When you slowly begin to dissolve into sangha, one of the biggest realizations you have is: you, by yourself, are pretty useless to society. I would say entirely useless except that you are good for one thing: pressing a share button once in a while and slowly becoming a channel for one person (or beyond-person, really) who can actually help society.
I suppose it sounds pretty life-negative but honestly, who are you trying to kid?
Literally a year ago, I was obsessed with my idea of helping people. I wanted to be a doctor. I wanted to help women who had been through what I had been through. I didn’t realize that this ideology is itself already flawed. Helping women who had been through what I been through never dissolved my victim identity that I was suffering with. In fact, itwas heightened. But let’s say this was fine. Say, I could swallow the pain I was holding on to for my work. Even then, how many non-government, non-conservative organizations can a women make for other women without really helping at all?
Let’s look at this a little more deeply.
Many of us have our token charity that we like to ‘campaign’ for once a year. Some of us are full-time charity folk. Some of us don’t do charity at all.That’s a separate issue.
But for those of us who are, have we asked ourselves the fundamental questions?What are you doing for your charity? Volunteering time? Giving money? Where is your time or money going? Do you see it changing people’s lives visibly? Or is going into a system and is virtually gone into the abyss once it leaves your bank account?
If you can answer yes that you’ve actually seen your work change the lives of people(I’m not even discussing the status or type of the other end), then you’re at least better than half the middle class population. Getting people on their feet is at least better than leaving them to suffer after all. But at the end of the day, where are we raising them to?
Are we giving them money for an education just so they can be fed back into an already flawed system? Most of the world (by world I mean the UN) runs on the assumption that education will help our kids. Education, where we already lack passionate, hard-working teachers and an examination process that teaches kids to fail. Is school really the answer?
Many of us who say yes are forgetting that while learning and passion is one thing the schooling system is tremendously different. India is facing the most number of youth suicides because of examination stress.And if you quit the facade for just a second, you’ll remember that school was not so much of the golden days than they were days that you were highly stressed and grappling with the idea that this might be what life is like.
I’m not saying that charity is entirely not good- it at least comes from an inherent, deeply compassionate side of all of us who want to help each other. However, when instead of looking for a true solution, we go for something that only emboldens the screaming hypocrisies of society, charity just becomes something to make you feel like you did something while actually you’re perpetuating the problem.
Which brings me back to where I started: We, by ourselves, are useless.
What am I implying? Change society entirely, from the root up?
That is what Swamiji is doing and that is why I joined His mission.
What I understood very quickly is that I couldn’t help people. Not how I am now- full of hypocrisy. If I tried to help people, they would think it’s ok to be like this. But no, it’s not. The true model of a being completely free of hypocrisy is Swamiji himself. He lives by one cognition: He is Sadashiva and his life is to manifest the whole humanity into Sadashiva. Other than that, you will see that no deceiving culture runs within him and he is more than willing to destroy any hypocrisy if at all it is there.
In the end, realize this one thing: conflict in your nature is what creates suffering. By conflict, I mean hypocrisy. You say one thing but mean another, most likely the exact opposite. You say you’re happy but actually you’re not. You say you just want him to be happy, but actually you don’t. This microcosm of conflict is exactly what goes on in the macro-scale. The corporation says all the money goes to cancer but it doesn’t. The TV says it’s on 4 installments of $19.99 but actually they didn’t include tax or the shipping costs.
Jokes aside, if you become aware, you will see these everywhere in society. When I went to university and was working on earning a degree in Gender, Women and Sexuality studies, I was horrified by how many layers of conflicts there actually were. It makes life seem so impossible and for some of us, we’re ok with that but that self-denying acceptance doesn’t last forever.
Hypocrisy, in this day and age, is the true devil. Last year, I couldn’t bare to be like that so I left and wanted to start over, creating myself with absolutely no overlapping threads at all. And while it is a struggle, at first, to nurture and grow without any deceiving knots, it is a million times better than trying to convince myself that any job, relationship or education is going to make me happy in society.
I know, for sure, whether you’re ready to accept it or not, you want this too. When you say you are good to the 9 AM Starbucks barista, you actually want to mean it more than once or twice.
You can accept this now, or when you have wasted your life thirty years from now and you’re actually responsible for more people than one. Even that is ok if you actually accept this. Because it’s the truth.
As I watched Supriya Swami crouched down beneath the window as dust and glass exploded in the air, I wondered if this is what war felt like. Scary, hyper-aware, wondering if you’re going to make it out alive with some part of you beginning to accept that you won’t. Most of all, down to core of you- you just feel cheap.
