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After a very long time, this past week I was in Mysore city - where I was born and spent a large portion of my childhood and youth - for almost a week. It has been a busy week at Mysore and that is new, as I generally come here for a day or less and spend that time mostly with the family or meet a few friends and leave quietly; most of my visits are handled in an anonymous manner. This time it is all public with a string of public events and a 3-day Inner Engineering program.
This whole program was mainly organized upon the request of Sri Maha Swami of JSS institutions. For those of you who do not know, JSS is a premier organization in the field of education with 400 institutions just about everywhere. This includes schools, colleges, technical and professional institutions. They essentially belong to the tradition of ‘Veerashaiva’, meaning valiant devotees of Shiva. It is a tradition that has seen some truly great saints and seers of phenomenal poetic talent and influence. Sri Maha Swami and everyone at their ashram retreat, which is located just at the foothills of Chamundi, bent backwards to make everything happen and let us invade their place without any inhibition. Their hospitality and love have been truly overwhelming and pathbreaking and such things have not happened among spiritual organizations. Sri Maha Swami is a respected seer, a great humanitarian and a phenomenal visionary whose contribution to the fields of education and medicine is unparalleled and, above all, a graceful human being.
It was very cute to see so many people – around 950 – that I have known such a long time ago, being in the program. Many old friends and acquaintances that I had not seen for almost three decades were in the program with utmost involvement and pride that I belong to them. It is kind of funny and touching. It was very special for me to be sitting at the feet of Chamundi after such a long time. Chamundi has not been just a hill for me, it has been a phenomenon for me right from my childhood, a time when there was no tall building in the city - the image of Chamundi Hill is kind of a permanent impression in the minds of residents of Mysore. I cannot forget, as children, with how much excitement, we used to wait and watch for a large welcome sign, the temple and the palace to light up during the period of Dussehra festivities. There is a tradition in Mysore - if you have something to do, you go to Chamundi Hill; if you have nothing to do, you go to Chamundi Hill; if you fall in love, you go to Chamundi Hill; if you fall out of love, you go to Chamundi Hill - I had just fallen out and I had nothing to do, so, on that fateful day, the young man that I was went up the hill and came down with the wisdom of lifetimes upon me. It has been a flip back in time this whole week.
Driving from Mysore to Coimbatore on a full moon night is a wondrous experience. And after just a day at the ashram, here I am in Hyderabad.
Having spent a week in Mysore and seeing, meeting and reviving many old associations, it is dawning upon me that I am getting old – doesn’t feel that way though.