Himalayas – Final Part!

Post the Khuliya Trek, the troupe decided to take a time off, rest, and roam around Munsiyari streets. We had more hours of bus journey in store, and everyone leapt at the possibility of a time off. It was a much needed break, and we breathed in the local beauty, felt contented either with evening walks, or inertia. 😀

Next stop – visiting Patal Bhuvaneswar:

PB has such rich stories, and aptly so, for it offers the kind of vibrations that makes you feel quite centred on the mystic energies. All those stories aside, personally, it was not just a spiritual time travel into those mythological times, but also one of adventure if I come to think about it. The novel way of entering this limestone cave temple is sure to leave the kind of an impression that spiritual exploration could be as exciting as any of our other 21st century promises.

The rocky formations, either through the stalactites and stalagmites were mind blowing. Depictions were numerous too – of Seshnath, Iravath with its 100 feet, Kalpavriksh, Amrith, different lingas, the trinities, ganges along with the 33 crore devas – were but a few of what we saw. There were caves of Lord Hanuman, Sage Markendaya, and the 4 doors namely Randwar, Paapdwar, Mokshadwar and Dharmadwar were also a prominent feature of this spectacular cave. There were exit points to Kailash, and also the ones taken by the mighty Pandavas, as they journeyed to Himalayas. The complexity was quite humbling, if you ask me. How they had structured in all the key aspects that make our history a ‘Sanatana Dharma’ was beyond me.

I have heard that many people have been blessed with many cosmic sights and insights at this place. Even as we resolve to ascend to such spiritual heights, for those of us in the journey, PB could still be a wondrous place to set our foot in. For sometimes, all we need to touch base is a high powered spiritual centre, and Patal Bhuvaneswar could just be your thing 🙂 That is what fascinates me even more. The architectural finesse is only an add on.

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Here is a link for those of you who are keen to know more about PB – http://www.saicast.org/documentaries/secretcave.html

The final few stops:

The last two days had us visiting a shakthi peet at Gangolighat, followed by Jageshwar, and Naina Devi temple. A fever bug bit me by then, and I couldn’t really take in as much as I would have liked in these visits.

However, as with everything, what awaited me there was those vibrations which always tend to take me to a high. I loved the sights around each of these shrines, and the rudram chants. The calming, pleasant 10-minute boat ride towards Naina Devi temple seemed too perfect an end for this Himalayan trip.

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Here are some snaps of the beautiful waters:

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There is something about this universal element – water – despite the different form it takes, the beauty of what it is, shines forth. Likewise, the Naina lake through its stillness helped us reflect our own stillness in the form of unruffled peace. Its a blessing to be around them, the waters, and see ourselves for what we are – the Sat – Chit – Ananda! ❤ (even if momentarily)

To end with a personal note, there were lots of lessons and equal pleasures, during this trip. Most importantly, I learnt that if we truly yearn for something, it has its own way of reaching us. I also learnt that fear is quite subjective a term, and even with a morbid fear of heights, I did manage to trek hills. And like RaviKumar Sir said,”There is definitely life even before 5 o clock.” Just because we don’t get up at so early an hour, doesn’t mean nobody else does. 😀

As for Mr. God, He is not bothered with the 99 things you and I have given up, but that one thing we are still holding on to. For all we know that could be the one thing that keeps us away from what we are meant to be. To finding our inner God!

meditating

And to finding Himalayan inspiration in our everyday life! 🙂

Peace out!

SB

Himalayas – Part 4 – of spiritual splendours and their vibrations!

The spiritual intensity kicked in after Haidakhan Babaji’s temple visit, and day 3 had even more intense vibrations in store.

We set off from Chiliyanaula in the morning, and had our first stop at Dunagiri temple.

Dunagiri a.k.a Dronagiri, has its origin right from Satya Yuga, and its sanctity has time and again been amplified by visits of several ascetics through the ages. This is one of the two Vaishanvi Devi Shakti peeth, and has had a history in Treta Yuga too, where Lord Hanuman carried a part of Dunagiri hill (which we know as Sanjeevani); plus Bharata, brother of Lord Rama, has also meditated in this holy place.