This morning, I told myself, no bullshit. For over a couple weeks now, I’ve been trying to move my project, called the Autobiography of the Avatar. I have been working on the introduction just this entire time. If you know Swamiji, Bhagavan Paramahamsa Nithyananda, then you know it’s not an easy job. I’ve been growing, though. I went from feeling defeated by the impossibility of trying to describe this ethereal, grandiose and beyond-human being to a complete acceptance- if He was giving me his own biography to write then he knows I can do it, and then to complete commitment. I gave my very depth to the Autobiography and I haven’t turned back. I swim deeper every day and look forward to going further. I found myself stuck on just moving this introduction though. I know that for Swamiji, his own autobiography is matter of a snap of his fingers. But I feel he’s waiting. Compassionately waiting for me to mature enough to be able to write it and it’s because of this that I will continue to give my 100% to this project. That is what led me to promise myself that I was not going to bullshit around anymore. I made goals for the day and told myself and my publications family back in Bidadi, the main campus, that I was going to update hourly on the group message we have on Facebook. I was feeling good.
The attack happened within hour one.
For the past month, I fell in love with morning puja- a form of Hindu worship. Though afterward my body creaks as I try to get up, during the full hour of sitting down in front of my puja set with Swamiji on the laptop in a Zoom video conference, I am in utter joy of being His devotee. Devotion is such an unheard of concept in the west- not written about, very much homogenized to only seem like it’s kneeling before the cross. I insist that my puja is entirely different from what your idea of worship or prayer is. In the morning I hear my purvashram (pre-monastic) brother’s voice on the mic, telling us to declare with integrity, authenticity, responsibility and enriching that we cognize that Swamiji is the Chinmaya Vigraha- or the embodiment of consciousness, that whatever we offer to him is an offering to the whole universe. We declare to ourselves and to those around us, called our sangha, that we cognize the truth of Soham Asmi, that even when we pray we are Him. Puja is empowering in the way feminists can’t even grasp. It turns you into Sadashiva, the ultimate God of Hinduism, from the beginning and with every flower, mudra and mantra that we give to the small metal padukas (feet) in front of us.
We do this every morning while the villagers around Trishulam Adheenam walk through our land to get their daily supply of water from the public tap. They hold empty, giant and colorful buckets of water across the way and carry them back full all the while staring at us making mudras to our deities that are as foreign to them as it would be to a person born and brought up from Kentucky.
The community around us, in this particular part of Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu, is mostly converted Christians. For the past two or three generations, Hinduism has left their minds and memories, though perhaps not their blood. Trishulam Adheenam is a three acre land that was donated to Nithyananda Peetham by R. Ayya, the purvashram father of one of Swamiji’s senior disciples, Bhaktika Swami. R. Ayya hired two guards for the land to over see it, one on the South end and the other on the North end. 40-odd years later, the two guards illegally encroached the land and settled there as if it was theirs. Their names are Krishnan and Indrani. Both of their families now take up a large plot inside the land and are the instigators of brutal attacks against us. Not only this, the land accumulated the trash of the surrounding village over the last half-century.
But it is this waste land that Swamiji is planning on building into an amazing center of charity. Before we settled on the land, Swamiji told us that it would be the home of a 1000 student gurukul, or vedic education system and a 100 bed hospital both completely free of charge. We would do daily annadhan, or the distribution of food to anyone who wants. Ultimately, the construction and improvement of this land is for the betterment of the entire community around it. In addition, we live at the base of Trishulam Hill, the biggest hill in Chennai. Many of us visualize building a deity of Swamiji, 108 feet high on the hill,overlooking all of Chennai the leader into the Satya Yuga.
Of course, this was something that Krishnan and Indrani could not accept. When we began to stay here,we moved in six mobile homes, including two with kitchen and bathroom facilities so that we can live on this land and begin building the vision that Swamiji has for it. The mobile homes gave us a incredible advantage. Rather than waiting until the infrastructure is ready and then not having the people to fill it, we were going to start from scratch and live here itself. Daily, the small temple we have would do all the rituals and do annadhan for the people. We would help the local families with our spiritual knowledge and techniques and start teaching the kids who were interested.
We’re not missionaries. We are not seeking to convert anyone. We are looking to improve their lives. I’ve seen all kinds of non-profit organizations, charities and even religious organizations and what they do as service for humanity but I’ve never seen the kind of deep compassion Swamiji has for people matched anywhere in the world. In the end, that is why I joined as a brahmachirini, or a sannyasi in training.
I’ve been an adheenavasi for about a year now but I’ve known Swamiji my entire life. He was my family’s guru as a child and as I grew I found that only his teachings were relevant to what I wanted in my life. Though for a while I was convinced I wanted to be a doctor, have three kids and be married, I always had a nagging feel inside me that asked me constantly, “is that all?” As if the universe, in the form of my guru, could give me anything and everything but what I asked for was a small doll that I saw on TV and thought was the only thing that would give me happiness. My seeking for something more, enlightenment itself, as you read about in the scriptures and you taste when you get lost in the dark sky, overwhelmed me and all other desires for my life by the time I was 20.
