The story of Babaji as recounted in the Autobiography of a Yogi has always been tremendously inspiring to me, and Babaji himself has always felt very real, more so than any of the other great masters of my spiritual path. Thus, when I learned in 2004 that the Ananda Assisi center was sponsoring a pilgrimage to India, and that the pilgrimage included a visit to Babaji’s cave in the lower Himalayas, I decided to go.

A challenging trip to the cave

We left for India in mid-September. There were fifteen pilgrims, six of whom, like myself, were Americans. Although the weather in India is usually clear at this time of year, the lateness of the monsoon season made the trip to the cave very challenging. Heavy rains had washed out many of the roads; loose soil and rocks had made many other roads impassable. The day before we were scheduled to visit the cave, our tour bus was forced to take an 11-hour detour before we finally found a passable route to the town closest to the cave.

Staying overnight in a nice motel helped restore our slightly sagging spirits. The next morning the weather was beautiful — clear and sunny. The bus took us to the area where we were to begin walking to the cave. Apart from a clearing for buses and cars, the area was undeveloped and completely deserted.

There were several paths leading into the thick bushes and trees, and our tour guides told us which path would take us to the cave. They explained that the path to the cave was downhill and winding, and about the distance of a football field.

My friend and I were lost

I had become friendly with another pilgrim and, because we were both feeling adventurous, we decided not to go with the group led by the tour guide, but to find the cave on our own, without their help. There were a number of paths one could take and we were certain that anyone of them would take us there. However, after walking only a short distance we became very concerned — it seemed that we were lost.

We were looking all around, trying to get our bearings, when suddenly we saw two young boys about 11 or 12 years old on the hill above the path. They were dressed like school students in plain shirts and dark pants. Although they smiled at us, they didn’t say anything. Then, all of a sudden, we were communicating with them in a non-verbal way. They seemed to intuitively know what we wanted. One of them pointed in a certain direction, showing us the right way to go. Then he and the other boy took off.

The boy had in fact pointed us in the right direction. My friend and I had taken a wrong turn; we were going away from the cave, not toward it. Those who had gone with the guide had reached the cave without difficulty. The area around the cave is completely deserted except for a small chapel built by the Yogoda Satsanga Society. When I reached the chapel and looked down the hill, I saw one of the boys. The boy and I both waved.

Sitting in the cave to meditate, I was in a very strange state of mind. I was upset about having gotten lost. At the same time I felt there was something very special about those two boys, and I wanted to know who they were and why they were there. I wondered if the experience was some kind of vision.

Were the two boys a “sign”?

During the meditation I prayed to Babaji for a “sign” that I would be able to return to the bus easily, but what I was really asking for was a sign of Babaji’s existence. In effect, I was saying to Babaji, “Give me a sign so that I can believe in your reality.” I felt that the two boys might have been signs but I wasn’t certain.

Shortly after we reached the cave it started to rain. At a certain point the rain was falling so hard that we could barely hear anyone speak. We had planned to stay at the cave four hours but the tour guides shortened it to two.

When we left the cave it was still raining very hard. The path to the bus was uphill, and the terrain consisted of rocks, boulders, and mud, with rivulets running down the slope. Walking back alone, I felt I was going the right way, but the pouring rain made it difficult to stay on the path. I soon I realized that once again I’d made a wrong turn, and I saw two or three other pilgrims who had made the same mistake. I was lost. The path was very muddy and uneven and, at a certain point, I started slipping.

A different boy appears

All of a sudden a boy appeared, this time a different boy from the first ones. He said nothing but started guiding me to the bus. Although the trail to the bus was very slippery with rivulets of water running down the hill, the boy was effortlessly climbing upward. His footing on the path is hard to describe. It was not like walking. It was almost as though he was flying up the rocky slope. I had to watch every step lest I slip, but he had no trouble navigating the trail.

What really got my attention was that the boy was not wet at all, yet I was completely soaked from head to toe, and my shoes were covered with mud. Though it was raining the entire time, his hair, face, clothing, and feet remained dry.

As we walked along, the boy simply walked beside me; even though I was slipping, he did not hold my hand. But at some point I stopped slipping and became “sure-footed,” and together the boy and I quickly reached the top of the hill. When I reached the top and saw the bus, I was so grateful for the boy’s help that I gave him some money. He looked at me as if to say, “Why are you doing this?” His look said very clearly, “You don’t need to do this,” but I insisted that he keep the money.

Marlon was not walking on his own

At that point I knew that Marlon, one of the other pilgrims, was having a serious problem getting up the hill. The boy seemed already to know that Marlon needed help. I did not see the boy leave, but suddenly he was gone.

When he returned, about fifteen minutes later, this small boy was practically carrying Marlon, a very tall man who weighed well over 200 pounds. Although Marlon was moving his feet, he was obviously not walking by his own power. Somehow, the boy was keeping him upright and moving him along. Then, all of a sudden, Marlon started walking on his own, just as I had done. When the two of them reached the bus, I saw Marlon give the boy money and then, suddenly, the boy was gone.

I believe that what happened during my visit to the cave was a miracle. When I became lost on the way to the cave, and again on the way back, I believe it was Babaji protecting me in the form of a young boy.

A life-changing experience

At the time, I’d been on two other Indian pilgrimages and had visited the shrines and other places associated with the Ananda line of gurus. But this experience was very different. There was no way I could explain it in terms of the everyday world. The experience not only greatly strengthened my faith in the protection of the guru, it also convinced me that so-called supernatural phenomena are real.

As already mentioned, Babaji has always been very special to me. To commemorate my relationship with Babaji, I have since created a shrine in front of my house, with a statue of Babaji and flower boxes on both sides.

Vijay Fontaine lives at Ananda Village with his wife, Lisa. A long-time spiritual seeker, he became a disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda in 1971. His background includes business and property management. Currently he is vice president and a member of the board of directors of Selby Hudson Corporation, a San Francisco holding company. Related reading: Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda Original 1946 Edition (with bonus materials)

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