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Published: April 30th 2010
I happened upon an interesting Satsung one evening recently when our Indian Swami Phool Puriji was playing with His newly acquired mobile phone. He was instructed by another Maharaj, to be careful who He calls from the phone, as the person will be able to see the number and can then save the number to contact Him at any time. My parting words were "Enjoy the Shanti while no one has your number!" He is certainly the 'Smiling, saying Yes to everything Swami'. I commented to him one day recently "It is lovely, you are always smiling..." His grin extended further and he replied "Yes, you know, when you are always smiling then you make the others happy'. He sleeps less than me and is such an inspiration! These days He has enjoyed coordinating the unpacking of the trucks rolling back full of camping gear from the Kumbh Mela.
Now that Swamiji is here we have later evening programs and very unpredictable events. The group of around 150 Europeans who were stragglers from the last Kumbh Mela bath came to join us for a few days before heading home. Amongst other things it meant I had opportunity to move the
last of the shawls and cloth bags from the School Fund raising Project. Pushpaji also donated some Jadan rose-jam and funds swelled as Bhaktas shopped for gifts to take home.
Swelling our numbers so much, we were re-located to the Hospital to allow some separation between those of us here for Karma Yoga and those with very different energies returning from the Kumbh. There were many comments as to which ailments were putting us into the Hospital. For a few days, the Hospital became a psychiatric hospital rather than an active Dentist with waiting wards! Despite the longer hours to our active days, I have still had regulars to my yoga classes. One day four boys managed to get out of bed to join the most peaceful hour of the day before sunrise.
Cal was invited to a village function by a few people including Swamiji, so it meant we joined the school bus trip to Rupervas, Swamiji's home town. The roadside stop in the middle of nowhere under the almost full moonlight was.... Beautiful. Yes, you will need to use your imagination for how it looked as I was without camera.... We stopped near a small medical
center funded by Swamiji and waited for Swamiji's car to catch up to us. The hostel boys didn't seem to mind that my water bottle was 'juti' (had touched my mouth rather than how they usually drink, Indian style with the cup raised so that the water falls freely and the cup/bottle does not make skin contact).... they were so grateful for some water on a rather warm night in the desert.
Eventually after rendezvous, we rolled into the small village and were greeted with a very endearing welcome. We joined the procession to the local Mandir and were then ushered to sit in the town square under a lean-to and some matting laid out in advance. Many local politicians made their speeches to Swamiji. The man with the crooked back and the amazing mustache who we had met at the Kumbh was clearly a local resident. Cal was invited to sit on the bench in front of Swamiji and was not sure what to do when someone garlanded him with flower Mala. Eventually he found my lap and fell asleep listening to Swamiji's Satsung.
The staff Avatarpuri was carrying was as heavy as his eyelids and he
soon gave in to the end of a days exhaustion. Gyaneshwarji was there with a red Chinese fan, his best efforts to keep Swamiji a little more comfortable. To complement the scene, there was an Asian landscape picture as a backdrop to where Swamiji and his entourage were sitting. Swamiji's wisdoms from the Satsung were "Not what I can do for your village, but what can you do for yourselves?? Plant natives. Every day is golden".
We enjoyed the ever-gorgeous full moon once again. Swamiji invited us for a moonlit walk around the OM Ashram construction site. It was like an art gallery with open windows and archways framing the moon in a myriad of ways. Swamiji even sent us away with instructions to.... No, not back to work.... to go to sleep! A funny Lila on an energetic full moon evening!
My music teacher has stepped up the tempo of my class. He constantly tells me to concentrate, keep my attention focused, foster a meditative state. "Dhyan, Dhyan, Rakho" is his Mantra for me.... fully aware of the distractions my boys often contribute to! I'm also now not permitted to drink water during the class. While singing,
as with during eating or practicing Yoga Asanas, if you drink water, it cools the digestive fire which would otherwise be working it's magic. It's really been a challenge for me as water is my favourite element and it's so grounding.... Somehow I'm coping well though and enjoying the classes as much as ever. I've had two public classes when groups of Indians have come to sit and hear me try and sing Bhajans! I've bought a dolak for Aiden and Cal and they are enjoying fighting over playing it.
Mahamandaleshwar Swami Jasraji translated his favourite Bhajan for the benefit of those of us who were not at the second Kumbh bath and also for the enjoyment and as a reminder for those of us who were.... The gist of it being 'Everything helps us get a step closer, to find God. An opportunity. Please accept my best efforts with all the mistakes inside. Being pure in thoughts like moving the fan to keep the flies or mosquitoes away... Please come and share this Joy of the Guru with me. Always being prepared... Keep your house as clean as possible. Don't dwell. Keep trying'.
