My friend, the wanderer

I met him trekking to Amarnath up in the Himalayas many years ago. A Hindu place of worship, where legend says that the God Shiva met his consort Parvati.


It was night, and snowing. I was making coffee outside my tent clad in my warmest down jacket. I see a man of about my age walking by. Clad only in a flimsy cloth, carrying his begging bowl. Obviously a Sadhu (a holy man). He was limping barefoot, one leg shrivelled by Polio. How did he get here?
Hey Old Man I shouted impulsively arent you feeling cold?
I was not he replied but now that you mention it, I am.
That was the beginning of a friendship that has lasted over 30 years. Between an actor/film maker and a holy man. Who owns only the cloth he wears and whatever he can carry in his small wooden begging bowl. Two completely different lives that intersect with the most amazing coincidences.
We often joked together. He was travelling and meditating in search of God. And I promised that when he does, I will find him and build a hut around him to live and meditate for the rest of his life.
I have no idea how to contact him, for does not live anywhere. But he is there, magically at every turn of my life. He appeared when my mother died. He appeared when I made my first film in India.
I was in my first day of studio filming for Elizabeth, when the security called to say that a man in almost no clothes, barefoot and very long hair was asking for me.
How did he get to London? How does he know when to come? I never ask. He just gets there. Last year when my father died, I waited to light the funeral pyre. Looking around, there he was walking towards me. I knew he would come.
Now, he is a very good-looking man! And whenever he would come to my house, all the young actresses would turn up and flirt with him. He would just smile. But one day he was very agitated. At night he said he was never going to come to my house again.
Why? I asked. He mumbled something about how provocative the girls were getting.
But you are above this I said. I was the one with all the sexual urges. Surely not him, too. And as we got into an argument, I told him that it was a bit late to go through sexual adolescence at this age!
He looked really upset and he walked away from my house. But he did call the next day to apologise and said some of the most frightening words I have heard. That he was wrong. That he had wasted his life in search of God. That perhaps my decadent life was the only reality. And then he just walked out my life.
Why frightening? Because I desperately needed to believe that someone had experienced a life beyond mine. That there was a higher plane of living. For if not, then was this all there was?
It was only years later I realized he had deliberately pulled the rug from under my feet. So I could journey on my own.
I did not see him for six years. And one day I walk into shop to buy some cigarettes, and there he is. His hair matted and gone completely grey. He looked a bit wild, but kept laughing. His eyes now piercing, with a strange glow in them. Almost mad.
So? I joked, You have found God? Time for me to build you a hut? He laughed even more. Put his arm around me.
Shekhar, my friend, youve not understood anything He scolded me. God does not exist at the end of a search, He exists in the search. God lies only in the search for God. The journey is the destination.
Obviously the hut was not built and never will. But we keep crossing each others lives in our unending journeys.

32 Responses to “My friend, the wanderer”

  1. Navin says:

    Dear Shekhar,
    You never cease to amaze me! Maybe that man is your alter ego. Or your guardian angel. Or Lord Shiva himself? Who knows!
    Enjoy the journey. Cheers!
    Navin

  2. Cinda says:

    Dear Shekharji,
    Thank you for sharing this extraordinary story.
    This Being is very much like a reflection…yes?
    “God lies only in the search for God” so true.
    Happy Shivaratri!
    Namaste,
    Cinda

  3. Shilpa says:

    there has to be something special about yu Shekhar… dont know who that man is, but there has to be some spiritual connection between you two. maybe he knows that only you can understand the significance and the purpose of his meeting you.
    To me you come accross as someone you is tuned in to the universe… someone who is at a higher level – spiritually..
    wonder why lesser mortals like me never meet such people…. 🙁 you sure are lucky…
    Love
    Shilpa

