What a blessing to be born a woman! Especially when we have a spiritual Master like Sri Sri to guide us in harnessing our innate virtues, the process of evolution to perfection becomes a cake walk! As I keep repeating, a woman’s life is a music of many leaves. Idealists by nature, we women know instinctively how to balance the heart and head. Sharp intellect, timely wisdom, tender loving care, fortitude, courage, patience, perseverance, faith define a woman. Such virtues bring harmony in her life as well as in the life of others associated with her. Again, what a blessing to be born a woman!
Since childhood the story of ‘ Savitri ‘ has had a deep impact on my psyche. A young and beautiful princess who stood by her ‘love’ knowing very well that death was imminent to him. That young princess preferred loyalty to her heart against taking an easy way out. What a character! She embodies the quintessence of womanhood!
For those of you uninitiated to one of the most beautiful legends in the epic Mahabharata, ‘Savitri’, let me give a brief outline of the story. Savitri was the only daughter of Madra’s wise king. She grew into a marvelous beauty. Her father constantly worried about finding a suitable match for her.
Toru Dutt, one of the Indo- Anglian poetry writers , describes how in those ancient days girls had the freedom to choose their life partner. I will quote Toru throughout as she is one of my favourites. She says Savitri lived in “those far off primeval days” of Indian history when women were not “pent in closed zenanas”. Savitri, wanders around cornfields for months looking for her choice of a husband and spots a handsome youth that “the eye was loth to quit”.
Having made her choice, she goes back to her mother and confides her feelings. She in turn goes to her husband and Narada Muni to check whether Savitri has made the right decision. Narada Muni, a sage who knows the past, present and future predicts that the youth, Satyavan, chosen by Savitri, would die exactly after a year. Savitri, unheeding the pleas to choose an other one, utters these beautiful words;
Once, and once only, have I given
My heart and faith- its past recall
Such fortitude and steadfastness is what makes Savitri a shining example of womanhood. Regardless of her personal comfort, the princess carries out her household duties to perfection. Lovingly tending to the needs of her blind parents in law who have lost their kingdom, Savitri exemplifies the role of a life partner.
After a year of happy and devoted married life in the hermitage of Satyavan, the dreadful day of Satyavan’s death dawns. Savitri, hiding her foreboding, engages herself in prayers.
Yama, the God of Death, comes Himself to fetch Satyavan’s life. Because of her purity and chastity, Savitri could actually see Him! She follows Him to the other side of the world through the most difficult path with effortless ease. Questioned by Yama, why she is bent on following him, she simply says, “It is your duty to take back life and it is my duty to follow my husband. You do your duty and let me do mine” .
The constancy and devotion of Savitri impels Yama to grant her three boons of her choice. Here is the crux of the whole thing. Even though the intention of Savitri in following Yama was to get back her husband’s life, she shows the timely wisdom to first ask for restoration of eyes and lost kingdom of her parents in law. Then , asks for sons to her father so that the generation continues. Thus she upholds family values.
As a third boon, she asks Yama to grant her one hundred sons which He does totally enormoured by Savitri’s perseverance! At this grant of the third boon, she counters Yama with utmost humility and respect.
“How can a chaste woman like me bear one hundred sons without my husband?” Totally baffled, Yama gives back the life of Satyavan brimming with admiration at Savitri ‘s skill and humility. The princess lives happily ever after. To this day Savitri lives in the hearts of the people of India. Toru Dutt writes
As for Savitri, to this day
Her name is named, when couples wed,
And to the bride the parents say,
Be thou like her, in heart and head
Skill is essential to achieve our goals. Firmness coupled with skill and humility can overcome all impediments and let us live in harmony to celebrate life. May we women recognize the same virtues that Savitri possessed inside all of us and make our life sublime.
Bangalore, 4.9.2013. 22:39
I do not even know myself how it happened. I did not give it much thought or planning. I just knew I wanted to do it since the last years’ Vedic Wisdom program of Art of Living when I saw my friends’ photos giving blessing in villages. I just knew at once that I wanted to do it.
Upon my arrival at the Art of Living Ashram, I got hold of information that a Swami who was doing volunteer work in villages needed help. I immediately applied, but somehow he went travelling and I did not see him again. Now, three and a half months later an opportunity revealed itself. An open invitation to go to Bangalore Slums appeared.
A few of us sat in a small van, drove an hour and a half and arrived to a scenery of cramped houses and lots of people. The local volunteers received us with flower garlands and warm welcoming smiles. Soon enough we started walking and blessing people. I learned a few expressions in the local language, like ashirvaad (blessing) and akhe band (eyes closed). I spoke little and understood none but everything was conveyed through the blessings and smiles.
Now, the same evening of the mentioned day, I was browsing through the photos wondering how is it possible! we came to a world where no one knew us, to people’s streets, houses and shops, extending our hands and offering blessings, touching people’s heads with unknown hands. Seemingly awkward for both parties, us – blessing hundreds; them – accepting foreigners to bless them. A sort of dream I have not known could became a reality.
I soon felt they were a part of me, I felt them to be my friends, my family, my neighbours. After having the experience themselves, mothers started bringing out children, boys pushing their shy friends to come forward.
I knew (without really knowing) what to do, where to go, no words were necessary to understand who wanted to be blessed, who was a little afraid, who enjoyed, who wanted to share their experience. A man in front of a corner refreshments shop asked me in English, “what are these blessings you’re giving?” I replied that it’s an experience to be felt, so he whole-heartedy received one, acknowledged it was very pleasant and then pushed many of his friends to come forward.
If I ever had thought of this myself, I would have thought it impossible to feel such a connection with strangers, to be touching people’s heads and be exchanging the deepest sense of intimacy with so many, without even a single crumb of ego, or a sense of obstruction, without a sense of shyness.
What is a blessing in Art of Living? It is a way Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar made possible for us to channelize love, healing. There is a simple procedure to become a blesser and receive the ability to transfer blessings. It is something that does not come from me neither is it done by me, it is a divine energy that goes through me and is there for others. Honestly, I prefer giving blessings to receiving them.
Sri Sri says that the closer you come to the Divine, the more attractive it becomes, sweeter, more beautiful, and there is no end to it. Every time something amazing like this happens, it seems impossible that there can be more. But there is.
I am fooled each and every time I think that ‘this experience’ was the best. Words are so minuscule in the attempt to express what force, what love stands behind ‘all this’ what we think the world/life is. And it is all just by Gurudev’s grace. Only by Him new dimensions of gratitude keep arising, new dimensions of beauty, of fulfillment.
By Gordana Tihomirović