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"There's certainly a Wind behind taking me forward that I know nothing about. It does not bid my command nor do I fathom it's purpose. Yet it propels me to a superior and higher goal that I trust must be my future."
Chinmaya Mission introduced me to Lord Hanuman. Growing up in a non-traditional environment, I was not fully conversant with the glories of this hero from our great epic, the Ramayana. Hearing the chants of Hanuman Chalisa waft through my ears, the profundity of its words and their inherent meaning were lost till I attended discourses on this iconic figure. Over time, I understood the depth of those verses and the significance behind his birth and life.
Initially, one can look at Sri Hanuman’s life-story and perhaps be inspired by it objectively. Later, it dawned on me that I needed to be Hanuman subjectively, both within and without. That was and is His eternal message.
Meeting Sri Hanuman at Sidhbari, during the mastakabhishekam utsav in 2007, I was awestruck as He stands 25 feet high in veerasana, the posture of the brave – ever ready to propel into action. I learned that it was Gurudev who instructed the making of His massive idol in homage to the wind god, His father Vayu, to control the powerful winds that swept through the region. And to this day, I believe that the numerous pujas and offerings conducted there by Masters and pure hearted devotees have had a visible calming impact upon those raging winds and the fact that the statue does not attract birds to ever use it as their perch is proof of its unseen power and sacredness.
For sincere seekers, to see the Lord in every thing that the eye rests upon is important and forms the very crux of any advaita spiritual teaching. Therefore, selfless service becomes the cornerstone for inner purification. Service or seva to the body, mind and intellect, service to other human beings, service to every creature, to plants, rivers, mountains and any being in distress was indeed His first teaching understood by me. By virtue of His posture at the Lord’s feet, He represents the pinnacle of seva, humility and preparedness to do the Lord’s bidding. This translates into empathy and love devoid of ulterior motives. As sadhaks, we can understand this simple readiness to serve the Guru in worship, in thought, in word, through action and finally through refined understanding.
Sri Hanuman represents all that is positive, good, strong, wise, and yet humble. These are qualities that cannot be presented on a plate for all to see. They are seen, felt and experienced through our thoughts, emotions, speech and actions. He is the devotion through which we move closer to Sri Rama, in first cleansing our minds of negativities (Bali), encouraging the good to manifest (Sugriva), doing the Lord’s work (rescuing Sita), singing the Lord’s praises and glories, and protecting the weak, noble and the good. As our minds, intellects and hearts get cleaner and purer, we imbibe these qualities and develop the power within to face whatever comes into our lives with faith, clarity, strength, fortitude and acceptance. Thus In our constant remembrance of Him, the power through which we act is Sri Hanuman’s power.
Perhaps the clearest indication of His power when applied in daily sadhana lies encapsulated in the following shloka, a part of our daily invocation mantras at Chinmaya Mission – the eight sidhis or powers potentially within all of us.
Buddhir Balam Yasho Dhairyam Nir Bhayatvam Arogata
Ajatyam Vak Patutvam Cha Hanumat Smaranat Bhavet
As our minds are purified, the intellect or buddhi gets subtle and precise and develops the ability to acknowledge whatever happens objectively with dispassion. Then we gather the strength or balam to deal with and respond to challenging situations or emotions. Keeping focused and calm, the capacity to reduce tension and maintain harmony brings yasha or good repute. Dhairyam is the patience to withstand and wait things out in the midst of difficulties or turmoil and to always see the light at the end of the tunnel. Fearlessness or nir bhayatvam arises because we understand deep within that everything that happens is because of the Lord’s doing and not as a result of personal effort. All this has a natural and therapeutic effect upon our body and we remain in good physical health, free of illness – arogata. We become strong physically and mentally. This bestows ajatyam or alertness at all times and we are able to complete tasks successfully as amply demonstrated by Sri Hanuman. He was never lazy and was ever ready to do the right thing. And finally, the power of eloquent speech or vak patutvam cha is discovered by us with the fluency to express ideas using right words at the right time.
As personal testimony, I have found that in troubled times or difficult situations, remembering Him by name; or keeping His image within the mental frame; or worshipping His picture on a wall; or just thrusting problems upon His wide shoulders; I am absolved of anxiety, worry and apprehension. The clouded sky ALWAYS gives way to brilliant sunshine. Slowly, I learned to depend upon this unseen power and it this that takes me anywhere and everywhere in my life.
May all use it as a guide because Sri Hanuman is eternal.
Jai Hanuman (son of Vayu, the God of Wind)
April 4, 2015
Is the mortar
Betwixt bricks of
Critique and praise
Plenitude and penury
Honesty and rogue
Mirth and depression
One would not
Be what it is
Without the other
March 15th 2015
At the feet of Masters who teach acceptance…
September 16, 2014
cascades magically as Life,
onto streets and sidewalks,
unfolding a kaleidoscope
of moments strung in quick succession, into a memento.
