So finally the day comes, when I embarked on this much-awaited journey to Rishikesh. I reached ashram late in the evening almost at the suppertime. As I entered Swami Rama’s beautiful Ashram, all my fears fizzled away and I was engulfed by the serenity of the place. The first 2-3 days were not much eventful. I did a little bit of sightseeing and walked along the banks of Ganga. The only person, I would interact was the sadhavi of the ashram, lovingly called Ma. When we spoke first, she asked my name and in my head, I went like Aah…Now I will have to repeat it like several times and she will find my name so strange and different. She not being an Indian by birth, I assumed this reaction to be very obvious because since childhood I have gone through it frequently. But contrary to all the silly assumptions, she got it correct the very first time. Ma interpreted it like no one else ever did in my entire life. Raj – a princess/ bir – strong & brave. So, “you are a brave princess, a warrior princess” she remarked. I just beamed in awe.
Staying at Swami Rama’s ashram was like living in a dream. The restlessness, with which I had left Mumbai, seemed to disappear. The plan was to stay for a week and then continue this adventure travel further up north. There seemed nothing that would prevent me to do so.
But other plans were awaiting me here. I stayed a full month taking up a 21 days course, which involved Yoga & Meditation, at the ashram. And before I knew, I had made an interesting decision to leave Mumbai and shift to Rishikesh. The interrogations kept swirling all around me by my ‘well-wishers’. But all the anxieties and uncertainties subsided in the joy of living at the banks of Ganga. Do I really need anything more in life? NO!
What appeared like just another holiday trip changed the course of life. The only action expected out of me was to simply flow in this ‘flow’.
In this one month, I got introduced to Swami Rama’s teachings and Raja Yoga. When my teacher for the first time explained me about eight rungs of Ashtanga Yoga…. I was just blank. I would stare at G like a lost puppy trying to find a way through all this new data that was coming at a lightning speed. The first time I listened to Swami Rama was through his video, he says, “ I am a Scientist first, then a Yogi and later a Swami.” It was only after listening to this sentence did I actually had a genuine inclination to learn more about him and the teachings of the tradition. Because the world from which I was coming, I didn’t trust swamis and any orange-garbed humans. I absolutely had no idea what a ‘yogi’ meant in its truest sense (at least for then.) So the only word that appealed to me was: Scientist. Now at least I felt there is a space to question, to raise doubts, to experiment, to experience. I am not expected to take anything on face value.
It’s been eight months, since I migrated. But the time seems to be at stand still. Feels like it was only yesterday that I arrived. If I had the slightest of clue that a majestic affair with 5000 years old tradition of Yoga is awaiting me, I would have never mustered up the courage to step out of my life of Mumbai.