Soft rain was falling on the morning of June 28. The air felt fresh after the storms of the previous day.
A number of us—visiting sevites and staff—came to Shri Nilaya for the regularly scheduled midday namasankirtana and arati. A spirit of celebration was still very much palpable. The children were talking animatedly at the front of the hall; participants were turning to their neighbors and sharing experiences and insights from the past few days.
Just then, Gurumayi entered the hall. We rose to our feet at once and greeted Gurumayi enthusiastically. We’d be celebrating with Gurumayi once more!
After speaking for a few moments with the children and young teens, Gurumayi took her seat. She smiled and asked who had recently arrived.
Shubha de Oliveria Thompson, the head of the Taruna Poshana Department, introduced my family next. We had arrived the day before from San Diego, California. Gurumayi welcomed us and asked my teenage son about a lacrosse tournament he had recently played in.
After the introductions were complete, Gurumayi invited Ranjan Bratkovski, another vocalist in the ensemble, to introduce the chant. Ranjan told us we would be chanting Jay Jay Vitthale in the Bhairavi raga.
We began the namasankirtana, hailing the divine in the form of Lord Vitthal. “Jay Jay Vitthale!” we chanted, “Jay Jay Vitthale!” The chant was spirited, jubilant, full of reverence. Our voices blended into one, united in joy in the presence of our beloved Guru.
At the conclusion of the chant we sang Jyota se Jyota Jagao
. We rested a moment in the sacred silence that followed.
Gurumayi smiled and asked us to say in unison the virtue for that day.
“Worthiness!” we exclaimed.
“Beautiful,” Gurumayi said. “And I hope you all feel worthy.”
“Yes!” we responded.
Gurumayi then invited us to share how we recognize our own worthiness.
Several hands went up immediately. Gurumayi invited a teenage boy from Canada to share first. He stood up and said: “In school I sometimes compare myself to others, thinking, ‘I’m not worthy because this person got a higher mark than I did on a test.’ But something that both my parents have always stressed is not to look to others for approval or praise, and not to compare myself to others. Self-validation is the best kind of worthiness.”
“And continuing to excel,” Gurumayi said.
The boy responded, “Yes, exactly!”
Gurumayi thanked the young man and invited another participant, Arti Shishodia, a visiting sevite from Mumbai, to speak. Arti shared, “When I offer seva, when I contribute in any way I can, I really feel worthy.”
At Gurumayi’s request, Arti told us that she has been offering seva
as a translator in India for nearly twenty years, translating between English and Hindi during teaching and learning events in Gurudev Siddha Peeth and more recently for the Siddha Yoga path website. We all applauded her sustained commitment to seva
A visiting sevite from Germany who is offering seva in the Multimedia Department, stood up to share next. “Last year I really wanted to learn to play the piano,” she said. “And I thought, maybe I’m a little bit old to start playing. But I did it anyway. And I’m very happy because playing the piano gives me a lot of joy. I realize that I needed to feel worthy to even consider doing it.”
Gurumayi then spoke about Tejas, the young boy who has been an active participant in the Janmadin ki Jay Jay! celebrations and who had brought all the Trustees together in unity. Gurumayi asked Lilavati Stewart to share an anecdote from the weekend.
“On Saturday, Tejas and I had lunch with the Trustees,” Lilavati said. “And Tejas asked one of the Trustees, ‘What does the word Trustee mean?’ So one of the Trustees explained that it means being ‘entrusted’ with and ‘responsible’ for something.”
Lilavati recounted that Tejas wasn’t sure about the word responsibility because he’d heard adults referring to responsibility as a burden. He said, “They put their hands on their heads and say, ‘Remember the good old days? Remember when we weren’t responsible for anything?’” So Tejas told the Trustees that he really didn’t want responsibility yet—he wanted to enjoy his childhood.
“And have fun,” Gurumayi said. Tejas nodded vigorously.
Gurumayi thanked Lilavati and said, “Having heard that story, I realized that all of you really need to learn how beautiful the word responsibility is. I grew up loving that word. And you can make it fun, when you bring any of the sadguna vaibhava to the word responsibility.”
When I pondered Gurumayi’s statement about bringing the sadguna vaibhava—the divine virtues—into my responsibilities, I had an exhilarating insight. The virtues give us concrete ways to approach the responsibilities of our daily lives. We can, for example, fulfill our duties to our family, work, and community with love, with generosity, with worthiness—rather than out of a feeling of obligation. This in turn can transform our experience of carrying out those responsibilities—and we could have a lot more fun! In this way, the virtues manifest through our actions and uplift those around us, and we can experience the great beauty inherent in responsibility. What a profound teaching Gurumayi was giving us through this anecdote!
Madhavi smiled and announced that she would sing a bhajan by Kabir, Maya Maha Thagani. She explained that in this bhajan, Kabir praises the supreme Shakti, the creative power of the divine, who assumes the form of everything in this world. Madhavi’s voice was sweet and clear as she sang a cappella; she seemed completely absorbed in offering this song to Gurumayi with all her heart.
When Madhavi concluded, Gurumayi smiled at Madhavi with so much love and said, “Bahut sundar”—very beautiful.
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