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Neeshee Pandit has been a devotee of Adi Da since 2008. At the time of writing this story, he is 19 years old.

Maksim Igorevich Rykov

I first read the name, "Adi Da Samraj", in September 2006, when I was participating in an online forum centered around a general discussion of spirituality. Someone new suddenly appeared on the message board and created a topic titled, "Avatars". He then began to post about his experiences with Adi Da, asking if anyone else could relate, had similar experiences, or could explain it. Being raised in the Hindu tradition, I was familiar with the term "Avatar" and decided I would read this topic and see if I could add to it.

The first thing I did was type "Adi Da Samraj" into Wikipedia, just so I could read a general biography before researching in more depth. I did not expect the Wikipedia page to contain much information, nor was I relying on its accuracy, and it did not really provide me with much except for a few quotations and a photograph of Adi Da. I did not know it at the time, but that moment when I saw His Face initiated an unspeakable process in me that I would not have even conceived of then.

Nonetheless, even in that moment, I was not very moved by Adi Da. I did not have much of a response at all, but I did have a reaction. I left the Wikipedia page feeling that Adi Da was just another "New Age" and "American" guru trying to make a name for himself and that he was teaching some form of pseudo-spirituality that just mimicked the traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism, while pretending to be entirely unique. I was not feeling particularly negative about Adi Da, rather I just felt neutral, uninterested, and unimpressed.

So I went back to the message board and replied to this fellow, sharing with him my thoughts on Adi Da. I simply wanted to understand where he was coming from. He sympathized with my reaction as if it were normal, and confessed that he doesn't even know himself, but his experiences with Adi Da were more powerful than anything else he had ever experienced. I was surprised with this person. He was very intelligent, straightforward, and clear. And yet he was so insistent that there was something more to all of this. I grew fascinated by his character, and subsequently, grew more fascinated by Adi Da.

I began to enter into a private dialogue with this person, messaging back and forth. I was practicing Tibetan Buddhism at the time, and from my discussions with him, it was very clear that our philosophical stances were exactly the same. I just couldn't understand what he was saying about Adi Da. I kept wondering why he couldn't see through Adi Da, why he couldn't see that he was just another New Age guru who wasn't saying anything new? He began to share his experiences with me in more depth and detail, telling me about how he saw Adi Da in 2005 at The Mountain Of Attention Sanctuary in Northern California, and how Adi Da healed his father. He told me that he had no questions about Adi Da; that all questions dissolved when he saw Adi Da. I was very moved by his conviction. It felt so absolute. I could not feel a trace of uncertainty in him. This fascinated me. I began to inquire further, to understand Adi Da, to begin to figure out this Mystery. He told me I should read The Knee Of Listening, Adi Da's Spiritual Autobiography, so I bought The Knee Of Listening, along wiht Adi Da's "prose-opera", The Mummery Book.

The cover of The Knee Of Listening was very striking to me. I felt moved and attracted to the photograph of Adi Da that was on the cover. His Eyes were bottomless and profound, and I always felt like He was looking right at me, right through me, and could see everything. I felt exposed by His Glance. I remember just holding the book in my hands and studying His Face, looking into His Eyes, and very tangibly feeling Him looking at me. I felt a depth in Him. I felt that I also could not understand Him and was always overcome by a feeling of Mystery. My mind could not place Him anywhere, could not categorize Him, could not do anything at all. I felt so compelled to figure Him out, but He felt so elusive, as if I always just couldn't put my finger on Him. I always felt so close, but He was always one step ahead, and all I could feel was this Mystery about Him. Adi Da remained constantly beyond my grasp. My fascination became a new intensity. I started to watch videos of Him on YouTube, and felt a profound Mystery every time I saw Him move, stand, or speak. I could not account for Him. And it became obvious to me with time that there was something different about Adi Da, I did not know what, but there was just something different. I knew even then that He is not like anyone else I had ever seen before.

