By Nandini Sarkar
The love and protection of the spiritual masters is available to all of us, once we take the decision to work on ourselves, pray for others, and absorb the lessons we are meant to learn, says Nandini Sarkar
I looked at the tall, beautiful young girl in front of me, in utter shock. I couldn’t believe this had happened to her. I couldn’t believe she had thought of committing suicide. For the past year, she had been telling me how supportive her husband was. They were sweethearts from their college days and he had pursued her relentlessly. Some time back, when she was delayed at work, her husband had helpfully come around at 10.30 pm to take her back home. Now, she was telling me, the same husband had asked for a temporary separation to step back and review their relationship! Her father had been asked to take her back to her parental home, so she had moved out of her in-laws place. Why? What was wrong? What could have changed so drastically?
I was back in office after a month’s business tour. I was enquiring about our people in general, when the news of her marital separation was broken to me. I really liked this girl and my heart went out to her. She was smart, passionate about her work and showed great team spirit. I was also told that despite her personal pain, she had not missed a single day at work. Nor did she wear a long, gloomy face. At work, she continued to demonstrate the same work ethics for which she had become so popular, in such a short time. I was also deeply saddened to hear from her own mouth, that she had contemplated suicide, seeing the tremendous anxiety the separation had caused her parents.
You hear me when I call
She told me that her husband, a bright architect, had quit his job at a prestigious firm and had started his own consultancy. But rather than gear up and make the business succeed, he had become lazy and de-focused. He bagged projects but did not deliver the work in time. A project for which he had committed a three-month timeline to his clients, for instance, would stretch beyond six months. And what was the reason?
He had started writing poetry and painting. His heart was not in the business. When she would urge him to focus on client deliveries and be professional in his approach, he would become resentful and withdraw into a shell. Her in-laws started taking his side and asked her to stop nagging him. He took up a part time job as a teacher in a private college and remained lost in an imaginary world, the door of which was shut on her. One day, out of the blue, he suddenly announced that married life was proving to be a drag on his creativity and he wanted a break. Instead of making their son see reason, the in-laws promptly asked her to pack her bags and go back to her parents for two months, allowing their dear son some time to reflect on the future of the marriage.
I have often been told that offering spiritual advice is management hara-kiri because faith is such a deeply personal choice, that it should not be influenced. The other day, my father teasingly asked me how I had held on for so many years to an invisible Guruji, whom I had never seen and who, on his side, had never even appeared to me, out of the clouds, out of the heavens, or even in visions? He was referring to Paramahansa Yogananda and the lineage of Kriya Masters that I have followed, since I was 17 years old. My Masters had passed on to the other side long before I took this birth. However, they are more real to me, their message and the self-help tools they taught, more helpful in making every day decisions, than people I see and hear with my physical senses. Since I run a fairly successful business and live a fairly normal life, no one has ever accused me of being a lunatic or living in an imaginary world. In the great Indian tradition, I did not want to argue with my father, but my heart silently laughed at his comment.
If only you could experience what I have experienced, I silently said to my father: a sense of complete security in an insecure world, a sense of complete peace in a turbulent world, and a sense of being looked after and protected, even when the entire world around me comes down crashing! I was surprised my father did not remember the miraculous escape from death and disaster I had experienced just some years ago, when I was involved in a terrible car accident. It was 4.30 am in the morning. I was on my way to catch an early morning flight. My car was cruising at high speed along a desolate expressway. My driver suddenly fell asleep at the wheel. The car skidded off the road, vaulted twice in the air and then crashed into a field, partly in a pile of sand. The road-side tea vendors who rescued me from the car wreckage, fully expected to see me dead or at least badly mutilated, so massive was the crash. To their utter surprise (and mine!) except for a few minor scratches on my right arm, I had no injuries, not even a single broken bone. My father would not acknowledge it but I knew in my heart who had saved me: my Masters, my faithful Masters, my loyal friends. When I think of this incident and many, many others, I am reminded of a song by Chris Tomlin. It’s called The God of Angel Armies, and if he’s written it, I guess, he’s also experienced it: -
I know who goes before me
I know who stands behind
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side
Many people tell me: I wish I had your faith! It just doesn’t come to me! I always tell them; I am no blind believer. Neither did faith come to me as an inheritance. From an early age, I asked questions to the Universe. Lots of them. I instinctively felt that a mundane life, along set traditional patterns, was not what the journey was all about. The benevolent Universe always sent me answers, through books, through my interactions with various faiths and paths and the miracle of online search. I found the Biblical promise: knock and the door shall be opened, to be very true. I never felt abandoned by the Universe no matter that I hit many roadblocks and obstacles along the way. I had a lot of patience in succeeding in my quest and was always surprised with the wonderful learnings and experiences that kept coming my way. A little daily contemplation on my part, away from the madding crowd, and in silence, also led to waves of divine love filling my life. I keenly felt an invisible, protective presence that constantly sent me the message that I was loved and protected. It did wonders for my confidence since I was a rebel and always wanted to do things differently; take on the powers that be and fight the establishment. I did not have any miraculous visions but my life became a daily miracle of unconditional love, support and strength.
