On the Path of the Divine - Swami Nischala
In this series, each month, one of our Isha Brahmacharis or Sanyasis shares their individual background, observations, and experiences of what it means for them to walk this sacred “Path of the Divine.”
Swami Nischala : What caught my eye was the greeting at the end of the invitation - "Let's make it happen!" It was an invite to attend lsha Fest, forwarded by the owner of the flat where I had stayed six years ago in Coimbatore. “Could it have something to do with the radiant sage-like yoga teacher who I did the yoga program with?” I wondered. Because the words reminded me of a paper board hanging in that class that said, "A World Full of Love, Light and Laughter, its time has come. Let us make it happen." Since I had really liked this combination of "Love, Light and Laughter' the phrase had stayed with me. Seeing it again, my mind started to spin out the memories of that extra-ordinary class I did in 1990 in Coimbatore.
It was a totally new experience for me - the gentle instrumental music the kind I had never heard before, the yoga teacher, Sadhguru from Mysore - who reminded me of the sage Manikkavasagar from the times of the Pandya dynasty - and the volunteers who joined Sadhguru on the initiation day . I remember during the games on the initiation day, once I had come face to face with Sadhguru, really close. He had a radiance I had never seen, and again I felt that he was not an ordinary person - it was the same feeling that I had about Sadhguru when he had first entered the hall for the class.
Another thing that had moved me was the sharing of the volunteer Srinivasan, on the initiation day. "Sadhguru told us to serve 30 gods," he shared with tears profusely flowing from his eyes. He was referring to us, the 30 participants of the class. At that moment something fundamental shook within me. I didn't know that one could serve like a servant and still live so high within - I didn't even know the concept of volunteering at the time. The intensity of the photo of Sadhguru Shri Brahma that I saw during the meditators' get-together with Sadhguru and afterwards, how I couldn't speak for the rest of the evening - became vivid in my mind as I looked at the invitation.
Despite these experiences, shortly after the program, I was transferred to Madurai and later to Chennai. I got busy with my life, and I dropped my practices somewhere along the way.
I come from a village and was a first-generation graduate and a government servant. My father owned some land, but he wouldn't bother to earn more than what was required for food and clothing for us. He was content and joyous and did daily poojas for the Lingas and Ganapati idols in his pooja room. Getting my two brothers married and having them settled suitably was important for us at the time. So those past six years had gone in stabilizing the financial situation of my family.
But now when I saw the invitation to lsha Fest, everything came back alive within me - here I was longing for that contact again. Though I wasn't sure if the connection between lsha Fest and Sadhguru's class was really there, I took the chance and found my way to the ashram on September 23, 1996, for the first time.
The First Encounter of the Enlightened
The atmosphere was so vibrant, everyone was joyous and bubbling with energy - I simply enjoyed being there. After some time, I started to go look for Sadhguru, and I found him standing near the Shivalaya tree talking to a few people. I saw him coming towards my direction after a while. I didn't know how to greet this sage so I decided to prostrate in front of him to pay my homage. As I was bending down to touch his feet, my eyes made a contact with Sadhguru's eyes when he wasn't even looking at me. What happened to me then is beyond words. At a loss for words, I can only say I found those eyes overflowing with "grace and compassion" - as if it had engulfed the entire creation.
Suddenly something broke within me and I experienced unbounded ecstasy within. Oblivious to the surroundings, I started to cry. I cried for maybe an hour. I felt like one who had gotten lost and separated from his family and now found his way back. I was back home.
A Glimpse of the Beyond
Before leaving, I found out that there were classes happening in Chennai also. Those days, my family was looking for a girl for me. I didn't have any particular desire to get married, but it had seemed like a normal thing to do at a certain age. However, after this episode at the ashram, my desire to get married naturally fell off, effortlessly. In April 1997, I was back in the ashram for the Bhava Spandana Program (BSP), but I had no record to prove that I had done the pre-requisite lsha Yoga class in 1990. It was perhaps one of the first few classes that Sadhguru had given in Coimbatore, so in the local center also there was no record of it. So they wouldn't allow me to do BSP. But there were still two more days to go till the BSP; I didn't budge from the ashram and started doing the preparatory homework also. After much insistence, I was allowed in the BSP just a few minutes before it started.
BSP was the turning point. In each session, I became more and more joyful, more and more energetic, more and more ecstatic and more and more exuberant. At one point I saw Sadhguru walking near me, and I just jumped down to grab his feet, but his feet were not there - in my perception, it was just space. At one point when I came out of the hall, unable to bear the ecstasy, I simply collapsed without any sense of body. I became one with the soil, the trees, the space, and the food that I ate. It was very clear to me that my worldly life was over.
Later, back in the office in Chennai, for two months I couldn't work - I would simply stare off at something, either feeling empty within or overflowing with the ecstasy. "I am doing yoga,” I said whenever my colleagues wondered about my state of being. After two months I came back to my normal self but was left with an intense longing to be part of whatever Sadhguru is. I took 13 days of leave and volunteered for all the three sessions of an lsha Yoga program that was happening in Chennai. I also visited Kadapa with other meditators upon invitation by the ashram. I witnessed a miracle there.