My first year was a definite struggle. I am glad to have learned my lessons and still received so much compassion from Swamiji. My most ardent, painful patterns broke inside me for good and for just that reason, it was worth any small struggle I might have felt. Only after coming to Trishulam did I realize how much of a transformation I have had and developed the utmost gratitude for it.
I came to Trishulam Adheenam to work on The Autobiography of the Avatar because working in Tamil Nadu, the state that The Avatar gave his heart to, is vastly better than sitting in Karnataka. I was excited about the prospect of journeying in the life of The Avatar as he did, photographing, interviewing people from his life and so much more. While at first I was frustrated that Trishulam Adheenam was in such a state, when I learned its vision, I understood that Swamiji was giving me the opportunity to see its transformation while working on my own.
When I arrived here a lot of the legal work was already under way, so I knew I was entering somewhat of a battlefield. I honestly did not know the extent of the events that will follow.
Indrani and Krishnan are old enough to have grown sons who have wives and children of their ownto carry out the ugly work that they plan. They have brothers and sisters who have families like this as well. It was a non-traditional way to create a kind of militia. While meetings have been going on for their agreement in evacuating the land, which they have illegally settled in, fights happen almost too parallel to be random. It was clear the aggression was also due to the fact that we were a Hindu organization, and a relatively large group of sannyasis and brahmachirinis. Christian or Muslim settlement on this land would not have instigated such attacks.
In part this is because of Hindus. This is not the first time we’ve been attacked like this. We’ve gone through so much worse and withstood much worse. But it has been a long time since we have stood up for ourselves and fought back. It has been a long time since we have even stepped out of the comfortable corner we put ourselves in. As Swamiji says, “Once you enslave a man, it’s very hard to bring him back” This is what the British and brutal Muslim invasions did to us. Enslaved us and broke our inner space. Only with Swamiji do we have hope to return back to the eternally growing state that we were once in.
On the night June 14th, 14 of us female sannyasis sat in the dark as rocks hit our metal container, or mobile home as we call in the west. They came steadily, with repeating clanks and thumps. Every few stones, one very loud hit would shake our container and make ones of us gasp or jump. We all looked down or straight at the ceiling, a few of us at the window trying to peak out and see our attacker, all of us knowing that anyone left outside could have been stoned to death.
Over the next few days, the attackers organized many incidents of theft and rioting to cause chaos. It was clear all of these was to try to scare us away. We were very clear, however, that we have a purpose here and we are going to fulfill it.
My puja the morning of the eighteenth was filled with the purpose that I declared that morning. I decided not just to take responsibility for myself but for the entire world. My desire for myself to be the mother to the entire cosmos was going to become true. When I started my work, in the office container, I went with full force.
We first heard yelling outside our container. It was strange because this early in the morning, none of us are outside roaming. Who were they fighting with? But it escalated too quickly for us to go deeply into those questions.
From the window I saw a woman shaking the stand of the shed outside our temple. It rattled, the metal sheet above wobbling. Another woman joined her. Before I could see the shed tumble down, men, women and children encroached our land. They were now inside the campus.
The invisible boundary of safety that we had disappeared. This was the first alarm. I heard the first smash before I saw the kid who did it. When my eyes landed on him, he was braced with his feet two feet a part and his back bent like he had just thrown a stone that was the size of his shoulder width. From the gaping whole in the window of our car, it was likely to be true.
A woman walked by our door and window. It passed my mind to duck down so she wouldn’t see me but my knees wouldn’t let me. She made eye contact with me. The next thing I know she’s calling the boy who just shattered the car window.
“Throw here! Get them!”
The shock was like punch in the face. Suddenly, I became aware of the distance between me and the glass. I saw the rock in the boy’s hand maybe a few meters away from my container. Was he going to run at us or throw it from there?
My mind raced in quick intuitive calculations. How much time do I have before I’m hit in the face? The four other senior swamis, all women, in the room already scattered, one behind me, the other three in the storage compartment of the container where there were no glass windows. As I frantically placed my laptop away as safely as I could, the glass behind me shattered. I collapsed to the ground, closing my eyes and instinctively leaning away from the flying glass. A sharp piece scraped me as it flew by my face, a few inches above my eyes.
I didn’t notice that I didn’t feel the pain afterward. I looked across the way. Just four feet and I would be safe from the glass but now the crowd outside is getting larger. I didn’t have much time. I needed to get away from the windows and doors.
With my back bent in right angle to hover below where I could be seen, I made the four steps into two jumps. One. Tw-
Before I finished the second, glass shattered again, this time the door. Again, my eyes closed instinctively. I charged blindly into the darkened portion of the container, leaving behind Supriya Swami, who took my place underneath the window. I huddled with the rest of the sannyasis, all of them holding on to each other in fear. Rocks flew in all of them bigger than two fists put together. Laptops were destroyed. The high pitched scream of glass breaking seemed endless, from right in our container and
From across the container, I stared at Supriya Swami, silently willing her to join us where it was safe. Bhaktika Swami was on the phone, calling for help.
