Monday, November 3, 2008

Chandu slept as if this was his last sleep, in the air conditioned hotel room. The chilled rose milk left by the Cook Gurubrother last night was the tastiest drink he has ever had, that soothed his soul at its deepest level. He slipped involuntarily into a peaceful slumber.

For Chandu, the last few months had been quite exhaustive, assisting in the preparations for the Sadhana Camp in Baroda City. Traveling to Banaras in MahaShivratri, Jodhpur before Holi and to various nearby places for distribution of pamphlets as a part of the promotional work. On one day, Chandu remembered, he was to visit a nearby town named Dabhoi. It was to coordinate the arrangements for a small public Satsang as an introductory elucidation for the upcoming Sadhana Camp. After finishing his office chores in the first half of the day while he was riding on his scooter, the exhaustion reached to such limits that his hands started trembling. It required a lot of will, mind power and faith to take control of himself. Sometimes, The Guru teaches to act beyond all limitations...Physical too. 'Is this a part of Karma Yoga?’ Chandu wonders.

Just before the Camp was all set to happen and the crucial time came for allotment of the work responsibilities, obviously, the older brothers & sisters were given charges of jobs that more suited their age and temperaments. The twenties age group was waiting with devotion and yet in anxious anticipation of what job shall get assigned to each one of them. All the names were declared and departmentally work was allotted for functioning of the Sadhana Shivir, except Chandu. Lost in thoughts Chandu wondered what’s in store. His last couple of years of spiritual wandering with Gurudev took him to many places which he would never have thought of going in normal course……Delhi, Jodhpur, Chandigarh, Bhopal, Hyderabad, Banaras...many Sadhana Camps that has lost count. All these wanderings still remain as the most cherished memories that are destined to last for a lifetime or probably even more. The sweetest and most satisfying of these memories were those occasions when he would run out of money, which used to be quite often….rather always. Why do all Gurus always test the disciples using Money as a tool? Maybe we are too much attached to it. :-) Well, the images that either satisfy or scare a person are the ones which remain a lifetime. Remembering those moments……….when Chandu and friends will run out of all the money and shall survive on sugarcane juice to substitute one time supper OR when two people will share the same rice plate in the train due to no cash left for the second OR when after spending and distributing all the cash in hand they had to wait in front of Standard Charted Bank near Delhi’s Palika Bazar to open, coz it happened to be the only means to receive money against his Credit Card for assisting some of the brothers to go back home......are pleasant indeed; yet, there are some of those memories filled with amusement mixed scare. Though funny, but in Bhopal Ramleela ground those semi-temporary bathrooms definitely can leave an irremovable impression in the minds of the Highest Order of Sadhak, Chandu thought. :-) It offered a challenge to any urban or rural individual to carry his most natural process with the minimum natural resources available. Does it sound abstract??? Ok, to elaborate more precisely, during morning hours every face that exited from those semi-temporary toilets in the Bhopal Ramleela ground with a rusted tin tumbler in one hand, carried a single LOUD expression on his face, "Water was less (pani kam para)". :-D Chandu had thought of this before, that in case he is not offered any specific task during this Sadhana Camp he would rather take up the responsibilities of keeping the toilets clean and ensure adequate supply of water for the Sadhaks. This, he concluded, was an equally important aspect of the Camp as compared to any other task.

So, all names were announced.....finally, the last two names were declared. One of them was Chandu and they were given the task of attending Gurudev and His Family at the Hotel. Wow!!! Those three days that Chandu spent, literally standing in front of the doors of the three rooms occupied by Gurudev remains for him as the most treasured moment of this Life or Lives, who knows? Initially, he thought of slipping away during nights to his home and return back early morning. But a sincere Gurubrother who was accompanying Gurudev from Mumbai gave a simple explanation what best described all, "If you remain near the Hearth you will get Hardened, but if you remain far, the heat may not be able to touch you thus leaving you Undone". These words still resonate in Chandu’s mind as vividly as if just told yesterday. Sure this was a once in a lifetime opportunity and next few days were simply spent 'living a life' in front of Gurudev's 3rd floor rooms in the carpeted lobby of Hotel Alkapuri Express, Baroda.

