It was a summer evening of 1980. My second year Pharmacy practical exams were over. I was agitated because I thought external examiner was unfair to me. With my friend, I went to Rama Krishna Sarada Mission, in Hauz Khas, Delhi. My friend was familiar with a resident monk in the mission. We announced our arrival and were waiting in the lobby. I was still thinking about my test. In walked a saffron robed monk, now on I shall call her mataji. She had a straight posture, smiling face, penetrating eyes and closely cropped salt and pepper hair. She was the principal of nursery school run by the mission.
After initial introduction, Mataji asked what was our problem. As if flood gates had opened, I emptied my mind of all bitterness. Mataji heard my wailings, but did not dwell on it. Instead, she kept on talking essence of Vedanta. Gradually mind quietend and a strange peace desecended. All my problems, all my bitterness became so trivial, so irrelevant.
Since that day, my association with ashrama and mataji became more regular. I was initiated into japa yoga of Shri Rama Krishna Sharada school. Mataji taught me how to use science to understand Vedanta.I was exposed to the idea of a deeper purpose of our existence. Using examples from discoveries from physics and biology, Mataji would reason our experiences are essentially subjective. As most of us have similar constitution and similar instruments, we see the world in a certain way. However, this view point may be very different for a person that is an outlier from average. We call them a lunatic or a genius.
I left India for my higher studies. I was skeptical if I would be able to stay grounded in myself in distant land and in different culture. However, something inside me told me that japa yoga is my greatest asset, that no one can take away from me. I kept alive my habbit of regular practicing of japa. Time to time, I had my doubts. Why am I doing this? Today, I realize the rationale of practicing japa. By repeated chanting, at a definite time and place, on a daily basis, it may be possible to channelize random neural activity in brain that manifests as thought processes. At the very least, it improves focus in daily life, for a seeker japa shows a way out of cause and effect relationships of our lives. It is like conquering a set of habbits with another, and eventually go beyond habbits.
All my life, I have been more fascinated by the journey than destination. All journeys eventually come to an end. I learnt all achievements in life are transitory. Once you have been there and done that, there is a quest for more. External quests are limited by age, health, finance among other things. However, only quest that is essentially in our control is journey inwards. All through ups and downs in our lives, only quest that no one can take away from us. Japa is a way to steer our journey into our inner quest.
As we go through our lives, we face turmoil. We feel insecure. We create friends and foes. We become victims of so many moral dilemmas. To quell our turbulent inner conflicts, Japa can be sheet anchor in our lives. Through Japa, I realised it may be possible to change perception and magnitude of a problem, by changing perspective. Like, from a high altitude, both a skyscraper and a hutment appear similar, by altering perspsective we may be able to tackle our perception of a problem better.
In the end, I think my association with Mataji has been the best thing in my life. She has shown path, that I would remain oblivious of, inspite of it being my inheritance. It is like a begger sitting on a box full of gold, but totally unaware of it.