A day in the
life of an Indian Teacher involves a constant stream of respectful greetings from students and plenty of sugar for the pallet. All Teachers are revered as Gurus in India. In a typical day in the classroom, there is always the occasional out-of-uniform student celebrating their birthday entering the class to greet the class Teacher and they give an Indian sweet or toffee. There is currently a steady stream of students who are celebrating passing their recent exams entering the classes to greet the Teachers and also give toffees. Needless to say, Indian Teachers are very proficient at receiving sweets!
There are two classes I sit in on as a quiet observer or as an attentive student. I enjoy the way the slokes are taught. It's really the traditional shining through the modern competitive exam focused curriculum. No books, just listening and repeating the lines. Similar to how Bhajans are sung. After some time they string the individual lines together.
As well as active Maths with marbles and shopping activities, we have passed the days in class making as much time as possible for the class' favourite pastime - Art. We've done sand art, drawing off the black coating
over a rainbow base, Mandalas, hands with thumb and fingerprints and Earthkeepers posters during group work. We've also enjoyed visiting our School Library and are so very excited with the opportunity to freely choose and flip through books which is done in secret because the School Librarian had locked the Library for three and a half months to cater for the exam timetables.
Thankfully, all Teachers except one, understand my attitude toward fostering intrinsic motivation in the students. I can't handle the beatings that a student when they are considered not-in-line with the Teacher's expectations receives. Sometimes, this is given by the Teacher and sometimes directed to be carried out by another student to their peer. Usually these beatings, when they occur, are on the back and are stopped mid air when I enter a class.
However, today while in the classroom with the one Teacher who does not empathise with my views of compassion for the students, slapped every boy in the class on both sides of the face. I felt every one of their painful reactions even though I know this is not the reality of what it is to be human. It will remain a
mystery as to whether the girls were spared because I was in the room. After the children responded with a mistake-free recital of the slokes, the Teacher looked over to me smiling widely and said "This is the work (result) of punishment". I could only stare at him in horror, though with the cultural mis-interpretation he could not read my eyes and saw them blankly.... I tried my very hardest to accept that he was doing the best he could with his available resources and conditioning and hope to Goodness that he would soon see the light.
While processing my reactions to such events I needed a change of scene and have had a few interesting moments with Swamiji these last few days. The only suitable word for these meetings is CLASSIC! One involved me meeting Swamiji on the path near the trees and grass. Swamiji asked me what a cup was doing on the tree... I'd seen it there some two weeks back and thought it was so out of place that it must be meant to be there! Of course I realised it was now time the cup returned to the kitchen. We talked about how tree
roots must have eyes to know where the water is. Just how close was the pipe digging getting to the foundations of our building?!
On the day I was asked to coordinate all remaining primary classes to the Dentist (even though I have no spare classes now that I'm in the middle of my prac), someone took Cal to the Principal to complain that others were eating his lunch (knowing Cal he probably stopped to talk to someone or look at something and when he looked back at his lunch box it was empty!) and I'd walked into Aiden's class to see a few bullies at work trying to harass him for some reason or other (I wrote the word 'respect' in their English books under Homework), I was in need of something positive. I went on my 15minute school break to the Bhakti Sagar searching inspiration and found Swamiji there recording some Bhajans. It was perfect and record clarification for what was important, sending me back to school re-focused in time for the next class!!
Then there was the second time in one day that my shawl got caught in the chain of my bike and I
just managed to untangle it before Swamiji reached me. My Karma for purposely choosing to wear a green shawl today?! I could not get the smile off my face as I greeted Swamiji, conscious of my ripped shawl and that I was without shoes....
It is Sangri harvesting time. This is a flowering tree from the pea family and we have quite a few of these scattered around the Ashram. The pods are easily dried out and they can be stored for a lengthy time. The whole month has seen temperatures from between 40 and 45 degrees. This is a few degrees higher than this time last year and we are all hoping it means a decent monsoon will follow. Despite the regular reminders, we have had the misfortune of a few Europeans falling into the dehydration category.
Swamiji Wisdom: "The thread of love is so tender. Don't break it with some misunderstandings. When it's broken you can't join it... there will be a knot in-between. The violence is like a termite which will eat all the roots of a healthy tree. When there is violence, the spiritual development is suffering. Non-violence is the art of a yogi"
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