Monday, September 28, 2009

Navaratri Miracles

Almost a week after the Navaratri Celebrations, I get time or rather make time to write. The four days; 24th to 27th were simply out of this world. Starting with the Ganesha Homa on the 24th, obstacles were removed. The previous evening was roller coaster. I managed to leave the ashram at around 10.00 pm and landed up at the railway station to pick up a couple of friends from Bombay. The rains pretty much flooded the entire city that evening. After picking them up and leaving the railway station, we came to a Railway Under Bridge which was quite flooded. I decided not to risk it and turned back and took another route. A day later, I learned that, at that very spot, a bus had later got stuck in the water, and the passengers had to be evacuated in a boat!!!

After the Ganesha Homa, some sleep in Rohit's room ensured that I was charged up again for the evening Navagraha Homa. Everything moved well. Subbu was busy with some other work and that meant I was in- charge of the Yagnashala's security. That evening, I had the long drive all the way back home. I packed up for the next 3 days to stay at Subbu's. Come next morning and the crowd started to pick up. The Maha Rudra Homa just fired up the entire place. Everybody's energy levels just sky rocketed. Come evening, and the Maha Sudarshan Homa. Kriya in Guruji's presence, but us few 'fortunate ones' didn't get to do it. It was an amazing experience to keep my eyes open at that time. Fifteen thousand people with their eyes closed and doing the kriya has by far been the most beautiful thing that I have ever seen. The volume on the walkie talkie was turned down completely.

Next morning, the Homa was scheduled to begin at 9 in the morning. It was the BIG ONE. The Chandi Homa. We got home almost at 1 the previous night. At 6 in the morning, a frantic Alex calls to say that the Yagnashala is already almost full. People were there 3 hours before the actualy pooja. It was an amazing sight to see. That day, I couldn't stay at the Yangnashala. Alex was put in charge. Subbu and I now had the humungous task of managing traffic and parking in the ashram. Statistics; Almost 1000 cars came to the ashram. About a 100 cars were lined up on the main road because there was no place inside the ashram. Once traffic died down, we got to enter the Yagnashala just in time for the main event of the day. Post Homa, human traffic direction and then the senior citizen food counter. After a 'minor incident' there, someone asked me if I had eaten my lunch. That is when it actually struck me that it had been more than 24 hours since I had eaten anything! The energy levels were so high that I never even realised. Someone quickly handed me a plate and just as I was about to take my first bite, the walkie talkie went, 'crackle crackle... Subbu paging for Jayanth, come in Jayanth, reception in 2 mins'!!! With a smile, I handed the plate back to the kind lady who had offered the food and ran to the reception. More work!!!

Amidst all of this, I had got a few phone calls from home saying that my mother had been admitted in the hospital with a very bad stomach problem and was being fed only fluids and intra- veinously. Guruji's words; " You do my work, I will take care of your work", flashed through my head. I experienced for the first time, the meaning of surrender. I felt more comfortable staying at the ashram doing His work, fully knowing that that meant He had to take care of Mum. The final number was 25,000 people attended the Chandi Homa. The largest gathering at the ashram. 9000 people stayed at the ashram for the Navaratri period; another record.

That evening's satsang was an out of this world experience. 20000 people dancing and singing. Yet, no incidences of violence, theft or anything else. No one other than His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar could manage an event like that. Yagnashala was truly rocked. Every particle in the environment was resonating with energy. Anju and Ujju joined Subbu and Mansa and me right up at the front and we all had an amazing time. No senior citizen would have eaten happily if it weren't for the efforts put in by them. They were just fantastic. Ujju with his constant, non stop humour and Anju with her sincere and earnest efforts made sure everyone there had a very great time. I must mention how amazingly gracious Anju was. She brought juice the next couple of days for Subbu and me! The next day was the Rishi Homa. Art of living teachers from around the world were there to see Guruji. After lunch that day, Subbu and I just crashed. Anju quickly snapped a pic and sent it to Guruji. Here is the photograph;

That evening, I decided to come back home. I heard that mum was back home from the hospital. As I got home around 11 pm, there she sat on the bed as if nothing had ever happened at all. 27 bottles of drips and yet she sat laughing and smiling. I smiled knowing the Force behind it all. The reassuring, warm smile from Guruji's photo that day looked very different, very direct.

