5.03.2017

The Art of Learning Wisdom

The mental detachment has set in, all that is around me appears like relative existence. Where then is my true home? 


It has taken many long years, to understand and control my own temperament and start working with my grey cells consciously. When trouble hit, the mind went its way and the heart went its way... that was my temperament. It was a tug of war between what I wanted - when the heart spoke, and how I wanted it - when my mind spoke. And they both were against me - The soul. How then were we to meet eye to eye and arrive at a solution that would work for all of us?

The mind had an ego to please, the heart was hurt and had to be soothed, and I, the soul, was left standing asking the question "what about me?"

The mind had traveled a million thoughts by then, from one potential disaster to the next, and the heart was on a self-inflicting binge, hurting itself more than it needed to. I sat down, quietly, detached from both and watched they till they went silent. Worship helped, the divine flame of wisdom glowed to guide me through the madness inside my head. I just rattled on with the japa, which appeared to be of no use as the mind and heart were tormenting me with their make or break deals. 

The soul stood up finally, deciding for everyone, mind, heart and itself, that war was not the answer. Things had to be sorted out amicably. And, with the grace of the divine flame, a messy situation actually got averted. Peace reigned again. In the external world, the problem actually subsided for the better. I made peace. 

*-*-*-*

This is a state we all go through, when any kind of trouble hits us. Some of us may face ourselves head on, some of us may play escapist and some of us may just inflict more trouble on ourselves. Such is our temperament and we keep adding to the karma bucket endlessly because we didn’t use the grey cells to their fullest potential. 

So what is fullest potential? Is there something beyond that state that I can tap to avert a possibly mishap in my life - thanks to me being me? Fullest potential is when we take control of 2 things, our ego, and our selfishness. We need to believe that it doesn’t hurt to let the ego go, it doesn’t hurt to let go our selfishness and all its related fears. 

The outcome, believe me, is a breath of fresh air. Using the grey cells to the fullest potential is to not give the mind what it wants, is to not nurture the hurt in the heart but to just switch off the brain for a while and live in the lull. The soul takes over at this time, the silence helps calm the madness, in the external world, I am silent and no one knows the massacre of the mind and heart that is taking place inside. I fix the problem because I just let go my ego and selfishness. 

At the end of this ordeal, there was peace outside, everyone out there was happy and I turned a step closer to understanding wisdom. 

*-*-*-*

I had to move mountains inside my head, I had to appease two parts of me that never have listened to me, I had to nab my temperament, and it worked! It worked brilliantly. I learned the art of exercising wisdom. And what a learning that was!

Will I be able to do it again, next time... i don’t know... but for now I have learned one thing - I am capable of doing it and that is a lot of divine wealth for now.

4.14.2017

My Selfie Moment with Lord Jagannath



It is yet another blessed day and I find myself headed to Puri once again with my colleagues. We called on the Lord really early this morning to see him before they closed down the great doors for his Bhog. The temple was brimming with life characteristic of its people and activities. Bhajans echoed through the distant walls that have housed the sacred shrines for centuries together. People buzzed around from shrine to shrine seeking every inch of blessings they could gather. The rhythm of the bhajans made a couple of people hop on their toes dancing to its tunes. The divine madness of bhakti and the urge to seek the divine transformed the river of people into a force that was hard to fight as we neared the great shrine. In the chaos that followed, we caught our glimpse of the sacred lord - Jagannathji, ever smiling, ever vigilant, ever alive well within the sacred shrine.

In contrast to all the people who have dotted this landscape across so many centuries, there lay other aspects of the temple that have never left their place through all this time. An ancient tree, believed to be as old as the temple itself, stood at the witness to the timelessness of this shrine. Staring up at the great shikhara from under the shade of this gigantic tree, time seemed to come to a halt. Many like me before and many like me later will stand in exactly the same spot and stare at this temple, wondering about our impermanence in this universe. The old stone, the beaten path ways, this immortal tree, the silent sculptures were all a testimony to a larger truth about the universe we live in. I am not permanent. I have been lucky to have come here, and I will be gone soon.

