In March 1986 -- around the same time I was participating in the 200-Mile Race -- Guru accepted my younger brother Andy as a disciple.
A few years later, Guru would give him the name Jeevan, and that's the only name I truly know him by. Jeevan means "profusely dynamic life energy." He is that and more.
I did not recruit Jeevan. He came to the Center on his own. The last time that I had seen him was the previous June (1985), to watch him graduate from high school. By his account, he -- like me -- was lucky to graduate. By 1986, I was aware, peripherally, that Jeevan had been frequenting the cafe and juice bar that Giribar had recently opened back in California. But I don't remember ever hearing that Jeevan had sent his picture to Guru (though I certainly might have and no longer remember).
The primary reason for my aloofness was that I didn't believe that disciples should be recruited. I hadn't been. Either you had an innate desire to find your guru or you didn't. Jeevan obviously did.
Jeevan is a year and a half younger than me and the middle child (we have a younger sister -- more about her soon). As a kid, his fiery orange hair and freckles matched his emotions and his daring. We fought constantly as kids (much to the detriment of our mom's peace of mind, I'm sure). I'm not talking about childish bickering. I'm talking about violent fights that sometimes ended with medical bills due and owing.
With the help of a sandal, for example, I once knocked out Jeevan's front teeth and put him into braces for the next year or so. With the aid of a ceramic coffee mug, Jeevan later broke my hand the night before I wrestled (and lost) the county wrestling championship.
Neither Jeevan nor I hesitated to do dangerous things, but he was more daring. As kids, we both went to the cliff's edge to jump into a lake. While I was busy thinking about the angle of the cliff and wondering about the water's depth, Jeevan simply jumped.
Jeevan and I went to different high schools. While I was on one side of town reading Guru's books in class and hoping for grades good enough to get me a trip to New York, Jeevan was on the other side of town secretly meditating in the bushes at his high school and reading Carlos Castaneda.
Today, when I think of Jeevan -- with his frank detachment from the expectations of others and his direct perception of things hidden to most others -- I think of Swami Brahmananda (pictured).
Rakhal -- as he was then known -- was a student at the Metropolitan School, where M. was the headmaster. Not long afterward, Rakhal was frequenting Dakshineswar. Rakhal's father wasn't happy with his son's spiritual inclinations and had him married to an 11 year old girl. Nevertheless, for some time Rakhal lived at the temple with his Guru. Because of Rakhal's exalted state, Sri Ramakrishna ended up having to attend to Rakhal (rather than the other way around).
In time, Rakhal became more grounded and returned home. Sri Ramakrishna encouraged this. From time to time, Sri Ramakrishna would smile mischievously at M. and Rakhal and tell them both that they still needed to enjoy the pleasure of sleeping with their wives. In the same year that his master passed away (1886), Rakhal's wife gave birth to a baby boy.
A year or so later, Rakhal took his vows and became Swami Brahmananda. About four years later, his wife died. Maharaj, as he would later be known, was wandering the countryside when news reached him of Viswewari's death. He was silent and simply gazed at the night stars. In 1891, his ten year old son also passed away.
Nobody is closer to me than Jeevan.
Check out Jeevan's own memoir here.