Much before I actually came into Swami’s fold, I used to observe my husband, Akshay’s spiritual pursuit, with interest (and sometimes) irritation. He always seemed to be on a frenetic search. I, on the contrary, remained blissfully unaware and unmoved. Yes, I believed in the presence of a divine force somewhere, but I had refrained from assigning him/her a face or a name. I found myself unable to respond to forms. Seeing people getting rigid about their deities disconcerted me further. So, I found my comfort in nature instead. I could not see Gods and Goddesses, but I could see and feel the sun, the rain, and the winds. Being in the hills used to be my brush with spirituality, as my insignificance became pronounced in front of the mighty mountains. With such a puny existence, man, I had a mighty ego! 

Steadily, after years of soul-searching, Akshay finally landed in Sri Badrika Ashram. Swami’s genial photo graced our altar. I looked at it with interest; his discourses were simple, with clearly defined actionable points. Having grown up in a house where Guru tradition was revered, I silently prayed for one while skeptical of Gurus at the same time. Sometimes I prayed to my mother’s Guru (whom I had never seen or met but prayed to whenever I wanted) to direct me to someone, a living Guru whom I could meet and who could guide me. Now I think, all this while, Swami’s smiling portrait would have looked at my foolish antics. And then just like that, he graced me with this darshan in a dream. He was accompanied by a beautiful baby girl. All this coincided with the completion of Akshay’s Gayatri Sadhana. I was suffused with happiness, although dismissive of any spiritual sign. Only after months, the gravity of that darshan dawned on me. Suddenly, I felt a desperation, a churn I could not pinpoint. My spiritual master had walked into my life, and I had been completely impervious to it. Covid stuck throwing a spanner on any plans of visiting the ashram. During that period, I fervently prayed for a meeting with Swami. I began praying and chanting, bothering Ma with constant requests like “Ma, please ask Swami to call me. He may not listen to me, but he’ll surely abide by your command.” Oh, the things we do as devotees! I was fortunate to meet Swami in December last year. My heart had answered. Not only was he my Guru. He was every God, Goddess, and diety that I set my eyes on. His radiant face shone through every form and statue. 

On November 26th this year, I got initiated. It’s hard to imagine that I am the same person who till last year, was absolutely clueless about the beautiful bond of initiation. I imagine, Swami just holding our hand as we walk like little children with our eyes closed, trusting that he is taking us back home. Just a glimpse of Guru ji is enough to send forth joy pumping through your body. On Swami’s birthday, I wanted to celebrate his divine presence through a bhajan. He is the form and the formless. When I truly feel his presence (in his absence), life seems like a song. Everyone around seems an extension of him. He is everyone, yet there is no other like him. Where would one find such perfection? 

Sometimes when the mind  asks, ‘who is he?’ Pat comes to the answer, ‘he is my Guru, always my Guru for many, many lifetimes. I may not know him ever, but he knows me, and that’s enough.’  What a privilege it is to be in his grace. Eternally grateful, Swami! Happy Birthday. Accept my humble offering, dear Lord.

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(video image courtesy: Anand Om)