We soaked in the place, we soaked in the ambiance, we soaked in the history, we soaked in the peace. Lord Jagannath had a different attire on this day. Unlike last time, where he was draped in silks that flowed over his hands, and he wore a dashing mukut of tulsi leaves, this time he was more crisply dressed, in white. His drapes were pulled back, and beautiful strips of yellow splashed across him sparsely, bringing out the nath that hung down from his nose. Yes, Jagannath wears a nose ring, or Nath. And he looks really handsome with it. It was an incredible moment to be with him again, as the spiritual energies rose. He is big, life size and vibrant giving us all the energy we need to go back and face the world but the truth is, do I really want to go back? I could live here, with him, serve him, be by his side. I soaked in the sacred fire, the silent Dhuni that dances graciously within these walls.

"Oh sweet fire, oh sacred flames of purity that stays unaffected through all the din around you...bless me and help me purify myself."

Goddess Mahalakshmi smiled back, a brilliant smile on this Friday, what a lovely moment it was. It was just another day for anyone else, but for me it as special, simply special. I connected with my divine family again, I spent few very good moments with them. I felt good. The desire to seek them is so high and yet the path is so unknown. The Lord knows what he is doing, he will take care of me. I looked back at the sacred dhuni, the flames danced into the air before they disappeared. Made me wonder, what is this fire, what is its nature, why is it so distant and unfamiliar and yet so warm and self-luminous.

With a heavy heart my darshan came to an end. Kala was acting up, I had to go back into samsara. We stepped out of the great temple. My friends took pictures at the main gate, group snaps and selfies. They were surprised to see me not inclined to a selfie of my own. I just smiled back and told them...

"My Selfie moment was inside, when I silently touched the Lord. The self has not come out from the temple. My heart stays with him. This selfie... enjoy your moment. I have gone way past that. :)"

Photo courtesy: http://images.jagran.com/images/ 

3.15.2017

A Sacred Lesson Through Death



Pati (grandmom), a brilliant woman who lived up to her late nineties, left her earthly presence a month ago. During her last few years I wondered, which was better - Death or Old Age? Old age looked as much a living hell as death, where family cared little to spend quality time with her. I had the good luck of serving her while she was alive, spending time with her the way she wanted it. 

Her death was sudden, and an eye opener to say the least. Death knocked on her door, not because of ill health, not because of an accident, but it was just simply time up. We, the younger folk had taken her living for granted, she was one of those permanent aspects of our life, she was "always there". We didn't quite know how to deal with a world when she would not be there. Death, just came, and in half an hour she was gone. No pain, no hint of lament, no warning, just permanent silence. I just realized she had been prepared, to some level... to face it. 

I spoke to her last on a Sunday, she was gone by Thursday. I wish, just wish I had spoken to her one last time. I remember the last meeting, my uncle, as usual, was bashing her up for being herself. Little did he realize that would be his last outburst, she wouldn't stick around being the punching bag anymore. That moment really haunted me and the suddenness of her death. Uninvited, silent, sure. 

The activities that surrounded her death, became clearer as the Brahmin priests directed us. She was that spirit who was suddenly an outsider, who had to go and we had to send her away. She was an outsider because she was not human anymore. I learned why we don't leave our hair loose in the south of India, or why wearing a bindi is such a must or why food is served with the spoon turning in the opposite direction. Its all because during the time of 13 days, when the spirit has to be sent away and cannot hang around the house, we do all of this to send them away, to show them they are uninvited and not to encourage them to stay behind. In India, traditional India, leaving the hair loose is equated to looking like a pishacha(meat eating demon). Being well dress, with bindi, is a mark of respect to invite a guest, and when it comes to a spirit that needs to be sent away, the reverse is done. 

It made me wonder, how could I do that to her, whether she was in human form or another state. She was grand mom, and disrespecting her in her spirit state... didn't feel right. The whole task of bidding her good bye left me uneasy, not because of the concept of death, but more about how we treat the dead in their next state. It was so unfriendly, and so rude, to shoo someone out just because they are not "human" anymore. How wrong was that. 

But she taught me something more serious, and that was the association of Lord Shiva with this whole process. The homa to Lord Shiva, the recitation of the Rudram, the offerings to the great fire made Him so real, as the subtle force that guided her through her journey to the abode of the Gods. The Lord of destruction sounds scary to the uninitiated, but to me, He appeared like the only truth I need to know. He became my purpose, He added meaning to my life, He made me realize just how distracted I really am. 

