To begin with, my life has been so adventurous. I have so many stories if I were to open that little adventure box. Though it occurred to me a lot of times that I should write and my friends with whom I have shared my many stories as well insisted me to pen down my experiences. So, today, finally I shall be sharing with you all how my life has been around the time I met revered Om Swami Ji.
I love to travel and stay in the lap of nature. I have traveled from Uttarakhand to Himachal to the mountains of Jammu. Stayed in the village with no network for over 10 km. Walked barefoot on Mother Earth in those villages where pristine and natural beauty still prevails in its loveliness and grandeur. Rightly so. Though I felt a bit sad whenever I returned to city life.
Though I have been a solo traveler for most of my travels, sometimes my friends accompanied me and at others my parents. Though travel with friends and parents become a vacation than an adventure!
My family is a typical Hindu family. Quite religious but not spiritual. My love for nature and my little escape from the city life to mountains and monastery has many times struck my parents with a sense of fear, what if I become a Buddhist nun! As their fear had almost come alive when they saw my head shaved which I did as preparation for my Vipassana Meditation course – a 10-day course. I feel it is best to go in for any sadhana without the baggage of any kind, at least to reduce the baggage that is attached to the body and that of the material around me, if not of the psychological and emotional baggage. The kind of freedom a woman feels, being relieved from maintaining and managing the aesthetics of a hairstyle and hairdo! please ask the ladies around you (if they are into meditation and desires to live a minimalist life).
Vipassana Meditation : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vipassanā
My search for a Live Guru had started long before I met Swami Ji. My thoughts have been inclined towards the betterment of society/kids and the way our / people’s life is in general. How if kids were guided at a young age their life would be much more sorted. I used to go to orphanage and slums of Mumbai to volunteer through NGOs and as part of CSR. While I met many dedicated volunteers but to me, it feels like CSR is more of a show if not all. Yes of course not all as some really want to make a difference!
The First time I went to the ashram was in Dussehra 2018. After waiting and anticipation of 3 long years after having come to know about Swami Ji first time through his books. A Fistful of Love, it got released in December 2015. That was the first point to connect with Swami Ji. I used to work for a 5-star Hotel in Mumbai, and I had fieldwork assigned to me. During those times I used to go to Crossword Bookstores. That day I bought some books, made my purchase and was leaving but for some reason, do not know what! I turned back, looked at this book ‘A Fistful of Love’ lying on the new release shelf of the store – the book cover and its title fascinated me. I went in again saw and bought and read that book…
‘A Fistful of Love’: https://www.amazon.in/Fistful-Love-Om-Swami-ebook/dp/B0191NE27I
During that time the Black Lotus App was not released. Swami Ji had a page on Facebook which was deleted later and the blog name was also different (omswami.com – it now redirects to os.me: https://os.me/) it was not in this avatar (as most of us may know) I started to watch the video and blog by Swami Ji.
My first impression was… alright one more Sadhu (saint) on my list! As I have been reading many other saints.
After some time had passed, my love for nature this time got me to this destination which I loved and was so inspired that I moved here and lived for over a year. That destination was Dharamshala. The beautiful mountains of Dharamshala half covered in snow, the monks and the nuns dressed in Red and Yellow gave a grounded feeling, the whole environment was soaked in spirituality the air had a different reverberation to it. It was so calming and relaxing.
The impact of staying at Dharamshala for ten days was such that I wanted to be there. Having worked for over 9 to 10 years in corporate, after returning from a solo backpacking trip to Dharamshala I immediately resigned, informed my parents about it, and left. I left for the mountain never to return! (so, I thought). I stayed in the mountains for over a year.
I rented a house there stated there for a year.
View from my Home at McLeod Ganj., Dharamshala.
My passion – Coffee with me wherever I go!
