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.