Seek the Boatman

It was a Sunday morning some years ago and, as was his custom, shunyayogi sat cross-legged before his home shrine, looking at his favourite deities with sadness.

The problem was that he had always cherished his intimate “connection” with them: he could talk to them, he could bow to them, he could feel them in his heart. But today, everything seemed changed. There was absolutely no feeling for them, no love, just a dull numbness and a hollow feeling in his chest. And, mind you, this was not the result of any other depressing cause in his life.

His feelings then are hard to describe. Let's say that he felt that his beloved personal deities had "deserted" him. A deep sadness engulfed him. Then, as shunyayogi sat there on his prayer mat, in silent despair, a line from a Hindi film song wafted across from a neighbour’s radio: Milegi na manzil tujhe bin khevaiya.

The astonishing thing was that neither the preceding line nor the succeeding line was heard, just this one line. Sharp and clear. And shunyayogi got goose bumps on hearing it. Existence had spoken.

Roughly translated, the line from the song said: You shan't find what you seek without the boatman.

You see, to spiritual seekers the world over, the boatman is always the guru.


  1. What a beautiful entry. This is something I want to take with me and think about for a long time. The boatman does occur in so many myths and stories. I think now of Tim O'Brien's, THE THINGS THEY CARRIED. There is a chapter about Tim going out on a boat with a very old man and as a result discovering his true intent.

  2. Anonymous2:15 pm

    you are my boat man

  3. venkat1:15 pm

    i remember u narrating me this incident on the terrace of Rameshji duing our visit there.

    prety vivid moments as they pass by me...



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