by permission from the book True
Tales of Spiritual Power.
THE DUSTY TWO-LANE ROAD was a decaying application of
gravel long ago spread on hardening tar. For the town,
it has always been the road of life leading from one
village to the next. There are thousands of them all
this town is special. The center of life here is the
hermitage of the local "pope." In India there
are four religious districts (maths, pronounced
"mutts") that subdivide the nation. The spiritual
leader of each math is the absolute spiritual authority
for the area, similar to a pope. It has been this way
for centuries. This town is the headquarters for Kanchi
Math. All commerce and social life is somehow connected
with the activities going on behind the adobe walls
which surround the compound in the center of the village.
There are no guards and the gates are wide open. Although
the gates close at night, there are no robberies or
fears of robbers.
group of fifteen Westerners who got off the bus had
no frame of reference for what was to come. Like most
Americans, they had a ready laugh and talked too loud
for the surroundings.
are beggars here. The almseekers exist in a sort of
hierarchy. Within the gates are certain beggars who
have their stations. Outside the walls are others. There
are no quarrels over location. Everyone knows everyone
else's status and station. One has no legs. Another
is blind. The beggars here are relatively quiet and
discreet, contrary to beggars in some other countries
or even in Delhi and Bombay. So although there is poverty
and want, there is also peace here and a sense of order.
The price paid here for great spiritual power is stagnation.
India struggles with the stagnation while millions of
people ardently seek tangible spiritual power. Some
have attained it.
Americans on this spiritual journey tended to be generous
and had to be instructed about almsgiving at the very
beginning of their sojourn through ten assorted pilgrimage
spots. They learned that only small amounts should be
given to any of the beggars, or a riot could start.
Mostly, they understood and complied, although there
would almost be a mob "incident" in Hardwar
from one traveler who decided to be over-generous.
travelers were unaware that they were about to experience,
first hand, the great power residing here.
leader of this spiritual tour was well-known within
Indian spiritual circles. Because he was mildly famous
among spiritual leaders there, he gained entrance for
the group to places and circumstances which might be
unavailable to unescorted Western seekers. The group's
coming audience with the local "pope" was
a testament to the teacher's local fame.
it turned out, the "pope" of this math was
on a trip to another province. He had left two months
previous with his entourage, walking the 250 miles to
his destination. He would return by walking as well.
Because of certain vows, the pope-leader of the math
walks on ceremonial wooden sandals which are very awkward
to use. He does not mind. Neither does he mind the endless
ceremonial greetings which flow out to him at every
tiny village through which he passes. It comes with
the position, and he knows it. His patience for such
things is as enduring as the poverty of the people.
his absence, the "assistant pope" was in charge.
Because long journeys are the rule for persons in these
positions, each district has a head "pope"
and an assistant. One of them always stays at the headquarters
and presides. Thus, the district headquarters is never
without the proper spiritual authority. On this day,
the "assistant pope" was presiding as he had
done for a couple of months and as he would do for the
next several months.
Americans were escorted into an enclosed courtyard with
a small Shiva temple at one end. Inside the narrow enclosed
area where the lingham (religious icon representing
Shiva) is installed, several priests performed the Arati
or "Waving of the Light." The symbolism of
the Arati is that the luminance of the small light of
the soul is waved before the larger light of the transcendental
Purusha or Great Soul, or "God of which we are
a part," as they say.
the Arati, the Westerners were escorted through one
of countless archway doors. This one lead to a small
courtyard. At the far end of the courtyard stood a chair
sitting on an eighteen-inch high pedestal. The chair
teacher leading the tour of visitors took a moment to
explain that no one should touch this man who would
be coming out because it is considered rude. Then they
all took their place, standing some fifteen feet back
from the chair in a large semi-circle. A soft rustling
entered from the back and a dark-skinned man with finely
chiseled features entered the courtyard.
was clothed in faded orange robes and wore wooden sandals
that clattered ever so softly as he made his way toward
the chair in an unhurried, almost casual manner. At
a signal from the teacher, the Westerners began to sing
a simple Sanskrit religious song well-known to the swami
and his attendants who silently filed in after him.
swami smiled and nodded and gently clapped his hands
in rhythm to the simple chant. At its conclusion, he
spoke quietly to the local teacher in Hindi. The exchange
lasted only a few seconds, and the Westerners were then
asked to sing another song. They complied. Next the
swami asked the teacher to sing a solo... he is well-known
for his singing and composing of spiritual songs. The
swami had requested a specific song, so the teacher
poured forth the song which he himself had written years
ago. The swami appeared very pleased. After completing
his song, the teacher became serious and asked the group
to stand quietly in a semi-circle. Starting at one end
of the group, the swami looked deeply into the eyes
of each person for just a second... perhaps less, and
then his gaze moved on.
young man in the center of the group watched interestedly.
He felt the beginning of a vague sense of disappointment
because he had expected the blessing to be a bit different.