I found The Knee Of Listening to be an amazing book and was fascinated by Adi Da's life story. I enjoyed reading His Writing and reading about His childhood and His time in India, and everything else. I found it very humbling. And His Writing was so sophisticated, intelligent, and creative. I was fascinated with the technical precision in His use of language. I remember reading the first essay "Do Not Misunderstand Me"; it was full of capitalization, underlining, and parentheticals. I did not feel intimidated, but immediately felt that whoever Adi Da Is, He is very serious.

I never felt offended by His claims of Divinity or Avatarhood, but was more struck by the way He said it. His Written-Word was absolutely confident, firm, and unshakable. I felt that there was no trace of uncertainty in Adi Da about anything. His Writing was so strong, with the underlining, the capitalization, everything. I did not care if He was the Divine Avatar or not, I could at least respect His utter seriousness and confidence about it. He did not feel weak at all, as if He was someone who needed to make claims about himself for the sake of identity, or self-esteem, or megalomania. His strength was overpowering to me. I did not even question Him, nor did I believe Him, but I just kept reading. I was fascinated and attracted to Him and His claims, that someone would even say something like that was startling and amazing to me. I couldn't get enough. I continued to read passages where Adi Da would say that He was the Divine, and sometimes would even seek for these passages, just marveling that someone would say such a thing! Why would a man say that? And with such Force? [1]

I recognized The Mummery Book to be an absolute masterpiece after just a few pages in. The language was so utterly unique, unlike anything anyone had ever written. It was so beautiful and stylistically profound. I immediately recognized Adi Da as a literary genius. Adi Da's Image-Art is on the cover, which I found to be interesting. I thought it was a bit strange, and could not understand why someone would make something like that. I could not make any sense of it, and yet I was inexplicably drawn to it, always taking time to gaze at the cover before opening the book.

Even while all of this was happening, I had no intention or thought of becoming a devotee. I was content with my practice as a Buddhist and was not looking to change anything at all. It had not even crossed my mind. I continued to read The Knee Of Listening and The Mummery Book in an erratic fashion. They were always there whenever I wanted to read them. In retrospect, it felt as if those books were just waiting for me all the time, and I even felt this when I wouldn't read them for a while. I felt this need to read them, to go back, to understand. I continued in this way, with The Knee Of Listening at my bedside, for about two more years.

In January 2008, everything changed as I suddenly began to despair of my Buddhist practice. It was obvious to me that I was still suffering from egoity and nothing had really been helping me to go beyond that. I was not seeing any progress and I wanted to meet a real Guru, an Enlightened person, so that I could sit and feel that One's State. I felt a need for this, and Adi Da was (surprisingly) not crossing my mind as such a One. He was still there in the form of His books on my floor, and I did read them sometimes.

But I had a more serious crisis on my hands now. My Buddhist practice was all that made me content, satisfied, and happy, and now even it was beginning to feel useless. Everyday I wandered in the same illusions of separateness. The same dilemmas continued to arise. Nothing was really changing. Momentary glimpses of egolessness were not good enough for me anymore, because they always went away, and there I was again. Back to square one.

All of the books and Buddhist texts I had been reading began to feel abstract and I no longer felt moved by them. I began to wonder if anyone really understood. I looked to my Sangha for someone to relate to, for a Guru, something, but I could not find it. I grew steadily disillusioned of everything. High school felt to be even more useless to me and I could not focus on academics at all. I was only interested in Spirituality. None of my friends seemed to understand anything. My teachers kept giving me a hard time for not focusing and my grades began to decline. I quickly became disillusioned with everything about my life.

I was sitting at home one day in such a state when a remarkable event occurred. I was sitting in my chair in front of my computer and it suddenly felt to be cold in my room. I started to shiver a bit. Then I started to have chills and stronger shivers. I could not understand what was happening. Suddenly, I surrendered to the shivering and just let it happen instead of trying to stop it, and it began to take over my entire body. An unbelievable Energy descended upon me and I began shaking. In an instant, I felt saturated by this Indescribable Energy. Its Thickness enveloped my entire body and it was vibrating with an unspeakable intensity. I swooned in ecstasy. My breathing grew rapid and profoundly deep. I felt that I had no control over anything at all, I was being breathed. It was an unforgettable ecstasy.