Pati taught me more through her death than through her life. She introduced me to the sacred book of the dead, the Garuda Purana. Believe me, its by far one of the best books am reading. Her lesson to me is not over, far from over. Her voice rings in my mind, she smiles at me through her photo, my darling Pati... I only wish we all had been kinder to her in her living days. We probably wouldn't curse ourselves so much after she went. 

Clearly, I haven't identified death earlier as much as I did now. I have lost people, close friends... but none came so close to teach me lessons with their death. I have been thinking so much on death, I have realized there is no point hanging on to life. Death will come when it has to, and there is nothing, absolutely nothing that can stop it. The only thing I really need to gear myself up to is how to look death in the face, smile and accept it as my transformation towards spiritual progress, when it shows up. 

And Pati was my first teacher to introduce me to this subtle truth that looms around us, waiting for its turn to make its presence felt. 

3.06.2017

Lord Jagannath - The Divine Mystic

So many years have gone by as I reflect on the Great Lord Jagannath. He has made such a presence in my world, so silent and yet so sure. He came into my world when I was a little girl, growing up in Ranchi in my early years of school. I didn't know him much then except that he lived in a small fort up on a low hill in Ranchi. It was an immensely pleasurable ride to go to the temple of Jagannath every Sunday without fail, and what was the attraction?

The temple had 2 flight of steps, one concrete and the other was just rocks. I loved climbing up the rocky steps and when we reached on top, there was this small but really gorgeous fort that opened its big gates to us. The central shrine had a grand stair way that led up to it and each chamber led into the next, with demi-gods in their niches welcoming us as we walked past into the darkness. And finally the dim lamps lit up the sanctum, a silent sanctum, hardly visited by many people. And Lord Jagannath sits there, ever smiling, impacting my little life preparing me for all that was coming by. 

What appeared to be nostalgia initially transcended into a deeper state of gratitude, a state of sublime. To think that Lord Jagannath, this form of divinity, this spiritual power has always made a presence in my life whether i felt it or not consciously, leaves me rather speechless. Its not about an idol, it not about a school of thought, it not about a belief system that has been drilled into our heads from childhood. No, this is none of those prescriptive ways of existence as we know it. This is different, truly different. 

Fate took me to this little town to witness his presence the first time around. While I heard about Puri, I didn't get a chance to go there. But the Jagannath of Ranchi, was just as welcoming. Fate brought me back again towards him after so many years, this time with greater force. He is not just a belief, he is not just a ritualistic idol, he is not just a mythology dolled up within four walls. Alas, if only you could see what I see... 

He is my path to spiritual mysticism, he is the one who asks of me my complete love in surrender. He is the one who asks of me my life, my prana. He is the one who makes me realize, the noise around me...is just noise, trivial and potentially a complete waste of time. And yet, he has placed me within this world, to live with all, to live among all, with a mind that doesn't agree with what the rest think. I don't understand your world as you don't understand mine. 

And it doesn't matter. Nothing matters. What matters is the Lord's repeated presence in my world. He disappeared for a good 20 years only to reappear in my world with a complete jolt. One that transformed me, made me discard my previous state of mind and gave me a whole new universe to work with. He is a silent player. And how well he has made me change, gradual, sure footed, complete. 

What an amazing journey this has been, mind you, not very easy. Spiritualism needs nerves of steel, or maybe just a different mind set. It is a world where fear doesn't count, rules hardly matter and people ... are the imprisoning world built into maya. We live outside this madness, walk into it occasionally, but remain untouched by it. 

When the Lord is with us, things do start to look different. Refreshingly different. The great mystic, the great Tantrik, the Great Lord Jagannath takes us through. Jai Jagannath! 

1.10.2017

Vamsa - A Journey Into One's Own Self



Vamsa - Quest for the Divine Calling is a fiction story that has been stitched together to make us think a bit - this has been the core objective of Vamsa since when I penned it down. It started with initial excitement of wanting to share my understanding of the faith with everyone around me, as I discovered it, but soon the sensationalism got overpowered by a deep sense of purpose. I grew up as I realized what the faith was actually trying to tell me. 

The story brings in various characters, all of whom have been painted to have characteristic natures that we see in our society today, well we are all human, are we not. And yet, in this so well understood statement, there is a deeper truth most of us overlook, the journey towards discovering one's true nature which has not even been tapped yet! 