“Sadashiva Priya!” Jyothika Swami called after me. “Crouch down!”
Surpiya Swami joined us in a matter of a few minutes while the rocks bombarded us repeatedly. Glass was almost completed shattered on the floor now. Now they’re throws were breaking down the door itself. I scanned the wall. A window on this side had a covering on the outside and no glass. Supriya Swami held it shut with one hand and I took the other side.
A stone flew in room from a far and landed in the corner opposite of us. So close. They know where we are.
We knew what this meant. For less than a second, fear overwhelmed me, enveloped my brain and shone from my eyes. I glanced at Supriya Swami while I gasped.
“Sadashiva Priya!” she yelled, half worried, half cajoling. She wrapped a hand around me and forced me down, hiding away from the window, unable to see anything else going on.
The next twenty minutes I clenched the window shut with my hands, my body embracing a large, empty cardboard box and listened to the war outside and the rocks flying at our container in darkness.
People were yelling outside. With my eyes closed, I saw the area. I measured their voices with how close they sounded and painted the whole picture in my head. Only one police officer was there. He yelled, “Ladies are inside! Stop what you’re doing!” but he was powerless against their force.
The rocks ceased to come from the gaping hole in the wall and now straight at the 2 feet by 2 feet corner that we were in. The metal clanked louder the closer they were to your head. This wasn’t just any attack. This was a fucking terrorist attack. Women were yelling direction as rocks from their kids followed them. Men were hauling the bigger rocks and turning over our cars. Kids, I remembered picturing the boy who shattered that first window. What was the difference between these kids and those kids they advertised about in the Congo, trained for the guerrilla army at 12 years old? Their parents convinced them to do this to protect themselves because there is less of a chance a policeman will arrest a kid. The sick taste settled in my stomach. Mislead by their parents and led to do such an atrocious thing without even their complete maturity. This was bound to become a trauma they will later suffer.
Was this really all because of these instigator’s blatant arrogance? They knew they were doing something illegal. This was a planned attack. And that’s what made you feel so cheap. These people are actually filled with this anger and violence and now they had an opportunity to show it at its worst. What slow poison did they feed their children and the community around them? There is no great purpose to their violence, its just festered pain inside of them that’s grown ugly.
That’s when I realized all violence, all conflict, is just ridiculously cheap. Whether it’s this brutal attack against a religion older than the last ice age, or a war going on in Afghanistan with men in uniform. There is no dignity in it. Society has gone to dogs.
In the moments when I held the door shut with my hands, almost too passionately, as if that was what was going to save all of us, and the rocks hit all around us, I thought of Swamiji. I held on to Swamiji. I called for Kalabhairava. His great form appeared behind my eyes. Then, I knew he was there with me. I knew in the end, though this body may get hurt, nothing could happen to me. My invincibility became my shield, growing larger and larger as the noises outside grew quiet. The riot of the crowd grew distant.
My experience during puja in the morning came back to me. That is when I realized that if even in prayer, He and I are one, then we would be one even in death.
I stepped out of the ladies container, wondering to myself how best to explain Dashavatar and Hindu Evolution along side the modern theory of evolution as an introduction to The Avatar. The metal door creaked loudly. In my peripheral, I noticed the crowd gathering in the distance as twilight began to fade into darkness. They were yelling but by now this had happened enough times for me to disregard the yelling and continue on with whatever I was thinking.
Two stones flew past me. I felt the wind of their trajectory whip me in the face, as if the distance between me and rocks was laughing, shaking me out of my head. The stones hit the container with two subsequent clanks.
I blinked twice.
I don’t mean to exaggerate two rocks barely hitting me in the head because surely people, my own seniors swamis and Swamiji himself, have done so much more to fight for Hinduism. I needed to explain the precise moment I realize that this was no joke.
I came to Trishulam Adheenam to finish work on Swamiji’s biography. Being in Tamil Nadu, the state that The Avatar gave his heart to, is vastly better than sitting in Karnataka to write His life. I’m being completely honest when I say that my last month or so here have been completely transformative. I’m grateful, more so than ever, that Swamiji sent me here and to work on his biography of all things. What I couldn’t, or rather refused, to learn while staying in Bidadi is what Swamiji is teaching me here, much of it in the last few days.
