The Journey Home

At the International Yoga Festival in Rishikesh, on my recent trip to India, I had the privilege to hear Radhanath Swami speak on two occasions. This American Swami is a wonderful example of pure devotion who ‘walks his talk’. His humility and love for all God’s children were evident in an encounter with a security guard, I witnessed. To enter the area where most yoga classes and lectures were held and where the hundreds of festival goers ate, one had to pass through a gate where a very friendly security guard made sure that you were wearing your official “bracelet”. He took his duties seriously and ensured that only those who were part of the festival were allowed in. One day I stumbled upon a commotion at the gate, just to realise that he was refusing Radhanath Swami entry into this area. Everyone around Radhanath Swami was shocked and tried to, all at once, explain that this was one of the distinguished guests at the festival on his way to give a lecture. All the while Radhanath Swami stood with a gentle smile on his lips, simply observing the little drama playing itself out. When the security guard realised his humiliating mistake, the Swami lovingly blessed him before silently stepping inside.

In his book The Journey Home, he tells of his extraordinary overland journey to India with no money, fueled by a strong yearning to find the best way to serve God. Living as a sadhu, or renunciate, he learned from many, until finding what he has been looking for in Vrindavan. Over the years many people have pressed him to write his story, which he always felt would be inappropriate, until his lifelong friend Bhakti Tirtha Swami, on his deathbed, spoke these words: “This is not your story. It is a tale about how God led a young boy onto an amazing journey to seek the inner secrets that lie within all of us. Don’t be miserly. Share what has been given to you.”

I am certainly very grateful that Radhanath Swami honoured his promise, as his story is both inspiring and enlightening. We are all on our own unique journeys to find and honour God, but reading about other people’s journeys are not only encouraging, it also reminds us that we share similar themes, even if they are dressed differently.