Friday, June 1, 2018

Agni ~ The Purifying



Agni Deva  (By Nisachar)



The movie Padmavat met with a troubled release to say the least. Following the movie, a certain member of the film industry made a rant about Jauhar and how it demeaned her, whereas she would have preferred to be part of Khilji's harem than take to fire. Each is entitled to their opinion. 

One evening I found myself sitting with a few friends in the presence of a person whose opinion they valued. My friend made make a genuine inquiry on Sati/Jauhar - what and why were these customs? The response troubled me as it was stated to be a case of simple chauvinism amongst the village heads of the past who brought about these customs. 

Having read the scriptures and knowing things differently, I searched for appropriate material which can shed light on the topic, but found nothing in depth, from a single source. So I am making this attempt, aware that I will be hard-pressed to provide proofs from the past to soothe modern minds. 



The idea of burning alive in fire is a gruesome one. While Jauhar is a recent phenomenon, the act of Sati is considered ages old. Sati is understood to be a custom wherein a wife burns herself in the pyre of her dead husband as part of her duty. This understanding is wrong at many levels. 
Sati is not a custom nor is it part of any duty. 
It has nothing to do with the death of a husband per se 
Sati is not exclusive to women as men have utilised this mode of departure too.
Sati in vedic times, was always a voluntary act.
Only certain humans could afford to perform this act.
'Sati' is a derived name for this act.
To understand what this act truly is, one must first understand the element Fire or Agni and its relation with a human being.


       AGNI 


       Thou art the purest, worthy of reverence before being considered as a purifier.
Thou are the protector and friend of those who act according to Dharma, the holy law.
: Rig Veda 1.191.16

Thou art the medium between Earth and Heaven upholding the universal law of Dharma. 
      : Rig Veda X.88.2

Fire is one of the five elements, along with Earth, Water, Air and Ether, that creates and sustain's life. Its presence in the body enables the process of procreation, as such it is a Creator. Its presence in the body protects and enables various bodily functions through out our journey of life and as such Fire is the Sustainer. Its departure from the body is a mark of death and it has the ability to consume and reduce to nothingness any object it accepts. As such it is also known as a Rudra, the Destroyer. 
But the one quality of Fire that makes it stand apart is Purity - its ability to remain pure at all times and its ability to purify anything it accepts. The other elements are subject to pollution. Earth, Water, Air and even Ether can be corrupted. Our current society bears ample testimony to this bitter truth. For this reason Agni holds such significance in a Yagna, because of its ability to remain pure and to purify anything offered to it to transmute to a higher level. Anything put into fire is reduced to Ash. Ash is the final form of all things, Ash cannot be further transmuted. Hence Vibhuti (Ash) is considered symbolically sacred and pure as it is the final form, the final truth. 


A Jiva is filled with desires and temptations, covered or surrounded by things of the world. But Shiva is filled with renunciation, covered with Ash- the final form of all things of the world. This is also why in Sanathan Dharma (Hinduism) a human body is consigned to Agni upon its death. The body is not buried in Earth nor given to Water, lest the body with its impurities of wrong living, corrupt them. But Fire can accept any offering without becoming impure. The  exception to the funeral pyre is little children who die a early death and are therefore considered pure and Sages and Renunciants whose lives have been spent living in purity. Only the bodies of such beings are buried or offered in Water as their bodies will not contaminate but will rather purify the Earth or Water.

The scriptures call Agni - the truthful and dispeller of darkness. Agni was considered the final authority is helping reach the truth as no impurity/untruth could survive its flames. In the Ramayana, Sitaji is asked to prove her purity by going through the Agni Pariksha (Fire test). Some in our society, with a feminist mindset, condemn Lord Rama for having subjected His wife through such an ordeal. But people in the past had deeper understanding of things.

The war in Lanka was long and a bloody one. Many soldiers with their monkey minds began pondering the purpose of such dire action. They wondered if a prisoner of Ravana would not have been compromised in 9 months of captivity. Lord Rama knew that Sita's freedom would not be complete unless her purity is proven once and for all. He asked for the Agni Pariksha knowing well that fire would burn only that which is impure. When Sitaji entered fire, it is said that the Agnideva immediately appeared and respectfully offered Her to Sri Rama establishing Her purity in thought, word, deed, beyond a doubt. 

Fire also plays an important role as a witness during the vedic marriage ceremony. A wedding, in all societies, is about the vows taken to be together and the witness to these vows. In the vedic custom we invoke Fire to bear witness to such vows. A Judge or even a King cannot force a couple to be loyal to their wedding vows. But Fire, which is an intrinsic part of our self, is a different matter. It can hold us liable to our vows, even over 7 incarnations, as the saying goes. But it is this act of witnesshood that is related to the act of Sati.