It was a hot summer day, and the Sun was bright and shining. At around 4:30 pm, Sadhguru took the Brahmacharis inside a room near the sanctum for a process. They were inside for maybe an hour. Ten minutes before Sadhguru came out, it started to rain, out of nowhere. Later in the night satsang, the local panchayat president shared, "I asked for rain from the guru because we are suffering with no rain; and it rained today itself.” He was full of gratitude towards Sadhguru.
In Kadapa, Sadhguru also talked about creating Dhyanalinga; from what and how Sadhguru spoke about it, I knew that it would be an enormous gift to the humanity, and my heart was overwhelmed with the desire to be at least a tiny part of it. “No going back to office anymore,” I thought after coming back from Kadapa.
I went back again to the ashram to become a full-time volunteer. I was treated well and given a few chores to finish as volunteering. However, "You can't stay here for more than three days without the permission of Sadhguru," Swami Nisarga said on the fourth day. Where to find Sadhguru, he didn't tell me, and so I was back in Chennai.
Luckily, as soon as I was back, Sadhguru came to Chennai to give a class. I got an appointment to meet Sadhguru on the day after initiation. My appointment was at 11 am. That morning as I got up, I was suddenly reminded again of the story of the saint Manikkavasagar. In that story, Manikkavasagar, who is the Chief Minister in the court of one of the Pandya kings, goes to buy Arabian horses upon the king's orders. However, on the way he encounters Shiva in the form of a Guru to make Manikkavasagar a part of himself; and his life was transformed. I had a strong feeling that something similar would happen to me that day. "I should offer Shiva's favorite flowers to Sadhguru today," I further contemplated. At 7:30 am, there I was, out hunting around for five types of flowers/leaves that Shiva likes - Nandiyavattam, Mandarai, Vilva, Hibiscus, and Nagalinga. I found 3 in the backyard of our next house, wrapped them in a wet towel, and went to a Shiva temple far off hoping to find Vilva. Actually, I found both Vilva and Nagalinga near that temple. By the time I finished collecting the flowers and reached the place I was to meet Sadhguru, it was time for me to go in.
The First Time Sadhguru Spoke to Me
After entering the room Sadhguru was sitting in, I sat in Vajrasana, opened the towel, and offered the flowers at his feet. Instinctively, with those five flowers, I offered whatever I thought of as myself, too, totally at his feet. I felt I was waiting for this moment for lifetimes. Suddenly, everything within my being became still, and I simply sat there looking at his feet. Tears were flowing. Two to three minutes passed like this; it was like my being was being pulled towards his feet. I saw nothing else those few moments but his feet.
"Let's talk," Sadhguru said a few minutes later, and shook his feet. I felt his feet shaking within me.
I didn't know what to say, I was empty of words and everything I knew. I don't know from where came the only words that entered my mouth, as I said, "The time has come for me!"
"Definitely, the time has come,” said Sadhguru. "So what shall we do now?"
"I want to become a Sanyasi,” I promptly said.
Then he asked me what I was doing and what was my family background, etc. After listening to my family situation, he questioned, "Who will take care of your parents then?" I assured him that my elder brothers were by then doing well enough to take care of the family. "Be there in December," he said, and our meeting concluded.
It was July. For me, everything was over; whatever I thought I was, I had left it at his feet. From that moment to this moment as I write this, there is an unbounded bliss deep within me; all sorts of feelings happen at the surface, but the bliss within always is.
On December 1, 1997, I was in the ashram full-time, and I was initiated into brahmacharya on the Mahashivaratri of 1998.
The Fervor of Dhyanalinga Construction
Initially, I worked in the kitchen, washing vessels and cooking rice. After 3 months, I became part of the construction team. One day, I along with two others, were called for a meeting with Sadhguru. "I need a roof over Dhyanalinga before a specific time," Sadhguru urged in that meeting, and gave us the details of how to make the foundation of the Dhyanalinga dome. Over all these years, I have realized from the way he tells us complicated construction details verbally without even drawing, ex tempore - that somewhere he has the plan of the shape, size, location and orientation of everything he asks us to construct ready in his mind. In that first meeting Sadhguru also asked us, "How many people do you want to come to this temple daily?"
"One thousand," I said excitedly - the biggest number I could think of.
"Yes, many more will come,” replied Sadhguru.
Today, I feel overwhelmed to see that thousands of people are visiting Dhyanalinga.
Aura Cell Stones and Four Factories
After this meeting, all ashram residents and volunteers became fired up to complete the dome within the time Sadhguru had specified. None of us knew either the day or the night - we all offered whatever we had to this endeavor. The foundation and the wall were erected quite quickly, however we needed now the lintel stones to finish the aura cells. The supplier had promised to deliver it within a month, but we heard no further news from him. So after one month, when the cut stones didn't arrive, we decided to visit the quarry. When we reached there, we were shocked to see that out of the 54 stones that we needed, he had only 2 ready. There was no way he could give us the rest of the stones in time. We didn't know what to do, and as usual we spread the word among the volunteers.