Vamsa - Quest for the Divine Calling is a journey into realizing the basics of one's own nature. It is our temperament to be human, it is in us to take a few things for granted, but it is also part of our nature to question every action we have taken and question every thought we have entertained. It is our thoughts and our action that frame our destiny and between these two aspects we lead what we call - life. 

The journey into Vamsa, is the journey of trying to understand our own spiritual paths. While we need not subscribe to any one school of thought, it is in our nature to look up to certain phenomenon as super natural since we don’t have the complete understanding of it. And while we are at it, it would be a good idea to stop and look at ourselves, freezing time, freezing action and freezing thought for a short while. 

The characters in the book, are etched out of our own basic nature. We will relate to all or some of them, we will find a piece of ourselves in their search within the realm of this book. Vamsa builds more than one world, and poses a simple question, what is reality? Where do we really belong and who are we in the larger scheme of things. While a larger part of the story is fictitious with generous doses of mythology, it does ask a few hair raising questions on whether we have got our act right or are we just floating in time, like puppets  with no control on our future.

Vamsa is an intense concoction of thriller, mythology and deep emotions, all brought into a potpourri of spiritual fiction. For those who don’t care for spiritualism, it’s an interesting story; for those who do, there are enough insights to pick. For those who are deep into the faith, watch out... there are few secrets sprinkled for you to catch, if you care to look hard enough!


10.05.2016

Vamsa - Quest for the Divine Calling

This journey has finally culminated into my first book, it possibly explains the lack of posts. Its been an arduous journey of nearly 12+ years to bring my first work of fiction to you. 

The Making of the Book

 Vamsa - Quest for the Divine Calling

I am actually speechless when it comes to explaining the experiences I went through to bring this to you. Needless to say that the struggle was immense, not just with getting a good story together, but also to learn how to write a book. And when I thought my work had finally been completed the endless wait to find a publisher was a back breaking effort. But through all this ordeal, the fundamental question to find out whether I would make it as an author was quite the driving force. I was certain, when am on my deathbed, I certainly don't want to feel horrible that I didn't even try. And so, to save myself that deep dejection I decided that come what may, I just have to figure this out for myself. 

I have tried my best, I have put every effort that I am humanly capable of, despite my nature to be unable to sustain such fervor for a long time. And for some strange reason I have to tell you, I have felt a push inside my head, in my heart to not let go, to not give up. This push, appeared to be "not me" though it wasn't even external. To anyone out there, it looked like i was the one trying, but inside my head I know, someone/something was pushing me to it. 

I have come to give divinity a definition, define the tendency that "wasn't me within me". Its that strange feeling that doesn't let go, forced me to look at the manuscript every time my thoughts went dry. It has driven me to unthinkable levels of deep emotion, and a strange courage that I can see this to the door. Right through this entire journey, I have grown, I have changed and I have matured towards silence as I realized there is just so much more out there to being human, to tap my own capabilities and am so glad I made some good use of my time. But what really shined through this amazing experience is that when I hit a wall, and really had no where to go, help came in the form of people, help came in the form of ideas and all these added up to my kitty of miracles. The spiritual experience has been unbelievable, i have stopped and wondered whether what just happened actually happened. 

This work, is a sincere offering to the gods in a language known to people. I have floated away into some level of abstraction, but the story is simple, and quite opposite to the blog. I really hope you have a good experience while reading my book for the thoughts, the creative twists were all inspired by Lord Jagannath himself. It was really under his strange but amazing influence that the final touches the book were made, which in my world amounted to rewriting it :).

I cant explain it, but I can only promise, when you are done reading, you would have completely enjoyed this journey. This is a work of spiritual fiction, where the sacred texts have been revisited, and the crazy world of bhaktas becomes real. It is a place where emotions are not withheld and love and freedom find their way into a realm of deep adoration for the Gods. I am just one speck in that vast ocean. 

On another note, I would like to tell you that when I went to the astrologer to pick a good date to release this book online and let the world know about it, he had a peculiar answer to give me,

"This is a spiritual work, don't worry, any day is an auspicious day".
And with this, I offer this work of mine to all of you to journey along with me... into my world of deep spiritualism. 

9.19.2016

Love in Spiritualism - Unconditional or Sensual?

The term "love" has many depictions in the scriptures, from rapturous sensuality as a form of expression to divine intoxication. The celestial being in our scriptures have either risen to the pinnacle of devotion or they have plummeted into the abyss of sexual satiation. Either way this emotion in its many forms makes or breaks a sadhak's spiritual endeavor. 

