Tatiana, a 31-year-old graphic designer from Russia who prefers to be called by her Indian name, Tapasvi, is one of 20 foreign disciples of Pilot Baba who are in Ujjain for the Simhastha Kumbh.
“I am in India for peace and tranquillity,” she said. “I met Pilot Baba for the first time in 2010 and have been visiting his ashram every few months.”
Pilot Baba earned this sobriquet because of his time in the Indian Air Force, during which he fought in three wars — 1962, 1965, and 1971. He shunned worldly pleasures to become a sadhu in 1972, and today has ashrams in Haridwar, Vrindavan, Nainital and Gangotri.
Another of Pilot Baba’s disciples, Alexandria, who goes by the name Ashupriya, is from Ukraine. “For me, visiting India was like a dream come true. I got a strong desire to enrich myself spiritually. When I met guruji, from that moment I knew that he was the master,” she told to HT.
Ashupriya has toured India widely and been to Uttarkashi, Gangotri, Nainital and the Himalayas. “I have come alone, but I call my mom every few days to let her know that I am well,” she said.
Tatiana and her fellow disciples have had little trouble in adapting to Indian culture and cuisine, but the hot climate is another story.
“It can be tough at times. I take electral [oral rehydration salts] and don’t go out in the sun from 11am to 3pm,” Tatiana said. “[But] I like spicy Indian food and most other things about India.”
How well do they get along with their Indian counterparts?
“Even if you don’t speak the same language, you can understand each other,” said Tatiana. “Our day starts with Surya Namaskar (sun salutation) and then we do meditation and then some work for the ashram such as painting and then again we do jaap (chants).”
This simple life is more than just a fascination and some even would gladly settle in India.
“I am coming and going. I would like to stay but I have to take care of my parents in Russia,” said Tatiana.
With the month-long Simhastha fair set to commence from April 22, the excitement of these disciples is palpable. “I have not visited Kumbh in Allahabad, and so I am looking forward to this event,” said Alexandria.