I had started to Freelancing from there and had bought other books of Swami Ji – If Truth Be Told among several others. Till that time, I had not visited Sri Badrika Ashram. I was running away from materialistic life and trying to be more into the spiritual realm. The surroundings had a profound impact on me, I respect H.H. Dalai Lama very much. That being a Tibetan Buddhism dominated area – my neighbors/friends were nuns and a lady who had done a Ph.D. on Buddhist medicine. But with all that serenity and beauty and Buddhist culture around me, I was not sure if I wanted to take the route of Buddhism to explore the world of Spirituality. And running away from materialistic life did not work.
Then I got a project in Delhi. Long story short – I got cheated there. Not just financially but the partner that I was working with gave me serious threats. Feeling unsafe, I returned to Mumbai.
For me, it was a noticeably big event in my life at the junction. Along with the serious trouble I faced as a single lady in my work I also faced a crisis in the relationship I was in, at that time. The self-destructive nature and attitude of my ex was of no help. Instead, it only had negative bearings on me. Though I tried to keep that relationship alive and gave it a chance. But sometimes when one offers help it does not always get received. So, I had to move away from that toxic relationship.
This was the time around which I finally reached the ashram, my first visit. It was Navratri time. Prior to this, I had tried to book and visit the ashram but that just did not happen. Probably that was not the time for me to reach ashram. Having been so close by in Dharamshala earlier I did not visit the ashram. It was only now that I stepped on the ashram.
I had met and visited a lot of spiritual masters but I just did not feel any connection. And my idea of Guru is that I should have a Guru, who is still in His/Her body and I receive knowledge directly from Him/Her. And my thoughts always matched with Swami Ji. I feel He receive and entertain only sincere seekers. He is not into attention-seeking or commercializing. And as most of us know that He does not initiate easily and everyone.
With me, this has always been the case that if I am thinking about a subject or some matter is concerning me and is on my mind, Swami Ji either through his blog or discourse video answers me.
I traveled across the beautiful Giri Ganga on my first visit to reach the ashram. It’s interesting, the day I reached the ashram, it was almost time for evening Sri Hari Aarti and I had just reached. This little trekking i.e. crossing the river had got me all drenched. As it is, in my trekking suit I rushed to the temple and was just on time and Swami Ji had arrived. I can only express little in words about what was my experience of meeting Swami Ji for the first time. I saw him and I cried. As the Q&A session started, I just looked at him and cried and cried. Almost as if all the negativity within me was washing away from the moment I looked at Swami Ji. He looked so beautiful. I had never felt this, having visited so many Guru(s), attended so many seminars, and having read so much content on spirituality. This was the first time, the sparks and essence of what I would call real spirituality was felt within.
The next day as per the ashram schedule the day proceeded. But the Love for nature in me pulled me towards Giri Ganga, I spent all my afternoon by the riverside…
Splendid and Beautiful – Giri Ganga!
We had a group meeting the next day, all I had on my mind was just to say a Big Thank You to Swami Ji. At that time, for the initiation, we did not have to fill a form request. I requested and asked him for initiation He had asked me to wait for a year and meanwhile do some breathing practices.
For the following days, almost 04 days during the whole event I got to ask Swami Ji 04 questions. He gave elaborate answers to each of my questions – for 30 to 40 minutes. I shall share those questions and answer them as I remember. I am very thankful that He took my questions and answered them all most patiently.
The first question that I asked was on Business; having failed twice I asked him – I have failed in business twice and many people come up to me and suggest that it is not for me. But I still want to do it as I love doing business. He had given a 30 to 40 min. answer to this question.
I rephrase as I remember – Swami Ji in his funny way said – If everybody is saying then probably it is true. My heart sunk as He said this but then He laughed, and I was relieved that He was just joking!!!
I am a very emotional person and to add to that I had a tremendous amount of self-doubt and lack of confidence all through. It may sound weird, but I hardly charge my customer thinking that if I am good enough I need not charge!
Swami Ji in his answer spoke about Business – its rules and the Dos and Don’ts of Business.