He was familiar with the ceremonial bowing down to touch
the feet of the spiritual teacher or guru. So when there
was no formal receiving line for this activity, he wondered
what this new method of paying respect might be. He
was experienced enough to know that sometimes when the
feet of certain teachers, priests and swamis were touched,
a surge of energy would come through, "zapping"
the supplicant in the process. He had experienced it
on several occasions and knew of its beneficial effects.
So when the swami started merely looking at people,
he felt a slight disappointment which was quickly followed
by a shrugging attitude of acceptance.
the glance of the swami had moved to within three or
four people to his right, he began to hear it. It sounded
like the firing of a phaser might sound on sStar Trek
or the whoosh of something moving by very fast. Then
the sound was right next to him and very loud. Now the
swami was looking at him and a surge of energy of some
indescribably powerful sort entered his eyes. He had
never experienced anything like it. Without burning
or being in the least hot, it nonetheless burned its
way quickly down into his body. It had no weight whatsoever.
It had less mass than a spring breeze. It also had a
specific destination, as he quickly learned.
a painless sizzle, a beam of energy went directly down
into his testicles. There the energy lingered slightly.
A wad of some material that the young man had been carrying
all of his life in his testicles disappeared quietly
and painlessly. It didn't burn in the sense one normally
associated with that word. The wad simply... evaporated.
He felt lighter. Emptier. The lump of inert gunk had
seemed so much a part of him, that the young man had
always assumed that it was just part of his anatomy.
the swami's gaze moved on, and the young man was left
just standing there wondering if he had been irrevocably
injured or hurt in some way. With a sense of urgent
investigation his mind descended into the groin area.
He frantically checked around mentally to see if everything
was still intact. "Maybe this hadn't been such
a great idea," he thought. "What if I've been
permanently injured?" He reflected wryly that he
might be a first-class fool to come 5,000 miles around
the Earth to be spiritually castrated. What a great
of these potential negative ideas raced through his
mind. He would probably never be the same. Worse, he
could never explain it to anyone without their thinking
he was crazy. The idea of medical assistance based upon
his explanation of what had happened was simply out
of the question. A host of swirling doubts and fears
fogged his mind for several seconds. What if he was
now impotent? What if he was no longer attractive to
women? But in the end he realized that he felt, well,
terrific. A burden of some sort had been lifted. It
was as if someone had just taken a large load of uncomfortable
rocks out of his crotch.
swami finished looking at everyone, a task that took
no more than fifteen seconds. The group was a bit dazed.
The teacher turned them all around with a soft command,
and they filed out silently.
back in the larger courtyard, a young woman in her early
twenties leaned softly forward to the young man and
said "Where did he get you?" She was smiling
with the restraint of one who has experienced the impossible,
but is still irrepressible. "Right in the testicles,"
he replied. "Where did he get you?" He admired
her spirit and he was as curious as she. "Right
in the heart," she replied. They nodded at each
other silently. A bond was somehow formed that needed
no words. No one else in the group said so much as a
the path leading out to the gate where the bus sat parked,
the beggars who somehow qualified to be inside the walls
of the temple sat quietly. The young man reached into
his pocket for a couple of coins. He didn't have enough.
He took his last remaining coin and placed it into the
basket of the first beggar. Then he stopped at each
of the other two beggars and explained that he did not
have change. He told them he would be back. He had no
idea if they understood. Then he went outside the gate
and got some change from one of the other visitors and
walked back the forty yards to where the beggars were
stationed. He placed coins in the basket of the other
two beggars. As he turned and walked down the path toward
the gate, he felt the soft wind of a healing energy
in his back. He felt "observed," slightly
self-conscious, but good.
warmth in his back continued as he walked back down
the path. After a bit, he stole a quick look at the
beggars, but by then they were quietly involved with
the next group of people coming down the path. He would
have wagered a large amount that they were working with
some variation of that same energy, if such a thing
could be proven.
back on the bus, no one spoke for the next twenty miles.
Beyond that single exchange with the young woman, no
one spoke of their experience at all over the remainder
of the trip. There would be other experiences, but not
like this one.
young man was me, Thomas Ashley-Farrand. The year was
1978. Through this work, I will relate to you true incidents
about people wielding fantastic spiritual power. My
encounter with Laser Swami was one in a series of encounters
with people who wielded such power as an everyday occurrence.
Reassuringly, they used this power to help others. Laser
Swami relieved me of a very large and uncomfortable
piece of pain. There is still more junk in me which
needs to go, but I now know beyond doubt that there
is divine help for every problem.
The Laser Swami's name is Jagadguru Sri Jayendra
Saraswati Shankaracharya Maha Swamigal. He is now head
of Kanchi Peetam.
Copyright 1997, 1998 Thomas Ashley-Farrand.
Thomas Ashley-Farrand began having mystical experiences
in 1968. He has served and studied with organizations
of a variety of religious traditions. He lives in California.