SATI 

In early times, all actions and efforts were aimed primarily towards achieving Moksha. Two souls would wed with the purpose to help one another walk on the path of Self realisation, even while outwardly carrying out their duties as a householders.  If a man died an unnatural premature death, the wife could use this opportunity to transcend her earthly life, using her wedding vows as a means complete her sojourn on Earth. This is no different then a wife choosing to go along with her husband to a foreign land where he has been transferred for work. As a wife she has the right. This was not considered suicide and she would incur no sin.
But such option could not be invoked unless the couple had lived their lives completely faithful to one another, and the wife was pure at every level; a Pativrata. 
It is said that when such a wife entered the pyre of her dead husband, the Fire, which was the witness to their wedding vows, accepted her and did not hurt her. No pain of burning occurred. Both would then transcend this earthly life to continue their journey towards moksha in the realms beyond. 

To quote examples, the first would have to be of the one from who this act derived its name.
Sati was Lord Shiva's consort, daughter of King Daksha. When Daksha was conducting a great Yagna, he invited everyone from all realms but choose not to invite Lord Shiva, his son-in-law of who he was not fond. Sati went to reason with her father despite Lord Shivas' indifference to the whole thing. When Daksha humiliated her by speaking ill of Shiva, Sati who was the embodiment of Adi Shakti, could not tolerate such insult, She invoked her inner fire and immolated herself. This is one of the first case of Sati mentioned in the Puranic scriptures and it is from her that this name is derived. 

From the above, the commonly known myths about Sati are removed. It is not that the husband was dead nor was any compulsion forcing the act of self immolation. 

Let us take the reference of the most well known scripture, the Ramayana.
In the Ramayana, one of the first deaths we read about is of King Dasaratha. King Dasaratha had 3 queens. None of them performed the Sati. Why? Because they didn't need to. The Royal family was guided by the wisest Brahmarishi Vashishtha, who is the repository of all known knowledge. If any rule required the queens to perform Sati, then same would have been mentioned to them. But there is no such law in our scriptures. The two cases wherein living humans submitted to the flames in the Ramayana are the parents of Shravana, who request King Dasaratha to submit their old fragile forms to the burning pyre of their dead son and Shabri. When Shabri's desire of meeting Lord Rama was fulfilled, she sat on the pyre and invoked Agni from within her as she looked upon the form of Lord Rama till the end.

In the Mahabharata, the first case of sati is Amba, who keen to be reborn as a man to avenge Bhishma, lets go of her life by performing Sati. The next is the case of Madri. Madri and Pandu were deeply in love. Due to a curse, Pandu met with his death when he became intimate with Madri, his wife. In deep remorse of the loss of her loved one, Madri gave her children in the care of Kunti and requested that she be allowed to depart with her husband. Thereupon Madri performed Sati, whereas Queen Kunti raised the Pandavas. The third case of Sati in Mahabharata is when the blind Dritrashtra and Gandhari, allow the fire that is burning the jungle to envelop and consume them, while they are in a deep state of Yoga. 

In all the above cases the act of Sati does not meet the concept of Sati as generally understood.


JAUHAR

Jauhar was a case of mass Sati by women of Royal heritage to prevent being captured and abused by invading forces. This phenomenon was well known to exist amongst the Rajput women known to value dignity over life. Unlike Sati which has its roots in the mythological past, Jauhar is a recent and historical phenomenon.

It is a known fact that when certain traditions from higher times are carried on without deeper understanding of its need and philosophy, there is distortion leading to blind belief and abuse. Just like the burqa served a practical purpose in the muslim community at one point in time, but today the tradition of burqa is considered an imposition and not practical anymore. Similarly the practice of Sati should never have been practiced in the later ages. 

Historical reference to sati practice has been found from the Greek historians during Alexanders time to other scholars who visited Bharatvarsha over the years. From the records of the British, there have been cases where women have been forced to perform sati and in other cases women have chosen to commit it. Thankfully the custom has been prohibited by law although research on the net shows that certain women of influence took to Sati as recently as the 1950's and even 80's.  

In regards to Jauhar and the comment made by the actress, it is one thing to denounce the act, but another to question the intent. Rajput women were not weaklings. it requires bravery of a different level to be willing to practice Jauhar. What fuelled such bravery is the humiliating though of being a captive of an invader and living a life without self respect. Are such feelings limited to the Rajputana women? In my readings I have known cases from cultures across the world during war times where women have preferred suicides than to be mistreated and abused by foreign enemies. Even in certain Japanese and Chinese movies this has been seen. 

