When Jagadisha Sastri and I (Chhaganlal Yogi) were walking down a street together in Bombay, it occurred to me that I had never seen him wear any kind of footwear. The black tar roads of the city get very hot in summer and I found it hard to believe that anyone could walk comfortably on them without wearing sandals or shoes.
I turned to him and asked, ‘Sastriji, your feet must have got burned a lot walking on these roads? Isn’t that so?’
‘No, no,’ he answered, ‘I have already got ravi raksha [protection from the sun] from Bhagavan. I may walk in any amount of heat but nothing ever happens to me.’
I naturally asked, ‘How did you get this ravi raksha?’
By way of an answer Sastriji told me a long story.
‘One day, right in the middle of the afternoon, Bhagavan took his kamandalu [water pot], got up and told me, “Jagadish, come with me to walk about on the mountain”.
“But it’s so hot,” I protested. “How can we move about in such weather?” I argued like this because I wanted to escape from the trip.
‘Bhagavan found my excuse unsatisfactory. “You can move about in just the same way that I move about,” he said.
“But my feet will burn!” I exclaimed. I didn’t have any footwear with me and I didn’t relish the idea of walking about over the burning rocks.
“Will my feet not burn as well?” replied Bhagavan, obviously feeling that this was not a serious obstacle. Bhagavan never wore any kind of footwear. He could walk on the toughest terrain in any weather without feeling the least discomfort.
“But yours is a different case,” I answered, alluding to the fact that Bhagavan never needed footwear.
“Why? Am I not a man with two feet, just like you?” asked Bhagavan. “Why are you unnecessarily scared? Come on! Get up!”
‘Having realized that it was useless to argue any more, I got up and started walking with Bhagavan. The exposed stones had become so hot because of the severe heat of the sun, walking on them made my feet burn.
‘For some time I bore the suffering, but when it became unbearable I cried out, ”Bhagavan, my feet are burning so much! I cannot walk one more step. Even standing here is difficult. On all sides it is raining fire!”
‘Bhagavan was not impressed. ”Why are you so scared?” he asked.
“If I remain in this terrible heat for any more time,” I replied, “my head will crack open because of the heat and I will definitely die!” I was not joking. I really was afraid of dying.
‘Bhagavan smiled and said in a very quiet and deep voice:
“Jagadish, give up your fear and listen. You must have the bhavana [mental conviction and attitude] that you are the sun. Start doing japa of the mantra suryosmi [I am the sun] with the conviction that it is really true. You will soon see the effect of it. You yourself will become surya swarupa, that is, you will have the characteristics of the sun. Can the sun feel the heat of the sun?”
‘I followed this instruction of Bhagavan and started doing japa of this sun mantra because there was no other way to be saved from the burning heat.
In a short time I started to feel the effect of the japa. The severity of the heat began to lessen and eventually I began to experience, instead of severe heat, a pleasing coolness. As the feeling of burning diminished I found that I was able to walk quickly alongside Bhagavan. By the time we had both reached Skandashram I found that my feet were not at all burnt as I had continued the mantra japa right up till the end of the walk.
‘Later, I was astonished to discover that the effect of chanting this mantra was permanent. Though I no longer chant it, I have never again suffered from the heat of the sun. I can now walk in summer on tar roads of a city like Bombay with bare feet.’