Wednesday, August 26, 2009

India Passages



The Boeing 777 infotainment center invited me to any number of diversions. I could play games, watch movies and even shop (duty-free, no less). That all seemed a million miles removed from the apartment in Delhi (Dwarka, Sector 6) where the barriers of geography and language kept us focused on the countdown to our flight to Ahmedabad.

Each time I visit India I experience days that seem to stretch out infinitely to the horizon. Generally they’re days spent in a huge city, and usually, language barriers create a feeling of confinement. This trip hewed to the pattern, as our hosts tended to our every need (some real, some imagined) while our furtive attempts at gesticulating our desires (transport to the Lodi Gardens and the Red Fort) brought fresh chapattis to the table. India’s capacity to catalyze growth most assuredly is not confined to the practices of yoga and meditation.

After our de facto retreat, the journey to Mahuva began. It had been two years since I’d visited Morari Bapu at his Indian home, and I was thrilled to be bringing my wife along on her first trip to India. Collette had met Bapu before - at the Cincinnati Ram Katha in 2008, and when Bapu blessed our Blue Mounds Dharma Center back in 2006. Visiting Bapu’s Gurukul, however, was something we’d never before shared, and we were both excited by the prospect.

The flight from Delhi to Ahmedabad was pleasantly brief. The car ride from Ahmedabad to Mahuva took the better part of the day, though underscored the diversity of the Indian subcontinent. We over-photographed the surfeit of monkeys in Uttar Pradesh, which gave way to the hard-working camels of the Gujarati state. I half expected to see cigarettes dangling from the mouths of these camels - they had the look of Depression-era workmen whose 16-hour workday were a warm-up for a night of drinking with the boys. The camels had endearingly soft eyes, yet never for a moment was I tempted to think one of these beasts needed a hug.

Our passage from Ahmedabad to Mahuva came in the diesel-powered Tata Indica. While the V-2 engine was a wonderfully efficient power-plant, passing a camel-driven cart into the blinking headlights of a speeding bus was an act of faith. Like the flight of a bumblebee, the laws of physics dictated these passes were impossible, yet for 5-hours they were executed without damage to buses, camels, Indica or its passengers.

Upon our arrival at Gurukul, any stresses were immediately washed away. Bapu had been expecting us, and his staff made sure we’d feel welcome. Bapu was in his final days of his yearly month-long silence and the aura of Gurukul reflected a depth of tranquility.

Shortly before dinner Bapu invited us to his home a few miles away. It had been over one year since we last shared time together in Cincinnati, and it was a joy to lay eyes on Bapu! As ever, his tranquil demeanor was only overshadowed by the richness of his heart. Though we didn’t have words to convey our thoughts, the waves of love conveyed the essence of the Bhakti Yoga that Bapu so elegantly teaches.

For the next hour we sat with Bapu as a line of visitors streamed through on the quest for Shaktipat - spiritual advancement through proximity to the teacher. As we sat there, Bapu withdrew the chalkboard he used to communicate during the month of Shraaven Maas. He wrote the simple phrase;

Crying when we’re born, smiling while we live, and dancing when we die.

It seemed a particularly apt expression of the optimism that fuels the fires of India, and the message of hope and inclusion spread by Bapu.

We were fortunate enough to enjoy another four days with Bapu. Each day unfolded in twists and turns entirely unexpected, and each day brought us newly out of our intellects and into our hearts. What a gift!

Thank you Bapu, for the gracious welcome at Gurukul, and in particular, for the generosity of your spirit. You offered that we may visit at any time, and Collette and I are agreed this should happen sooner than later!

I’m excited to resume my teaching schedule later this week, and trust the richness of this time with Bapu will animate our classes together. I invite you to join me for in-person classes and also for the upcoming online classes. Using the vocabulary of Hatha Yoga - shall we continue our journey on the Yogic Path?

Namaste and Jai Siya Raam,
Scott
www.alignmentyoga.com

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