The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn (Ashram Life)


“Lest the awe should dwell
And turn your frolic to fret
You shall look on my power at the helping hour
But then you shall forget

Lest limbs be reddened and rent
I spring the trap that is set
As I loose the snare you may glimpse me there
For surely you shall forget

Helper and healer I cheer
Small waifs in the woodland wet
Strays I find in it
Wounds I bind in it
Bidding them all forget”

For those not familiar with Kenneth Grahame’s, The Wind in the Willows, the above passage is taken from my favourite chapter and namesake of this blog post. There is no excuse not to have read this masterpiece and it remains in my top five books of all time and the one that lifts my spirits most when feeling down.


(Kenneth Grahame)

In the chapter the infant otter, Portly, is lost along the River Bank and his father and friends Ratty and Moley are out searching for the cub. It’s high summer, and in the glade of a wood amid an island in the river, they are blessed with a vision of the Demi God, Pan. At his cloven hooves lies the sleeping Portly, safe and well. He wakes distressed and as the apparition fades he frantically searches round for the protector and healer that had sheltered him and offered solace and comfort in his hour of need.

As the friends, awestruck and confused, leave the island they hear the above song, faintly whispered in the rustle of reeds and on the whistle of the wind. There is one final grace bestowed on the companions, amnesia,  so that the terrible beauty and trancendental nature of their experience wouldn’t cause them distress when back in the real world.

My experience in the ashram of Sri Haidikhan Babaji was not of such an intense senory nature. Perhaps, I wasn’t spiritualy or emotionally ready for it. I have spoken to many devotees who have had visions equal in intensity to that of Ratty and Moley, these are people I trust and I have no reason to doubt them.

Mine however, was a silent dialogue. Like a child learning to speak for the first time, the words were internal and simplistic but the emotions and the joy at being able to express myself on such a level had a profund effect on me.

Like in the above poem I arrived at the ashram, limbs reddened and rent, after almost 24 hours travel and sore from yoga training. The trap of my own mind, desires and attachements was sprung. The snare of expectations, of me wanting it to be more profound than it actually was (wanting seas to part and lead me to a burning bush), was loosened. I was a stray and  was found, My wounds were bound and then……what was I just talking about?

I have been given the gift of amnesia. It been month since I left. I could write pages and pages on the things I experienced there but I am still processing and trying to remember. Perhaps the experience was too emotionally intense for me to intergrate fully. So he bade me forget and already, so quickly, I have forgoten.

Lastly, adapted again from the above mentioned chapter.

Haidikhan is the place of my song-dream, the place the music played to me. Here in this holy place, here if anywhere surely we shall find him.

I feel as if I have been through something very exciting and rather terrible, and it was just over, and yet nothing particular has happened.

And, like the young lost otter, I now scramble around Asia, looking for him. But, he is nowhere to be found.


(Sri Haidikhan Babaji)

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