A new local friend of mine went off to the Shiva temple on a beautiful Monday afternoon. This trip stemmed from our conversation about the ashrams in town, the sadus, the babas, and the lack of authenticity with the babas. In Rishikesh, the babas are sitting on the sides of the road, some with deformities and others appearing unshowered and asking for food and money. They are usually dressed in orange clothing, carrying some form of cane, and many have long white beards. My friend calls these babas “crazy babas.” They are always smoking something and if you start a conversation with them you will be stuck there for hours. They are not really “the spiritual leaders” that people come to Rishikesh searching for......
My friend’s English is priceless the way he puts together small words in such an innocent, endearing way. My friend, Balaj, says that his guru is out of town, but he can bring me to meet a real “full power baba.” Full power Punjabi needs a full power baba!
Off we go motor biking away to the Shiva Temple. Balaj is explaining the history of villages and little towns when we pass by which I appreciate. Balaj is well known in town, very well known. Every second he is waiving to someone and even stopping on the bike greeting with a large smile and firm handshake. He has a very good energy about him and is a very religious person.
Up the hills, through the villages, beating the cab up the hill finally after he was blowing black exhaust smoke in our face for kilometers, the Ganga river, the camp sites, the waterfalls, and farm houses and rice fields, and up to the Shiva temple.
Balaj buys me the Pooja plate with flowers, water, and fruit for the Gods.
Spilling the holy water on the bull, giving the flowers, and the blessing by the baba. The baba gives you some powder to eat that looks like sand and you give him money and he blesses the money and puts it inside the money tree- oh the Indian rituals how I love them. Balaj says that people come from very far distances to have the Baba’s blessing.
After the pooja, it is time to meet the real “Full power Baba.” I get the VIP access to meet the Baba in his house. We stop to pick up some rice and coconut cookies for Baba. We are walking up a steep set of stairs and down, then up, and then down again. Eventually we reach Baba’s house, which is sitting in the middle of some empty grassland. This empty grassland actually has many plants that are used for medicinal purposes. Balaj is giving me fresh mint to smell and picking up a plant for coughs and colds.
We go inside and the Full power baba is sitting on his bed watching a small tv of bollywood movies. I kindly say, "Namaste" and he responds with little eye contact and disregard for my presence. It turns out Baba does not like foreigners. As they were sitting and speaking Hindi, I just quietly sat and observed him. He kept speaking and grazing the bottom of his beard while dipping his coconut cookies in his chai. He kept smoking his herbal cigarettes-babas likes to smoke. It was nice meeting baba, but I did not receive the spiritual energy I was hoping for. Real full power baba? I will take my friend Balaj's word for it.