During the great depression and the Wall street crash in the 30's, men committed suicides to prevent the humiliation of a debt laden life. Closer home, farmers are currently doing the same over smaller debts that they find is hard to repay. Thus this is more of a human phenomenon rather then a practice isolated to women. However those Rajput women are hailed because of the courage and dignity with which they carried out the practice.

I sometimes wonder if Fire would accept these human without hurting them, as was known to be the case in the earlier ages. While finding references, I read of a Sati account of Maharani Padmavati Gaekwad of Baroda who voluntarily and secretly prepared for her Sati upon the death of her husband. Her friend who was invited, accounts of the event saying "I heard her voice calmly saying ''Ram, Ram'' which never stopped for a second till she died." 

Does the relation between the Agni and humans still exist as in the old?

The sadhu community in remote India is fond of sitting by their Dhuni fire. To many it may seem like a bonfire made to protect from cold or wild animals. But those who understand divine sciences, make reference of the mystical relation between a Sadhu and his dhuni fire. To a Sadhu, his fire is a living thing that he interacts with. Sadhus are known to look into the fire like a crystal ball and predict the future. There are cases of sadhus getting wild when a foreign intruder dare asks the sadhus some fire for her personal purpose. In certain documented cases, authors share they have seen these sadhus touch the fire for long period of time without getting burned or even their hair getting singed. However such sadhus are remote and keep away from human eyes.

So is there any proof of the Agni-human relation today to the extent wherein the Agni does not hurt the body of such a person. 

A few years back a certain monk I know was invited to the IIT mumbai to deliver a lecture and he gave me some footage material to edit to be displayed to the audience. The footage was a documentary about a certain mystic yogi in Tanjore who was a fire worshipper and had developed a deep personal relation with fire. I watched in awe as the Yogi interacted with the flames and also mentioned what his relation with fire is, the strict disciplines he has to maintain and the food he eats. His face, when he did his Yagna with devotion, fascinated me. He seemed to be in a devotional trance with tears coming out of his eyes. Then at a certain point he lay on a wooden pyre which was consumed in high flames. Although it was obvious he was aware of the heat and smoke, yet the fire would not hurt his bare body, not burn the cloth he was wearing as long as he was in a trance like state. By his own admission, in normal circumstances, Agni dev would affect his body as it would others. Naturally one observes this with doubts and tries to find if there is any trick to this. But the duration for which this lasted proved beyond doubt that this was something different and gave validity to the past stories from the puranic times were mortals were known to be friends of Fire.

I have also read about certain mystics who have to ability to invoke fire from within them and yet the fire doesnt hurt them. One such event historically known and witnessed by many is when Adi Shankara invoked fire to spurt from His upraised hands to light His departed mothers pyre. 


Man has been disconnected from His true divine heritage due to ages of ignorance. Yet many secrets of our true nature and relation with creation are stored away in coded words of the scriptures. Some time soon when Consciousness of mass humanity raises itself and man works in tune with his true nature, these secrets will voluntarily make themselves known once again for the benefit of humanity.






Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Mythological Games in Switzerland


Switzerland, July 2004-

Being the only assistant in the small crew, i was overwhelmed with work of different departments on this outdoor shoot. On this day we had wrapped up early. When i entered the dining area of the hotel where everyone gathered to relax after the days shoot, i found a group in the right corner engaged in some board game and playing it with a great deal of enthusiasm. On one side was Shahrukh and on the other side was Farah Khan. There was Pam Aunty, Payal, Vaibhavi Merchant, Anil Mehta sir and some other top names of the industry playing that game. They were playing in a fun spirit and yet by their comments one could sense the competition between them. 

The questions being asked covered various fields of science, entertainment, sports, religion and mythology. At one point Farah asked a mythological question which seemed like a complete bouncer and no one was expected to know the answer. So to get things going she asked "Kisi ko aata hai jawab ya points le lein?" before she could discard the question, i blurted out - "Daksha". I immediately regretted it because everyone began looking at me. After a few seconds Farah said in her usual dry tone - "Achha guess kiya ,... sahi jawab hai!".  I moved on and sat on another table to make the call sheets.

After that round of game was over, they began making new teams. As i was working against time to finish my work.. i heard my name called out. Shahrukh had chosen me in his team. I wanted to opt out as i had work.. but then wondered, when again would i get a chance to play.  Srk saw my reluctance and said "Arre call sheet jaane de, ek din nahi diya to chalega.." Farah said dryly "Waise bhi tu kaunsa time pe aata hai.." To which Yashji sitting on another side began laughing.