Well, here actually begins the Story........all this was simply a prelude but was necessary and the Story is quite short anyway. One fine morning, of this three-day life, Gurudev's cook called out to Chandu and requested that he wants to make sandwiches for the family but the toaster is all messed up. Since it was officially considered that these boys attending at the doors are locals, and can troubleshoot or suffice for all possible requirements with their presumably attained and exceeded Siddhis, an innumerable list of requests they confronted during that short-life. It’s another thing that they enjoyed every bit of it even when ending up bitterly failing to produce the desired outcomes a several times. It was only the action and the efforts that mattered, results were secondary..... Practically, THE GITA lived in three days :-)

Alright, so it was approx. 08.00 in the morning and the Cook-Gurubrother wanted to make Sandwiches for Gurudev’s breakfast. Upon thorough inspection of the toaster it was found that the old plug and wires had burnt away and needed a change. Needless to say, he wanted that to be done in a jiffy with the help of his heavenly assistants, with their undeclared supernatural powers. :-) Well, it's surely not supposed to be a difficult task but at this hour and in the sluggish city of Baroda it would be a crime to expect an electrical shop open for signing up a repair contract. Chandu knew it's Impossible. Chandu knew that it's foolishness at this time in the morning to drive down to Rajmahal road and check for any open Electrical Appliances Repair Shop. Yet, in no time was he on his scooter, on the road, with the toaster. "Karmanyevadhikaraste ma phaleshu....". Quite determined to return with a sorry face Chandu drove on. "What shall I do?", "What a crazy task?", "At this hour? Impossible", grunting in his own mind Chandu started driving towards the Railway Station declaring his own defeat to himself.

Suddenly, an idea struck!!! "What does it take to repair a faulty plug?", "Why can't I do it?", "All I need is a new Plug, a Blade and some extra wire. Wow!" Chandu was thrilled with a new thought beaming from nowhere, even though he assessed that finding these items could also be a challenge at this hour. He changed his direction and started looking for any shop that has opened. After some time he luckily drove into a provision store. However, all that he could buy from there was just a blade. He inquired with the shopkeeper if he knew any electrical shops nearby. The shopkeeper guided to check near the railway station. Kicking his faithful LML Vespa scooter Chandu screeched off, raging towards the railway station. His eyes were rolling through the lines of closed shops as he was eagerly looking for any shopkeeper to whom it would have dawned to open his shop of electrical goods. Bingo! There he found one. The shopkeeper did not speak, but simply gestured to wait. The reason was because he had just opened the shop and was doing his routine Gujarat its called diva-batti. Chandu was getting restless as the time was running out. Reaching late would mean....mean what, he had no idea. Maybe the Gurubrother will cook something else. "But then, what the heck?", "This has to be done", thought Chandu with a determinant firmness. The shop-keeper was really testing his patience. His diva-batti ritual was continuing from one shelf to another to yet another with a never-ending certainty. He requested once again to the shopkeeper, but in vain. "Customer is God, who had said that?” grumbled Chandu in his mind, holding his breath. "Do you know, while you are rotating your smoke sticks to the Gods, THE GOD Himself is waiting for breakfast to be served", Chandu wanted to shout this out, but controlled, as he was matured enough to know that it won't make a point. Like all good things the shopkeeper's rituals came to an end and Chandu bought the needed stuff - A Plug and some electric wire.

Back into the Hotel when Chandu stepped in and CG (Cook Gurubrother) eagerly inquired, Chandu simply said, "I got the parts; just have to fix them together". He settled in the fourth room that was occupied by two of Gurudev's assistants. Chandu used to amuse his mind thinking of them christened as Nandi & Bhringi. J Chandu and friends had been using this room to freshen up during their stay at the Hotel. A thin spoon was discovered to act as a Screw-driver. CG ran in to ask if the job is done....."ya ya, I am just doing it". The wire ends were cut to remove the insulation. Sometimes the blade was used to carry out this act and sometimes the teeth, both synchronizing in rapid harmony. CG rushes back...."Is it over? Gurudev is on the dining table already". "Yes, almost done", Chandu rolled the wire ends and hurried to open the small screws to pop in the rolled ends of the wires. While tightening, sometimes it slipped and the whole process was redone in an impatient fit of haste. Return of CG..."Hey! I need it now.....Is it ready?".”yes yes yes", Chandu slurs and there went the last wire end into the last slot and it gets tightened and here it comes....Completed.

"Huff!”.........there is the last jump of the hero into the water from the exploding island.....there is the last spaceship carrying the hero and escaping from the blasting planet..........there is the last punch of the bruised and exhausted hero that makes him a winner............just the way we see in the movies. Only difference being, people still prefer 'watching' movies than 'living' them. A GURU has his own ways of teaching, Verbal and Non-verbal. Verbal has time limitations, Non-verbal has can extend for 24 hours, "Every Moment is Sadhana". A task that apparently seems to be near to impossible can turn into a different equation and that is actually the process of "Getting Hardened near the Hearth".

Gurudev left after three days and the loving CG had left in the refrigerator, three glasses of rose milk for the three boys who lived for three days attending the three doors of Gurudev's family. That night they slept in Gurudev's room, daring not to occupy the bed which GURUDEV & MATAJI had used and delighted to use the floor. Next morning Chandu got up early, took a bath and was ready coz the room had to be checked out. It was the bright day of 31st March 1998.