Saturday, April 30, 2011

Journey

A journey- isn't that what life is eventually? A journey between two destinations- birth and death. Numerous rebirths, numerous bodies, and the cycle of samsara continues till the atman attains moksha. I am reminded of a story where a person asked Sai Baba, the revered fakir from the blessed village of Shirdi the way to go home. Baba replied by stating that there are many ways, but they are susceptible to the perils of wild animals. The disciple asked, 'But what if I take a guide with me?' And Baba said that there wouldn't be any danger then.

The anecdote is laced with metaphors, hidden meanings that need to be decoded. The way to go home is the way to moksha. The numerous paths are representative of the different ways to attain good karma- serving mankind, righteousness, prayer, good deeds and so on. The wild animals are symbols of our 'inner enemies' like greed, pride, ego and jealousy- all of them obstacles that could hinder the progress of the journey. And lastly, the guide is a symbol for an anchor; a guru who can support you in the quest for moksha, because only He is Self Realized.

For me, my journey has always been guided by the fakir from Shirdi, who took a second birth, after attaining mahasamadhi, in the form of Sathya Sai Baba in southern India. I don't remember exactly how it all began- When I try to think back, walking down Memory Lane, I realize that 'Swami' has always been a part of my journey, come what may. Appa tells me that when I was barely a month old, he wanted Swami to bless me before we went back to Ooty, where Appa and Amma used to work. But it wasn't to be since Swami was in Parthi and we were traveling from Delhi to Ooty, via Coimbatore. And then it happened... A huge crowd had gathered on the ghat roads that spiraled upward to the Nilgiri Hills. Appa went to inquire and someone told him that Baba had come all the way from Parthi! Wonder of wonders, Appa's wish was fulfilled and that probably would have been my first darshan.

I remember our daily prayers offered to Swami. My earliest memory of Swami is an old dog-eared prayer book, consisting of the 1008 names of the Lord, smeared with specks of vibhuti and the fallen ash from incense sticks at the altar. Appa would recite the 1008 names almost every evening, me sitting by his side, trying to make sense of it all. Our altar was decorated with beautiful photos of Swami, along with other pictures- and I remember my favorite used to be the smiling picture of Swami, in His distinct saffron robes, raising His hand in the abhayahastha, a symbol of refuge. Swami was (and is) a part of our lives. New clothes are first placed before Him, new books and jewelery aren't used before they are blessed at the altar; in fact when Appa uses a new pen, the first words written are always 'Om Sairam'. As an eager third grader, who returned home from school, ecstatic at having clinched the elusive first rank, even my report card was placed before Him. I have vague memories of a Christmas spent at Parthi; standing in the morning queue for darshan at Whitefield. When we shifted to the Kingdom of Bahrain, I had the good fortune of being able to attend Swami's bal vikas classes that helped me to anchor my life further in Him.

Of course, I had my moments of 'school girl atheism'. There were times when I questioned the basis of my faith, ignored my prayers and thought that it was ridiculous to worship someone as God. And each time I tried to do that, my faith always returned, shattering all my skepticism. He answers sincere prayers, no matter what. All that needs to be done is trust Him.

Today, Swami is no longer with us physically. That doesn't mean He is no more. The Almighty transcends everything after all, even death . As Swami says, sometimes 'we see and yet do not see'. We can still see His presence everywhere- in the sunrise, the sunset, the clouds, the rain, the stars, the birds, the fragrance of vibhuti, the prayers... Swami, make me an instrument of Your Will and guide me as always in my journey. Let me live my life the way You would want me to!

4 comments:

  1. Absolutely right Sruthi. HE will always be the guiding force in our lives. Let us lead our lives following his teachings.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Bless you Sruthi... Your blogs amaze and delight me. Waiting to see your first book in print...( a copy autographed ) in my hands.

