Today is my 3oth, and last, day in India.
I’m sitting at my desk at a Hilton Hotel in Mumbai. I decided to get a nice room for my last day — my window overlooks a small green field and trees (everything has greened up with the monsoon!), before a construction site and other hotels and buildings around the city. Scaffolding, even on large buildings-in-the-makings is made of wooden sticks and poles! It’s rainy this morning, gray beaded curtains pulled across the landscape. After the last 3o days of eating only Indian food, last night I had room service bring a Pizza Margherita. I can’t believe I’m leaving India!
I remember on my first blog posting, I said that I already felt sad at the thought of leaving India—when the trip had not even started. Now, it’s just about over. Last night, both Jennifer and my mother asked if I felt the time had gone by quickly or slowly. I said, “I really have no idea.” It’s seemed that time has had a completely different meaning here, a different clock measuring different things. Scientists tell us that time is just a measurement of movement, and so I guess when all the movement around you is new—the flowing of saris, the dashing of rickshaws, slow, big-wheeled bicycles, people squatting or sitting for long periods in complete stillness beside the road, a man following behind a plow and cow, my own long periods of sitting meditation, the rhythms of an ashram—among these new and different kinds of movement, time feels different as well.
But one thing I know is that I will be SO GLAD to see my family again! I’ve talked with them everyday and seen them on video with Skype, but tomorrow afternoon I get to SQUEEZE them! I can’t wait. I can’t wait. I can’t wait!
Yesterday morning I had such a beautiful send-off from some of the devotees of Ma Indira Devi’s ashram. Some came just to see me off. It was beautiful.
The morning before that, I had been invited to breakfast by one of the older very elegant women (all the women are very elegant, many from very wealthy families) and about six of us had breakfast, everyone telling stories of their experiences, stories about Ma and her guru Dadaji. That afternoon, five of us gathered at Rajkumar’s and listened to a talk that Ma gave, actually a talk she gave when she was in an ecstatic state of consciousness, called “Bhav.”
Ma Indira Devi is thought to have been an incarnation of the sixteenth-century Indian poet-saint, Mirabai. After Ma started meditating, within a few years, she said that Mira came to her in her meditations and began dictating songs and poems to her. Over a thousand of these Dada took down and published in four volumes. Whether you can believe that Mira in fact came to Ma or that Ma composed these poems and songs herself in an altered state of consciousness, the poems are there to be read, and written in Hindi, which was not Ma’s native langauge (who was from the Punjab), and Hindi was a language that Ma didn’t know well. But miraculous things happen all the time in India!
Here’s a personal example. I had been worried about two very specific personal things about coming home, the substance of which I’ll not mention on the air. I was sitting before Ma’s samadhi tomb, fretting and talking to Ma about them. When I opened my eyes, Manjula, one of my favorite women at the ashram came up beside and gave me a little pamphlet that had been written by Aurobindo. She said she’d been wanting to give it to me but had not been able to find it. But that morning, there it was on the shelf. I thanked her, and sat there and read it, and it turned out that the pamphlet addressed exactly the two issues I’d been worrying about and gave the advice I needed to completely put my mind at rest.
If these are coincidences, I want to report to everyone that wonderful, helpful, life-changing, coincidences happen every day in India!
From the beginning, I was welcomed to the ashram like a member of the family, like a long-lost son returning home, a friend, a brother. So many told me that I felt familiar to them; Rajkumar said he saw my face in
meditation before he met me; yesterday Krishna-aunty, who’s 92 or 93, said she
felt like she knew me already when she met me. I felt the same towards them.
I received so much kindness, so much love, from all of these people I barely know.
Without blinking an eye, they accepted my outlandish story of my discovery that Ma Indira Devi was my spiritual teacher and guru. Everyone said she brought me there. Everyone had their own amazing story of how they got there. The love is so clear, so bright, so tremendous, powerful.
I remember a couple of days before leaving home, Jennifer asked me what I felt most anxious about in going to India—getting sick, getting injured, lost, losing my luggage? I looked inside myself and said, “What I most fear is getting to Indira Devi’s ashram and not feeling anything, having a sinking realization that I’d made the whole thing up about discovering her to be my teacher.” I smile at that now. I remember what I felt when I first sat down in the ashram temple hall. “Well, here, I am at the center of the universe.”
I received so much love and witnessed so many daily, life-changing miracles in my spiritual life, that I can’t imagine such a worry now. I also can’t imagine living in that energy all the time! No wonder these people have such saintly, powerful presences!
Ma’s guru, Dadaji wrote a book called, Among the Great, a record of his time with famous intellectuals and spiritual teachers, like Sri Aurobindo, Romain Rolland, Bertrand Russel, and others. I told Bharati, one of the women of the ashram, that I wanted to come back and record everyone’s personal stories and compile them together in a book, and she said, “Yes, yes. You can call it, Among the Small.” The devotees of the ashram, living in this spiritual-energy generator, have become accustomed to it (though not taking it for granted) and don’t realize how they themselves radiate that powerful energy.
They all said that it was not easy living with Ma. That she pushed you to your limit. It was not all rose petals and bliss. Your ego got pounded everyday.
But the love that shines there, I feel enveloping me now. I love Ramakrishna’s saying, to the effect, in his theistic world-view, that “God Himself is everywhere, in all places, but His favorite abode is the heart of the devotee.” I will carry with me all the love I found at Ma’s Indira Devi’s home.
And I hope to return soon!
Thanks for reading.
I will add a few more posts to this blog, to fill in a few fun days I had to skip and maybe continue to talk about the ongoing effects of the journey.
Now, I get to go home and see Jennifer and my little boys!
Much love and blessing to all of you. Namaste. Jai Guru.