Ahymsin Newsletter: Yoga is Samadhi
  AHYMSIN Newsletter, Issue - May 2013  

Saving the World, One Breath at a Time

by Jim Whiting

2013 Sangha Gathering, Rishikesh

After a 15 hour flight, 4 hours on three trains, and a 6 hour cab ride, I was exhausted. My partner Michelle and I had been getting ready for the last 2 years, but no amount of planning or studying travel guides could have prepared us for the experience of India.

Outside the gates of the Delhi International Airport, I stood looking for our driver holding up a sign with our names and destination, SRSG, Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama. I scanned the cards held by the many drivers eagerly awaiting their fares. Not here, not at any of the 6 gate exits I breezed past. Panic began to nibble at the corners of my thoughts. Perhaps I should go back in and see if there is anyone inside who can help, but the solider carrying an automatic weapon quickly discouraged any such thought with a forceful "No" as he barred my re-entry to the airport.

More panic, biting a little harder at the edges.

Breathe my mantra, calm the mind. Ten minutes later, salvation.

The cab driver, Rapesh, as I would come to know him, could handle the chaos of driving in Delhi like a master. Every time I was sure we would be soon meet an untimely demise, with ease he would pop in and out of lanes; sometimes Rapesh even created his own. The highway surrounding the airport became a single lane road, the single lane road became a dirt road. A blur of shops, busy merchants, carts, people, motorcycles, tatas, ox carts, dogs and goats whizzed by as we headed toward Rishikesh.

Click to see full panorama!

Every 3 years at SRSG, AHYMSIN gathers for 10 days of teachings, vows and organizational business. This year Swami Veda Bharati would be taking a 5 year vow of silence. Over two and 1/2 years ago in New Jersey, while Swamiji bestowed his blessings, he asked when he would see me again. Not really knowing for sure, I told him "I will see you in India in 2013." We were committed, and one does not make a commitment to a Swami lightly.

As we arrived at the Ashram, Rapesh almost drove into a gathering of serious looking pandits, his brakes grinding to a halt in a cloud of dust. Embarrassment, and puzzled looks aside, we were able to secure our quarters in the student housing building. We were led to our room by a fellow whose kind spirit and smile was disarming, encouraging our complete trust in him. An energy that just radiated love. I would see him in the days to come and many others here radiating love, joyful, smiling, and radiating peace.I was going to like India.

5:30 AM. Joints and glands with Asanas every morning lead by student teachers living at the ashram for 1, 3 and 5 years, living the tradition. I found myself slightly jealous that when I was as young as these future teachers I had not the discipline, nor the spiritual maturity to walk that path. After years of crooked time streams and the weight of a thousand burdens, only in the last year has the opportunity to surrender up my baggage begun to occupy some thought and space in my practice. Not as some form of escapism, but the only sane way to live, in an insane world.

Everyday was full of teachings we sat for hours enthralled as Stoma explained neuroplasticity of the Brain, Swami Radha Bharati called forth the Rishis and the origins of the Himalayan tradition, Swami Ritavan lead us in Yoga Nidra, and David Frawley expounded on the Shiva principle. These teachings stretched my imagination, sparked my sankalpa, fueled my desire to learn more about the origins of the tradition, but it was the 2 hours every day when we sat at the feet of Swami Veda Bharati that the tradition came most alive for me.

Swami Veda Bharati was the first Swami I met in this life. Swami Rama had left his body several years before. Stories were often told of how Swami Rama could be in two places at once, could know what someone was thinking, and even heal someone’s cancer. I had heard many stories of other swamis who could do miraculous feats. I often wondered what was Swami Veda’s power? Was it a secret?

Over the course of the next 10 days he revealed it to us.

"My Master one day said it was time to teach me some powers" Swami Veda recounted, "I said 'No, master I do not want them'.” Turning to us, he asked “Why would I want to read your mind? Why would I want to invade your privacy?" He told us of the many traps along the spiritual path. “Once my Master was entertaining some people of great importance, as they bowed to kiss his feet, I thought “How come no one bows and kisses my feet?” As they got up, my master said, “now kiss his feet!”

Laughing, Swami Veda Bharati lifts the heart, even as he delves into revealing the ancient teachings, he opens the heart with a smile and a laugh, letting you know there is nothing to be so serious about. Over the ten days, swamis, dancers, artists, and even princes paid their respects to Swami Veda before he began his vow of silence. He continued to reveal more of his secret power.

I learned that he had the ashram built and named it not after himself, but after his master Swami Rama. Swami Veda personally funds many charities, and would often provide the money to keep the ashram open and functioning, with little or no credit to himself. The only picture I could find of him at the ashram was of his hands held together in a prayer position.

"In America, they say ‘Hey Swami, How are you doing Swami?’ In India, they bow down and kiss the Swami's feet. I stopped them from doing it, but they thought that I was cursing them, so I had to allow it." Swami Veda laughed heartily, with a twinkle in his eye, as if he was letting you in on a great secret. In a way he was. He was reveling his secret power, the light and love that can only radiate from someone who has surrendered all ego. Who looks at the world through eyes of love, who loves all that he sees and encounters.

When I was younger, I would spend many hours poring through comic books reading stories of heroes who would save the world. Now years from that time, I realize that those who can see through the eyes of love, those who can tame the monstrous ego are the real heroes that will save our world. Men and women dedicated to teaching us how to love others as ourselves, how to not only survive in what seems to be an insane world, but how to lift ourselves and our brothers and sisters up with love.

As I sat listening to Swami Veda Bharati I realized his power was the greatest of power of all, that all he has done was with the power of love. Love with selfless devotion. We were all gathered to share in that love and to bask in its glow. Swami Veda Bharati called all of us a family, an international family. He insisted we come together, to work together to keep the family functioning. He gave a book Sadhana in Applied Spirituality as a guide, a handbook to be our practice in the coming years. He gave each of us a shawl printed with the gayatri mantra to cover ourselves in the days to come. He gave us recording of the Mantras to be practiced. He gave us all the tools we needed to carry on as he moved into silence.

The days I spent at SRSG I meet many of this international family, what came to feel as close to me as my own family. Sharing stories and experiences, traveling together. I came to see a place for me in this great worldwide spiritual family. But, what brought us together, glued us all together as a family is the love Swami Veda Bharati gave to us.

Click to see full panorama!

Everyday he shared his wisdom, everyday he shared his love and everyday he uses his secret power to save the world.


Editor’s Note:

To learn more of the mantras to be practiced, please see: http://ahymsin.org/main/practice/practice-for-the-next-five-years-and-the-rest-of-your-life.html


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