I somehow felt this Great Ecstatic Energy to be Love, and I could not explain why or how, but it was unmistakable as the deepest, most profound Love I had ever felt. Love felt to be intrinsic to Reality and its depth was unfathomable. I felt my body to be vibrating at the speed of light. I could not even feel my physical body. Only this Great Love-Energy. My body was paralyzed with Yogic Force and Ecstasy. My hands locked in spontaneous mudras from the Great Love-Energy that was moving in and around and through my entire body.

This was the most profound event in my life at the time. This was exactly what I needed, I thought. This is what I needed to rejuvenate my spiritual life at this time of crisis. I felt empowered, rejuvenated, and utterly transformed afterwards. The sense of Love that I felt did not leave me for days. I walked into my bedroom after the event and the first thing I saw was The Knee Of Listening, sitting next to my bed. Without thinking I walked over and immediately grabbed it. I thought, I've been trying unsuccessfully to figure out Who Adi Da Is for the past two years, and this moment was a better time than any to try one last time. I was on the verge of giving up, feeling that I would never understand Adi Da, and that maybe it didn't really matter either.

I opened the book and the page I had opened to was an essay titled, "I Am The One And Only Man Of 'Radical' Understanding". Within seconds, I felt that this essay had captured what I had just experienced. In that essay Adi Da writes, "Reality Is That Which Is Unqualifiedly Present. Love Is Perfect Presence." These two lines struck me so deeply. I felt how true it was. That is all I could feel. This is true. These words are exactly what I experienced and know to be true. Somehow Adi Da was articulating it and I kept reading with great joy. The ending of the essay was so incredibly profound for me. It is the type of profundity that makes you gasp from the heart-shock. It touched my heart at a depth that I did not know existed.

I fell in Love with Adi Da Samraj. I watched His videos on YouTube all day and every day. I read His Words with great joy and ecstasy. I grew so Distracted by Him, I did not even wonder if He was the Divine Avatar or not. I was just absorbed in Him beyond all thought, beyond all dilemma. Just like Krishna and the Gopis. It was Divine Distraction.

I began to enjoy a profound relationship to Adi Da in this way, and very soon understood that the event I experienced that day was Him. I continued to have many more experiences of that nature when contemplating Him, just feeling His Divine Presence, as His Spiritual Transmission began to stir a yogic process in me. Somehow I felt that Adi Da is His Spiritual Transmission. I only wanted to sit and feel Him all day, to Commune with Him, to surrender to Him. His Spiritual Invasion of the body-mind is Satisfaction, Happiness, and Love.

I realized that He is my Guru and I needed to be His devotee. I did not care about anything else. The negative things I read about Adi Da on some websites did not make me flinch. They were so utterly ridiculous and exaggerated that I had no inclination to believe it, even before I had an affinity for Adi Da. From the beginning I could tell that Adi Da was strong, confident, and serious. In contrast, the energy of these negative websites felt to be adolescent, weak, and absurd. Furthermore, I did not expect mainstream culture to understand and respect an Enlightened One. I knew from my previous Buddhist practice that the world isn't really interested in Enlightenment, at all. The world exists and perpetuates itself on the presumption of egoity. Enlightenment is its greatest threat.

Adi Da Revealed His Own Person to me in the most Direct and Remarkable manner possible. He Divinely Avatarically Descended into my life, in the most intimate and literal manner via His Spiritual Invasion of my body-mind. I recognized Adi Da as the Divine Avatar because His Spiritual Transmission is the Transmission of His Own Person. It is unmistakable and self-authenticating beyond all doubt, belief, and even thought. Since that first time He Revealed Himself to me, I have had many more experiences with Adi Da, where He touched and opened my heart, and I would weep at the Sight of Him and the feeling of Him. Just His Spiritual Touch is enough to make the heart break open. I took my eternal vow of devotion to Him in July of that year.[2]

