When I First Met Guruji

Posted: Tuesday, May 8, 2012 by Kratik in Labels: , , , , ,
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(There is something horribly wrong with my blog font and it's not getting sorted)

You know you’re special when he smiles at you,
You know you’re adored when he touches you,

You know you’re treasured when he tests you,

But you just know you’re blessed when he shows you what celebration really is.

My Nokia phone screen read March 2, 2009  21:37. Knowing that all the YES!+ teachers and most volunteers from Pune had already left for Aurangabad a day before, even my best shot at staying clam couldn’t help numb the disappointment that had sunk in, arising from the feeling of not even making an attempt of meeting the man whom I called my ‘Guru’, Sri Sri Ravishankar-ji. Moreover, digesting the fact that the chance to meet him was sort-of gone, the rising emotions were absolutely killing me with guilt.
Well, but that was more-or-less because I knew nothing about Aurangabad, and so, I didn’t even count myself a candidate in leaving all on my own for the City of Gates. In fact, to be true, you know, I had forgotten that I was already ‘taken-care-of’ by the master and somewhere deep down, I was begging for that feeling to be revoked. And ‘He’ did exactly that! His messenger: a dear friend.
After a day in the physical presence of the master, almost the whole of our ‘AOL sena’ had returned back to the Queen of Deccan, Pune, and one of the returning volunteers was Vishal Vengulekar. I knew it would make me jealous, but it was a feeling that I couldn’t resist; I had to call up Vishal – my first YES!+ friend, who had seen ‘Him’ at the satsang in Aurangabad a day prior, when he went with the other Puneri volunteers and teachers – and ask him of his experience, and so I did. Vishal took my call and briefly told me everything that he remembered of the trip: right from his bus journey to Guruji’s ‘Question and Answers’ session.
 

(Mahasatsang at Aurangabad that Vishal and other Volunteers and Teachers attended)
He inspired me so much that I told myself, ‘I can’t miss this, I simply can’t!’ So, I decided to find way so that I could somehow 
get to Aurangabad, and therefore, I called up a YES!+ teacher, who was partly responsible for introducing me to the world of YES!+ and Art Of Living, Shashank Ombhase.
Shashank was one of those people who were on the bus with Vishal. Shashank, like a typical YES!+ teacher, encouraged me even more to meet Guruji. In fact, he clubbed his day’s experience with a couple of his own Guru stories. When I finished talking to him, I was so convinced to go that I had started to believe that Guru’s grace would inevitably conjure up and He, my will and my valor would overcome all the difficulties and make me meet him. (Just to note, my father was in Aurangabad for that very day, so, I knew if I could somehow reach the city of Aurangzeb, I wouldn’t have to worry about finding accommodation).
 

(Pic taken about three years back, I hope this solves the purpose of identifying the people. Akhil - long hair, blue shirt, on the right and Vishal - center-right, black jacket, next to Dhanashree, who is in red)
Shashank gave me Akhil Balekar’s phone number, who was an Art Of Living volunteer from Pune, then in Aurangabad. The very next moment, I was on phone with Akhil. I asked him if I would be able to ‘see’ Guruji; his reply was affirmative, however, he added that meeting Guruji in person could be very difficult.
Meeting seemed like a far-fetched dream, and in-truth, I was contented in catching a glimpse of Him, even if it was from 100 yards away. With 23:30 the reading in the wall clock and with excitement oozing out of me, I took out my kurta – the only kurta that I had and which I had worn in a play that I took part in after my 10th grade – and a pair of jeans and set a morning alarm of 3:30 AM as I started making all the preparations for my Aurangabad adventure. I slept with pumped adrenalin and as I woke up, the blood through my veins felt like it was gushing faster than ever before. It was just crazy; I couldn’t stop smiling.
 

(Me, Shashank, Aarushi and Khushboo; Forgive me as all my photographs with Shashank were group photos and this was the best of the lot)
I even energized myself with the sixth source of energy, the cold water bath. And guess what, it wasn’t even 4 AM. Mummi was shocked to see my determination and she couldn’t believe that I was seriously leaving for Aurangabad. She thought it was one of my ‘I am going to own Manchester United Football Club one day’ like things. With a water bottle and a Monaco biscuit pack and I set off to meet Him.
…and the ‘adventure’ started, an adventure in every sense of the word :)

Well, I hadn’t even reached the gate of my building complex when the sandal of my right foot tore. I certainly wasn’t going back to change my footwear, and so, a bright smile followed and I walked on. I know it was a little foolish on my part to not go back, but then, that was one of my least concerns; I just wanted to meet Guruji.

From what I could sense, Guruji was having fun and he decided to play even more. I had to wait 20-minutes for the rickshaw and half hour for the Aurangabad bus at Shivajinagar bus stop, where this person fooled me and handed me ticket for this bus that only went half way, to Ahemadnagar!