The journey is comfortable,
watching the Hindu Kush,
from thousands of feet high
inside the flying machine,
arriving at the hotel,
small, neat, contained.
Time spills into experiences
eager to be experienced,
to savor the City.
Funny, that past glories and deeds
of human thought and endeavor
are experienced only in the Today…
the veins and arteries
of the people, as
the Melba toast and Peach
of numerous stories…of what
happens with the who’s who…
The cobbled stones carry
the imprint of walkers who have
Drunk and sober alike…
They now carry mine and
Oh Yes, the
Parisian air waltzes with –
opulence and chic,
churches and cathedrals,
palaces and catacombs,
politics and emperors,
bistros and tearooms,
museums and art houses,
symphonies and orchestras,
technology and inventions,
architecture and chimneys,
jazz and opera,
cinema and can-can,
lamp posts and rain,
sunsets and clouds,
trains and metro stations,
avenues and boulevards,
chinchilla and lipstick,
the trendy and the hip,
hard work and opportunity,
beauty and creative impulse,
a carousel of Life –
whirling around the Seine…
Breathing it all –
and of course, tasting
the coffee and crème brûlée,
seated on quaint little chairs, jammed together, in cafés,
facing the City.
Ah Beautiful Paris, maybe, I’ll return..
Maybe, I never left..
Soon this will be a memory,
then a single thought,
that too will vanish into the vastness,
leaving no trace at all.
Was I ever here?
Did all this happen? I will never know!
February 21st 2014
At the feet of Masters
from whom I learnt to appreciate the wonder of It everywhere.
June 6, 2014
Have you ever tried to pay attention?
Pay attention to what?
To whatever it is that you rush about doing?
I must be paying attention, otherwise how would I accomplish anything?
No, I mean, REALLY pay attention?
I just answered that, you know!
If you were truly paying attention, you wouldn’t rush.
Really, how have you come to that conclusion?
Because then you would savor every moment!
You know, Cat, I don’t have time for your silly purrifications!
That’s just it, you are not listening. You never do.
All right, try me this time, for a change!
Let’s see now – look at you rushing – can you slow down a bit?
You mean as I walk?
Yes. We could begin from there. Presently, you are walking.
What do you want me to do – the cat-walk?
Be Present in your walk.
I want you to put your foot slowly – one behind the other.
But I am doing just that – you idiotic feline!
There you go again – ranting and raising your voice. Be quiet.
Fine – here I am, placing my fee t – s l o w l y –
That’s better. Can you please smile, also, as you walk?
Here, can you see my pearly whites, now, you dumb nitwit?
Stop being judgmental and calling me names, please!
All right, I’m sorry.
Much better, you are developing awareness to my feelings, now.
Can you feel the earth beneath your feet as you walk?
Well, I’m certainly not moon walking, you silly thing!
There you go again. Walk with intense awareness in every step.
An awareness of what, please tell me?
An awareness of all there is in this precise moment.
Do you feel the earth come up to meet you in every step?
But I thought I was walking ON the earth?
Yes, yes, you are. As your toes press down, can you feel the earth pushing
up to greet the soles of your feet?
I am trying; I’m trying to feel just that.
Good, because the earth is a living being, just like you.
O yeah, then I’m a dinosaur!
It feels your weight; it feels your thoughts; it feels your feelings!
O yeah, and I’m a flying wombat!
It knows your positivity and senses your negativity.
Yeah, the earth is a psychic, it can read my mind.
You are neither a dinosaur nor a wombat and the earth is not a psychic.
Who am I, then?
That’s precisely what I’m trying to convey, if only you’d focus!
Focus on each step you take, focus on the softness under it.
Hmm, Hmm, Hmm.
Notice your movement; notice the earth’s quiet stillness.
Hmm, Hmm, Hmm.
There is something within you that is within the earth too.
Whatever can that be?
Remember, I said the earth is a living being?
Well, so are you.
I already know that!
Yes, but not in the sense I’m implying.
Okay. Come on, tell me.
Look at yourself as Life, alive, without a name.
I don’t know if I can do that.
Feel the earth as Life, alive, without a name too.
What about you, Cat? Do I look at you as Life, obviously alive, without a name too?
Yes, yes, yes. Now, you’re getting the connection.
I am? I’ll try to assimilate this. Thank you.
Meow – Purr, purr, purr!
Hmm, Hmm, Hmm!
