Today when the sun rose, a small streak from the earth rose to join it. Thich Nhat Hanh, the renowned Buddhist monk, was the first Dhronacharya to this Ekalavya. I had just come out of depression and was trying to find my spiritual anchor to latch onto and steady myself in the turbulent samsara. I read the Tibetian Book of Living and Dying, and while I resonated with that book, I could not peace. 

We moved from Pune to Hyderabad. Rashmi was pregnant and suffered from hyperemesis. It was a difficult pregnancy, and she went to Delhi to stay with my parents, who could care for her. I found some solace in the Art of Living, but Thich Nhat Hanh introduced me to the true power of spirituality. 

When you read Thich Nhat Hanh for the first time, you run the risk of mistaking him for just another spiritual or self-help guide. However, he started by teaching me the basics of kindness, the secret of non-violent communication. When I was ready, he talked about managing toxic relationships and then introduced me to Advaitha Vendanta (non-duality for Buddhists) without intimidating me. Then when I felt ready, he sent Understanding the Mind my way. That book is the finest treatise on understanding the structure of consciousness. Finally, when I was looking to understand the life of Buddha, he guided me with Old Path White Clouds. 

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Before I found Swami and he adopted me, Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay) was my spiritual anchor in life. Thay was born in 1926 and entered Tu Hieu Temple, in Hue city, as a novice monk at the age of sixteen. When the war came to Vietnam, Thay walked the road of peace and compassion. He treated the wounded from both sides and thus was trusted and despised by both sides. 

He traveled to the U.S. and Europe to debate for peace and called for an end to hostilities in Vietnam. During this 1966 trip, he first met Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967. As a result of this mission, both North and South Vietnam denied him the right to return to Vietnam, and he began a long exile of 39 years. He founded Plum Village Monastery in Southern France, where people from all over the globe flocked to find peace, learn Buddhism, and most importantly, rest in the loving and soothing presence of their teacher. He healed with his words, his presence, his teachings, and with the very land, he set up and nourished. I deeply regretted not visiting Plum Village Monastery, and that regret turned to delight when I stepped foot into Sri Bhadrika Ashram and saw Swami. In this case, my Dronacharya took my hand and gave it over to Krishna. 

He taught the world how to meditate every second of the day by practicing mindfulness. When you are washing dishes, simply wash dishes, and when you walk on mother earth, ensure you are aware of every step. He taught me how to love by setting the other person free, and his book of short stories, Stone Boy, is one of my favorite short story series. It uses magic realism to demonstrate the value of love, compassion, and mindfulness, and I remember silently wiping away tears as I read it. 

Thank you, dear Thay. Today mother earth mourns the passing of a titan. You were one of her favorite sons, and she will hold you warmly in her embrace.