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.