Category Archives: Memoirs

Only spirituality is liberal, all else is shallow and constrained|| Volunteer’s Diary (2019)


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It’s 18th March’19 today, yet another Free Hearts Camp with Acharya Prashant Ji came to a closure in the city of Rishikesh, the spiritual capital of the world, a popular attraction for thousands of spiritual seekers from all over the world and home to the much coveted Myth Demolition Tour of Acharya Prashant Ji.

After the camp, the team of volunteers decided to visit a nearby Shiv-Durga Temple with Acharya Prashant Ji, we left our vehicle almost half a kilometer from the temple and had to walk for rest of the distance. Right from coming out of the car, I heard some music being played a bit far away, it was not a bhajan or a song dedicated to either Shiva or Durga, I was able to appreciate this much. After going even further into the narrow street, I recognised that it was a sufi song of Amir Khusro, those who don’t know who Amir Khusro is, let me quote a few lines from his wiki-page,

Amīr Khusro (1253 – 1325), was a Sufi musician, poet and scholar from India. He was a mystic and a spiritual disciple of Nizamuddin Auliya of Delhi, India. Khusro is sometimes referred to as the “voice of India” (Tuti-e-Hind), and has been called the “father of Urdu literature.”‘

His beautiful sufi song was being played near a Shiv-Durga Temple!

To which, Acharya Ji, helped me see that how Amir Khusro Sahab’s popular song ‘Chhap Tilak Sab Cheeni Re’ is being played as a tribute from Shakti (Durga) to Shiva. Now, you too should read the lyrics in the same light:

छाप तिलक सब छीनी रे मोसे नैना मिलाइके

बात अगम कह दीनी रे मोसे नैना मिलाइके

प्रेम भटी का मधवा पिलाइके

मतवाली कर लीनी रे मोसे नैना मिलाइके

गोरी गोरी बईयाँ, हरी हरी चूड़ियाँ

बईयाँ पकड़ हर लीनी रे मोसे नैना मिलाइके

बल बल जाऊं मैं तोरे रंग रजवा

अपनी सी रंग दीनी रे मोसे नैना मिलाइके

ख़ुसरो निजाम के बल बल जाए

मोहे सुहागन कीनी रे मोसे नैना मिलाइके

बात अजब कह दीनी रे मोसे नैना मिलाइके

Isn’t it beautiful?

A song coming from the disciple of Hazart Nizzamuddin Auliya Sahab fits so well even near-by a Shiv-Durga Temple. This struck as a lightening to me, made me ask my guru, Acharya Prashant Ji, ‘What exactly is real tolerance? What is to be a liberal?’

To which Acharya Prashant Ji said,

What is real tolerance towards the other?

” When you forget that the other is the other. Real tolerance is spiritual surrender and union, in which neither the self nor the other remain. Real tolerance is spiritual love, which dry intellect can never know.”

What is it to be liberal?

“To be liberal is to liberally allow the demolition and dissolution of one’s identity, intellect, ideology, and beliefs. Only spirituality is liberal.”

Now, I was almost in front of the temple.

And what I saw there, left me awestruck.

The song was being played inside the Temple itself!

I hurried towards my phone to record this bit because I very well knew that this won’t be telecasted on the prime time news debates, because this stark fact can’t trigger any debates. This is an end to all the mental gymnastics we see all over the Internet and Television in the name of liberalism and religion.

Now, listen to this for yourself:

This video shows Real tolerance. Let the liberals learn a lesson.

Amir Khusro, a Muslim. His songs being sung in Shiv-Durga mandir.

Real Rishikesh.

Tolerance is not acceptance of diversity. Tolerance is love.

Most importantly: Real tolerance is NOT secular. Real tolerance is deeply spiritual.

And: Only spirituality is liberal. All else is shallow and constrained.

Let the liberals learn.

This post is written by a volunteer of PrashantAdvait Foundation


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Understand the Language

This picture brings a great memory to me. On the third day of the 31st Advait Learning Camp, we were taking a stroll through the lush landscape of Mukteshwar. From nowhere a dog came along and started wagging its tail lovingly at Acharya Ji.
I was observing this from a distance. Acharya Ji bowed down and started brushing the dog’s head.
He said, “Look, this creature neither has any relation with any of us nor it has ever encountered us before. Yet, it chose to meet us, without any fear, so innocently, without worrying about any consequences.”
That struck a chord within me. The creature was so full of innocence that there was no room for fear. So, as there was no room for fear, it was able to meet and accept the world with a loving gesture.
Can we live like this, every moment?

Everything is clear with the Guru


The day had been tiring with many loose ends to tie and many things to wrap up before I call it a day. Between all of this I knew that I had to leave for Chopta too. I was looking forward to drive all the way on my humble Thunderbird and that too alongside Acharya Ji on his faithful Enfield Classic 500.

In the dead of the night we embarked on this long drive to cover 400 Kms to cover in over 6 hours. The road slithered across the landscape with both of us chasing it and only the constant hum of the engines occupying the silence of the night.

Half our way through the journey, it started to pour down heavily and we decided to take a break for some tea and bread. We sat in silence for a while before I ventured and asked, “Acharya Ji, would you like to call it a day? It is pouring heavily outside and the day had been tiring. We can leave after a few hours and reach the camp with a delay of a few hours.”

Acharya Ji, considered the question as he gazed blankly into empty space and turning the gaze to me, he said, “If we take rest we risk getting a lot more late than just a few hours. The body has not rested for a long time now.”

I looked at him in the eye and without any exchange of words all was decided. After finishing our meals we went straight to our bikes and rode the rest of the journey in rain with temperatures dropping. But nothing seemed to affect me. 