The tradition seems to have followed in Dwapara yuga too – with Dronacharya, Garg, Sukhdev meditating here, and Pandavas spending their time during the 14 year exile.  In this Kali age too, Mahavatara Babaji had initiated Lahiri Mahashaya into Kriya Meditation at this spot.

The Vaishnavi Mata temple that we visited, is atop a small hill, and they have even laid out a beautiful set of stairs to reach the premises, with reclining benches for those who wish to rest during their climb. We can alternatively trek in the path just next to the stairs, if we prefer a nature stroll. We took the latter route, and reached the mandir. There is a small shrine for the Devi right in the centre, and the outer vastness which it embraces seems to be the perfect blend.

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Contemplating by the side of the mandir was electric. There was no mind-maya-tug-of-war, or distractions of any sort. The vibrations match the profundity of the place, and one feels just right to be right there.

We took the stairs while heading down, and offered homage to the tree spot, where Mahavatara Babaji meditated. Further down, we were asked to partake the Prasad before leaving the temple gates.

We have all heard about ‘Bhikshas’ that were given in yester ages, where grihasthas (house holders) had the fortune of serving the Sanyasins (Seers). While here we were, seated in the most venerated Shakth peeth, getting served hot-hot-puri-and-aloo, at the Lord’s place.

What a role reversal? ❤ The thought helped me comprehend both the fortune and the complexity of a life in Kali Yuga: Abstinence, celibacy, renunciation none of it is expected. We don’t even have to fear the arrival of Sage Durvas, in case our hostess skills take a beating. No years of penance either. We should just be and love, for aren’t there enough demons that lurk around in this time and age.

We are as fortunate to be in the here and now, as it could have been in any yugas. As for the Almighty love, it’s always there, and on that day we tasted Mr. God’s love through the puris. ❤

Babaji.

Babaji.

Next stop: Mahavatara Babaji’s cave.

This was one other exhilarating part of the trip. We had to trek for about 3 kms or more, through a muddy, mountainous stretch. What awaited us at the other end was Babaji’s meditative spot.

With 9 to 5 desk jobs, cars and bikes for commuting, washing machines, and vacuum cleaners, there is very little that most of us do for our physique. Someone from the group jokingly commented, as to why these sages have to always be on mountain top, and why not the good old terrains. Recluse was a word that they must all have really liked. 😕

However, if you think about it, I don’t know how much ‘Ananda’ (bliss), seekers would have really got, if they could zoom right in front of these caves in their Mercedes and Volkswagen. There is definitely something romantic about ‘Prayarthnam’ (effort). Is it not?

It was arduous, tiring – no doubt, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. With my train of thoughts on these lines, Brother Sanjay shared Jaggi Vasudev’s words with me: “Almost many pilgrimages make a person stretch his physical capabilities, for when the person finally reaches the spot, he/she loses almost all/most sense of physical and mental facets, and what’s left with them is the awareness of the one underlying – the Paramatman.”

Beautiful, isn’t it?

And so we all went – up the hill – took a breather here and there – shared satsangs – contemplated on the opportunity – on Him – and reached the divine spot.

There in the darkness of the cave, we found light. ❤

What auspiciousness! What fortune!

To that great soul, lets take a moment, and offer our homage.

 

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As you know, ours was a big group – there were elders, four of us women (or should I say ‘girls’? I am just 27 you know 😀 ), and majority of men. One of the brothers who came with us had lost his sight few years back. All through the pilgrimage, the resilience and fervour with which this brother and the elders took this up was mind blowing. Atleast we could all see what we were stepping on, where we were headed, etc – yet many of us, including my own dear husband, slipped, and here was this brother – listening to directions like – ‘left’ – ‘right’ – ‘it’s muddy there’ – ‘it’s little deep’ – ‘the rock is unstable. Keep a light footing’ – and he climbed them through rain and shine.

It was a beautiful lesson on what listening could do to our lives – how if we could be a little more intent – it would help us scale heights that we could never even dream of sighting.

Few of the elders had a really tough time trekking the hill, and what was worse, it started raining as few of us were headed down. The elders were just climbing up then, though delayed and fatigued, by the time they returned, they looked monumentally happy, giving us smiles and high fives.

