One evening, Shyama Charan Lahiri was roaming at the foot of the Himalayas while on a short visit to the area, when he heard a voice saying, “Shyama Charan, Shyama Charan.” He was surprised to see a sadhu calling him from a distance. The sadhu approached him and said, “Can’t you recognise me, my child, my son?” Then he uttered the name of Shyama Charan’s father and grandfather. Even then Shyama Charan could not recognise him. The sadhu showed him abundant affection and led him into a cave and showed him a trident, a sacred water pot, a lion skin, a tiger skin and some beads. He said, “Can you recognise these? They are all yours,” but Shyama Charan could not recognise them. The sadhu then placed his hand on Shyama Charan’s spine. Immediately Shyama Charan came to realise that those were indeed his belongings.
The sadhu said to him, “My name is Babaji, my son. You were my dear disciple in your previous incarnation. You left the body at a very high stage of spiritual development. I want you to complete your spiritual life in this incarnation.”
Shyama Charan bowed to his Master and cried and cried. He said that he would not go back to his wife and family, but Babaji said, “No, you have to return to them. God wants you to lead a family life and, at the same time, remain in your highest consciousness and guide householders in leading a better, higher and purer life. I shall initiate you in a few days’ time. As long as you remain near the Himalayas, come and see me every day.”
Shyama Charan was overjoyed that his Master was going to initiate him. With a heart full of gratitude and delight, he left.
A few days later Lahiri returned to the Master. Babaji said, “The time has come for me to initiate you, but before I do, you have to drink this liquid.”
Shyama Charan drank a very large quantity of an oily liquid from an earthen jar. It caused him to vomit and empty himself many, many times. Then Babaji said, “Now you are purified, my son. I am giving you puri, halwa and other sweetmeats. Eat them to your heart’s content.” Shyama Charan ate them voraciously. Then the Master initiated him compassionately, unreservedly and unconditionally.
Commentary: To say that each soul is blessed with only one incarnation is to commit a Himalayan blunder. Each soul goes through many, many incarnations before it embodies, reveals and manifests the ultimate Truth. We start from one point and eventually there comes a time when we reach the goal. Each incarnation helps the soul go forward to the destined goal. If we start something in this incarnation and do not complete it, then in the next incarnation we shall have to complete it, for unless we do, we shall have no abiding satisfaction. Each incarnation means covering a few more steps while walking along Eternity’s road. If we keep walking, marching and running forward, each incarnation is undoubtedly a movement forward to a more illumining and more fulfilling reality.