Understand the Language

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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?
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Everything is clear with the Guru

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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

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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.

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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!

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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. 🙂

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

The Man Behind The Mask

The PrashantAdvait Foundation (PAF) has drama embedded in its culture.
And ofcourse, it emanates from none other than Acharya ji himself.
Our stints at Dilli-Haat, Ramana Kendra, Saket mall and many different colleges, have been fuelled and backed by Acharya ji’s active support.

So, one day I just casually asked him about his love for plays
and I was in for a surprise!
Not only was he actively acting but also, directing plays in his days at IIT and IIM. He has acted in a variety of plays at
various college fests, national level competitions and also for social initiatives.

One of the plays that I personally got to see was the ‘Rhinoceros’ which is an Absurdist play by Eugene Ionesco and was performed at
RJMCEI Auditorium, IIM- Ahmedabad in November, 2002.

Acharya ji played the protagnist in this two hour long play
and was also the director of the play.

For this he had to manage his academics with the play’s direction.
What this meant was…two, six hour shifts daily along with his academics!

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Snaps from the play the ‘Rhinoceros’ 
I’ll just pray to get a chance to act with him for once in my life!