The sacred river Ganges flows through the doorsteps of Rishikesh, one of the ancient holy places in India. And when she sees man violating nature, she gives a polite but firm reminder, raising her flow with fury. I happened to be there in 2008 to prepare for a Yoga Teachers’ Training Program. I reached very late that August night to the gushing sounds of Ganges and the light rain was picking up. There was no one on the streets. And streets had no names. I had lost my way and found myself standing in front of an ashram when a young man came to shut the gate for the night.
I suddenly recognized this man to be the disciple of the now late Pragyanand ji Maharaj Swamiji (a revered holy man) who was a great friend of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji and used to often visit the Art of Living ashram headquarters in Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore). “Narayanji” I called out. I told him that I was from the Bengaluru ashram. He instantly ushered me in and said “Stay with us tonight. Maharaj is here”. I was given a simple comfortable room and told that I can meet Maharaj the following morning. He was also gracious in serving me some hot rotis (Indian bread) with rajma beans curry and a sweet to close the night and celebrate my newly discovered lodging.
The following morning I woke up early and eagerly to meet with the Swamiji who was known for his popular discourses on the Upanishads (Scriptures). He was known for his metaphor-filled stories to bring to life the finer aspects of the scriptures. I went up to his room to pay my respects when he had just about started a discourse on the Mandukya Upanishad scripture. There were about ten of us in that room. And a man seated in the front stood up and asked “Why do we behave, the way we behave?” After a pause he continued “…Why do people commit mistakes or crimes?”
The elderly Swamiji had a very child-like aura and smile. He was like a compassionate and loving grandfather. He gracefully signalled the man to sit down and closed his eyes. I waited with abated breath for the answer. He said “Souls who have passed away are hovering all over space. And some souls have unfulfilled wishes and desires. Good or wicked. So they sometimes choose a living person through whom they can fulfil those desires.” He continued after a silent pause “They simply get into the living person, get that person to perform the desired action and quickly exit after their job is done!” Some people in the room broke into a smile. Many were amazed.
And I was left with the lingering thought that ‘Soul play‘ is perhaps true. They don’t need to buy tickets to enter whether it’s a morning, matinee, evening or night show! They simply enter you, make you a hero/heroine or the villain and flee!
One doubting Thomas seated there asked Swami ji curiously “How can this be true?”. Swami ji replied “Go and ask any criminal in the prison, how and why he did the crime. Most of them will tell you that they did not intend to do it at all, that it just happened or they may insist that they simply didn’t do it”.
Doubting Thomas pressed for further explanation. And Swami ji retorted with a smile “When your prana (subtle energy) is very low. Awareness is also low. These souls find it very easy to sneak into your consciousness. This is your moment of weakness”. He added “That is why it is said that when you do chanting, prayers, yoga, breathing techniques and meditation every single day, a subtle shield of protection envelops you. Your prana and Sattva (harmony) is high. This makes it very difficult for the souls to enter and create havoc”.
Swamiji then looked at me and said “Last night my disciple Narayan must have been sent by some good soul to receive you at the gate so late in the night, when you just needed help. It is not a coincidence. Even good souls do seek entry into living persons to perform good deeds”.
Swamiji closed his eyes and said a beautiful Sanskrit prayer while tears rolled down his soft sparkling face. After a few minutes he opened his eyes and said “The play and display of souls is very mysterious. But when you are with a Guru like Sri Sri Ravi Shankarji you are protected, you pass the final exam easily”.
So the next time you wonder why someone is behaving in a particular way, whether good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant. Understand that he or she is simply broadcasting ‘Soul play’ to an audience called ‘You’! And feel reassured that you know the remedies now.
I must mention here that Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji has given such simple and practical wisdom on the ‘body-mind-soul’ aspect through his various books and discourses specifically in Kena Upanishad, Ishavasya Upanishad, Ashtavakra Geeta, Yogasara Upanishad, Patanjali Yoga Sutras and Mind Matters.
With knowledge and understanding ‘Soul play’ becomes a game of joy.
Jai Gurudeva !