At dusk on 1st Nov ’08, for me it was time to remember God. I offered two incense sticks on my behalf and joined my hands with closed eye-lids and stood in front of Mahavatar Babaji’s photo that day in my house. My heart welled up and I was infused with strong feelings of thanksgiving and gratitude towards Him for his limitless love and compassion flowing towards me as always. He has done for me that no human can ever imagine and no words suffice.
A silent selfless prayer emerged from within me when I expressed my wish to Him that from now I want to help others, who like me are facing insurmountable, exhausting difficulties in their lives currently. In a quick reply He said briefly, “Write the next post on this topic.”
To let you know dear child, I have from the very outset been very attracted to the photo and image of Divine Babaji. His aura, his personage and presence has been very, very mystical and equally magnetic for me. I was amazingly fascinated by his personality, his life and his mission on the earth, not to forget to mention his extra-ordinary, out of this world divine powers when I first read the all time classic, “Autobiography of a Yogi” in 2002 and many times thereafter. His distinguished and imposing stature had an indelible sketch which got engraved in my mind from the very start. His blissful figure would re-surface time and time again and his remembrance was always very soul- soothing.
Here I stood- my heart melting down in reverence and gratefulness when in a very soft gentle tone He said sweetly to me, “Remember me and my name in any form you like. Do naam jaap. Back in your past you called out to God and chanted His Name so intensely and poignantly that God heard your cry and I gave you sakshat or direct Darshan. I appear to those who remember and pray to God sincerely for guiding their way and are in need of spiritual assistance and remedy.”
Next I questioned him that why is it that when I look into his gazing eyes I get transfixed? Peace and tranquility enveloped me at this point when in a grave mystic voice he explained, “You have known me earlier too in the distant past in your previous lives. Your faith in me is unshakable and trust complete. You will always recognize me in every form and figure I take because you see me as Spirit and not a body.”
Mandira, there I stood enchanted and enamoured when I felt His divine rays of pearly hue reach me and I was encircled by them in my shoulders, neck and arms like a very light stole. My mind became super-sensory towards divine perceptions and I began to gather the showery gentle white and silver rays of Light and rare jewels of divine words that were arriving towards me from Him. He then slightly touched my mind with His, and a long buried, unread page from the library of my memory was re-opened. A flash of serendipitous events raced my mind and I recollected this particular date- 10th Nov, which incidentally falls today. It holds a special meaning for me because it is the date of my marriage and also because of some other significant reason besides that. According to the Hindu calendar, I got married on Tulsi Vivah Diwas, an auspicious day when Goddess Mahalaxmi in the form of Tulsi wedded Lord Vishnu. And today after 30 years, 10th Nov again falls on Tulsi Vivah Diwas. But to tell you more on the importance of 10th Nov in my life, please wait. I will come back to that.
A bizarre turn of events. Stormy patch of life with no end to groaning troubles. No rescue in sight.
Dear readers, a quick glimpse of my personal life account of my past needs to be reviewed and re-visited as this throws light on the gigantic spiritual figure- Immortal Babaji. It will also reveal as to when and how I met Him, the crucial situations in which we met and its life-altering significance in my life. This blog on my searching and finding God, our dialogue and the consequent serious thinking as after-thoughts would have never happened had it not been for Babaji. So lets stroll down the alley of my past when…
Those were immensely difficult years. My family had made a recent move to Mumbai in 2001 due to familial and professional reasons. As a result of shifting base, my family had to disjoint. Shortly after moving cities, the three of us found ourselves in three different locations spread across two sub-continents. Ties with extended family were strained, there was a split in the family and no signs of improvement could be seen on the horizon. I found myself alone in a new city without any faintest idea as to what was in store for me. Anyway,
To keep myself occupied I picked up a teaching job in a prestigious school- a profession I love, and am reputedly good at. Inexplicably, I was at the receiving end of fierce competition and jealousy. I frequently found myself at the wrong place at the wrong time and would receive the ire of the management for no fault of mine. Colleagues who were aware of my sincerity and commitment refused to stand by me. I was distraught. This was a profession I loved and was good at but time and again I would find myself into sticky situations that were not my creation. The children I taught were my only source of happiness during my tenure. My failing health made my situation worse. So much so that I was eventually asked to quit. Life had never meted out such a blow before. I had never been asked to leave a job. The kids loved me, I was good at my work, yet I was asked to go. Needless to say, I was disheartened and shaken up.