I share with you all his response as I jotted it down:
– You need to be clear about why you want to do that business. Also, business is not done to help others. It is basically to provide quality service to the customer.
– Who is your customer – identify your customer.
– Check if the market is ready for your service.
– It would be best if your service is a must-have.
– If your business is not profitable in 1000 days then chances are it won’t be later as well.
Good businesses start making profits overtime only.
– Give exceptional service to your customers. Maintain a good relationship with your customers.
And next set of points He mentioned was:
“You have to be in the minds of the customers.”
Be clear on your market – 04 principles – a) What is your mission? b) What does my customer values? c) How are you delivering that value to the customer? d) What is the plan to deliver that value?
The most important point that Swami Ji stressed was – “When Somebody buys a product, they are not buying a product but buying a better version of themselves.”
Never borrow to create a business, This is a BIG NO. If one must borrow do it in the form of equity. If others are ready to invest equity in your business, then you get validation, that you have a sound plan.
– Create an outward-focused company.
– Focus on your customer, not your internal operation.
– Success is noisy behavior hence work quietly and firmly.
– Do not start a business with the thought that I want to serve society by starting a business. The only aim of Business is profit.
Some more points that I have had saved and other devotees present in that session helped me recollect are:
If you are starting a business to run your family then it is a BIG NO – Because business may give as little as 5,000 rupees in the starting months and may even give 01 Lakh per month at a later stage. Your main motto of doing business should be to make a PROFIT.
95 percent of the business closes within the first year of operation. The remaining closes in the second year. Only remaining one survives; Swami Ji gave an example of his book launch – If Truth Be Told.
Whatever money he had, he had put in the Book Launch and it was not profitable for him. He was not upset because he knew the nature of the business. He went on to say that the key important feature for a business to survive is – for the market to be ready for the product. If the market is not ready for the product, everything related to planning and execution may be perfect but still, it may fail.
He also shared with us that one should have a passion for what one is doing.
This was the answer to one of my question I got to ask Swami Ji. 🙂
I had failed twice along with many troubles that I had then. But my passion and love for coffee tasting and making remained. I did not want to go back to corporate life. As I mentioned I had lots of self-doubts and would not even charge for the service I am giving to the customer after putting in so much time and effort into it. Swami Ji had given an answer to this attitude that was in me and there and then my sense of respect for the effort I make and the time I put had slowly steadily and firmly started to change. Now I am much more confident and at ease. And I also feel probably I was the first one to ask him a question on business! Swami Ji candidly said now I have given you a short crash course on business MBA and now you do not even need to do a course! Well true it was. He had just summed up the knowledge of a hefty curriculum and encapsulated the experience of an adept Businessmen/Businesswomen. 😉
Next question i.e. second question I asked about was ‘#Metoo Movement’. There was so much unrest and activity on the internet. I felt the need to ask that question.
As I remember his response – Swami Ji said it was a favorable thing. Especially for this country where we worship Goddess, the feminine aspect of nature. He mentioned how the state of women was much better before British rule. The community used to be small and contained but now with all the technological advancement, some forces are trying to rule over with a sense of dominion.
The third question I asked was about this doubt I had, that every organization and every God to its disciple and devotees is the highest of all. So how is one to be sure that they have chosen the right Guru or God and How to choose him/her?
I cannot recall the answer, but Swami Ji had given an elaborate answer to it as well. In any case, doubt to this question is no more in my mind as I have found Swami Ji. 🙂
The fourth question that I asked has been uploaded on the Om Swami YouTube Channel –
Enlightenment is a Service. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nlmsjshmQ_
4 questions in 4 days event – Sitting in the temple I kept crying… A lot of emotions were coming out, meeting the guru as I always aspired and searched for. My Live Guru was in front of me. Yet to accept me. I was happy that Swami Ji asked me to wait for a year and do breathing practices, that He did not abandon or denied me the initiation. This was the first time I felt I was in an ashram in the real sense of that word Ashram. Ashram – where one gets guidance and assistance to move forward/progress in one’s life. I could rest there and be at ease. I had roamed and searched; nowhere did I find such relief. I had found my Home.
