My First Meditation Retreat with Swamiji

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To Everyone Who were there at the retreat with me:
I cherished being with you all. Every moment lived. Need to say a lot.
So bear with me. I am grateful to all of you. Here is my side of the story –

I  signed up for the retreat  first to be in Swamiji’s company  for 7 days (wow!) and  secondly  deep down I know only HE knows what to do with me. So it happened. Meditation was just a bonus along with many other things to come.
I will omit the many dramas  and unexpected  events ( for some other time) that left me amused and  surprised, too many to label them  co-incidences, leaving me no option but to believe it to be a whole universal saga, a divine conspiracy. I cannot help but to think that everything was planned.  My journey has begun, I told myself on my way to Rishikesh.
I reached the hotel early (8 am) had 6 hours to roam around. I went to the hotel’s private ghat. The scene was magnificent. Sun rising behind the mountains, few jungle trees and the river flowing in front of me. I had imagined a wider one. Is it the Ganga? I asked. Yes, I was told. A soft melody of flute was in the air. Nice selection of music, I thought.  Just then came Vidya Swamiji, Param Swami, Shamta mata ji, Hema and Garima and there was He- my swami – OM Swami. It could not be better.
As we sat down for breakfast, I realized that the background music was actually being played live by someone at the far end of the dining hall sitting cross legged on a covered wooden platform, eyes hidden by dark black goggles. He was blind. I felt sorry for him. Enjoying the legacy of the meal with Swami ji I again noticed him while he left. Hema reached to assist him on way back but he refused to be helped. He hated to be pitied, I sensed. Anyway Hema thanked him and he left. Poor fellow I thought. He would be the regular musician of our satsang for coming days. The pity got transformed into admiration gradually. He played beautifully. On the last day I sat down with him for a small chat and was surprised to see how much he had to tell the world. He did all the internet, facebook, whtsaping technology stuff and commanded flute too, supported a family. He was preparing online music flute lessons. He gladly offered to teach flute online to my daughter. A different lesson learned. It was me who was blind, not he.
It was a hectic day for the housekeeping staff. They were all running from pillar to pole. As I climbed the stairs the loud shouting, chaos and crying of a lady got my attention. She was stressed by the sudden work load. I felt sorry for her and also for her offender. I saw an angry, crying but embarrassed, chubby lady in her fifties with a big red bindi on her forehead. Garima was trying to console her. I joined. Few words and hugs and she seemed bit pacified. I complimented her for her big red bindi. Later that evening I was ready for the first satsang when I met her downstairs, again. “I love your bindi” came again and she immediately took one from her small purse and put it on  my forehead. Her face was shinning and eyes warm with love and affection. I felt sorry for all the heated moments between me and my staff. I wish I could hug all of them. Something in me melted right there. Love has great power I learned. It was healing both of us. Next day she was at my doorstep with a fresh new pack of big red bindi. What can I possibly give her in return. Just then I remembered a white handkerchief, I had embroidered. It was the best I had ever crafted and a prised possession (as I am too impatient for embroidery stuff) and  I  felt so attached to it that I  never used it lest the embroidery be spoilt, though I kept it with me. I searched for the little piece of cloth. She thought I am searching for money. When I gave it to her I saw tears in her eyes. It was healing again. I was giving my loveliest possession effortlessly and willingly.
Food was exceptionally good and so the biggest challenge. A hurdle to meditation. Test was to overcome taste (without tasting everything) cause if you taste you will fail the test. No wonder Swamiji smiled everytime he asked about food before the meditation session and everyone laughed. I had the quietest feast in the riverside balcony and enjoyed it thoroughly.
In the hall we were all in white outside. Inside we felt like little children of a big nursery class. Our teacher meaning everything to us. He was trying every possible trick to get our attention to the world of meditation and we were restless kids waiting for the session to end soon. There are toys, swings and every other thing to keep the child stay in the room. There was Swamiji in his full charisma sometimes telling stories and jokes to keep us glued. Like children ask silly questions we kept bombarding our Swami with some little, some big questions and he answered them all smilingly and patiently. Read all of them. His throat was soared from excessive talking, but we kept bombing questions and he kept answering without a flinch. If the time was left he would wait for few more questions to come. It was a live example of 100% duty with 100% of everything. We kept asking for personal time and he kept giving. Little did we care about his food, his sleep, his wellbeing. As long as our interests were met everything was fine. So selfish on our part. I regret it. In the end when he thanked everybody and apologized for any misdeeds happened consciously or unconsciously, I could not stand up and say sorry for all the troubles he had to go through because of us. I regret this too.
It would be incomplete not to mentioned the last day. It was time for a group photo. We all were waiting in the hall for the camera to be ready. He offered to sing a song on draupadi Just when it was to be started the cameramen called and everybody  got up along with him  to stay and sing first .he did not chose to sing first .it was photo-time.had he sarted we would have stayed but  he  immediately got up so that each and everybody could get good shot in daylight .

Devotee with swamiji

It was beautiful. The still river, the deep water, the railing, the gentle breeze, the umbrellas used as  the reflectors, curious strangers, the flowing water, ducks, few flowers and a garland floating in water. The excited devotees arranged in an arc fashion, some kneeled down, some sitting , others standing. All in white. In the center was a diva in black robe surrounded by a triangle of saffron. It was breath-holding. So beautiful, beyond my capability to express. Moment that will go forever. Time  came to a standstill. There was no time. From now on every moment was a rhythm, synchronized. A sweet  melody was in the air. Love was in the air. Everyone got  his pics  while  he kept  smiling  contently. Like a mother watches patiently and lovingly for her children to finish their meal. He sat there willingly till each one was done with photos. He was the magnet we were glued. He was a body full of nector and we were hovering around like bees, keen to get as much as nector from our tiny sense. There was no being, everything was space. Time had come to a standstill. Perhaps time was watching too. There was no time. It was timeless infinity. Had always been there.
I always thought that I was a  city girl forced to live in a small town by circumstances, not very nature friendly. Something in me was opening with each passing day. I realized how much I loved the river, the mountains, trees, birds the quietude. Nature was opening in me like a rose, petals by petals, slowly ,gently ,deliberately .
First day on the bank it was a river and I was judging it by it’s span. On the last day during  Ganga- aarati it was water, vast, deep, quiet yet powerful and I found myself lost in it. In that surrender the memory of a long  seen  dream ( seen 4 -5 years back) came alive vividly. The same river -Ganga, the same place – rishikesh, all 50- 60-70 of us, the same hurdles, the same  guiding  force  walking with us leading and  guiding  us all  to the source. There I was living it word by word, scene by scene. The drama was unfolding. I have to go back to the source, watching each step, crossing hurdles, eyes fixed in the direction of his gaze. He was with us in the river. It was all scripted  years back (at least  4-5 years). All these years was a wait. I realised. No memories, no thoughts. Just being.  The journey has started. I was reminded.

  In service of OM Swami

Chetna.


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.

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