In That Space of Freedom

Sitting on a field after a tiring game of football, away from the other boys, Sandeep, would often get lost in the vast, never ending field of the human mind. He wanted to know and understand the intricacies of the Mind, the existence and the understanding of God, and the purpose of this journey called life. It was his quest, he wanted to pursue it further through academics, and that is what separated him from his peers, but his parents weren't pro towards their son's fancy. A tribal boy wanting to learn the philosophy of the mind! No one had even heard of these things. They told him that he could pursue football if he wanted. Sandeep loved football. Although oblivious, that was his meditation as a young boy.

Sandeep came across as a mystique to me. His eyes were a window to a world not many knew of, not his family, his friends, and his teachers. A world that only his Master, his confidante knew. "What is it about you?" I asked him, to which he laughed in abandon and said, "Its a secret..."

It was in one of his football matches, his friend had come looking for him and told him about this course of The Art of Living. But football was an enough source of pranayama and 'dhyan'. After a 45 minute game, sitting tired, taking deep breaths and getting lost in the bliss of the moment was as good as meditation, and a good enough reason to ignore his friend's invitation for this particular course. After a few days, while writing an exam in school, instead of the answers he had learnt, the only thought that was clouding his mind was about the course. "It's today...the Shibir...they're going to teach pranayama and dhyan...should I go...should I not...why am I thinking so much about it..." and it went on and on, untill he found himself asking people in the afternoon about the course venue. After enquiry and a search, he reached the venue (where the Patamda ashram is today). He saw a bearded man with long hair (Mohan da) standing inside the gate and told him that he had heard that there was a course that would teach pranayama and ‘dhyan’. 

"Yes," said the bearded man, "do you want to learn?" "Yes, but I don't have any clothes," responded Sandeep sheepishly. "We'll see about that, you come inside," said the bearded man and took him inside.

"Something beautiful happened that day, something strangely beautiful. I never went back home since then. My parents didn't know where I went after school, so I sent my friend to inform them that I'm alright. I stayed back, I never went back home, this was my home," he said gazing at the sky and managing to stretch a smile behind his thick beard, allowing me a glimpse of his mysteriously calm world.

"What a particular place requires is what is given," says Sri Sri Ravi Shankarji, the founder of The Art of Living, who is also Sandeep's guru. And, Sandeep kept hearing stories and experiences that were no less than miracles happening around the village. What made him especially curious were the stories and experiences about 'blessing' (a process learnt - rather an initiation by The Art of Living, taught by 'blessing' course teachers). Sandeep heard a story about a paralyzed woman who, after receiving blessings from a ‘blesser’ started walking the next day. He didn't believe this. It defied logic, but it had happened. He needed to see for himself. Sandeep did the 'blessing' course. One day he was sitting at a village with fellow teachers and volunteers, all who had gathered for a satsang that had been organized, when a woman came running towards him. Looking at his bearded face, and a white kurta-pyjama clad body, she said, "Sadhu ji, my mother has not eaten anything since the last three days, and keeps shaking her head and hands and is completely unstable. Please come see her and give her some medicines." "But I don’t have any medicines, I'm not a doctor," he told her, "We can take her to the ashram where a doctor visits, I'm sure he would have some medicine to give to her." But this lady wouldn’t budge, she kept insisting that he come with her to her village to her house. He told her that he could only pray for her even if he comes with her. He reached the house where the old mother was suffering. He sat next to her, placed his hand on her head, closed his eyes and established the connection through a small prayer in the mind. To his surprise and the rest of the people's amazement, the old mother stopped shaking, she was completely stable. Her daughter got her a glass of milk which she finished in a second. The daughter, who was spellbound started thanking Sandeep with tears flowing through her eyes. He told her that he didn't do anything; it was the Guru working through him.

 "The best part of my journey is that I was always a seeker, looking for something which was beyond what we could perceive, beyond the reality that we know. I had no idea that I would reach the ashram. Whatever concept I had about God and his existence, I came to know what it is, after I met my Master. Our connection with him is from ages, it's just that we recognize it later. And 'sudarshan kriya' is something absolutely beautiful, it is what sustains that connection," he grins as he breaks into a Bengali poetry, again staring into the sky as if reading the words in it.

Sandeep teaches the Part 1 course, and the YLTP. Roaming around in the villages and in the jungle, his mission is to reach out to as many people as he can, and to help them experience the power of 'sudarshan kriya'. No one knows about the pact he and his Master have. Talking to Sandeep, and being exposed to his soliloquy that are often poetry and sanskrit chanting, anything you know about him is just the tip of the iceberg. There's so much to him, that you can't but wonder about who he is. But, there's only so much you can know.

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Writer: Eben Felix, Graphics: Niladri Dutta

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