My health continued to deteriorate day by day for almost 4 years during which I underwent a minor and an extra major surgery. As it is to begin with, I had a fragile constitution and have frequently battled illnesses and complications of various intensities since I got married. But dealing with illness at mid-life crisis is very different from dealing with it when you are younger and stronger. A third abdominal surgery in one life time is not at all easy to tackle and deal with. For those four plus something years, in the absence of a family, illness was my only faithful companion. I had a constant mysterious lingering shooting pain in the stomach that couldn’t be diagnosed or treated for a few years. My sinusitis and varieties of chronic allergies flared up with a vengeance. I suffered so many coughs, colds, throat, eye and ear infections that a stage came where I didn’t need to visit a doctor. I knew which medicine treated which illness! There were other health problems too but I suppose I can do without getting into their descriptions. In spite of all these nagging health issues, I was determined and maintained my grit to go about my daily life as usual. I would do house hold chores for a brief time, then rest and then again get back to do another stint at the chores in easy installments! Even when I was working at the school, I would carry on the day on sheer will power of mind. I learnt to live with the unending pain and uneasiness. I desperately wanted to beat odds and I was firmly determined to make it in life. Though I never complained but…
Financial worries plagued me. Our shifting to Mumbai hadn’t been in the best financial conditions- in fact it was at a time where my family’s needs were increasing and incomes were grossly inadequate. At that point in time, the Indian economy was in a sad condition that we were grateful we had a job. I continuously worried about my future and that of my family. I worried about my daughter’s education and marriage. I worried about the physical and mental health of my husband living far away. I worried about resolving many lingering family issues. I worried about my health. To make things still worse, I was surrounded by a set of pernicious people about whom I was unaware. They targeted me surreptitiously which made my life impossible. It was only that much I could take. I was in a flurried state, bewildered, helpless and I touched the abysmal low. But I was not prepared to get crushed under my own load when…
It was in these trying times that I wept and I wept. I had no-one to go to and there was no-one who knew what was happening inside my life. I behaved as if nothing had happened and everything was alright outwardly. I was bereft and very lonely. It was at that time that I took a very conscious decision of turning my mind towards God. I thought to myself, “The situation is already so bad that it can’t get any worse. God is my only saviour. No human being is able to help me.” So I took refuge in God residing in my heart with full trust for shelter and protection. I cried to Him for much needed help and my salvation. I called out to Him day in and day out incessantly. I prayed fervently so that my heart would dissolve and I could forgive those whom I had really loved and received only their indifference, mistrust and sometimes ill-will in return. I wanted to carry my own karmic burden but was incapacitated. I could not do it alone. I urgently needed a helping hand from God. So, I began practicing naam jap or spiritual chanting. This I could do while I was engaged in routine activities as well. The results were quick for me to see. I began to forgive those people and buried my past as I understood it is my doing alone and no-one else’s.
I joined Yogananda Satsang Society [YSS]started by Sri Paramhansa Yogananda, learnt the meditation techniques taught there and practiced meditation every single day- even if that meant I only sat silently in a corner. I read all the spiritual books I could lay my hands on. I embarked on a new spiritual journey with my whole heart, soul and mind. I travelled extensively to spiritual places, sometimes alone and went on pilgrimages on a limping foot, agony in my stomach and a broken heart! But I made it everywhere. I undertook long journeys in dirty trains to Pondicherry and looked for solace and answers to my reflections in solitude. I walked up the mountains and sacred hills in Tiruvanannamalai and Badrinath. I walked in sweltering heat and scorching sun, I stood in long, serpentine queues in temples and samadhis, stayed in ashrams maintaining silence in quietude and reflecting on sombre, perplexing topics that intrigued me. My heart would bleed when I remembered the Lord and on some lonely nights, I used to call Him out with a pitched fever and a soft whisper in my heart- “Krishna, Krishna, my Krishna, Krishna… Where are you Krishna? Krishna, Krishna, Krishna… Listen to me Krishna, Talk to me, my Krishna, where are you? Krishna, Krishna, Krishna”…In my sleep also this chanting was going on.
I wrote a spiritual diary in which I noted down my learnt lessons of life, divine visions, realizations, prophecies and saw God’s Glory in them. I did this without a day’s break for more than 3 years. When I was too sick to do anything, I would lay down in bed quietly for hours and prayed emotionally and fervently for God to listen to me. I endured everything. I now perceived all that was happening to me not as a punishment but as penance.
I realized that one finds God through tapas and not by misunderstood outside rituals and ceremonies and flashy devotion. God had to be searched inside, within myself…..I thought to myself.
My health matters could no longer be ignored. I wanted to bounce back with same zeal, determination and exceptional energy. So I exercised 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening even if it meant 11 o’clock at night with my aching, dead body. I never skipped any energization exercises sessions at home during that period. I read YSS home lessons pertaining to my life stage and circumstances. I did everything that was possible for me to do under the sky,
I did not want people to write me off and the undying spirit in me never allowed me to give up and….
I knew even then that God listens, I knew that God will hear my voice one day, it was just a matter of time. I knew that it was only God who had all the answers and solutions to my overwhelming troubles.
Then on one memorable night…
(To be continued)