What a breath-taking sight of the devotees’ love? 🙂 I was super touched. It reminds me of one of the yester Tamil hymns:

“Pallandu pallandu pallayirathandu Pala kodi noorayiram

Maalanda thinthol manivanna, nin sevadi sevvii thirukapu

adiyomodum ninnodum pirivinri ayiram pallAanu

vadivay nin vala marbinil vazhginra mangaiyum pallandu

vadivarsodhi valaththuraiyum sudarazhiyum pallandu

padaipor pukku muzhangum appanjasanniyamum pallande”

The ahzwar out of His infinite love for the lord is worried what will happen to the Lord in this time bound world, and so blesses the Lord through this mangalasasanam. The gist is – may the Lord – the relationship He has with His devotees – His conch – His consort – His sudrashan chakra live for a hundred and thousand crore years and more.

Oh! The things that we all do for love!!! 🙂 ❤

What of the God’s love you ask – who else you think helped us walk the stretch, or made sure we all had tea when we returned. 😉

Yes, this was the love that awaited us at the foot of the hill. Living inside a very dark, small hut was this beautiful lady, who had the heart of gold, and served us all tea, for absolutely nothing.

 

It sure was one other lesson filled day in the Himalayas.

Brother Giddy and I were once speaking about Radha and Krishna’s love. Of union in spearation, and separation in union: Here was Krishna approaching the river bed with a heavenly gait intending to charm the love of His life. Only to hear Himself call out a few minutes later the name of His beloved, “Radhe!” – the emotion that would have choked Him as He fell on His knees, melting in her effervescent, intense, unconditional love. What a moment! What ingenuity in devotion! What mastery of the art of love like the Master Himself!

This day too showed me love in all its shades! ❤

And for that I am grateful!

Of living a Himalayan life – Part 3!

As someone who shudders in the Bangalore December weather, and who loses all sense of ground in a mere 4 storeyed building, a trip to Himalayas seemed a little over the line. I, however, never yielded to any apprehensions of what was to be, for it wasn’t a hypnotic dream that I had to wrestle, but an alluring reality.

How could I let it go? So there I was. Finally. In what was to be a trip of a lifetime. In my so far succinct life.

It was such an electrifying feel. 🙂

***

Day 1: After a contented rail journey in Rajdhani, we landed in Dhikuli, and soon speeded away to our first spot – Corbett falls.

Tucked amidst a forest grove, this tiny 20 feet waterfall, is more of a delightful reminder that Nature has us in raptures – be it insignificantly small, or tantalizingly big – in whichever way it shapes itself to be.

A well-made stone way invites us to a walk, and as we reach the fag-end, the gushing waters invariably makes us smile. The guys took a dunk, as soon as chance presented itself, dancing their way around.

[Rant: At this point, I must admit, if there is one thing an Indian woman needs at such places – it’s a decent change room. I was disappointed however, not once, but every time we had to take a dip, there was none. Forget bikini, strolling about in minis, brings women a condescending look in this part of the world, yet none of the supposedly renowned tourist spots have change rooms. Seriously, gimme a break. Don’t ask me how I changed, it was difficult, and let’s leave it at that. FYI: Sarayu bagged the ‘worst place’ title under this category.]

For the very same reason, I hesitated a bit, until my darling husband gave me no other choice. The calm, unruffled breeze – the squeals from the kids and the ladies – most of all the cool water added their share of glamour, and I caved in.

This was followed by a ‘how-to-hide-masala-chat-from-the-monkeys’ session, which we greedily gorged up owing to late lunch.

The evening ended pleasantly too – we strolled about the resort roads – smelling the eucalyptus which was wafting its fragrance – befriending a black dog which had uncanny liking to Sanjay Mahalingam (Or I am not sure if it was the other way around ;)) – discussing the new star plus version of Mahabarat (Which I personally think is not doing any justice in portraying the epic) – opting for a tent stay, until girls were pushed into the classic rooms, while the chivalrous guys decked themselves in the unfortunately stuffy tents 😀

 

Day 2: After a stormy night, we woke ourselves to an ecstatic jeep safari to Corbett National Park.