During my stay I roamed without slippers I developed a few blisters as I had this habit of going to mountains treks and villages where I stayed in villages, carefree I used to roam in bare feet. I did that in Sri Badrika ashram too. 🙂
Every time I saw Swami Ji I cried and cried. It did not happen with any other guru.
I was so relaxed… I met lots of other devotees and Tejas there. It was overwhelming. People there welcomed you and you could talk about spirituality. Back home in Mumbai, none of my family or friends have spiritual inclination but just religious. I am not implying that I am adept in meditation/spirituality but at home and among friends, no one even read the kind of books that I read. Suddenly I got a group to connect with, who would talk about Spirituality and connects with Swami Ji.
As I mentioned I spent my afternoon riverside. And I loved tandoor aloo paratha. The yummiest food! with a dollop of Makhan (butter) – I had found my Home.
And I was at peace as I had gone through a lot during the last 02 years – physically, financially, mentally, and emotionally. I had incurred losses and I had paid debts. But I am not the kind who gets depressed. If a problem arises, the sadness and crying cannot possibly be the answer or a solution to it!
Being at Sri Badrika Ashram I felt everything will work out. My spiritual searching or say spiritual shopping had ended the day I met Swami Ji. No more looking now.
My approach toward myself and my business has changed.
I have gained a lot of confidence. My approach is different. I am no more ashamed of charging the customer. I am certified to sell what services I sell, and I have put so much time and effort into getting that certification. Now I select my clients before I was scared if they will choose me or not!
Like I shared with you all that Swami Ji answers the question I have in my mind in no time. When I was narrating to my website designer the kind of website I would like for my business she stated her idea of a ‘perfect website’ for my website and instead of listening to my views, she asserted her views of perfect from wherever she had adopted that ‘perfect idea’. Had I been in my previous self of self-doubting I might have accepted her views but being the creator of my website and having envisaged an image for Kali Coffee, (my coffee brand) I knew what I wanted. People have this perception of Maa Kali, that She is Fierce and destructive and attached connotation born out of ignorance/fear to her, so was true when the name Black Lotus. As Swami Ji mentioned in the interview to The Hindu when asked to elaborate on the name of the movement? He said- “The movement is called Black Lotus because black is not just a color, it absorbs everything. – Om Swami”. When my designer was asserting her idea of perfect on me, Swami Ji’s blog Just Right was released which invariably cleared my doubts. There are innumerable instances I could site like this when He has answered my questions most readily. I am thankful for his guidance at every step.
Help came out of nowhere I had anticipated or expected. After wasting lots of time, energy, and money to create my eCommerce website, finally, Soorrya stepped forward and helped me to not only create the website but also creating it free of charges. He also made sure that I don’t have to buy any paid plugins by learning to code. Soorrya actually understood my love for Kali & Coffee and made it fun to work on with lots of learnings. Shibanka very promptly created the Kali sketch to post on the blog. I couldn’t thank them enough.
I had also built a wall around, was very blunt if not just straightforward, I would not let anyone come into my ambit of emotion which may render me vulnerable. After meeting Swami Ji that has loosened that wall a lot. My family and friends noticed a lot of changes in me. So far this has been my journey. I am eager to share some more amazing aspects of my life and the passion I live everyday – Coffee.
Thank you for taking out your time and reading my story so far with Swami Ji.
I am looking forward to this journey ahead.
Jai Sri Hari 🙂
(Wishing to share my experience with you all but having no experience of writing long accounts and unable to put them in words, I narrated my experiences of meeting my Guru Om Swami Ji to Tanvi and She helped me put these experiences in words along with all the URL which she thought could be useful to some!) 🙂