The students of the Swami Rama Meditation Academy in Rishikesh prepared a surprise for their teacher: a joyful birthday celebration on March 24, 2006, marking Swami Veda Bharati's 73rd birthday. The Himalayan sage, a tireless and inspiring disciple of H.H. Swami Rama of the Himalayas, is preparing to start yet another 'World Tour' to bring the authentic teachings of yoga and meditation to his students around the world.
Swami Veda Bharati: turned 73 years old on March 24, 2006.
"What a bunch of naughty people I'm surrounded by. They want to have some fun and they cook up a birthday for me. Well, they also cook up some sweets.
I came, in all innocence, to give my evening lecture at 8:30 PM. They told me I'm temporarily barred. They must be hanging up a noose for me! Who knows with this bunch? Then the summons came. I wasn't allowed to enter through my usual private entrance; I had to come right in the open through the front of the hall."
"Then guess what ..all heaven broke loose. And grins. Seventy people lined up in two rows forming a pathway all the way to Swami Rama's altar. The entire path strewn with rose petals. Oil lamps in one hand and rose petals in the other. The poor Heads of States have to walk through two rows of soldiers bearing rifles; could be shot any moment! In the old days, it used to be swords. Imagine having to walk under seventy swords and keeping your dignity. Poor Heads of States!
As your SVB walked between the rows the conspiracy to turn him into a red rose bush nearly succeeded as each hand sprinkled rose petals all over him.
What does one do with all that much love? Save it for lonely days, of which there is no possibility? Let the memories linger. Let them confirm what SVB always says:
There was never a birthday party so sweet, so loving, so lovely.
SVB bowed to the Guru and sat down on his seat and so many read their poems. Vishnu and Sudhir and Harischandra who could not speak English 2 years back recited their English compositions. Vishnu's impromptu and long poetic inspiration was presented with a moving emotion and here is what Sudhir Agasti recited, rather he sang this English composition with a Hindi melody.
"If you want to join us in this tradition
Then first you'll have to learn basic meditation
makarasan, shavasan, whole body relaxation.
You will have to practice 3 times daily
Intensive channel purification"
Emcee of the ceremony was who else, someone in a flowing sari, whose name means All Smiles, Smita. She denies it and says everybody was part of it.
At the end, SVB dug out his poems, Hindi poems written in 1953 or even before. And then some of his contemporary English poems. He says that the Hindi poems cannot be fully translated. Some of them are the then young man's challenges to God. One of them ends as follows, in translation:
Gluing together a few shards of half baked clay
Blowing a miserly whiff of your breath into it
Why, Oh, Why, did you make a brittle baby's body
And dropped it in the sweat soiled torn sari corner
Of the woman breaking stones by the roadside in the
Sun just to make it die off with sharp sad gasps?
And here are two of the English poems.
Once, for a long time, a poem, feeling uninspired,
had not written a human.
The poem prayed desperately, with deep obeisances,
on the pews of lines filled with worshipful words.
God responded to the despondent cry;
pulled up the poem by the dot on the 'i',
the squiggles of script straightened out
and stood up vertical as a human,
syllable seeds risen to arboreal stature.
Ever since then
the human has been seeking
again to become a poem.
A mountain fell in love with a graceful-flowing river.
With a landslide he imprisoned her into a lake
so he would see his own face reflected in her at all times,
her depths matching his heights,
his pride a shadow in her pools.
She surrendered to his will
her resilience filling his valleys.
By her humility was she made great;
she rose and she rose, and eventually
flowed over the barrier.
Thus she flowed as a river beyond.
She remained imprisoned as a lake
yet regained a riverine freedom
May you learn the art of freedom in surrender.
An art the rivers know but mountains cannot learn.
An art form the women are composed --
all men must, but alas,
only a few will, perchance learn.
May you learn the arts that rivers1 and lakes and women know.
Then everyone came and bowed, people of all 12 nationalities and 25 languages, received their most loving blessings.
The gurukulam students had another surprise! Newly designed 'Soham' T-shirts were just printed and going to be on sale in the bookstore.
And then the finale everyone was waiting for: home-made Halwa, special order Gulab Jamuns and the rest we'll leave you to guess and drool so you long to be here next year for the occasion!"
Seventy people lined up in two rows forming a pathway all the way to Swami Rama's altar.
Swami Veda at Swami Rama's altar.
Swami Veda: "I pray to the Divinity in you".
© PROMETHEUS 106/2006
PROMETHEUS, Internet Bulletin for Art, News, Politics and Science. Nr. 106, APRIL 2006