'll never ever set my eyes on you." He replied, "If you really mean what you say, you won't wait to give your parting speech."

As was expected it was a tremendous struggle to keep away from him. I ended up with a toothache and antibiotic capsules which made me sicker. Finally I acted the prodigal son, not knowing what welcome I would get.

I can recall the embarrassment as I climbed up the stairs, dreading the moment of meeting him face to face and wondering how I would explain my presence after my great proclamation on the previous day. U.G.'s behavior revived my faith in the Bible. He jumped up and said, "Nagaraj, look who's here!" The first thing I said was, "I am on antibiotics and feel weak and hungry." U.G. went into the kitchen, got me some hot coffee and upma (made of couscous) and watched me as I gobbled it all up gratefully.

Talking about teeth, I laughed when U.G. remarked, "I was happy when all my teeth were gone, and thought it saved me the bother of brushing them and taking care of them, but these false teeth need more fuss to be done about them than the natural ones!"

Controlling emotions....

It was a Sunday and Chandrasekhar had his privileged holiday. We were all on the sit-out and basking in the warm sunshine. U.G. as usual remained silent and unaware of what everyone else is doing around him when Chandrasekhar suddenly said something about emotions. U.G. had remarked that same morning that man is nothing but a computer but refuses to accept the fact. So reminding him of the statement he had made Chandrasekhar said, "Unfortunately or fortunately this human computer has emotions and feelings."

U.G. said, "That is the misery of man. That is the neurotic condition. All your religions condemn emotion. There are no good or bad emotions--all emotions are bad. Why do you want to control the emotions? Anyway, you are not dealing with emotions. All you do is sit there and talk about anger or jealousy. Anger as such is something you don't know. You are all the time controlling, suppressing, living with or choicelessly aware--you are all the time doing something with what is not there any more. It is already gone. It is the thinking that results in hitting somebody--your child, for example--and not the anger. You are attributing it to something that is not there any longer. That has set in motion this nonsensical movement of thought. So it is not the anger but the frustration that is your problem. You are not dealing with desire. Desire is life. If you destroy desire you are destroying life. It is there--not must be there--whether you like it or not. Have you freed yourself from desire? Don't say `good desires', `bad desires', `spiritual desires' and `material desires'. They are all the same. What you are going to do with the desires is all that you are interested in."

We were a very serious audience to all this, but suddenly Kalyani came in and started dancing around the room clapping her hands. Looking at her U.G. continued, "You are a neurotic and she is a clinical case. I don't see any difference. You too are talking within yourself all the time. She is talking aloud, so you call her a mad woman and put here in the asylum. There is some consistency in what you are thinking which she does not have. So here there are organized trains, in her head express trains, so you think she is loony. Somebody in the loony bin says, "I'm Jesus," and you sit here and say, `So-ham, I am That.' What's the difference? You are doing exactly the same thing."

Nagaraj who was sitting quietly all this time said, "U.G., what exactly are you trying to put across?" U.G. replied, "Depends on you, not on me. This you don't seem to understand. You are the only medium through which I can express myself. That medium I don't like because that medium is translating this into religious terms. That's not what I am. So try somewhere else or someone else. It is very much my concern not to sit here and waste my time. I don't want you to fit me in a religious framework. Any other framework will do. That's the point I am trying to hammer. So what does it matter whether you are here or there, talk to us or to some ash man or someone else?

I will meet you again in 1990....

One evening it was quite late when a friend of Chandrasekhar brought along a famous astrologer and with him a strange group consisting of an American lady, a Negress, and an orange-robed sannyasin. It took us quite some time to get used to this assortment, but U.G. was quite at ease with his natural smile of welcome. He did not speak a single word till the orange-robed sannyasin asked him a few questions to which he replied quite courteously. The Swami then came out with a strange statement. He told U.G. that he was sure that they would meet each other again in April 1990. U.G. asked him how he could be so sure, but the latter insisted that he was certain about his prediction. U.G. joked and said, "I am not sure, I will be there at all, in 1990." But the Swami exclaimed, "I will meet you wherever you are." That was the end of this strange episode.


