Tuesday, December 8, 2009
He wore white, and carried just one more pair of clothes. He wasn't barefoot, he wore slippers, but by the end of it he had blisters on his feet. He begged for food, but no, he was not a sanyasi. He was on one of the most beautiful pilgrimages I have ever dreamed of : walking around the deep and serene Narmada Ma. The enchanting and the mysterous Goddess on earth, Shiva's daughter, blessed with eternal beauty.
A dear friend of a dear friend.
When he came home, I felt like touching his feet and I did.
These are a few of the stories he shared with me, that I share with my pen.
'My daily schedule was to get up at four, take a dip in the river, start walking. By ten, the sun would be scorching, so take a break. If you are tired, take some rest in a temple or a school courtyard. Then by sunset, again take a dip in the water and start walking. If you see an ashram on way that apeals to you, stay for a couple of days to meditate.
Begging for food has a style. You go to people's homes and say, 'Narmade Har!' I never once went hungry. People served me with so much love, and devotion, and the trust was the most amazing thing... none ever asked me my name.
And the families were so poor, they had barely enough food for themselves. But they all consider it their duty to feed us, the parikrama vasis, because we are doing something for Narmada maiiya.
All of them have an unshakable faith and devotion for the maiya. "Maiya degi," (Mother will provide), they would say, if I asked them how they would manage.
In the beginning, I thought, I will give it back to them. I will come back in a car with gifts for everyone... and I felt good with such thoughts. But later I realized, thats not the point. I have to become them. I have to carry the heart of India to its cities.
Their is of cource the physical aspect, the grandeur, the beauty of the river. But the effect on the being is deep. Something happens to you. There are days when you have to walk a few kilometers off the river, when you cannot see it.
And thats when the Mother aspect dawns on you, when you begin to yearn for it like you yearned for your mother when
you were a child.
One day, it was around four in the evening. I had been walking for days without a glance of the Maiya, and suddenly, she was there. I started running towards it, and suddenly a sadhu stopped me . He said, 'Go and call your mother. Right now.'
So I hunted for a cellphone in the village and called my mom. She was kind of missing me, and was glad to speak to me. I was also happy to connect to her.
And then I entered the water, as the sun was going down. It was so so beautiful, the way I was welcomed by its warmth.
The next morning I sought out the sadhu. He had a kutiya by the river and he had two cows.
For a half hour we just sat silently, by the flowing river. Then he told me his story. His mother passed away when he was seven. Thereon he was with his master, in a gurukul. When he was seventeen, he attained to the state of contentment. And he asked his master, 'Tell me what to do now, so that I may spread the word.'
His master took him to the cowshed of the gurukul and pointed to two newborn calves. 'Take them with you and look after them as if you are their mother. Thats all you need to do.' And thats all he does. He has a kutiya with these two cows by the river.
'Don't ever forget your mother, the one who cared for you. It is because my mother is no more that I am here. Take care of your mother. Give her her due.' the sadhu told me. (to be continued)