To Shiva I Bow – The Significance of Om Namah Shivaya – Final Part

Hari Om! Welcome to the voyage inward once again. 🙂 I couldn’t post a blog last week because I was unwell. Just could not get myself to do anything. 😦

In the first chapter, the characters in the story discuss the origins of the Om Namah Shivaya mantra and how it represents the five elements of nature. You can read the chapter here for a sense of continuity – https://onavoyageinward.wordpress.com/2020/09/20/to-shiva-i-bow-the-significance-of-om-namah-shivaya-part-1/

Let’s continue with the second and final chapter! Hope you enjoy the read. 😀 

“Wonderful!” Shivaansh replied, visibly thrilled. “Now, before getting in further, I forgot to ask you a basic question. Do you know the meaning of the word “Mantra”? 

“Yes!” Devika replied excited. “Manah – is the mind and Trayate – means to protect. A Mantra is that which protects the mind.” 

“Absolutely correct.” he beamed at her answer. “What I am now going to explain is something I too have recently discovered and still trying to experience and understand. It is about the impact of this Mahamantra on the Chakras – the energy centers of our body. Now although that is a science by itself – I am speaking about it to you because you mentioned cleansing of emotional issues. Alright?” he sounded apprehensive. 

“Alright Anna. Go on, I understand that I like every other seeker will have to personally experience whatever you explain. For that we have to also know na. Go on.” she encouraged him. 

“Alright so each of the 7 Chakras is connected to an element – that is earth, water, fire, air and space. We have already seen how the 5 syllables of Om Namah Shivaya represent an element each. Let’s begin with OM. Om as we know is the very sound of creation, the beginning of all knowledge. The heart of Shiva. Thus it resonates in the 6th Chakra – the Ajna Chakra located in the center of our forehead. Where Shiva’s third eye – the eye of awareness is situated.” he explained slowly while pointing to the center between the two brows. 

“It is symbolic of intuitive spiritual wisdom. Now, each of these energy centers can also have blockages – which lead to various issues in the mind and body. Om is one chant which calms us down and leads us to deeper meditative experiences. It helps heal issues related to the very direction and purpose of life by bestowing clarity.” he paused, trying to gauge his listener’s understanding. 

She was listening to every word attentively. He went on. “Next with the syllable “NA”, the Mantra dips down to the very first Chakra situated at the base of our spine – the Muladhara Chakra. This one is connected to the earth. Thus it helps purify that element and energy – the issues here are mainly about the primal need to belong and survive. Any idea which is the next chakra?” posing questions to Devika was after all his favourite past-time! 

“Umm..the next element is MAH which is connected to Water. As far as the little knowledge I have of Chakras,” she chuckled, “The next one is Swadhisthana, right?” she asked him.

“Correct. A little below the navel. Because it is all about how we open up to new experiences, here we deal with issues surrounding a sense of well-being and the right to feel and our own desires. Are you observing how the Mantra is rising up and purifying the energy centers?” Shivaansh asked to which she nodded in agreement. 

“The third one is..” he began.

“SHI connected to Fire!” she interrupted now excited. 

He smiled, shaking his head. “Right, right. And the Chakra is the Manipura. Located in the upper abdominal area. Now this is about how confident you are of your own life and your decisions. So issues here will be about self-worth, self-esteem and so on. Want to try explaining the next one?” he winked. 

“Yup! So, the fourth syllable, “VA” represents air. And the next chakra is the Anahata which is located at our heart center. From what I have understood so far, we are also evolving as aware beings as we move up from the most primary needs to higher experiences. The Anahata is associated with love, peace and happiness. Our very ability to love not just those around but ourselves too.” she explained animatedly. 

“Right. Which is why this Chakra impacts our relationships greatly. Imagine, how much this chant is actually helping us at all levels. Continued practice in a very general sense can help us become more aware and calmer thereby improving our relationships to a great extent.” he could sense a deeper understanding growing in both their minds. 

“Now the fifth and the last syllable, “YA” represents space and is associated with the Vishuddha Chakra at the throat region. The energy here is associated with how freely we express ourselves and connect with people and other beings around at the same time – the skills of communication and empathy is impacted here. When it is balanced, it also helps us hear our inner voice of wisdom. So how you connect with yourself, that also matters.” he finished. 

“So it is like a complete potent package to help us not just deepen our meditative practice but heal at various levels of our being. Like it starts right at the center of knowledge, then dips down to cleanse other basic energies and rising up to bestow upon us intellectual and emotional clarity, finally equipping us to become aware seekers ready to absorb the highest truth.” Devika was in absolute awe. 

“Absolutely! An extremely potent chant which cleanses our energy and helps attune our thoughts, actions and awareness to that of the Infinite Shiva, your true auspicious nature. This is what I am discovering in my personal practice too.” he smiled, quite satisfied with this fruitful discussion. 

“And the practice also is so simple. Like any of us can do it! One of my friends practises writing the Mantra. She says that has helped her attention span and quietened the agitations of her mind too.” Devika said, still amazed.

“Definitely. Writing the chant, employs all your faculties in that particular act alone. It makes your mind single-pointed, preparing it for higher flights into meditation. Just as much chanting with the help of a 108-beaded rudraksha mala does. All you need is an erect spine, a comfortable seating position and the loving zeal of a seeker! You’re all set to fly.” Shivaansh shrugged. 

Both of them smiled and turned to the idol of Lord Jagadeeshwara, in awe of the simplicity and interconnectedness of everything there is – and the One who pervades all. 

As they closed their eyes for a 10-minute meditation before they left all that they felt was a deepening sense of inner peace and joy, the timeless connection with the Shiva in their hearts. 

The Chakras are a new area of knowledge for me that I had wanted to explore since a long time, as I kept writing I could sense the understanding deepen within me. It is amazing, how connected everything is.

I leave you with this very potent and calming chant – https://youtu.be/Z454rcr1HPw

Do Like and Comment – Cherish A Dream With Me! 😀

See You Next Week,

Love and Om,

Lakshmi.

Sources of information – Vedic Feed, Scienceandnonduality.com

To Shiva I Bow – The Significance of Om Namah Shivaya (Part 1)

Hari Om! Welcome back to the voyage inward. 🙂 A big thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the love and encouragement you shower on the blog! 

Today I am putting into words the compulsion I have been feeling from within – to begin to write on Lord Shiva. 