Giving one answer was fine.. but i wasn't sure i knew all the answers to questions on mythology or religion despite my deep interest in it. The game began. I sensed the competition and will to win despite outer niceties. Srk is very intelligent in quiz games, i didn't get to do much, but the team went along well until Farah asked the question "Which avatar of Vishnu was there during both the Ramayana and Mahabharata periods?" Unlike other questions this one was met with a muted response. I quickly thought about it and said "Parashuram," to which Srk immediately repeated 'Parashuram' as if he knew it too. Farah's look, which was one of - 'this ones in the bag', changed, and she said - "Correct!"

The game progressed further with a lot of tiffs and arguments till things became a bit tense. At another critical point she asked another mythological question - "What did Sita give to Hanuman to show Lord Rama as proof of meeting her.?" Immediately Shahrukh said - "Her ring," which the rest of the team agreed to. Farah was about to give the verdict, when I said to Srk that this may be incorrect. Lord Rama gave the ring but Sitaji is said to have given an ornament she wore on her hair. I do not know what that ornament is called, but on it was studded the gem famously called - the Chudamani. 

Srk wasn't sure about this, he felt it was the ring. The team agreed with him. I was feeling pressured as Farah wanted us to answer quickly with a time limit decided in our last argument. Srk said - "Pakka maloom hai tujhe.." Some other person confidently emphasised that "it was her ring,.. just answer that!" But i looked at Srk and repeated what what i knew.  Srk changed his answer to Chudamani! To which Farah said - "Wrong answer!" I wanted to bury myself. Srk asked for the right answer to which she said - "Shikhamani!" 

Srk said that this is what he said that its the ornament of the hair! I  explained that Shikhamani maybe an assumed name, but it was called the Chudamani and began to describe it -"It is about this big in size, a bit oval and honey coloured, not exactly honey coloured but a bit like...."
They were all curiously looking at me and Farah put their look into words saying "Tu aise bol raha hai jaise tune khud dekha hai?" That shut me up and i withdrew as the game came to an end.

I do not recall who won but that night as i tried to finish my work my mind kept going to the summer just a few months back that I had spent in Brindavan.

Swami had come to Brindavan as He usually does and i had the opportunity of serving in His residence - Trayee. One evening after the bhajans at the Trayee sessions, I was alone sitting guarding the interview door which was open, while all other boys were sitting at the main door attending the Trayee session. I could hear the laughs, claps and occasional sounds of awe from within the house. At one point the energy changed.. I sensed a great deal of excitement almost flooding out from the house. When i looked up at the sevadal boys, they had all gone on their knees trying to see something in great excitement. 

I wanted to rush over, but i could not leave my place out of a sense of duty. Then i looked at my leader Harish, who in excitement motioned me to come over. In a nano second i was there. Swami was walking amongst the boys, the staff and VIPs showing something.. and such was my good fortune that I reached there just at the time Swami was closest to us. I saw with my own eyes a glittering Jewel, smooth, almost emanating a glow from within. To my eyes it seemed honey coloured, but it could also be because i saw Swami's palm through it. Having seen the created I switched my attention to the creator who was still moving around showing the jewel to the other boys looking at it curiously.

When Swami sat back on the jhoola, the gentleman who was speaking said in awe and with folded hands that "We all have been privileged to see the Chudamani which Ma Sita had given to Hanuman to show to Lord Ramachandra as proof of having met her!"


The Chudamani

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Of Dreams and Divine visions


This morning while having a conversation with my sister, she shared a dream she had a couple of days after Navratri.


“I saw a dream of Divine Mother. It was a majestic vision of Her sitting on a rock with one leg folded and the other down. Behind her sat an enormous lion. 

I approached and sat at Her feet, taking it in my hands and pressing them as I looked at Her beautiful presence. In my mind a thought occurred that I should ask Her about my daughter T. But before I could ask, She read my mind and said “She is my daughter.. I always look after her.”

I replied “Mother have i brought her up well?” She smiled and gestured with Her hand and nod of Her head that I have done well.

I then asked “Mother what should we teach children to make them good human beings?”

Mother replied in chaste hindi-



“Do not lie.

Without faith, worship and prayers are meaningless.

Avoid bad company.

Do not rejoice at others sufferings, be happy at others happiness.

Do not complain always. Believe that whatever I do for you will be for your good.

