Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Spiritual Diary: Chapter 35

We reached London on April 16th, 2007.

I spent just over a month in London. One Friday, I think it was April, 27th, I was at my usual prayers and meditation thinking of that little but powerful goddess, Baala.

Now, it had been my intention to pay a visit to the Raja Rajeshwari temple in Rochester on my next trip to the U.S. This journey was essential if I had to hand over the painting of Baala to Haran Aiya. However, as hard as I had tried over the past 2 years, this particular expedition had somehow never materialised. My husband was not terribly interested in doing this trip. He would have to come to Boston first and then drive me down to Rochester. The car journey was over 8 hours and he simply could not devote that time on any of his previous visits to the U.S.

During my meditation on that Friday, I silently appealed to Baala for help.

All of a sudden a message flashed like a streak of lightening into my mind.

This was unmistakably from Bala. “ Pick up the phone and call my peetam. Talk to Ezhilmani”.

I was taken aback by the sheer urgency and forcefulness of this message. However, perhaps it was my own lack of self confidence that prevented me from acting immediately.

I attributed the directive to a mere thought-led suggestion and immersed myself in other activities for an hour. But this command seemed to take over my mind--- “Call him, now!”

Finally, I picked up the phone and dialled the peetam at Nemili. It was answered almost immediately by Ezhilmani. I quickly explained to him that I was calling him due to Bala’s insistence. He felt this was an opportunity provided for him to let me know that the new hall they were planning to construct would finally get under way only aftere mid- August. If I wanted to contribute any money towards this building, I could do it at that time.

I felt relieved on hearing this because I had intended to make a small financial contribution ( with Bala’s permisssion, of course).

After we had sorted out this detail, I told him about my intended visit to Rochester. Ezhilmani urged me to contact Haran Aiya without delay. I requested him to bless me so that I would be able to carry out Bala’s command.

As soon as this phone conversation was over, I called the temple at Rochester. The phone seemed to ring for a long time and when it was finally picked up, the man at the other end gave me a surprising bit of news. It turned out that Aiya was actually in London that very day ! I requested that this man should pass on the message to Aiya that I called and gave him my London phone number.

I received a call from Aiya , two days later on a Sunday. He, too, seemed surprised at the coincidental nature of my phone call, on the day he was actually in London.

Quickly I filled him in on the details of the Bala painting and the directive given to me to hand over the original painting to him. I explained that the original painting was in Boston ( unframed), and that I was looking forward to coming to the temple.

Aiya told me that he was very busy with various commitments that involved a lot of travel. However it appeared that he would be in Rochester during the Memorial Day weekend ( last week in May).

I told him I would try and make a visit at that time.

Getting off the phone, I asked my husband if he could possibly find time to make the trip to Rochester. To my surprise, he seemed quite willing. We decided to take our daughters as well and it seemed to me that something I had been trying so hard for the past two years, fell into place after a little intervention from Bala.

During the third week in May, I travelled to Boston and within a few days, my husband joined me as well.

On Friday, May, 25th, we set off towards Rochester. We arrived late in the evening, the same day and a decision was made to go to the temple as early as we could, the next morning.

My painting of Bala was left in the car as we retired to a nearby hotel to take rest for the night.

The following day, Saturday, 26th, we left bright and early in the morning for the temple. The Raja Rajeshwari Peetam turned out to be quite close to the hotel we were staying and we arrived at the temple by 9 a.m.

There were not too many people at this early hour at the Peetam. I walked inside the main sanctum with great anticipation.

There She was, the great Mother, seated in splendour on her throne right in the center of this large, airy room. Flanked by Lord Ganapathi to her right and Lord Shiva to her left, Raja Rajeshwari seemed to welcome me to her temple with a warm smile.

I sat down in front of Her in silent meditation and then requested one of the volunteers( a white- American called Kathy), if I could bring in a painting from the car and place it near the Mother.

She looked at me quizzically. I told her that I had spoken To Aiya on the phone and he had given his permission.

Kathy told me that Aiya had returned late at night the previous day from conducting a wedding in Syracuse, but that he would be down shortly.

I hastened to the car to bring my painting in.

Since I had not had the time to frame it, the painting had been merely affixed with removable tape onto a large foam board . My husband and I carefully carried this inside and placed it by the side of Raja Rajeshwari in the main shrine.

I sat down near one of the pillars in the room and closed my eyes. I seemed to drift off almost effortlessly into a tranquil and blissful state. There was no doubt about the sanctity and healing auras at this house of the powerful Goddess.

