Jai Sri Hari and a big warm hug to my OS.me family. Winter is gradually dissipating from Hyderabad. While early mornings are still chilly, afternoons have morphed from being bathed in gentle sunlight to being warm and sticky, so you feel like a cake being slowly baked in an oven.

I completed my first Sadhana and wanted to share the experience with all of you. Passive Devotee is a phrase that accurately describes me. I love going to temples and doing short periods of meditation. However, a lack of discipline has been a sore point for me. Guruji calls this any devotee’s most vital attribute, and I wanted to push myself to see if I could successfully complete any sadhana. Naturally, I chose the Gayatri Sadhana, which is the simplest one shared by guruji. Guruji distinguishes the Mantra Sadhana into two primary categories. 

Nitya Karma: A seeker does this regularly, and it refreshes your mind and reinforces what you know anyway.

Naimittika Karma: A seeker does that with a specific purpose in mind, and you have to follow certain rules and restrictions. You gain special energy from your chanting. 

I was doing a laghu puruscharana for nine days. I chose the brief invocation and targetted one thousand repetitions a day. I keep saying that I decided all of this, but a distinct voice within me navigated me towards these choices.  

The Beginning

We have to begin the Sadhana on a full moon night, which happened to be 30th December 2020. We need to start by asking for the Savitur Gayatri Mata’s blessing on the 29th by doing three rounds of the Gayatri Mantra chanting. I was undecided even on 29th December and dropped my son off at his badminton coaching at 5:00 PM. Suddenly, I had this urge to rush home, ask the mother for permission, and start the Sadhana.  It was not something to be taken lightly. Among all the rules guruji had stated, there were two that could be a real challenge.

  • I need to abstain from onion and garlic. I also needed to avoid bread or other bakery products that could have eggs. I have a fantastic cook who loves to use bucket loads of onion and garlic. My wife and son also enjoy these ingredients, so I would need to work around these ingredients. I mostly cooked my food or asked the cook to prepare food separately for me.
  • Any form of voluntary sexual gratification is forbidden. I wanted to push this a little further and be free from any lustful thoughts for the duration of this Sadhana. I wanted to see the Devi within every woman at every moment. In all honesty, this was a challenge for me. I share this with you because I deeply love and respect all of you and want to share the full extent of my experience and learning.
    I realised that when you grow up as a guy, the female body’s objectification happens almost subconsciously. I grew up watching Bollywood heroines gyrate sensuously to songs while the heroes looked on from a distance waiting to be crooned into submission. I also grew up in Delhi, where toxic masculinity prevails, and while my upbringing ensured I did nothing that I would regret, the mind was quite another challenge. Periods of meditation had made me self-aware to know that my mind is conditioned. Everytime I see certain kind of images or content, it actively triggers lustful emotions. So I prayed to mother on the 29th night to help me get rid of this conditioning and help me remain free from lust. I also resolved not to visit any news websites and be very picky about any media I consume on Netflix. News websites seem to be full of random images of celebrities sunbathing in the Maldives, and Netflix has its share of “interesting” content that pops up unexpectedly. 

The First Eight Days

I started the Sadhana on 30th December. I took a bath, changed into white clothes, followed the Swamiji checklist, and completed the chanting in about an hour. The first few chants were slow, and then I picked up speed. I could see that I was eating up the words, but I was so conscious of the time that I kept going fast. I followed a similar pattern for nine days. Some days I would wake up early, and other days I would start at eight. I found that the time to complete was reducing every day, simply because I was chanting faster. I resolved that after my purushcharana is complete, I will resort to Nitya karma and chant the mantra for 20 minutes every day at a slow pace to enjoy it and thank the mother for her love and grace. I finished my eighth day of Sadhana, and my heart was beating with joy. I had managed to sit for roughly fifty minutes to an hour every day and chanted successfully. I had avoided onion and garlic except for one occasion when I mistakenly ate something made for my son. I had managed to spend eight days without any sexual thoughts or gratification, and that was a massive achievement for me. I knew I would complete the ninth day, and more importantly, I knew I could carry on for a longer duration. It almost felt like I belonged to this lineage, and it was not a fluke that guruji accepted my initiation request.

