By Makarand Paranjape July 1997 God incarnate or mere Godman? The mission statementTo usher in the Satyaguru, the Golden Age, nationally and globally, through a micro-level transformation of consciousness in the psyche of the individual, effected through intimate personal discovery of the Supreme Lord Kalki. The dharmasamsthapana (establishment of dharma ) of Kalki is within the domain of the individual human heart. Transformation of individuals would eventually lead to a transformation on the collective level. The Kalki convenant I am…the Supreme Creator, the Supremely Sacred, the Supreme immanent inner Controller of all that is, the immortal-I am Ishavara… With my coming, it is the dawn of the Golden Age of ten thousand years of a new cycle; for I incarnate to inaugurate every new cycle, every twenty-four thousand years. Your nature has become sinful as you no longer relate to me…. I transcend your understanding because you comprehend me only partially. Satyalok, Andhra Pradesh. About 140 km from Bangalore, in a small commune deep in the heart of rural India, a strange, thrilling, disturbing and moving phenomenon is erupting. Right before our eyes, a new religion, or at any rate a new cult, is emerging, complete with a living God, a monastic order, millions of thronging devotees, and tales of miracles. The divine center of the phenomenon is a 48-year-old being of slender build, who has been proclaimed as theKalki avatar. The moolamantra, or the principle chant of his cult, celebrates him as ‘satchidananda parabrahman, purushottama paramatman‘—the embodiment of truth-consciousness-bliss, the Supreme Godhead, Perfect Person, Transcendent Self. After remaining incognito for over three years, Kalki Bhagavan has now made himself available for public darshan, divine glimpse, at Satyalok. Ten a.m. In a small room, he sits on a raised platform in a modest chair draped with a silk cloth. His beard is trimmed, his head covered with a white flowing cloth. he has a garland around his neck. Above him is an umbrella whose shadow envelops him like a hole. A stairway covered with a blue carpet leads up to his platform. Underneath, two acharyas, the shaven-headed and white-robed Acharya Vimala Kirit and the Paramacharya, an older, more impressive bearded man, stand at attention. The Paramacharya has just conducted an aarti, the ritual waving of a camphor flame, to the figure on the chair, signaling the end of a puja, ritualistic prayer. Both men prostrate themselves full length. And then the darshan begins. Separated from this room by a glass partition is an even smaller darshan hall. From one side devotees pour in, men and women of all ages and classes, who have waited hours for a glimpse of their Lord Kalki. They are let in batches of 20-25 and, after a couple of minutes of gazing, coaxed or pushed out. Kalki sits with his eyes closed, apparently in deep meditation. The stillness is, however, rudely shattered by the very first batch. Already, while waiting to be let in, some women had begun to wail and sob. Now, face-to-face with their Lord, the devotees’ pent-up longing breaks all barriers. Without warning, a man shrieks repeatedly ‘Kalki! Kalki Bhagavan!’ Soon, the small room reverberates with cries, screams, tearful please. Conservatively dressed gentlemen begin to jump up and down clapping their hands in joy. Tamil women in nine-yard saris slap their own faces in atonement, shouting their prayers. Illiterate peasants in shorts and lungisweep uncontrollably. Just when the noise reaches a crescendo, Kalki suddenly opens his eyes. He raises his hands in a gesture of benediction, touching his chest with the tips of this fingers as if to say: ‘Don’t worry, now I am here.’ Then he shuts his eyes again. The crowd of devotees cannot believe their luck. Some shout: ‘Thank you, Lord, thank you.’ Their faces light up like happy children. They stare even more hungrily at the enthroned figure. The process is repeated again and again. The flood of human misery overflows that small room. Devotees unburden their sorrows in front of their living God and depart visibly relieved and uplifted. I witness the ritual catharsis, on the verge of tears myself. I realize that although the devotees are distinct individuals, dukkha, or sorrow, arising from the very conditions of human life. This is what the Buddha had discovered, in his wisdom and compassion: we think we are different, but actually we’re rather alike. The specificities of our lives may vary, but the contents are similar. The endless outpouring of human sorrow wrung my heart. I wondered how the living God in front of me himself reacted to this stream of pain and hope. He sat there for the most part with his eyes shut as the darshan continued till 10 at night. After the darshan, I wandered through Satyalok, a well-planned colony. In July 1984, an Indian gurukula, or school, called Jeevashram was started here. One