She travelled to India not because she wanted to or had a spiritual yearning, but because her friend was coming to India and she went along with this person’s itinerary. The thing that really made her go along was – her vegetarian diet!! It was tough for this young lady from a well off family living in the Hollywood area of California and doing her PhD after her graduation from Stanford – to follow the strict vegetarian diet with no chicken broth or fish seasoning or eggs. Rishikesh was the first place where she came to after landing in Delhi and as she stood on the banks of Ganga, she had an incredible spiritual experience. She thought it was something strange and one-off and went back. But whenever she came back to Ganga, the same experience happened to her every day. She would burst into tears. “Tears of Truth” as she calls them (not tears of sadness or joy)!
Sadhvi Bhagawati Sarasvati’s story is unique. It is a story of how a young Jewish Stanford Grad and Doctoral student from US connected to her inner-most self by being drenched in the Grace of Indian spiritual tradition. The Dharmic heritage of intense yogic energy that abounds in the land of India embraced her.
She discusses about her decision to stay thus.
One day, as I walked from the Ganga through Parmarth Niketan Ashram back to our hotel, I heard a voice, literally, that said, “You must stay here.” I looked around to see who had spoken, and there was no one. So I ignored it and kept walking. Then I heard it again. I was just about to ignore it for the second time when I remembered my vow from the plane. I said to myself, “Okay, I know this seems completely crazy but you made a vow to keep your heart open and follow it wherever the signs might take you. If you want to ignore this voice, fine; but then you must get on the next flight out of India, as you will be breaking your vow.” So, that’s how I ended up walking into the office at Parmarth and asking if I could stay. Pujya Swamiji was out of town, though, so I had to wait a week to meet him.
For all spiritual seekers, Sadhvi Bhagawati’s spiritual journey is very inspiring. It is intriguing in how someone who was not a “typical Western seeker” suddenly within a matter of days connected to the spiritual heritage at the deepest level and transformed her life. And inspiring in how someone who followed her spiritual instincts found her path forward.
Let us listen into her own discussion of her spiritual life.