A seeker’s saga!
“Intellectually I was thinking - 'I know how to live life, why should I learn ‘Art of Living’ from somebody' - when Nitin Bhaiya (Rishi Nityapragyaji) - asked me to come and sit in the part-I course in Ahmedabad just after I had finished my Engineering degree. I went with him with the idea of running away after dropping him at the course venue. But once we reached the venue, We went in and he started the course. Of course, the first day I was thinking maybe I know these things. Later on, when I was introduced to Sudarshan Kriya, I tell you, that was the day for me! My first Kriya experience was so intense, beautiful and graceful, first time in my life I felt the presence of the divine and specially at the end when Gurudev chants those beautiful shlokas, that time something really shifted in me and all the suppression I had as a child or as a person, I could feel that everything just came out. When we were asked to open our eyes, I could not even speak, because every cell of my body was speaking.”
It began in 1995. She was young, just finished her engineering in Instrumentation & Control and Sejal Thakkar, fondly called Sejal di, was completely immersed in thinking about ‘what to do in life now?!’ “Since childhood, I always wanted to serve people around me. As a child, I only thought of becoming a doctor. It was because in those times, as a child, I used to think only doctors can serve. Somehow I could not be a doctor and ended up doing engineering that I did not enjoy so much. I just got my degree, moved on and I was working with a company for a while. But there was a time when I started thinking 'what am I doing here? This is not for me..' and then I took a sabbatical.” recollects Sejal Thakkar, now a senior faculty with the Art of Living!
She mentions that at the time when Rishi Nityapragyaji got her to do the Art of Living course, she did not have a concept of Guru because it was not introduced to her in her family. But somehow, she had a feeling that she needed someone who can really lead and guide her. There was some kind of seeking. Young Sejal would often envision she would wear white clothes; smile and a lot of people would come to see her. Furthermore, once they come to her, they feel very happy and somehow they get something beautiful! For teenager Sejal, this vision would come often and she had lost it at times too, but that seeking never stopped.
After the first experience of the Sudarshan Kriya, she was so joyful, blissful and that day she felt that this has to go to everyone in the world. She simply asked her teacher whose voice it was, he smiled and showed her a small picture of Gurudev saying, 'it was his voice, he is the one who created the course and the beautiful Sudarshan Kriya.' “The picture was kept there on the first two days too, but I had never looked at it. After Sudarshan Kriya, I stood there and looked at him and I felt so connected,” she sighed to emphasise the moment that defined her life! She still has that conviction in her that this knowledge has to go to each and everyone in the world and this has become the aim of her life.
Two ‘Special Someones’ in six days!
“During the course, Rishiji was staying at our place and at night, he used to talk so much about the ashram and Gurudev. Rishiji told us that Gurudev was coming to Mumbai the next week and said 'why don’t you go and take blessings from him'. During those six days of my first course, I met Meghalji, now my husband. He had come with Rishiji, as they were friends. My mother wanted me to get married, she told Rishiji about it and he said maybe Meghalji is the person for me. For my life, it was so much of a divine planning. Today I can see that within six days, my whole life was taken care of!
Together, Meghal and I went to Gurudev to take his blessings. We met Gurudev for the first time at a Satsang. I had already decided the sentence in my mind; I wanted to ask if I can get married to Meghal. But I ended up saying, 'together we would like to serve you, please bless us.' Gurudev looked at me and asked 'what do you want to do in your life?,' I just looked at him and said 'I don’t know, whatever you want me to do,' and the words really became the way of living life since then! Gurudev asked us to come to Bangalore Ashram and we had already decided an advance course in the near future. So, we said, 'yes Gurudev, we are coming in a couple of days' and then he blessed both of us. Somehow, we both wanted to go to the ashram and serve."
Magical Moments of the Ashram
In her first advance course, during one meditation she gets restless. She walks out of the hall, not knowing where she is headed! She then stands in front of Gurudev’s kutir. “I saw Gurudev sitting inside; he looked at me and said, 'Oh! You have come!' I was surprised that he knows me! Gurudev then spoke these words that surprised me more! Gurudev told me that, 'you are in silence, your course is going on and I am coming for the next meditation.' Then he gave me some sweets, looking at me and he told, 'Ok, take this sweet and share it with everyone. What I am giving you, you give it to everyone.' I came out of Shakti Kutir and I remember telling myself what he is giving to me give it to everyone, for me it meant not just the sweet but much more, whatever you are receiving share and give it to more and more people,” Sejal said. She has been loyal to these wonderful lines through her tireless efforts in meeting the Master’s vision!
She stayed back for Navaratri and she was called by Gurudev the next month for her Teachers Training Course. “I came with my soon-to-be husband then, we were around 30 people, it was barely three months I had done my first Art of Living course and here I was doing my TTC! By the end of the course, Gurudev just blessed me and told me that people are waiting for you, go and teach. It was his grace and when he thinks that you are ready, you are ready!” she says.
Sejal meanwhile got married to Meghalji, but yet they both were there to serve the society, “I travelled across Gujarat, setting up the Art of Living centres and eventually in other states also. At that time, we did not even understand what is 'part-time and full-time'. For me this was the only thing in my life. Even post marriage, we were not living together because we felt that there is so much need of this knowledge all over. Since we both are teachers, if we go to one place together, then we can reach only that many people. But if we can travel to different places, then we can open more centres and that was the feeling and intention. Today, we have completed around 16 years. In a way we might have only spent 16 months or two years together. But in a way, we have been together, the feeling is still there that we must reach to more people,” Sejal smiles as she concludes.
A traveller who teaches the art to travel...
She has travelled to places like Indonesia, Taiwan, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Europe, America, Brazil, Argentina and different countries in all these years. "I really feel proud as an Indian that we have this knowledge. When Gurudev created the DSN course, he called me and told me to go and teach the DSN. Later, I started teaching Part 2 courses, Advanced Meditation Course, Sahaj Samadhi Meditation and also TTC sessions,” she speaks with a sense of detachment from the various roles in her life.
“Sometimes, I would just pack my luggage. Someone would give me a phone number. Relying on that number I would go to that place and everything would just happen,” she continued reminiscing those days!
He is walking and I am following...
“Today I cannot even imagine this life without my Master. You want to live a life and you don’t know about life, it’s contradictory! You definitely need guidance to learn about your own life.
Every day when I wake up, I look in to the mirror and I feel that I am the most blessed one and feel so happy that there is one more day to smile, to serve, to live every moment. I can understand the value of knowledge that keeps the enthusiasm high, come what may!
One thing that is there in my heart and my mind is that this life is for the Master, the world, he is walking and I am following! It’s not that I want to reach any goal, I just want to go with the flow; anyway we have to do something in this life, why not serve the divine! I tell myself that if not in this life, then when! I wish that I can do much more than what I do now,” Sejal exclaims with twinkles in her eye and that trademark thousand watt smile!
Written by Monica Patel based on inputs from Sejal Thakkar
Photography: Mangesh Deherkar
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