Although I have been with Shiva through dance all my life, my fascination for the mystical Lord deepened when I was all of 16. From then to now – working at a place which has a beautiful Lord Shiva temple in its premises – the journey continues! 😀 

This is a different territory of knowledge for me to be exploring. Hope You enjoy the Read! 🙂

Although it had a normal beginning, it was going to be quite a remarkable day for young Devika as she sat staring at Lord Shiva at her favourite temple – the Jagadeeshwara Temple in Powai, Mumbai. 

Her elder brother Shivaansh whom she had gotten here for the first time early in the morning was seated beside her, immersed in meditation. For the hundredth time, she couldn’t help but wonder at the serenity that shone on the Lord’s smiling face. 

Shivaansh opened his eyes and saw her lost in the Lord. He smiled. He was a Shiva devotee himself and had been on some wonderful pilgrimages, but this place had taken his heart away. There was this incredible aura of divinity, the white marbled Lord a sight to behold.  

“Quite divine isn’t he?” he whispered. 

“Anna, there is something about Shiva that is so fascinating. That has always touched my soul. He has an aura, an energy that completely dissolves all your false notions – that completely dissolves “you” as an entity. I don’t think I can comprehend this completely.” she said still lost in the Lord. 

He was surprised at the intensity of her words. There was no one in the temple apart from them. It only added to the piercing silence. Suddenly she turned towards him. 

“Don’t you think that when you look at Shiva, when you meditate on Shiva – you are looking at Life itself as it is. Like you are meditating upon your true nature?” she asked. 

“Absolutely.” He replied having just experienced what she was speaking about. “Now that we are having this conversation, I have a question for you. Up for it?” He winked. 

Devika smiled. Her brother and his ways of having insightful conversations. How could she forget that as an advanced seeker, he was an inspiration for her! She jumped at the chance. 

“Yes, yes.” she replied excitedly. 

“Alright. You recently started chanting Om Namah Shivaya isn’t it? Do you know it’s origins?” Shivaansh questioned. 

“No..but what I have realised in these months is that the chant is one of the most simple yet potent ways to attune our energy to Shiva’s universal energy,” she answered. 

“Rightly said. So, this is a powerful Mahamantra the origins of which goes back thousands of years. It originates in Shri Rudram of the Yajurveda. Do you have your diary with you?” he knew her habit of carrying around a journal wherever she went. 

“The Mantra appears appears in the eighth hymn of Namakam ( TS 4.5.8.1) of Taittiriya Samhita (TS 4.5, 4.7) of Krishna Yajurveda. Like this, look.” he wrote the mantra to show her. 

Namaḥ śivāya ca śivatarāya ca ( नमः शिवाय च शिवतराय च । )

“Now, Om Namah Shivaya means, “I Bow down to Shiva” – who is the Supreme Reality, my own true Self. Thus it is a worship that allows you to move closer to the Source of all energy, lying in the cave of your own heart!” he grinned. 

Devika was listening intently. “So Anna, one of the most popular interpretations we come across is in Bhagawan Adi Sankaracharya’s Shiva Panchakshari Stotram isn’t it? Where Na, Mah, Shi, Va and Ya represent the five elements through which the Absolute manifests in the form of this universe.” she questioned eagerly. 

“Yes. These five elements are the building blocks of the universe and of our own beings as well. Let me write the breakdown for you. There is one more interpretation which I’ll talk about after this.” he said picking up the pen again. 

Om – The first vibration or sound that arose from the void of pure existence to begin the creation of the universe.

Na – Earth (solidity of the human body)

Mah – Water (manifests as blood in our body)

Va – Air (the process of breathing)

Shi – Fire (temperature of the body)

Ya – Sky or Space (the body occupies space)

“Can you tell me some more about this?” a curious Devika asked. 

“Alright so, in ancient times the metaphors the Rishis had to describe their experience of Consciousness were condensed and subtler, possibly even more than what we have today in the form of modern physics. Their metaphor was Shiva.” he paused gauging her expressions.

In their deep meditations, the sages experienced Shiva as the entire universe and Shiva as their own Self. Thus, this mantra when chanted becomes a powerful vibration that allows us to tune into our own true self, that is Shiva. Tell me, you have started the Japa. What have you noticed?” he questioned after explaining. 

“Hmm..What I have felt when I chant, and as the practice is getting deeper is a powerful silence and a cleansing of emotional baggage. I feel a lot more calmer than I ever was. And I also believe that knowing the entire meaning and significance of the chant helps deepen the practice.” she answered thoughtfully. 

“Wonderful!” Shivaansh replied, visibly thrilled. “Now, before getting in further, I forgot to ask you a basic question. Do you know the meaning of the word “Mantra”? 

To Be Continued…

I leave you with two links. Here’s one to listen to the Shiva Panchakshari Stotram – https://youtu.be/CYJ4udIsfBc.

Here’s another link, a magnetic Om Namah Shivaya chant to help you begin your own journey with the Mantra – https://youtu.be/9jScRVIZLic

See You Next Week with Part 2 of the story! 🙂

Love and Om,

Lakshmi.

Lord Ganesha – The Hidden Messages in His Form Part 2

Hari Om! Welcome back to the journey with Bappa. 🙂 Thank You so much for all the love your poured in for the first chapter in the series. It really means a lot. 😀

Before we begin the concluding chapter, I have this deep urge to start a blog series exclusively on Lord Shiva – do suggest anything on Him that you would like to read about! 🙂

“Haha. My dear, the Lord is the very origin of this world. So forget about so-called right sizes. Think. After an evolved intellect goes beyond the pairs of opposites and remains established in the Infinite, what does life become like?” Bhagawan counter-questioned her. 

“Eh? Life would be all calm and joyful. Nothing can affect us anymore, because we would have realized that all of it is actually an illusion. This is my understanding so far,” she replied. 

“You got that somewhat right. This has layers to it, so we will see in the future. For now his large stomach tells us how a Rishi can digest all the experiences that life has to offer with a smile on his face. Established in the Truth, he has an unbeatable appetite for life! Because he knows that no problem is unsolvable and life itself is to be lived fully until you are here on this plane,” Bhagawan smile widely, quite satisfied with his explanation, watching the light dawn on his little seeker’s face. 

“No wonder everyone becomes so happy on seeing Ganesha! Because Ganesha symbolises a calm and happy life,” she exclaimed. 