[This trip gave me a lot of firsts – I had never traveled in a safari jeep, I had never dunked, I had never trekked owing to acrophobia, I had never boarded a running train, I had never seen snow, heck – I had never been to North India. It was quite special.]

C happened to tell us that he had seen a python in his last visit to the park, a few years ago. We were like, “Duh! That’s it? What’s so great about that?!” Very soon, we realised, C was lucky, we didn’t even see a python. 😦

Jim Corbett National Park, the oldest in India, is stretched over an area of a little more than 1,300 sq. km., with 100s and 1000s of flora and fauna. However, the safaris are restricted to a very little area, the exclusion of interiors, could be a reason that spotting a Bengal tiger remained elusive, though reportedly there are over 200 of them.

The drivers shared with us a few stories, in which they bore a happy spectacle to these majestic beasts, in their many years of driving at the park. This is what we managed to see though:

 

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So next time if you know anyone who managed to see a Python, react better, else it would be like the Susan Boyle moment from BGT. Though, shame-faced, they at least had a Boyle at the end of it, while you might not even get a picture of the carcasses of these wildlife beauties. Disappointing, I know! :/

The guys washed off the disappointment in the resort river, while I feigned pleasure in clicking their antics, and the fishes that were cultured.

 

Universe made it up to us, and got us to Chiliyanaula in the evening. Wah! This place is a paradise: the serenity, the sights and sounds will take you to a whole new place, and you would want to move base here forever. After seeing the local kids play with dragon flies, we feasted on hot-hot-bajjis, and soon the temple of Haidakhan Babaji called to us.

 

Sanjay is clearly a better person to describe this place, for he fell in love with it, the minute he stepped in. I, on the other hand, with no earlier introduction to this form, took time to settle in. I came in to gladden myself with familiarity, but there in lay a test to embrace the unknown. Had it been an ashram of one those saints whom I have heard about, read about like Mahavatara Babaji, Sri M, Paramahamsa, etc., I would have breezed in. Within seconds, I realised my resistance, and spoke to Him by connecting to the form I was comfortable with. I told Babaji that was the best I could do, and that he should forgive my needless prudence.

When they say pilgrimages changes things, I now know what they mean. For that seeming resistance had no trace by the end of the trip, wherein I embraced and connected to a Swamiji almost instantaneously, though I was miles away, and he merely happened to speak about me.

Learning: In spirituality, understanding is one thing, while application is a completely different ball game. After that 2nd day of the holy trip, He made me realise that I might grope, resist, and even restrict myself in my journey towards Him, constantly wanting familiarity and comfort. However, He will push me against odds, making me realise, I don’t need a cane, for I am not here to walk familiar paths. I am here to fly amidst the unknown beauty within and beyond this world. 🙂

With His guiding wind under my wing, I shall fly, and so shall all of us ❤

To that liberating flight!

Buckling up for Himalayas – Part 1

Himalayan peaks

When C and I landed in Puttaparthi on the 14th of February this year, it was because we decided not to go anywhere post the wedding. A long shot of an outing in summer was our plan B to beat the Parthi heat, to which we gave very little thought.

A wedding in itself was the last thing on my mind, but Swami changed that when He asked me to get married to C. So the news of an upcoming Himalayan trip in May as part of the summer spiritual retreat, few minutes after we landed, came as no surprise to me, though I was filled with delirious anticipation.

Here we were, with no plans to go out, travel, or honeymoon about, yet the very day we call on His abode, He beckons us to giddy-up, travel, experience His grandeur – and it’s not just to any place, but the crest jewel of India’s spiritual heritage – the ever alluring, mystifying, majestic of mountains – the HIMALAYAS.

Himalayan peaks

One of those early morning views!

‘Waoh! Who would have thought?’ was my instant reaction, and C gave our names to the 14 day retreat in the Kumaon division of the holy Himalayas.

I honestly did very little to prepare myself for the trip, except of course the few and far between 5+ kilometre walk in the mornings, but I knew one thing – I had to make best use of the trip.

It was an opportunity of lifetime: to be with people I look upto, the stalwarts who have had hair-rising experiences with my master Sri Sathya Sai Baba, plus with a free pass to listen to them for a fortnight unceasingly. The added icing to the spiritual feast was treading the Himalayan soil, and visiting the holy places that you have only heard or dreamt of.

