By Smita Jaykar March 2005 Through a career in the world of fantasy and glamor, an actor begins her journey towards wholeness and spirituality. I went to a film premier the other day; it only helped me see what a great distance I have traveled by the grace of the divine, from the glamor-struck person that I used to be! The big stars were dressed to kill, vying with each another. Faces wreathed in fixed smiles, eyes self-consciously flitting from this end to that. I wanted to laugh, not at them, but at the person I used to be in the early years after joining the world of theater, films and TV. I have been a passionate seeker all my life, trying to find answers to my questions about spirituality. ‘What is it that will bring me real liberation’, I longed to know. I got married at an early age. I have two grown-up sons who are now settling down to their own careers. I lived in a joint family after marriage. By the time I had borne my sons, acting offers began to arrive, so that nearly at one and the same time I began acting in Marathi theater, in Hindi films and in TV serials. I couldn’t have done this without the staunch support of my family in those early years. I started enjoying my work with the conviction that this was meant for me, it was my path. I had a degree in law and was accredited to practice alongside my husband Mohan, who works for a reputed firm of solicitors, but eventually I decided to return my sanad. I loved the adulation I received on account of belonging to the world of glamor; but it also inevitably brought in ego issues that led to frustration and insecurity. Fortunately in my case, the pressure was not as intense as it can be on young heroes and heroines, since I came in at a relatively late age, doing senior roles as a character artiste. Even then it is difficult not to be touched by the negativities of tinsel town. The natural outcome of the pressures and perks of glamor is that people become extremely fearful and insecure. You could be up tasting the heights of popular acclaim one day and dumped the next day. People do get caught up in their own projected image. They have to undergo the tyranny of expectations, of how many films you have signed this week, or how many story sessions you’ve had. If two days passed by without the phone ringing, I would begin to get frustrated. Tempers were frayed at home, leading to inevitable conflicts between me and my husband. Even then, I am blessed in my relationships, so that all my family has been extremely supportive, including my sons, and especially my husband. I later came to understand that these close bonds are in continuation of several lifetimes of being together, which has resulted in a great deal of empathy and understanding between us. Within a couple of years after my career in acting began, it was my husband who gently introduced me to my first guru, a Gujarati master in Mumbai for whom he was doing some legal work. This man had lived the life of a recluse for 11 years, restricting himself to near-total solitary confinement. I found great peace under his guidance, and he enabled me to attain equipoise even through my acting career. After his demise, I met many advanced souls on the path; however, I was always disappointed with them. Then one day, almost unwilling to look any further, I was led along with my younger son, through a friend living abroad, to my sadguru Shri Kalki Bhagwan and Shri Amma in their ashram in Chennai. There was almost immediate recognition when I met him, all my doubts and questions being replaced with the certainty of homecoming. This brought the sense of liberation that I had been seeking. I became almost completely detached from my mind and its hold upon my emotions, free of its agitations. When my guru said to me the first time, ‘Come, come, Smitaji, I have waited for you for a long time,’ in that instant I became free of the burden of karma, of gravity weighing me down. I experienced lightness, as though I stood apart from my body and mind, with deep soul-realization that I had not experienced before. But there remained a lot of painful work to be done, through a course of purification that brought me face-to-face with myself, and I was deeply shaken, shocked by the ugliness that I saw there. I then willingly embraced a process of change with the help of other advanced souls in the Chennai ashram. Over a period of time, I also initiated my family to this gentle, spiritualised way of living with awareness. I have now received empowerment to conduct workshops and give diksha to people in larger groups. I cannot describe the nature of profound transformations that I witness at these sessions. I am happy to use my name and fame in the service of spiritual transformation in society. The successive dikshas I continue to receive bring in my life a fascinating course of spiritual unfoldment. There is now a recognition of the subtle form of energy dynamics within myself and also in interaction with others. For example, of late I am able to see people as separate from their minds, the latter behaving as disparate entities holding the individuals in utter bondage. It becomes as if their minds are able to communicate with me, boasting to me about the tight leash they hold over the individuals, making them dance like puppets. I can see the solution to their many problems right before my eyes, but I am helpless since they will remain somnolent until they learn to set themselves free from their minds. And I observe speechlessly as the mind entities mock at me through it all! I see this as yet another manifestation of the kundalini. This level of spiritual unfoldment has naturally brought salutary changes in my relationships. Just the other day, I messed up things by committing myself to a spiritual workshop without realizing that it clashed with a wedding in the family. It was not possible to back out of either, and normally I would have felt torn apart and frustrated. Instead, I made a conscious decision to remain calm. I attended the haldi ceremony and went to the workshop, bracing myself for an outburst from my husband after returning to the wedding. I can’t tell you how moved I was when all he said was, ‘Oh Smita, couldn’t you have avoided this?’ It served to make me aware of the positive changes around me as I and my loved ones walk along this path with commitment and authentic sharing as a soul group. Through it all, I am totally dedicated to my acting career, although there is now greater space in my life for spiritual growth. I feel very close to the divine in all that I do, experiencing grace in every living moment. Throughout my life there has been a sense of destiny, of higher purpose. In my acting career, I have been led to settle thousands of karmic accruals. It would have taken me several lifetimes to achieve what I have managed in this one. Now I know that this is positively my last opportunity for closing my karmic account. Thus, through all the emoting, as I interact with various people in our acting roles – through all the switching on (and off) that actors do in front of the camera – there is an element of sincerity of purpose. At that level, it is old karmic ties that are being expressed and re-enacted, and the ties are dissolved as the shooting ends and we let go of intertwined emotions and connectedness. For example, many of the young stars like Aishwarya or Rani call me ‘Mom’. I bring the same mother love into my being as I comb their hair or console them through their turmoil in film after film. I now think, ‘Who knows’? I feel touched and amused as this perspective comes to my mind. Also, there is this strong element of inter-faith integration, a universalisation of consciousness that emerges when you play different roles – as a Christian, Hindu or Muslim person – and the prayers emerge from a deep center within yourself, no matter what the outer form of expression. This contributes to an exalted way of seeing yourself and others at the level of shared humanity, free of divisive dogma. Thus each day brings to me newer unfoldment, with the corresponding awareness of spiritual grace and liberation. I look forward to what comes next as I return to Chennai for advanced initiation a few days from now. Life is full of surprises; I always receive fresh reminders of my commitment to the spiritual path in my work and all my living, in a uniquely integrated manner. I consider myself blessed. (In conversation with Amodini)
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