Love stems out of chemistry in gross terms and that's possibly the most mundane animal tendency we can see in ourselves. So blinding is the emotion that we as humans, have practically failed to look beyond it. But if and when we do get the chance to transcend this state and move to the next level, the definition of love changes drastically for good. 

Some call it Neela Madhava Bhava, others call it Madhura bhava, I some how relate to Neela Madhava Bhava a lot more. This is a state when love becomes unconditional, where bhakti takes over and rules the emotions. This is when love is not equated with gross sensuality but its a different high, that works more in the mind of course fed by emotion. It has nothing to do with physical attraction but the effect is far more intense in the mind, and lasts longer... possibly for good. 

Neela madhava bhava can be expressed to a celestial being in abstraction, to an idol representing that abstraction within a temple or quite simple to another human being who expresses similar state of mind. This bhava is beyond relationship, beyond rules and so free is its nature that it culminates in unconditional love towards others. Ramprasad Sen, a great poet and tantrik practitioner of his time went through this emotion in great depth, so much so that he practically prayed to Ma Kali to help him seek others who related to her divinity the same way.  

Many misunderstand Kaula tantra as an art form of love. To the uninitiated it may look like a potential orgy, but to the seeker the experience is way beyond words. When one sadhak goes through divine intoxication and relates to another sadhak with a similar mindset, the interaction is potentially that of Shiva and Shakthi, Krishna and Radha, but with one difference - There is complete detachment and yet there is extreme love and there is no sensuality in the picture. Love is a strong emotion that takes both the aspirants through, the gross bodies don't unite but the minds are in union. What results from the interaction is a higher state of bliss, in the mind and in consciousness.

Spiritualism is potent and as much as it offers such fantastic experiences to the mind, and soul it asks the physical body to have self restraint. The earthly definitions of love fall flat in the spiritual space. Attachment, ownership, pride and low grade orgasms have no place in this world. This world is beyond known imagination of love that has been peddled as a great experience, of the gross kind. In the spiritual space, this emotion starts with surrender, deep and pure surrender with no doubts. And when the Gods act on it, they speak to us, through events, through thoughts and through Neela Madhava Bhava.

ललाटचत्वरज्वलद्धनञ्जयस्फुलिङ्गभा
निपीतपञ्चसायकं नमन्निलिम्पनायकम् |
सुधामयूखलेखया विराजमानशेखरं
महाकपालिसम्पदेशिरोजटालमस्तु नः ||६||



- Ravana Tandava Shlokam (Wikipedia)


May we get the wealth of Siddhis from Śiva's locks of hair, 
which devoured the God of Love with the sparks of the fire flaming in His forehead, 
who is bowed by all the celestial leaders, 
who is beautiful with a crescent moon

Its time we unleashed that lesser known emotion to get the best of its potential. We are truly capable of a lot more, we need to believe we are ready for this new wave of emotion, for once it engulfs us, its a flood gate to heaven... in a spiritual space. Remember, even Kama had to be burned in the fire of enlightenment, he didn't survive the intensity of the great Lord Shiva himself. 

6.10.2016

Quest Towards Divine Craving

Twenty years and counting, I have come across so many version of expression that describe the form of Shiva, so many in the past have tried to seek and share what they have experienced. The making of my Shiva still has deeply depended on that which comes from out there, and not from that which is generated within me. This path so far has led me to crave so much more for anything that I can learn about who or what Shiva really means. After all this hunting, seeking, searching, expressing, reading, singing, painting, discovering... I have come upon a secret ... one secret that I believe completely describes Shiva. Its cryptic, its short, its potent. And while everyone else has possibly taken this for granted because its so easily available and they didn't have to try so hard, they probably don't know the value of this diamond they hold. 

Aghora Rishi
Na Ma Shi Va Ye Ti Beejam

I repeat these cryptic letters to myself, they make no sense in my world of noise, in my fast paced life constantly governed by western logic and glitz of intellectual proof, these little syllables are like that of a baby babbling, making no sense but no one is looking at me with a smile saying "how cute"!

No one has time for me, no one understands this pain of mine to find out what these syllables mean. They have too much of their own things going to spend a moment with me to find out why I am so stuck with it. I met a few wise men, some didn't want to talk, others didn't know what to say and some said so much, I could see clearly they didn't know anything. 

