We just spent nearly a month in India visiting Swami Kriyananda and our many friends there.
Being in India is always an adventure – things don’t work according to the same rules that we rely on in the West. By training and experience, we expect things to happen according to well-thought-out plans and predictable outcomes.
In India, things do happen and sometimes with the results we anticipate, but often through an unexpected chain of events.
In a sense that’s the core difference between Western and Eastern cultures – controlling life as opposed to adapting to circumstances. Master mentions this difference in his writings. One either can get frustrated, as many Westerners do at first, or reach beneath the surface and try to feel how Indians see life.
When we’ve done this, we’re always inspired by the greatness of India’s people, and are grateful for what we can learn from them. Here are three stories that illustrate this.
Sri Kaarthikeyan is the former head of the Indian equivalent of the FBI, operating in the highest circles of governmental power. Now in his 70’s, he’s on the Board of Directors of many worldwide spiritual and educational organizations, and recently received the Padma Award for social upliftment, the second highest award that India bestows.
Several years ago he attended one of Swami Kriyananda’s talks in Delhi, where he lives, and has been a close friend ever since, visiting Ananda communities in America and Europe.
A tall, dignified gentleman, Sri Kaarthikeyan is of humble roots, but radiates true nobility of spirit. He told us that he and his beloved wife, Kala, never prayed for riches for themselves, but for the ability to feed anyone who came to their door. Kala died suddenly last fall, and this has left a great void in his life, but he has carried on his global service to humanity.
A few days after we arrived in Gurgaon, Sri Kaarthikeyan invited Swamiji and a few others of us to his home for lunch. His modest flat was filled with graciousness and dignity. One could sense his grief just beneath the surface, but his poise and kindness made us feel completely at home.
We were served a delicious Indian meal (the best food in India is found in homes, not restaurants) by his respectful son and beautiful daughter-in-law (he’s a government lawyer, and she’s an officer in the Bank of India). As we watched the unspoken understanding pass between the family and their household staff, we felt the rhythm of Indian life – calm, dignified, timeless.
At the end of our visit, he spontaneously picked up the phone and arranged for Swamiji to address a class of 1000 graduating college students in Pune.
So we thank you, dear friend, for opening your door to travelers, sharing with them the harmony of your home, and for your endless service to others.
Malka is a tiny, elderly Indian woman in her 80’s who lives in Ghaziabad, 20 kilometers away from the nearest Ananda meditation group in Noida, outside Gurgaon. She has been coming to the Sunday Services there every week for the past 5 years. Though always dressed in the traditional white cotton sari of an Indian widow, her small, shining face is suffused with joy and energy.
So eager was Malka to embrace Master’s work, she joined an Ananda Pilgrimage group from India three years ago to visit Ananda Village. She told us, “Those were the happiest three weeks of my life.”
When we visited the Noida group one Sunday morning, Malka eagerly came up to us with eyes filled with devotion and joy. “Oh, I’m so glad to see you,” she said. “Do you know what happened to me after I left Ananda Village?”
She continued, “I traveled to New York to visit my sister. During my stay, I tripped and fell heavily on my arm, shattering it in many places. The damage was so bad that the doctors weren’t sure they’d be able to set it, and told me they might be forced to amputate. I was so frightened that I could barely sleep the night before the surgery.”
“Then that evening Swami Kriyananda came into my hospital room. (Swamiji was physically present at Ananda Village at the time.) He stroked my arm and said, ‘Don’t worry, Malka. Everything is going to be fine.’ I fell into a deep, relaxed sleep for the rest of the night.”
“The next morning they took me into surgery, were able to rebuild my arm, and here it is, completely healed.” She happily showed us how she had total range of movement. “Swamiji healed me.”
Thank you, dear Malka, for sharing with us the strength of your unquestioning faith and devotion to God.
Finally, a simple story about a man whose name we don’t know. We’d never seen him before, but he came to a satsang in Swamiji’s new house in the Pune community during Master’s Mahasamadhi weekend there. His face was neither dignified, nor radiant, but it was sincere. Towards the end of the satsang, Swamiji invited people to ask questions.
This man’s hand shot up. “Swamiji,” he asked, “I am a farmer of fish and lobsters. This is how I support my family. Can I still find God?”
Swamiji responded with deep kindness and respect as he told the man to continue to do his duty of supporting his family, but with non-attachment and in service to God. The fisherman’s face become filled with peace and reassurance, and he replied, “Thank you, Swamiji, I will try to find God.”
So we are also grateful to our fisherman friend for reminding us of the river of spirituality that flows unseen beneath all the shifting sands of life.
And thank you, India, for what you have given to the world – your sense of dharma and service, your unwavering faith, and your understanding that God can be found anywhere if we but seek Him.
In divine love and friendship,
Nayaswamis Jyotish and Devi