My first post on this Platform was about how I turned to a devotee from a complete atheist. When I shared the write-up with my people, the most common request among all was to explain the journey. At the time, I assured them that I soon will, and many times I thought of writing it but I just could not find the right words. I was not even sure myself, I was just a 19 year old immature kid who did not know a single thing about devotion and I still am.

But yesterday I had my first  dream of mother Divine, it was unmistakably the most beautiful-radiant face I have ever seen and I will ever see and today words just seem to flow, and it’s hard for me to keep it in. Hence, I decided to write down my journey of devotion and  I have decided that I will give it one shot, so if I end up completing it, I have written it in the first go.

It was the afternoon of Jan 2018. I had just finished reading “A million thoughts” and the path of meditation seemed appropriate for me given that  I was an atheist and did not believe in god to walk on the path of devotion. So, as I sat to try meditation an unusual thought came to my mind. Little did I know then that it was the beginning of a lot of such unusual thoughts :p . Surprisingly I put on Shiv Tandav Hymn for meditating with my headphones on. I had first heard this tune during a school function and liked the music but never thought of it as a devotional song. But today it was different , with every bit of rhythm I felt like pulled into an ecstatic plane. Six minutes later, I came out of the state completely mesmerized and addicted to this tune. After a few days of meditating on the Hymn, I felt a sudden urge to address Shiva as “Gurudev” and I don’t have the slightest idea about the origin of this thought. And a week later, I was offering water to Shivaligam kept in our home. It became the  first thing to do every morning after waking up, without which I won’t have breakfast and it continues till today. 

With passing time I grew more and more close to my deity, I started listening to stories of Mahakaal (The form of Shiva I used to worship at first). During that time I learned a great deal and different stories about my brave, mighty lord. How he consumed the poison and held it in his throat, how he married the goddess, how he was so easy to lure through pure heart and devotion. But the learning that startled  me the most was how he represented the most amazing contradictions. He was the foremost yogi and at the same time an ideal husband. He was the most disciplined mediator and yet was said to love the cannabis. He was a god and yet his favorite friends were  Rakshasaas. Literally “Shiva” means the one who is not or ‘nothingness’yet  He represents the universal consciousness. In a sense he was nothing and everything both at the same time.

Soon in the June of 2019 I got my own Shivalingam. It was more like  love at the first sight. I saw it in the Pooja shop and I knew I had to get it. That was also the time when I got my  mantra. I was not initiated and was not planning to do anything of the sort. It was again some sort of slippery slope, when you don’t have a clue, circumstances create themselves and things just happen. I chanted the mantra for 21 days and completed the Pooja with a havan with the help of my mother. Don’t ask me how, I am as oblivious as you are ! If I look back today, I don’t seem to recollect the exact time or thought that led me to the mantra or anything else. Everything seems like a dream. The one thing I remember is offering my chantings to Shiva every morning, I remember telling him my problems, I remember how blissful I felt after chanting every morning. And I remember apologizing to the forces of nature for anything I had done wrong, for I was just following a strong inner voice without any guidance. 

Around January 2020 I was again bothered by this need to eulogize divine in the feminine form. So, in january I started chanting Gayatri mantra for 2 hours a day. This is the most powerful mantra that appeals to our intellect, even after the determined number of chanting was done with, I continued to chant one round of 108 times everyday until the lock down happened and we were confined in our homes. It was also during this time that I had started worshiping Maa Kali. My connection with her formed more quickly than Shiva. During the Chaitra Navratri in the following month I prayed to her in nine different forms. That was the time when I could actually feel her very close . The energy I used to feel after the Pooja and chanting was unlike any other. Even today, when I chant I feel like my soul has turned into a baby, who is back in her mother’s lap. 

I was listening and studying about Upanishads since four years now, but the more I used to dig my head deep in it, the more confused I used to get. I understood the content and researched it’s scientific basis and validity but It was difficult to perceive it practically. One such day,I was contemplating my thoughts while roaming around in my balcony when I came across a you tube video about Maa Kali. It was from a saint of Vedanta Society of NY. Mindlessly, I clicked on it and after a few minutes he said a line that stopped me in my tracks. He said “as long as the child is busy with her toys, the mother also remains busy with her chores but once the child cries for her, she drops everything and comes for the child” it was such a normal line to speak about the mother divine but, at that very moment I stopped the video and without thinking much called upon her. That is the one moment that I will never forget. I saw it so clearly, I saw it in a way that I cannot un-see it. Just like once you realize that ocean is made of water and you don’t see the ocean anymore, Water is all there is. She was everywhere, “everywhere” was in her. From the air to the tree to the hair on my head to the clouds in the sky. It was her. She was the essence. She was not somewhere far away, she was in me, around me. she was more real than the universe itself. Every line in every sacred text started to make sense all of a sudden. It made me think of all those people who think that god is a rock kept in a temple and cannot see beyond the four walls. They fold their hands in the morning in their altar then carry on with their usual day where they behave rudely with other living beings and pollute the nature and called themselves devotees. It really made me wonder.

Days, weeks, months passed and I did not experience that intensity again but I experienced a lot of changes in myself. I became way more sensitive to feelings now, If I said anything hurtful to anyone, it started hurting me many times more. If I thought anything negative about anyone, I wrote 2 pages of affirmation and positive things just to nullify the effect. It became difficult for me to be around negative and abusive people,being around such people made me terribly uncomfortable ,it felt like walking barefoot on coal. Similarly My negative tendencies even the little ones bothered me like the unwanted guest in my house, I used to feel, I still feel burdened by it. I started craving for solitude more often. My intuition developed and I could differentiate between the wanted and unwanted thoughts . Most of the times I feel I am bursting with compassion and energy but I still struggle to keep my mind still. Sometimes it chatters like crazy but during the wee hours of night when I sit to meditate I go back to the bliss of nothing-ness once again. It’s more easier to slip into that state now. Nothing I hide from her anymore, If I am happy about something, I tell her ,if I am bothered by something, I tell her.

When I look back, none of these things make any sense to me 😛 it felt a beautiful dream then, it feels like a beautiful dream now. And as I said in the start, I am still afterall a kid, so if anyone can make any sense of things please do explain. 😀

Ps- I don’t call any of my childish attempts Sadhnas, it was no where close to a Sadhna 😛

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Supriya Patnaik

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