Me Too, Baba – life in an Indian ashram with a Guru
Anandi Saraph

Cover of Me Too, Baba

Offers a small glimpse of the author's relationship with the mystery which is a Guru – a teacher who has the ability to take a seeker from the darkness (Gu) to the light (Ru)

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Paperback - 76 pages
John Owen Smith; March 2000

Dedication . Excerpt . About the Publisher . Further information


I recently heard a radio programme where the public was asked to make suggestions for the best keywords to represent the twentieth century. I listened to all the suggestions with a growing feeling that something was missing. Where was the 'guru' word? After all, we now have a guru for everything; there are cooking gurus, style gurus, hair, nail and beauty gurus, not to mention DIY gurus. Once I even called a certain Helpline, and spoke to a Vacuum Cleaner guru, and very helpful he was too, as he pointed me in the right direction, which was to be found on page four of the Instruction Manual. Who knows, with any luck, the guru of the dustpan, the duster and the dishcloth will manifest for those patient enough to wait for him or her.

Just before this little story begins, I was wheeling a trolley down the middle of the Supermarket in Ramat Gan, Israel, when a feeling of great disbelief overwhelmed me. I remember stopping the traffic down the aisle as I asked myself repeatedly, "Have I really got a Guru? Have I really?" Everything around me looked normal; shoppers, shelves, the world still there, my situation the same, the impending divorce, the pain, the guilt, the sick. feeling at the pit of the stomach, still there. But yet I felt different. What was it? Could there really be some solution for the awful way I felt?

Me too Baba is a small glimpse of my relationship with the mystery which is a Guru - a teacher who has the ability to take a seeker from the darkness (Gu) to the light (Ru).

Those years spent in India with Baba were no picnic as you will see - no sitting in serene silence experiencing endless bliss, but rather the initiation into a process of healing which will one day culminate in a lasting experience of the unconditional love I long for. What did those years spent toiling in the heat, while enduring the crazy flights of an emotionally damaged psyche, show me? What have I brought to my world through my experience?

One day whilst in India, I strolled to a little shop, hardly more than a booth, to buy some laundry soap, and waited while the child in front of me was served. The child, a skinny urchin of indeterminable age, held out a coin of the smallest denomination, and pointed. The shopkeeper then unscrewed the lid of a glass jar holding dry little biscuits, no bigger than a modern 5p piece, and selected three of them. Then while the child waited, carefully wrapped those three little biscuits into a tiny parcel and gave them to the boy, who pocketed them respectfully, and went off.

As I sit typing these words on a beautiful computer, or walk into the abundance which is the modern Supermarket, as I look at my beautiful flourishing children and grandchildren, there is a small oasis in my heart, a well of gratitude that is part of the legacy I received in India.

So I hope you enjoy this little book my dear Ami, Tobi and Yerusha. It's for you.


January 1976

The wrought iron gates clang shut now that we're all inside. Behind yellow walls straggled in dusty bougainvillaea lies a cool shaded paradise. It's even better than I'd expected, and I burst into tears.

"What's the matter? Can I help?"
"I have a problem."
"I want to stay here for ever."

The man in orange smiles, and directs us to a sign which reads, "Leave your Ego with your shoes."

The marble floor is soft as silk to feet swollen from the long journey as our group from Tel Aviv files in thankfully, not wanting to talk. Girls in floaty dresses, jasmine blossom dangling in their long hair, usher us to our places, where a chorus of voices goes "Welcome, welcome."

Although it only took one day in the plane, spiritually I've been on this journey to India for two years. It's been two years since that day I stumbled into his meditation centre in Jaffa, and saw his picture. Just a face in black and white on a yellow poster; the expression of such pure compassion, such understanding, that I knew here at last was a man who could help, even from a distance. My heart went out to him with the song I'd been singing, the song that had haunted those three terrible days since I'd run away from home, "Please come and dry my tears, and make me smile."

And in spite of the pain, and the awful guilt of leaving husband and children, there have been smiles these past two years. It's as if the solid stone sitting on my chest has finally cracked, and a seed of consolation sprouted there. I've always believed it was because of him, my Guru, Baba.

Now at last I'm going to meet him ... crying.

There are coconut palms in the courtyard, each in its own little walled-in space. Their branches make spiky patterns on the floor where we sit down to wait. Music is playing from somewhere, swirly music, rising, falling, tugging at my heart till it lifts it up, drying the tears. It doesn't leave much room for thought, that music, as it folds me in its strange scarf of sound.

When will he come? I glance down at my dress, smooth out its long pink skirt. A perfect dress, modest and clean. Not like that other one worn two years ago in Tel-Aviv Jaffa. The dirty transparent one with the torn hem. I check my hair. All wound up neatly, speared with those long pins we Israelis call 'granny'. Wouldn't have been seen anywhere near a 'granny' those days. Then my hair hung tangled with dead rose-buds, smelling of marijuana. It's a wonder they ever let me into the meditation centre, but they did, and I've had two years of trying to be a devotee of the far-off Baba with their help.

But where is he? Does he really exist outside that yellow poster? Perhaps it was all a great con to make me tidy up my life, and I've been attending the Tel Aviv meditation centre for nothing for two years. Perhaps he hasn't really helped me in the ways I think he has. How can anyone help you feel better about yourself from such a long distance?

How the minutes crawl past on the little clock behind the raised platform. Now nobody moves, nobody speaks. We newcomers clutch our gifts and wait.

When Baba comes out, I think, "Is this all?"

I see a brown man with a big tummy, simply dressed in orange cotton. A long cotton shirt tops a sort of wrap-around skirt, his brown face is expressionless under a woolly orange hat, and he's barefoot. There's no fanfare, no roll of drums, no chorus of angels as Baba takes his seat on the platform, tucking his feet under his robes in one fluid movement.

Everyone gets up and stands in line.

When it's my turn, I have eyes only for Baba's eyes. Baba's eyes are big, brown and indifferent. I hand over my gift, the rug I've made. The rug is the product of nights spent sweating over the canvas, pulling the hook, click, click, until a pattern emerges. Pink roses in a circle on a field of yellow. Hopes and dreams are in the rug, and love. I hand him my love.

About the Publisher

John Owen Smith was born in 1942 and trained as a Chemical Engineer at London University, but spent most of his working life designing commercial Information Systems for the paper-making industry. Following redundancy, he 'fell' into researching and recording the local history of east Hampshire, where he now lives. His own output of historical community plays, lectures, articles and books includes:-

Please feel free to contact me if you would like to share information on this book. See address details on Home Page