Thus came to end another amazing Navaratri. One filled with enormous learnings, experiences, miracles and amazing people. Almost the whole of the next 30 hours were spent in blissful sleep! Guruji spoke on the 26th evening. Every word was savoured as the first rains hitting barren land.

Jai Gurudeva

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Food is Good

So, as my preparations for getting more independent begin, I have started with that which is dearest to me!!! What is that? FOOD!!! I have started to slowly cook. Now this may not be that great to hear, but I have started to actually make Chapatis. Right from making the dough, to beating it and rolling it into a near circular shape and then onto the pan and into the stomach! Its what an engineer would term as 'end to end process knowledge'! It is only then did I realise the amount of detail that actually goes into making something as simple as a Chapati. The water quantity, the salt, the mixing and beating of the dough and rolling it into small little balls and finally rolling it out into near perfect circles!!! Being someone who has always only recieved food, I never knew the 'intricacies' of cooking!!!
The next time around, I started to experiment a little with dosas. Now, those who know me well, know that I would rather eat dosas for breakfast, lunch and dinner than spend a week on a tropical island with a beauty contest winner!!! Sometime ago, my mother had made a different kind of dosa which was really super soft and tasted really good too! I inquired into the nature of the change in the dosa and she said they were wheat based dosas! Now, I'm not going to give out the recipie, but they are really amazing and I learnt to make them! Hopefully, someday, I will be able to use these amazing South Indian fast food recipies on my travels and wow my stomach!!!

As someone who I know said; "Yummy in my Tummy"!!!

Jai Gurudeva

Friday, September 04, 2009

TRM and back Home

Well, post TTC has been quite a busy time. After wrapping up a few things at Kennametal ( I still haven't completed all procedures), I was able to spend almost 4 days every week at the ashram. Assisting the first course at the ashram (with a new perspective) and over 100 participants was a great feeling and a good learning. Come next weekend and I was able to cover a few course points. A very different feeling. I didn't really feel all the Grace and Love that all the TTC mates of mine were talking about, but that is also ok!!! It was a new experience. After that course, I spent a couple of days at home and then went back to the ashram for a couple of days. Guess what?! I was asked to stay on for another week to help out with the Teachers Meet. That meant a little bit of slogging, but no problemo! I got the opportunity to get a glimpse of all the seniormost teachers of the AOL. Interacting with them was fun and I got to learn a lot of, 'what to do' and 'what not to do'!!! Guruji in His infinte Grace and Love just shook up the whole place. On the day I was scheduled to leave the ashram, I woke up a bit late and got really busy immediately that I missed doing the Kriya and Padma. A few hours later, as I was walking down a road with my sister, Guruji passed by in His car. He went a little further and stopped His car. A crowd as usual gathered around the car and people were talking to Him. I quickly ran up and from a distance smiled and bowed my head down. When I looked up, I for the first time in my life got a really cold stare from Him that just sent my eyes downwards! I didn't realise why until I met Swami Soumyatej a few minutes later. As I narrated the event to Him, He asked me, did you skip anything in your Sadhana today?! BINGO!!!! That left me really happy, proud and sad, all the same time! Happy because not everyone really gets the angry stare from Guruji. I personally believe it means that He is working on you. Proud because He knows when I do my sadhana and when I don't!!! Sad because He was there during my sadhana time and I wasn't there.
Well, I just thanked Swamiji and hurriedly packed my bags and left for home. The first thing I did after entering home was to do my Padma and the Kriya. I wonder what His expression will teach me the next time!!!

