MTV: In today’s news, our MTV interview, we speak with Prem Baba, a Brazilian guru who became enlightened at age 36, and has gathered followers from throughout the world. With you: Prem Baba.
MTV: Good evening. We are speaking today with the Brazilian guru, Prem Baba. Prem Baba, thank you very much for your presence here today, it’s a great pleasure receiving you here.
PB: Thank you also, for the invitation.
MTV: We’d like to know if you were always from a religious family? How did the awakening of your spirituality take place? How old were you?
PB: I was born in a religious, Christian family, but one that wasn’t able to answer my questions. I remember that when I was still a child, only 7 years old, I would ask my mom, “Who made the world?” And she would answer, “It was God.” Then I would ask, “But who made God?” And she said, “Don’t think about this stuff because you’ll go crazy.” And I understood that this would turn into the objective of my life, to understand the mysteries of existence. And then I started searching through science; I wanted to find God through mathematics and physics. I started doing yoga, when I was 12 years old. And that’s when I first heard an Indian mantra, singing to Sita Ram Narayana. With it I heard a voice saying, “When you turn 33 years old, go to India, to Rishikesh.” Of course I forgot about this, and continued my life, always seeking for answers, through schools of mystery, through spiritual masters, through psychology…
MTV: And you didn’t find the answers you were looking for?
PB: I found some, but not all, and I continued always very intrigued and anguished. When I was 32 years old I was already a spiritual leader with many followers.
MTV: Did you have your own philosophy, or were you someone’s disciple, where people would follow you as they would follow a minister?
PB: already had a philosophy, which I had “imported” from the outside, a mix of everything I had already learned. At this time I was very connected to master Osho, I admired him. I had gone through many spiritual schools, but I carried an anguish inside: I felt like a hypocrite, because I would speak about things that I hadn’t actually experienced. I had read books about these things or heard others speak of them, so that I felt like a parrot, a blind man leading other blind men. This started to really weigh on me, taking me to a deep existential crisis.
MTV: And you were 32?
PB: It was happening already at age 30 and 31, and at age 32 when I was at the peak of my despair, I did a profound meditation and prayer in my apartment in São Paulo. I asked for help from the Great Mystery, asking it to reveal itself and point me to a direction. And that’s when I had a vision of an old man with a long white beard who was by the Himalayas. He said, “You are about to turn 33 years old. Come to India, to Rishikesh.” That’s when I remembered the message I had heard 20 years ago, and said, “OK let’s go to India, to Rishikesh.” And so I went to India for tourism, also visiting some other spiritual masters, but I wouldn’t feel anything with them, and my anguish would only increase. Then I remembered the word Rishikesh, and when I was already getting close to Rishikesh I felt a great well being, and a light went through my body, so that I knew that I was heading in the right direction. When I arrived in Rishikesh and knocked at Maharajji’s door, I saw it was the same old man with that long white beard who had come to me in that vision in my apartment in São Paulo. When I recognized him, I fell to my knees by his feet, and he said that what was missing for my process was to surrender myself to a living guru, so that’s what I did.
MTV: And the living guru was him? How did you have the certainty that it was him? Just because he was also an old man with a long white beard?
PB: I was in São Paulo, and had no connection with him. I had never seen him or even heard about him, and still he came to me. So when I recognized him, I had no doubts. Not to speak of the fact that my heart opened, I felt fulfilled, and the anguish disappeared. I understood that I had found what I had been seeking for.
MTV: And was this the moment of your enlightenment, or the moment when you discovered the path you wanted to follow?
PB: It was the moment I discovered the path.
MTV: So we’ll hear about the moment of enlightenment after the break.
MTV: We are back with news, the MTV interviews, speaking with the Brazilian guru Prem Baba, who was telling us of the moment when you met the man you had dreamed of in a sense, who was showing you the path to follow to attain enlightenment. From this moment when you were 33 years old until the moment of your enlightenment, how long did it take?
PB: It took three years. I met Maharajji in 1999, received from him diksha, spiritual initiation, and three years later I awakened and was able to fully embody the presence of Sri Prem Baba.
MTV: What’s it like to be enlightened? Is it an extreme form of joy, an extreme happiness, with no more anguish? Or does anguish still exist but you just see it differently?
PB: No, the doors to suffering have been closed. I am in peace. Of course, there are moments when some form of agitation still occurs, but I remain in peace. I know how to return to this state of balance, this state where I see everything with equanimity. My mind is in a state of equanimity. The moments that preceded enlightenment were very interesting. I experienced moments of samadhi. Samadhi is a word in Sanskrit that describes this experience of unity, this moment when the mind quiets down and you have an experience of the eternal. Grace takes over, and all questions cease. You feel like the sun, giving it’s light to all. I entered into this state a few times, but I couldn’t retain it, so that I would always go back to the valley of weeping and gnashing of teeth. My anguish would only increase, and I would ask, “How can I return to that place?”
MTV: And how do you return to this place?
PB: Exactly, I just didn’t know, and this path is not taught, there’s no manual, precisely because it’s a phenomenon that happens beyond mind. The mind doesn’t control this path. All techniques and teachings pave the way for this experience. The actual experience is an accident that takes place.
MTV: What is the great difficulty for a master, for a guru, to remain in this state? I keep thinking that vanity is one of the things that can catch the guru’s feet. Have you seen yourself in this situation, thinking, “Wow, I have an ashram in São Paulo, and another one in India… People come seeking for me. I am enlightened.” Or is this a stupid question?
PB: Not at all, I was precisely talking about this path, when I was beginning to have glimpses of samadhi. My kundalini energy had risen to the sixth chakra. Until the sixth chakra one can still fall down, because there is still vanity and ego. And I was precisely in this moment, when I still had vanity and still had some form of attachment to this world, but I didn’t know it. It was at this moment when I had fallen once again from the state of samadhi, that I remembered the teaching of my beloved Guruji: “It doesn’t matter where you may be: just call for God, truly, and you will be answered to.”
MTV: Unfortunately our time is coming to an end. I’ll just ask two things: for people who want to learn more about your teachings, do you have a website?
MTV: And last question, as we are speaking about technology and internet, and that people can use the web to get connected to you. How does technology interact with spirituality? A guru like you, do you have an iPod? Do you like listening to music, music that is more mainstream for instance, that is not so spiritual? What songs play in your iPod?
PB: I have a few iPods, as I actually work with music. There are thousands of songs in my iPod, and technology has been helping us out greatly.
MTV: And what bands do you listen to? Or do you listen more to songs that promote spiritual elevation?
PB: I use music as a tool for our work, to help the seeker turn inward and heal whatever needs to be healed. There are specific songs for specific types of spiritual work. There are songs that help a person work through issues regarding one’s father or mother, regarding sexuality, spirituality…
MTV: The songs are more directed to the spiritual work. You never listen to Roberto Carlos [famous Brazilian singer] or Brazilian pop?
PB: Yes I do. There are certain songs in Brazilian Popular Music that are true gems. They are spiritual messages that are completely uplifting and wholesome. I have absolutely no prejudice.
MTV: Which one for instance?
PB: From Roberto Carlos? For example, one that goes: “Thoughts that afflict me, feelings that tell me about the hidden reasons of being here.”
MTV: Thank you for your presence, it’s a great pleasure having you here.
PB: Thank you. Namaste.
MTV: Namaste. Thank you to our audience for your presence…