It was August 2010. I attended a Long Sudarshan Kriya session in my college BITS Pilani. Post the Long Kriya, my teacher Venkatesh (Venki) mentioned about the Guru Puja course he attended recently and expressed his wish to chant it then. We all closed our eyes and then I heard something so melodious and powerful that I didn’t realize that I meditated for about 25 minutes without any effort. That small experience of nothingness really shook me from inside. Since then, I would always ask Venki to chant Guru Puja whenever we would get a chance and he would gleefully oblige.
It were also these days when I started actively volunteering for Art of Living and slowly started shifting under the umbrella of Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Volunteering for the Art of Living courses and witnessing participants from all walks of life effortlessly letting go of their layers; become natural and experience peace brought a lot of admiration and respect for Gurudev. The admiration for Gurudev slowly turned into love and as I started observing Gurudev closely. He was a simple man who walked the talk. It might seem simple to write this out but it is one of the toughest principles a mortal human can adopt into his or her lifestyle. To stick to one’s words and standing by them come what may and working for them be it sunshine or rain is no easy task. That striking authenticity and his unconditional love for people around him made me idolize him and love him in a way that I put him on a pedestal. This aspect is often regarded as “Bhakti” or devotion in India. Yes, I found my master. Sorry! My master found me.
Just like a tea picker goes around in the plantation and choice fully plucks tea leaves, a master goes around and chooses his disciples. Just like a jeweler puts an eye-lens and polishes diamonds, the Guru pulls you up from a pile of stones and polishes you to perfection. He is a veteran crafts-man at work. It is a blessing to have a Guru in your life and this is probably the best thing to have ever happened in my life.
The more I embraced Gurudev, the more I came closer to the tradition of masters and the lineage of masters (Guru Pampara). Thanks to the reading habit I developed when I was very young, I had the chance to read countless stories about many masters who lived in flesh and blood which included – Adi Shankaracharya, Swami Vivekananda, Paramahamsa Yogananda, Shiridi Sai Baba, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Guru Nanak and so on. All the stories had one common thread in common. Wisdom! Wisdom which has been carefully preserved and passed on to the mortal beings over the generations pristine.
A little later, upon the advice of Gurudev I read the Bhagavad Gita – the epic dialogue between Lord Krishna and his pal Arjuna. It is often said that Bhagavad Gita has the answer for every question which has sprouted on this planet. I found Bhagavad Gita to be deeply reflective. Time and again, it reminded me the importance of Wisdom in one’s life and pat came the realization! I had a living master in my life. A master, who travelled 300 days a year, works for 20 hours a day lives out a modest apartment and is tirelessly works for this planet. He symbolizes Wisdom for me. He is the priceless wealth of all the Vedas and Upanishads together for me. He is the embodiment of the nectar of all the Shaastras and books of wisdom mankind has ever written. And another Aha moment happened! Words really fall short to describe this experience!
I would always think that there should be something to honor and express our gratitude to this master and the wisdom he has bestowed upon us. Like Thanksgiving day in US and Sankranti in India! During Navaratri 2012, I heard an announcement about Guru Puja course which on completion entitles one to chant the Guru Puja – a song which honors the lineage of masters who have walked the planet and have carefully preserved the knowledge and passed it onto the humans through generations. Another short course which follows this enables us to perform the Guru Puja – a short Puja which symbolises all the beautiful things the Divine does to us.
Traditional yet powerful, Guru Puja is one of the most exquisite experiences one can have.
How I learnt Guru Puja …
I wanted to register for the October 2012 batch of Guru Puja and couldn’t due to leave problems in office. I patiently waited for March 2013 and the leave problem sprung up again. Oh! Some more waiting! Longing does good as they say! Come October 2013 and the Guru Puja Phase-1 was announced again. This time, my manager then Bharathy Harish (also my senior at College BITS Pilani) gladly agreed! . Guru Puja course (both phases) are conducted by Bhanumathi Narasimhan or Bhanu Didi as we affectionately call her, who is the very own sister of Gurudev. Bhanu Maa has this undying smile on her face and is very loving & caring to everyone around her. I think she gets this quality from her brother. One of the most earliest memories with her is the her Satsang in Winter Break in 2009 with chartbuster bhajans in her melodious voice loaded with devotion which would put some of the most trained singers also to shame.
Guru Puja Phase 1
Every day in Guru Puja Phase-1, we would arrive in the Visalakshi Mantap and chanted and practised the verses of Guru Puja repeating after Bhanu Maa multiple times. The chanting sessions would often be sandwiched between these beautiful stories and very own stories of Gurudev. The icing on the cake would be the Guru Puja every afternoon Bhanu Maa would perform. 2 minutes into the Puja and finish! I would slip into meditation and would probably open my eyes after 30 minutes. Going beyond time! It was an astronomical explosion of Sattva! Post lunch, there would be more chanting sessions followed by Satsang and then later more stories post Dinner after which would retire to our rooms. The chanting sessions were so intoxicating. We could feel that electric energy and the deep cleansing inside us erasing our slate clean. The Guru Puja Phase-1 ended only so that we could come back after 6 months for our Phase-2 which would qualify us as Guru Puja Pandits and allow us to perform the powerful Guru Puja. The next 6 months, I would chant the Guru Puja everyday and I would notice how handy it would be to calm the mind and relax. And of course, it was a beautiful way to feel grateful
Guru Puja Phase 2
Came February 2014, the Guru Puja Phase-2 arrived and coincided with Valentines Day! Ya I was spending time with my Valentine – my Gurudev. I performed my first Guru Puja. Tears of gratitude rolled out helplessly. After 3 days of learning to perform the Guru Puja again with Bhanu Maa herself along with some many more amazing stories. Every time we had a chance we would perform a Puja because the ending of the Puja would have Bhajans by Bhanu Maa and it would be an excuse for all of us to make her sing. It was a thick waft of divine energy all around us to perform the Guru Puja collectively multiple times a day. Another burst of energy clubbed with so many memories with friends around! One memorable course ended! Another course began – a course of taking positivity to people by performing Guru Pujas.
Since then, I have performed Guru Puja every time I was blessed with an opportunity by the Divine in my house, at houses of my friends and other volunteers of Art of Living. Guru Puja is a ceremonial Puja at every occasion in my house – birthday, anniversary, celebration, festival and also times when you would feel low and need some real inspiration and energy. And I can see in live how people around me would relax and rejoice in themselves during the Guru Puja.
It is my personal recommendation to everyone reading this to experience Guru Puja to learn to chant Guru Puja. It is a lifetime experience to share this experience with many millions around our beautiful planet. Those moments of Guru Puja are precious! They are intimate sprinkled with love, joy, peace and unparalleled happiness. And a splendid opportunity to thank the Master in our lives
You can also listen & perform Guru Puja with Bhanu Didi Live from her Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Bhanumathi.Narasimhan/ on 9th July , 2016 7:00 Pm on-wards IST
Sri Sri Gurucharana Kamalebhyo Namaha!
Jai Guru Dev!
Surya Tej Borra