Cave-life is extremely good. The ancient Rishis and seers of India lived in the caves of Himalayas and did rigorous Tapascharya. The temperature is quite even in caves. Caves are very cooling. The heat of scorching summer cannot penetrate inside the cave. It is quite warm in winter. All external sounds are shut out in a cave. You can have very beautiful, uninterrupted meditation. There is solitude in caves. The spiritual currents are elevating. There is no mundane atmosphere there, because modern civilisation has not penetrated there. Such are the advantages of cave-life.
There is the beautiful Vasishtha Guha in the Himalayas, which is fourteen miles away from Rishikesh. Maharshi Vasishtha did Tapas here. Hence the name "Vasishthaguha." Guha means a cave. You can get milk from the neighbouring villages. Bamrugha Guha, near Tehri, Himalayas, is another good cave. There are caves near Nilakanth hills six miles from Rishikesh.
Cave-like is not suitable for aspirants who have modern education and delicate constitution, and who are timid. It is meant for aspirants who have a strong sturdy frame, who are fearless and who have intense power of endurance. Those who have some Divya Siddhis can live there. Those who have a good knowledge of Butis or Himalayan herbs, who have strengthened the body by means of special Kayakalpa, who have a body which is proof against bites of poisonous insects or creatures by taking a course of Nimi Kalpa or purified nux vomica, those who have Mantra-Siddhi, who have control over wild animals, who can bear heat and cold, hunger and thirst, those who have lost all attractions for the world, sense-objects, work of any kind, who can meditate for a long time, who have internal dispassion, can remain in a cave.
Some young raw aspirants with weak body and indifferent health, in whom a ray of Viveka and dispassion has recently dawned through study of some religious books, through some mishap or some difficulties in life, run to the Himalayan caves without any previous preparation or bodily and mental discipline. Just as the mercury in the thermometer runs to 106 degrees in high fevers, so also juvenile bubbling emotion runs to 112 degrees to the crown of the head. It cools down quickly. They find it difficult to pull on there and leave the place in a few days. For some, cave-life is not suitable. They develop some sort of skin-diseases and pale-bloodedness owing to lack of ventilation.
Artificial caves like Kaivalya-Guha, Ananda Kutir, with good ventilation can be built underneath the ground in any solitary place, even in your own compound or village. Two walls with a hollow in the middle and pipes to bring in cool air and take away hot air, will keep the cave quite cool. All real aspirants who remain in the world should build one for their meditation. They will be immensely benefited.
There is another disadvantage in cave-life. He who lives in the cave for a long time becomes Tamasic. He is unable to do any kind of work. He cannot mix with people. He is terribly afraid of multitude of people. His mind gets distracted soon if he is in the company of a few persons, if he hears a little noise. This is not balanced life. This is one-sided development. He who dwells in the cave must be able to keep his balance, even when he comes to a busy town. This is the sign of his spiritual growth.
The real snug, well-furnished, marvellous, awe-inspiring cave is in your heart. It is the Hridaya-Guha of the Upanishads, wherein Dattatreya, Sankara, and Yajnavalkya dwelt in days of yore. Even now, modern Rishis and sages abide there, withdrawing the outgoing senses and mind. They drink the nectar of Immortality there, and remain ever-blissful.
May you all dwell in this mysterious, magnificent cave in the heart alone in communion with your Inner Self, the secondless Brahman or the Absolute, the Goal, the Sole Refuge of all!!!