Trishulam Adheenam is a growing temple-monastery complex with a huge mission and vision. Swamiji’s intention for this 3 acre land is absolute proof that he wants to transform even the most far-gone people and places in the world into enlightened beings. He will build a 1000 student Gurukul here as well as a 100 bed hospital. The land is completely dedicated to service for the ultimate empowerment for the people of Chennai and surrounding areas completely free of cost. Trishulam Hill is the largest hill in Chennai and from the land that we reside in, we can see its peak. Often when I’m walking outside here, and I look up, I can see a 108 foot, marble deity of Swamiji looming over the hill magnificently, as the leader of the universe into the Satya Yuga. People will walk the steps up the hill perhaps seeing small depictions and reading about Swamiji’s whole life as it led up to his Avataric realization the entire way.
However, right now, the state of Trishulam is warfare. Local rowdies are instigating constant acts of high-stake violence, destruction and thievery of thousands of dollars worth of equipment for no reason but because we are Hindu. Not only this, the last few nights here staying outside at night risks being stoned to death. On June 11th, I wrote this in my notes while I busied away at my laptop, “writing while the villagers around the Thrishulam Adheenam threw rocks at our container. One strong hit actually made me jump,”
I remember how they came against our container every few minutes. As we sat in the dark, the container was rattling. Every once in awhile we would gasp and jump when a large stone hit the container loud. The next morning we heard that they were climbing on top of water tanks to throw gigantic rocks at our container, the mobile home dedicated to the female sannyasis of the Adheenam. There are about 12 of us residing here now. From the way they lurk all day, the attackers definitely knew that this was a ladies-only area.
On June 14th from my notes: “I wrote in the dark with two people sleeping next to me because yesterday Indrani’s daughter cut our power line. We’re only working on generator now so we need to save power”
Then two medium sized stones flew past me while my brain was making connections between scientific predictions of how Homo neandrathalis and early Homo sapiens looked and how Bhagavan Sadashiva and His civilization are described in the Agama 60,000 years ago.
Like I said, this is no fucking joke. This is the state of Hinduism today. Reasonless violence and hatred against a healing force that will transform the world for the better. Now, I have been in battles before. I fought against the most cunning, most evil maniacs the world has probably ever seen. In 2012, Vinay Bharadwaj tried to use his mother’s meagre presence to win over my sympathy so that I wouldn’t tell the judge how often he kidnapped me to his house and raped me. His attempts didn’t work. This doesn’t even compare to what Swamiji went through. The amount He has sacrificed to continue on his mission is beyond anything any of us have ever done in our lives. And He did it all with a smile on his face.
At the end of the day, it is astonishing how cheap the fight gets. The people throwing stones at our container are nothing more than local rowdies. Their violence is shocking but what is more shocking is the amount of ease we adheenavasis are in. People will not stay more than two seconds in a place if they feel unwelcome there, yet here we are in this temporary living space, trying to change the environment around us in absolute joy of the vision that Swamiji has for each of us, and this land. Ironically, while sitting in a boiling pot of negativity, violence and hatred, Swamiji taught me how to be positive.
Incidentally, it’s also my one-year anniversary of being in India. I came here because I suffered deeply from self-inflicted depression. I cherished (that is the precise word) negativity and self-hatred perhaps because I just didn’t know any better. Through my experiences over the last year and in Trishulam, I finally learned what it meant to be smiling in the face of a battle. No matter what various anti-Hindu forces tried, they couldn’t even wipe the smile off of Swamiji’s face. Swamiji has personally even told me, “Only your joy will determine your ultimate triumph!” Joy and activism are the greatest attributes of Swamiji and his contribution to this whole and finally, me too.
That, of course, doesn’t mean that I don’t get angry. I am writing this blog post not just to share my epiphany but because I can’t keep quiet any longer. People don’t know that this is the state of Hinduism so they think they can afford to stay silent. But in reality, their silence is what caused this . To any anti-Hindu entity that is out there, either organization, government or person: we are here to stay and to grow. No matter what happens, we will fulfill our mission. And we will do it laughing like the way Swamiji laughs his adorable, cackling laugh that pierces beyond any suppression by society.
“Soft sufferings” Swamiji repeated to me slowly, love in his voice like sugar mixed with milk. “You were there, kanna? For soft sufferings?” he asked, referring to the previous day when he answered one of the questions from a Sadashivoham participant.
The question was, “Why do we sometimes feel depression without knowing the reason at all?”
He replied, slowly and carefully, “Sometimes, you’ll get into a mood: nothing will give you happiness but me. All the external pleasures won’t give you anything. Only I will make you truly blissful. Sometimes, you yourself take the boon from Sadashiva.You yourself ask Sadashiva, ‘let nothing in this world give me happiness but you’. If you ever go looking for happiness outside, you’ll just fall into depression. If you ever have reasonless depression, this is the reason. You are so depressed and you don’t even know why”
At that moment in the hall, a cosmic shift happened within me. That must be it. That must be my whole life up until now. The pointless depression I’ve had all my life. Rooted in shifting soil, unstable and ungrounded. Like Meenakshi’s third breast. Like a burning stomach, or an eternally aching leg. These soft sufferings were meant to remind me that nothing will give me happiness- nothing but the whole truth, enlightenment itself. I know because I always ended up weeping underneath Nataraja until he led me to Swamiji. My suffering wasn’t harsh- only small, only soft.
