Advance Course, Art of Living, Ashram, Bangalore, Dinesh Ghodke, Khurshed Batliwala, Silence, Spirituality, Sri Sri Ravishankar, Vishalakshi Mantap, YES!+, Yoga
The watch in the examination hall read 17:25 as I could feel the adrenalin gushing through my veins. They were those five minutes which would signal the end of the my third year second semester electronics engineering examination, and see me leave for the Bangalore Ashram for the first time. In spite of all that fluster of being in an exam, I couldn’t help but smile and feel excited, even though I was not having the easiest time answering the question set.
I scribbled whatever I could in the final few moments, and then, as the bell rang, I punched my fist in the air and shouted, ‘Yes!’ I still remember running out of the class like I had won gold in the Olympics, with hundreds of eyes staring at me in amazement - they must have thought, ‘What’s up with him? What did he write in such a paper?’
I came out of the hall; I smiled, jumped, picked up my bag and galloped to the campus road where my car driver was waiting for me. With the bus due to leave at 6:00PM and my college 20 kms away, I knew I didn’t have much time, so, told my driver him put his foot through the accelerator.
Just to note, even prior to my final exam, Guru stories had already started happening. I really wanted to do the Advance course in the Bangalore Ashram. Well, I had heard so much about it - the Ashram, the course, and everything related; I just wanted to do it, and even though I was told that the reporting for the course was on June 3, 2009 (the same day that my exams were supposed to end), my sankalpa was very strong.
One of the Pune teachers had spoken about me and five others, who so wanted to do the course but couldn’t as our exams were to end the same day. The YES!+ teacher from Pune, was told ‘No’ upfront, but somehow, things just fell in place and we were permitted to join from the next day morning. We would probably be the first and the last participants ever in the history of the Art Of Living to have been given such a privilege, but I guess our reason was genuine and our willingness to attend the workshop, absolutely immense.
Back to June 3, 2009, the day when we were to leave. I changed my dress on the way, picked my Mummi up from her office on my way back from college and reached the bus station. I gave my Mummi a hug as she left for home and as I entered the bus station.
Guess what, I see a smiling Rutuja (who was in Cummins College) running towards me and saying, “What an awesome paper!” I went like, “Really?”
She remarked, “It was great, only problems (She meant numericals)”
And I looking in disbelief said, “Yes, only problems (like real problems in the exam)”
We waited and waited, and the bus which was to leave at 6:00, left at 8:00PM. In the bus, it was me, the teacher - Shashank Ombhase, Varsha Anandani, Rutuja, Sharvari Patil and Annirudh Khurade. Guru stories, Ashram stories, Bawa-Dinesh stories were shared as my excitement grew more and more. I would be wrong if I say it wasn’t fun, it sure was! As it had been exam time, I hadn’t been sleeping properly; four-five hours of sleep was enough to go and write the exam, and so, I wanted to sleep properly is the bus.
Guru showed his magic again. The bus that we were travelling in, had a capacity of about 60, but had only 25 passengers travelling. So, each of us, took two seats each, made ourselves comfortable and went to the Ashram sleeping.
The bus reached Bangalore late and we opted to take a taxi to reach the Ashram fast. It was about 11 in the morning on June 4th, when Shashank told me to look outside the car window. I was like, “Why?” He gave me a strange expression. As I rolled my eyes, I saw the tip of Vishalakshi Mantap. I, sort of, went numb and then, shouted the famous line, “I am home.” It was a moment which I can’t explain in words; just imagine, seeing VM for the first time from naked eyes. Well, as I am writing this, shivers are doing moon-salts in my body; it’s just a feeling that can be experienced by the observer.
We kept our luggage at the reception and rushed into the VM, where the course was taking place. The course volunteers asked us to hurry-up and as we entered meditation hall, Dinesh Bhaiya gave us a look; like, you know, ‘look’, which sort of was intimidating. In the midst of things, I still couldn’t believe that I was inside the VM.
The advance course went on and I learned so much. I also made so many friends, including Kalpak Gandhi, who is such a dear friend to me now. Silence was incredible, and I did meet Guruji too J That meeting was so so special.
On the day of the Sunday satsang in the amphitheater, I went to Bawa and said, “I have just given my third year engineering exams. My parents think I am mad, but I really want to do Sports Journalism.”
He smiled and replied, “First finish engineering and then, think of doing anything else.”
I exclaimed, “My parents think I should do MBA”
He gave me an expression so as to say, “No.” He then, blessed me, and all I can say is that life has been a blessing since.
Seven days after returning to Pune, I was writing for the Indian Express as a sports journalist. Later, I not only went on to head the content writing section for the Maharashtra Premier League (cricket) website but also, write for the biggest football website in the world, Goal.com (interviewing the likes of Morten Gamst Pedersen, Ryan Nelsen, Steve Kean, Jason Roberts, Michel Salgado, and many more). I also worked as a sports analyst for a Singapore based company, Real Time Sportscast and as a marketing trainee for one of the premier football clubs in India, Pune FC.
(Me and Michel Salgado)
Now, three and quarter years after doing my Yes!+ and a little more than two and a half years after doing my Yes!+ advanced, I am in USA studying a Masters’ program in Sports Management at the Florida State University. I just feel so blessed.
The advance course in June 2009 was my first, and I enjoyed it so much that I went on to do four more. With Guruji set to be in Canada for his birthday this year, I so want to go, but with me still to apply for the Canadian Visa and arrange for the ticket expense, it sort of looks improbable. However, just like for my first advance course, my sankalpa is still as strong or maybe, even stronger
Even thinking of being in the Ashram gives me Goosebumps, but whether in Montreal or in Bangalore, I know I am meeting him soon. Ashram is a special place and meeting Him is a special experience. If you haven’t been there, you must go there. It’s not ‘almost heaven’, it is heaven J
Take me home, Ashram roads,
To the place, where I belong, Bangalore Ashram,
Oh my Guru, take me home.
Ashram Roads J
Jai Gurudev J
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