I learned slowly, that the answer to the meaning of these syllables was in the silence within my mind, took me a while to get there but I figured there is more to that silence than what meets the eye. But my first challenge was to switch off the din outside, and sink into the silence inside and try to maintain it. 

My first struggle was to make sure the outside din didn't keep coming back and bothering me. I needed to cut them off so I decided to get into this when the outside world slept. When there is silence outside, the noise inside can be heard. My next challenge was to close down the noise inside, and that turns out to be far tougher job. I am enough damage to myself, I don't need the world to mess me up, I can do a fine job myself. I have been struggling a lot on this, cant say I have succeeded, but I have found the possible key to the solution. I exercised it and it worked wonders. I stopped attaching myself with the world* outside, for a few minutes, then for a few days and then it became a part of life. I simply stopped worrying. Everyone will find their way, with or without me... I cut off one branch - the craving for self assurance externally. I don't need the world to help preserve me, I can do it myself. 

I managed to bring down the excess noise in my mind, that many people and things could take care of themselves for a while, so I don't need to worry. I brought down my self importance and the world around me learned, this time was for myself, and no one was invited. The phone was switched off, the door was shut and I moved into my den, my den with my Gods. I have been doing one thing for the last fifteen years which has come in very handy now - Japa. It is so much a part of me, that when my mind is idling around, it just falls into auto mode - japa. And this japa has cleared a lot of the excess thoughts and therefore the quality of the thoughts has improved. I can control what thought I want to entertain and what thought I can do without. Cant say they don't keep coming back, but when the craving ends, the thoughts die as well. So I learned to kill craving. 

With quite a few distractions out of the way, the silence started to grow and I started to repeat those mystical syllables, first loudly then softly then just within my head. I began to realize a strange difference that took place. I could feel my emotional intensity rise, ten fold, so much so that people couldn't handle me. They are so used to their frivolous existence, such concepts are so difficult for them to even understand, they harbor fear. I started to look like the different one, not someone you may like but someone you would definitely take notice of. I slowly started to realize the Path to Shivahood, is lonely and whether I like it or not, I will loose my connect with people. Frankly, today, no one understand me, no one knows me, and am good with that feeling because I just connect with someone else - My Divine Family and there I hear plenty of music. I have not seen Shiva (not sure if that is even possible) but I gather that I have felt a hint. 

Those sacred syllables don't have a meaning, not in the language we speak. Those sacred syllables have an effect on us, making us rise above being human. Forgive those who are ignorant, its ok. Let go, its ok. Be compassionate, its ok. Please don't hoard, you cant take it with you. Look for spiritual wealth, not material wealth. That wealth comes with you after death, its way more valuable. 

The question now is - what is spiritual wealth? :)

It is this craving that takes over your mind, conquers your thoughts, conquers your soul. This desperate need for divine love that makes you latch on to anyone remotely showing you the presence of divine grace within themselves. It doesn't matter whether they live or they are gone, it doesn't matter whether they are men or women. They have a story to tell and that story you will want to listen. And this feeling is deep and no one will understand you then. Its the state of Shivahood. 


*Stopped attaching doesnt mean indifference, it means compassion dispassionately. Simply put - I dont need to own you to care for you, I simply care for you because you are alive, and you shine with divine grace. 

3.07.2016

A Conversation with My Divine Family

It's been a journey this far, one into deep spiritualism... deeper than you have been possibly, and also one of the most enriching. There is fatigue and intoxication in the mind. Fatigue because I am determined to see my divine family, in this world and in the next and my search is not quite taking me anywhere. Intoxication because they are making doubly sure this search continues and I don't give it up for any  reason. I thought this was a subtle tease until I was posed with a very deep question... One that has started me on a new journey, a different journey. 

The circumstances of having gone to Jagannath, of having visited the temple and experienced the depth of Neela Madhava Bhava to some degree has left me saturated with such emotion. This divine intoxication led me to take a daring trip to the remote shakthi peetha of Tara Ma and despite warning of lack of safety in the rural region of West Bengal, I dared to surrender to MA Tara and tell her to protect me.