Take care of your elders; to give them peace is your duty.

Whatever you do today, do with the awareness that you will reap the fruits of your action soon. Keep an eye on your own karmas.

You will always receive fruits of your earnest efforts.

Patience makes life easier. Patience during sorrows keeps the mind peaceful. Patience during good times will prevent rise of ego/arrogance. Patience is great strength. 

Always remember that I keep an eye on My children at all times. Listen carefully always to your inner voice emanating from your conscience. “

As a parting note She said “No matter what, I will surely give T the fruits of her labour. Have faith in my words.”

As the dream ended I woke up feeling very clear. It was 5:45 am in the morning.


Curious to know more, I asked her if she could describe what Divine Mother looked like?

My sister replied that Her presence was glorious. “Describing Mothers beauty would not be possible” she said. “No creative mind, no poet would have the vocabulary to describe Her Divine beauty. It was beyond compare! She wore rich red clothes and Her jewellery shone with divine lustre. Her tejas (brilliance) was as bright as the sun yet pleasant. When She gestured Her hands at me in blessings I noticed how small and sweet they were. Her words were spoken in shudh (pure) hindi.” I asked if she could give an example.. she replied that one of the statements She made was “Bina Vishwas ke prarthna, pooja nirarthak hai. (Without faith, prayers and worship are meaningless).” Those who understand hindi will know that this is not the conversational hindi we speak everyday. She further shared that what took her constant attention was the presence of the huge Lion sitting behind Her. He was a royal looking creature, beautiful and ferocious, but sat very peacefully behind Her as if in protection. Its eyes shone beautifully.


The purpose of sharing this is not merely to reveal someones dream. This is an event where Divinity interacted in a mystical, non-human form with an ordinary, everyday person. Even the most devoted human, often considers God a distant entity. And yet in my study of spiritual phenomenon, I have come across numerous times when often everyday humans have had some interaction with the Divine realms. 

One would naturally wonder what could have caused a dream of this nature to occur to her.
So I asked my sister if she had done something special that brought her this blessing. She shared that for the past many years she gets a special darshan dream after Navratri.. Mostly it is Swami (Sri Satya Sai) who comes and blesses her, only this time it was Divine Mother. She confessed that unlike other members of our family she does not follow the rites described during Navratri days. She prayed once to Swami that she would not like to follow rituals only because others are doing so.. that when she feels inspired within then she will observe all formalities. So she was herself unsure as to what caused this grace.

Also she says that my niece (her daughter T) is not necessarily religious or spiritual.. but she has a deep connection with Lord Shiva and Parvati ma. Every monday she makes it a point to go to a nearby Shiv temple and pray, although no one from our family has encouraged her to do this.

Further she recalled a remarkable incident that my niece shared with her. 

Once when my niece was little she was very unwell. She would puke out any water or food that she had consumed and thus she had become very weak. It was jaundice related ailment. Her stomach would pain, and she found it hard to sleep. The doctors were concerned and told my sister to take full care. One night my sister was tending to her, when my niece asked her to sleep and if she needed anything she would wake her up. So my sister slept. Late in the night my niece woke up needing to go to the restroom. She didn't want to wake her mom. The room was very dark. My niece got up and to her surprise saw a women who she recognised as Mata (Divine Mother) sitting next to her in a red saree and was massaging her stomach. Convinced that her illness was causing her to hallucinate.. my niece made her way to the restroom and then had some water to drink. When she returned through the darkness taking the support of the wall, as she was feeling weak.. she entered the room and noticed Divine Mother still sitting in the same place. Too weak to stand and look, she thought she would lie down and then gaze upon Her form. It was not possible for her to sleep in those days. But the moment she put her head on the pillow, she fell into deep sleep.


It is natural to want to examine in every way possible the authenticity of such events. Could this be hallucination.. could it be a viral imagination playing itself out in the subconscious? But the proof is in the tasting. My sisters dream was not merely seeing Divine Mother. It was in what was shared with her. The wisdom revealed is in sync with what we learn from Swami and our scriptures.. and my sister, also in a self examining mode shares that what she heard was not something that she previously contemplated on in any ways.


A sevadal friend Santosh, once shared with me that he was asked to take a sadhu for darshan in Ramesh hall in Brindavan. After darshan he found the person looking perplexed. When he asked what happened, the sadhu replied almost a little frustrated that it was not possible for him to have Her darshan. When asked further, he replied that Her jewellery shone with such lustre that it was not possible for him to see the Divine Mother. Now my friend was confused. He asked him if the sadhu had the darshan of Swami? The sadhu pointed to a nearby photo of Swami and said “Do you mean when you have darshan, you see this form?”. “Ofcourse” my friend replied, “what do you see?”. The sadhu replied “I see the Divine Mother walking amongst us. Her presence is so majestic, Her aabhushans shine with such strength, it is as if each has the light of the suns in it.”

