First Time Visitor to the Ashram
A beautiful Rainbow marking the skies at the Ashram.
I am one among those so many who stumbled upon his writings, which propel the desperation to see Swamiji. I was there at the Ashram during May meet after knowing about Him in mid Jan, since none of the earlier events were vacant or let’s say assumed full (which I would elaborate later). I would like to chuck off the details about the kind of person I am/was and the situations that led me to him, since that’s no more relevant.
Before visiting the Ashram, I literally surfed through the internet to find any information regarding the schedule and rules at the Ashram as this wouldn’t be the first Ashram that I have visited. But I couldn’t find any information. So, I thought of sharing this information along with sharing some bits and pieces of my experiences at the Ashram.
I was more than terrified about my travel since this would be the first time I would be travelling so far and that too alone. I had these long waiting hours at the airport and railway stations before I could catch the next vehicle for the onward journey. All my dear ones who would call me to check how I had planned my travel and to see if there’s anyway they can help, would also try to slip a statement down my throat that this was my decision and I was the only person responsible to what happens (given that I am the only one into Swamiji in my whole circle and thanks to the social media for the hell lot of people’s skepticism around Sadhus and Swamis). Well, why did I brief so much about my travel? Just to emphasize that everything went really smooth against my fears. I met some really good unknown people who helped me a lot. Everything kind of seemed to be falling in place and my long waiting hours also didn’t seem so long. I wouldn’t want to go into the details of the incidences but it’s up to me if I want to bracket all these incidences into just coincidences as my rational mind says or divine grace where my logics fail. Either way it built a confidence in me.
As for the Ashram, it’s everyone’s very own place. This is a place where everyone’s treated the same way, no matter how long one’s relationship is with Swamiji or how strong influential background one has. All the external variables become equal here and there’s no inequality whatsoever. Everyone is only as close and as far from Swamiji as one feels. So, the only differentiating factors remaining are the inner variables/barriers.
Its’ not like any other Ashrams where you have a program or schedule to adhere to and there’s someone telling you what to do. Here there’s no schedule, rules or restrictions and there’s no one at the ashram watching over. The only schedule is for feeding time which is strictly followed. In the mornings, Swamiji has one-one meetings and evenings are for his discourses. All the time at Ashram is up to us what one wants to do. Whether one wants to sit on riverside and meditate, go trekking on to the tens of mountains that are around, just sleep all the time, do whatsapping or facebooking but with some luck of course since the network signals are really weak here, chit chat with others or with locals, go visit the homes of locals (who seem to be very cordial and love visitors) and tons of things one can think of. True to his writings Swamiji has given everyone the freedom to choose one’s own path. At one of his discourses during this period Swamiji told, “I build this Ashram for you, for you to have two moments of peace”. It all depends on whether one wants to go soul searching, nature and bird watching or just passing time but always remembering that they might not get another chance to be at this heaven.
As for my experience, I shall try to be as genuine and singular as possible. I had a good roller coaster ride of emotions during my stay. Now if I reflect back on my stay there, it’s a complete different picture that I get. Here are some of my thoughts. Swamiji’s time was really pressing. He allotted some two hours everyday for public meetings but everyday it seemed to stretch. Many at the Ashram would finish their lunch and having an afternoon nap while Swamiji would still be taking the emotional burden dumped onto him by visitors. Everyone would get 5 minutess with him due to the huge number of visitors and the time constrain but everyone seemed to be asking for more including me and he is not the one who will push people off. Some would get a really good amount of time and that count should have been below 10 out of the 100+ visitors. What I could understand/interpret is, if we fall under the 5 mins bracket, then we can rest assured that our problems/challenges are well under our control and we have all the necessary resources to handle it. Swamiji will be more than happy to lend out his hand/guide us but it’s up to us whether we want to take it and climb up or stay there brooding over stuff. And those people who get a greater amount of his time are at the verge of their life or have a serious issue affecting theirs/other lives and definitely need support. We can do the math here of how serious our problems are when compared.
I too had gone to Swamiji with some expectations and seeing Swamiji not giving me what I was expecting, I went into a non-receptive mode and the rest of my 5 mins I couldn’t actually concentrate on what he was talking. Well, the enlightened souls know better what to give you and how much you can handle, may be better than your mother. He gave me his name and also told me that I wouldn’t understand the importance of it now. At that moment instead of being grateful for the gift, I was upset. It only reminds me of how opinionated and conditioned I am. Later when I thought about it, I too felt how wrong I was about everything. If you ask me now what Jyoti Om means to me, I would say it reminds me of my responsibility and the promise I made to myself. It would be my arrogance if I told I understood its’ importance. Now if I reflect back on my stay at the Ashram, then I realize I have in fact received more than I asked for.
Lastly, I had one request of everyone. If you have enrolled for an event and not able to make it for whatsoever reason, please take a moment to drop a note or if you know someone who is missing out on the visit, please pursue them to do the same. It will help some other needy person in the waiting list. How do I know about this? One month prior to my visit to the Ashram in May, I receive a mail from Admin team saying that more than 50 people who registered didn’t turn up during the April meet and asked us to inform as early as possible if we are dropping off. Then I thought about how I had wished to get a chance to meet Swamiji earlier than May. Navjot is the witness for it, since I approached her too incase something opens up. I think there are other people too out there desperate to meet Swamiji. But, the same behavior of not informing repeated in May too in spite of repeated mails.
The other thing is wastage of resources due to non informing. How? Well, the kitchen and refrigerator were stuffed with vegetables, milk, staples and other stuff before the meet based on registrations. Since the number of people staying at the Ashram on the last two days was very low, everyone decided that we would all contribute and cook together and so the caterer was let go. What was astonishing was that a lot our time went into segregating the good ones from the bad ones and discarding the bad ones rather than cutting and washing. A lot of the vegetables were rotten since they were stored in huge quantities and the reason being non accessibility of resources. For those who have never been to Ashram, it’s a 13 km stretch of up-downhill and across a river to purchase anything or a 20 km drive along a difficult pathway. The localities whoever is going that way are requested to pick up stuff for Ashram and deliver. After cooking on the last day and discarding the rotten ones, we had still stuffed the refrigerator with huge quantities of capsicum, tomatoes and cucumber. The Ashram is completely deserted when Swamiji is not at the Ashram.
Please take the time out to inform of your cancellation of visit.
Ever Grateful for his divine grace,
This post was originally published on Swamiji’s fan club website which no longer exists, to know more about that, refer to my intro part of the archives series here.
Original Screenshot :
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