The Ninth Day

I woke up on the ninth morning and took a bath. My wife, who is spiritual but never demonstrative about it, called me aside. She said she had a dream about Swamiji and wanted to share it with me. Here are a few things you should know about Rashmi before I tell you the dream. She considers worship and spirituality as an intensely private activity. She has often been worried about my commitment to my guru and always worried that I will disappear one day, saying that I want to be a monk. She loves talking to people she is comfortable with and loves to laugh. So back to her dream. I will now write what she told me. These are her words so I have included them within quotes.

“I had a wonderful dream about Swamiji. It felt so wonderful and peaceful that I did not want it to end. I was on a bus when he came and sat next to me. He was wearing a corporate suit, and we kept talking for a long time. I loved talking to him, and we kept joking and laughing. I came back home. It was not the home we live in but a different house where she stayed with her sister and mother. A few hours later, Swamiji came home with a little girl. She had curly hair, beautiful eyes, and was extremely pretty. She was 3-4 years old. Swamiji also came with a bag and was clearly staying over for a few days. We talked about so many things, and it was beautiful and incredibly joyful. We kept making jokes, and he laughed as we discussed all the topics under the sun. He kept fussing about the little girl and was clearly figuring out how to manage her. She came from the playground in a wet dress. Swamiji insisted on changing it when I noticed he was putting on a Pajama over her wet clothes. I laughed and gently chided him and told him that I could take care of the girl. We changed her clothes, and I took her out to eat jalebi. She enjoyed the jalebi so much, and we kept chatting for a long time. My mother gave Swamiji a saree for Matarani because that’s the tradition in our house, and my sister complained to guruji that I am never there for her. I then gradually drifted off to another dream, but I did want that one to end because it was so peaceful and joyful.”

I was so stunned on hearing this dream that the ninth day of my chanting went on autopilot. I shared this with Meeraji, who told me that 7th January is also known as Jalebi ustav in some parts of India when we offer jalebi to the divine. Of course, I went out and offered Jalebi to the divine mother, guruji, Sri Hari, and all other gods who bless us in our Pooja room.

I had never asked the divine mother for anything when I began this puruscharana. I just wanted to thank her and guruji for allowing me into their orbit. My deepest wish has always been that as a householder, I can synchronize my spiritual and domestic life so that I don’t feel conflicted or guilty.  As I had prayed for these nine days, I could notice Rashmi gradually getting comfortable with my Sadhana. By the beginning of the ninth day, she expressed her desire to visit the ashram. Mother divine and guruji had taken my heart’s deepest wishes and started fulfilling them without me even spelling them out.

Lessons I Learnt

  • One lesson I learned is that onion and garlic do have tamasic tendencies. I was much happier and calmer the nine days when I chanted and avoided that food.
  • The most important lesson I learned was that lust is a conditioned behavior. We are conditioned since childhood to respond a certain way to a stimulus. We have the famous Pavlov experiment where a dog hears a bell and is then given food. A few weeks later, just the sound of the bell makes the dog salivate even if the food is not delivered. Lust works the same way. We are condition to believe certain types of looks, certain body parts, certain movements are triggered to generate lust. It has come to a point where women need to cover every body part and still be subjected to the “gaze” just because they have specific skin color or body type. The divine mother and guruji’s teaching can help decondition us to help us see the divine mother in every person around us.

Conclusion

Thank you, everyone, for patiently reading through my journey. I hope you did not mind anything I wrote because these can be sensitive topics. I intended to share my story honestly with my spiritual family. I would rate my concentration only 2/10 but would rate my discipline 8/10. It has given me confidence that I am ready to walk the path and take on bigger challenges.

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Akshay Iyer

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