I started attending the Encinitas temple in 1973 and I was very inspired and uplifted by the ministers that were speaking there. And after a few months a new minister showed up. He was newly transferred from Phoenix and I was listening to his lecture. I knew nothing about him, but he was talking about the spiritual eye. And he said–with such depth and such authenticity–he said, “Right behind the darkness of closed eyes are God and Guru.” And I’d heard this concept before, but never with such power and such depth. And that was Brother Anandamoy. That was my first experience of seeing him, and it deeply moved me.
And then a few months later I was interested in entering the ashram and I called the retreat office in Encinitas, and I said I’d like to have an interview with Bro. Anandamoy. And they said, no, he’s not available, I’m sorry it’s impossible. Would you like to see one of the other monks or one of the other ministers? I don’t know what got into me, but I was very insistent and I said no! (laughter) I have to see Bro. Anandamoy.
So after a short time she called Brother and he came to the retreat and I sat down in front of him, I introduced myself, and I told him I want to become a monk. And he looked at me with those piercing eyes and he said, “YOU? You want to become a monk?” (laughter) “It’s a hard life.” (laughter) And that was the beginning of a long and deep relationship I had with Brother. Then he transferred to Mt. Washington about the same time that I did from Encinitas.
I didn’t know him very well, but he went on his first trip to India in 1980. And Brother had such a presence at Mt. Washington that when he went to India, the ashram felt so different because it wasn’t necessarily what he was saying but his presence, walking through our ashram courtyard or in the dining room or in the monk’s office. And the ashram was different when he was not there, and I sorely missed him.
And then when he came back we had a Christmas satsanga. Some of you may remember the satsangas that Daya Mata used to give at the Biltmore Hotel. Then in 1982 Daya Ma decided that she wasn’t going to give the talk. She asked Brother to give it. And he got very concerned thinking that everyone was coming to hear Ma, and it was only going to be Anandamoy. So he had a brilliant idea–he thought it was brilliant–and he came to me and he said, just to take some of the pressure off, to break the ice…he said when they introduce me I’m going to have Snoopy come out, and you’re going to play Snoopy. (lots of laughter)
So I still remember, at the Biltmore Hotel behind the auditorium I had my big Snoopy outfit on with the big nose. And I was just looking at Brother and he was looking at me very solemn, and I was shaking, my tail must have been shaking (big laughter) and we just had this gaze. I was so nervous, and he was so calm, so collected, so interiorized. And then those of you who were there, you might have remembered that when the announcer announced that Bro. Anandamoy was going to come out, then Snoopy came out. And I came to the podium and Brother walked up, and he pointed at me: “You, out!” (big laughter)
And so that sort of broke the ice–for him. (laughter) I forgave him because a short time later, when I took my brahmacharya vow, it was traditional that the new brahmacharis, after the ceremony would get together, and each brahmachari would have to give a little talk. And I was so shy, and I went to Brother and I said, “Brother, if I have to think about giving a talk after the vow ceremony, it’s going to destroy the ceremony. I won’t be able to enjoy it.” So he said, you don’t have to talk and from that time on the brahmacharis don’t have to give a speech. From that effort, that longing, that pleading (laughter) not to have to speak.
But then a few years later I was asked to start to give services at our temples, and started to get training in the ashram. And again I thought, I’ll just go to my counselor, I’ll go to Brother, he’ll get me off. (laughter) So I pleaded with him, “Please, Brother, anything but this.” So he sat me down and he said, “No, you have to do it.” And he gave me four reasons:
He said, that first one is: “If the Guru had to, so does the disciple, if he’s asked to.”
Then he told me, he said, “How else are you going to learn the Guru’s teachings?”
Third, he said, “Do you want the whole divine channa for yourself?”
And then the final and fourth one kind of wrapped up the whole package, it didn’t give me any wiggle room. He said to me, “Until you learn to play your role perfectly, you will reincarnate again and again.” (huge laughter)
Traveling with Brother to India to inaugurate Guruji’s centenary year was such a blessing to me just to be with him, to carry his bag with his notes when he would give talks in Dakshineswar and Ranchi and Bombay. And people were always so moved. But I learned the greatest lessons being with him of the deep humility when he would touch people so much, and they were in awe and adoration of him, and it meant nothing to him at all. That was the greatest lesson. Because Brother gave us all a great gift in his talks, in his messages about the teachings of Master, but also in his ability to listen. I saw this again and again in personal counseling when he was counseling devotees. He would listen, with his whole heart and soul and just be with you. And that was a great gift.
When I started giving services in the monks chapel, some of the other senior monks were, you know, here is a young monk, what does he have to tell me. But Brother, whenever he didn’t have a Sunday service in the temples, he was there front and center, with a big smile on his face. And I can’t tell you the encouragement and the confidence that it gave us younger speakers to have someone like Brother being there to support us.
In Brother’s latter years, of course, he pulled away from the work. He had to stop giving lectures and counseling. And when he was more in seclusion and solitude he was still getting a lot of letters and I used to keep Daya Mata abreast of Brother’s condition. And one time Daya Ma sent a message to one of the nuns. She said, “We need to take care of him. He is very vital to SRF.” And I told that to Brother and he just broke up laughing (laugher). He said, “I’m not doing anything.” (more laughter) But he didn’t have to do anything. There was just being.
During that period when he was having difficulties with the body, one day he looked at me and he said, “The way Master pulled me in and gave me the works, that’s part of the divine drama.” So he had that surrender, that total surrender. And then another time I said, “Divine Mother is really giving it to you, isn’t She?” And Brother looked at me and said, “I’d be happy to give it back to Her.” (big laughter)
Brother had so many pictures of Master in his room, many of them were the same, maybe different colors. But he had them all over his altar and his room. And one time referring to that picture of Master pronaming like this, he said, “I’m in heaven, what else could I want. I have no other desires. He is God to me.” And then I said to him, “That’s the ultimate.” And Brother’s response was, “I’m a very simple minded person.” He was very focused. And that’s one of the main qualities of God. God is simple.
Another occasion he said, “The pictures of Master are becoming more and more real. Just incredible. Just incredible.” And then, Brother went through a period when Divine Mother took even that away, and he wasn’t sure about the picture of Master, whether it was actually the Guru. And then one day, this was actually Brother’s sixty-first anniversary of coming into the ashram, October 11, 2010. And then he knew. And he said, “Now everything is alright because Master is with me. Because I love Master and Master loves me.”
Brother was able to craft these beautiful lectures to inspire all of us with his stories of Master and his understanding of the teaching. But also he had that quick wit and wisdom. And I just would like to share this again. All of you have heard this before, but it was that occasion at convocation when the announcer introduced ‘The Reverend Brother Anandamoy.’ And then Brother sat down and he told the story about the dedication of India Hall in Hollywood and afterwards they were sitting around Master, and Master looked around and said, “To think of it, my little boys built this.” And Brother felt so proud to be one of Master’s little boys. And then Brother said to the audience, he said, “Did you hear how he introduced me? The ‘Reverend Brother Anandamoy.’ Well, I tell you, to my last day, I’m one of Master’s little boys.”
And to me, that is Brother Anandamoy.
One of the last Christmas cards that Brother sent to me, it says, “Dear Nakulananda,” and then he said some very personal words of appreciation of our friendship. And then he wrote, “I look forward to happy times in the astral, full of bliss, according to Ma. Keep Master ever close to you. He is an avatar of God, omnipresent. Whenever you think of him you are in his presence, and you receive a blessing.
Joy to you. Anandamoy.”