“Haha totally. Now before you ask I have a question for you. Why do you think the Lord rides a mouse?” Bhagawan raised a brow. 

“Hawww! You beat me to this. Not fair. Umm, so the mouse is small. Maybe it represents that for a wise man, his desires which are troublesome for most of us – for him they become small?” She was thinking out loud. 

“Aha. Perfectly put. If you notice, the mouse looks up at the Lord with devotion in his heart. The mouse is small but its teeth are very powerful. They can nibble away at anything and cause destruction. So too our desires in the beginning are small, but when our insistence on their fulfillment goes beyond control – they spell disaster in our lives. Then greed, anger, etc come into the picture.” He paused to let Devika absorb this. 

“But aren’t desires also necessary if we are to live a successful life?” she questioned hesitantly. 

“They are. But like Mooshik surrenders to Ganesha, when our desires and the root cause of it – the mind surrenders to the Lord or to a Higher goal – its potential is turned in the right direction. That passionate insistence on the result vanishes. All that remains is a calm intellect which works with single-pointed devotion. Thus a wise man sublimates his desire and becomes an instrument to work for the welfare of all.” Bhagawan concluded. 

“Amazing this is Ayyappa. Truly amazing. Such depth,” Devika was speechless. 

“Now we have three elements left for the day. The axe, the rope and the modak that he holds. Quickly go and get your materials for your eco-friendly Ganesha. Give me your answer when you get back.” Bhagawan said and went into a meditative posture. 

Devika admired him for a few moments and ran away to get the material, simultaneously thinking about the three elements. 

She got back after a while and saw that Bhagawan was still immersed in meditation. She did not know how to call him back so she quietly sat next to him and wrote down her thoughts about the axe, the rope and the modak. As soon as she was done, Bhagawan opened his eyes much to her delight. 

“So what have you come up with?” He was back to his teasing mood. 

Devika giggled, her mind felt quite fresh after the reflections. “Ayyappa, don’t underestimate me okay. Have some faith in your little girl,” she admonished him. 

Bhagawan shook his head at her innocence while she went on. 

“Bappa tells all of us, 

With the axe when you cut off

your attachments and fears,

With the rope when you reign in

Your past regrets,

Your fanciful future imaginations and distress,

Then you serve the world with love and joy, 

You receive from me Modaks of Peace and Abundance!”  (Thank You Aravind Bhaiya for inspiring me to write this! )

“Wow. A poetess in the making it seems.” Bhagawan exclaimed with pride. 

Devika went red in her face after hearing that from Him. 

“Beautiful my little girl. Keep reflecting, keep walking. I will always be here with you. So will my dear elder brother, Bappa!” He patted her head lovingly before going. 

Devika grinned. She felt like dancing around but decided to sit down and make her Ganesha with all the love she had for Him in her heart. 

As she was finishing she realized her Lord was right all along. It was all about merging into the form to go beyond to the formless!

Ganapati Bappa Morya! May Bappa bestow upon the world all the health and happiness. 🙂 

I leave you with this serene and sublime chant of the Ganapati Atharvashirsha Upanishad – https://youtu.be/ZMRH8KFlHRU

See You Next Sunday with a new blog!

Love and Om,

Lakshmi.

Lord Ganesha – The Hidden Messages in His Form

Hari Om! Welcome back. 🙂 Thank You for all your love and support for the previous blogs.

This one is a celebration of the magical form of our favourite Lord Ganesha. Happy Reading and Happy Ganesh Chaturthi! 😀

Ganesh Chaturthi as a festive celebration was introduced by Shri Bal Gangadhar Tilak as a means of unifying the Indian society during the Independence movement. Today, more than ever before India’s countless communities celebrate this joyous festival with great enthusiasm. 

I have always been fascinated by the mysticism in the literature and traditions of Sanatana Dharma. With this story, I hope to take you through yet another beautiful journey! 🙂 

ऊँ गम गणपतये नमः

Little Devika watched as an enigmatic idol of Lord Ganesha made its way into her society – accompanied by loud cheers and songs of happiness from all members. She smiled as she looked at His form adoringly. 

Then she frowned, deep in thought. She had a penchant for wanting to know the symbolism behind Hinduism’s mystical forms and traditions. As she looked closely at Ganesha’s statue, beyond the happy and friendly Lord – she wondered what was it that his form represented? 

Now, this little girl had a special gift. She could converse with the Lord of her heart whenever she wanted! As if he had heard her confused mind, Lord Ayyappa appeared right next to her, smiling his divine smile. 

“Fascinated by my elder brother’s form?” He whispered, jolting her out of her thoughts. 

“Ayyappa!!” she exclaimed happily, surprised. 

Bhagawan giggled while she composed herself to launch a tirade of questions. “Yes yes. You know whenever I look at Ganesha I can’t help but feel happy because he brings such joy and peace! But then his form is so different, like most unique in all of our culture. Outsiders, even our own people might find it weird because no one knows what he represents. I can’t help but wonder..” She rattled off. 

“Well, firstly every form is an indication of the formless. Beyond the form, lies the formless.” Bhagawan said as he gazed at Lord Ganesha’s form with deep reverence in his heart. 

“But let us go step by step.” He chuckled looking at Devika’s confused face.

“What do you think of when you look at Lord Ganesha’s huge head?” He asked her. 

“Umm…well its an elephant’s head. And an elephant is one of the most powerful animals, always leads from the front. So leadership?” 

“Most certainly. Primarily his head represents the evolved intellect of what we call a Man of Perfection or a Rishi. This is the pinnacle that every man aspires to reach after a period of continuous sadhana and reflection. This intellect is rooted in the powers of knowledge and discrimination. It helps man take the right decisions in the world outside and unravel the layers of his own inner personality too.” Bhagawan replied impressed with her line of thought. 

“Wow. That is intense. What about his trunk? I know an elephant’s trunk can pick the tiniest blade of grass and uproot the mightiest tree,” she pondered. 

“Perfect. Similarly a wise man can perform the most difficult task with ease and go into the tiniest of details. He does not get perturbed by either. His focus is unbreakable.” Bhagawan smilingly shrugged. 

Devika paused to absorb this message before launching her next question. “And his broken tusk? I can’t wrap my mind around what that could tell us,” she complained. 

Bhagwan laughed at her expression. “My Dear, what does the power of knowledge and discrimination give you? Tremendous inner strength and understanding is it not?” He questioned. 

