We were going to wind-up. There was one more day left and we could have made it to Kedarnath through chopper-service. We decided against. Such hurricane visit wouldn’t serve any purpose. Ideally, if you want to visit a place, you need to stay there for one week. We just had a feel of the Himalayas. And that’s not enough. We were going to come back. Once bitten by the Himalayas, you keep coming back for the good.
We reached Hardwar. I wanted to meet Swami Samvidanand, a Facebook friend who is a new-gen Swami as per the avant-garde definition. He is a crusader for the fragile ecology not only at his home-turf, but in his home-state as well. He had planted saplings in school compounds from Kasargod to T’puram on a one-man-mission. He helped Sanal Kumar Sasidharan to have a foothold in the snow-covered landscape. The making of Oralppokkam would have been difficult otherwise. I heard he was one with all such progressive movements. In fact we hadn’t met and I thought it would be better to encounter the activist-swami at his natural habitat. We reached his "hide-out" at an odd time, late in the evening! We were knocking at the huge Iron Gate of his ashram desperately. Nobody turned up. We were not going to stop as the multi-storied cement & concrete buildings and its inhabitants were getting on our nerves.
At last, a few conventionally dressed swamis showed their faces around. We enquired about Samvidanand.
He is chucked out, they said.
We didn’t ask them why. Instead, we played the PLU card.
See we’re coming all the way from Kerala……
They took us to the Head, Swami Narayandas.
His room resembled more like an office and he sat behind a table full of papers.
He was looking very sad like a father who had just lost his son. Swamiji didn’t speak much.
We too kept mum.
I was remembering two lines from the “Viswaprarthana”.
Oh Brahman, the un-manifest, Let us perceive you in all natural elements (bhoota)
Let us honour you through our service to all living-beings.
All those inmates recite the prayer every morning but they are blissfully unaware of its meaning.
In essence, Spirituality is nothing but the practice of Selflessness and cultivation of Love.
Doing religious overhauls almost joylessly for a life-time and keeping austerities to the extent of harming one’s body is not going to make a spiritual person. One does not have to keep aloof from the Society for that purpose. One must keep aloof from sensuality , rather.
Get purified from all sources - from music, visual arts, travel, literature, history, science and even from man-woman relationship. When you’re cleansed enough, the Guru appears. Jnana (Knowledge) happens. Throw away your conventional images about a Guru. Even a Sadguru (Perfect Master) could be doing the nine-to five grind.
Swami Vagbhatananda (1885 – 1939) of Kerala comes up with yet another model where a Sanaysi shares the same mental wave-length with a revolutionary. He writes
“ഉണരുവിൻ, അഖിലേശനെ സ്മരിപ്പിൻ
(Wake up from your sleep, salute the Almighty
Get ready and start fighting against injustice)
There is a dire need to redefine spirituality.
I am back at Ayyappa Temple, Haridwar in its Pilgrim’s Lodge.
Do I want to sum-up my Himalayan Sojourn?
Not really. Instead, I ask myself the question What do the Himalayas mean to you?
“Don’t worry, everything will be alright” a soft but firm voice reassures ....
You feel immensely relieved. All your fears and anxieties are put to rest.
Your left hand encircles a friendly neck. You close your eyes.
Kindly accept my respects, Himavan.