  4. Cinda says:

    Dear Shilpa,
    I don’t believe you are a lesser mortal, you are just as divine as the One in Shekharji’s sstory, to me anyway. It is fortunate that some of us get to be “in awareness” of such occurences. I think it is really a matter of connecting with what is already there. For some of us, perhaps, the “holy ones” could very well be the person sleeping on the street, a taxi driver, the delivery man, the chef in the kitchen, a child…different for each of us? Depending on where we cast our importance and focus?
    Just that fact that you recognize someone else as being highly spiritual also puts YOU in that same light…it is reflectious.
    I guess it is a matter of removing the veils and revealing what is deep inside the vessel…nothing!
    Namaste,
    Cinda

  5. Mehul says:

    Aren’t we all looking for God ? Some say God lies with in us and it is the voice inside that brings in our Conscience..I think…May be that Man was your conscience…you saw him in the times..when u really needed a proff that God is there…
    Cheers

  6. Heather says:

    A good story!

  7. ashutosh says:

    I had goose bumps after reading it…
    thnx for the experiance..
    ashutosh

  8. mukund says:

    SIR ji god is here there everywhere but the gods ned s to upliftit self via him thats us thats y we r the chosen one remember,

  9. Sanjana says:

    Hi I am pinching myself. YOu are the first celebrity blogger i have met.
    i think there is God in all of us and its really funny isnt it- to search the God within us we have to reach out to the God in others.
    Many lives many masters in one book that changed my perception of god and religion and satisfied my curiosity completely but again it is because i believe and finally it is your belief and your faith that is your god.

  10. Katya says:

    Siddhartha meet Siddhartha. Its a beautiful story. Or is it a story? Hopefully we will all become content with a life immersed in nature like the ferry man. No edge or buzz. The papers say were fucked anyway. In 6 months the levels of CO2 will be irreversible. Why don’t you make a cool british low budget film with a dark environmental undercurrent?

  11. Vipul says:

    Dear Sir:
    I am a great fan of yours. I have been following your career since your first movie. I always wanted to be someone like you. Your life is my dream. I am a software engineer living in the U.S
    but deep down I want to make films I want to run away learn the art and just make films I am a born dreamer. But I cannot do that as I have a family a wife , 2 lovely kids and aging parents to care for. But the life you have lived is my dream. Besides your encounters with this man from time to time do not surprise me at all as I strongly believe that human brains are not just wired to understand a lot of things. Any way I am a friend who wishes you always the best in life.
    Regards
    Vipul

  12. V Ramaswamy says:

    Dear Mr Shekhar Kapur
    Greetings from Calcutta. I am business executive, writer and singer. For some years in now I have had in mind some film projects, which I felt might be of interest to you. One in particular, about a legendary figure of Britain – I felt you would jump to make a film the moment you read the story.
    I would be happy to communicate with you.
    Best wishes and regards
    V Ramaswamy
    Calcutta
    hpp@vsnl.com

  13. shekher says:

    sir.
    U r roll model for me from long time.. but its the first time i m posting here the god has given me a great sense of humor and dreams WHICH always force me do some creative work.. i dreams too much but i want to relize it i have ability to write script for the movies recently i wrote a story about guy who turned in to gangester and reporter(wanna to do some thing some great job)C.B.I inspecter( he wanna to hide his identity).. i like to tell u complete story i have complete picture in my mind..pls give me chace to relize my dream..
    the another story about a forner which u can use for hollywood movie thats story about pre-independepence.. its love story but some horror sins are there if u would like the complete story.. i can send u mail..i m sure this story is going to be hit…in the hollywood
    chandra shekher kumar

