Birthday Bliss 2014

Reflections on Gurumayi Chidvilasananda

A Turning Point in My Sadhana by Dr. Pallavi Rathod

Gurudev Siddha Peeth, April 2006—the peak of summertime. The golden glow of the rising sun made everything shine.

I was on my way to Annapurna Dining Hall for breakfast. The birds were twittering. The tall trees were beckoning. The gentle breeze was wafting through the shakti-filled atmosphere.

As I rounded a curve on the Ganesha Pathway, I saw Gurumayi walking in my direction. The sun's golden rays were showering down upon her, and she looked like a mass of radiant saffron light. Gurumayi was walking so swiftly that in no time we were in front of each other. We both smiled, and I brought my hands together in namaste, offering my pranam to her.

Gurumayi said in Hindi, “Hmm, you are wearing a kaftan!” A kaftan is a collared shirt in thick handspun cotton.

I nodded and said, “Yes, Gurumayiji.”

Gurumayi’s smile broadened, and she added, “Today, you are looking like a typical Dilli-wali.” A Dilli-wali is one who comes from Delhi, where most politicians, journalists, professors, and government officials wear traditional cotton outfits of just the sort I had on. We both laughed.

Gurumayi then said, “I haven’t seen you since last week!”

I told her I had not been well, and she asked what was wrong. I replied that I had been dehydrated. By then a fellow sevite who was passing by joined us, and said with a smile, “Pallavi carries her water bottle everywhere; she drinks so much water. I think she must be making an excuse for her absence!”

We all laughed, and then Gurumayi looked at me very intently. She made a gesture, moving one of her hands from her mouth down to her heart. “It must have not been absorbed,” she said, gently. Hearing those words and seeing Gurumayi’s gesture gave me a sense of profound tranquility. Gurumayi was looking at me with immense love and compassion, and I started to feel a sudden and strong throbbing in my heart.

After a few moments, Gurumayi continued on her way past the Ganesha murti, and I went on to breakfast. As I was making my way down the path, I could feel the throbbing more and more intensely, and I knew that this had been an extraordinary interaction. The way I was feeling in my own being, Gurumayi’s gesture, and her expression—everything had been extraordinary! Gurumayi’s words started to resound in my mind: It must have not been absorbed! I could feel a gentle tingling sensation in my brain. My mind couldn’t quite grasp what had been imparted, yet I was somehow certain that it was both profound and subtle. The essence of Gurumayi’s words seemed to be taking a seat in my heart.

A couple of hours later, I went to Amrit for tea. As I poured tea into one of the Amrit’s orange cups, I noticed that the tea was leaking out from the cup’s bottom. I poured it into another cup, and as I did so, I was struck by the meaning and significance of the word absorb—by what it means to absorb. The understanding moved from the solid, physical plane of the cup right into the deep and subtle core of my being. It came to me that, like the cup, I had to be a vessel that could hold what was poured into me. Only if I absorbed the knowledge given by my Guru would I fulfill the purpose of my birth, which is to attain the Self.

Did I not know this before? Of course, I did. Now, however, I reflected on it with intent. I realized that what matters is not how much knowledge I have received over the years, it is how much knowledge I have absorbed.

I continued to mull over this newly revealed wisdom, and after several days had passed, I attended a meeting with Gurumayi. In this meeting I made a presentation. While speaking, I felt thirsty and so I paused to drink some water. There was a pin-drop silence in the hall as someone passed me my water bottle. I opened it and started to drink. I took about three sips, slowly and with relish. I could feel the stream of water going down from my mouth into my throat, down my esophagus, and into my stomach. My heart felt refreshed. As I was putting the cap back on the bottle, I glanced at Gurumayi, who was looking at me with a benign smile and nodding her head. I smiled at Gurumayi in return, feeling that her smile was an affirmation of all I had been contemplating about what it means to absorb. I realized that for the first time in my life, water tasted like nectar and that, when taken in measure, it was capable of being absorbed and quenching my thirst.

This experience became a turning point in my Siddha Yoga sadhana. I had gained a new awareness of how Gurumayi imparts invaluable knowledge to us through her teachings and her being. When seekers are willing and open to receive this knowledge, then they are able to notice these teachings manifesting in their mundane activities—such as pouring tea into an orange cup! Gurumayi’s teachings now permeate my entire life.

Gurumayi has transformed a Dilli-wali into a dil-wali. Gurumayi has transformed me, a devotee from Delhi, into a devotee who abides in my own dil (heart), which is constantly refreshed by Gurumayi’s teachings.


About the Author

Dr. Pallavi Rathod began attending Siddha Yoga satsangs in 1982, the year she was born. Her grandfather led a Siddha Yoga meditation center at their house in New Delhi. Pallavi later served on staff in Gurudev Siddha Peeth for more than twelve years. She offered seva in the Music, Taruna Poshana, Publications, and Translation departments. Currently, Pallavi offers seva from home as a Hindi-language reviewer and translator for the SYDA Foundation. She lives in Thane, India with her husband, Abhijeet. She holds a PhD in Hindi language and literature.


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What an enlightening share! I am grateful to Pallavi for sharing her experience so generously. I too want to hold onto the wisdom that is bestowed upon us by Baba and Gurumayi. I realize that only by assimilating the Guru's teachings and guidance can I experience the essence of my true nature, which is the Self.