(The 'Bus' or was it?)
The bus' condition was atrocious to say the least. In fact, it was not even a bus; it was a mini-bus/ tempo van, which was stinking as though it had not been opened since the 19th century. I couldn’t do anything but ‘accept’ and that’s what I did, accepted the van not the people though, which was my biggest mistake.
This guy sitting on the seat before me was spitting outside the window continuously and when I saw that, ‘random acts of kindness’ point from the YES!+ course conjured in my head. However, I hesitated and did not do anything. So, Guruji decided to give me a gift, when a drop of that guy’s tobacco-filled spit flew through the window and on my cheek.
Yuk!

That was that!

I gave him a hairdryer, and I wouldn’t really be surprised if he has 
always thought of me before spitting ever again, even if it was in his washroom’s basin.

Well, I hadn’t informed my father but in a morning conversation with my mother, he was told that I was on my way to Aurangabad. So, as I was about to reach Ahmednagar, he made me aware of the buses available buses from the Ahmednagar bus stop.

Two hours of journey and I had finally reached Ahemadnagar. So, as I was told, I stood at the bus stop waiting for the bus, and what a bus stop! I didn’t end up being its biggest fan. I asked people around me and everyone told me that buses to Aurangabad were as frequent as 15 minutes. Maybe I was just unaware, ignorant or probably dumb because I stood for over an hour and didn’t find a bus that would go to Aurangabad. Can you believe it? He sure was playing games! However, I did find an ‘Omni Van’ that would go only half way to Aurangabad, until this place called ‘Newasa Phata’.

(The Omni Van)
This Maruti Van was legendary in its true sense. Guess what! It was a Van that was supposed to seat only three people on its two back seats, however, as per the driver’s ‘order’, either seats had to have four people seated. The driver looked in no mood to assure comfort and I was rather stupid to even think so. So, there were four people seated on either of the back seats and out of the sandwiched four, I was one of them.
Well, but that wasn’t the real problem, the real problem was that everyone who was sitting next to me was ‘sweat-stinking’ (okay wait, ‘stink’ is an understatement), and I was not only sitting right in the middle of the two seats but also, in the middle of my seat. I was lucky that the man who was sitting next to the window decided to get down, I wonder why? Not really!

Well, I certainly was in no mood to miss on the opportunity to sit next to the window, and so, I hurriedly sat, poking my face and more so nose outside the wi1ndow, trying to avoid that entire foul sweaty odor.

An hour ride and we were at Newasa Phata, phew!

I called Akhil from the Phata and he asked me to come to Sachin Mule's bunglow in Aurangabad. At Newasa Phata, I could see an Asiat bus waiting at a restaurant, and I thought to myself, ‘That’s it! I certainly am meeting Guruji now!’ But it’s said, “Sabar ka phal meetha hota hai.” Maybe I had forgotten that!

I met this person, who also had to go to Aurangabad. After meeting him, I breathed a sigh of relief and thanked Guruji for sending me a companion, who could guide me on how to reach the city. I smiled at him and said, “I will walk a little further and see if we can get any means which will help us in reaching Aurangabad faster. If this bus is about to leave, please wave your hand.” So, in a carefree manner, I went a little ahead to search for taxies, keeping that man in my sight. When I returned to Newasa Phata and that restaurant, there was no bus there. I was shell-shocked! I asked the man about the bus and he gleefully replied, “Woh toh gayi!” And I went like ‘What?!’
 

(The Asiad Bus)

Although it resulted in a wait of another half hour, but I finally boarded a bus and I was on my way to Aurangabad. Oh yes! I was almost there!

…but it doesn’t end here as I got down at the wrong stop!

Papa had sent a driver to pick me up from this place called ‘Baba Petrol Pump’ and where did I get down? 10 Kms. before the stop, at Pandarpur!

As Srividya mam says, "Einstein!"

To cut it short, more wait, but the driver finally picked me up and dropped me to Sachin Mule's bungalow. Now, the bungalow security was very tight and I was told that I simply could not to enter! Well, I was not going back now, not even if David Beckham invited me for his birthday party. I called Akhil again and he came…he came with hope but he left as quickly as well, as he had some ‘important work’. I looked on with a poker face, thinking to myself, ‘How could he just go in?’ Well, for the first time, I was really losing it and losing it bad, but that’s when He turned it all around.

I had been waiting with a family for almost 20 minutes outside the gate and I pretty much knew that the family would get permission to enter the gate. It was miraculous what happened next. I guess the guards thought that I belong to that very family and they let me in to the bungalow with the family.

Having met Akhil a bit later who asked me to sit with the other volunteers, I joined this group that had come down from Mumbai. Becoming friends within minutes of meet, we did the Sudarshan Kriya together. They were so enthusiastic that they even did Surya Namaskars 2:30 in the afternoon! If the trip wasn’t all that adventurous so far, another surprise came my way. I discovered that by the time my Kriya finished, the food had got over!
Well, I was this being who hadn't had anything since morning; I was starving. In fact, that was not only the case with me, but with everyone who had travelled many miles to see Guruji. One thing that I learned on that trip was that Mumbai volunteers are smart. One of the volunteers from Mumbai went into the kitchen and got almost half a dozen roties made. Six roties with chatni for ten volunteers, totally worth it!