One could say it was because of karma- that perhaps there was a larger reason behind why I went through so much. The rape itself, a court case against Vinay Bharadwaj and then the depression that I drowned in could be justified by a greater, cosmic reason. I wondered for a second. Could there be a greater cosmic reason? No, I decided. No matter what: the truth will be what I decide. So I made the choice. This depression was nothing but a soft suffering. It was a boon I took from Sadashiva to remind me that anything could happen to me but nothing could shake me. To show me I am that which I yearn for so much.
It was only a soft suffering that would again lead to me Swamiji in the end.
April 23, 2017
It’s been five months since I made that decision. I’ve had my ups and downs from there. Recently, I had one of my biggest downs. I was depressed and uninspired- and the cherry on top- I didn’t even know why. I didn’t understand why I felt so unhappy even in Swamiji, Sadashiva’s, own presence.
I sought out help from Kalabhairava himself. In the adheenam there is a spiritual power and process called “Akashic Reading” where the balasanths of the Nithyananda Gurukul will read from the akashic record on any question you ask. They invoke the energy of Kalabhairava, the lord of time and the keeper of the cosmic archives. It is a power that has performed real, physical miracles such as materializing objects when he declares, changing the future when Swamiji says and even bringing completion to a person in their lowest.
I asked Kalabhairava, “Why am I feeling so depressed? I don’t know what to do”
Then he told me about one incident in my past.
When I was a Rudrakanya, serving Sadashiva himself in Kailasha, I had poured water on his head. The water fell from his locks to his shoulders down to his chest, his thighs and finally collected into a kapala, or a skull, at his feet. Sadashiva opened his eyes then and gazed at me. In his eyes, I saw the creation of the universe from Nataraja as he was dancing. Nataraja, is the form of Sadashiva when he is dancing. It was in this ecstasy that the entire universe generated. As I saw Nataraja dancing, the the science of dance and movement was inserted into my own bio-memory from his. Sadashiva gave me the kapala from his feet, filled the water that I poured all over his body, and declared that I will be a living deity of dance.
It was then I took the boon. Whenever I am not aligned to Swamiji, not active and becoming stagnant, let me fall into depression, let nothing in the world make me happy but Swamiji himself. I took this boon to ensure that I will always be in alignment with Sadashiva.
The truth from Kalabhairava shocked me. I remembered how just five months ago in December Swamiji was speaking in Sadashivoham about these soft sufferings and here Kalabhairava was telling me exactly how I took that boon.
I realized in that moment, like a rude and welcome awakening at the same time, how what Swamiji says is more real than I can even understand. Whether or not we understand that we are Sadashiva, we do manifest reality the way that we want. We just forget. Whether or not I believe what Kalabhairava told me, my decision in December to make all my depression a reminder to align back to Sadashiva manifested now in what he was telling me.
And I understand. This might not make sense. There are many, many turns and twists on the way that I might’ve lost you. I can only conclude with one thing: we manifest our reality. We create what we experience, whether or not we remember that we created it.
I created soft sufferings. I created suffering itself. Suffering, that which I thought was so innately a part of me is actually just something at my finger tips. Something I can make vanish within a minute. It’s just a decision. And it’s so easy.
As I was heading to the dorm from Raaja sabha tonight, Kalabhairava ayya was at the door like he usually is. He is bald man with unframed glasses, and from behind could be very easily confused with my biological father. He puts a smile on the face every time you see him.
“Do you remember when you picked me up from the airport?” I asked him as I passed his table.
“Yes I do” he said and I smiled, sharing a laugh with him as I exited the door.
As I walked from there to the corner of the dorm where I am now, I recalled my very first days here in India.
I remember I felt so uncomfortable walking out of the airport in Varanasi. The heat was sweltering. Kalabhairava ayya’s face stood out to me immediately. Inwardly, I sighed with relief.
“The plane was late?” he said.
“Yeah, about an hour” I told him, wondering how long he had been waiting.
The ride to the hotel was awkward. I, as usual, was not in the mood for talking and he was just trying to be friendly. I made my answers short and closed, leaving no room for further conversation. In hindsight, I realize how incredibly rude I was. With how friendly we are now, I hope that he understands.
My mind was preoccupied. Not saying that is a valid reason to be so intolerable. I was immature. You can put it that way. Depression is just immaturity at its worst. Matured souls would know better than to be depressed.
When we arrived at the hotel, I quickly freshened up and joined other Inner Awakening volunteers. It had been a year since I was with sangha in India. I caught up with everyone who knew me, and made conversation until slowly it dwindled and I drifted off by myself unwilling to be open to any group. The first couple of days here were pretty terrible.
