As soon as the post-death rituals or Dharmadev were over, Ghanshyam left home
on the early morning or 10th of bright half of Ashadh or Samvat year 1849 and
went straight to Pulhashram, an ancient place of pilgrimage, in north-west
Nepal. During His sojourn of penance and pilgrimage in India, Ghanshyam assumed
the name of Nilkanth-Surjudas. At Pulhashram, He practiced severe penance and
soon attained highest degree of proficiency in Nishkamvrat i.e. vow of celibacy,
self-control and non-attachment to worldly objects. From Pulhashram, He came
down to Butvel, a Jagir town, south of Pulhashram in Nepal, Highly attracted
towards Nilkanth, the ruler of the Jagir named Mahadatt, offered Nilkanth his
throne as well as his daughter in marriage and requested Him to stay with them.
Nilkanth smilingly rejected this offer and left the place. While moving through
deep forests in Central Nepal, He met Gopal Yogi. Gopal Yogi was adept in Nirbij
Yoga while Nilkanth was the master of Sabij Yoga*. Under the guidance of Gopal
Yogi, He soon mastered Nirbij Yoga and in turn, He taught Gopal Yogi, Sabij
Yoga. Thereafter, He started His tour of pilgrimage and visited Jagannathpuri in
the east, Rameshwaram in the south and Girnar and Mangrol in the west.
Just imagine a boy, less than fifteen years of age, with only a loin cloth on
His body and a rosary of Tulsi wood in His right hand and a bowl (Bhikshapatra)
in His left hand, moving fast, alt atone, from one place to another, whose body
was so frail and emaciated that one can see and count all bones, ribs and veins,
whose face was sublime and beaming with divine luster, whose eyes were full of
love and compassion for one and all. During His sojourn of places of pilgrimage
., He met various types of Sadhus and Sanyasis, visited several Mandirs and
Mathas and saw critically, of course, from a distance, their ways of life and
had varied types of experiences.
After the death of Gopal Yogi, He came down, via Adivarah, an ancient place of
pilgrimage, on the eastern border of Nepal, to a village near Kamakshidevi in
Assam. Here a Mantracharya named Pibaik, tried his utmost to intimidate and
subdue Him by means of various kinds of Abhicharprayoga i.e. invoking evil
spirits with a view to kill Nilkanth. But Nilkanth stood firm like a rock
against this Mantrik. When the evil spirits Invoked by Pibaik dared not go near
Nilkanth, they reacted sharply like boomerang on the invoke Pibaik and wanted to
kill him. But Nilkanth intervened and saved Pibaik from their hands. Pibaik who
was originally a Brahmin and a devotee of Goddess Mahakali then turned under the
guidance of Nilkanth to his original life of Dharma and devotion to God.
At Jagannathpuri, He met an army of strong Sadhus, about fifteen thousand all
equipped with all types of deadly weapons and addicted to women, wealth and
intoxicating drugs and all sorts of vices. Under the guise of Sadhus, they were
all leading a life of non-sadhus. Dr. Bhandarker has described them as "PapMurtis",
i.e. sin-incarnate and burden on society. Nilkanth was deeply grieved at seeing
their bad ways of life. When they saw Nilkanth and when they saw that people of
their own, gathered around Him with folded hand good offerings, they were all
enraged. They considered Him as their rival and enemy number one. But those
thought who were more clever and cunning among them, that it would serve their
purpose better, if He can be persuaded to become their mahant. They therefore,
began to win over Nilkanth to their side but others, who were more Impatient and
wanted that Nilkanth should leave the place as early as possible harass Him.
They asked Nilkanth to fetch water, fuels etc. for them. But the more clever
among them objected to these tactics. This led to bitter factions among
themselves which ultimately resulted in a long internal warfare. Several
thousands of sadhus were killed in this warfare by other sadhus. Verily the
wicked acts of the wicked react fatally upon themselves.
While Nilkanth was going to Rameshwaram from srirangam, lie saw a sadhu named
Sevakram lying semiconscious by roadside in a pool of blood, urine and stool. He
was suffering from an acute form of dysentery (Lohi khand pet besnu). Many
pilgrims and persons passed by him, but none cared to look at him. Nilkanth took
pity on him and nursed him for two months. He used to beg food-grains for this
ailing sadhu and prepare rood for him and feed him, while He Himself had to
remain without food for several days when He could not get Bhiksha second time,
during the day. This sadhu had on his person, about one thousand gold coins. He
used to ask Nilkanth to get milk, ghee, sugar, etc. from this amount for him.
Nilkanth used to prepare nourishing food for him. But Sevakram did not, even for
a day, offer even a mouthful to Nilkanth from this food, Sevakram had, with him
a load of clothes, vessels and other things about 20 kg. in weight. After
regaining full strength, he used to ask Nilkanth to carry this load for him.
Nilkanth used to do all these things for him. But after some time thinking that
he is an evil minded selfish (Krutaghni) person, Nilkanth left him alone. Such
were the experiences Nilkanth had, during His tour of India, for 7 years, I
month and 11 days. And one day on the morning of the 6th day of dark half of
Shravan of Samvat year 1856, Nilkanth came to Loj, a small village about 5 km.
During the days of penance and pilgrimage, Nilkanth had taught by His own
example, several good things to persons, who desire to attain Moksha in this
life. By practicing penance at the age of 11, He asserted that Tap, Tyag, and
Brahmcharya i.e. penance, non attachment to worldly objects and vow of celibacy
is a must for all Mumukshus. By rejecting the offer of the throne and princess
from the ruler of Butvel, He made it clear that a man, seeking to attain Moksha
should always remain away and aloof from wealth, women and power. By learning,
Nirbij Yoga from Gopal Yogi and by teaching him in return Sabij Yoga Nilkanth
emphatically declared that mere realization of self by Yoga or by any other
means leads a man no where, Yoga sadhana i.e. practice of Yoga should be
resorted to not only for realization of self but for getting darshan and union
with God Supreme. By converting Mantrik Pibaik to a life of devotion to God,
Nilkanth explain to all devotees that evil mantras and tantras can have no
adverse effect on a person devoted to God. By begging food for ailing Sadhu
Sevakram and by nursing him for two months till complete recovery, Nilkanth set
an example that a man should first become human, serve the ailing and the
afflicted. And by personally visiting places of pilgrimage in India, He
emphasized the importance and necessity of visiting with full faith and respect.
*Yoga, in which realization of self is the only goal, is known as Nirbij Yoga,
whereas in Sabij Yoga, over and above the realization of self, realization and
service of God Supreme is the goal.