With Lord Jagannath residing in my heart and the beckoning call of Tara Ma, I headed out of a way side hotel in Tarapith to meet her at 3:00am. They say that the form of Ma Tara actually hides a deeper potency within herself, the sacred form of her feeding Lord Shiva; but what I had thought was all there is to it 2 years ago, led me to believe there was more. This form actually hid yet another vigraham within it and it had eaten into the reserves of my unending curiosity to know what that firm really was. Yes, I had kept this hunger going for 2 years, I had made it my purpose to know what was within that which the panda so carefully had hidden away...or maybe Tara MA herself for she did want me to come back again to bathe every form of hers that I subsequently discovered.

I had been excited about performing the abhishekam of what I thought was the inner form when I realized it was but a teaser to a form deeper within it. The discovery of Tara Ma has taken me 3 visits spanning few years. And sitting in a wayside shop waiting it out for a panda left me reflecting on what a friend of mine had said the previous night.

"It's a long queue at 2:30am, that continues till 3:30 with or without a panda and we get a glimpse of the inner form for a few seconds. 

But the instructions of the panda were otherwise. "Come at 3:00am and we will take you inside." Here were conflicting pieces of information, packed with added stress when the panda's wife replied to our frantic calls saying he was unwell and couldn't make it, led me to wonder what was in store. I was not going to curl up and sleep, I was going to brave it through the dark streets of the night. I was here for it and I was not going back without it.

Yet this intoxicated heart could barely wait to see her, as her intense mysticism overpowered my soul and no, no human was going to mess around with this sacred rendezvous.

With the panda's son's arrival to lead us into the temple at 4:00am, I had no clue what was lined up but the size of the offerings in the basket indicated there was a lot to be done. We waited our turn in a rather empty temple while few others were inside offering their prayers. We were called in, and I set eyes on her mysterious self, her core, the inner most idol, her potent earthly form that stood there awaiting me to bathe her. 

I am particular about what thoughts cross my mind at these moments for they govern my perspective of life back in my mundane world. And in this blank mind every thought that trickles through is a potent message from my spiritual family, and I wait for the next order or pearl of wisdom.

And in the silence of the chamber, in he silent waters of my mind I heard the swirling question come towards me. 

"I have given you my heart in a Saligrama, I have given you my life energy that it breathes with. I have shown you what there is to see in my earthly splendour be it at Kanchipuram, be it a Puri, be it at Lingaraja, be it at Tarapith. I have granted your wish to visit and discover everything there is to my earthly form. And now I ask, have you found me? Is this all there is to know about me? Or do you perhaps need to start looking within to go on this search?"

The question stung me hard. Go within, that's all I thought, but how and where?

I have crossed the threshold, some kind of threshold, I don't know. I have lost my anger to compassion. I have shrunk my materialism to triviality in relation to deeper faith. I have lost my expectations to forgiveness and tolerance. I have lost my earthly attachment to divine love. And now the path has opened up to go within.

The search continues but will I ever visit temples again... I don't know. They are within me and I am them. The temple out there... Maybe they will call me again if I fumble.

What a splendid lesson to learn on Shivaratri.

2.21.2016

A Tryst with Faith

Yes, it’s been the year of Jagannath, the year of Kamakshi Amman and Tara Ma, the year of the great lord Shiva himself. Call it a twist of fate that in the last few months I got tossed into Bhuvaneswar on work, or was it a pretext to a greater reality unseen by the rest of the mortal world. 

Lord Shiva was my prime focus, and His sheer presence in my mind drove me to visit Lingaraja temple where I had the chance to walk into the Garbha Griha and learn more about Him. At the center of the chamber lies the shrine, a low Shiva linga, but with a difference. Lord Vishnu adorned in silver resides on Him. To my surprise I learned for the first time, this could well be the form of HariHara. Rich with experience I subsequently went to Puri Jagannath, where I came upon Kasi Vishwanath at the entrance. I also learned that the great Guru of Jagannath also resided within these temple walls and to my surprise he was the great Lord Shiva himself in the form of a linga. 

But, there was something else that moved in the mystical world just about the same time, one that I could sense but couldn't quite place my finger on. Emotionally I was exhausted wondering about how I could channelize my high energy emotion of Love and Bhakti. That’s really when Lord Jagannath stepped in, presenting ever so many occasions to repeatedly come and visit Him. He was there to guide, to keep my faith intact and to grant me as many visits as I possibly wanted. And, if there is anything am capable of ... its spiritual greed, I wanted to meet Him, again and again and again, closer and closer each time.

