By Nandini Sarkar
Nandini Sarkar narrates how an ordinary day exploded into a celebration of love, light and spiritual bliss for a householder devotee
A sudden flutter of wings on the fibre roof rippled through the reverie of the early morning. Startled, Nirmala looked up from her laptop. The pigeon sat in profile, her eye unblinking, reminding Nirmala of her daily ritual of love. After four hours of non-stop work, her leg muscles felt taut and, limping slightly, she rose to get the muri for the birds. As she climbed the stairs to the terrace, Nirmala panted slightly. A current of misgiving rose, as she recalled missing her daily exercises that busy week. She had been working 14 hours a day, multitasking at home, office and with the children’s exams, finding convenient excuses for skipping sadhana. She hoped someone up there would give her credit for being a Karma Yogi, but there were niggling doubts about this self-appraisal.
Her regretful mood dropped away, as she became part of the terrace tableau. The pink, white and crimson hibiscus stood erect in their pots, in silent worship of the sun. A flock of birds – her regulars – waited in a line on the railing for their feed. The sky was a brilliant blue, like the sky in Ranikhet – clear and unpolluted. A cool breeze from the lake rustled her open hair, delighting her. Nirmala was neither an outdoors person nor a passionate nature lover. But today, something felt different. Her attention was riveted and the timetable rush was forgotten. The sight of sun, flowers and the sky that had once seemed so commonplace, now held her in soulful embrace. She was hardly breathing. Her gaze shifted to the hoary trees on the landscape, beside the lake. The variegated shades of green appeared magical, casting a spell. I don’t deserve this! she thought, wonderingly. Who has gifted this moment and this mood to me?
As if in reply, she felt the mild rays of the sun beam over her back. Infra red treatment! she thought, as the warmth rolled over her aching back, like a rejuvenating Kerala massage. Done with scattering the bird feed, Nirmala stood with her face upturned, eyes closed, enjoying the warmth, pulled into the heart of the magnetic moment. Strangely, today, the chatter of the metropolis had no power to disturb.
|The driver had lost control of the steering and they had vaulted in the air, crashing fi nally into a pile of sand. The new car had been damaged beyond repair but she had been saved, quite miraculously, with a few minor scratches.|
Time had been captured in a frame of stillness and in this timeless frame stood Nimala and the ancient sun, the witness of several millennia of human drama, in silent communion. A scene from Krishnanandaji’s book, Doorways to Light, flashed into her mind. He had travelled astrally to the realm of the sun, seen the resplendent Sun God and returned to tell the tale. She thought of past lives that she may have lived under the gaze of the sun, playing the roles of man or woman, saint or sinner and the sun knew it all. A slight shiver of expectation ran through her. She mentally bowed to the Sun God, thanking him for the wonderful feeling of renewal that had enveloped her. She wondered why India was summarily dismissed as the land of heat and dust when the continuous sunlight was a blessing, never to be taken for granted.
There was no reason now to shrug off meditation. Nirmala was a weak-willed meditator, inconsistent and sporadic in her efforts. Ironically, she meditated well in a group, carried by the group dynamism. She had often rued the fact that group satsanga was only held at the guru’s ashram on the city outskirts, so difficult to travel regularly, even on Sundays. Today, she had been led to a new group, the elements, for group satsanga. She climbed up the cement block and sat cross-legged.
The memory of the recalcitrant co-worker no longer creased her brow, her daughter’s struggle with mathematics no longer seemed insurmountable. A load had been taken off her shoulders and she was being invited to rest, under the benevolent gaze of the elements. Life was such a see-saw, she mused. Just a month ago, she had been in a horrible car crash while on her way to the airport at dawn. The driver had lost control of the steering and they had vaulted in the air, crashing finally into a pile of sand. The new car had been damaged beyond repair but she had been saved, quite miraculously, with a few minor scratches. A tea stall owner had pulled her out of the car and wondered aloud at her escape, likening the crash to a movie scene. Thankfully, the driver was also safe. Today, this was another dawn but of a different hue, calling on her to tell another story, to journey through another experience.