This is what the presence of the Master does – you come to know what is really important and you move towards it despite all odds. There was never a moment in the whole journey after that incident that I doubted that we need to stop before we reach the destination.

As Acharya Ji says, “When you’re really sure all your energy rises into action.”

Shamsher the rabbit

A rare pic of Acharya  Ji with Shamsher.

The little one, Shamsher, is one amongst many rabbits at Advait BodhSthal, yet there is something about him that needs to be shared.

He is generally not found with other rabbits, prefers to stay alone. He remains restless, insecure, fearsome, there is a reason behind that. Acharya Ji had found him on a road, fearing the dog that was attacking another rabbit. His kindness saved his life and brought him to stay with other rabbits at Advait BodhSthal. Since that incident, fear has overpowered his mind. He remains skeptical about everything that he comes across, except one!

Whenever Acharya Ji arrives at Advait BodhSthal, he is the first one to run with his tiny-winy legs towards His Grace. He would come and settle down on Acharya Ji’s feet and relax. Acharya Ji would then often lift him up and embrace him.

This incident is an indication to how we remain restless, insecure, fearful. All that we await for is the presence of That that would settle us down.

God has been kind on us that our restlessness could meet the relaxing touch of Acharya Ji’s presence.

~ Shared by a volunteer at Advait BodhSthal

The man I saw in the session, was now different

I was a bit restless since the morning, anticipating for the evening to come. I had volunteered for standing at the canopy for the Foundation for the first time. A mix of excitement and butterflies.
So, finally the evening came and I was informed by Kundan sir that I would be with Apaar sir for the canopy. A stout man with a rather handsome face, gentle in his conduct, when it came to talking to people. For me, I was just awkward in the beginning. The canopy turned out to be fun as with more passing time and with some support by Apaar sir I was able to move swiftly to people and ask them to come over to my stall.

As the evening drowned in the night, the place got thicker with people in the market. I was busy talking to someone, telling him about Acharya Ji and the Advait movement when suddenly I heard Kabir’s bhajans along with the guitar strumming. I automatically wore a smile knowing that more volunteers had arrived the scene. Kundan sir told me that things like these happen here.

I turned back to see the celebration and to my amazement, there I saw Achrya ji himself, standing casually with a guitar and singing gaily. In a green t-shirt, paired with black jeans, he was singing loud surrounded by his disciples in the middle of the market.

BY the end of it, I could manage this pic.

This stark change of appearance from regal embroidered kurtas in his discourses to these casual; I just couldn’t be assured of myself whether I’m seeing the same man or not.

The man I saw in the session — his piercing eyes observing and constantly scanning the faces, his thunderous voice commanding you to listen — was now different; the soft glow on his face and a gentle smile he was wearing.

But what made me stand in awe was that he belonged to the market as much he belonged to the session. That too with so much ease.

Reminds me of a quote by him that I recently read…

“Guru means a great paradox where the periphery and the center dance with each other, where the sky and the stars are one with each other.”

You got food on you?

“If you live as the body, you will value only that, which is related to the body.”
This is a quote by Acharya Ji that I read a long time back.

It is good you see, to throw it in during a conversation for flaunting your prowess in knowledge in front of others. All of it with an extraordinary dignity and poise that you can muster up in those few seconds of glory.

But tell me, is it all just about words? Or something else?
What if….all, Acharya Ji has been saying is actually true?
What if it is possibility of ‘something else’ actually exists?

Today, for the whole day, for some or the other reason I couldn’t eat my food.
My breakfast got skipped because I had some urgent work to attend.

For lunch, I could manage a few pooris. But, due to this looming danger of dosing off due to the ghee kicking in with all its might,  I had to put the brakes on after a few of them. *sigh*

But then, the whole day was occupied with food. I WANTED TO EAT.

So, after work when I planned to go out for a food binge, I was called upon by Acharya Ji for gym. I went with him half-heartedly, with my stomach revolting to walk off on its own if I move an inch towards the gym.

I sat in the car with him and after many skirmishes to crush my stomach’s resistance failed.

I finally asked Acharya Ji , ”So, I hope you’ve eaten well, we need a lot of strength at the gym today. It had been a busy day.”

For a minute, he seemed puzzled and then looking blankly into my eyes, he says, “I think I’ve eaten just two loaves of bread the whole day.”

“And the pooris that Omkar made?” I enquired.

“Oh! Yes a little. I’ve been busy all day.”

And with a childlike smile on his face, he announces,”It was a real productive day today.I got so much done” I just nod silently and learn my lesson.

Naughty child or a meditative Saint?

Yesterday the session was about to begin. The audience had taken their seat. Anshu sir was making the announcements. The reading had been distributed. All was silent and composed.

Acharya ji comes. We tell him there is 10-15 minutes waiting because the audience is seriously reading.

We all are behind a thin curtain. On the other side of the curtain is the whole audience. And Acharya Ji breaks into an impromptu dance. On the other side, 2 feet away, Anshu sir is announcing and audience is reading. And here, Acharya ji is dancing in full abandon. For a good 10-15 minutes, he dances. We are in splits. His face is that of a naughty child. And we cannot even laugh out loudly!

Acharya ji dancing merrily with his disciples at the Advait Learning Camp

And then he enters the session. He bows to Shiva and takes seat. And I wonder whether I am looking at the same man that was one minute back. His face is now that of the meditative saint. Within seconds, such stark change in expression!

He had once taught that the Truth has no face, and hence the Truth is capable of taking all faces.

We do not know who he is: the naughty child, or the meditative saint, or both.

Or none. 🙂

Acharya ji immersed in the discourse that day at Dhramashala.
The session was intense!