Jai Gurudeva

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Last evening was spent hunting for the perfect cassette player for the Kriya Tape. I have seen most of the teachers having a philips player and was wondering if that was the preferred brand of Art of Living teachers. I personally have always preferred Sony. After walking up and down many a store, did I realise why!!! Philips is small in size (perfect for my backpack when I travel, and can play tape, CD and DVD)!!! Sony on the other hand is powerful, but the one that plays VCDs and DVDs is not portable. The one that plays only tape is super compact and powerful, but obviously does not play anything else!

So, after walking up and down, I realised I needed a philips player which wasn't available in any store at that moment. I need to wait for another ten days. Mum is also looking for a player! She has officially been announced as the second teacher for the Vidyaranyapura center. Happy days!

I have got my relieving letter from Kennametal and settlements have been made. I am yet to collect all my books and other stuff from there. I should go there today and settle that! My car is up for sale. So, anybody who stumbles onto this piece, let me know if you are interested!!! Picture of the car and details will come up soon...


Monday, August 17, 2009


What a perfect finish to July and what a perfect start to August. The last 25 days were spent at the ashram! 21 days of training. Commando training as one of the TTC participants put it. But it was far far away from that. It was 21 days of mind blowingly high energy and divine love. Everything that I saw, smelt, felt, tasted and heard resonated with Love. The padma- sadhanas ensured that sleeping half my regular quota gave me twice the amount of energy! Even though I was in the dorm, I actually had a fantastic time! Plus, no communication with the outside world meant I had so much more time just for myself. The daily schedule was packed. Right from day one, we were on our toes! Prasannaji was the best during the first week! What an amazing time we had with him. Creating our own anthem, making fun of everyone and ourselves and not to forget the seva!!! Wow! What an amazing time we had at the kitchen! Seva at the kitchen would almost go on into the wee hours of the mornings. I really 'wonder' how Sundar Bhaiyah (as he is popularly known) manages the entire show with his committed volunteers. Those guys are the best. I personally believe that there is no next life time for those guys who work at the kitchen full time. Come Phase 2 and 500 more entusiastic people joined us and we were sent under the broad caring wings of Swami Brahmatej, aka Bharath Bhaiyah! The next 15 days were basically party time! Party in the morning, Party during the day and Parte` during the evenings!!! But there was an element of Divinity in the party! Not just an an element actually. In the true sense, there was an element of Partying in everything we did. We enjoyed everything. Right from waking up to brushing our teeth to bathing ( I chose to bathe in cold water everyday and that was the best thing ever), to Sadhana, breakfast, the sessions, lunch, satsangs and not to forget the Yoga Nidra!!! Everything we did was packed with energy and we did it one hundred percent! We even slept one hundred percent!

Guruji came in now and then and just shook us up like we were trees with dry leaves. We laughed so much and learnt even more! Cifra, Mikolava, Swamiji, Haathi, Ra'Chana'dal, Meena'akshi' and everyone and everyone ensured that we weren't just participants, but members of one big family. I could just see Guruji's vision for the world unfolding in the 120 of us. We were complete strangers, yet we trusted our lives in the hands of each other. Guruji's vision of a One World Family was being lived out right there.

I started out writing, thinking this was going to be a long and big blog, but I really have nothing more to put down. It was a fantastic experience. But its only the first step that has been taken. The journey has begun at a wonderful note! With His Love, Guidance and Grace, the rest will unfold, one day at a time...