Arunagiri anna and Senthil anna from Gobi came to our rescue, and gave us the address of a quarry in Bangalore to visit. Soon, Swami Abhipada, the purchase in-charge, and Swami Nisarga, the translator, went to this quarry and fixed the delivery of the rough stones. Still, how to get these rough stones cut in such a short time! Both the annas from Gobi again found a solution and arranged four cutting factories working in parallel to make it happen. Not risking delay, I went by bus from factory to factory every day to check the progress. One touching thing was every night when I came back to Singanallur office at around 11 pm, Swami Devasatwa wouldn't allow me to sleep without food. He would make at least upma and make sure that I ate.
The truth is, none of us knew much about procurement and processing of granite and many other materials that Sadhguru asked us to use. However, every time we got stuck, we had help, somehow - it happened almost like a miracle. Like in the case of the bricks for the dome. Sadhguru was very specific that we use 2-inch thick bricks for the dome. 2 inches is not a standard size brick, and we couldn't find any supplier in Tamil Nadu. Not knowing what to do, once again the word went out, and once again a volunteer offered the solution. Mohan Das anna found a factory in Kerala that had the entire lot of bricks, in the size that we needed, ready in his stock. Mohan actually didn't go looking for this supplier either; he went for some other work in Kerala - and simply happened to get in touch with this supplier.
Strength of Hourdis Tiles
Another thing was, during Dhyanalinga construction, we learnt about techniques and materials that even today we are using extensively. For example, Sadhguru asked us to use Hourdis tiles to make the roof of the inner parikrama. From what Sadhguru explained, the tiles seemed delicate. I wondered if they could take any weight. Moreover, we could not find any place in Tamil Nadu where they were used. Again, Mohan Das took us to Calicut in Kerala to a Hourdis tiles factory. After seeing the tiles, I couldn't help but tell the MD of the factory that we didn't know how to structurally use it. The amused MD put us in touch with an engineer who agreed to meet us in a hotel at 4:30 pm the same day. The chain of the events that happened afterwards overwhelm me even today.
As we entered the hotel, we met a meditator, who had been working as an airport manager in Coimbatore earlier and had visited the ashram. He obviously recognized Swami Abhipada. After hearing us out, he gave us his car to visit the sites, and both he and his wife took an auto to go back. When we met the engineer, there also it turned out that he had studied in Coimbatore. He took extra care in explaining to us the technical details of using the tiles, and fixed appointments at 2-3 places for us to visit.
When we went to the first place, incidentally, the owner of that shop had also visited the lsha ashram before. We were surprised to meet so many meditators there when lsha didn't even have a center in that city. He was so warm towards us that he insisted we drink some juice before he gave us more details. Then he showed and explained everything to us. The tiles were used in his mezzanine floor upon which heavy appliances like refrigerators, etc. were kept. So I was convinced of the strength of the tiles and didn't need to visit the other places. Even today, we are using Hourdis tiles in many lsha buildings.
Clamp of the C-Clamp
One more aspect of the construction process... it was required of us to use whatever we knew, and whatever our qualities were. Once I designed a c-shaped iron clamp, on my own, to lift the huge pillars of the front mandapams. It looked like they could hold a pillar well, but I became totally nervous about using them. "What if the pillar slips down, what if somebody gets hurt, what if somebody dies..." all night I couldn't sleep thinking all this. I became so nervous that I even had dysentery the next morning. Then I went and sat in Dhyanalinga for 3 hours and got myself settled. As I was coming out, I met Swami Nandikesha, who is a mechanical engineer. I discussed the situation with him. After thinking for a few minutes, he said maybe we can tighten the clamps by inserting wooden wedges, and use an additional clamp at the bottom of the pillar. The solution worked well. He was also a fresh graduate and didn't have much experience, but we simply used ourselves to our maximum - and it worked.
Living in the Shadow of Grace
So many such incidents have happened in the last 20 years I have been here. Actually what we do in the name of construction in lsha, is conceived and designed by Sadhguru. And, in so many ways it is executed by Sadhguru's grace. When we are in construction meetings with him, Sadhguru gives the details, and 3D images of what he is speaking forms in my mind simultaneously. When making the drawings later, the dimensions and proportions he gives of the architectural features simply fit well.
I feel privileged that I am useful in some small way in making Sadhguru's vision for the humanity happen. And by being here what has happened within me is beyond my wildest imagination. Whenever I visualize Sadhguru's physical form within me - his bright and radiant face - I am filled with bliss, many times overflowing; anywhere and anytime. I don't know how it happens, but for me Sadhguru is Shiva himself - nothing less, nothing more.
Thelivu Guruvin Thirumeni Kandal
Thelivu Guruvin Thiruvarthai Kettal
Thelivu Guruvin Thirunamam Seppal
Thelivu Guruvin Thiruvuru Sinthithal Thane
[By seeing the Guru's form one gets clarity
By hearing the Guru's words one gets clarity
By uttering the Guru's name one gets clarity
By contemplating on the Guru's form one gets clarity]
Aum Shambho, Shiva Shambho, Jaya Shambho Mahadeva!
Editor's Note: Watch this space every second Monday of the month as we share with you the journeys of Isha Brahmacharis in the series, "On the Path of the Divine."