One day my sisters planned an outing to a nearby picnic spot. We arranged for a van, since with all the kids and the rest of the family, the cars were not enough. U.G. was in Bangalore and I very much wished that all of us could see him before we proceeded to Talakadu Lakes. Anyway, I did not dare to declare my wishes because no one else in my family was such an ardent devotee of U.G. except Mittu and myself. The rest of them were just in a great hurry to start on the trip. Much to my surprise, the van took the same road as the one along U.G.'s house, and even more surprising was the fact that I saw U.G. walking along the road. I immediately asked for the van to stop and each of us got off. U.G. shook hands with everyone and wished us an enjoyable picnic day.

This incident reminds me about the time I had asked U.G. if there was anything to telepathy. He asked why I was interested in all that. I had announced that if I had telepathic powers I could contact and converse with him wherever he was. Much to my disappointment he answered that writing letters was much easier. But there are times when I have thought strongly about him he has responded in some fashion or other.

At a loss for words....

U.G. related a funny incident about his Italian friend Paolo's brother. U.G. is never usually at a loss for words, but there was a situation when even he could not find the right answers. It seems that once he mentioned that do what you may you could not get into the `natural state', because whatever you may have happened to do or not do would just be another obstacle in the way, and such a thing, if it happened at all, struck one in a billion. Then Paolo's brother apparently asked him, "U.G., we are four billion here. You are one. Who are the other three?" There was a pin-drop silence before the truth and humor of the statement hit the rest of the audience, and U.G. for the first time in his life was at a complete loss for words.

Your fear is your obstacle....

Arhat, an artist and photographer who was previously in the Rajneesh camp, now having deserted it for good, happened to visit U.G. He has taken beautiful photographs of U.G. and even helped to make the jacket for the new book Mind is a Myth. I was there when he had asked U.G. something about his experience of terrible fear during his meditation sessions. He questioned U.G. about this and U.G. replied, "The body has to go through actual physical dying, if you have to come into your own. The fear that you felt prevented the possibility of the experience of death. Every feeling, every experience, everything that everybody felt and experienced before has become a part of your being and has to be completely flushed out. But you can't make this happen through any volition on your part. It is the fear of yourself as you know yourself coming to an end that prevented that from happening. If you had gone through the death experience, then the whole organism would have fallen into its own natural rhythm, which is discontinuous, disconnected, and disjointed. The continuity of thought would have been broken. Sorry Arhat, you missed the bus."

U.G. continued, "That is why I am saying that all those teachers are false and their teaching is phony. I am not saying I am superior to all of them. Not at all. They are false, period, full stop, full period. I am not saying I have a teaching, that I am here to save mankind. It is false as far as you are concerned, but if you say that what I am saying is false because the others are right, then you are on the same merry-go-round. I have freed myself from the burden, this choking of the entire past of mankind--that's all. I don't use that for any purpose other than communication, functional living; period."

Then Nagaraj asked U.G. how spirituality was considered so superior in India. U.G. replied, "Material achievements or spiritual achievements both are the same. You feel superior because you are mouthing some mantras, do your sandhyavandanam, take your bath at four o'clock. But Sri Ramakrishna--the mad one--that poor fellow had no money to go to the theatre to see the play of his friends, and Sharada Devei suffered too for lack of money. But now you wallow in wealth. What is the result of it all? You give away the money. How did all those temples, churches and gurus have become rich? They don't work for it. You give it to them. You deny yourself. Why do you walk and make them fly? Don't you see the absurdity of the whole thing?"

Offerings to gods a waste of money....

Chandrasekhar had not yet moved to Poornakuti. The new home had not been set up, and the moving was in the process. On such a day I was in a very relaxed mood, just chatting and gossiping with U.G., my daughter Mittu, an interested audience. I said that my son Prashant was terribly interested in American pop music. Very casually U.G. mentioned that he had a "walkman" which he would like to present to Prashant. I was very embarrassed with U.G.'s generosity. Yet he somehow convinced me that my son deserved that gift because he had given Mittu a wrist watch for her birthday. He said that the walkman was in Chandrasekhar's old house, and as usual he wanted to put the thought into immediate action.