After a while I opened my eyes. I could see an elderly lady, in the distance , standing near the main altar and admiring the Bala portrait. I heard her tell my husband who was standing nearby , that Bala’s eyes were “quite alive”. She enquired who had done this painting and my husband gestured towards me. “Your wife has the goddess inside her” said the woman to my husband as she walked towards where I was seated.

This lady was wearing a saree and on her forehead, were the three distinct streaks of ash marking her out to be a Shaivaite. Around her neck, the lady wore a necklace of Rudraksha beads, indicating she was a great devotee who had received the sacred initiation or Diksha from the Guru.

In a state of great excitement which stems from the fervour of devotion, the lady began to talk to me “ I knew Bala was coming here today. Why last night she told me. “I am coming to the temple on Saturday”. And here you are. You have walked in with a beautiful painting of her. You are truly blessed”!

There was no mistaking that this lady was saying the truth. Having experienced supernatural visions and dreams myself, I immediately knew she was relating a true incident. So, I asked her “ Did Bala appear in your dream, then, last night?”

The woman’s answer stunned me. “ No, No, I didn’t see her in my dream. I actually saw her as a glowing image that came alive in my puja mandap, when I was saying my prayers. I saw Bala as a young child playing Kummi”! ( Kummi is a type of dance performed by young girls and involves complicated manoevers using two sticks held in the hands).

I fell at this lady’s feet in veneration. I could hardly believe that I was actually talking to someone who had been in direct communication with this child- deity.

As I stood there chatting with this old woman, Haran Aiya entered the room.

After paying my respects to him, he walked up to the painting of Bla and picked it up. “I will get this framed and we will keep it in the temple”, he said.

There was just one more question he asked me. This pertained to when exactly I had done the painting and how long it had remained with me before reaching the temple. I did not know the purpose of these questions. I furnished him with the relkevant details and also told him about the color photo copy I had given to the Bala Peetam at Nemili.

After this brief conversation, Aiya strode away to attend the business of the day at the temple. He, along with a few other priests were performing a homam for a few couples who had sponsored the pujas for that particular day. I was informed by Kathy that I could stay and witness this for a few hours.

There were a few other women devotees who welcomed me warmly and invited me to stay on.

So, I requested my husband and children to return for me in a few hours time.

I sat down in a large room directly opposite the main shrine where the yagna was to be conducted.

There was a brief waiting period before the commencement of the morning’s puja and during this time, I met another young Indian girl who was introduced to me , as the editor of the temple news journal. At this time, Kathy beckoned to me to sit near her computer. She wanted to show me pictures from her previous visit to Chennai and the temples she had visited.

She mentioned that she had visited the Nemili Bala Peetam with an able escort, a man called Ramesh ( a.k.a. Athmananda). This man, Kathy said is the very embodiment of the Goddess Lalita, and a great Sri Vidya Upasaka.

The photos Kathy showed me were from her Nemili trip. She was telling me “ I want you to see this beautiful painting someone has given to the peetam---“. I noticed this was the huge painting of Bala seated on the blue lotus that I had given to Ezhilmani the previous year!

Kathy was astounded to hear that I had executed that painting and overjoyed that I had brought in another original painting of Bala to the Raja Rajeshwari peetam.

As far as I was concerned, however, this was just a “play” of Bala, a game where she was imntroducing or re- uniting me with some of her favorite devotees.

The Homams and Pujas commenced shortly thereafter and I stayed at the peetam listening to the sacred hymns and chanting for several hours.

Finally after a Milk abhishekham to the goddess, the ceremonies finally finished with the customary arathi in the main sanctum.

However, as I was seated in the main shrine, directly in front of the goddess, a few women began to recite the thousand names of Goddess Lalitha ( Lalitha Sahasranamam).

I closed my eyes and relished this experience completely. As their chants faded away, Aiya, who had also been standing near the altar and chanting this hymn, suddenly strode purposefully to where I was seated and, taking some kumkum from the Goddess’s feet, applied it firmly on my forehead and at the parting in my hair.

I felt it was indeed a rare blessing from him!

Then, while the image of the goddess was being decorated behind a screen, Aiya addressed the audience. He started to narrate a story. He started off by telling us that even in the present- day Kali Yuga, miracles can happen and that he wished to tell us the story of one such miracle that happened in the life of a nine- year old boy many years ago.

The story went like this :

To a very devout and religious couple in Chennai, was born a son called Ramesh. The early years of this boy’s growing up was quite un eventful. However, when he was nine years old, Ramesh was invested with his sacred thread- Upanayanam. After this a great change came over him. He became extremely devout and one day, experienced a dream where the supreme Goddess, Rajeshwari initiated him with the supreme mantra of Sri Vidya Upasana.