    ReplyDelete
  3. One more Great Mahatma has visited us from His Heavenly Abode and returned. The heavenly father is always ready to help us and come down as an Angel every time. But the question we should ask ourselves as we keep shuttling between faith and faithless, rest and restless, happy and sad and a host of dual conflicts is when will we trust Him completely and repose in infinite bliss. Well only He can say :) don't worry :) He will find a way to bail us out :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Very true Amma and Karthietta. Thank you so much Viji ma'am :)

    ReplyDelete

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Journey

A journey- isn't that what life is eventually? A journey between two destinations- birth and death. Numerous rebirths, numerous bodies, and the cycle of samsara continues till the atman attains moksha. I am reminded of a story where a person asked Sai Baba, the revered fakir from the blessed village of Shirdi the way to go home. Baba replied by stating that there are many ways, but they are susceptible to the perils of wild animals. The disciple asked, 'But what if I take a guide with me?' And Baba said that there wouldn't be any danger then.

The anecdote is laced with metaphors, hidden meanings that need to be decoded. The way to go home is the way to moksha. The numerous paths are representative of the different ways to attain good karma- serving mankind, righteousness, prayer, good deeds and so on. The wild animals are symbols of our 'inner enemies' like greed, pride, ego and jealousy- all of them obstacles that could hinder the progress of the journey. And lastly, the guide is a symbol for an anchor; a guru who can support you in the quest for moksha, because only He is Self Realized.

For me, my journey has always been guided by the fakir from Shirdi, who took a second birth, after attaining mahasamadhi, in the form of Sathya Sai Baba in southern India. I don't remember exactly how it all began- When I try to think back, walking down Memory Lane, I realize that 'Swami' has always been a part of my journey, come what may. Appa tells me that when I was barely a month old, he wanted Swami to bless me before we went back to Ooty, where Appa and Amma used to work. But it wasn't to be since Swami was in Parthi and we were traveling from Delhi to Ooty, via Coimbatore. And then it happened... A huge crowd had gathered on the ghat roads that spiraled upward to the Nilgiri Hills. Appa went to inquire and someone told him that Baba had come all the way from Parthi! Wonder of wonders, Appa's wish was fulfilled and that probably would have been my first darshan.

I remember our daily prayers offered to Swami. My earliest memory of Swami is an old dog-eared prayer book, consisting of the 1008 names of the Lord, smeared with specks of vibhuti and the fallen ash from incense sticks at the altar. Appa would recite the 1008 names almost every evening, me sitting by his side, trying to make sense of it all. Our altar was decorated with beautiful photos of Swami, along with other pictures- and I remember my favorite used to be the smiling picture of Swami, in His distinct saffron robes, raising His hand in the abhayahastha, a symbol of refuge. Swami was (and is) a part of our lives. New clothes are first placed before Him, new books and jewelery aren't used before they are blessed at the altar; in fact when Appa uses a new pen, the first words written are always 'Om Sairam'. As an eager third grader, who returned home from school, ecstatic at having clinched the elusive first rank, even my report card was placed before Him. I have vague memories of a Christmas spent at Parthi; standing in the morning queue for darshan at Whitefield. When we shifted to the Kingdom of Bahrain, I had the good fortune of being able to attend Swami's bal vikas classes that helped me to anchor my life further in Him.

Of course, I had my moments of 'school girl atheism'. There were times when I questioned the basis of my faith, ignored my prayers and thought that it was ridiculous to worship someone as God. And each time I tried to do that, my faith always returned, shattering all my skepticism. He answers sincere prayers, no matter what. All that needs to be done is trust Him.

Today, Swami is no longer with us physically. That doesn't mean He is no more. The Almighty transcends everything after all, even death . As Swami says, sometimes 'we see and yet do not see'. We can still see His presence everywhere- in the sunrise, the sunset, the clouds, the rain, the stars, the birds, the fragrance of vibhuti, the prayers... Swami, make me an instrument of Your Will and guide me as always in my journey. Let me live my life the way You would want me to!

4 comments:

  1. Absolutely right Sruthi. HE will always be the guiding force in our lives. Let us lead our lives following his teachings.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Bless you Sruthi... Your blogs amaze and delight me. Waiting to see your first book in print...( a copy autographed ) in my hands.

    ReplyDelete
  3. One more Great Mahatma has visited us from His Heavenly Abode and returned. The heavenly father is always ready to help us and come down as an Angel every time. But the question we should ask ourselves as we keep shuttling between faith and faithless, rest and restless, happy and sad and a host of dual conflicts is when will we trust Him completely and repose in infinite bliss. Well only He can say :) don't worry :) He will find a way to bail us out :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Very true Amma and Karthietta. Thank you so much Viji ma'am :)

    ReplyDelete