Something about my lifestyle intrigues the people surrounding me. Some ridicule it, some encourage it, and many are plain annoyed. While it’s pointless to go on a doubt-clearing spree, it does hurt me when they directly ask, “What’s Om Swami teaching you? To insult and ignore our culture?” Strangely, one person even asked, “Does Om Swami inspire your hairstyle?” I’ve never figured that one out. Swami’s head is the same within and without, clear and shining! My hair, like my mind, is an untamed beast.
Being a hyper-sensitive person, I’ve always been wary of relationships. Even Lord Shiva and Mother Parvati had to work hard to keep their marriage harmonious. Given that, what can we say about human marriages? Add to that a load of your parents nitpicking, your in-laws judging, and your newborn squealing. And, your boss being himself, the traffic never moving, the weather never cooperating, the weighing scale never budging, and your favorite sports team never performing. What chances do we have at remaining sane?
Quite predictably, I succumbed to the situation, and the doctors honored me with a new epithet – The One with a Depressed Mind. Like a stereotypical Indian movie, the hero of this story entered exactly when this damsel was in distress!
It was the darkest time of my life. I was sad, angry, violent, and suicidal. My husband, who stood by me like an anchor, was scared and weary. We had a child to care for, and he showed signs of the situation impacting him. Thanks to our state of mind, we barely had any support or help from anyone.
An error in judgment had made me swap my good job for a terrible one. A never-ending home search had yielded nothing, and we had just moved into a noisy apartment complex, for the sake of my son’s schooling (anyone living in California would know this pain).
Amidst all of this mess, and 60+ hours of work week, my husband, truly an epitome of tolerance, had somehow managed to rekindle my liking for spiritual discourses. It became my habit to watch positive content online routinely. During one such YouTube search, I accidentally found Om Swami, or that’s what I thought back then in 2012.
It wasn’t love at first sight! His unadulterated Hindi, combined with some atypical examples, made us believe that he was a village simpleton. Even though he was talking sensibly, it was the desire to ridicule him that helped us through the entire speech.
Later on, the Google Messiah led us to his blog. Stunned was an understatement when we found out that he was an MBA graduate from Australia, an entrepreneur, and a millionaire who renounced it all. It was a massive blow to my ego and the first step in a beautiful self-transformative journey. As I realized, later on, it was Lord Sri Hari’s magic at work!
The revered Adi Shankaracharya said:
दुर्लभं त्रयमेवैतद्देवानुग्रहहेतुकम् ।
मनुष्यत्वं मुमुक्षुत्वं महापुरुषसंश्रयः ॥
durlabhaṃ trayamevaitad devānugrahahetukam
manuṣyatvaṃ mumukṣutvaṃ mahāpuruṣasaṃśrayaḥ
Scarce indeed are these three things and happen only due to the utmost Grace of God – a human birth, a burning desire for liberation, and the blessed refuge of an illuminated sage.
(Vivekachudamani, Verse #3)
When I first read this verse, humans didn’t seem a rarity to me. I thought, if the pontiff happened to observe the current day’s exploding world population, he would’ve had a change of perspective! Yet, considering we could potentially be the only set of human beings in the entire cosmos, it seems like a privilege now.
Back to the topic in hand, today, I feel immensely blessed. I have all of these three things mentioned by the saint, in addition to a loving husband, a caring son, more than sufficient material resources, and a ton of time to pursue what matters to me.
Life’s still not perfect, but it’s beautiful. It feels like the Divine Mother has bestowed the best of both worlds on me. The life of a householder and a renunciate at the same time! Of course, sometimes it feels like the worst of both worlds, but that’s life (and besides the point here), I suppose.
Given the above, I’m not sure what cultural deviation those people were referring to. If it’s the culture of stress, sadness, depression, and selfishness, then yes, Om Swami is deluding me to sidestep our culture! If they were referring to the culture of being peaceful, happy, broad-minded, and compassionate, then no, he is most certainly not teaching me to insult or ignore our culture.
My sincere gratitude to Sri Hari and Swami for transforming my life!