In my first visit apprehension overtook my emotion of divine love, a fear that this beautiful world within my mind would be destroyed by a screaming uncouth panda demanding for dakshina. It’s a mortal fear I have like anyone of you, the only difference was that I was worried because I really wanted to meet the Lord and I was scared it would not work out at all. My focus stayed in place, but my heart didn’t know what to expect. It appears like Lord Jagannath felt my fears and put it to rest when he sent a panda (who I never met after that) to come and guide me into the sacred chamber with gentleness and respect, something that I never expected. I met the Lord close, up close, amazed that I could walk into a garbha griha... no rules, no noise, no demands. 

I came out overwhelmed and went back home fulfilled only to learn later that there was a path of pradakshina I could have taken which I was not aware of. In my next visit, there was little chance of meeting that panda again but as I cursed my stars a friend of mine said she could arrange for another panda, the logistics of which I fixed through the course of the evening. It was a close call, to cover Konark and head towards Puri and find our way back to the airport at Bhuvneshwar, it was clock work and the Lord didn’t disappoint, for he let us walk into his shrine in the early hours of the morning. This time, I requested for the Pradakshina and I was allowed through with my friends. It was an experience to discover more about Lord Jagannath every step of the way, to learn about the temple, to learn about the way of life that surrounds these walls. 

I came out overwhelmed again, breaking down into my emotions partially as I thanked my friend endlessly for helping us through this. This time I saved the panda’s number and informed him I would be back in January to offer my manuscript, my work of art to the Great Lord Jagannath. Come January, I trooped back to Puri, as promised with my heart all set in anticipation wondering whether I would be granted my Jayadeva moment. It was unbelievable to say the least, where Lord Jagannath orchestrated my entry and exit ensuring I didn’t go back with disappointment. Whether it was day or night, whether it was a normal darshan or Shankranthi, whether there was few people or millions who thronged the temple, He made sure I visited him and had a darshan of him up close. When the Lord wishes, we can get the opportunity to bypass a wall of human beings to get a glimpse of him in a packed audience. I came back blessed with his victory flag that flies up high on the finial of the temple. 

Intoxicated and overwhelmed, emotionally saturated I returned yet again to visit him this time, with just one thought in my head.  I may not be able to come so often, and hence I asked the Lord "why don't you come back with me, come with me, reside in my heart, be a part of my being." I do not know what came over me, but the mind was ready and the heart ached and I asked the panda to source a saligrama this time, knowing fully well I was signing up for the ultimate state of orthodox living, and I was prepared to go for it. It was all for my Lord Jagannath.

I went back this time, repeatedly calling up my panda to be reassured that I would get what I had requested for. I had no idea on how it was going to happen but I was ready for NO as an answer anytime... in the mortal world, being a woman, NO comes more often than a YES in the spiritual world. We reached the temple doorway, and walked in silently into the peaceful courtyard. He told us to wait and look at the Lord while the pranapratishta was underway. He came back and handed me a saligrama, wrapped in grains and a red cloth which I safely put into a wooden box I had brought along. I stared at it and looked up questioningly...no shankha, no chakra? He smiled and said it’s the prana of Lord Jaganntha, within this saligrama sila, it’s a Banalinga. It is Lord Shiva himself. 

I stared back into the shrine, I had come a full circle. Lord Shiva and Lord Jagannath had taught me a serious lesson, there was no difference between them for this was the pure form of Harihara. Where the sacred prana of Lord Jagannath resides within a saligrama whose nature is that of Shiva, as a Banalinga. There is no Vaishnavism, there is no Shaivism, there is no separation on such religious or spiritual Gods, this was their swarupam, the primordial nature of supreme energy, a small drop of which rested within my hands for me to take back home. Lord Jagannatha had answered my prayers, as he sent me back to my world of Shiva, but with His life force. 

I realized in these months, in these many darshans of Lord Jagannath, that I had undergone a change, I had matured, spiritually evolved. I had lost every form of attachment to my earthly existence. I had found my divine family, I had reached the abode of my sacred home. I have found my sacred family. This year has been blessed, Kamakshi Amman made me meet her, Lord Jagannath gave me his soul locked in a Banalinga saligrama, Ma Tara awaits me in Tarapith and Lord Venkateshwara awaits me in Tirupati and I have stepped into the next stage of spiritual evolution. Experiencing the completeness of my life with my divine family.