Now, Ramesh was very young at this time. He carried on with his prayers and the extra sensory communications with the goddess. However, he implored her to provide him with an earth- bound Guru who could guide him. In another dream, the goddess gave the young boy directions including the address of where to find such a Guru.

Ramesh went to the address given to him and found an old, revered, Guru. This man was a scholar, held in high social esteem. Ramesh requested this man to take him on as a disciple. However, the latter seemed a bit reluctant. Nevertheless, he pointed him in the direction of his own disciple, another learned and devout man, living closeby.

In short, Ramesh seemed to have two Gurus, because he knew that the Goddess’s instructions could never be wrong.

Slowly, the parameshti Guru realised the talent and knowledge of the young boy and taught him all he knew about the secrets of the famous Sri Vidya Upasana.

The years passed by and Ramesh got married. However, his wife did not seem keen on performing Sri Chakra worship or Puja.

Aiya related to us how he “ tricked” this lady into becoming a devotee as well. One day, Geetha, Ramesh’s wife had invited Aiya home for a meal, when he was visiting Chennai.

However, Aiya informed her that if he came over for dinner, Geetha should do one small favour for him. That favour was to wear a small gold dollar inscribed with the Sri Chakra that Aiya gave her.

Surprisingly, after this episode, Ramesh’s wife also started performing pujas at home!

Aiya concluded this short story by telling us that one day Ramesh had gone to the market to buy vegetables. There, he met an old man who seemed to take an interest in him. After a few introductory phrases, it turned out that this stranger Ramesh met by chance was a repository of knowledge on Sri Vidya. This old man said he had rare books and tomes that were quite invaluable for Sri Vidya Upasakas and expressed his concern that after his demise, his children might not realise their value.

Hardly believing his luck, Ramesh accompanied the old man right away to his house and obtained a wealth of information on this most esoteric subject.

Aiya finished this narrative by re emphasising that Ramesh is perhaps the first and foremost exponent of Sri Vidya in the whole of India. He also told us that Sri Chakra puja had fallen into a bit of dis repute in places like Chennai, but that it was a very efficacious and direct link to the supreme mother!

I sat and listened to this story in silence. However, all the while, it seemed that Aiya was in fact trying to tell me something. I could not figure out what this message was.

Anyway, there was not much time to ponder about the significance of the story. The decorations to the Goddess was finished and with a flourish the curtains in front of her was opened.

Camphor was lit and the goddess smiled serenely!

As all of us were filing out of the room, Kathy came up to me, smiling “ Looks like Aiya has given you a direct message to go and meet Ramesh”. That was all she said!

I asked her “ Do you have his address or phone number?” However, Kathy seemed terribly preoccupied and busy, and apologising to me, hurried off to perform some errands. How was I going to meet this Ramesh, without a contact address? I was pondering this as I took leave of Aiya. I prostrated at his feet, along with other members of the congregation and then it was time to depart.

Just before I left the peetam, as an after thought, , I wandered up to the bookstall. In the morning, I had noticed a book with Bala’s smiling picture on it. Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be a book on the rituals and mantras to be followed while performing a special puja for Bala Tripurasundari. The author was ( no surprise here)

Ramesh/ Atmananda.

I purchased this book and since my husband and children seemed impatient to leave, quickly left the temple.

In the car, I opened the book. There, on the very first page was Athmananda’s address, his home telephone number as well as e-mail address.

I am now destined to meet Ramesh or Atmananda at some point in my life.

However, I shall await a clear signal from my Guru before this meeting takes place.

It is`also my belief that I have to meet Amma, Mata Amritananda Mayi, one more time. Amma appeared in a dream a few weeks ago and reminded me to visit her and to bring my mother with me.

I had forgotten all about this dream. It has been over two years since my last , momentous visit to Amma along with my husband and I thought I had moved on in my spiritual journey and her guidance, as far as I was concerned, was completed.

Apparently, I am mistaken since the link still continues.

It is no surprise that Amma is visiting Boston on July 15th, 2007. My husband’s cousin who lives in Boston called me of her own accord , one day last week and offered to take me along with her to get this holy mother’s power hug!

I felt this was a calling from Amma I cannot refuse.

This diary and the writings contained here were started only after Amma’s clear instructions.

Perhaps, I need her continued support!

1 comment:

Violet Blue said...

Felt very very happy reading this... I hope you were able to meet Ramesh/Atmananda.