of its benefactors was Dr. N. Sivakamu, a close associate of J. Krishnamurti. It was to Jeevasharm that Vijayakjumar, as Kalki Bhagavan was then known, was invited to take over as director. Five years later, in July 1989, a pupil, at home on vacation, suddenly had a spiritual experience: she found a golden ball of fire entering her and opening up her Brahmarandhra, the highest chakra of the kundalini. This pupil is today known as Acharya Samadarshini, the head of the Kalki order of nuns based in Bangalore. She attributed her transformation to her personal God Sri Kalki. Soon, some teachers and students of Jeevashram began to have similar mystical experiences. Prominent among them were the five who, in addition to Samadarshini, are leaders of the Kalki monastic order: Anadagiri, Akshaymati, Vimala Kirti, Maitreyi and Kaushika. All of them are less than 25 years old. An early flag-beater of the movement is Dr R. Shanker, or Paramacharya Sri Shankara Bhagavadapada. He had accepted Vijaykumar as the Lord when he was just 12 and the latter, 11. These seven direct disciples constitute the core leadership, acting on behalf of Kalki Bhagwan and conveying his directions to other monks and the laity. After the extraordinary events in 1989, Sri Vijaykumar came to be known as Bhagavan Ishwara, till he was declared the Kalki avatar. According to the Hindu Pauranic tradition, Kalki is the 10th incarnation of Vishnu, who descends to Earth during the Kaliyug, the Hindu era of darkness. His mission is to bring this degenerate Iron Age to an end and usher in the Golden Age. Everything about this movement is still new and fluid. The ‘discovery’ of the avatar itself is less than a decade old, as is the unveiling of the Srimurti, the specially charged portrait of Kalki which is worshipped. The sanyasa order is also less than five years old. The Mahavakyas, the central tenets of the Kalki dharma, are still being revealed. Many of the dogmas, rituals, beliefs, organizational principles, and myths of the cult are in the process of being formulated. What is beyond doubt is that the movement is expanding rapidly. The number of devotees is estimated at over 5 million, with the bulk of them from the southern states of India. Centers and temples are scattered all over south India and in other Indian states. Missions are being opened abroad, especially in North and South America, Russia and Japan. I discovered this movement’s intensity of devotion at its headquarters at Nemam, outside Chennai in India. Neman is crowded and cramped, in juxtaposition to the sprawling Satyalok. Instead of Satyalok’s well-designed tiled cottages, Nemam has large halls with thatched roofs. I am invited to participate in a group interaction with devotees, most of them from Chennai. What binds them is a transformative experience, which led them to Kalki. The case of Chennai’s Mohan Rao and his wife Uma is typical. Uma comes from a wealthy family of builders. She married Rao for love, against the wishes of her family. But the love she sought eluded her. Rao was more interested in making money. A crisis in their lives drew them to Kalki. Rao lost his wife’s jewels near Taj Coromandal hotel. His wife’s family suspected that he may have taken them himself. The police registered the case with some reluctance. Rao was desperate to regain the stolen jewels. A friend suggested that he pray to Kalki. As soon as he entered the Kalki temple in Annanagar, the presiding spiritual teacher then, Rama Bhagwadadasa, assured him that he would recover what he had lost. Quite miraculously he did. The police not only found the thief but restored Rao’s jewels to him. As his faith increased, Rao found his income going up too. Today, he claims that he is a happy man who is looking beyond money for true spiritual solace. His wife, who has an artistic temperament, said that through Kalki she was able to have many mystical experiences, which culminated in the opening of her ajna chakra. She saw a blue light at the tip of her nose, which filled her entire being with bliss for days on end. The stories that I heard from other devotees were as sincerely told and verifiable. Everyone had come to Kalki through an intense personal crisis which they could not resolve on their own. In utter helplessness, when they offered their problems to the Lord, they found themselves not just comforted, but converted. I heard how through their surrender to Kalkidevotees had overcome vices and addictions, had been cured of terminal illnesses, had personal and family problems vanished, and so on. At Nemam, all the activities are manned by young monks, many of whom are under 20. The most impressive of the lot was Kiran Kalki Dasa of Behrampur, Orissa, India. A 25-year-old with a glowing countenance, Kiran said that he was an atheist before he joined Kalki dharma. That happened after his mother
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