Nature has a strange way of awakening people to their higher selves.
I wondered what I should do with my 25 hot summer days of vacation when the explorer within knocked an idea. I decided to explore the woods of the Himalayas. Of course with an over excited spirit that refused to settle for another option, I sealed my decision and booked the tickets to Rishikesh, a hilly abode for the spiritual seekers nestled in the lower Himalayas.
On reaching my destination, the first task at hand was to search for an accommodation. The easiest way would have been a cozy room in a plush hotel. But my instincts made me seek refuge in an ‘Ashrama’ of a spiritual guide famous for his clairvoyance and mastery over Scriptures. My soul sought it and nature gave it. Nature never gives anything without a reason. When we fulfill what is sought of us, nature paves the way for higher potential. The divine surroundings of the place calmed the inner turmoil and attracted me towards seeking the deeper meaning of life.
The room that I was given had a strange metaphysical appeal that aroused my inquisition even further. The years of conditioning of urbane sophistication appeared more of a subterfuge than anything real. It was as if the mask was slowly being taken off to reveal the cleaner, shinier, more transparent self that lay trapped inside shackled for ages. The space was equipped with a table, a lamp and a high stool on one corner and a bed with just a white sheet to lie on. The white appeared supremely pristine. I loved everything in the room and everything that was missing. I did not need anything beyond it. The next morning after bath, paying respects to the holy ‘Guru’ and offering prayers at the temple, I asked my first question to His Holiness. ” What duty have I left unfulfilled towards this world?”
To this He smiled and answered in the most childlike innocence that I was a witness to in years, ‘ To the seeker, the woods have all the answers. Go into it and beyond. All the while that you will walk in search of the truth, keep in mind just one thing; that you are only a particle of the cosmos but you are a very important agent of happiness. The Cosmos has chosen you for something beyond. Accept it when it meets you”.
I accepted His words and set out. I just carried my camera, my diary, my favourite pen and a bottle of water. The woods were deep, mysterious and yet inviting. And the werifesteria armed me with the conviction. I could hear sounds of insects, birds and animals. At times, it did become frightening but the sage’s benediction overpowered my fears. Overhead, the Sun shone bright and lit the path quite well. I sipped onto the bottle of water to keep my throat wet and energy up. There were huge trees and the dense growth hid in it a lot of creepers. I realised that soon! My throat dried and legs froze at the sight of a full grown well fed hissing cobra. It was right in the middle of the track. I looked around and terror struck me really hard. I could not escape if I took the bushes on either side. There could be even bigger danger inside. Moments passed and the hissing grew louder. I was perspiring badly more of the danger that lay ahead and less because of the heat. It was strange. My body was cold and yet I was perspiring and loud thuds of my heart against the chest jarred my own ear drums. Fear had engulfed me completely when I suddenly recalled of the sage’s advice. He said, “when you face danger of any kind in the woods, pray to Rishi Agastya. He was a great saint who was blessed with spiritual powers so strong that anyone who takes his name receives his blessings and is saved from danger”.
Rishi Agastya had died ages ago. But my faith compelled me to believe. I closed my eyes and centered my focus on my thoughts and prayed to the Holy Messiah. Soon my senses seemed to get back to normal and my body regained its composure. The clock was ticking away time and with each passing moment my prayer gained strength. I felt a sudden gust of wind calming me and I slowly opened my eyes to find the tail of the huge reptile sneaking into the deep. I waited a few more moments until I gathered courage to walk again. The depths always carry unrevealed truths of the cosmic world. The day was drawing towards dusk now and the Sun decided to control its harshness and let the moon and stars take charge of the firmament.
I reached a stream of clean waters and noticed big house with a huge lawn where an elderly couple were playing with a few children aged between 2 to 5 years. I leaned and quenched my thirst, refilled my bottle, took off my shoes and crossed the stream to the other side. Taking a closer look I found that the house appeared to belong to the couple but the children did not.
I reached the gate and peeped in. The gentleman noticed me and came over to the gate and asked gently, “Can I help you? Are you looking for something?” And I simply answered ‘yes’. The gate opened and I entered a regally done lawn where beneath a huge umbrella sat the wife rocking a baby in a perambulator. The baby boy was asleep and his eccentric beauty had an angelic appeal. The lady stood up and greeted with humble courtesies and invited me to a cup of tea and sandwiches. I accepted this opportunity gladly also because my inner devil said to me curtly, “you better eat before you drop dead”. We introduced ourselves and I learnt that the gracious and unassuming duo were Retd. Colonel Aryaman Singh of the Rajputana Rifles and his wife Major Dr. Arundhati Singh.
They had two sons who were both proud commandants; they were martyred in cross border terrorism.
Their grief was too big for ordinary men to accept and embrace but they decided to continue to serve humanity. So they raised abandoned children. We were in the midst of a conversation when the baby woke up. The other children in the vicinity rushed to him and one could easily hear the squeals of delight from the little bundle of joy. We too walked over to him and his gaze locked mine. He smiled and tried to raise his hands as if asking to be picked up. I did just that and he was just too happy to be in my arms. The delightful moments passed into night and Major Singh and I cooked dinner while Colonel Singh attended the children. I sat on the dinner table with the baby in my arms. He was too much of a happiness to let go. We all got talking over morsels when we were stunned into surprise by the baby making ‘ma-ma’ sounds. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I brought his face up and showered him with kisses and he giggled crazily. I could not eat further. It seemed that the time has stopped, and everything around has frozen into timeless ecstasy.
It was a story that began there and now five years past, ‘Om’ is growing up quick. He is an obedient son with an extremely inquiring spirit that absorbs all that is good and beautiful around. I named him thus because it translates into the primordial sound that brings a human closer to truth and he called me with the sweetest name attributed to a woman “Maa”. My womanhood flourished with him along. I am growing with him and discovering the beauty of life that it brings along everyday.
Over these years I have realised that Karma teaches you very important lessons of life and unravels a mystery at the right time. Man just has to believe. I now know why I used to get dreams of a little baby calling out to me as I frantically searched which direction the voice came from.
I now have all my answers.