Sometimes, there are events that occur that cannot be labeled as mere events. These events (I continue to use the word because of the lack of a better alternative in my woefully inadequate vocabulary of English) change something at the core of you. The “you” that you don’t even know forget getting to understand. Something to that effect happened to me yesterday. Though it happened yesterday I had like to believe that it was some sort of a cumulative blast of all these days that I thought I was alive.
As you know, I did my Yoga class again this June. But this time round there was a grand climax to the class. All the participants would get to meet Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev [To know more about him, click here] in a Maha Sathsangh on Sunday, June 22 2008. Though I call it climax, this was not a climax to an end but a climax to an all new beginning. Since I had done the class I was also there at the Maha Sathsangh appropriately titled “Ananda Sangham”.
It started at 6.00PM or so. We started our Yoga practices in unison. Imagine around 8,000 people doing Yoga together and chanting “Aum” at once. The vibrations that I felt was a divine experience! As we finished, Sadhguru appeared clapping to the tunes of ‘Sounds of Isha’ – Isha Foundation’s own musical band. All of us stood up and tried getting as close as we could to catch a view of Sadhguru but I guess I was outdone by the pace of others. Though I went up and near I found I did not have a place to squat, so I came back to roundabout the same place I was before. And this was the last row of the gathering. I sat down with my legs stretched out. Araam se!
Sadhguru started with the story of his great grandmother who lived for 114 years and who he met only during his summer vacations. This was when he was in his early teens. His great grandmother renounced the world and family and left for her vanaprastha at the age of 69. She built a small temple on someone else’s land and lived there despite her family owning thousands of acres of ancestral land that left her family members wondering what she was upto. She used to come back to her ancestral home whenever Sadhguru and his cousins came for vacation and stay for a while. During this period Sadhguru observed that she used to do lot of the so-called crazy stuff. She would feed half of her meal to the ants in the house and watch with tears of happiness flowing down her eyes as they ate what she offered. She would go into the Pooja room and laugh loudly, cry with happiness, offer flowers to the Gods through her feet and do all kinds of stuff that people labeled her as a crazy woman. Nobody ever understood what was happening. Whenever Sadhguru approached her and asked her to explain her actions she would apparently let out a loud laugh and say nothing else. Sadhguru always wondered at the large-heartedness of his great grandmother. How could she give away half of what she was supposed to eat to the ants?
“Here I am with a few marbles that I cannot part with. Even when friends asked me for those marbles I would give them with great reluctance and maintain accounts at the same time. I would ensure I had it recorded somewhere, even if its only in my brain, that to whom I have given how many marbles. And in front of me is a lady who cries with happiness donating half of what she is supposed to eat to the ants! How is that?”, wondered Sadhguru. And as usual whenever he asked her anything about any of her actions, the only response he ever remembered getting was loud laughter. Sadhguru never quite got to the bottom of it considering that she died at the ripe old age of 114 years that too because she was fighting cancer for the last couple of years. Cancer affected her due to the habit of chewing tobacco leaves that she caught on from the age of 24 or so.
“This does not mean that if you chew on tobacco leaves, you will live for 90 years. [Laughs] Imagine the number of years she would have lived had she not chewed on those leaves”, said Sadhguru to which the crowd responded through loud applause. Sadhguru wanted to drive home the point of offering yourselves completely to whatever you do. It did not matter what you did. Even feeding a few ants would then become such an act of pleasure that anything in this life could be made joyful. In fact life is joyful
Being joyful is the fundamental position of a human being. Shambhavi Maha Mudra [Link] is a powerful process of immeasurable antiquity. Sadhguru said that it (the Mudra) was being used in an elite circle of Yogis and enlightened people till now because they did not want such a powerful technique to get into the hands of the common man as it might be used for the wrong purposes. But he has apparently toned it down into a capsule and administered it into us so that we can attain happiness out of it for sure but if and when we try to misuse it, it will not work. That’s they way he has built the course.
“For most of you, the happiness from the Mudra might not be evident as yet but then the seed has been planted. The seed will grow into a plant and a tree if you provide the right conditions for it to grow. The conditions have been taught to you in the class. If you do not provide the right conditions for the seed to grow then it will be equivalent to keeping the seed on a rock. Nothing will happen. If you try to use the positives arising out of the Mudra for foretelling the future or something like that it won’t happen because that is the way it has been designed”, said Sadhguru. “If you have a problem doing the practices twice a day for 40 days and then atleast once a day for 6 months, then do it twice a day for the entire six months!”, he concluded to a rapturous applause.