So Mittu and myself found ourselves walking through the beautiful gardens of Basavangudi Park and through the temple precincts of the Anjaneya or U.G.'s childhood Monkey God! It was a beautiful experience to walk with U.G. without much conversation, amongst the cool trees. As I neared the Bull Temple I had a desire to see the huge, almost 20 foot Bull carved in black stone. I asked U.G. falteringly if he could just wait till I made a quick rush inside the temple and back. Surprisingly he agreed and patiently waited outside the temple when I rushed in to offer my prayers and respect to the sacred Bull. As soon as I ran back to where U.G. and Mittu were standing the first question he asked me was, "How much money did you waste in the temple? Did you put anything in the hundi? I answered I had put a five rupee note. He said that he could have put that note to better use.

So we reached Chandrasekhar's house. U.G. tried to convince me what a beautiful set that walkman was as he tried on some music tapes on it. Then he had a naughty gleam in his eyes when he said, "It is so fantastic that I have two minds about parting with it." Anyway, my son jumped with joy when he got his new gift, and is ever grateful to U.G. for his kind and generous gift, to this day.

Getting "soles" fixed....

I remember as we walked back U.G. had trouble with his "sole". So we had to stop near a roadside cobbler's shop to get the sole of his sandals fixed. He made a very endearing picture--a man who spends every summer in expensive Swiss Alps, getting his "sole" fixed under the hot Indian sun. Anyway, he patiently waited for the cobbler to finish the job. But he refused to part with his new two-rupee notes. So he borrowed my old note which he promptly returned when we reached home.

On the way I asked him if he would drink some tender coconut water. He replied that he was not thirsty, and if at all he was, he would rather drink plain water as soon as we returned home.

I made him some coffee with cream. As he took the cup he generously offered to pray for my long life and prosperity!

I asked him where Chandrasekhar was and he said, "He has gone with his sister to Tirupati. After so many years with me he still goes there! He is insulting me." It was getting rather late and I had to unwillingly end another beautiful day with U.G.

Wanting to be free from boredom is the cause of misery....

I have a friend, Usha, who had this problem about boredom. There was a time when this particular aspect of life disturbed her, and it was then that she agreed to accompany me to U.G. As usual U.G. was not very pleased that I had brought one more person with me to discuss the "purpose of life". Anyway, he was quiet and did not seem eager to start any conversation. I knew one of us had to start and set the ball rolling. So I said, "U.G., how can we get rid of boredom?" He looked at me as if he knew the game I was playing. Anyway, he must have condescended to answer for my friend's sake. He said to my great satisfaction, "Whatever you do is boredom. It is part of life. People are all bored. Whatever you do is an escape; and that also bores you. You bore me. Your sitting here bores me. Your talk bores me." (I knew I had asked for it, but I let him continue.) He said, "What do you want me to do? The subject of God or Reality is equally boring. The talk on spirituality or gossip is as ridiculous as anything else to me. Even repeating Ram-nam is painful because it doesn't do any good. You have done it for long. Instead you can have a drink of wine or alcohol and forget for a while, or take a cup of coffee or tea. Even if you don't come back it is fine with me. Go to some guru. Don't waste your time here. Go to some doctor and take some palliative or drugs."

He continued, completely ignoring the dazed and shocked expression on our faces, "Wanting to be free from boredom is the cause of your misery. You want to be content always. It is just not possible. Just forget it. Why should you be content always? To me there is no such thing as contentment at all."

Suguna told him that his lunch was ready and waiting. He got up, excused himself and walked away unaware of the storm he had created in our minds.

It was just for a few minutes that we waited for him. He had gobbled up two idlies, eaten some yogurt, and that was lunch for him. Yet he spoke endlessly when the demand was there, and looked as if there was energy to spare. I asked him the secret of this inexhaustible source. He replied, "If you are free from goals of every kind, the energy is released for functioning in the world. Here (pointing to himself) the demand to be free from anything is not there. The problem with you is that when there is an experience there is a demand to extend the longevity of that experience which in turn destroys the sensitivity of the body. Every sensation has its own life. Pleasure is pain for the body. I never give any name to any sensation except when the demand is there. The demand always comes from outside. The demand for permanence is not in the nature of the body. The sensory perceptions are from moment to moment."

My friend and myself had a lot to think about as we made our way home, already planning our next trip to U.G. at the earliest convenience.

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