Beginnings in Bombay

Vishwaprem (Prema Baxi)

Swamiji came to Mumbai for the first time on 27 October l958, at 12.16 p.m. by the Calcutta Express. He stayed with my uncle, G.T. Harisinghani, in his Santa Cruz airport officers’ quarters for a few days. Uncle Harisinghani was an advanced sadhaka and had many spiritual experiences. On 7 November, Swamiji came to our home in Sion to stay with my family. It was wonderful to have him with us for three weeks. It was during this period that, on 12 November 1958, he initiated me into the techniques of kundalini yoga and said that he would take account of my sadhana from that date.

My parents welcomed Swamiji with open arms. It was such a great privilege to have him stay with us. He was thirty-five years and in his prime of youth – handsome, gentle and very charming. We would spread a mat on the floor and we all ate together and chatted like friends. Swamiji would ask for a green chilli and a piece of jaggery with his meals. Our flat was small, consisting of only one large bedroom and a long rectangular drawing room, where my father, Parsram Jiandani, had his dispensary. Swamiji adjusted very well and slept in the drawing room on a wooden divan near the main door of the flat while my father slept at the other side of the room. It was the same drawing room, which would later be filled with dozens of people thronging for Swamiji’s darshan and to listen to his talks.

We arranged several satsangs for him. Among other places, Swamiji spoke at Govind Dham, Sadhana Ashram, Lakshmi Narayan Temple in Santa Cruz, Panchayat Hall and Guru Nanak Darbar in Sion. Then at Chembur, Jyoti Bhavan, Sindh Model Schools, K.J. Khilnani School, and so on. Swamiji graced the homes of many devotees including that of film actress, Sadhana Shivdasani, who also learnt yoga. On 27 November, we went to the Films Division at Peddar Road, where I worked at the time, and saw a few documentary films – ‘Madurai’, ‘Konarak’, ‘Tajmahal’ and ‘Yoga – Pilgrimage to Freedom’. Three weeks passed so very swiftly. Swamiji left Mumbai on 28 November for Burhanpur at 6.30 p.m. by the Kashi Express from the Victoria Terminus station. We were all bereft when he left. However, he returned a year later.

Swamiji again came to Mumbai on 14 November l959 at 7 a.m. by the Nagpur Express. He left on 20 February l960, for Allahabad by the Kashi Express. It was scintillating to have him with us for such a length of time. Numerous people came to meet him at our humble home in Sion. The drawing room was filled with a constant stream of people. Swamiji interacted with each one tirelessly. He was impatient to convey the message of the yogic way of life to the masses. Again, Swamiji gave numerous lectures and demonstrations of yogasana at various places in Mumbai.

Swamiji also stayed sometimes with my maternal uncle, G.T. Harisinghani, who had accompanied me on my first trip to Rajnandgaon and later to Pathan Dhodgi. It was on the terrace of his Santa Cruz airport staff quarters that Swamiji shot a video film on yogasana. It was tremendous fun. As I worked with the Films Division at that time, I borrowed a video camera and bought some film rolls. Swamiji shot the film and when it returned after printing, he opened the film to edit it. We found to our horror, that it was not printed at all. I still remember Swamiji opening the reel so swiftly, filled with the excitement of a child, and then looking at the blank reel with disbelief. Little did anyone imagine at that time, that in less than ten years, this little disappointment would only be an incident to laugh over, as very great work would already have been accomplished by the sankalpa of one saintly man.

We had to shoot the film all over again. It meant more fun and of course, more work. When we finally got down to editing the film, it was hard work. No one got much sleep for those three to four days, until the editing was completed. Swamiji was indeed a hard taskmaster. When it came to work, it had to be completed before anyone could rest. His training in hard work and patience came in very useful later in life.

Published in My Spiritual Journey with Swami Satyananda