What was I doing here? Did I really run away from home so suddenly just to come here and be depressed?
But that was all until Swamiji arrived.
We went to the airport to welcome him. I remember I wore a magenta colored sari, put my hair up and wore eyeliner. Everyone was brimming with excitement. And though I didn’t show it, so was I.
About a week ago, I was parked in my car in a abandoned parking lot surrounded by field grass and trees. Tears on my face and uncontrollable sobs coming from my throat, I had called at least five of my friends- none of them picking up, or responding to my text messages. In those tearful moments, I remembered Swamiji. The two thousand miles that I was away from him stretched to the distance from Mercury to Pluto. And that made me cry more.
“Swamiji” I typed out in my phone to him. “Keep me with you”
Then, I stashed my phone in the passenger’s seat and drove, quite dangerously, back home. I didn’t see Swamiji almost immediate response until I got back home and had buried myself under five blankets.
“Yes Kannamma” he had responded so sweetly. “Talk to Jnanathma Swami”
At that point, I hadn’t meant for him to call me to come to Inner Awakening in Varanasi. I didn’t mean for him to move the sun and the moon and the nine planets to get me to stay with him forever. But it is what I needed. And in the core of me, down to the level of my being, it is what I wanted.
June 20th, I was in the airport waiting for his arrival in Varanasi with a group of IA volunteers and programs team. When he finally came, he didn’t even look my way. I went back to my hotel that night pretty disappointed.
The next day was International Day of Yoga. June 21st. Swamiji came to speak on yoga. I remember up until the point he entered the room, silent tears were falling from my eyes. But once he began speaking, his words drew me in. His breakthrough webinar was the very first time he announced shastra pramana, apta pramana, atma pramana and saakshi pramana- a fool proof methodology to validate your Hindu technique or teaching. He announced a Nithya Yoga Teacher Training on August 15th and inside me I calculated the days I had until I had to be back in Seattle for school. He ended the webinar, lifting my mood up for the first time since I got here.
The minute we were offline a volunteers meeting was announced. Swamiji removed his turban and the golden jewelry he had worn.
Mine was the first name he called.
He didn’t sound happy or sad. He just called. He motioned with his hand for me to come to him. And with my heart in my throat, I did. He engulfed me into his arms and I sunk into them, as if disappearing into him.
He only pulled away slightly to tell me, “No more suffering. I’ll take care of you. Then when you want, you can take care of me”
He repeated it two more times. It was the first promise he gave me. A past full of wars, battles, and warriors was all behind me. In front of me, a different kind of battle.
So much has happened since day one but I cannot forget how he held me that day. No matter what kinds of ups and downs I go through since then, he has been taking care of me.
I found this buried away in my notes from April 1st, 2016:
Last night, as I stared the universe as Lady Caliph played in my ear, it was the longest I went without thinking of Vinay in at least a month. I remembered the display of stars above the Amazon river in Peru and how it seemed like these silver lights were hanging from silver threads from the sky. I could see that again passed the foggy layer of city light reflections thrown into the air.
“It’s going to be okay” a voice told me. And for the first time, I believed it.
Needless to say I’m listening to the same album as I write this now.
In the perspective of how far we need to go, we often forget how far we’ve come– this saying has been said and many, many times by myself. I can add- despite me being in Sadhashiva’s presence here in the adheenam, I still forgot. I forgot what immense leaps I took and he guided me through in the last nine months. Where I was- on the edge of mental havoc and where I am now is unfathomable. What people go through in their childhood and sometimes don’t speak of until their very last days, I miraculously got over.
The trauma of rape in the human standard is no joke. It’s one of the worst things you could go through, even more so if you went through it as a kid. By that, what I mean is, no one really questions it. It’s up there with a near one dying and undeniable poverty among the “don’t touch my depression” conditions of life. Every one has something like that. As if we have a right to be depressed. Why do I deny the higher reality that I am Sadashiva? Well, let me tell you- and then we will list all these big, big reasons.
So, you can imagine, it’s pretty hard to break that kind of utter self-denial and help you swallow any reason that stops you from being Sadashiva. My biggest reason last year was this. Why am I not a god? Because I have been a victim before. And last year, I had gotten to a point where I held the context that ‘yes, I was a victim but I am stronger because of it’. Though it was better than any lesser context, it was still dangerously flawed by the cognition that I was a victim. By holding onto that context, I allowed the thought currents that were related, specifically the memories and the images of being raped, to affect me.
I barred myself from my higher reality with this cognition. Within a month of being with Swamiji, he shattered this cognition. In my perspective now, it was too easy. Since then he has been raising me to higher and higher cognitions. Breaking ones that I hold onto too long and raising me more and more.
Recently, I had one of the worst lows of my life. Some project not moving, somebody said something that I took the wrong way. Without any reason, I simply rejected every single life positive stream of thoughts that I built for myself. I was digressing so far and I could feel it. A flush of hormones raced through my body- stress, sadness mixed together to form a burning cocktail. Then, I had one thought.