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Post Kamalashile - Shimoga

Here is the final part of the 5 part series on Kamalashile, Guru Poornima, the Advanced Course and Shimoga. Sunday morning, we were scheduled to leave for Shimoga at 7.15 am. Atleast that is what Mala said to me. After having stayed up quite late the previous night, 7.15 am was really early. Yet, I managed to be up by 5.30 something. Finished with last minute packing, I decided to visit the temple and say my goodbyes to the mother divine. As I was about to enter the temple, I saw Chayanna's room door open. All through the night I was wondering if I will be able to meet Him in the morning before leaving. This was not an opportunity that I was going to let go and so, my direction changed. I ran upto His room and with that beaming smile that lit up the entire room, He welcomed me in and said, "So, tell me. What are your plans?" I was almost knocked off my feet with that question. I slowly and softly said, "Chayanna, I plan to leave now, visit Shringeri and Shimoga. That way, I will be home this evening itself and can get a good night's rest before starting the week again". He thought for a good half a minute and said, "Ok. Have you cancelled your bus ticket". I nodded, did my namaskarams, gave Him a big hug, got a good beating on my back (I just love it when He does that) and off I went. The previous evening, He wasn't very keen on me leaving immediately, but I felt it made good sense to reach Bangalore by sunday evening itself. Little did I know what was in store for me. When the Master says something, or even hints at something, it is best for the student to blindly listen. This I think was the greatest lesson that I got out of the entire experience. No matter who says what, no matter what the situation is, no matter how green the grass is, if He says stay; JUST STAY!

After that, a visit to the temple was followed by breakfast! The bus was late by about half an hour I think and we all finally managed to leave from Kamalashile at around 8.30 am. Surprisingly, even though I had had very little sleep the previous night, I wasn't very sleep in the bus. Next stop Shringeri. Shringeri was an absolutely funny episode. We all got split into different groups. I was in the first group with Mala and Deepak. More about Deepak in a short while. After visiting the main shrine, we went and sat nearby to meditate for a short while. About twenty five minutes later, I open my eyes and pretty much at the same time, Jyothi who by now was also sitting nearby, opens her eyes. Nobody else is around. I don't have my cell phone with me, no wallet no nothing and Shringeri, the temple and the ashram are Huge!!! Wondering where I will go and search for them, I ask Jyothi if she has seen any of them. Not surprisingly, the answer was a no. I was starting to get anxious and got into the most ancient building there. A temple built for Lord Shiva. As I did my round there and got out, I thought I saw three people dressed in orange about almost half a Kilometer away!!! They just stood out from the rest. They were on the other side of a river! Quickly (I pretty much ran across the bridge), I got to the other side. They were nowhere in sight. I just trusted my instincts and continued walking, till I came to a building that announced in great big letters; GURU NIVAS. This was where the Shankaracharya of Shringeri was sitting and so for the very first time in this lifetime, I saw a Shankaracharya face to face. As I entered the building, there about ten feet in front of me where my three angels in orange!!! Mala, Deepak and Rithika. A quick reunion, and Deepak told us a story of how the Shankaracharya does not allow anyone to touch His feet. As we inched furhter down the line and got close to His Holiness, His assistant, inquired where Deepak was from. He quicky answered and counter inquired if he could touch the feet of the Shankaracharya. No, came the quick reply and with a snicker we all left the place. As we got out, two elephants came by to say goodbye to us. We walked back just in time for lunch.

Lunch is a very interesting affiar at the Sringeri mutt and is a unique experience. I would suggest that when they are serving, keep your hands as far away from the plate as possible, unless you want them burnt, cause it doesn't matter to those serving if your hands are in the way or not. They will just keep going mechanically. It was almost a rude shock to see such behaviour, after having seen the serving at the ashram, where everything is done with such love, honour and respect. Anyhoo, towards the end, I found a mosquito in the food, so I just got up. I was starting to feel unwell by now and just wanted to leave. Quick wash of hands, walk back to the bus and change of clothes and we all sat there for the next one hour waiting for a few more people to return. This was when Deepak entertained us. Would educated be a better option? Well, with his jokes now and then and his stories, we were kept entertained.

The drive after that to Shimoga took quite a bit of time. At shimoga, the dam was an experience. The walk close to the lighthouse which had, 'Manju loves someone', the walk further down to the bungalow, toilets without any doors and finally the monumental place; The divine place where Guruji got the Sudarshan Kriya after going into ten days of Silence. We all sat there, facing the river. Lines from the Gurupooja were chanted, songs were sung and tears of gratitude were shed! A quick dip of just the feet in the river and off were again! We drove back to Shimoga and ate at the Mathura hotel. It was the most crowded restaurant in Shimoga, which allowed us to safely assume, it was the best! Further, Manju (Jyothi's mum) had just been there a few weeks ago. A quick dosa and my body had already started to burn up. The fever was paying me a visit after quite sometime.

