Papaji and Swami Ram Tirtha

One of my mother’s teachers encouraged me to join a local lending library that had a good selection of spiritual books. I started to read books on Vedanta and Hindu saints. It was this library that introduced me to Yoga Vasishta, a book I have always enjoyed. One day I tried to borrow a book about Swami Ram Tirtha, a Hindu saint who went into seclusion in the Himalayas in his twenties and who died there when he was only thirty-four. I had a special reason for borrowing this book: he was my mother’s elder brother, so I naturally wanted to find out more about him.

The librarian had watched me borrow all these books with an increasing sense of alarm. In middle-class Hindu society it is quite acceptable to show a little interest in spiritual matters, but when the interest starts to become an obsession, the alarm bells go off. This well-meaning librarian probably thought that I was taking my religion too seriously, and that I might end up like my uncle. 

Most families would be very unhappy if one of their members dropped out at an early age to become a wandering sadhu in the Himalayas. The librarian, feeling that he was acting for the best, refused to let me borrow this book about my uncle. Later, he went to my mother and warned her that I was showing what was, for him, an unhealthy interest in mysticism. 

My mother paid no attention. Because her own life revolved around her sadhana, she was delighted to have a son who seemed to be displaying a similar inclination.

Excerpt From Nothing Ever Happened Volume One, pages 55-56
By David Godman