The Mysterious Devotee: A True Story
by Bharat Cornell
In September 2004, my wife, Anandi, and I welcomed a mysterious, unannounced visitor to our home. He stayed for eight days and thrilled us with his presence.
Our “guest” spent his daylight hours sitting serenely in our meditation garden by a statue of Lahiri Mahasaya. Impressed by our visitor’s dedication, we often looked out our bedroom window to see him keeping his vigil by the saint’s statue. Not knowing our friend’s name, we decided to call him Gurupod, which means, “at the feet of the guru.”
Gurupod, you see, was a male deer, who for some inexplicable reason, came one day into our partially enclosed meditation garden to sit near the saint’s statue. Gurupod had a wonderful presence, a calm disposition, and he exuded a quiet strength. He was three years old and carried an impressive set of antlers.
Resting in the garden, with the statue and fence right behind him, Gurupod was a little skittish on his first day when we went out to our outdoor meditation hut. To get there, we had to pass directly in front of him, so we walked slowly, hoping not to frighten him. But Gurupod’s only reaction was to stand up and leisurely walk thirty feet away and wait until we went inside the hut, then he returned to sit near the statue of Lahiri Mahasaya.
Wild animals usually don’t feel comfortable in an enclosed area when people are present, but Gurupod apparently was no ordinary animal. During the following days, as we walked within a few feet of Gurupod on our way to meditate, he would stand up as before, but now he only walked five to ten feet away before returning. As far as we could tell, Gurupod spent every moment of every day resting quietly by the statue of Lahiri Mahasaya.
Later in the week, I thought it would be inspiring to sit with Gurupod as I studied for a meditation class I was giving. Gurupod, as usual, sat by the saint’s statue, and I, on a small patio ten feet away.
After spending several quiet hours together in the warm September sun, I turned to Gurupod, looked deeply into his eyes, and silently asked him, “Who are you? Have you come to teach me something? Have you come for Lahiri Mahasaya’s blessings?”
For a long time we held each other’s gaze: Gurupod’s eyes, calm and serene; my own, inquisitive and grateful. I did not receive a definite answer to my questions, but I do know that Gurupod’s poise and one-pointed focus have inspired me even to this day.
After our silent “conversation,” it was time for me to meditate. On this occasion, Gurupod, after getting up as I walked by, did not return again to Lahiri’s statue. Instead, he left the meditation garden and came around to the outer wall of the hut, on the side that our altar faces. Gurupod was now sitting below the pictures of all of our Masters.
As I began my meditation, Gurupod continued sitting quietly in front of me, just three feet away. My heart felt so close to Gurupod that I wanted to do something for him. Swami Kriyananda has told us that if we want to relate to others spiritually, we should commune with them from our center to theirs. Kriya Yoga, because it centers your energy in the spine, is a marvelous way to pray for and bless others.
The moment I started thinking of Gurupod during my practice of Kriya Yoga, he stood up and came directly to the screened window where I was sitting, and looked at me from a foot away. Gurupod gazed intently at me the whole time I was dedicating my Kriya Yoga practice to his soul evolution. At one point I heard a few faint sniffs come from him. The moment I finished doing my Kriya practice for him, he again sat down by the meditation hut.
After my meditation with Gurupod, Anandi and I never saw him again. His first day with us was September 19th and he stayed until the 26th. Curiously, Lahiri Mahasaya’s Mahasamadhi—a saint’s consciousness exit from his body—is on September 26th, the last day Gurupod spent resting near the saint’s statue.
Who was Gurupod? I don’t know. However, I feel I can truthfully say that on some level, Gurupod was magnetically drawn to the presence of Lahiri Mahasaya. Every action of his demonstrated this.
Almost three years have passed since Gurupod’s visit to our meditation garden, and we still feel inspired by his example whenever we go to our outdoor temple to meditate. In the garden, below the statue of Lahiri Mahasaya rests a black stone placed to memorialize Gurupod’s visit, and his dedication to stay close to the form of this great Master.
God, who has manifested Himself in countless ways, can come to the devotee in any form He chooses. For us, Gurupod’s visit was a thrilling message from God. We may be wrong, but our error will be our gain if we emulate in our hearts Gurupod’s beautiful manner of resting with the Master.
Joseph Bharat Cornell, a Lightbearer and long-time Ananda member, works in the Sangha Office as the Meditation Support Coordinator. He is also the author of the award-winning Sharing Nature Book Series