My father's swami cousin

My father's aunt had a son who had accepted the spiritual life and had been initiated as a swami. She was always crying for her son, so at her request my father had to go to see her son at his Guru's ashram and beg him to come back to his mother.

Swamis lead a very austere life. They renounce the world and live off alms. Once a seeker is initiated as a swami, he is not supposed to touch anybody's feet except his Master's. But when my father went to the ashram, as soon as his cousin saw him, he ran and fell at my father's feet. The Guru said, "What kind of disciple do I have? What are you doing?"

My father was older than his cousin, so his cousin said, "This is my older brother. I have to touch his feet." The Guru gave the disciple a compassionate and blessingful smile.

My father told the Guru, "His mother has requested that I bring her son back. She is dying for him. Please allow him to go home for a few months." The Guru kindly consented.

Because of his fondness for my father, the cousin left his Master and returned home.

My father's aunt lived only a month or two after that. The son stayed until his mother died. Then he said to my father, "I have only one boon I want from you in this incarnation." My father knew what it was and said, "Granted!" His cousin would never have to come back to stay with his family again. He would always stay with his Guru.

Once a year my father used to go and see his cousin at his Guru's ashram. Once when I was nine or ten years old, our whole family went to see him with my father. His Guru was very kind to our family.

When I came to America, every day this uncle of mine used to pray that I would not drink wine or lead an undivine life and become corrupted. He had heard that America was such an unspiritual place. He wrote me a very affectionate letter warning me not to be spoiled in America.

This uncle was extremely affectionate towards our whole family. He gave special names to my brothers and sisters, calling them cosmic gods and goddesses. He died a few years ago at the age of eighty-nine. After his death, he came to me and showed me tremendous affection and compassion. Now he knows who I am.