Of "Tears of Bliss"

Then their life takes a turn. A little twist to the old, wry story told in India of the sannyasi (ascetic monk) who became a householder: living with nothing else in his possession except two loincloths, the story goes, a sannyasi got a cat to take care of the mice that nibbled and gnawed at his loincloth hung out to dry. To feed the cat milk he got a cow, and to take care of the cow, he married a wife. And life as a sannyasi ended! But, in the lives of Baba Santosh Puri and Narvada ji, the plot changes. Narvada ji and the Baba are drawn to each other; she gets pregnant; they get married; they have three children—the handsome Ganga, who is depicted on the cover lying on his meditating father's lap; and Mandakini and Alakananda, the beautiful girls whose "dark eyes" reflect their Indian heritage. Narvada ji's mother and sister travel to Haridwar, become themselves disciples of Baba Santosh Puri, and take care of the three children as both the father and mother are too immersed in their hungry spiritual quest. The children are sent to good boarding schools in the hills, and each one of them has initial aspirations like other children—to be a pilot, to be a doctor, to be a business professional. Ganga gets a degree in physics and mathematics, Mandakini a degree in management, and Alakananda, a degree in Ayurveda, the traditional Indian system of medicine.

And in good German tradition Narvada ji's mother and sister begin to give shape to the lovely Santosh Puri Ashram that today draws the new, young, hungry aspirants of yoga, meditation, and spiritual solace. Narvada ji's mother saw in her daughter's renunciation the fulfillment of her own spiritual quest. Before Alakananda, the third child, is born, Narvada ji's mother dies, as foretold by Baba ji. In 1986, Baba Santosh Puri suffers a serious stroke and his "proud strength" is weakened, and in 2001 he passes away. Now, Narvada ji and her three children invite the seekers from far and near to the beautiful ashram, a spiritual center, where students learn yoga and Ayurveda and learn to contemplate deeply about life sitting close to the "Samadhi"—the last resting place—of Baba Santosh Puri.

In this story we see the unfolding of the guru-disciple relationship that is enchanting, moving, powerful, and very, very different from what we have come to expect of such relationships. It is haunting to read about the early years of struggle on the little island—of Narvada, both supremely happy having found her guru but yet deeply lonely, sleeping near the cows and seeing in their eyes deep, deep love and affection for this stranger in a foreign land.

Reading about her poignant early years on the island will move even the stone-hearted, and the skeptical and believers in "chance" will have to wonder what drew a young German woman to India and to the lonely little island in the river to spend her life as disciple and consort, mother and teacher, renunciate and householder. Those who accept karma and reincarnation will smile at God's leela, the cosmic play that makes us all act according to our samskaras and vasanas, to appear and reappear till the squares are circled, debts are paid, and dividends earned.

Hari Om!

12/6/2011 5:00:00 AM