You are my sword and shield
I took out a copy of Autobiography of a Yogi and asked my colleague to keep it as a good luck charm. I also requested her to read the chapter on Lahiri Mahasaya. Recently, a friend of mine had recovered from a kidney transplant gone wrong, after persistent prayers to Lahiri Mahasaya, and I was hopeful Lahiri Mahasaya would not fail this girl, who was so positive. I also called up Ms Sarita Ghosh, Paramahansa Yogananda’s great, great daughter-in-law, who receives visitors at his famous 4, Garpar Road house in Kolkata. I requested an appointment for my colleague to visit the attic where Paramahansaji had meditated as a boy and obtained the vision of the Divine Mother. Many saints had also visited him in this attic. Any place where the Masters have meditated is a place of great spiritual power, a spiritual nuclear centre, so to speak. Yoganandaji’s famous attic is visited even by people from far away Czechoslovakia and Sweden so what stops us, sitting in India? It is easier to tune in to spiritual vibrations in such places. In crisis after crisis, I have seen that this spiritual partnership has never failed me. My colleague agreed to visit, largely because she had no other option at that time. She called me after the visit. She told me when she had entered 4, Garpar Road, her heart had been full of hatred for her husband and in-laws. She hated them for their insensitivity, the gross family politics, and for causing so much pain to her parents.
But after the visit, when she came out of the attic her hatred had vanished. She felt light, like someone had lifted a heavy burden from her shoulders. This is the real miracle, when we can look at life dispassionately, with the blinkers off. My colleague had sat in the attic for over 45 minutes. She had made a sankalpa in the attic, that for at least 41 days she would chant and visualise help and healing for the entire family, including her estranged in-laws. She also chanted an intentional prayer 108 times in the attic, thanking the Masters for keeping her husband and in-laws together with her. She visualised her husband and in-laws sitting with her in the attic surrounded by the Masters protective light. Another interesting thing happened after she stepped out of the attic. Mrs Ghosh, in a rare gesture, spoke to her at length about her own great difficulties on the marital journey and how the spiritual friendship of the Masters had helped her defeat and overcome her pain. My colleague had the eerie feeling when Mrs Ghosh was speaking that someone else was speaking through her and reassuring her that all would be well. The whole experience convinced her that that she should continue with her sankalpa and do the 41-day sadhana, remaining connected with the Masters.