The time was 9.15 pm and the train to bangalore was to leave at 10.00 pm. I did not have a ticket yet. Rushed, hurried goodbyes and I got my stuff from the bus and took an auto to the station. Surprisingly, there were a lot of cops. I ran up to the booking counter, caught hold of a guy, gave him some money and asked him to buy me a ticket to bangalore. The guy bought 1 ticket for two passengers. I couldn't blame him, he was drunk. So I got another guy to buy another ticket, gave it to my drunk friend, sent him along his way and went into the platform. There, more cops. I learnt that the Karnataka Chief Minister and his bandwagon of safari suit clad men were there to escort my back to bangalore! I quickly went up to the TTE (Train Ticket Examiner) and with my best Art of Living taught skills, spoke to him and managed to get onto the First Class compartment with an unreserved ticket. Once there, I realised finding a place to sleep might be difficult. Sarvam Guru Mayam. I was ready to sleep on the floor of the train. It didn't matter much to me at that point of time. Meanwhile, the fever was gradually increasing. The TTE, about an hour later walks in and asks me if I am ready to share a berth with another person. Not being in a position to bargain, I agreed, climbed up into the berth and fell asleep. I woke up around 4 in the morning, burning with a fully raging fever by now and got home by around 4.30 am. I set the alarm for about 6.30 and fell asleep. I woke up at around 12.30. I checked the temperature, and it showed a nice and steady 103F. Somehow, I managed to pull myself out of the bed and drove down to the doctor without an appointment. The receptionist was adamant that I get an appointment. I said I couldn's stand and so she allowed me to fall asleep in the emergency room, till the doctor came and took a look at me. URTI he proclaimed. Oh! How many times have I seen that before! Upper Respiratory Tract Infection. I managed to drive back home. I made some food for myself, drank some hot water, ate up, took the meds and plopped back into bed. The next couple of days were spent in bed and writing up the blog! The memories all flooding back, the experiences, the people, the silence, the Master, the Love, the joy, the lack of space in the meditation hall, the cold water baths, the lovely nature walks, the caves, the satsangs, the dances, the smiles, the lovely food, the rivers, the rains...
Spread the love, spread the joy.
Jai Gurudeva

Friday, July 17, 2009

Kamalashile - Part 4

Which brings us to day four and day three of the course. I woke up to find that my toilet kit had gone missing! That meant; no toothpaste, no toothbrush, no razor, no shaving cream and no mosquito repellent. 'Sarvam Guru Mayam'! A walk down to the bathroom and all I had to do was stick my index finger out at the first person I met and it was covered with toothpaste! Quick bath, back to the hall, clothed and I found that I was also one of those people doing breathing exercises while waiting for the rest to arrive, and arrive they did! This evening, we were given the freedom to just 'walk free' to any place we wanted to. I had to wait for Ravi again, but my patience wore thin and I just took off on my own with my trustworthy umberella though I didn't need it (Chayanna had mentioned that the rain Gods were particularly nice to us that day). A walk once again right upto the mouth of the cave was beautiful. Walking amidst lush green foliage without any aim, just gazing at the deep, abundant green is one of the most satisfying experiences that I have ever had. As I casually strolled back, a stranger came riding down the hill on his bike. I managed to hitch a ride back to the temple with him and headed out the nearest store and got myself one of those 'use and throw' razors!!!

