Friday, 19 November 2010

Mantra Diksha

In 1996 Poornamurti, my wife, and I attended a 'Gathering for Friends of Yoga' in Aix-le-Baines in France. We were of course not called Poornamurti and Dharma at the time, we were just Pat and Phil!
We also travelled with Gail.
We arrived by train, and found our way to the venue. We were a little aryl. If I remember correctly, we were actually a day early. We wandered up to the doors of the venue, and tried them. They opened, so we went in. It was a day too soon, so there was no one around. Then we noticed an Asian guy relaxing in a chair. Pretty much as soon as we spotted him, someone appeared and told us where we should go to find our accommodation.
As we got outside, Gail said 'Was that him?' 'Oh', we said, 'Probably.'
At this time, I didn't know much about Swami-ji. I had been into yoga, or more correctly, Vedanta, for several years before meeting my wife, and had cast around, reading Ramakrishna, Yogananda, Shankaracharya and so on. My wife was a yoga teacher who had been trained by a Swami of the Satyananda tradition, before satyananda Teacher Training courses, as such, were available in the UK (maybe anywhere?). Gail had also attended classes by this Swami, Swami Paramatmananda.
So it didn't mean much to me to see Swami-ji relaxing in a chair only a few feet away! Now I would give anything for that!
The event was good, taking place over several days, wit Swami-ji speaking several times. Everything happened in a lecture theatre seating maybe a thousand people, so it was a little remote.
On the second-last day it was announced that Swami-ji would be 'giving diksha' the following day to those who wanted it. Diksha? What's that?
Someone explained to us that it was 'initiation'. Swami-ji would transmit a mantra to us if we requested. Wow! Well, after listening to him speak for a few days, I definitely wanted some of that! My wife also had no hesitation. We filled in a tiny slip of paper, and handed it in.
At some point in the next afternoon, they said that everyone who had applied for mantra diksha should gather at a certain place. So we gathered, and with maybe two dozen others, from various countries, we were showed into a small room and asked to sit.
Swami-ji entered with a few Swami's, and gave us a little light hearted chat about mantra and saddhana. Then he called us up to the front individually, where he gave us a mala, and returned to us our slips of paper, now with a new name, a mantra and a symbol added to them. And so I became Dharma, Pat became Poornamurti, and Gail became Saddhana.
Swami-ji spoke a little longer, and the ting that impressed me most was how easy he was to be with. There was a cloud of swamis around him, trying to treat him like royalty, but he just moved amongst them, always gracious to them, but also pretty much ignoring their fussing. He was very quick to life, nd very, very full of humour. This really attracted me. I've always thought that surely, being spiritually adept wil make you happy? And this guy was clearly happy. But he was also deep. If you caught his eye, it was like looking into the depths of reality. Here truly was a 'knower of Brahman'.
Eventually, he decided we had had him long enough, and he leant back in his seat. We were the only three English people in the room, sitting near the back. He looked straight at us and said, "Well, time to knock off!" That's the kind of humour I mean. Just easily dropped comments that cause a chuckle, but somehow transmit amazingly deep feelings.
Another time I saw him do this easy mirth was at the end of the convention at Abergavenny, where Poornamurti and I had received Karma Sannyas Diksha.
Four hundred people are siting on the floor of the marquee, with Swami-ji on a his slightly raised platform. He says:
"Well, that's it. That's the end of the program."
Nobody moves, of course, because Swami-ji has to leave first. He sits there and starts the usual three 'Hari Oms':
Swami-ji: "Hari Om"
All of us: "Hari Om"
Swami-ji: "Hari HOM"
All of us: "...?...Hari...Hom?"
Swami-ji: "HURRY HOME"
To much laughter!!!

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Karma Sannyass Diksha

After I received my karma sannyasa initiation from Sri Paramahamsa Niranjanananda Saraswati, maybe ten minutes after the ceremony, Sri Swamiji was 'hanging out' in the hall with his new disciples. As we (Poornamurti and I) were milling about, we came close by him, and he addressed us:

"Have I made you happy?"
"Oh yes Swamiji, you have made us very happy, we will try very hard to live up to this honour."
"I Know you will. You must come and see me in India some time."
"We'd love to Swamiji, thank you."
"Anytime, just come."

As we are having this conversation, I am looking up into his face, and the sun is shining behind him through the window, and my eyes are dazzled. I can't focus on his face, because the light is shining so brightly, I have to squint and raise my hand to shade my eyes.

The conversation ends and we wander away. I glance back over my shoulder and realise that there is no window.