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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