She nodded eager to know more. 

“With this understanding you go beyond the pairs of opposites. As in, look the world is made up of heat and cold, joy and sorrow and so on. That is its nature. Can you help it? No. But what you can certainly help is how you react to it. Right?” He searched her face for an understanding. 

“Yes. I can slowly get my mind to not complain about these things because they are what they are. They are not going away..But I can live happily despite that if I have the right understanding,” she was quick to reply. 

“On point. Perhaps this duality does not even exist, but that is for another day. Now Lord Ganesha’s broken tusk represents he who has gone beyond this duality and remains established in that subtle oneness which pervades this entire universe. The vision of love. There is no hatred or anger left in him. He is full of love and calm alone,” he explained making Devika wonder what that state would be like. 

“Such large ears he has! He can listen to all the love the entire world has for him na?” She asked. 

“That’s exactly what his super-large ears are for. To listen keenly. A wise man listens to all those who come to him with compassion, with a keen sense of being present in the moment – not allowing any prejudice to colour the mind. When he listens keenly, he makes the right decisions, when he does that he acts well and finally lives well!” Bhagawan winked. 

“Wow..quite a skill to pick up from Ganesha.” She smiled. “Now, in this stupid world of perceived right sizes, what about his large stomach?” She quizzed sheepishly. 

To Be Continued…

I’ll be back next Sunday with Part 2 (the concluding part) of the story!

I am leaving you with this soothing bhajan by Shri Shankar Mahadevan on Bappa. Do listen – https://youtu.be/nwmaPaf6Bac

Ganapati Bappa Morya! 

Love and Om,

Lakshmi. 

A Day With Lord Ayyappa- Chapter 5: Timeless Moments

As she dusted her hands, she heard a grumbling sound. When she turned to investigate the cause of that sound, she found Shabareesh grinning sheepishly.
“Hungry!”
“What? You just had so much chaat!” she laughed much to his exasperation.
“Huh! So what? That was a while ago. After that, you made me run around and build this castle on top of that. So..” he shrugged, quite proud of his answer.
“Oh really?” Karthika smiled sweetly making him gulp. The next minute all the sand covering her hands were on his head!
“What the..” his jaws dropped open as he surveyed himself while Karthika laughed away to glory.
That was it. The next moment her clothes were splattered with more sand.
She glared at him but Shabareesh smirked widely, his eyebrows jiggling in a teasing expression. The duo stared at each other for a second. The next second they broke into laughter.


“We look like drenched monkeys!” Karthika exclaimed struggling to catch her breath.
“Well I always thought you were a cute little monkey!” he chuckled.
“Hawww! I am not talking to you.” Karthika stalked off.
“Hey! You only keep sending that monkey on WhatsApp!” he remarked falling in step with her.
“Shabareesh I never expected you to be such a tease!” she huffed.
“Oh come on that’s not just your job, I am more talented. And by the way, I am everything yet nothing. You only need to REALIZE.” he winked mysteriously and went ahead, leaving Karthika to her thoughts.

On their way home, she was lost in him. The flowers he touched lightly, bloomed with life, a smile always played on his lips. The smile that had never left her heart since the day had begun.
The driver of the rickshaw they rode back home was delighted at his company.

“Can I sing for you later?” she asked softly.
He had been busying caressing the tiny head of a myna that was perched on his shoulder as they walked to her home. Her request made him grin wide.
“Sureee! I am waiting.” His eyes shone with excitement.

Her heart almost swelled with happiness at that love in his eyes. On entering her home though her face suddenly fell.

“What happened ma?” he asked noticing her crestfallen expression.

“There is nothing at home to eat. And you’re hungry!” she whispered almost in tears.

“Hey! Don’t sound so sad. Give me anything with all the love in your heart, even if it is a simple fruit. That’s more than enough to satisfy me.” he said holding her by her shoulders gently.

“But I wanted to prepare so much for you!” Karthika cried.

“Remember, Sudama’s handful of puffed rice made Lord Krishna happier than the largest dinner banquet. Sabari Maata’s pure love, overflowing into those half-eaten fruits brought tears to Sri Rama’s eyes. Give me whatever your heart wills and time allows.” He wiped away her tears, reminding her of the stories of the Lord’s greatest devotees

Karthika managed a small smile and quickly went to the kitchen. With whatever little was available in the house, she began preparing a meal while Shabareesh stood by, observing her. No words were spoken. He could see how she poured all her concentration and devotion into the food that she was making. As for her, she had completely dissolved into the act of cooking, into the very love that was the key ingredient of her preparation!

After an hour, he sat down famished and eager while she served the dishes lovingly on a silver plate that she used to first serve food for the Lord. Today however she was mysteriously directed to serve Shabareesh. By now, her intellect had completely given up reasoning. It had accepted that whatever was happening was way beyond its comprehension.

“Ahh! What a lovely lunch and my favourite Chadachadayam [ I know it is difficult to pronounce! 😛 Made of jaggery, this variety of kheer is traditionally offered at Lord Ayyappa’s Pujas. It is considered to be his favourite. 🙂 ]

He chanted his prayer and dug into the simple yet delicious spread.

“Wowww!” he exclaimed in amazement. As he ate, very evidently enjoying the meal, Karthika was unable to contain her bubbling joy within herself. Tears of happiness made their way down her eyes. He glanced at her, blinking in unsaid assurance, a soulful smile playing on his lips.

“Get another plate.” He said.

“Why?” came the immediate reply.

“For once listen to me and get a plate!” he teased.

She frowned and followed his orders. What happened next stunned her out of her wits. Shabareesh served the food onto the plate, that silent smile of infinite love never leaving his lips. He mixed the rice with the sambar well, just as he loved it, made a cute little ball of the morsel and stretched his hand to feed her.

It wouldn’t be an understatement to say that her heart strained against her chest wanting to leap out in sheer bliss as he fed her. She shivered, wondering if each moment today was real or a beautiful dream? His serene smile, ancient eyes, unconditional love and eternal wisdom – it felt as if the Lord Himself was sitting there and feeding her. The moment felt timeless, as if she wasn’t herself anymore. As if she and Shabareesh were One, like the oneness a devotee revels in with her Lord.

