Years back I’d heard a tale of horror, which happened to a young French girl traveling through India. She’d been fascinated by Aghori sadhus, who have a reputation for being way out on the fringes of the sadhu world. She’d gone to Gujarat to seek them out and had come in contact with some black magic babas. They drugged her with datura (Jimsom weed) which produces a long-lasting zombie-like state in its victims. She was kept drugged and used by the band of sadhus for sex and often left for hours in the blinding heat by the side of the road with a begging bowl and made to beg for rupees from passerby. They kept her captive for several years and one day, thinking she was too passive and docile and without a will of her own, they lost track of her, and she managed to walk away and contact the police. She was transported to the French Embassy then back to Paris where her family took her on rounds to all the best specialists in the city. Eventually they all concurred that she’d suffered permanent brain damage and no cure was available. She was aware enough of her situation and allowed her family to institutionalize her so that her needs could be met as best as possible and to prevent her from committing suicide.
Two years after hearing this terrible story I ran into a woman sadhu, who I had often encountered while traveling around India. That morning, I was wearing my Maharaji locket, which I only wear intermittently. I was sitting in a cafe in Paharganj having breakfast with this woman, who had come from France more than thirty years ago. She was a devotee of Ram and a chela of a very famous sadhu from Ayodhya and now lived as a permanent resident of India. All of a sudden she reached across the breakfast table and began to finger the locket around my neck with Maharaji’s picture, “Oh oh!” she cried. “This is the Baba! He saved my little girl’s life!” When I asked her what she was talking about, she proceeded to tell me the whole story about her daughter with the Aghoris that I’d heard before. She told me that her daughter had been in and out of hospitals for about a year and that when the doctors had finally exhausted every blood test and cat scan process they could think of – they gave up and institutionalized her permanently. About a month later her daughter woke up in the middle of the night and Maharaji was sitting on the edge of her bed. He said, “Daughter, sleep well tonight. Tomorrow, you go home.” When she woke the next morning all the damage and the pain from the drugging and the abuse had melted away as if it had never happened.
Excerpt from Barefoot in the Heart: Remembering Neem Karoli Baba edited by Keshav Das