We just received news that a friend in India, Ashok Baba Kulkarni, is close to leaving his body. We’ve considered him a friend and an inspiration even though we met him and his wife, Daya, only a few times. On every occasion, he would regale us with stories of his time with his guru, Ananda Moyi Ma. Ashok Baba didn’t have a big public mission, but for me he represents India’s truest treasure: those deeply spiritual souls who carry the light of God and illuminate the world around them as they pass through.
A few years ago he told us a fascinating story that has deeply inspired and instructed us. He and his wife were very close to Ma, and she would often ask them to accompany her on her travels. One time a small group was staying in a very remote area. It fell to Ashok to do the daily shopping, no small feat, since it required a walk of ten kilometers to the nearest small village, and a return trip carrying the purchases, which along with his other tasks took him all day.
As a part of his sadhana, Ma had instructed him to do a large number of repetitions of a sacred mantra. My memory is that it was 108 malas’ worth, which is nearly 12,000 daily repetitions. One day Ma asked him if he was doing his mantra, and he replied that he was constantly repeating it as he walked to and from the market.
Her reply surprised him. She said, “No, this is not good enough. You should repeat them during meditation instead, so that you can concentrate deeply.” Another member of the group came to his defense, saying, “But Ma, that would take him all night.” Ma just shrugged and said nothing more.
That evening when he came back to his little hut he told his wife about the conversation and said, “Let’s start tomorrow night.” Her reply (a rebuke to the procrastinator in all of us) was, “Why wait, we must start tonight.” And so that night, they did their meditation and mantra and went without sleep. The next night they did the same, now going without sleep for two days. And so it continued for a whole month.
Ashok concluded the story by saying, “It was a true miracle. We never slept for an entire month and yet were filled with energy and joy. I would never have believed such a thing was possible if I hadn’t experienced it myself.”
As I reflected on this story, I was struck by the faith and courage it must have taken. I could imagine myself following my guru’s request the first night. But think about the second and third nights: that must have required a special kind of faith and courage. Their attunement alone had to sustain them until they were able actually to experience their guru’s grace sustaining their efforts.
I pray that Ashok’s life will be an inspiration for all of us to develop that kind of faith and courage. May it help us take a step beyond what we think of as our limits. As we do this, we will expand toward our soul-nature, which never sleeps and has no boundaries.
In God’s light,
P.S. As I write this, it is four days before the blog will be published. Today, our daily calendar of passages from Autobiography of a Yogi quoted a passage that I took as Yogananda’s blessing. Describing his first meeting with Ananda Moyi Ma, Yogananda wrote, “I had instantly seen that the saint was in a high state of samadhi. Utterly oblivious to her outward garb as a woman, she knew herself as the changeless soul; from that plane she was joyously greeting another devotee of God.” I suspect she is now preparing to greet her beloved disciple, Ashok.
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Dearest Jyotish & Deviji!
Truly beautiful…! Thank you so much for this and blessings to your dear friend Ashok on his journey back into oneness with God.
I find japa to be mindless repetition which leads a soul to trance states or self-hypnosis. My guru, Swami Swandashram, gave me a mantra phrase back in 1971. Although I am not a believer in mantra recital of any kind for any length of time nor number of repetitions, I do believe that rosary can be effective once a day. Also, in a few times of crisis, I have resorted to speaking my mantra once. Which was “Sri Krishna, Saranam mama” (Sri Krishna, save me) I believe that Lord Krishna was a previous incarnation of Jesus. This did seem to connect me to the Higher Power’s grace instantly, and I did progress onward successfully. This is a modern take on the spiritual practice of japa.
Absolutely inspiring! Joy to you.
a true inspiration for devotees. God and Gurus bless his Soul. Pranams
Thank you Jyotishji for sharing this beautiful experience of Ashok ji & his wife… drives home the importance of attunement & faith and total surrender to the Guru.
It is a joy to read blogs by you & Deviji.
Blessings for Italy and India
Sir, I am getting all your mails and the experiences which are touching my heart and making me restless to meet you. How can I see you sir, how can i speak to you ? Will u please give me your whatsapp no ?
Please do respond.
With best of my Respects
Awe-some story, Jyotish. Thanks for sharing 🙏
I remember well sitting backstage and listening to his stories along with you and others. Tushti also, as you can see from the photo. May he transition in joy, as I am sure he will.
🙏 Such a well timed post.
We all need the example shared above more than ever.
Thank you so much for sharing. 🙏
Thankyou for the inspiring story! Joy!
Dear Nayaswami Jyotish Ji,
Thank you for this wonderful blog.
Very inspiring to read about the faith and courage that Ashok Ji had towards his Guru.
Beautiful passage from AY that aligns with the blog. Thank you!
Oh, dear, the faint type is back.
There was one email dark enough to read, but it’s gone now.
Thank you for this story. I am so grateful to have visited Ma’s ashram in Hardware. And, to have studied mantras with Thomas Ashley-Farrand.
I have to agree with Mary, the fate type is a challenge to try to read.
It’s Wonderful !!! Thank you So much for sharing this beautiful experience of Ashok ji & his wife. The importance of attunement & faith and total surrender to the Guru.
Blogs by you & Deviji are always inspiring, wonderful and joyful.
Thank you so much. 🙏🌹🙏
Beautiful Jyotish Ji. I enjoy reading yours & Devi Ji’s blog. So much wisdom and most of the time answers my inner questions. May the divine mother bless you both for the wonderful work you are doing for us. Pranams at your feet.
Thank you Ji,
Thanks for that inspiring story! I’ve been hating meditation lately. I won’t stop.
Dearest Jyotish Ji what an amazing blog thank you for sharing that inspiring story .. deep lessons on courage, steadfastness and faith in the Guru. Awesome pic of great great souls. Thank you Ji.
I would like to meet personally some of these great souls who were blessed to be serving Maa during her life time. Can anyone give me a clue telephone no or name and address of such persons who are still alive. Shall be grateful.