Monday, April 3, 2017

my experiences during the yatra

 13 days, 13 locations, 2500 people, 70 buses and our Velkudi Krishnan Swami, who took us to Ujjain,Dakor,Somnath, Dwarakapuri(Gomathi & Bet Dwaraka), Nathdwara, Pushkar, Kurukshetra, Haridwar, Brindavan, Mathura, Gokul, Nandagram  & Govardhan and showed us  Krishna, Krishna and more Krishna. I have been following Swamiji for the last 2 years, and this trip for me is all about being in the divine presence of Swamiji. In order to be fully in the moment, I almost  disconnected myself from the outer world. It was a break and recharge which I was looking forward to very badly, however, I ended up learning  a lot of things.

    I was part of bus number 29, named Thirumalai Nallan, a very lively bus with 38 people on board. Our 2 volunteers, Suresh and Ravi sir, a youth and experience combination, they were actually rocking. Ravi sir conducted an introductory session in the beginning where every yatrika  got to introduce themselves and get to know others as well. It was a fantastic initiative by him which actually broke the ice and helped people to get going with others.  And our Suresh, a person with a excellent sense of humour and great socializing skills. His socializing skills were such that where for the last 2 days we were part of a different bus, and in no time, he had quite a few people get going with him. For me, it was lots of learning from him  throughout, and being his roommate all along made it more easier. 

       It was on day one, first time when we all got to see each one of us of bus number 29.  People were coming in groups and getting boarded on to the bus. One group of mysore people were getting down from an auto. As they were about to finish loading their luggage, one person in that Geetaji realized that one of her bags is missing. She searched for the missing one among all their luggage and in the auto from which they got down, and it was not to be found. Others joined the search, no luck. The bag was missing. On Day 1, when you come for an yatra and if you find your bag is missing, you would be tensed and little worried, not Geetaji though. In her position, I would have got very tensed and ended up scolding my wife(my favorite punching bag). Geetaji so coolly said: "Oh, seems like my bag is missing. Let me catch an auto and go to the place from where we started, should be there".  She took an auto, went there, found her bag and got back. This incident was running in my mind atleast for the next 3 hours. For many problems, all it needs is just plain common sense. That is what Geetaji showed me that day. I told myself that day I will never ever do anything silly when I come across such a situation in my life. Thank you Geetaji for that moment. 

     Many times during our yatra in Gujarat, we had to stop the bus for dinner. We had the food with us, but we needed a place where we can have food, and wash our hands and plates and move on. Most of the times, it ended up in a petrol bunk. When we find a petrol bunk, first we used to check with them whether it is fine with them if we have food and use their water and restrooms. Without a hesitation, they always said yes. And not just this, Some times, when the water stopped, they went out of their way to make sure water is arranged immediately for us. Add to this, the moment one bus stops, atleast 4 to 5 of our buses start stopping there. And the petrol bunk owner does not mind at all.  They were happy to help us. And there was an instance where it was the opening day of the petrol bunk. The owner was so happy to see so many people using his place that day, he immediately got some sweets arranged, and started distributing to all of us.  I learnt a lot on that day about what 'giving' is all about, in-fact, it was 'giving with absolutely no expectation', and the Gujaratis have very big hearts. Perhaps, this is the reason why Krishna chose Gujarat to have his kingdom, to tell the world what giving is all about.

    The yatra was going on in full speed. And it was day 3 or 4, not sure. The bus started for the next destination. I  went and sat in the last bench, my favorite seat. When I was looking at everybody around, just a thought dropped in: Why did this 38 become as a group? Why did THIS SPECIFIC 38 become as a group? There are millions of followers of Swamiji, out of which only 2500 lucky ones could make it to the yatra. Out of this 2500, there are so many  combinations of 38 possible.  Why exactly this 38 got formed as a group? I remembered a line which I had read in Deepak Chopra's book, 7 laws of nature: "It takes the entire universe to create this moment". He goes on to say that the universe always tries to give the best to you. The universe always wants you to succeed in everything you do. Perhaps, the universe felt there are so many things I could learn from this group, perhaps many people had solutions to the problems I faced. And it took the entire universe to create this moment. If this is really what the universe wanted for me, how special each member of this group is to me? It is so true when I look at the moments which I had mentioned earlier and many more such experiences which I had during the yatra.

