Deciding to track down a few local Guru's, yesterday I went to an Ashram of a certain Yogi Ramsuratkumar which is just around the corner from my new abode. I came to India armed with a guide book to the 'Yogi's, Guru's and Ashrams of Sacred India' which outlines some details about various characters and places to visit for the Western Spiritual Tourist/Seeker.
The thing is the book is over 10 years old and so I found that Yogi Ramsuratkumar and a certain 'Bench Swami' were both long since dead. That came as a surprise but I enjoyed the Ashram anyway. It's a fairly big place with a meditation hall for 500 and an auditorium the size of a football field and yet there were only a few people around although I'm sure they get a bit of a crowd on special occassions.
The Yogi was very much in the Bhakti tradition in that his path was immersing himself in the continual rememberance of God's name and in Surrendering himself to 'the will of my Father'. In India God comes in many flavours and persona's which is not so unusual if one considers God to be Infinite. Anyway Yogi Ramsuratkumar seemed to have been a very joyous and childlike sort of a character and there is a feeling of joy and peace permeating his earthly abode.
In Indian heritage there is every variety of religion and point of view. Some hold God to be non-existent; some to be an Eternal Divine Person; some that it is an infinite impersonal cosmic intelligence; some that we in our true nature are not different from God and everything inbetween. Some viewpoints are liberal and inclusive whereas others are more dogmatic and exclusive. All co-exist together here in a rich and diverse tapestry alongside modernity, holy cows, diesel fumes, honking of horns and plastic garbage strewn all over the place.
There is also every variety of conmen here too, no doubt, including beggars, beggars dressed as holymen and many others who see a chance to try and scam a living off of the comparitively rich westerners. And yet, despite all of the unpleasant aspects I like it here very much and of course there are many very poor people in genuine need as well as some real Swami's too I expect.
My new accomodation is the best yet in a quiet and peaceful ashram set well back from the road and far from most of the traffic noise. Although basic and much paint peeling it is a clean airy place with a serene atmosphere. In the mornings there is some chanting in praise of the sacred mountain Arunachala Siva. The young brahmin boys are chanting the verses and we come in on the chorus. I like a bit of a sing-song so I am happy to join in although it does go on for a bit so I'm thinking I'll tend to slip in for the last half an hour most times.
Last night I went to Sri Mooji's birthday celebrations where with well over 100 people we had a sumptuous Indian meal followed by music and dancing. Social dancing is still a bit challenging for me but I am gradually mellowing to it over the years. As someone commented to me, 'it is rare to see a Scotsman up on the dance floor without alcohol being involved'. Influenced by the large South American contingent there was lots of that passionate Latin kind of music and naturally Bob Marley made an appearance or two which answered a previous question - no spliff's though. Since I missed the 9.30pm gate locking curfew at my new ashram home I had to climb over and jump from the 8 foot high boundary wall with broken glass on top to repel invaders. No arteries were severed, no limbs broken and no dogs were woken as I slipped to my room unnoticed.
That's it for now, until the next time.........