To Be Continued…

A Day With Lord Ayyappa – Chapter 4: Building Dreams & Memories

Hellooo again! I know I am updating after 10 days, but please bear with me! I am trying my best to get into the habit of consistent writing. 🙂 Thank you so much for all the love and encouragement always! 😀

Karthika and Shabareesh have begun their magical day. Join them once again in this chapter. 😀

“The world needs more kindness and love. Don’t forget to smile at a stranger or a child. Don’t hesitate to say a simple thank you to anyone who serves you in any way.” Shabareesh said, his eyes gazing into the distance, as they rode in the rickshaw.

She stared at him, trying to comprehend him, his words. “Where are we going next?” The next minute he asked with a childlike enthusiasm.
She giggled and forgot her efforts to “analyse” Him. “Maybe I should just let go. These moments are special, not within the understanding of my poor mind. Forget it Karthika, too much analysis leads to paralysis! Breathe and enjoy.” she thought to herself.

“Hellloooo?? Excuse me, don’t get us lost please.” Shabareesh whined.
“With you here, can anyone ever be lost?” the words slipped her lips even before she could think.
He smiled mysteriously. “No.” his reply was even more perplexing but seemed absolutely right to her.

“We are going to the beach.” she smiled.
“What? Arey waah, quite a plan you have made haan!” He grinned.

Shabareesh loved the waters. He was always at ease with the peace that their depths offered. Thus when they reached, he immediately ran towards the sea and let the waves lap at his feet.
Normally Karthika would have laughed at this sight, but today she could only observe him, his antics with adoration in her eyes and heart.
They felt pristine, like a divine Leela.

She never knew when he had pulled her to stand beside him.
“Shabareesh!” she huffed.
“Hahahaahaha!” he guffawed.
Her irritation vanished. Her heart jumped in devotion at the voice of his laughter. It wanted to hold every precious moment of this close.
She could feel the beginnings of tears make their way down her eyes, when,
“Splash!”
“What the hell!” Shabareesh had caught her totally off-guard and splashed water on her while she was lost in another plane.

Scratch all those emotions. This guy!
“Hahahaahaha!” he laughed again and ran off.
“Shabareesh, you are dead.” Karthika screamed and ran after him.

“Wasn’t this exactly how I had visualised my day with Ayyappa?” Karthika realised as she caught up with Shabareesh.

After that cat and mouse chase, the duo settled down to build a sand castle.
Shabareesh observed her keenly as she built that little sand castle with total concentration, frown lines on her forehead and a smile etched on her lips.
“Never give up little one on your dreams.” He whispered firmly. Karthika looked up at him.

“Never lose this focus you have. Like this sandcastle will eventually fall away, challenges will arise on your path. Never lose hope. Just as you would build this again, keep building your dreams and working towards them. Let your Ayyappa’s names always dance on your lips. Trust me, even in the most difficult times you will find peace.” He smiled, helping her bring together the sand and cement the foundation.


Karthika couldn’t stop staring at him in awe. At a time when she was unsure of a path towards her goals, worried for her career and studies, unsure of her will to achieve her purpose, here he was speaking words that touched her very soul. To her it seemed like her Lord Himself was asking her to never give up, assuring her that He would always hold her safely.


” I will never give up. ” she said decisively as the sand castle was completed successfully. Her words made Shabareesh grin widely. His goal had been achieved.

To be continued… 🙂

A Day With Lord Ayyappa: Chapter 3 – A Dream Come True?

Helllooo! Sorry, I couldn’t update on Saturday. Here’s Chapter 3! I felt really happy as I wrote this chapter and the parts ahead, hope you enjoy reading it just as much. 🙂 Love and comments are always welcome! Happyyyy Reading! 😀

Back in the closed space of her room, Karthika sat down on her bed and took a deep breath and grinned widely.

“Ayyappa what is happening? I can’t stop smiling! Okay seeing Shabareesh after a long time and spending a day with him is one of my truest wishes come true. But this is something more than that. What I feel right now, the bliss and joy it’s..okay forget it! Like stop it Karthika. Don’t overthink. Just go with the flow.”

“Okay, what’s your plan, where do we go?” she asked him while adjusting her neckpiece.
“You tell me. Today is going to be completely your call!” He replied making her look up with a jerk.
“Are you serious?” she questioned unsurely.
“Of course.”
“You’ll do whatever I want us to?”
He simply nodded.


“What if I ask you to do sit-ups and run around this building?” it was her turn to smirk.
“Karthika!” He huffed cutely. “I can do the sit-ups, not sure about the running.” He added making her laugh.
“Chill chill. I’ll be back.”
She ran to get some Vibhuti and applied to Lord Ayyappa’s idol, closed her eyes and prayed, unaware that she was being observed by someone with the same amount of love she had for Him.


Opening her eyes she looked back at Shabareesh and saw a Vibhuti mark on his forehead. “You didn’t have that when you came in?” she stated confused.
He simply shook his head and smiled, “Figure that out later. Shall we leave?”
“Yessss! But where to?” she placed a finger on her chin, as if thinking hard making him smack his forehead.

She ignored him, looked at the idol and back at him. Something about the glint of timeless wisdom in his eyes and the kindness in his smile touched her soul like never before. Knowing not why, she decided to do all that with him, what she had imagined she would with the Lord.
“Cool. Let’s go.” she held his hand and they left for their first destination of the day.

……….

As soon as they stepped out of her home, the birds started chirping while the leaves of the trees danced to a gush of wind, while Shabareesh cuddled a small puppy. Karthika looked on, it felt like her surroundings were surcharged with a divine presence.
“Bye puppy, else you see that girl there? She’ll burn me down with her glares!” he chuckled earning a whack on his arm from Karthika. He went on to gently touch the trees and their leaves while two birds perched themselves on his shoulders.

Truth be told she was in awe, her heart seemed to want to burst with joy and reverence at his presence. And this was only the start of the day. She sensed he wasn’t the Shabareesh she had known for 10 years of her life, there was something else. She didn’t hurry, she wanted to live each moment with him.

As they left, the energy of these creatures seemed to droop when Shabareesh turned back with his smile, as if assuring them that He will always be there.

Their first stop was one of the most popular chaat stalls in the sprawling city of Mumbai. Karthika knew how much her friend loved chaat.

“Chaatttt!” Shabareesh exclaimed excitedly.
“Bhaiya inn ke liye ekdum tikha Pani Puri banana!” she giggled as told the stall-owner, knowing what was coming next.
“Nooo! Are you crazy? Bhaiya, medium Haan. Thiki waali isko Dena.” He glared at Karthika who burst into laughter seeing how much he hated spicy food.