One important thing I learnt in this trip is the way Shri Vaishnavas look at their acharyas. For them, acharyas come first, then the lord. This is precisely what Swamiji has preached in many of his Enpani audios: "If you go to God directly, he may or may not accept you. However, if you go through your acharya, he will definitely accept you". And I witnessed this throughout in the yatra. Shri Vaishnavas live and breathe Ramanujar. There were lots of lessons for me when I saw the kind of respect of given to acharyas. In my case(I am a Madhwa), I was around 20 years old when I got to know who our acharya is. And most of our pooja's are based on Lord, nothing much for our acharyas. Perhaps, this is the reason why the Madhwa siddantha could not reach much, we failed to give the due respect to our acharya. I have my homework cut out here.

   And then about my swamiji. Swamiji is the person through whom I understood what God is and now visiting all the divine places in his presence, what more can I ask for. One thing I learnt from Swami in this trip I lost the right to ever use the phrase: "I dont have time". Here is a person, who in-spite of so many commitments, in-spite of being in the middle of a massive yatra, has all the time in the world to even get to the ground work of making sure the buses start on time from every place, making sure all yatrikas get darshan in every kshetra. If there is any issue during the yatra, swamiji will be one of the first to be present. Secondly, carrying 2500 people for a yatra and completing it as planned without a single blemish. Swamiji does not run an event management company, in-fact  they would never undertake one of this kind. This yatra is completed by swamiji fully with the help of volunteers. To put it how big a thing is to take such a massive crowd along, the Melkote jeer said it beautifully during his speech in Govardhan: " I recently went for a yatra with 100 people to badrikashram. It was tough job taking 100 people. I dont know how Velkudi swami does with 2500 people. This shows how much of Krisna's krutagne Velkudi swami has".

      Sometimes when you look at Swamiji, it seems it is much more than Krishna's Krutagne. His level of Bhakti is such perhaps the Lord Krishna literally holds swamiji's hands and walks along with him in every step. Swamiji's has told many times in Upanyasams that all you need to do is believe in God and do Saranagathi. And then he tells forget that you are doing it, it is lord who is doing it through you. Though I have heard this many times, perhaps I never did my things with complete belief in this. This is the biggest take away for me from this yatra : Belive the Lord is there with you in every step, and remove the phrases that "I do", just remove the word "I" from your mind. I came to this yatra, to take a break from the daily schedule, to get some fresh energy and rejuvenated. Now, I am finishing the yatra with much more.

     Some yatrikas used to say that Swamiji is an avatar of Sri Krishna, so true you feel. But I do not want to put it that way. By doing so, I become clueless on how I can improve my life because I am just a normal human being, and he is an avatar of God. Instead, by feeling that he is a humble, simple human being who has won over God through his Bhakti and service, I get a lot of hope in life to follow him and his teachings. I pray to the almighty to give the best of health and the longest of lives to our Swamiji, there are so many souls out there who needs his healing.

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Excellent Write-up Guru. I felt as if I too travelled with you and experienced it. Lord Krishna is great and swamiji is great and keep it up and travel in our spiritual path to reach the lotus feet of Lord Krishna..

Premchand Chudalayandy said...

Nicely written

Lakshmi Narayanan said...

Nice write up Guru!!!!

bhat said...

Nice write up Guru...kindly do write about the shetras visited and significance of each temple..from day one to the last

Krishnendu Das said...

Like it very much. Super Guru.

Bhaskar Srinivasan said...

Beautifully written Guru. Spread the goodness!

Harish Veeramani said...

Hi Guru, Though I wasn't in Yatra every time I spoke with you felt as if I travelled as well. Felt humbled on how selfless way bhakta's were served in those petrol stations. Yes Swami is always accompanied by Lord at every step. As Swami rightly says our duty is only to approach Him with total surrendrance and after that it's His responsibility take things forward. Pray Lord Krishna and Acharyas to give Swami good health and help us grow spiritually and personally.