His name was like a string I could pull into a past of dark memories. And I felt myself reaching for that string. One tug and the whole thing would come down. It’s been a year since I had a nightmare about him. A year since one flashback entered my system. One year it took to climb out of the hole I was living in for six years. And I was about to destroy everything.
Suddenly, it was as if a part of me that was sleeping woke up.
A voice in my head screamed: NO!
And then I saw myself against a raging tsunami, ocean water raised above me 100 feet in the air, as I screamed against it. At my ferocious demand, it receded. My mind was silenced. The shock, funnily enough, even made me forget my stress.
A year ago, I didn’t have this capacity. To just scream ‘no!’ at these memories and they would run away crying. A year ago I would have simply succumbed to them, let myself watch in my head whatever happened to me like a broken record. A year ago, just a few minutes under the stars without thinking of Vinay was a luxury for me, now here I am leading processions and crowds of people in kirtan, in endless and blissful joy. I realized then how much I have grown in the last year.
It’s no joke to be able to go from PTSD ridden, self-harming, severely depressed body to a dancing blissful being in less than a year. That is because I decided to swallow my past. Like Shiva swallowed poison, I downed the whole thing. I became neelakantha, the one with the blue neck because of the poison he took for the sake of saving humanity. Whatever it was I decided it won’t have an effect on me. And since then, I’ve been stronger than ever.
For whatever reason, we judge ourselves too harshly. First of all we expect transformation to happen over night. But that is if we believe it is possible in the first place. I realized that I have leagues to go to attain my goal, to be who I want to be. But the thought of going leagues should not wear me down. It should only excite me.
I still have a long way to go. I am a seed, with the potential of growing a beautiful tree. Like the one I fell in love with in the Amazon Rainforest in Peru. Like the one I live under here in Bengaluru Adheenam. The possibility excites me. Whatever stands in the way~ consider it swallowed.
I guess this might be considered rude and passive aggressive because I could name names. I could actually reach out to the people who haven’t talked to in months rather than posting an indirect blog post about it- but I’m not because I don’t mean to actually reach out to you- I mean to make a point.
Don’t I always?
Here are some things:
yeah, I miss you sometimes
But I miss Thai food more
Do you ever wonder how long it takes to become irrelevant? Leave without prior notice and you’ll know in about six months. You do wonder about all the people who you’ve unintentionally cut off ties with. How are they now? Are they still stuck with the same dude they were in a relationship with before? Have they finally come out of the closet? Wait, but is the world still under the illusion of closets and coming out of them? But this is the perhaps the most pressing of all the questions:
You will wonder about how long it took for you to become irrelevant to them. Was it out-of-sight-out-of-mind? Did it take a few months? Still, your wonderings get even better:
You wonder about how long it took for them to become irrelevant to you.
To be honest, not more than a month.
So then, what the hell is friendship really? How many so called “deep” friendships have I had that didn’t make it through my greatest transformation? It’s borderline embarrassing to think of all the “We’ll be friends forever” that passed between my friends and I that didn’t actually become fruit when it came down to it. Honestly, it wasn’t even a friendship if you didn’t extrapolate that to the future.
Because the greatest ‘maya’ or illusion that life can put you through is to make it seem, even if its for one second, that things are going to stay the same. And I vaguely remember college being this middle time when all we really wanted was for some things to stay the same- your boyfriend or girlfriend, your tight-knit friend group (drama and all)….your grades (I actually laughed at that last one. Jesus, I actually forgot about being stressed about my GPA).
Now, I don’t really have friends.
I have a gigantic world-wide family.
Who you’re not afraid to do your worst laugh with. Who not only ‘see’ you through your ups and downs but who aren’t afraid-whatever it takes- to make you snap out of it. It’s called ‘sangha’ in hindu terms, the adopted family you have once you take up a spiritual life. It’s more than just family too because we hold each other to our highest potential- to be Sadashiva.
But, I guess none of that warrants me breaking off ties with people I used to be friends with. Yes, a lot of things are irrelevant to me now. Okay, not a lot of things. Literally everything. But in the end, I can’t really say “I’m passed all that now”. Because I’m not. The people I’ve adopted into my inner space now or at one point in my life- they’re happiness is and has always been my happiness.
This letter is not just to make a point. I take that back. I can just question what the societal construct of friendship is. I can show you that judging by how long it takes for me to become irrelevant that our deepest friendship as we know it is as flaky and fake as, well, we all have respective images for what can be flaky and fake, so cue that image.
Or I can defy this societal construct. Even sitting in my beyond-society adheenam life, I will keep my friendships alive as long as they want to. Friendship is about holding each other to the higher potential that they declare. So, hey friends, whoever you are- expect a message from me soon