Jap Preet, my daughter, had some allergies act up in our last concert city, Barcelona, to the degree that Sopurkh (my husband) and I were talking about having him take her back to the States while I went to India without them. By Guru’s Grace we decided to keep our plans and met up with a new crew in India…. Todd Boston on guitar, Harimander Jot Singh on tabla, and Simrit Kaur our assistant who is a gift from Guru Ram Das. She has been taking care of all of the logistics of our journey in India, and also has been able to take care of Jap Preet with so much love and care, that I can’t even believe how blessed we are.
Being here in Rishi Kesh has been incredible. The teaching tent for the 11.11.11 course is right next to the Ganga River. In moments of silence during the classes, one hears the swift and joyful flow of the river. It is a very deep experience to take in Her loving presence while practicing the sacred science of Kundalini yoga, chanting together, and meditating.
Gurmukh said something poignant this morning in her class…. “India brings out all of your neurosis for healing.” I had a very powerful experience of that yesterday.
Sopurkh and I taught a class with the beautiful guitar accompaniment of Todd and the earthy balance of Harimander Jot’s tabla playing. After the class I was completely blissed out. For sure I thought… the rest of this day is just going to be so relaxing. Little did I know what was to come.
After the class Simrit brought Jap Preet to us and we just hung out in the back of the tent, taking in the good vibes of the very inspirational class taught by Guru Singh. I was so grateful to be with Jap Preet. Her allergies have been coming up still in India and we have been struggling a bit with that still. I admit to feeling some guilt and fear about her allergies, and on a deeper level I have been feeling heavy in my heart about our choice to take such a young one traveling with us. I try to protect her from as much as I can, and keep our time together as focused as possible. In the midst of everything it is sometimes a struggle. As we sat in the back of the class it felt so relaxing, so special. Nobody seemed to notice. We kind of had this little family bliss moment. Then as if orchestrated by God a lady came back with a camera asking if she could take a picture of me. I so much just wanted to be with my daughter. I looked at her and with some emotion that I just couldn’t keep in, said no. And then another lady came and asked the same thing too. This time with a little anger I said no. “I just want to be with my daughter”, I thought to myself.
As the hours progressed it came time for Arti, a ceremony that the ashram does at the banks of the Ganga every night. I had been asked to go and sit with the rest of the presenters by Swami ji who takes care of the ashram. All of the the boys of the ashram who study with Swami ji were dressed in their orange robes and were assembled under an archway of the ashram that stood over a set of cascading marble steps that touch the waters. People began gathering. I was carrying Jap Preet as we walked towards the spot where I thought Swami ji would be sitting. One of the orange robed boys stopped us and pointed to another a sitting area, a kind of dock that rapped itself around in front of the Arti location. I explained to him that I had been asked to come and sit next to Swami ji… but he motioned in a very authoritative way that I should go with the course participants to sit on the dock. The combination of just teaching, being a little out of my body, and perhaps being in India made for a kind of inner feeling of surrender… alright let’s go. So we went and sat down on the dock. It was so peaceful there. The coolness of the river felt so good after the warmth of the day. We watched as people gathered at the Arti site and did prayers into the fire. Jap Preet was so peaceful as the chanting began. I was completely savoring the moment with her feeling the rough travel days of our journey melting away. Then Simrit got a phone call from one of the administrators of the ashram. I was being asked to go and sit near Swami ji. I let out a big sigh and decided to take Jap Preet with me because I didn’t want this precious moment with her to end. We all went. When we got close to where Swami ji would sit it was just packed with people. In an attempt to find a space to sit I tapped a lady on the shoulder who I knew from the kitchen here at the ashram and asked if we could sit next to her. She looked around where she was sitting and said no… that she didn’t think there was a space for us. This wave of frustration passed through me as the place was filling up so fast, it didn’t feel like there was any hope of us finding a place and I proceeded to turn around in a flury of frustration as our little group followed me. We went back to the dock. Back again I thought to myself. I just want to be with my daughter anyway. I don’t need to be a part of a ceremony. The most important thing for me right now is to be with my daughter.
Swami ji arrived. He sang so beautifully, so sweetly. Then it happened again. The same temple boy who had turned us away a little earlier was there with one of the staff members of the course. You must come and sit with Swami ji I was being told. I just couldn’t take it anymore…. I said it with all of my emotions this time… “I am here with my daughter, I can’t come!” They left.
Swami ji arrived and sang so beautifully.
The Chardi Kalaa jatha played some of the most inspirational and soul stirring Kirtan I had every heard.
But I was still reeling from what had happened. Why can’t I just be with my daughter and enjoy this Arti experience?
Finally the end of the ceremony came. By this time Jap Preet was asleep, totally peaceful. It was announced that each of the teachers of the 11.11.11 course would light a candle. I decided to leave Jap Preet with her Papji (and my husband) and made my way through the crowd again to go and light a candle next to Swami ji. Upon arriving he welcomed me in warmly. I was too late to light an unlit candle… but he motioned to have me light an already lit candle. To finish the ceremony Swami ji invited me to sit behind him. I found myself next to Gurmukh. She leaned over and asked with knowing eyes… “Are you ok?” I said to her “Yes.” But as she turned away and I found my eyes falling on the rushing waters of the Ganga, a voice inside screamed… “No, I am not ok! I am in pain! Pain from deep within about my daughter’s allergies, about the struggles of our travels, about something that has no words.” The pain found itself out of me in a few tears that rolled down my cheek. I gave it to the river, I gave it to God.
The ceremony ended and we followed Swami ji back into a room where he talked with us for a few minutes about work that he is doing to help clean up the Ganga river. I felt this kind of lightness of being from him. It was very nice to be in his presence. He did not really talk to me. But as I got up to go he looked over to me and asked, “So, you are with your daughter now?” I said “yes” quickly. But as I walked out of the room it began to sink in. Yes, now I am with my daughter. She wasn’t with me in my arms. But I am with her. As the fears of my heart emptied out, there was space for her.
I knew at that moment that it was all God’s play, God finding ways through all of these people to open my heart and heal.
Please forgive me if I have shared too much. I only wish you to know that this kind of healing is possible for all of us.
With love, prayers and blessings from Rishi Kesh,