Swami Bhagavan Nityananda
Nov/Dec, 1897 — August 8, 1961
Swami Bhagavan Nityananda was renowned in the southern and western parts of India, and is regarded by many as one of the most important modern saints of the twentieth century. Rudi’s chance meeting with him in Ganeshpuri, India, transformed the course of Rudi’s inner work for the rest of his life.
Rudi Meets Bhagavan Nityananda
Back in 1960 Rudi was preparing to move to New Zealand at the instructions of his spiritual teacher back then, Pak Subuh. Although moving to distant lands was not exactly what he wanted to do, Rudi— not one to hesitate— began liquidating his business and huge art collection in preparation. He made a trip to India with the intent of disbanding his network of people there who had been assisting his business endeavors. While in Bombay he stayed with his friend, Beebee, a multimillionaire with a penchant for saint-hunting. Upon his arrival Beebee implored Rudi to go with him to visit his latest find— Bhagavan Nityananda— in Ganeshpuri, a small town carved out of the jungle some 2 1/2 hours away.
From John Mann’s book Before The Sun: Meeting Rudi Rudi tells us:
We left the car and walked to a plain building and then through a doorway that led to the large room where the saint held audience. The first impression was overwhelming. There were people crowded in every corner in a state of religious hysteria. In the front of the room sat a large, dark man in a semi-trance. I was completely repelled. What was I, a sophisticated westerner, doing in this weird scene? How could this utterly strange man have anything important to give me? He didn’t even seem to be aware of his physical surroundings. For one long moment, I was filled with the impulse to turn around and walk away. But I have learned not to trust my instinctive reactions. Instead, Beebee and I watched as people streamed by the saint, receiving a blessing or asking him a question.
A few minutes passed. Then, to my dismay, we were led to the front of the room. Before I could say anything, I found myself being presented to the holy man, who seemed completely indifferent to me. I was asked if I had a question. Only one thing occurred to me, so I told him I was planning to move to New Zealand shortly and asked if this was the right thing for me to do. I wasn’t sure why I asked since I already knew the answer…
The saint’s response was unbelievable. “You are completely out of your mind,” he said. “Any decision that you make must be wrong. Go home!” I was deeply shocked. With one stroke, he had cut through the fabric of my whole life. I left the room in a daze.
On the way back to Bombay, Beebee asked me what I had thought of the experience. Before I could answer he told me that Nityananda was considered to be an incarnation of the elephant god, Ganesh. I asked him who Ganesh was, trying to cover my shocked condition.
Rudi soon realized the truth of Nityananda’s words, returning to New York to rebuild his business and life all over again. Rudi journeyed back to India the following year in hopes of visiting with him again, only to discover that Sri Nityananda had taken his mahasamadhi (the conscious act of passing where the body dies but the soul-force remains.) Shortly thereafter Rudi discovered that the experience of meeting Nityananda had had a tremendous effect on his inner life, taking a whole year to realize it. Nityananda’s energy and spiritual force was now moving through him in extraoridinary ways that would alter Rudi’s spiritual trajectory for the rest of his life.