An Ode to Augarh

A phantom in the garb of a human
manifesting and multiplying at will.
Eyes bright as rubies, an intoxicating swagger,
he appears wherever he pleases still.

Another figure who finds frequent mention in the stories of Gurudev is his mysterious disciple, Augarh. Augarh is the head of the Aghor sect, and his spiritual domain spans Haridwar and its adjoining areas.

 Aghor is a state of mind that is free of contradiction and discrimination. Aghor vidya has commonly come to be recognised as lower-level tantric worship. However, this misunderstanding is exacerbated by the Aghoris’ practices, including eating dead bodies and excreta, maintaining poor hygiene, and meditating on charnel grounds. Since the Aghor philosophy seeks non-duality, these unusual practices allow Aghoris to achieve states in which stench and other sensory stimuli do not disgust them. Even though their practices are considered dirty, the truth is that the Aghor philosophy is highly evolved beyond the seemingly messy optics. By practising non-duality, Aghoris aspire to break free from the tantalising tentacles of maya or worldly illusion.

Augarh is a realised manifestation of the singular form of Shiv minus Shakti. He can, at will, manifest in various human forms in multiple locations and communicate telepathically. While Augarh was a disciple of Gurudev, his followers are not.

According to Ravi Trehan ji, Gurudev referred to Augarh as his disciples’ elder brother, to whom they could turn for help in spiritual matters. Many of Gurudev’s disciples received his support when they requested him. Surender Taneja ji’s wife, Shobha ji, used Augarh as a personal genie to grant mundane wishes. However, some could not connect with the abstractness of Augarh’s unmanifested form and thus could not benefit from his spiritual might.

When Augarh was in human form, Gurudev would meet him on his visits to Haridwar. One evening as Gurudev stood in a gathering crowd at Har ki Pauri at the time of aarti, he directed his disciples to stand a bit farther away and then asked Mataji to move closer to the riverbank to watch the prayer ceremony from a better vantage point. She sensed that her husband wanted to get rid of her to set the stage for a possible meeting with Augarh. Curious to see the mysterious disciple, she insisted on staying put. However, the cacophony of conch shells, gongs, and chants distracted her as soon as the aarti began. A few minutes later, she turned to face Gurudev and noticed a man in a white cotton kurta-pyjama and turban bending to touch his feet. Before she could register what was happening, the man turned and walked away, followed by her husband. Within seconds, they disappeared into the crowd.

Upon noticing Gurudev’s absence, the disciples rushed towards Mataji and inquired about his whereabouts. She told them what had happened. Despite a frantic search, they were unable to locate their guru. When he returned after some time, he confirmed that the man he had left with was Augarh. He also informed his wife that Augarh had touched her feet as a mark of respect. However, Mataji was unsure about that since she had no recollection.

She recalled another encounter with Augarh when she accompanied Gurudev to Rishikesh many years later. Many disciples and their families also joined them on that trip. As their entourage crossed Laxman Jhoola, they paused their journey near a ghat. A group of sadhus were resting there and a man covered in a white sheet lay on a long bench. Gurudev sat on the same bench near that man’s feet. He then instructed the men in his group to take a dip in the Ganges while the ladies, including his wife, were directed to the women’s bathing area to freshen up.

Shobha ji asked her guru for permission to place her young son by his side before leaving for the bathing area. She screamed, noticing the sheet-clad man staring at her with large red eyes as she placed her son on the bench. Gurudev told her to leave her son in his care and join the other ladies immediately. Her husband, Surender ji, was about to take a dip in the Ganges when he noticed an older man placing his hands on his son’s feet and Gurudev placing his hands on the boy’s head. The older man was nowhere to be seen when Surender ji emerged from the river a second or two later. It quickly became clear to him and the other disciples that the individual was their enigmatic gurubhai, Augarh. “Kya woh Augarh the?” (Was that man, Augarh?), they inquired of Gurudev. Their guru nodded in agreement.

One of my first encounters with Augarh happened when Gurudev instructed Subbhash Sabharwal and me to accompany Mataji to her hometown. After arriving at Mataji’s family home, we walked to a corner shop to buy tobacco. As we made our way towards it, we noticed a drunk and dishevelled man heading in our direction. He was pulling along his bicycle as he walked toward us. When we turned back to the house, he stood in our path, blocking it. He looked at us with piercing eyes and started chanting a mantra. I was shocked when I heard him saying the same mantra that I was reciting mentally at the time! I sensed this man was not to be trifled with. So Subbhash and I beat a hasty retreat.

I noticed him riding his bicycle around the house all night. He left when dawn broke. I don’t remember if Gurudev confirmed the man’s identity as Augarh or if instinct led me to that conclusion, but I do remember that Augarh spent the entire night guarding the house where his guru’s wife was staying.

My subsequent encounter with him occurred a few years ago when I began seva at Asthal, a picturesque village in Dehradun. Since the area fell under Augarh’s jurisdiction, I extended a mental invitation to him to pay a visit. On one of the first few days of seva at Asthal, I noticed a man with a confident, albeit drunken, swagger walk in and stand outside the room where I was attending to people who had come for healing. He gave me a knowing smile and looked at me with piercing eyes. The exchange of glances spoke volumes. When a sevadaar asked him to partake in the refreshments served to the visitors, he remarked that he was there to honour an invitation. As there was only one being whom I had invited to Asthal up until that point, it reconfirmed what I already knew – the man in our midst was Gurudev’s mysterious disciple, Augarh. Some of the younger disciples followed him out of the gates, only to discover that he had vanished and was nowhere to be found!

On another occasion, when Raji Sharma, one of Gurudev’s beloved disciples, arrived at Gurgaon late one night to meet Gurudev, I was tasked with preparing tea for them. A tall ask of a man who had never brewed a cup of tea in his life! In the hope of enlisting help, I ran to the room where the fierce foursome of the sthan – Nikku, Pappu, Bittu, and Gaggu – were fast asleep. As I couldn’t stir a single member of the quartet out of his slumber, I had no choice but to make the tea on my own.

I lit the stove and placed a pot of water with tea leaves. I then asked my older brother, Augarh, to help me make the perfect cup of tea. Surprisingly, the first instruction came to me as a thought wave: empty half the pot and refill it with fresh water. I then had another thought that directed me to the location of chai masala, which was exactly where indicated. I was given additional instructions regarding the amount of milk and sugar used and the number of boils required to brew the beverage. When the tea was ready, I poured it into two cups and made my way with trepidation to Gurudev’s room. I left the room after serving tea so that Gurudev and Raji ji could continue their conversation. After a few moments, I overheard Gurudev say, “Oy, chai bahut badiya banayi hai” (You’ve made lovely tea). I asked him if he wanted another cup, and he said yes. I guarantee you, the reader, that I can now make better tea than most, thanks to the telepathic recipe passed down to me by my elusive gurubhai, Augarh!