A quick attempt at shaving without a mirror was quite amusing till Santosh (a young man who works at the temple) offered me his mirror! His mother who was nearby washing clothes, proudly stated that, he was her only son. For the past 52 years, the lady has stayed close to the temple, in service of the divine mother. Mentally, I bowed down to the divine mother in her and in sign language indicated that from that moment on, I was her second son! She was absolutely delighted and it was a really warm moment. A quick bath after that, dinner and satsang time!!! If you are wondering about the keyboard, I got it just before buying the razor! Satsang that evening was an extra special event for everybody! It was particularly extra special for me, for two reasons. One: The energy was so high that Chayanna actually got up and started to dance. The moment He did that, the energy in the place just sky rocketed. Everyone wanted to hold His hand and dance with Him. Everyone wanted to be close to Him! People were throwing flowers, screaming, spinning in pairs, singing, laughing! Two: My friends from Mumbai actually came up to the stage, dragged me to the back, carried me up and threw me in the air quite a few times!!! That was a total rockstar (with Kurtha and Veshti) moment. What was the real icing on the cake was that during none of this, did the veshti fall off! After satsang, that night, im sure a lot of people found difficulty in sleeping because of the intensely high energy. Come next day and it was the last day of the course! By now, I had a regular neigbour in Priyanka to ensure that my chair wasn't getting usurped! Post breakfast and a couple of beautiful meditations, we were asked to gently come out of our vow of silence, yet, be as silent as possible! Another couple of absolutely heart warming processes and after that, chaos ensued! We were exchanging smiles, email ids, phone numbers and what not! Absolute strangers, who had never seen each others faces before, never said a word to each other before in their lives, were hugging each other with tears of joy, love and gratitude. This I think is the most powerful force that His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has given to mankind. Such belongingness, I had never felt before. The presence of Chayanna right there, added so much more force and value to every moment. Group photos and hugs and warm shakes were going on, while I quitely sneaked close to Chayanna. Earlier, He had booked a ticket for me to travel back to Bangalore the same evening. The bus was to leave at 7.45 pm, which meant that I had to miss the satsang that evening. Priyanka did enough of rubbing salt, that I decided to ask Him if I could stay another day. Slowly, after bowing down to Him, I put forth my question and He vehmently agreed and asked me to immediately leave for a very famous temple which was about an hour's drive from there, so that I could make it back in time for satsang! My day was made. I was officially in love with everyone and everything at that moment! Vaidyaji was kind enough to take us (Pattu mami, Chaynna's sister, Shruti; Chayanna's neice and myself) to the Mookambika temple. Vydyaji looks very quiet and frail, but boy, can he drive?! The way he handled that old beaten down Maruti Van can put Peter Solberg or any of the other rally drivers to shame! Priyanka's sister; Deepthi who was looking forward to also join us unfortunately was told she couldn't come because of the sudden lack of space in the car (Pattu mami was a last minute entry and she had better influence than what I did over space in Vydyaji's car). Sorry about that. My bad. On the return, I found my throat was starting to get sore. We almost got lost a couple of times, but managed to keep to the path that brought us back home.

Return from the temple and I ran straight upto Chayanna's room to tell him that I went to the temple and how lovely it was and everything, but He had other plans for me. With a beaming smile He welcomed me in and pointed at the keyboard. The satsang had started about an hour ago, but He was in His room! I felt truly honoured at that moment. I quickly picked it up and ran up to the satsang hall and set it up quickly. 5 minutes later, Chayanna entered. As it was a saturday evening, we had a speical 'Ram' meditation. Satsang closed and during dinner, Mala asked me if I wanted to join them the next day to Sringeri and Shimoga. Post dinner, I finally pulled my guitar out and amidst a lot of teases from Shenoy mama and gang, we started another satsang session. Sudhee, Mrudula and quite a few more joined in and we went on till about 1.30 in the night. I was scheduled to leave the next morning at 7. Final pack up and with teary eyes and warm hearts full of love, we all said our goodbyes to each other. Another course had come to an end, but another beginning was being made. New friends, new situations, new thoughts, new memories... More Love, more peace, more strength, more responsiblities, more joy, more depth, more silence...

Jai Gurudeva