I’m inspired to study the Siddha Yoga teachings deeply, taking one teaching at a time and allowing it to become absorbed into my being. I'm feeling very excited and rejuvenated by the thought of doing this.

Thank you, Gurumayi!

a Siddha Yogi from Delhi, India

I was at a point in my career where I needed clarity and guidance in order to take my next step. Previously, whenever I needed guidance, I would receive it through my dreams. But that wasn’t happening this time, no matter how much I prayed.

I was wondering if I had done something wrong, thinking that perhaps I wasn’t doing my sadhana diligently enough.

Then one morning, I read Pallavi's Reflection on Gurumayi. Then I asked myself how much I had absorbed the guidance I had received through innumerable dreams. I understood that now it is time for me to absorb the grace and guidance I’ve received. Then I can move forward with ease, and the path will unfold naturally.

Thank you, Pallavi, for sharing this beautiful experience and understanding.

a Siddha Yogi from Hyderabad, India

Thank you, Dr. Pallavi, for sharing your experience so beautifully. I could connect to each and every word and was able to visualize the course of events as you described them. Truly inspiring!

a Siddha Yogi from Delhi, India

Thank you, Dr. Pallavi, for your deeply contemplative Reflection on Gurumayi. It is very inspirational. It reminds me that Shri Guru and her grace are ever-present. I’m the one who has to be receptive to the wisdom that she is always bestowing upon all beings everywhere. I have the understanding that I can do that by contemplating my actions and interactions.

a Siddha Yogi from Delhi, India

Like Pallavi, I have more than once experienced Gurumayi's words resounding in my mind, like sutras for me to contemplate time and time again. Many years ago in Gurudev Siddha Peeth, I met Gurumayi in a passageway as I was going towards my room to change my clothes for the evening arati. Gurumayi asked, "Where are you going?"

For me, at that time, Gurumayi’s words led me to reflect on where I was going in my work life, and I soon realized that the answer was, "Not very far!" I decided then that when I got back to the United States, I would resign from my job and start my own business. In my case, this was a good decision, which has allowed me to have more financial security and more time to offer seva.

I still keep contemplating, "Where am I going?" and that keeps me focused on this great path, doing the things that keep me aligned with my goal.

a Siddha Yogi from Connecticut, USA

Thank you, Pallavi, for your beautiful, generous, and honest sharing. It touched my heart very deeply, as if your words were the water I drank and absorbed slowly with care and awareness.

a Siddha Yogi from Oregon, USA

Thank you, Pallavi, for your Reflection. It inspires me and helps me to understand that it is not only important to learn, but also to absorb and implement.

a Siddha Yogi from Mumbai, India

What a beautifully descriptive share! Thank you, Dr. Pallavi. I could imagine the interaction with Gurumayi so easily, as I also had a wonderful moment with Gurumayi just near that spot. We passed each other and Gurumayi smiled at me. In that moment, my heart burst open and seemed to expand for miles. For hours my face had a permanent smile, and I was experiencing meditation while carrying out seva. It was a life-changing moment.

Thank you for sharing your experience, and reminding me of my own.

a Siddha Yogi from Hurlstone Park, Australia

This is indeed a reminder for me of the importance of absorption. Pallavi's Reflection gives me a crystal clear indication to install the Guru’s words in my heart. 

a Siddha Yogi from Khargone, India

Thank you to Dr. Pallavi for sharing what she learned about absorbing the Guru's teachings. My heart felt dry and blocked before I read her words this morning. My heart feels open now, and my own understanding of the Siddha Yoga path I am walking has been refreshed.

a Siddha Yogi from Cologne, Germany

Thank you, Pallavi, for reminding us of the goal of sadhana— absorption in the Guru and the Guru's teachings—and the need to be a strong vessel to hold the experience, to hold the knowledge.
Since the beginning of Birthday Bliss 2014, I have been diving into Gurumayi's books. As I do so, it feels in some way like I am reading these books for the first time. Yet I have in fact read them at many different times over nearly three decades of Siddha Yoga practice.
Today, the words seem to enter me more deeply; they seem to resonate with every cell in my being. I grow still. My heart recognizes the truth of the Guru's words; all the answers are here, and always have been. What has changed is my ability to hear, to hold the experience, to hold the knowledge.

Although the journey is not yet complete, I am filled with gratitude for the Guru, for her teachings and her grace that illumine this sacred path, and for the Siddha Yoga practices that have enabled me to hear the teachings more deeply and to hold the shakti more profoundly.

a Siddha Yogi from Vienna, Austria

Pallavi's discussion of absorption held particular meaning for me. I spend a few minutes each day checking out the new postings on the Siddha Yoga path website, but I don't always spend the time necessary to absorb and assimilate their insights fully into my being. 
So now, when I am feeling dry or a little disconnected inside, it will be wonderful to think of Pallavi's reflection and remember that Gurumayi's grace permeates my life always—and that my part is to open myself up to perceive it, and absorb it fully. After all, we have such a rich bounty of practices and teachings given by our Guru—if we fully assimilated just a few of them, or even one, that would be enough to get us to the goal.
Thank you, Gurumayi, always! And thank you, Pallavi, for this beautiful reflection, whose contemplation  will surely benefit my absorption of the Guru's teachings.

a Siddha Yogi from New York, USA