As he gorged on the Pani Puri and a plate of Ragda Pattice after that, Karthika couldn’t help but keep looking at him. She felt she could do that the entire day, like these moments wouldn’t ever return and she wanted to capture them forever in the treasure chest of her memories.
Yes, he meant the world to her but..why did everything feel so divine today, almost as if the Lord Himself was standing beside her? Or was it because she saw glimpses of the Lord in him?

“Yummmm! Why aren’t you eating? This is so good!” Shabareesh spoke with his mouth full, distracting Karthika.
She chuckled and didn’t reply. When she looked at the old Pani Puri vendor, she was surprised to see his hands trembling and tears escaping his eyes as he finished serving Shabareesh. Suddenly she had lost all her appetite.

Shabareesh held the old man’s frail hands in his own strong yet gentle hold, looked at him, smiled and spoke with firm compassion, ” Bhaiya, Maine kabhi itni achi aur itni saari chaat nahi khaayi. Aapka bohot bohot dhanyawaad.” But there was more to these words, as if they meant to soothe deeper wounds hidden in the man’s soul, rewarding him for his hard-work.

The man had no words to say. He didn’t even try. Folding his palms together, he wept as Shabareesh held him.

After bidding goodbye to him, the duo walked along silently. She didn’t ask for any explanation, he didn’t offer any. Her heart felt full with the overwhelming sight she had witnessed. Yes, Shabareesh was an extremely kind person who could offer a shoulder to anyone in need. But what she had seen was other worldly, almost as if the Lord had conversed and offered solace to his broken devotee!

A Day with Lord Ayyappa: Chapter 2: Known & Unknown

Hellooo! Welcome back to Chapter 2 of A Day with Lord Ayyappa. 🙂 Once again, thank you so so much for all the encouragement and love! Means a lot to me. 😀

Before I begin this chapter I would like to share a realization that hit me this morning. Karthika, the name of the young devotee here incidentally also means the Karthikai month, which falls in November-December, brings the festive “Mandalakalam” dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, which is when devotees undertake the Sabarimala pilgrimage and there are constant pujas and bhajans going on. 🙂 I just chose the name because I liked it, didn’t realise the implications! Happy Reading! 😀

Willing herself to calm down, Karthika took a few deep breaths, got down from her bed and held her favourite idol of the Lord close to her heart, shutting her eyes tight.

A few tears made their appearance again along with a small smile as she spoke to Him, “Ayyappa, I don’t know what you were trying to tell me through that dream. All I know is I can feel your presence all around me more strongly than ever. That dream was divine. There’s nothing stronger than my faith in You, Ayyappa. Whatever you have planned, I know it will be beautiful.” A magical sense of peace took over her as she completed her words.


Placing the idol back in its place, she wiped her tears and composed herself. Next she dropped a good morning text to her parents who were away for a wedding. “Their eyes are going to pop out of their sockets when they see the time of my text.” she chuckled at the thought.
As the sun began peeping out and brightening up the sky with tints of golden orange, Karthika felt a surge of happiness pass through her body. She felt something she couldn’t put a finger on, but it was something she had never felt before.


Prancing about she lit the lamp at home and began saying her morning prayers.
“Swamiye Sharanam Ayyappa.” she uttered applying holy ash on her forehead.
The doorbell rang. “Who could it be at 6:00 AM?” she wondered glancing at her watch. She opened the door to get the happiest shock of her life!
There at the door stood one of her closest friends with his characteristic high energy and beaming smile, Shabareeshan.


Almost two decades older to her but one of the closest people to her soul. After her parents, he was everything for her, from a friend to an elder brother. She had met him when she had volunteered for a camp and then on they had hit it off like long-lost buddies. Just like her Ayyappa, he knew everything from her biggest achievements, fears and dreams to the tiniest of joys.
“Good morning, ma.” He said when she still stood like a statue, not able to get a word out of her mouth.
“Shabareesh!” she squealed excitedly and crashed into his arms which enveloped her in a strong bear hug, his huge frame always made her feel protected.
Something felt different. Again. In a good way obviously. She frowned and looked up at him. She felt much more protected, happier and at peace than she usually did with him. His smile seemed brighter and his eyes twinkled with an unknown energy. Her mind couldn’t wrap itself around what was happening.

“Are you going to keep me standing outside your home?” His teasing voice broke her reverie.
“Uhh..no! Come in please.” she moved aside flustered.
“I have a surprise for you.” Shabareesh announced with a grin, settling down on the sofa.
“Really? Tell na!” Karthika urged him excited. Truth be told, that he was here at her home after what felt like ages, itself was a lovely surprise for her!
“Not so fast ma. Get me a glass of water first.” He winked. There was nothing like troubling his little friend!


“Not fair!” She exclaimed irritated much to his amusement and quickly got water for him.
“I am going to spend the entire day with you.” He said simply handing the empty glass to her.
“Oh..WAIT WHAT?!” she couldn’t believe her ears!
He continued smiling and remained silent, quite used to her over-the-top reactions.
“Don’t want me to?” He questioned with a subtle tease.


“No no wait. Like what even? Suddenly? Out of nowhere you pop up and say this! How am I supposed to react? Of course I want you to stay! I mean..” she kept talking totally taken off guard.
“Okay okay, calm down.” He chuckled and placed a comforting hand on her shoulder, “Go, get ready. I am waiting here.”
She nodded and turned to go when something struck her. “How did you know I am free today?”
“Oh, don’t you know? I know EVERYTHING!” he smirked mysteriously.

Soooo, who is Shabareesh? Surely you should be able to guess the significance of this name too! 😀

Why is Karthika feeling different around him, when she already knows him? What happens next? Will Lord Ayyappa fulfill his little devotee’s wish or is there something else going on? Any thoughts?

Don’t forget to like and leave your thoughts! 😀

A Day with Lord Ayyappa

Hari Om! This story is inspired by an experience at a Global Youth Camp I had attended last year. In one of the activities we had to visualize a day with our favorite deity or Ishta Devata as it is known in Sanskrit. The experience left a deep imprint on my heart leading to this tale.

It will be divided in approximately 5-6 parts, I’ll be updating every Tuesday and Saturday! Do read, enjoy and let me know your feedback!