Then it was question and answer session. We were given chits of paper on which we could write down whatever questions we had for Sadhguru to answer before the program started. People had different kinds of questions to which Sadhguru had quick, intelligent and most importantly un-redoubtable answers. One question and answer I remember very clearly was this:
Q: Sadhguru, how do we get over the death of a dear one?
A: [Sadhguru breathes in and out heavily and asks] “What is this? Life? Right?”
[Sadhguru breathes out once and stops for a while before asking] “What is this? Death? Right?”
“Now, someone or the other is dying in my family on a daily basis. What should I do about it? You don’t understand? This universe full of people is my family. How should I get over it? Get over what? You mean to get over the fact that the body, mind and emotions that you recognised the person by is no longer here, right? But when you could feel all of that of that person what did you do with that? The very fact that you want to get over it means that there is something that you did not do for the person which you ideally wanted to do when the person was alive. Do you know what that means? The person died but is alive inside you.
Everything happening in this world is happening where? Inside you. Am I right? I am talking here, where is it happening? Inside you. The tree is there but where is it actually? In your eyes, again inside you, right? You know all that nonsense of light falling on that image is getting reflected and creating an inverted image on your retina that is being read by your mind and shown to you in the way that it is, right? So where is everything happening? Where is the world? Inside you. Whatever is happening here is actually happening inside you. The moment it comes into your experience the world is inside you. So where is death of a dear one happening? Inside you?
This January when I was at the World Economic Forum, there was this nonagenarian lady who came upto me and narrated her experience. As a 13 year old she was from some part in Europe that was being conquered by Hitler and they were systematically exterminating the Jews and other people as well. It was at a time when her parents had disappeared, assumed dead, and she was left with her 8 year old brother at the railway station for around 4 to 5 days waiting for a train that would take her somewhere. As soon as they got on to the train, she noticed that her kid brother was not wearing shoes. He had missed it somewhere. The temperatures there are freezing cold. She got enraged and wrenched her brother’s ears for not wearing his shoes and scolded him almost throughout the journey. The boy did not respond even a single line. As the train reached its destination the boys and the girls were separated and taken away to their respective camps for extermination. The girl survived the camp and came out alive after 4 or 5 years and never saw her brother again.
To this day she remembers this incident with lot of emotions. But she said that she made an important decision from then. The last thing that she ever gave her brother was admonishment and hence whoever she met from that day on she spoke to them as if it was the last word she would ever speak to them. Please see how you interact with people at home, neighbours, colleagues, people on the road and others. Imagine if it was the last word you would ever speak to them and speak to them from now on. How would you speak? Would you still speak the same way or would there be a change in the way you spoke to them? In fact it is a reality. Look at it – you are here now, I am speaking to you. Is there any gaurantee that you will be here next moment or tomorrow? Not that I want all of you to die or disappear suddenly, in fact I wish and pray that all of you lead long and happy lives [folds his hands in prayer], but can you gaurantee me that you will be alive the next moment for me to speak to you?
Now the reason that you want to get over the death of a dear one is because somewhere deep down you feel you have not done or said something that you ideally wanted to do for the departed. Now that the person has departed you feel you have lost the opportunity of doing whatever you wanted to do. Imagine if you spoke and lived as if it was the last time you ever saw the person. Would there be any reason for you to get over death at all?
