Papaji Is Ram Himself

In 1991 an American devotee was sitting with Papaji in the front room of Papaji’s Indira Nagar house. In those days, before the big crowds started coming, all the satsangs were held there. This is what the devotee told me:

‘I was looking at Papaji, focussing on his eyes. There was a beauty in them I had never seen anywhere else. The intensity of the beauty grew stronger and stronger until I finally had to avert my eyes. This was the only time in my life I ever had to stop looking at something because the beauty of it was too intense. Papaji wasn’t looking at me, and I didn’t think that he even knew what had happened to me, but as I was leaving the room a few days later, just before I left to go back to my country, he called me up to him.

He picked up a small picture of Hanuman that was displayed near his seat, gave it to me and said, ‘Take this. If you are lucky, Ram may appear to you again.

Other people have also seen Papaji take the form of Ram. In the following unusual story, Papaji was taken to be Ram by a deity in a temple. Before I give Papaji’s account of this strange encounter, I will give a few background details for those readers who are unfamiliar with the Ramayana.

The incident took place in Bithoor, near Kanpur, at a place that is believed to be the site of Valmiki’s ashram. The sage Valmiki was the author of the Ramayana.

After the famous battle in Lanka, Lord Ram returned to Ayodhya with Sita, whom he had rescued from Ravana. Prior to her release she had spent many years imprisoned in Ravana’s palace. Shortly after her return to Ayodhya, some of the citizens of that city began to cast doubts on her suitability to be queen of the kingdom.

‘This woman has spent many years in another man’s house,’ they said. ‘Such a woman is tainted and cannot be acceptable here. Lord Ram should send her away. He has done his duty in rescuing her, but now he should send her away because she has spent many years with another man.’

Sita had retained her chastity throughout her ordeal in Lanka, but the fact that she had spent so long in a foreign country in another man’s house meant that suspicions about her behaviour there were inevitable. Ram felt that for the good of the country and for the good of the monarchy that governed it, she should be sent away into exile. This decision, one of the most perplexing that Ram ever made, has never been satisfactorily explained.

Sita accepted her exile and went to live in the ashram of Valmiki. On the day she was exiled, she was already pregnant with Ram’s twin sons, although Ram was not aware of this at the time. Sita gave birth to the two sons in Valmiki’s ashram and brought them up there. It was not until many years later that Ram became aware of their existence.

This is Papaji’s description of the visit he made to this ashram in the 1950s with his two sisters, Tara and Leela:

My sister Tara lived in Kanpur with her family. I had been invited to her home to attend the thread ceremony of her son. One of my other sisters, Leela, came the next day from Ambala, Haryana. The thread ceremony of a brahmin boy is a big occasion. All the relatives are expected to attend.

During the course of my stay I heard Leela asking Tara, ‘Where is Bithoor, the ashram of Brahmarishi Valmiki?’

Tara told her that it was quite near to where we were staying, adding that she didn’t know much about it because she had never been there herself. We made some enquiries from the neighbours and found out how to get there. It was a difficult place to reach. The last part of the journey, we were told, had to be completed on a horse cart because there was no other public transport available. Despite the inaccessibility of the place, both sisters wanted to go. They asked me to join them because they didn’t want to travel to such a lonely place by themselves. I agreed to go with them because I too had never seen it, even though I had spent many years in Lucknow, which is only a few hours away from the ashram.

“We travelled as far as we could by bus and then hired a tonga for a few hours to take us to the temple that now marks the location of the old ashram. The temple is fairly near the Ganga. Tara also wanted to visit the river, but she had to go by herself because Leela had arthritis and I didn’t want to undertake the long walk in the hot sun.

While she was off visiting the Ganga, Leela and I went into the temple and walked towards the image of Sita. She was represented as suckling her two sons. When we came near to it, the image seemed to melt before our eyes and change into the real form of Sita.

Sita stood in front of me, pointed an accusing finger at me and said, ‘Why did you send me away and make me stay here in the forest?”

‘Then she turned to Leela and demanded, ‘What mistake did I make that your brother abandoned me here? Why did he ask his brother Lakshman to abandon me here in the forest? They threw me out, but Valmiki took me in, even though he knew I was pregnant with Ram’s children.’

Sita was crying hysterically as she listed all her complaints to Leela and me. Other people came into the temple and they too saw Sita addressing me as Ram and complaining to me about her exile. They all started to prostrate to me. Meanwhile, my sister Leela was acting very strangely. The power of the darshan had unhinged her mind a little and she started to shout and scream. She didn’t want to leave, so in the end I had to drag her out.

Tara reappeared after her bath in the Ganga. With her assistance I managed to put Leela into the tonga. On the drive home Leela became hysterical again. She was crying and fighting with me, demanding to know why I had abandoned Sita and exiled her to the forest. Eventually she lost consciousness.

We got her home safely and after some time her mental state returned to normal. The experience caused her to re-evaluate her relationship with me.

She came up to me, prostrated, and asked, ‘I want to sever this brother-sister relationship that we have had up till now. I don’t want to regard you as my brother any longer. I want you to be my Guru. While I was in the temple, Sita told me that you are my Guru and not my brother. From now on, that is the only relationship I want to have with you.’

She came with me to Lucknow and stayed with me for a while. After some time her son came and took her back to her family.

Before she left, I gave her a photo of me. She took it home with her and started worshipping it in her puja room. Her eldest son, who was then an officer in the Delhi Customs Department, found her doing puja to my picture and objected.

‘Why are you praying to this photo? Your brother is still alive. You should only do puja to a relative’s photo after he has died. It is not proper to do it while he is still alive.’

She ignored him, carried on with her puja and said, ‘He is not my relative; he is my Guru’.

Excerpt From Nothing Ever Happened Volume Two, pages 272-275
By David Godman