This morning was a ride around the small tents chatting to the Naga Babas. My first stop was the Rabri Baba to whom I presented my t-shirt. He was a big man well over 75 or so with huge jet white dreadlocks and hair. This Baba’s speciality was that in exchange for alms, he gave a small glass full of rabri (milk sweet dish).

The tent had a few more sages wearing saffron robes, but the baba was totally naked smeared from head to toe with vibhuti. He was chanting mantras and throwing wood into the fire trying to finish a yagna. I begged him to smear some ash on my forehead, which he very gleefully did.

After touching his feet and taking his blessings, I asked him a question. “Tell me, Baba, what is the true meaning of the ego and how do I know that ego is rising within me? How can I contain and suppress my ego so that it does not lead me to my doom?” The sage next to the Baba was the first to pick up the question and started explaining to me. He said ego basically happens when I put ‘me’ before others. When I put my needs, my wants and my desires before that of others, it gives rise to the ego. If I put myself over others or if I make myself superior to others, then that is the rising of the ego. An egoless vision is one that is inclusive, not exclusive. When you think and act for all – that action is egoless. When you put others in front of your own selfish needs, then it is an egoless vision.

Wow, is not that what I was doing with my Travelthon? I was spreading myself in packets of love to the world. The more I spread my love to the world, the less and less was left of me. Therefore, the ‘me’ or the ‘I’ as know it was dissolving. The more it dissolved, the nearer I reached an egoless state. My vision was also inclusive as I was thinking about being of use to all those I meet rather than using them.

Rabri Baba took over and gave me a long sermon on the Ramayana and how Raavan met his final doom because he could not drop his Ahankara. This was why he perished. The ego is a serpent that bites the man who feeds it and leads to his own doom. I was blessed to have talked with the great sage who sat all naked on the banks of the Sangam in a mere tent made from bamboo and tarpaulin.

There was a whole row of these Babas all across the banks, each with their own unique style. One Naga Baba was called the Chashma Baba because all he wore was a pair of sunglasses and underneath, he was stark naked. The essence of bhang was intoxicating as the babas were smoking their chillums. People gathered around to hear them, take blessings from them or to generally take a picture with them. The foreign tourists were fascinated by their looks and lifestyles. No doubt, this is a unique tribe found only in India. I was also happy that I had got a few answers to my questions. Somewhere, I was beginning to understand the meaning of the word ego.

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