n India, people use deities in very powerful ways. Any number of Devi worshippers are there, when they sit in front of the Devi, they have a tremendous insight into various aspects of life, but once they step out, they will be innocent of what they uttered just a little while ago. I remember when I was about nine years of age, I was in Guntakal in Andhra Pradesh. I was studying there for two years. There was one lady on the street side with one little temple, an old lady with dreadlocked hair. She must have been over eighty years of age and she was small, like a sparrow. I remember this very well. I went there with my grandmother who was a kind of a meditation initiator herself. A guru had given my grandmother a mantra and she would in turn initiate people. Some families kept her as their Guru Maa. In very close circles, people used to call her ‘Mysore Amma’ because she spent a certain segment of her life in Mysore. But that was not her known name.
My grandmother and I went and sat inside this little temple. It was small, built with brick and stone. This lady who was taking care of the temple went into a trance-like state sitting in front of her Devi. She started making all kinds of sounds, ‘Haauu, Haauu’ and then she said ‘Mysore Amma! Mysore Amma!’ This is not a name that anybody could just know, and she began saying all kinds of things about my grandmother in front of me. My grandmother was so embarrassed — already I was so much trouble to her. My grandmother tried to interfere and say, ‘No, no, no! It’s not like that!’ but this old woman just kept on ‘Aaaiyee, Aaaiyee!’ and told her to shut up. She went on saying so many very embarrassing truths about my grandmother.
Ramanujan was a brilliant mathematician from Tamil Nadu. He had very little formal education, he was mostly self-taught, but he went to Cambridge to work with various mathematicians there. When I say mathematics, you need to understand it is not a school subject. You can convert the whole creation into numbers; that is mathematics. It took years for great mathematicians in the world to understand his work. He did many theorems and said they were given to him by ‘Namagiri’ – his deity. He had initially refused to travel outside India, but later agreed when his mother received permission from Namagiri for him to go to England in a dream.
While on his deathbed in 1920, Ramanujan wrote a letter to his mentor, English mathematician GH Hardy outlining several new mathematical functions never before heard of. In his own words – “While asleep, I had an unusual experience. There was a red screen formed by flowing blood, as it were. I was observing it. Suddenly a hand began to write on the screen. I became all attention. That hand wrote a number of elliptic integrals. They stuck to my mind. As soon as I woke up, I commited them to writing.” In the last 90 years, nobody understood what his theorem was, but they knew it was something tremendous. Only in 2010 did they find out that this theorem describes various behaviors of black holes. Ninety years ago, no one was talking about black holes, the term did not even exist, but Ramanujan made a mathematical impression for it sitting on his deathbed and he said ‘my Devi’ gave it to me. When Ramanujan says, ‘Devi gave it to me’, for him Devi is the doorway.
Isha Yoga is a doorway by itself. Almost everybody who comes to Isha Yoga opens it a crack and says, ‘Wow!’ — and then they shut it. You see this happening with everybody around you, including yourself. They open it and say ‘Wow!’ then close it again. They had a good enough peep. You need to open it and keep it open. That’s the thing.