This statement compliments the narrative of the above dream.

Another event is from my own childhood. I was studying in a boarding school in Panchgani, when one night I had the most memorable dream. 

I found myself in a mystical environment. It was like night time. I saw Lord Vishnu in the reclining form on the Ksheer Sagar. His feet were close to me and His head away from me. His body was beautiful blue and He seemed to recline in a restful pose, His eyes closed, soft smile on His face. What distracted me from gazing at His appealing form was Adishesha. As I was at the feet of Lord Vishnu, Adishesha's hood was nearly over me as well.. It was a beautiful yet frightening spectacle. Its hood of many faces was bejewelled and shone with many colors.. although not trying to frighten, yet the presence of the enormous creature took most of my attention and i remember covering my eyes from it and trying to see Lord Vishnu though my fingers. There was a bright light emanating from His chest, and although i had no way of knowing yet I knew that it was emanating from the jewellery the Lord wore. The feel of that vision was other-worldly.. I did not feel that this was taking place on earth. As the dream got over it caused me to wake up spontaneously. I found all the other children sleeping in my dorm and I realised it is still very early morning.



One could say that my imaginations could have created this dream … except when I had this dream I was a kid studying in the first grade. I had no concept of Adishesha or for that matter Lord Vishnu.. It was beyond my imagination to conceive even remotely of such a vision. Thus i found the details remarkable when as I grew I learned about Lord Vishnu reclining on a serpent in the ocean. Even the jewel Kaustubh that He dons on His chest was what I realised was the glittering jewel causing so much light that it almost hid Lord Vishnu’s face.


Dreams are a strange phenomenon. Often we have dreams which just reflect back to us our everyday life events.. But every now and then, and many humans would have experienced this, we tend to go deep and experience something uncommon. While our physical body rests, our inner astral bodies can take our dim awareness to various subtle realms, sometimes even penetrating the causal worlds where Divine realms exist. 



Makes one wonder - Is God really distant from us or is it so only in our thoughts. The divine realm is much closer to our reach then perhaps most of us think. Nor is it exclusive to the saintly class. The everyday people are after all God’s children too.

Reminds me of something both my Guru and Swami taught. My Guru revealed that everytime we sincerely think of God, it elicits a response from Him in someway. Swami says that the amount of time we spend with God sincerely during our waking hours, God spends that much time with us during our deep subconscious moments whether or not we are fully aware of it when we awaken. 



Friday, August 12, 2016

In the Heart - 2



Mt Kailash ~ Majestic and Shy
                                                                Continued from In the Heart - 1


As if the endless walk towards the base was not enough, the heavens opened up pouring hail from the sky which was followed by an intense but thankfully brief spell of shower. The air suddenly turned chilly as i felt grateful for the waterproof clothes and the thermals within.

Sabu, my cameraman friend, our sherpa and I resumed our journey to the base. My mind was occupied with what took place at the Dolmo la pass.  “He is Shiva”, “She is Shakti” - I kept repeating this to myself as i crossed any male or female. I felt a sense of awe at the revelation though i knew well that unless i could translate this experience to an everyday approach with people known and close to me in my world, it would be of little use.

Walking along i had a wonderful encounter.  

Somewhere along my path, a beautiful, fluffy and rather large rabbit hopped out of the grassy greens onto the path and began hopping in front of me. Its luxurious fur was brown and pure white in colour. The funny thing is it acted as if it was scared of me and would hop in front and then stop at a distance, look behind, wait for me to catch up and then hop again as if i was trying to catch it. This drama was very enjoyable. I marvelled at how and why this little creature choose to give me company. Soon it left as abruptly as it had appeared. I had read that often Masters in these mountains take various forms to give darshans to devotees who seek them and wondered if the little royal looking rabbit was one such Master.

The never-ending journey continued and finally - Home Base! Or so i thought, finding two of our sherpas sitting casually conversing with one another. But they informed me that our base was yet 30 mins away. They had been sent with some tea to serve us as refreshment knowing that we were walking and shooting our film at the same time and would be exhausted. I was deeply touched at the gesture and relished the 2 teas - a masala chai and a ginger flavour, much favoured by most in our group. We shared the tea with other few pilgrims - the Shivas and the Shaktis, as they crossed us by. Our Journey resumed. It was getting dark. A few laborious steps more and we were finally Home!

