More letters from India 17
by Premananda

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February 26, 1990

Dear Arjuna,

It seems impossible I have been here nearly a month. I am sitting in Baba’s room getting over a slight bout of "Amasha." I came down with it at Auil’s house, where I hear you also got sick (though I had definitely got it earlier). One has to be careful at Auil’s. According to Baba, there is a "ghost" (bhut) or soul of some kind living in that neem tree in his front yard, and by my intuition, it is somewhat mischievous with a sense of humor. Auil was warned not to cut the tree down and not to let any tantrik persons come to the place.

The festival was great, and everyone wanted to know how you are. Under questioning, I did not know how to describe your business to the people here. I settled on "phone information service," saying that there were many types of new phone services in the U.S., leaving the details not only vague, but blank. I leave their further enlightenment to you. There was a tangible current of bhav and power flowing at the festival. I felt always on the verge of tears for two weeks. India gobbled me up. Went begging in Gokulpur, where the untouchables live. Re-united with many devotees. All are well and send their regards. Only Jiten was very perplexed why your mother wrote him many letters asking where you were, long after you had returned to U.S.

Now, everyone has left, and the ashram is empty, just me and the three Ma’s. The weather is still nice, cool at night. I have taken to meditating a lot in Baba’s room and temple. Not much writing yet. As I get re-accustomed to India, it is USA which seems strange and far. Soon the weather will turn and begin to burn. I have written to Vimala, but no reply yet. If she will be in Mt. Abu, maybe I will go. Otherwise, Baba keeps me here.

I saw my three Hollywood monk friends at Belur Math. They will take sanyas tomorrow, Ramakrishna’s birthday. They were surprised, but glad to see me. They were in heavy culture shock, their first three days in India ever. They will visit the ashram if they have time. I met an interesting swami at Belur Math who looked just like an Indian version of Bill Cosby. It was hard to take him seriously at first; I kept wanting to laugh. He told me I had been born in India before and "snuck" a look at my palm for some reason.

I saw some Indian TV at Auil’s on his 15,000 rupee set. Everyone wanted to watch "Johnny Sokko and His Giant Robot," an ancient black and white Japanese sci-fi serial. I had been warned by Joya that after going there and being over-fed you got sick and had to leave the ashram, so I ate nearly nothing there. I had stomach cramps anyway. Auil was ticked that I would not eat. Anyway, I am fine now. I fasted two days after I got back, Sivaratri and Aurobosha. I think the Amasha has fled. I resisted taking antibiotics figuring that gaining some immunity was worth a few days’ discomfort, and I think I was right. They take antibiotics here at the drop of a hat. You just buy them over the counter.

Every time I come to India, it seems like there are more people…and, guess what? I really wish I had brought plans for making a solar cooker. If you can find some, send. At least send formula for parabolas. How to draw (with compass, etc.?) a large parabola with focus at some certain place in front. One plan I once saw made the mirror with lots of pieces of broken up mirror glued into a parabolic shell. Bamboo Geodesic domes is my other obsession.

Well, more later.