About 30 of us boarded the Delhi train on the night of April 30th, all set for a two-week spiritual bonanza (and about 20 others were joining us in Delhi later).

A train to Delhi from down South meant – more than a day’s journey. I knew none except C and one of his friends, and as much enticing the pilgrimage part of it seemed, the thought of sitting in the train all day, with a new set of people, had made me sceptical.

In hindsight, that was one of the best journeys I have ever had. We had such fun. That reminds me of what Swami told to our gang through one of my friends, about balancing life. ‘Being devoted, doesn’t necessarily have to be a life devoid of good fun in the ephemeral world’ – it was His message in short.

Sathya sai baba darsan

The love and light of my life 🙂

I got introduced to the ones in my coach – we talked, we played UNO cards, Pictionary, had Satsang, had discussions, watched a couple of FRIENDS video, hogged whatever they gave in Rajdhani, hogged whatever we had all bought, and managed to pass the whole day without sleeping a wink.

And as the train halted in the major stops, we even hauled ourselves down to relax our aching bums. Interestingly, if am not mistaken, in the Secunderabad station, many of us got down, and were admiring the cleanliness and orderliness of the railway station. It was really heartening to see an Indian railway station that well administered. Lots of announcements were going on, and our Rajdhani was mentioned a couple of times. We decided to board when the last call would come in. Funnily, the announcement never came about, and the train started moving and picked up speed. About 12 to 15 of us were outside, and we had no choice but to board a running train. We ran, and managed to get ourselves in, and laughed at the ironical usage of the announcement system.

At that moment, I realised that Mr. God helped me strike off one thing from my bucket list – to board a running bus or train. In any other day, I would have never done such a thing, only God is to say if it was the fascination for the much awaited pilgrimage, or the sheer fun of running and catching with 12 other people made me do it. Who cares why? I did it, and am happy.

Merci beacoup Mr. God!

The master charmer and His chinna katha:

The satsang of our pilgrimage started in the most sublime way possible, wherein Swami communicated to me those exact consequential learning that I had wished out of a pilgrimage (through Brother Sai Giridhar).

Giddy, as he is fondly called, was C’s best man of sorts during our wedding, and he was the only guy I knew apart from C. We had dropped by to his place for lunch, few days before the trip, when his father was kind enough to show me one of Giddy’s talk in Sai Kulwant Hall.

The below YouTube link takes you to the first MahaSamadhi day of our dearest Swami, wherein Brother SaiGiridhar gives a soulful speech. Do listen to it.

Not just a person of calm demeanour, but surely one with both ojas & tejas, from my humble opinion, opined this beautiful satsang with one of Swami’s Chinna Katha:

Once a group of disciples were keen to go on a pilgrimage, and urged their guru to give them permission. The guru knew they had not yet deciphered the efficacy of their want, and in order to give them the clarity that they direly need, caved in to their request. He had said, “There is one condition fellows, you must take this bitter gourd with you, wherever you go.”

The disciples were jubilant as the guru acceded to their request, and they set forth. The bitter gourd travelled with them to all the holy places, when the disciples took a dip in the holy waters, the gourd got its share of immersion, and so the days were spent. When they finally returned to their guru, he asked them to cut and cook the bitter gourd and serve it in lunch for the entire lot.

Post lunch, the guru asked them how the bitter gourd tasted, and “Bitter” was the unanimous reply. That is when the guru imparted a very valuable lesson: “You see boys, pilgrimages are meant to bring within us a transformation, an evolvement, as we suffuse ourselves in the holiest of vibrations. Though the bitter gourd was very much a part of your pilgrimage, the bitterness of it hasn’t changed. If we experience no change, and remain as what we were before, it makes everything void. Wanting to go to holy places has zilch effect, if we don’t realise the sanctity of its purpose.”

I was thrilled when I heard it. That’s how I wanted a pilgrimage to be. ❤

And as we absorb this beautiful message from the guru, let me take you over to those 14 days in my next few posts.

Until then,

God bless & Sayonara 🙂

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