Every morsel of food feels so blessed, specially when you receive it so unexpected. In journeys like this when you don’t know where your next meal is coming from, heart is filled with immense gratitude, every time you receive an offering. ‘Welcome home’, exclaimed my cute Pandya sisters, in Vadodara.And indeed I felt home.
Many micro moments of love and stories happened through out. Guru Ma had given some money for my bus fare, I had decided not to use this money for personal use but mostly for necessities like travel fare. However it was extremely hot yesterday and I bought a cold drink in the bus. Next to me were two young boys having a snack, I offered them the drink from my bottle and with such simplicity and love they accepted it and they offered me their snack. Usually I would have been hesitant to offer a drink from my half empty bottle, thinking if it would be inappropriate or insufficient but this very simple moment of them accepting it made me realize how there’s no strangers, only friends we have not yet met. Then next aha moment happened when I took the auto ride from bus station to my friends place. I shared little bit more than the fare with driver whose name was Jagdish (which means god, like god driving your vehicle :). My first impulse was to keep this money for myself for later use but then I realized it was not mine in the first place, a sacred offering from Guru Ma. As I shared it with Jagdish and told him where it came from, offering a prayer that may it be blessed and bring him abundance, his eyes lit up and he said he would always keep it with himself as a good luck charm.
Felt deeply rested and pampered in my sisters home and started to walk today morning from their home to Ashram, approx 12 kms. Walking in the city with traffic and crowd could get sometimes tiring and little exhausting but in that moment I remembered so many other pilgrims who must have walked in this old city before me and immediately I felt connect with this land making it little easier taking the next step.
Along the way there’s always so many opportunities to connect with others, just a smile or a kind glance can open your hearts. I met Pathan Bhai, a security guard in the building. Within moments of our meeting and sharing each other’s name he told me how he was short of some very little money to fix his bicycle and he won’t get his next salary till next week. His young son had passed away few years back and life has been a bit struggle in the old age. Sharing this he teared up, I am sure it would have taken so much faith and love for him to ask for money without feeling disrespected and I felt humbled and connected that he could tell this to me as if I was his brother. I shared with him that I was on a pilgrimage and in that moment not carrying any money But I had a heart pin with me and as I put it on him, we together prayed that may his heart be in peace and fulfilled. With a smile and a hug we parted. I remembered my grandfather who would often tell me, “feel blessed if someone asks you for something, you get an opportunity to give”.
In the same spirit of love and sharing, I met my next pilgrim Swami Brahmatmand ji. Again as if nature was opening all doors, within moments of reaching the ashram without any prior appointment, I am offered tea and breakfast by a resident there and then immediately had a meeting with Swami Ji. A mechanical engineer who left his career to pursue Vedanta and spiritual studies. I met him in his office and was bit pleasantly surprised by his youthfulness and radiant presence. “Everybody is rich, and poor is he who doesn’t knows that’ He shared. ‘We can all share something, and when we serve we can never feel scarce’. ‘To love and to be loved is the essence of humanity’, he quoted Tagore. His each word reminded me of St Francis and and his prayer- “O divine master grant that I may not so much seek to be loved as to love”.
For an hour we had beautiful satsang and his learnings from his teacher Swami Dayanand. He then directed me to go towards Jagadia, a village approx 100 kms from here to meet an elderly couple who have dedicated their life for service. Before parting, we meditated together in the Shiva temple. “How can I be of any service”, I asked, “Keep walking this path and love with your heart”, he replied.
As I was walking out of the Ashram gate, I was greeted by Ratan Bhai, the security gaurd there. I asked him how he was doing to which he replied “All well by your grace”. I said “everything is a god’s grace”. He smiled and said “I have never seen God, but I know for sure he comes in different forms and in this moment he comes through you so whatever you say becomes true”. To see his unflinching faith in humanity and divinity in everyone, moved my heart. I bowed down to touch his feet and with teary eyes we too said good byes. I realized sometime how little it takes to connect with a stranger, a smile, a glimpse, a soft care and yet sometimes we spend our entire life time without this connection.
I was with Trilok uncle, father of my friends and then on his bike we went to meet Arun Bhai and Meera Ben, two incredible elders who had served with Vinoba Bhave in Paunar Ashram. Sharing their message and a short song here.
In his song Arun bhai as if summarized my journey – ‘What I receive with grace is gold for me, now there’s no other desire to get anything, My heart is filed with gratitude for everything I have is more than enough for me’.
Next Stop – Seva Rural, Jagadia, Near Bharuch, Gujarat. 100 Kms