Minutes on and we left for Garware Stadium, the place where the event/course ‘Utsav’ was to take place. We were all allotted sevas and I was at the security. It all went fine and the Utsav started!
Now, the teachers for the course were the biggest surprise element for me so far: Khurshed Batliwala and Dinesh Ghodke. Well, I was a participant of the second course that Srivi mam ever taught, so, I knew about Bawa and Dinesh Bhaiya, and if you are her student reading this post, you will know that she talks so much about them in her course that your fascination to meet them reaches an unprecedented high.
Thus, just watching the two directors of WAYE (World Alliance for Youth Empowerment) in front of me teaching the workshop that they have designed themselves was an exceptional sight. It was so cool! However, having not carried by spectacles, I remember, I was not able to see them properly even on the big screen and so, I prayed.
 Utsav
As the course moved on, it was time for Long Sudarshan Kriya! Now, I had done my Kriya in the afternoon and right before the start of the Sudarshan Kriya, the Mumbai volunteers from somewhere got the news that Guruji will be coming on to the stage when the course participants end their Kriya. Now, that was jugad underlined!
…and that’s exactly what happened!

Saleel bhaiya needed some volunteers to ‘welcome’ Guruji back stage and guess what; we ‘incidentally’ were at the right place at the right time. Bhaiya asked us to be seated in a line as told us the golden rule, ‘Guruji’s speed of motion is directly proportional to your excitement’. I said, “Whatever,” which was another of my mistakes! I mean, I had done by YES!+ course two and a half months back, so, I didn’t know who Saleel Bhaiya was. We volunteers sat in a line along the path on which Guruji was to pass. I was so very excited and guess whom did I see walking by, passing a smile towards me, Dinesh Bhaiya! I went like, “Dude! I wanted to see him from close and here he is, smiling at me!”
 

(Me and Dinesh Bhaiya, this is a a recent pic; venue: Vishwamitra)
With my heart beating faster with every passing second, especially after hearing on-and-off whispers from other volunteers – who came out with rumors such as ‘He is climbing the steps’ – I finally saw Him. He was distant but I saw Him, and I noticed that he was walking towards me. He had his secretary holding a basket full of fruits, of which he was giving one fruit each to a volunteer/security-guard that he came across while making his way on to the stage.
I was sitting with the Mumbai volunteers and we were one of the first few volunteers that he was to meet. Just as he reached our group, Saleel Bhaiya introduced us to him by saying, “These volunteers have come from Mumbai just to meet you Guruji,” after which Guruji asked, “Yahan sab log Mumbai se aayen hain?
And that was the moment that all the excitement that I was holding back, came out and with a wide smile, I impulsively shouted, “Guruji main Pune se.” He said, “Ah…Okay,” and then, he handed me an apple and walked past me. In fact, there was more to it. As I said “Guruji main Pune se” in an instantaneous manner, Guruji looked into my eyes and we shared an eye contact that lasted for about two seconds; maybe more, maybe less…I don’t know. It was a moment when I had forgotten everything; it was like the time had stopped.
It was absolutely magical. However, when I saw him walk past me, that’s when I realized, I should have kept my calm. Trust me, all that was going on in my head was, ‘Had I followed Saleel Bhaiya’s golden rule, the meet could have longer’, but I was so happy.
 

Just like the test of my resolve to come to Aurangabad, Guru’s grace didn’t end there. As the 1301 course participants came out of their meditative state to discover Guruji sitting right in front of them on his throne, we volunteers were told to assemble next to the ramp. I was the second volunteer standing in the queue. As the volunteer who was first in the queue was given seva, I was told to move forward.
Now, just imagine, I was standing right below the stage, next to the ramp, and sitting in front of me were Guruji (to my left) and Bawa and Dinesh Bhaiya (to my right) at a distance of less than five meters; it sure was incredible. I could not believe it; I still can’t.

Guruji answered a number of questions from the participants and left soon. After the course day got over, I met Bawa and Dinesh Bhaiya personally. They blessed me too.

It was all like a dream. March 3, 2009 morning, all I wanted was to catch a glimpse of Him and here He was, giving me an apple in the evening on the same day. Moreover, I just wanted to see Bawa and Dinesh Bhaiya from close, and here they were, blessing me.
That Aurangabad trip was nothing but a perfect chance given to me by my Guru to implement all the sutras that I had learned in my YES!+ course. I gave my 100% and he made my experience worthwhile. In fact, he showed me how to celebrate life by making my experience one that acted as an epitome of grace and celebration.

Like Dinesh Bhaiya once said during a volunteer’s meet, “He makes the impossible possible,” and that’s what my whole Aurangabad adventure was about…impossible becoming possible.


No Breath, No Life,

Know Breath, Know Life

Jai Gurudev J
Love J
Kratik J


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