Nilkanth had been walking through the Himalayan forests for nearly one full year. Moving as fast as his feet could carry him, there was nothing that could stop him from his mission. The biting cold‚ the heat‚ the rain‚ hunger, thirst or the fear of fierce animals – none of these slowed his steps. As he continued his journey, one evening, he came to a very old banyan tree with branches all around.
There, under that banyan tree, Nilkanth saw an old rishi sitting on his asana engrossed in meditation. One of his hands rested on a small staff and the other on his knee. With the deep glow of peace and stillness around the rishi, Nilkanth came and stood in front of him. At this moment, the rishi’s eyes opened automatically and his attention was drawn straight towards Nilkanth. Seeing Nilkanth, his heart was filled with a wave of happiness. He sprang up and ran towards Nilkanth and embraced him like an old friend.
The rishi was overjoyed when he saw the young Nilkanth; he shed tears of joy. He was convinced that Purushottam Narayan himself had come to give him darshan that day. The rishi said‚ “I am Gopal Yogi and my mind has never been drawn to anyone; my eyes have never opened while in meditation. But today as soon as you came near this tree‚ my eyes opened. My mind and eyes were instantly drawn by you. Therefore‚ O Bal Yogi! Please tell me who you are? Please tell me about yourself.”
Nilkanth replied‚ “I am Parabrahman‚ beyond Akshar or Brahman. But from the worldly viewpoint‚ I am the son of a Brahmin from Chhapaiya. I have been travelling for three years since I left home. I have also done tapa (austerities) for two months in Pulhashram. People call me by the name of Nilkanth. I wish to accomplish ashtanga yoga.” Hearing this Gopal Yogi was very excited, “I have attained perfection in ashtanga yoga. I shall teach you everything I know.”
He accepted Nilkanth’s request and taught him yoga every morning and evening. Gradually, Nilkanth mastered the eight levels of ashtanga yoga: yama‚ niyam‚ asana‚ pratyahar‚ pranayam‚ dharana‚ dhyan and samadhi. He also learnt various yogic exercises, like kunjar‚ dhoti‚ neti and basti. He mastered all that Gopal Yogi taught him. In just one year, Nilkanth mastered the knowledge which other yogis could not master in a lifetime.
Gopal Yogi taught yoga to Nilkanth‚ and, in turn, Nilkanth explained to him the knowledge of atma and Paramatma. He gave Gopal Yogi the darshan of Narayan in his own self and liberated his soul. With that Nilkanth resumed his journey.