Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Spiritual Diary: Chapter 30

It was my intention to carry on my pilgrimage and visit as many temples as I possibly could during the remainder of my stay in India.

However, on the full moon day of March 4th, 2007 , I decided to re visit Nemili to attend the monthly pournami puja. This time my friend accompanied me as well.

The little house was full of people when we arrived by 9 a.m. in the morning. Inside, the ablutions ( abhishekams) to this little deity had just started. I sat there in total peace drawing an inordinate amount of strength from just witnessing the whole sequence of events. Bhajans and songs on Baala were sung and the atmosphere was truly tranquil. I closed my eyes to savour the moment when a few messages seemed to flash through my mind in rapid succession. It was as though Bala was striking up a dialogue with me. “ You will tell Ezhilmani to build a huge hall oposite my house. I want you to bring all your paintings and give it to me. They will be exhibited in the new building which shall be constructed on two floors”.

My head reeled. Was I hearing things again? I leaned over to my friend and told her quickly what had just happened. How was it possible to go up to Ezhilmani and ask him to construct a building? That might be considered too presumptious. After all, these devout people had served Bala all their lives. I was barely a new comer.

All these thoughts made me hesitate. However, my friend suggested that I could ask Ezhilmani or his nephew, Murali, whether they owned any land close to the temple. That might be a possible starting point for this conversation.

In addition, there was another question I was longing to ask the priest. On my previous visit to Nemili, I had purchased a CD that had been just released. Usually, the songs composed at the Bala peetam were solely about her. However, in this CD, I found a song dedicated to Shirdi Sai Baba.

In fact, when I was involved in painting Shirdi Baba the previous year, I had frequently questioned myself why I was being drawn almost like a magnet to worshipping this great saint. After all, vedanta teaches us that worship of all the different Gods represents mere Saguna ( external) form of worship and one has to transcend this mode of veneration of a God endowed with attributes, to an awareness of the Nirguna aspect , in order to progress spiritually and realise the divine nature of one’s real self.

Although, I had finished several paintings of various Shaivaite and Vaishnavaite deities, ever since I reconnected with Baala in 2006, I considered all the Gods to be just an aspect of this great Goddess. Somehow, I could not make the great mental leap to recognising that Supreme awareness or Conciousness that is beyond space and Time and possesess no limiting attributes. Devotion or bhakthi seemed to bring me closer to a familiar Goddess. It was here, that I was stuck in my spiritual path.

Hence, I needed to find out the connection between Sai Baba and Nemili Bala.

Rather hesitantly I approached Ezhilmani. First, I asked him why the song on Shirdi Baba had been included in the Cd.

His reply was swift and took me by surprise. He said “ There is no difference between Baala and Shirdi Sai Baba. “He and I are one”- She has said this in an Arul Vakku”. He smiled.

I realised then that this child goddess was indeed guiding me at every step on my spiritual path!

So, with a bit more confidence, now I asked Ezhilmani if he or his family owned any land directly in front of the peetam.

His answer, was of course, no great surprise “ Yes, my son owns a small plot immediately across from the temple”.

“Are you planning on building something like a hall here”, I found myself asking.

The reply, “Why only this past week our family has been discussing proposals to build a two- story structure on that plot. However, nothing has been decided. We are waiting for Baala to give her permission- uthiravu”

I thought I would faint!

Quickly I filled him on the details and the commands given to me.

Murali took me outside to view the plot of land and soon after I departed after promising Ezhilmani that I would keep in touch with them regarding the project. My intention was to help financially, if Bala allowed me to!

In the week following, I made plans to go on another pilgrimage. This time I wanted to start with a visit to Pazhani, the famous abode of Muruga, that I had yet to see among all his six sacred places of worship. However, during this time an elderly aunt died and I decided to postpone the trip until the funeral rites and ceremonies including the mandatory mourning period got over.

Also, one day I got a command from the warrior god. “Complete a painting of me before you visit me”.

That was the message. It did not come while I was sleeping. Instead, the command was a flash of thought during my daily prayers.

In fact, all my visions and dreams had stopped completely by now. They had slowly decreased in frequency over the past two years. The only change was that I was receiving silent messages during my prayer. I could hear Bala talk, Lord Murugan give me an instruction and when I visited temples, I could hear the Gods and Godesses commune to me. They were not just idols or statues. Instead, their power was extremely accessible!

I had not discussed this with anyone except Ezhilmani. He simply smiled and repeated that Bala had accepted me as family!

I visited Swami Paramartha, in Chennai, one day without calling him up first or fixing an appointment as is usually the norm. I was getting disturbed by these mental messages and needed help from a learned saint/ Guru.

The day I walked into his private apartment, Paramartha was all alone and readily agreed to chat with me.

In fact, he enquired if I had experienced any visions lately. I quickly filled him on my situation and asked him to just be there, mentally for me as a guide. I also wanted his help in removing all that remained of my “ego” or “ahamkara”.

I did not want to feel I was in any way “different” from anyone else.

Paramartha looked at me , smiled and said “You don’t have the ego problem. I’m with you- Always, Always, Always”.

He repeated this statement three times and then I left.

In the days that followed, I started a painting of Lord MURUGAN. I depicted him seated on a rock , smiling majestically, while his mount, a peacock, played near his feet.

During this period, the only hymns I listened to were those pertaining to this great Lord. He was there in my waking as well as sleeping state. That is to say, there seemed no difference between the painting and myself since it was a mere reflection of my inner self- which was Lord Muruga, at that time.

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