You are loyal, you are faithful
Soon thereafter, the Masters gave her two other beautiful experiences to encourage her even further. I have seen this repeatedly. Anyone who approaches the Masters with a pure heart and includes others in their prayers is always encouraged and egged on. On my advice, she decided to do a puja and yagya on Ganesh Chaturthi. She had offered a plate of modaks to Ganeshji. After the havan was completed, the plate of modaks was covered with a heavy, metal lid so that their family cat wouldn’t sneak the prasad off the plate. The modaks were arranged in a circle and one was kept in the centre as a special offering to the Lord. They locked the puja door and all went downstairs to allow the Lord to partake of the offerings. My colleague got ready to come to work. Suddenly, there was a knock on the door. A lady stood at the door enquiring about rooms on rent. My colleague told me her father had rented out the ground floor after retirement, for some much needed extra money, but that, for the past year, the property was lying vacant, after the previous tenants moved out. The vacancy had really caused them financial strain. Now, here was a lady offering to rent the place immediately. She also paid them a generous advance as a token of her seriousness. The family was delighted. But there was yet another surprise. When my colleagues mother lifted the lid off the modak tray, she found that the modak in the centre had three marks on it as though someone had dug into it with their teeth. Since the lid was a heavy metal lid it was impossible for the family cat or any other animal to have lifted it. There were no children either in the house, who could have played a naughty trick. They took it as another sign of grace, that perhaps, the Lord himself had accepted their prayer. It made them very buoyant and hopeful and that was so important for their well-being.
If you think about it, my colleague truly deserved the grace. Despite the pain and uncertainty, she was determined to find a way out. She refused to accept the situation lying down. She was seeking answers and because she prayed with openness and a pure heart, she was not let down by the Masters. She also discarded hatred and embraced her in-laws in her prayers, though they had wronged her. It speaks volumes for her character. I was impressed how a young girl could keep so calm and be level-headed after the initial frustration; manage distraught parents and work both and march on determinedly till the situation was reversed.
Darkness fills the night but it cannot hide the light
Recently, my colleague again came to me and asked to leave early from work. Sure, I said. Anything up? Yes, she said. Her husband had sent her a WhatsApp message asking her to meet him that evening. This was really unusual given the fact that her in-laws had imposed a total ban on any communication between them for two months and had not allowed her or her parents to speak or meet him after the separation. I was amazed to hear that her husband was now accepting that there was some problem with him and that he needed counselling. He had fixed an appointment with a reputed counsellor who had advised they get some psychological tests done first and based on the tests he would engage them in the counselling. The situation was thankfully getting better and better. What was more reassuring was that my colleague was learning the self-help tools she would need now and in the future, to meet life’s challenges head on, without feeling bitter or abandoned.
On her own, she also resolved to deepen her practice and start a course in meditation taught by the Yogoda Satsanga Society, the flagship organisation for Yoganandaj’s teachings. I was delighted at the outcome and impressed with her strong will power. The real miracle is embracing openness and understanding about life: what is this journey all about? what are the tools that can self-help? how can I reach my inner guide sitting in the heart? what can I do better? how can I learn to behave in this situation rather than blame others? These simple questions, asked persistently, to the waiting, invisible angel armies, can be the real game changers.
Though troubles linger still, you are always by my side
In management theory, if you want to run a successful business, you need to constantly connect the dots between man, machine and process. Similarly, for a happy life, we are called to connect the physical, mental and spiritual dots. We are not human beings seeking a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings going through a human experience. It is incumbent on us to constantly live with and in this awareness. A simple daily routine of pranayama, Om chanting and paravastha or sitting in meditative silence opens up the heart and makes the journey so joyful, fearless and protected.
The aim of sadhana is to make us joyful and fearless, immune to outward circumstances. God, the Divine Father and Mother is already ours. Do we need sadhana to get to our parents? No, they are already ours. Sadhana is needed to make us aware of our true identity and to make us see the big picture. There are angel armies waiting to help us. But we need to take the first step and send out the first prayer and intention. Such prayers need to be inclusive and without any time-line set to the Universe. Patience is a real virtue in such situations. This is exactly what Dadashreeji, founder of Maitribodh Parivar, said in a recent satsanga I attended with him. He said that unless you pray, I am helpless to help you! I want to help you but as per the divine laws you need to take the first step. He added that we need to sit and walk straight, cultivate patience and meditate or connect to the inner Divine. I do hope we all will follow this simple advice and that our prayer will include the welfare of, even those who hurt us. Then, we too can sing with the poet:
You crush the enemy, underneath my feet
You are my sword and shield
Though troubles linger still
Whom shall I fear?
I know who goes before me, I know who stands behind
The God of angel armies, is always by my side!
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