  14. Vivek Anand says:

    Dear Shekhar
    I have been fan of yours since my childhood.Still your directoral debut ”Masoom’ remain my most favorite movie.God does not exist at the end of a search, He exists in the search. God lies only in the search for God. The journey is the destination.These words are so true becoz if you find the God then the much needed jest to live end there itself.
    You have been one of the person I like from childhood,though i idolize A.P.J Abdul Kalam.
    I would like to tell one incident from Kalam life ,hope you would like it.If you like it then reply me….
    ” Scientists at the Rocket launching station in
    Thumba, were in the habit of working for nearly 12 to 18 hours a day.
    There were about Seventy such scientists working on a project. All the
    scientists were really frustrated due to the pressure of work and the
    demands of their boss but everyone was loyal to him and did not think of
    quitting the job.
    One day, one scientist came to his boss and told him
    – Sir, I have
    promised to my children that I will take them to the
    exhibition going on
    in our township. So I want to leave the office at 5
    30 pm.
    His boss replied – O K, , You are permitted to leave
    the office early
    today.
    The Scientist started working. He continued his work
    after lunch. As
    usual he got involved to such an extent that he
    looked at his watch when
    he felt he was close to completion.The time was 8.30
    p.m
    Suddenly he remembered of the promise he had given
    to his children. He
    looked for his boss,,He was not there. Having told
    him in the morning
    itself, he closed everything and left for home.
    Deep within himself, he was feeling guilty for
    having disappointed his
    children.
    He reached home. Children were not there.His wife
    alone was sitting in
    the hall and reading magazines. The situation was
    explosive, any talk
    would boomerang on him.
    His wife asked him – Would you like to have coffee
    or shall I straight
    away serve dinner if you are hungry.
    The man replied – If you would like to have coffee,
    i too will have but
    what about Children???
    Wife replied- You don’t know – Your manager came at
    5 15 p.m and has
    taken the children to the exhibition.
    What had really happened was
    The boss who granted him permission was observing
    him working seriously
    at 5.00 p.m. He thought to himself, this person will
    not leave the work,
    but if he has promised his children they should
    enjoy the visit to
    exhibition. So he took the lead in taking them to
    exhibition
    The boss does not have to do it everytime. But once
    it is done, loyalty
    is established.
    That is why all the scientists at Thumba continued
    to work under their
    boss eventhough the stress was tremendous.
    By the way , can you guess as to who the
    boss was????????
    >
    >
    >
    >
    >
    >
    >
    >
    >
    >
    >
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    He was A P J Abdul Kalam.

    _________________”

  15. amani says:

    you are indeed very good in story telling.

  16. Sandeep says:

    so true, life is all about searching god..which may have different meanings for different person..for me, its my happiness in doin lab experiments..for you, it means making a good movie and giving lives to your dreams…but sadhu jee is really above us..
    sandeep,
    University of MN

  17. Arundhati says:

    Amazing..really maybe in your journey of life God has visited you in this mans form.Thanks a ton for sharing this unusal experience with us.

  18. Mickey says:

    Hey Shekhar
    Today, it is by chance that I reached this page browsing the net after a busy day of travel and work. Just read your story about your friend – The Wanderer.
    I do not know what your thoughts were when you wrote this but after reading it I could relate myself with it- I dont know if you intended the same….but your friend The Wanderer, is none but you- a soul searching exercise which highlights your quest for life and truth, one of a saint searching for the truth and the other of a human immersed in “Karma”. And, like the Gita says, or atleast what I got from it- either way you will find god..sacrifice or karma…
    I dont know if you ever reply…but I have heard you do – would be a pleasure to know if I was able relate to your story.
    MK –
    ps: I’d say the hut has been built and you visit it every time you go down the soul searching lane.

  19. Sushma says:

    Sir,
    Was there ever such a man? Or are you projecting your soul-seraching in the form of this man?

  20. thegreyhairedman says:

    🙂
    -The Man (where is the hut ?)

