By Prasoona

Just as any child raised in a middle-class Indian family, life revolved around activities related to God. My grandfather ensured that the memory was trained well by learning many hymns of Sri Sankaracharya. Daily prayers were a must, even if only as a chore. My dad introduced us to the “concept” of monks, and although he portrayed them as “super humans” I only grudgingly went along! What stands out from those visits was the sincerity and openness he exuded during such trips. My parents were very liberal in their definition of religion, and they introduced us to other faiths through their visits to the places of worship. Although I didn’t appreciate any of this back then, I understand that it is to such exposure that I owe my current inclination.

Sometime during my high school years, I got my Guru per chance. I got initiated only because I was at the right place at the right time, without any previous plan or knowledge of it. As I write this, it occurs that this was the one event which I didn’t ask for, but was blessed with. I did the Japa only because someone put it into my head that if I didn’t do it regularly, my Guru would have to pay the penalty, and I was afraid of my mom’s outburst if such a thing should ever happen!

I turned into a hypocritical rebel during my college years. Although I’d despise my dad’s habit of visiting monks/temples, I would secretly pray for good grades, job, money and even boyfriends! What surprises me – God gave me everything I ever asked for; every little desire has come true sooner or later.

As desires were getting fulfilled, the ego began rearing its BIG ugly head out. What I had known as life, became miserable. While I persistently tried to fix the external factors, I only spiraled into a dark abyss. It was now, that Japa and spiritual need took on a different meaning. I began looking for meanings in my prayers, and wondered how could everything that was source of pleasure at one time bring such misery. Now, it was my turn to visit monks and temples, without the facade I had on earlier. In retrospect, this tumultuous phase was “God.” My sentiment about this is best conveyed by Sri Ramana about Arunachala, “You are the tiger, in whose mouth I am trapped. I worry not about the duration it takes, for I know that this ego WILL be mauled away by You.” I’d dare not claim that am evolving, but with my Mother and Guru in my life, how could it be any other way! I realize that my folks’ faith in the Guru, the rituals and chants drilled into our daily routine, and even those prayers for materialistic ends were the baby steps that God guided me through towards Him. I have firm faith that this stubborn mind will be tamed, sooner or later, to rest in God.