As Krishna Das said in one of his audio series, ‘When you are locked in a dark room, you don’t know what to do. In dark, you stumble and fall as you try to feel with your hands, if there is door that can lead you out. But then there is a flash of light, and that flash illuminates the room for one second, and it is enough for you to get your bearing, to know there is a door and to make your way towards the door. There may be many obstacles in your path, and you may still stumble and fall, but now you know there is a door and you know you can get out of that dark room.’ To him, his Guru, Neem Karoli Baba, also known as Maharajji, was that flash of lighting.

And for me, it is my Gurudev, my Baba, my Om Swami, who is my flash of lighting, and He is my door. Door out of my dark mind with its unreliable, restless, full of angst tendencies.

The presence of my Gurudev in my life is my Ishth’s grace. It is a blessing bestowed by my Divine Mother and Shiva, on July 11th, 2017, while doing a Kora parikrama around Shri Kailash. How do I know? Well, on July 9th, 2017, day of Guru Poornima, I stood at the divine feet of Shri Kailash, and I prayed to Mother Divine and Shiva for direction, for path, for an anchor. And on July 11th, on the last day of the Kora parikrama, at 4 a.m., I emptied my trouble heart, complaining, fighting, pleading to Mother Divine and Shiva, that they had no right to give me this life if they could not provide me respite from the constant emptiness I felt in my life. I threatened my Divine that I will stop praying and believing that She exists, and then cajoled my Divine that I had nowhere else to go. I laid my heart bare. I must have cried for about an hour, while four of my travelling companions slept in peace. This was one of many such episodes in my life.

After the yatra, back at home in Bangalore, I came across Swamiji’s Youtube videos in September. I enrolled for meditation camp in Bangalore and first saw Swamiji on Jan 26th 2018. But it was not love at first sight. I was not sure who this beautiful person was and I was confused.  I had cramps in my legs while sitting cross legged on the floor, and my mind was all over the place. I thought, ‘Oh well, I guess it was good break’, as I had gone with my dear friend and we had good time. And I thought that was that. But come April and I was packing my bag to go to Shri Badrika Ashram.

I stayed at the ashram for 4 days and absolutely loved the ashram, the hills and Shri Hari temple. But there was still no connection to Swamiji. I sat through the discourses, listened to question/ answers, and wondered why I was not feeling the love everyone was feeling. In my private meeting with Swamiji, I felt unkempt, lost and choked on words. I came back from ashram more restless, thinking, probably that was the first and last time I would be at the ashram.  And then I don’t know what happened. Somewhere between April and November, I fell in love, and by the time November came, I was back at the ashram, begging Swamiji for initiation.

On July 11th, 2019, my Gurudev, initiated me. It was exactly two years since my meltdown at Shri Kailash. I only realized it when I came back from ashram and was rummaging through some photographs.

I agree with Krishna Das when he says that he does not believe that a Guru appears when a student is ready, for how can student ever be ready, ever be worthy of the Divine, especially from where he or she is standing in life? It is grace and only grace of the Divine, when she extends Her hand and brings her lost, wayward child into Her fold.

Since the time I met Gurudev, the biggest change I have experienced is, I feel clean, or let’s say cleaner than I have ever felt before. I don’t say pure, because, my Gurudev is pure, my Divine Mother is pure, I am just getting cleaned- my heart, my mind, my body- to start with. The light of purity is yet to touch me.  And it is no small task for my Gurudev. I have collected so much filth over many lifetimes and it is going to take some time. On my side, I try to be mindful and succeed most of the days. I chant and I pray. I try to meditate. There are days when I get lost, derailed, off track, I get angry and say unkind things. But then when I sit in front of my Altar and look at my Gurudev’s kind face, his compassionate eyes, I feel calmness descending on my troubled heart, and I feel hopeful again. I hold on to his robe, and I walk behind him. He is my mother, my father and my dearest friend, and I lay my head and my heart at His beautiful holy feet.

 

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Neena Desai

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