  21. Vivek Mehta says:

    at 25 i thought Jim morrison, should have been a indian rishi in some birth, he was poet, indee,
    but like shekhar bhai, he stands tall among men, for they are both able to see the unknown, early in life,,,as we explore the …the journey goes on…we live a life that burns to show the light.
    Best Regards,
    Love to all,
    Vivek

  22. shekhar says:

    vivek, do u think we as ordiniary mortals can see the light too, if we let our prejudices go ? shekhar

  23. Rakesh says:

    Hi Shekhar,
    This seems to be the most interesting thread of your life. Pt Ravi Shankar also mentions such meeting in his autobiography with mystic Tat Baba, who used to meet him at most unexpected times and places.
    Just other day I was talking about Pt Ravi Shankar’s experinece with one western Prof. and he commented that if something like this happens in life then it may change our life forever as it connects us with the mystic nature of life and we understand then that not everything can be understood in the nature. I told him about the incidence mentioned in the new book of Vikram Seth(Two Lives) also. It was a pity that I was not knowing your similar experience before today.
    Now a little confusion arises in my mind. Late Mr Vijay Anand was your maternal Uncle and he used to be a disciple of Osho during 1960s [I always wanted to know whether dialogues in the last scenes delivered by Mr Dev Anand in the Guide, when his character is dead, were taken from Osho’s phiosophies?)and may be he remained there till mid 70s but then he left and perhaps he was disillusioned. Normally people in the family leave such journeys after watching the results of similar journeys by a family member but you walked ahead on spiritual path. That shows your independent courage.
    There must be some inner thirst which pushes you towards this spiritual journey which certainly is resultant of association with Deepak Chopra rather opposite can be true because your inclination towards spirituality brings such people in your life. If I remember TV serials of mid 80s then Udan comes in mind and there you were, playing role of a D.M, looking intellectual but your eyes used to throw impression that you were fighting with so many questions. Still your personality emits this impression unlike other intellectuals who try to reflect that they are very clear in everything they do or life is crystal clear before them. Syadvad of Jainism comes through your personality and this brings the genuinity of your persona.
    Thanks for sharing this mystic experience with everyone. This is the most interesting thing on this site.
    By the way, please read “Two Lives” by Vikram Seth
    (if you have not gone through it, because of Elisabeth II) and if possible please bring it on celluloid. What have you been searching, this story can bring that thing to Indian cinema, a C..T..H..Dragon or may be far better product from India. Your Genius can turn this superb biography in to an unforgettable film.
    with best regards
    Rakesh

  24. Rakesh says:

    please correct it, as I checked it later that
    “not” is missing from the text. It should be like following.
    “There must be some inner thirst which pushes you towards this spiritual journey which certainly is not a resultant of association with Deepak Chopra rather opposite can be true because your inclination towards spirituality brings such people in your life”.

  25. Loner says:

    Hey, that was a nice story.
    More of this kind please….

  26. Id prefer reading in my native language, because my knowledge of your languange is no so well. But it was interesting!

  27. karteek says:

    may be u misunderstood your friend.he is not searching for god.Because he knows that he is the god.oh ..i almost forgot to tell the name of your friend.he is your soul.

  28. karteek says:

    I met with a friend of your friend.may be u misunderstood your friend.he is not searching for god.Because he knows that he is the god.oh ..i almost forgot to tell the name of your friend.he is your soul.

  29. Harshal says:

    Hi Sir, How r u?
    I had little hopes about the film “Third battle of panipat” when I requested you to have a look at the subject and the marathi novel panipat by vishwas patil. But now I think you have forgotten that and you deleted that post also 🙁
    Thnx Sir

  30. justbe says:

    o shekhara, wanderful indeed! shivamastu.

  31. manju says:

    Dear Shekhar,
    interesting journey.
    May be is is an angel who comes your way when u need strength and light.
    Or is he God …. as he is omnipresent??
    Prayers, love n peace
    manju

  32. Raj Seethapathy says:

    Hi Shekhar, having come from the land of mystics, we know that the meetings/occurances you have had is no surprise at all. After years of search for god or truth,[still have that intense desire somewhere in your subconsciousness] it seems that you haven’t let go of that search(i am no exception), so as to harmoniously blend in with the God/truth. Otherwise, the very search/quest may become a barrier. It takes lots of effort at first to becomes effortless in any endeavor, I think. Thank you for sharing, inspiring and enlightening young minds (actor/film markers) like me.

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