Shortly after taking my vow, I moved onto The Mountain Of Attention Sanctuary, Adi Da's Northern California Ashram. During my time of residency there, Adi Da took His Divine Mahasamadhi. I will always remember that day, as if it just happened yesterday. I was just beginning to make plans to visit Naitauba, Fiji, Adi Da's Island-Hermitage, where He Resided during the final years of His physical Lifetime. It was a heartbreak and a shock. It happened so suddenly and unexpectedly. I was filled with so many emotions that all seemed to be happening at the same time. It was unbelievably overwhelming. I could not process the shock that my Master was no longer alive in His bodily Human Form, and that most heartbreakingly of all, I would never get to see Him. However, I had not seen Him up until then, and still there was this powerful relationship with Him. I had been experiencing Him directly and intimately, regardless of His physical distance from me. On some level, I already intuitively knew that this should not present any change to that, because I had been feeling His Spiritual Presence even at a remarkable distance from His Body. Yet, there was still the incredible sadness, an almost unexplainable sadness that just seemed to be there, sometimes without any reason at all. And I felt a great wound in my heart; that I was unable to see my Master in the Body, feeling how much I would have liked to, while fantasizing what it would have been like.

A few days after Adi Da took His Divine Mahasamadhi, I made immediate plans to go to Naitauba. I got on the plane, and eventually found myself on the boat ride to the Island. I remember as the boat got close enough where I could see the Island with my eyes, I began to feel how Holy that place is. I recall growing increasingly contemplative and quiet throughout the boat ride, as it grew closer to the Island. It was as if Naitauba was Radiating Spiritual Energy in all directions simultaneously, and I was beginning to feel the Spiritual Energy of that place more and more as the boat got closer. As the boat came very close to the Island, I felt a deep emotion rise up in my heart, and I felt my heart open in depth. Tears began to form in my eyes, as I grew closer to the feeling of my Guru. Finally, the boat stopped, I stepped into the water, and onto the Island. I felt so desperate to simply prostrate whole-bodily onto the beach, and I thought of how much I had been longing to do this, just to lay myself at the Guru's Feet and be forgotten in devotion.

When I stood up after prostrating, sand was stuck in my hair, and I was weeping as I embraced a fellow devotee. There was the heartbreak of never getting to see Adi Da when He was Alive in the Body, but then there was the feeling of His Spiritual Presence, still touching me, still moving my heart, still there and unmistakably Alive. The immense sorrow that I cycled through sometimes felt to be completely unrelated to Adi Da's Divine Mahasamadhi, as if it was just a sorrow deep inside of me that had been there for lifetimes, and this Event was just something that brought it up and out. After a while, I began to recognize the deep sorrow and all other confusing emotions as part of the purifying Spiritual Force that was released from Adi Da's Divine Mahasamadhi. I felt grateful to my Guru for purifying me of a sorrow too deep for me to have even been aware of. Adi Da says that "Love is a wound that never heals", and I feel how having to come to terms with His Bodily Passing and not being able to see Him Bodily has served to purify me and deepen this wound of heart-love for my Divine Guru.

Recently, a friend of mine who has been responding to Adi Da, asked me if I thought it might be more beneficial to become a student of a living Guru, as in a Guru who is physically alive. I immediately thought, Adi Da must be the most Alive and Active Guru that exists! I couldn't help but feel how much of a "Living Guru" Adi Da really Is, even now. I thought it was a particularly striking question and was surprised by my immediate, intuitive response. I just felt how true it was, and how much of a Divine Gift He Is to all beings, forever. He is a wonder and a miracle; the Divine Blessing-Presence and Person of Reality Itself.

I feel very blessed to have become Adi Da's devotee at age 18. I have a long life ahead of me to serve Him in gratitude for all the Blessings He has Given me and continues to bestow upon me.

May all beings receive His Divine Blessing.

[1] That Adi Da is the human incarnation of the Divine Person is the primary communication of Adidam. Everything else is secondary or peripheral. But many people miss the Treasure, because they get sidetracked by the peripheral. For more on this, read "The Fruitful Question is Not Did He or Didn't He, but Is He or Isn't He?"

[2] For more about the Eternal Vow that one takes when one becomes a devotee of Adi Da, click here.

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