I was completely drained. A friend called out my name. I could see the bright smile on her face as she greeted me with an embrace knowing i had done the arduous second day of the Kora on foot. So numb did i feel that i was hardly conscious of my body or the embrace but i became aware of something else. 

Even in that fatigued state, I felt a warm tingly sensation at the heart region. Almost like a low voltage current flowing into my heart from her heart like a gushing stream of light. It was such an astonishing experience. At first i thought that it had something to do with her and that she must be an elevated soul to be able to do this. But after her around 7- 8 more friends and fellow Kailash pilgrims embraced me and the feeling of this stream of light flowing to and fro my heart kept growing. I realised the scriptural truth behind the science of an embrace. The purpose of an embrace is to connect the heart chakras of two souls. It is spiritually the highest form of gesture to show love. Thus it is that when Sri Rama wanted to show His love for Hanuman, He embraced Him. Perhaps my numb state of body permitted me to recognise this subtle exchange which is otherwise lost to us in our body awareness. In the region of Kailash such experiences and awareness was effortlessly possible.

Connecting the heart Chakra - Hugging Mohanji @ Mansarovar

The leader of our group, a saintly figure - Mohanji, who had been keeping us spiritually oriented on this journey, asked for us. We greeted him as he kindly spoke to us and blessed us for our efforts. Skipping dinner, I crashed upon the first bed available, set up in a humble and rustic cowshed. A friend came over and kindly massaged my head, given the constant headache one feels in the high altitude. I fell asleep immediately and then had the experience which was the crowning glory of my trip.

Just a night before we had had the privilege of sleeping very close to the most visible part of Mt Kailash. This night in my dreams i had a visitation of the embodiment of Shiva Shakti. As i slept, i found Baba appear in my dream, in a very young and handsome form looking intently at me with a smile on his face which seemed to say “So, you did it!”. I hurriedly approach Him to greet Him and He loving patted my cheeks as He use to in my days with Him in Trayee Brindavan. I woke up the next day still feeling the gentle sting of His pat on my cheek. The dream soared my spirits as i readied my tired body for the last days trek.

Before i began, i realised that this was the last day of this journey around Kailash. In my attempt to overcome the obstacles of the journey, I (and i guess most of us) had forgotten to enjoy the journey itself. So this day i decided to take it easy as the last day was easy compared to other days. I walked my path more in awareness of the mountains, streams, the flora and fauna, the beautiful blue skies and nature around me. I stopped every now and then and lay on the grassy mound looking at the sky, feeling the sun, closing my eyes, breathing the air, listening to the awesome silence. The beauty around me was breathtaking. It was depressing to think of leaving this paradise and going back to the chaotic world which seemed like entering darkness.

  
Sitting on the grounds, soaking in Kailash - 3rd day of Kora

I walked even slower fearing the end would come soon. At this stage the Kailash was no longer visible to the eye, though its presence was strongly felt. Knowing the end to be near, i stopped and faced the sacred mountain, went on my knees and tried to connect with the same divine energy which had so generously made itself available yesterday. I prayed deeply asking it to keep me here with it, that this felt like home. The thought of the world with all its agendas seemed repulsive. I pleaded like a child. 

Suddenly that energy in all its strength was there once again. In a fatherly way it declared -
Why do you fear the darkness of the world? Let the darkness fear you, for now each of you carry the light of Kailash within. Know that light to be with you always and spread it to all who come into your lives until you realise not else but the light that you truly are!”

Once again the image of a golden Kailash seemed to impress upon my consciousness. I understood that geography had no bearing on the truth.. That the truth was within me and it was for me to realise it wherever divine providence had placed me. Deeply uplifted I walked along reaching the end of my most blessed journey.

At the end of my sacred adventure,, with 86 other Gods and Goddesses

Truth be told, a small part of me doubted my experiences. I wondered if the high mountain airs and my tiredness caused me to hallucinate. I did not share any of these experiences with anyone, holding it deep within me revisiting it again and again to see if its impact on me lost its power with time. But as time passed, i still felt the awe recalling what i had experienced, and never could shrug it off as my imagination. Eventually my everyday life overwhelmed my consciousness and i lost awareness of the sacred message... until the mountains drew me to them and gave me this message yet again; this time in …


Badrinath Temple, July 2015

A temple is a mirror reflecting  God within each one of us..

As i sat at the foot of the sanctum sanctorum, absorbing the wisdom that was graced with, I decided to put things to one final test.

