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Two Living Masters In Bombay
Hashish? You want hashish? the street hustlers on Bhagat Singh Road would go. Id shake my head, no. You want girl? dodging along beside me, you want girl? Uh-uh, again. Then, after a moments doubt, their faces would light up. Theyd got it! You want Ramesh ?
Id thought that extraordinary, late 20th century spiritual boom in Maharashtra- Meher Baba, Nityananda, Nisargadatta Maharaj, Muktananda, Goenka, Osho was something that had ended with Oshos death: but not a bit of it.
At present Ramesh Balsekar is probably the worlds most famous guru, with a string of books to his name, yet he is more available than any teacher on the Western satsang scene. You can just go round to his flat and talk to him. The times I went there was a group of about 20 people, a mixture of sannyasins, backpackers and assorted seekers; and Ramesh was completely relaxed and unpretentious with everyone. The Colaba taxi drivers all know where, but the address is: 10, Sindhula Building, Gamadia Road, Breach Candy. (Its close by Woodlands, where Osho used to live.) Arrive by 9.30am if you want to make it into the little room where Ramesh talks from 10 till 11.30. Otherwise youre in the corridor.
Personally I wasnt bowled by Ramesh in the way some people are. It was Ranjit Maharaj (who was just a name I felt somehow duty bound to check out) who really touched me, and that in a way no one had done since Osho.
Seeing Ranjit was the same informal trip, same tiny room, same intimate group (same spiritual lineage in fact, Ranjit had the same guru as Nisargadatta Maharaj who was Rameshs teacher) only this time it wasnt fashionable Breach Candy but a huge Dickensian tenement in Central Bombay, dark and full of washing hung up to dry, in an crumbling alleyway just round the corner from Nisargadattas old house. All that stuff about emptiness and the Void had always stuck in my throat, it seemed so cold and inhuman- what happened with Ranjit was that emptiness somehow came warm and alive. Hes 87, Maharaj; and looks it. All the more strange that someone whose body was such a ruin should be so beautiful. He seems to have come back from the end of everything to tell you that its all really O.K. The Void it seems is as sweet as pie Ranjit strikes me as being the final teaching. Fixing me with his eye, I got my personal two cents worth: Be open to all people. Fear is not necessary. You are He. His eyes were like jewels
Bombays pricey for hotels. I had a room at Bentleys. Thats 17 Oliver Road, in Colaba, just behind the Taj Mahal Hotel: a tree-lined, bougainvillea climbed-on street, a stones throw from the sea. Rooms were around rs.800-1000 a night. Thats £10-15, and not cheap; but some of them are classic Grand Indian Funk, and the size of small flats. You can book from Poona, with a bit of luck. Bentleys Hotel phone numbers: 2841474, or 2841733. Whalleys Hotel, just round the corner, was also recommended. Thats the same price range; for something cheaper try the Hotel Lawrence, behind the Prince of Wales Museum. You can get a clean, simple, single room for rs.300, but youll almost certainly have to book in advance. Its on the third floor, 33 Sai Baba Marg, off K. Dubash Marg. Phone 2843618. Ask in Chetana Books/Restaurant, which is right close by, if you cant find it.
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