At the age of 11 Ghanshyam left home to
visit the sacred shrines and mandirs in India. This remarkably audacious
venture was known as 'Kalyan Yatra' - a pilgrimage to redeem. Neelkanth,
as He was known during His seven-year sojourn, redeemed countless yogis
and aspirants who had long been offering devotion and performing austerities
to earn both the Lord's grace and 'darshan'. Far from being an aimless
wandering, His route (see map below) specially sought out and graced
these pious souls. Further, He re-infused divinity in the sacred places
of pilgrimage and rivers, where devotees had been absolving their sins
for thousands of years.
During His journey He encountered several mundane enticements which
would have overwhelmed and tempted a lay teenager. In Shripur near Haridwar,
the mahant of a wealthy ashram with an annual income of one lakh rupees
offered Neelkanth the mahantship after witnessing a wild lion instantly
being tamed by Him. On a pilgrimage to Badrinath, the young Maharaja
Ranjit Singh of Punjab requested Neelkanth for His permanent company.
In Vanshipur in the Himalayan foothills, the king and queen vehemently
urged Him to marry their two princesses. In Butol, Nepal, King Mahadatt
Sen and sister Mayadevi offered their kingdom, urging Him to rule it.
In Sirpur, near Kamakshi in Bengal, Raja Siddhavallabh offered riches.
In Jagannath Puri the king offered his palace. All these mundane allures,
of wealth, women and power He politely declined.