While doing this program, Anandha Alai, two of my volunteers have had an accident and have broken their skulls and died. Two others of my family, very loved ones, very dear ones have passed away recently. If we have done whatever we wanted to do for them then we continue to live joyously, right? We don’t have to let sadness affect us because they have passed away. We can be joyful and happy when our conscience is clear”
There were many other questions and answers. This one answer particularly created a deep imprint. There were questions on how to move my body energies from one chakra to another and many other topics that Sadhguru handled with typical elan and wit. The Q&A session ended by 8.45PM or so. I have no idea about the timings because I did not carry a watch with me. I did not want any distractions while I was with Sadhguru. Sadhguru asked us all to stand up and sing along with him. He sang a song in the praise of Lord Shiva and we sang along. Then ‘Sounds of Isha’ took over and played some soulful music. And Sadhguru was walking off the stage while saluting all of us. As he came to the edge of the stage he stopped and turned. The music was playing all along. He was still saluting us, but this time round his expression seemed to be more serious. This routine, of Sadhguru walking upto the edge of the stage and returning to the center, repeated itself again and by the fourth time I was close enough to the stage to see tears streaming down Sadhguru’s eyes. Sadhguru had tears streaming down his eyes, uncontrollably, and his hands were tied in an eternal namaskaram. Seeing him like that something happening inside me. I went into a daze. He finally walked off the stage after around ten minutes on the stage. (Any reference to absolute time or period of time is absolutely a figment of imagination. I have no idea how long anything took)
In the same dazed state, I too walked off. I sensed that ‘Sounds of Isha’ had continued their music and there were people dancing blissfully to it. But in my daze, my feet took me to the chappals stand. My chappals were exactly where I had left them! Imagine 8,000 people and still your chappals have not even moved in their position by an inch! I was amazed that in this daze I could actually analyze something to this extent. And walked to the parking lot. All the way I was looking only one way – down at my feet. I didn’t look at anyone else or anything else. This I realised only later.
As I reached the parking lot and got to my bike I broke down. I cried uncontrollably. Tears came out as if they were just waiting for years to come out. I had no idea why I was crying. At the same time as I was crying my mind was telling me, “Adi, what is this? why are you crying? this is a public place. stop crying. don’t be a fool”. I had no idea what was happening to me. Initially I tried to stop the tears and the crying, I was hugely unsuccessful. I did not know if it was the effect of anything at all. I do not know, even now, why I cried. I just cried. It kept coming. There was no way of stopping it. Then my mind realised it knew how to stop me from crying. It asked me to call my wife and tell her that I was on my way back home. I realized that was not such a good idea later.
I picked up my phone from inside my bag. I remember seeing the time then as 9:23PM and all the timings you see here are a reverse calculation from here. I called my wife.
My voice broke.
My wife: “Hello, hello, hello….”
Me: “It’s me Aditya speaking”
Wife: “What’s wrong? Your voice does not seem alright”
I broke down completely. I was sobbing uncontrollably again. And at the same time, since it was a parking lot and had rained the day before, a enfield bullet guy fell down as he was taking his bike out. I went forward to help him, all this while I am sobbing uncontrollably. I lift his bike up and he leaves.
Me: “I will come home and speak”
Wife: “Hope everything is alright?”
I don’t remember if I answered the question or not. Because I do not know, even now – after almost a day has passed, if everything was alright.
I got on to my bike and started driving home. On the way tears just kept streaming down my cheeks. My helmet was completely wet by the time I reached home. It was a good 20 to 25 minutes drive. And nothing seemed to stop my tears. I assumed that once I get back home I had be normal.
I got back home. I picked up my 14 month old son and sat down on a chair while he was on my laps . My wife came and sat down next to me near my legs in a very concerned manner. She knew something was wrong but was not sure whether to broach the topic or not in front of the kid. The kid would get disturbed to see his father sobbing like a child. But I guess she could not control and asked, “So, how was it? What happened there?”
I started my reply with something I don’t quite remember but broke down midway again. This was shocking. Tears again. My son was thankfully looking at the Sun TV music that was playing loudly. He loves that music. My wife said, “Ok stop now. Don’t cry in front of him. He will get scared”. I don’t know if I understood what she said but nevertheless I controlled it somehow. As I went to change my dress, I found tears coming. And I guess that was the last instance I saw of it. Then we sat down for dinner and it was all fine. Post dinner I watched Star Movies that was playing “Rang De Basanti” which is one of my all-time favourite movies and I slept after that.
I am going to leave this post untitled because I don’t know what I can call this experience. Something inside me changed for sure. I am not trying to analyze why the tears came or why I cried or what happened. It just happened and that’s the truth. I wanted to share my experience with all of you and hence the blogpost. It might sound like just another story when you read it on this blog, I know that and despite that I am posting it here because I wish and pray that everyone in this world goes through an experience that is so deep that putting it down in words becomes impossible. I want to end this post with my utmost gratitude to Sadhguru. I am yours Sadhguru. Do what you want with me.