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!
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…