Lord Ayyappa

CHAPTER 1

Karthika brushed aside her thoughts as she walked her way through the famed Mumbai traffic to her office. While the traffic of this city was enough to break the resolve of the most patient person on earth, she endeavored to push her irritation aside and look around her. She smiled at the colourful bunch of flowers on the trees, the bright blue endless sky giving her a sense of freedom. She greeted the watchmen, the helpers and everyone else with a bright smile as she entered her serene work premises.


That was just who she was. A lively 21-year old with a pure childlike heart that always shone bright even in the face of difficulties.
As she sat at her desk, her eyes lit up when she found a pretty hibiscus flower at the feet of the tiny golden idol of the Lord who ruled her heart- Lord Ayyappa.
“Acha laga na beta?” the loving grandfather-like figure who took care of their smallest needs at office asked her.
Karthika immediately knew it was he who had taken those efforts to get the flowers for her Ayyappa.
“Thank You Kaka!” she grinned and thanked him softly as he laughed, patted her shoulder and left.


Turning back she stared at His idol. The Lord of her heart and soul, the reason for her existence, whose name never left her lips, who invoked nothing but pure and intense devotion from the innermost recesses of her Being- Lord Ayyappa was her Everything!
With that the lingering thought that had been troubling her since a while came back to life. “What if I get a day to spend with Ayyappa? What would it be like?” she wondered, her gaze fixed on the idol on front of her, as if asking Him to actually fulfill her wish!


She remained lost in these thoughts as the day passed by before Veda, her boss who was also like a mother and confidante to Karthika, finally asked her, “What’s wrong? You seem lost today.”
“It’s all the camp’s fault.” Karthika mumbled.
“What?” Veda was confused.


“I mean, they did this one activity there and I am stuck on it since I have returned. And it is only getting intense with each passing day.” she replied irritated, referring back to a  spiritual camp for the youth that she had attended two months ago.
“Which activity my dear?” Veda questioned gently.
“The one where we had to visualize a day with our favorite God, His form that we love and adore the most! And I literally painted a whole picture in my head of how my day with Ayyappa would be. It was so beautiful. Like ultimate bliss.” Karthika said wistfully, a beautiful smile adoring her lips and an intense longing in her eyes which reflected the innocent yet powerful devotion she held in her soul.

Veda smiled knowingly and shook her head, for she never understood what to do with this girl. She had a way of getting lost in her own maze and coming out of it the next moment as well.
“Why are you smiling Ma’am? I feel so distressed. I just don’t know what to think and feel!” Karthika said dejectedly.

Veda reached out and kept a comforting hand on her shoulder. “Never lose hope. Put your thoughts aside. When you stop thinking and simply believe with all your heart in your own pure Bhakti, you never know what can happen!” Veda winked and walked away, leaving a completely perplexed Karthika behind.


Late in the evening when she returned home after a tiring yet productive day, her mind relaxed as she went about her night routine with her lips constantly singing beautiful bhajans of the Lord. She did it unconsciously, as if it was the most natural thing to her. Sliding into bed, she said her prayers of gratitude and drifted off to what she didn’t know would be quite an eventful sleep.

………….

At around 3:00 A.M. Karthika’s land of dreams was invaded by a soothing light that felt extremely familiar, One that didn’t need anything to illumine it. That Self-Illumining Light illumined everything around as she looked on in awe. Suddenly she heard a growl on her left side. She looked in that direction only to find a majestic tiger inching towards her, his gaze fixed on her.


Strangely she didn’t feel afraid. On the contrary she found herself walking towards him and putting her arms around his neck, as if he weren’t a ferocious carnivore but a pet dog! He enjoyed that for a second before walking ahead leaving her staring at him. Almost as if he could sense her absence, he glanced back with his silent gaze asking her to follow him. The animal that all feared led the way for her. She couldn’t understand what was happening nor could she think about it. She felt blissful, that was all she knew.


A heightened sense of self-awareness enveloped her as the tiger led her finally reaching an ancient temple of stone with the inner sanctum made of glowing gold. Nestled in that inner sanctum with the decorated 18 steps leading up to Him, was the Lord of Her Heart- Lord Ayyappa, smiling in all His infinite beauty and glory.
“Ayyappa” she whispered with reverence.
As her gaze moved away from the idol, she found the tiger sitting right in front of the sanctum in complete surrender, beside a human figure. Karthika frowned. His build seemed highly familiar. He seemed to be someone she held close to not just her heart, but her soul.


Although she yearned to move forward and find out what on earth was going on, her feet refused to budge. She gawked as the familiar figure with the tiger walked and simply disappeared into the idol!
Tears flowed down her cheeks unknowingly, she couldn’t understand what kind of emotions she felt, but one was highly prominent: Devotion.


At this moment, Karthika’s dream broke waking her up with a start.
“Ayyappa!” she whispered again, in shock. Touching her face she could feel tears on her cheeks. Thoughts ran through her mind like a mad horse on loose.
“What was that dream all about? Who was that person? What is happening? Ayyappa?!”

To Be Continued…

Resilient Love- PART 2

mental-wellness

Welcome back! 🙂 Thank you so much all of you for the love, encouragement and comments. Especially to Dad’s friends who take time out, read my blogs and encourage me to write more. The love for this story is really special! Truly means a lot. Thank you so much. 😀

Devika’s Point Of View

I sat still, knotting my fingers nervously. After a few silent minutes, I took a deep breath and all the agony stashed within plummeted out in a daze of haphazardly formed words.

“I was barely 2 years old when my parents met with an accident and passed away. That put an end to my childhood, which I did not realize then. Obviously I was too tiny to understand the graveness of the situation. I was then left to stay with one of our relatives. All I did was cry for my parents, especially my mother. I could somehow sense the lack of love around me. But I couldn’t find any outlet to explain myself as I grew up. It was at the age of 6 when things got worse for me.

They abused me physically and made me do odd chores at home.” I paused recalling all the horrors. “I took the beatings because I atleast had some food and shelter. I couldn’t escape until the time was right. The final straw was when..”

Anna squeezed my hand asking me to go on. “I was 8 then. Due to fatigue I hadn’t cleaned some utensils properly. I was taken to the kitchen where the lady placed a scalding hot steel spoon on my back. Later that evening I decided I had to escape. That night itself gathering all my courage, I ran from that house. I ran for my life. Soon I reached the doorstep of a large building and all strength deserted me. I fainted right there. The next thing I saw when I awoke was Nani’s kind curious eyes and a blanket covering my weak body. I saw other kids like me gathered around.”