All along this journey I was carrying prayer requests on behalf of those close ones who were suffering various challenges life had imposed on them. In all my prayers I was not able to successfully let go and surrender these requests to God. They would remain with me, worry me and bear heavy on my being. So, i thought, if my experience in this temple was true, then i should be able to pray on behalf of all those people and at the end get up feeling light and relieved, convinced that my prayers were heard and that all those people would be taken care of.

With that, I closed my eyes and one by one remembered those in need, putting their prayers forward to the divine presence that one could tangibly feel in the temple. Unlike other times, this time i did receive a response.

As i visualised the person i prayed for, surrendering him or her to God, i saw a bright light emerging from their heart, expanding and overwhelming their being to an extent that the person himself was lost in its sea of brightness. This pure light was full of strength, wisdom, love and optimism. No amount of doubts could shrug off this image from my mind. It was a very encouraging and heartening sight. I tried to see where the problems of the person were in face of this light. To my surprise, I could see they still existed, even though in a very minuscule form, although it was easy to know that the light could overwhelm the darkness easily.. yet it remained. I realised then that the problems and issues in form of this darkness has its place and karmic purpose in those peoples lives. 

The Light ~ around you, within you, is you..
  
Yet again an unheard voice explained -

This is the true state of every being in this world. Darkness co-exists with light. Humans focus only on the little darkness that they have invited into their lives; whereas Saints, who are awaken to truth, focus solely on the light which is their true nature. It is for this reason that Saints can cross through this difficult world unconcerned with all the troubles and obstacles that confront them. They choose to live in awareness of the truth that they were, are and ever will be sustained and protected by the light of God which is ever within them around them and is them. This is your truth too and of all the people you pray for.

I opened my eyes and looked into the sanctum sanctorum. To my joy i felt relieved of the burden that i had been carrying around with me all this time. I felt my prayers had been heard and all those people would be taken care of in a way which was for their highest good.. I quickly bowed to the alter, made a small offering and got up in order to give way to others in the vast crowds behind me. 

The Unexpected Grace - The Tulsi garland
“Hey Boy..” A voice called me from behind. As i turned, the priest from within the sanctum flung something at me which i saw him retrieve from the idol of Sri Badrinath. I caught it and found it was a garland of tulsi leaves which until sometime ago was adorning the handsome form of the idol. Considering this unexpected grace and most precious of prasad as a further proof of the inner communion of the day, i left the temple.


From that day on i tried not to focus on Gods presence solely being in the temple. Sometimes when it was crowded, I sat outside by the side of the temple, meditating upon the Badri form within me.. At other times I found myself accompanying those guests who were privileged to receive an invitation to witness the early morning abhishekam within the temple. 


Thats me in the corner - Finding my religion

I knew well that this experience was not the end, but a grace towards a beginning. The real challenge would now be to live it daily. When maya confronts me with its charms and lures would i be able to remember the presence of the light within me?

A year has now passed and i have fallen and risen many times. Its been nearly 11 months since i wrote the first part of this blog. Frankly, this blog has not revealed anything new under the sun. The Vedas declared it millenniums ago.. Christ said as much - "Know ye not ye are Gods!"; and I am convinced that many a souls visiting this sacred realm have experienced such grace in greater measures.  And yet I was unsure if i should reveal these experiences at all.. but i have, knowing it to be the truth. 

God is around you, within you, is you, here and now, if you choose to accept this reality as your own. This truth and blessing belongs to everyone. 

And so i write these words sharing them with you, while sitting at the sacred Mt. Kailash and Badrinath…. The Kailash and Badri in the Heart!



Post Script ~

A few days after my writing this post, I chanced upon the following extracts from a book of spiritual experiences that I was reading. I quote -

"..during meditations, I started receiving very clear messages in form of thoughts. Initially I had great difficulty describing my experience. Since I was not hearing a voice through my ears and I was not seeing a person talking I couldn't tell exactly what was happening where the information was coming from. After several attempts I was able to describe it as a thought in my own mind, but it definitely was not my own thought because some of the things I heard I can hardly comprehend leave out being able to think about them on my own. Though it was not a voice that is normally heard by ears but it gave a voice like feeling. I was able to tell the gender of the voice. from the fluctuations in the tone I could also tell whether it sounded happy, serious or joking etc."

On Healing - " God is in every person. God does not suffer. There is no suffering of the Atman. It is the mind and body when not controlled that goes through sufferings. Sufferings are also due to Prarabdha Karma."

It seemed as if this was brought to my attention to confirm my own experiences, since I was very hesitant to bring it out in the blog.