April 29th 2012
May 30, 2014
In all hues
Ochre, dull gold, brown, yellow again
Not a place where a fallen leaf has not
Piled high on street corners
In parks and on side-walks
Under-foot and in my face
Tender Crumpled Delicate
Each different from its sibling
The building blocks of forests
The laboratory of trees
Built by leaves
Have you ever lain on a bed of fallen leaves?
April 12th 2011
May 28, 2014
I traverse the stations
Each interesting and more colourful
Than the previous –
Off loading baggage at each stop –
Unable to resist adding some too!
Each station – a compartment
Of my life with its occupants
Whose faces shine and smile
And beckon –
I try to keep going
If I am not caught
Till now –
Then it is Infinity
That protects –
And keeps me humble
I try to not to hurry –
Lest I stumble and fall flat
That will be lesson enough
To keep pride at bay and
To understand that this
Ticketless travel is prearranged
A gift voucher of sorts –
I wonder how many more
Trains to catch and
Stations to visit –
When will I dispense
With the entire luggage?
And how much more time
Till the next travel is initiated?
Ticketless, of course!
Sept 15th 2012
At the feet of the Master
May 27, 2014
In the evening, the garden comes alive with birdsong. The sun’s slanting rays casts shadows over ferns and bushes, one minute there and gone the next! The movement of light over the little expanse seems to dance to the music of bulbuls. A pair frequents the garden. Their warbles and chuckles lull and soothe as they flit and fly fanning their tail-ends, alighting on top of a swaying leaf or stem. Resting a bit and giving out a gurgle, they fly off again. I envy their flight as I do their apparent freedom! Bulbuls are known to be monogamous. This red-vented pair, I notice, has tried its best to nest in whatever is available in the little garden. A month ago, they had nested in the wicker basket that hangs over the front porch of the drive way. Soon enough, three eggs appeared which days later hatched into three baby bulbuls. I wondered how they would manage to survive the big-bad- world at large and decided to play grandmother bulbul! Asking the Mali to put green netting around the nest that would protect them, I imagined it would do the job! Kuldip and other staff kept an eye on the nursery. Toby and Tinker Bell the Siamese pair were forbidden to venture out on the porch overhead! Even the Mali refused to water the fern that housed them. The chicks seemed to be doing just fine. And I looked forward to the addition of new members to the bird orchestra in the garden very soon.Alas! Early one morning, as I stepped out of the front door, I saw the fern and lumps of moss in a heap before me. In a flash I knew what had happened, recalling that I had seen two stray cats lurking outside the evening before!
And yet the warbles and chuckles of the bulbuls continue. I am quite certain it is the same pair re-making their nest. They hover near the hibiscus bushes often. Four evenings ago I saw a stray cat roaming on the boundary wall. Tinker Bell, my crafty and thoroughly spoilt Siamese cat repeatedly visits the same spot on the wall.
Repeatedly I go out and bring her down. I am sure the bulbuls’ story isn’t over just yet. I instruct Kuldip to investigate and locate their nest. He peers and prods around in the bushes for a while but can’t find anything. I intuitively know he is wrong! The next day he informs me that he has located the nursery. It is in the hedge that overhangs the boundary wall but on the outside of it. I am delighted. Tinker Bell is forbidden to amble on the wall.
Bricks are brought in and the area on top of the wall to the left and to the right of the nest is cordoned off from the cats. Mr Crow knows something is up. He swoops down often enough and the pair flies about frenetically keeping up their shrill calls. We shoo the big black crow. The rain comes down heavily. A calm descends. I visit the outer periphery and take a peek. I see three glorious little ones covered in their fluffy down feathers huddled together. The parents seem to understand my concern and watch a little cautiously giving out a rather nervous chuckle now and then. The Mali decides to hang a bit of green netting on the outside in the hope of keeping them safe. I ask the Universe to lend its whole-hearted support to this little family. I trust that this time my prayers will be answered. Sure enough in a few days, the glorious fledglings abandon their nest to take their perch in the neighbouring branches, testing their wings to soon fly away into the universe.
May 25, 2014
Impatiently, I move, unable to ease neither body, nor mind into stillness –
Eyes fluttering, muscles tense, ears alert, legs restless –
Un-stately and agitated.
Silent and serene, she maintains his pose –
Aware of external sounds, yet disregarding them
May 25, 2014
Born in an alley, her birth, a mystery,
Broken leg and sliced tail, her brief history
Imbedded in feline memory so vivid,
Anyone approaching, the kitten got livid
Abandoned and rescued, she was alive,
Put up for adoption so she may survive.
Scratched and meowed at those that called,
Nobody wanted this mongrel at all.
Till along came a soul with a heart of gold
Saw the pain behind big eyes so bold;
Lifted her up and took her home
As simple as that, she need never roam.