The breeze flows gently through the trees as I lie in savasana this morning. It’s quiet. No one stirs around me. An occasional car horn sounds from the road a mere 200 feet through the trees. Though the sound of rubber on the roads is constant, the brush hides passersby from my vision. Empty branches provide camouflage although occasionally a shiny flash from a cyclist’s helmet speeds by. Other than that, the road is invisible. So am I.
The Gurukula is sleeping this morning, most people exhausted from yesterday’s Pooja celebration. The annual event has traditionally been an opportunity to give back to the villagers of Kagliapura for all that they do for the Gurukala all year. Using the Guru’s birthday as an excuse to celebrate, family members and friends of the Gurukala gather to cook and decorate and entertain community. It is a joyful day for prayer, learning, celebration and sharing a meal together.
In preparation, we put up tents all over the land to accommodate those guests who ch0ose to sleep over. Cooking happens throughout the night in outside kitchens temporarily erected for the purpose. There are cooking jobs for anyone who wants to participate. Our plan is to serve 150 guests during the afternoon. Ravi, the chief chef and Mah’s son-in-law, is our ‘fearless leader’ - planning, shopping, delegating, cooking and serving the bunch. Music plays into the wee hours and is there to welcome the sun in the morning, with delicious breakfast and then lunch.
Curries, rice dishes, an array of fresh vegetables, chutneys, papadam and salads leave no body hungry! Sweet paisam finishes off any cravings one might have. Lined up against the walls of the prayer hall, people come to eat from banana leave plates and drink water from paper cups. It is a full day of friendship, interaction and party. Not every day is like that at The Gurukula.
It’s a very special place here. Somehow I get lost in the experience of gathering with others to create sacred space for cooperative celebration. Here, extended family and friends share a vision of communal living and giving back to the universe. People who thrive together working towards a better world care about their own wellbeing as well as that of others in the community, and ultimately for the greater world.
|Guru Muni and me|
Gurukula is a place where people come to pray and learn. The leader, Guru Muni lives in Varkala and visits our small Gurukala outside of Bangalore at least once a year. At 76 years old, Guru Muni is a sweet man who jovially shares his ideas with others. I have heard recently someone describing his road to enlightenment as being a bond created between himself and his Guru. Kind words with a gentle humility, Guru shares his teaching with excitement and joy that makes listening to him wonderful, even if, sometimes, we don’t share the same ideas.
Something happens to me at Gurukula. I lose myself when I’m here, and yet I find myself at the same time. Like Alice falling down the rabbit hole, I feel a sense of unencumbered freedom that inspires my daily activity.
|Mah and me|
Perhaps it is my relationship with the Gurukula Mother, Mah. Over the years, we have become extremely close. Ours is a beautiful example of when “East meets West”. Mah is deeply learned and a spiritual seeking soul. She lives simply, and peacefully seeking calm within the geographic limitation established by the Gurukala and by India in general. Only recently, since having been granted Sennyasa, has she ventured from her physical roots to learn more about her world.
And then there’s me. I too seek spiritual clarity and embrace deeper ways of learning about the world around me. My western background and specific skills drive my expression in ways so different from Mah. And, yet, she and I understand each other and respect the traditions by which each of us expresses our selves. When Mah and I get together, Manju, her youngest daughters laughs warningly and says…”Watch out India! Here they come!” Both Mah and I feel blessed with what we share together.
As I lie in Savasana this morning I settle in and ground myself to the earth. I mindfully embrace the pure essence of Gurukula with all it provides for me. I hope I can continue to share that essence with all those I love everywhere in this wonderful world and to bring the best practices together in the beauty of meeting East with West.