Spiritual Travel - The Outstretched Hand
by Anahita Sanjana
The turning point in my life was perhaps the summer of May 1997 when I was going through one of the darkest spells of my life. A dear friend of mine, Lina, had arranged for me to go on a trekking trip through the Himalayas to a place called the Solang Valley. Prior to May 1997, my idea of a holiday was a comfortable beach resort with a swimming pool. Therefore, it was with much reluctance that I made my way to the Solang Valley, 13 km north of Manali.
Nothing in my life hitherto had prepared me for the breathtaking panorama of the Himalayas that unfolded before me. It was the first time in my 27 years that I was out in the wilderness. Awestruck, I watched the fluid twirls and swirls of the river waters as they skipped and jumped over the rocks, the snowclad mountains wearing a cape of grey clouds, the sunlight dancing on the earth, casting a glimmer here, a shadow there. I had lived 27 years on this planet and yet known so little of its beauty!
I felt something burst in me in the face of this beauty. Every rock, every tree, every gurgling brook was pulsating with presence. Everywhere it sang of Him who I had been ardently seeking in my dimly-lit temple altar. I felt at an experiential level the truth of Sri Aurobindo's words: "Beauty is His footprint showing us where He has passed." I would sit by the Beas River just watching the majestic Himalayas. I remember weeping for hours together as I watched the mountains. My tears did not stem from sadness; rather they were steeped in the joy of homecoming. I felt as if I was being purged. Some primal deep-rooted part of me inaccessible to the thinking mind recognized in this entire experience a call and yielded to it as to a mother's touch. As Sri Aurobindo said: "Those who call to the Infinite are first called by the Infinite."
I returned from Solang, full of joy, my heart surging with some inexplicable primaeval delight. I felt as if I had been bathed from deep within, that the mountain soil, and the crisp mountain air by some occult alchemy had been transmuted into my cells. I carried the mountains back with me to Bombay. I just had to close my eyes and lo, the entire panorama of the valley unfolded before me and poured its love into me till I could ask for no more. Thereafter, nature became my temple and every tryst into nature was a sacred pilgrimage for me.
Alas, it was too good to last and within four to five days of my return to Bombay, I broke into an allergic reaction called 'hives', which grew worse with each passing day until I was forced to take antihistamines which made me feel drugged and groggy all the time. For a while the peace of the mountains sustained me but slowly this peace began collapsing under the constant onslaught of ill-health. The nights were the worst, when I would be compelled to scratch until my skin got bruised. I would awaken in the mornings bloated and red, with puffed eyes and lips and drag myself to school and teach in that state. Weeks passed with a steady deterioration in my condition. Allopathy, homoeopathy, ayurveda - nothing seemed to help. I began to feel that I would have to live with this malady for the rest of my life. Not even prayers seemed to work.
One night as I slept completely lost and dejected, I had a dream that I was about to go paragliding with a pilot. Before take-off, the pilot said to me, "If you do not trust me 100 per cent, I cannot take you up." I nodded and replied: 'Yes, if I want to go up, I must trust you 100 per cent.'
I woke up with hope singing in my veins. I had not been deserted after all. With my limited vision, I could see only one piece of the jigsaw puzzle and so could not make sense of it, but He who had created this puzzle, was conversant with every niche and curve of each puzzle piece. I had to just wait and allow him to fit the pieces together. As the great Sri Ramakrishna said, "Faith has to be blind, or it is not faith at all."
Sure enough my faith received its reward. The hand that had pushed me against my will into the Solang Valley, now ushered me to my spiritual guru: the Mother of Sri Aurobindo's Ashram. The allergy vanished mysteriously, having served its purpose of leading me to her. A month later, the same hand guided me to my current yoga teacher, Mr Jehangir Palkhiwala, who opened up other exquisite avenues of my spiritual journey.
Time after time, with tears of gratitude, I am made to acknowledge the existence of this "outstretched hand". As mentioned in Savitri by Sri Aurobindo:
Even through the tangled anarchy called Fate,
And through the bitterness of death and fall,
An outstretched hand is felt upon our lives.
Subject: The Outstretched Hand - 18 April 2012
It‘s beautiful. Love you sooo much :)
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