“You are safe now dear.” Nani said gently.

“I knew was. I had been miraculously led by fate to this orphanage.They arranged for my treatment and I recovered physically. I pushed all the thoughts and pain I couldn’t understand deep inside. I was admitted to school. Some 5 months later you entered my life. And things began to look up. I learnt to be grateful, to be happy. God had blessed me with good shelter, with You.  Just when I thought all will be fine, all of a sudden the past 6 months have been horrendous. I only enjoy attending your programs. It is like,I have fallen into some deep dark pit.” I ended.

“I did not want to succumb to any kind of intoxicants, hence I took to writing. Combined with your presence and songs, it helped me remain afloat ” I added weakly.

ARUN’S POINT OF VIEW

I found myself facing a paradox of emotions as I held her in a consoling hug. On one hand was rage for those people who had trampled upon the growth of a budding flower, who had made Devika’s life a living hell. I vowed at that moment to hunt them down even if it took me years. With great difficulty I had controlled my tears when she spoke of the scalding steel incident. I wish I could scald their heads with the same steel.

On the other hand, I felt grateful. The Lord I so fervently believed in had been with her and led her to safety. I thanked him for being able to help her.

As all these thoughts ran through my mind, one stood out. I never understood why she loved or trusted me so. I knew the time had come to actually do something for her. Devika needed to heal.

DEVIKA’S POINT OF VIEW

Just when I was wondering as to what he was thinking, Anna let me break the embrace. He got up and knelt in front of me, cupped my cheeks and spoke, “Kanna, you have been immensely strong. You now need to heal yourself. And I would like to help you take the first step. Remember, I am always here with you.” he paused.

“I would like to take you to a psychologist who is a friend of mine.” He said haltingly.

“Psy..psychologist?” I stammered, scared.

“Don’t be afraid ma. There isn’t anything wrong about visiting one. They only help us. And I am here. Okay?” he re-assured me. “Take your time and think about it. Meanwhile I shall sing for you.” he smiled.

As his voice filled the room, I made my decision. I had come this far. Now, I had to save myself.

The very next day, Arun Anna took me to the psychologist’s clinic. It was a neat place decorated aesthetically, designed to give out positive vibes to people and brighten their moods. It calmed my nerves down.

When we met Dr Shaina who would be my psychologist I instantly took a liking to her warm smile and welcoming demeanor. She put me at ease by gifting me a book, which I happily accepted.

After some words around the bush, she said in a life changing conversation, “My dear, your concerned brother out here has told me everything. You know what? You are one strong girl. I admire, in fact respect your inner strength. I am not going to help you. You are going to heal yourself. I will only support you. Don’t worry about anything. You have taken the first step toward healing your mind and soul. Will you let me hold your hand and take you to safety?”

I closed my eyes. “Now that I have decided, let’s do it.” I told myself determined. “Yes. I am ready.” I replied, opening my eyes.

She then asked me to wait out, probably wanting to speak to Anna.

 Arun’s Point of View

I was happy that Devika had agreed for counseling and treatment. She seemed to have taken a liking to Shaina.

“Depression and trauma. Must salute her spiritual stamina.” Said Shaina making me look up.

“She buried all those tragic memories, negative emotions within her. They have worked their way through her mind. This explains her lack of interest in things, the screams at night and her nightmares, low performance and everything else that has been happening. You fortunately discovered her plight at the right time. Not everyone is this lucky.” She explained, sending shivers down my spine.

“She will be fine right?” I asked her.

“It may take a year or more, but she will surely be fine and whole with her kind of spiritual strength. Not everyone makes it this far. She has. And she will go far ahead. Don’t worry.” Shaina continued.

I heaved a deep sigh of relief.

“Anyways, I need you to keep a close eye on her poetry. Once her poems start showing a positive graph, we will know that we have succeeded.”

I nodded. Finally, Devika would be fine. She would surely find light again. And I had a huge surprise in store for her, once she would heal completely.

Devika’s Point Of View

It took two years of therapy and counseling sessions. With the combined care of Dr Shaina and Anna’s family, I was responding well, all the negative emotions leaving my system slowly. It was an arduous journey to recovery.

Anna shaking my shoulder brought me back to the present. We were now in his home which was surprisingly decorated as per my liking. His parents were present with Dr Shaina and Nani.

He fished around in his bag and out popped my diary. He opened a page and gave it to me. In his handwriting was a long poem. It seemed to outline my journey to healing. To think that he had written for the first time in his life, that too on me. I began reading it but three lines drew my attention.

“Proud of you, my Strong Devika. Know that I love you a lot. Welcome to our family!”

I looked up surprised. All the five were smiling hard. Nani handed Anna some papers who in turn said, “Take it. It is our present to you.” His voice sounded heavy with emotion.

I scanned the papers. Their contents shocked me. Tears of joy hugged my cheeks. Anna’s family had adopted me! These were my adoption papers.

“This family is now yours Devika. Are you happy child?” Nani cupped my chin.

I looked up at Arun Anna whose eyes glistened with unshed tears. “Happy Birthday Devika. It is your 17th birthday today. Welcome home kanna.”

I found myself at a loss of words, feeling delirious with joy. Every bit of my soul cried in gratitude. This indeed was a birthday it its literal sense for a new life had begun for me. I now had a family, a home to call my own. And above all of that, I had healed in all totality. While I held the adoption papers close to my chest, Anna gently stroked my hair and smiled.

Arun’s Point Of View

I settled on the sofa watching Devika prancing about, a bundle of energy. How I had longed to see this sight. Her happiness, her recovery was all that I had ever wanted.

Suddenly as I reached for my phone,I found her diary on the table, open on the first page. It read,

Dear Anna,

 “Your presence made me strong,

Your resilient love became my anchor.

I just want to tell you,

You will always remain my entire world.”

My eyes welled up as I finished reading. From the farther end of the hall, Devika smiled at me.

 THE END 🙂

P.S. As a society there is still some amount of shame and fear associated with visiting a psychologist or a psychiatrist. While we are slowly overcoming the same, we must realize that visiting a mental health professional doesn’t mean anything is wrong with us. It only means we have taken the step to heal ourselves, to rise above our problems.

Three Cheers to Mental Wellness! 😀