October 28, 2012 by annapurnadevika
Words. It has been so difficult to find them. For someone who almost never stops talking about nothing, well, that’s probably a good thing. When I listen within myself, all I can hear is a melody and ancient words that are both familiar and foreign on my tongue: Sri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram. Sri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram. Sri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram. I can translate these words for you, but if you a
To be sure, rough moments arise and sting. From sweltering, stressful Delhi and the slimy brown pollution you feel you can’t wash off for days, to the way you know, even though you don’t want to know, that profound oppression and all manner of violence, the likes of which you can probably only imagine if you really, really try, is breathing hard hot breath to stoke the fire of the deep, depressed poverty in the villages you pass on the way to Heaven, to the way your shoulders or neck or lower back ache as you sit with your hands crossed tightly against your heart or tucked deeply in the space between your thighs and your sticky vinyl train seat because what else can you do to stop such madness. From the constant, constant aggressive, angry screaming of the honking horns as trucks, buses, cars, motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians careen about everywhere and all the time, to the pitiful yelped whimpering of skin-and-bone dogs and the sad mooing of cows digesting discarded newspapers and plastic or foil wrappers; to the bottomless hunger that stuns – you didn’t know it was still there, are maybe ashamed to allow it to arise because you’ve been fed so much Grace for such a long time now – as you silently wait with brothers and sisters in the Darshan line. And yet. Sri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram. Sri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram.
We arrive at the ashram just as Maharajji Aarti is ending. I walk slowly through the gates, pranamming at each small mandir along the way, savoring the longing of the pull towards Maharajji’s Takkat, now adorned with a perfect beautiful Mala and marigold petals sparkling on the spotless marble steps. I am greeted with hugs and quietly whispered shouts of “Ram Ram! You made it! Welcome home!” by beloved souls still basking in the warmth of the Aarti lamp fire. I feel like a true pilgrim, my journey having started many years ago, and for a while my mind is soft and quiet; I am relieved of the burden of thinking I carry around with me – almost always my mind is one or twenty steps ahead of where my body soul is – for now though I am not thinking that I will also leave here too soon, that the journey, which is often frightening and overwhelming for me, is not yet over, it is never over. For a spell, which may last an hour or a week, depending on how awake and present I can be, I can just Be Here Now. Be Love Now.
There are only a few Westerners in Kainchi this year, eight or ten or twelve, and I am whisked to the front of the Darshan line by familiar, friendly hands. It seems we are going to be very lucky today, up until the point at which the line of waiting souls grows not only long but also thick and we are held back, creating more moments to be immersed in luscious longing. I think, “The chokidar could keep me waiting all day” and hold this beatific thought until soon, too soon! my tummy rumbles with hunger and my ears perk up to catch the ringing of the lunch bell. Ah well. I am not much of a pilgrim, not much of a “good” devotee either, and certainly I don’t have the makings of any kind of saint. I am, I realize with a small, resigned sigh, still my body. I want to have an old spirit, not old and used up, but to be an “old soul.” That sounds so wise and grounded. But instead, I am fifty-five with a hula hoop and a rumbling tummy. Ok, a few hula hoops and more childish needs than I care to name. The first time I met Mata-ji, she asked me my name and age and when I told Her, she burst out laughing. She was still sitting on the floor in those days and as she laughed Her hand bounced up and down against Her leg. Choti Choti Choti! Ha Ha Ha! Jaya translated: “Mother says you will always be a child!” Choti Choti Choti! Ha Ha Ha! And I am, I know. A child wondering how to live a world of adult demands and lost innocence, a world that’s grown up far faster than it seems it should have, given that we are all really just children.
I inch my way toward Ma’s door, rocked gently (not always that gently) by the waves of people pushing their way across the threshold, and then, suddenly, caught in the stream of moving bodies, I am there, in front of Her. Feeling a bit lightheaded, as though in a dream, I pranam, I unfold my body and heart and mind and soul in front of Her, and my forehead, by Grace, rests on Her Feet, on top of Her white, white sari. I look up into Her eyes. Love and compassion and deep, deep knowing are aimed like a golden arrow at my tremendous sorrow in the face of so much loss these past years and then I am sitting in the glowing light of profound joy and gratitude for being right here right now, finally, finally. And then the tears come. Tears upon tears upon tears roll down my pale face. Tears, be they of sorrow or joy, that I’ve wanted to shed, but have held back against the field stonewall I’ve built around my heart these past months. Oh! More tears than I want to shed come. They will not stop, even though I want them too, even though I know it’s too much, even though I know I am smiling now, I can still feel them rolling down, rolling down, rolling down. I bow my head. Sri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram. Sri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram.
Mother showers me with love. Mother lays Her hand on my back. She keeps Her hand there for what seems like a long time, a lifetime. I look up. Mother pats my head, tenderly strokes my head. She gives me Her hand. I hold Her hand in mine in a way that is both light and holding on for dear life. I touch my forehead to Her hand, and just for part of part of a part of a second, lightly lay my cheek there. I look back up into Her eyes. She allows me to hold Her gaze and then asks for my name, which startles me, for I know She knows who this small person before Her is. And before I can answer, if answer I even could, to say, “Mata-ji, I am Devika,” a devotee replies, “Mata-ji, it is Annapurna, from Taos.” Ma nods; I think She says “Bahot acha,” but I can’t be sure. And then it’s over. The chokidar is saying tik hai, chalo chalo jao chalo. Again I pranam. Mother’s stocking-clad Foot has come out from under Her sari. My head is so near, but I have already placed my forehead there and only to pranam to it, not on it. I have seen Her Foot before, bare, and Maharajji’s, in dreams. I know exactly what She is showing me, Her message to me. I breathe in deeply. I feel I am pranamming for myself, for all my brothers and sisters who cannot be here right now and maybe never, for my mother, for my stepfather and family, for the whole universe. Do I have that much love inside of me, that much room inside my heart, to take this moment, which is ‘mine’ and share it with others? I don’t know. Probably not. But in this moment, yes, I do. In this moment, that’s all the matters. Sri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram. Sri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram.
I float out of Her room and almost immediately, my tummy rumbles again. That’s ok. I know I’ve come here to be fed. Later, I relive this Darshan many times. In the afternoon I think, “My name is Annapurna. I hope I can live up to it.”
Sri Love Jai Love Jai Jai Love.