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Sharing Experiences with Swami Rama

by Jyothi Pattabhiram

[This is from a transcript of a talk given by Jyothi Pattabhiram before a Bharatanatyam performance on 2nd March 2019 at the 2019 Sangha Gathering at Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama in Rishikesh, India. Jyothi is a Bharatanatyam dancer and teacher and a disciple of Swami Rama of the Himalayas. She has trained hundreds of students in classical dance and has also choreographed many dance-dramas. She blends the art of dance and the science of yoga and teaches ways of evolving spiritual dimensions of one’s personality through art, dance and music.]

When the performance is going on, if the spectators are elevated to the equal level of the mood of the emotions that are invoked and evoked in the dance drama, and if they are able to, the spectators are able to elevate themselves to this level, then the ascetic enjoyment takes place. This is called rasanu bhava in Sanskrit and I am proud to say that this is the unique contribution of Indian culture and Indology to the world over. This ascetic joy or ascetic experience in the Nāṭya-śāstra is considered equal to the spiritual experiences or moksha or liberation or samadhi. So in India, art is never a mere entertainment. Art is an uplifting activity elevating the soul to be in union with the divine. So when I met Swami Rama in Sadhana Mandir in one of my visits, he asked me, “Betee, tum kya chaahatee ho?” What do you want? So many times he had asked me and then one of the occasions he asked me like this, I said my favourite text, scripture on dance that is Bharata Muni’s Nāṭya-śāstra declares that Nāṭya is Brahmānanda sahodara. The brother of Brahmānanda, Nāṭya is. So, Gurudev made me explore that aspect of my inner self. I am talking about twenty-five years back when I met him. I said if you bless me to have this kind of an in-depth insight and experience of dance as samadhi, if at all I deserve it. He just looked up at the sky and said, ‘Ma Bhagavadti, Mother Divine.’ He always granted me whatever I asked for, whatever I asked for. So much so that I have stopped asking for anything now. I don’t need anything else. That is the beauty of my spiritual journey with my Gurudev. Initially I had lot of demands. Lots and lots of demands. The more he started fulfilling them, the more I became conscious of this.

After Swami Rama left his body in 1996, in 1997, Swami Veda organised a wonderful Shri Vidya seminar for ten days in which myself and my husband were participants, and Swamiji asked me to perform on Devi, based on Saundarya Lahari text of Adi Shankaracharya. After the performance, he came on to the stage, I don’t know how he came to know that on that particular day was my birthday, and I never revealed it to anyone, and believe me, he did the arati to me, yes, and he said, ‘I am blessing you, I wish that you become the Saint Mira of your Nṛtya-loka, the world of dance.’

Swamiji has always showed a lot of love and blessings on me. Whenever I used to get confused with whatever Swami Rama used to tell me when I am in the ashram because most of the time Swami Rama would be esoteric, very mystical and very coded, in his expressions and I would get very confused. So I would run to Swamiji, that time he was Pundit Usharbudh Arya. And I would seek explanations for whatever Baba would tell me. I’m in so much of love, and lovingly, Swamiji would explain what exactly Swami Rama meant about anything he made a statement about. So I always cherished these wonderful memories about Swami Veda, and when Rabindra [Sahu] contacted me and said can you present a performance for this Sangha Gathering, I had no other option but to say yes. Cause this is the bondage, a bonding of love, a spiritual love that we all share with each other.

Yesterday, many of you shared your experiences with Swami Rama and Swami Veda. I didn’t have the opportunity to do it. But I will always feel that I am born to do this Guru seva, service at the feet of the Guru, by sharing my experiences with Swami Rama so that it is not only talking about myself, but let it be a beautiful inspiration to others to find out what a great lineage that we all belong to and a great team of sages are working at the back constantly blessing all the sadhakas who come in contact with this great spiritual lineage of Himalayan tradition.

I was here when everybody shared your experiences and everybody talked about Swami Rama when he was in his body. So I felt that it is incomplete. Out of hundreds of my experiences, I have chosen only one to share with you because the occasion is different today that we have to present the dance drama. The day Swamiji left his body, Swami Rama, I was in deep depression. I was in Bangalore in my house and I was supposed to go to college as I was teaching English Literature in a college but I cancelled it because I was in no mood to go. Then I was crying, weeping and preparing breakfast for my little daughter, she was just two years old at that time. Preparing breakfast for her then I heard a voice in the kitchen. It was Swami Rama’s voice, ‘Betee, why are you crying? Why do you cry over my dead body? Do you think I have gone away? No. You want to meet me really?’ I am quoting these statements from my memory because they are engraved in my memory. ‘You want to meet me? Come. Not only now, whenever you want to meet me, you can meet me in your meditation.’ He always gives me a blank cheque. So, we have a separate meditation room and then I just went upon his instructions, went and sat over there. Within few seconds I was totally absorbed in my meditation and Baba started instructing me. He said, ‘Can you see something in front of you?’ I said yes. ‘Tell me what,’ he said. I said, ‘It is a reflection of me but there is a difference. I am a body made of blood, bones, flesh and everything. But what I am seeing as a mirror is my body of light.’ He said, ‘Good. Now, because I love you so much, and I have great compassion, I have given you this experience of your body of light. Now, I am fixing this target for you: that in this lifetime, you are going to realise your own body of light.’ He said, ‘Happy? Are you now convinced that I am always with you? I’ll be very unhappy if you shed tears for any reason. My love to you,’ and he disappeared.



The Himalayan Tradition of Yoga Meditation

Purification of Thoughts     Dhyana    Mindfulness
Japa     Dharana     Shavasana
Breath Awareness     Qualified Preceptor
Guru Disciple Relationship     Unbroken Lineage
Yoga Nidra     Silence Retreats     Full Moon Meditation

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