A spontaneous smile crossed her face and stayed, as she revelled in these rare moments. She began her gentle breathing exercise, the Hong-Sau, gazing at the kutastha centre. A vivid panorama unfolded before her inner gaze. Nirmala was led to the time she was in hospital, awaiting the delivery of her first-born. She had become the centre of a small storm by insisting that Lahiri Mahasaya’s picture be kept in the operation theatre, when her turn came. Aghast, the nurses had told her that no “foreign” objects were allowed into the OT but she had been unyielding. Finally, the matron was summoned. Expecting another war of words, she was surprised when the matron quietly asked, “Whose picture is this?” “My guru’s,” she had said. The matron had bent down and whispered, “He is my guru too!” and had her wheeled into the OT, Lahiri Mahasaya’s picture firmly in place. Gratitude welled up at this scene and the small waves of reassurance became a tide, flooding her body. She felt the kundalini rise effortlessly, from the base of her spine up to her head, gently rocking her body.
Her eyes fluttered open, as small pellets of rain fell on her head. The light shower and the sunshine were manifested synchronously, one alongside the other. Nirmala felt as though the elements were pulling out all the stops for a grand performance. It seemed as though an unseen lever was strewing streamers of white clouds across the blue firmament; yet, underneath the playfulness, there was a pervasive feeling of peace and joy. She retreated back comfortably into her self, starting the hot and cold kriya.
Guru and grace
The energy of the elements was still with her. Another scene bubbled up, as she finished the cycle of 24 kriyas. It was her office and she was with some visitors, discussing astrology. Haridas was an American meditation teacher, jokingly called Santa, because of his chubby cheeks and white beard.
|Her gaze shifted to the hoary trees on the landscape, beside the lake. I don’t deserve this! she thought, wonderingly. Who has gifted this moment and this mood to me?|
He was gesticulating with his hands and saying that the guru enters into the astro-chart of devotees and re-arranges all the stars and planets by his will. Guru’s will translates into kripa. This kripa takes the form of devotees being saved from accidents, from complete disasters, from unholy alliances, from indulgences and guru even takes on the responsibility of doing the prescribed kriyas for lazy meditators. This morning with the elements was kripa manifested, she thought, the blessings of many revered saints.
Again the cinema of the mind unfolded. She saw herself reading Miracle of Love, Stories of Neem Karoli Baba on the Rajdhani Express and feeling an avalanche of love descend on her being, seeing the picture of a young Nityananda standing on the branch of a tree, arms crossed across his chest and feeling an instant affinity for the Master, visiting Ananda Kutir and reading in the clear handwriting of the great Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh: ‘Thank God for the privilege of serving.’
So many teachers who had come like blazing meteors on the journey of life, to shake her out of stupor, to awaken and to elevate. Such patience on the part of the masters, not wanting to give up on her despite her weak efforts, urging her on despite her unforgivable faltering ….this, she felt was kripa manifested. The elements were reminding her to keep the channels of communion open through the daily rigours of life. She laughed. A year back, she had organised a morning lake meditation for a group of American devotees. They had brought along a guitar and chanted by the lake much to the surprise of the lake walkers. How could she relapse? How could she not dive back and re-create such moments?
|Nandini Sarkar is co-founder, C-Quel, a management services company. She is a lover of the spiritual masters and follower in the Kriya Yoga tradition.|
Shutting out all sounds to do the Aum meditation, she instantly heard the roar of the ocean waves in her closed ears. Merging fully in the sound of Aum emanating from her spine, Nirmala visualised the venerable Swami Satchidananda on his Kailash journey. Kailash Journal had thrilled her like few other books. The Swami’s lyrical devotion, as he traversed the long and arduous route to Kailash, was a Gita lesson. Now herself in the bosom of the elements, she could identify with how the Swami had felt in meditation on the holy mountain, completely identified with the elements.
These were moments of deep intimacy, a glimpse into the wonders of the inner self only read about, but never experienced in its wholeness. Nirmala opened her eyes. A whole hour had passed, as though in a flash. The pigeons had finished the grain and were still moving about on the terrace. She stood up to do her energisation exercises. They were over in 15 minutes and she wondered why she could not spare 15 minutes daily. A refreshed, content Nirmala stepped off the cement block. In fervent impulse, she looked up at the sky and spoke aloud the lines from Tagore…. Klanti amar khoma koro prabhu…(Forgive my sloth and weakness, Lord, as I procrastinate on the way; Lord be gracious and lead me back…)
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