Shiva Bala Yogi's  Airport Lila  (Lila is translated as divine play, divine sport.)

Those of us lucky enough to have spent time traveling with Shiva Bala Yogi know what fun he can have with his traveling companions. His ability to deliver a needed lesson wrapped in a lila at just the right moment was astounding. However, sometimes the lila seemed to have no greater purpose than to generate laughter.

In 1989 a few of us accompanied Swamiji to the airport in New York as he departed for Washington D.C. As we said our good byes at the security point, devotees began touching Swamiji’s feet, which attracted the interest of airport security. The security guards began to scrutinize this curious scene and move in closer.

Once they had gathered around, Swamiji started to walk through the metal detector, which immediately went off. This greatly concerned the already suspicious guards. They sent Swamiji back through the metal detector, setting off the alarm again.

This was all very strange because Swamiji traveled wearing only a loincloth, tennis shoes and a one-piece cloth wrap with no fasteners. So they sent him back through, again the alarm sounded. We all burst out laughing at what was obviously a lila. This made the security guards very nervous and they called for backup. When the backup arrived the first guards were questioning Swamiji and the devotees were all animated and excited.

It was as this very moment Swamiji stripped off the cloth covering his body to show them he had nothing to hide. This sent the guard closest us over the top. She sees Swamiji standing practically naked and exclaims, "Oh Lord, He can’t fly like that!" I said "He is from India it is his custom". To which she retorted, "I been on Air India they don’t fly like that on Air India!"

At this point Swamiji wraps the cloth back around his body; looks back, smiles, and waves good bye then walks through the metal detector with no problem. We are now rolling with laughter. The guards look very confused but somewhat relieved that it was all over.   It seemed to me that this lila had no other purpose than sharing a moment of joy with those he loved.

Swamiji’s lilas give you the understanding that you are not only in the presence of a very great yogi, but also you are with a very dear friend.   ~ D