India Part 5 or Today I Met a Rishi

It's funny, when I'm at home and studying or talking philosophy with my students I am totally on board with the ideas of kundalini energy, siddhis (magical powers), the mysticism of tantra, and the idea that meditating in a cave for 15 years would lead to something important. But suddenly when I get to India and have the opportunity to meet a holy man (a real life holy man!) who is involved in all of those thing, I get all skeptical and wonder if he's messing with me.
Huh?

I met a rishi. He meditated in a holy cave for 15 years to raise his kundalini energy. Now he lives in the hills in Central Kerala in India and meditates except for when he's accepting visitors for whom he prophesies and answers pertinent questions they might have about their dharma. He was slight and short and had a giant (giant!) dreadlock which he wrapped around his head like a turban. His home was about 10 X 10 feet, completely full of murtis and photos of Shiva and Parvati, and filled with thick, pungent incense.

When we came in he greeted us warmly and we were invited to sit next to him. Our guide told him a couple of things about us and then he lit a stick of incense and began to meditate.
When he began to speak, he addressed Veronika first. He told her that she has a business mind, that she already has some power in her third eye and that if she starts her own business, it will take a couple of years, but she'll be very successful.
Veronika has been taking about opening up her own tea house for about 6 months now. No joke. What he told her was succinct and to the point. The whole thing took a couple of moments. Then he came to me.

He was told that I am a yoga teacher in the USA.
This is what the rishi told me:

What you are doing now is perfect. (as in, you have found your dharma, stay put) Continue to teach classes and teach your students philosophy and meditation. You were born with a philosophical mind. You are a very calm person and when you talk to people you have the ability to transmit that calm to them.

The rishi asked if I was married. I said no.
He meditated for a few more moments....I started to get nervous.
Next he said:

If you choose not to get married and practice brahmacarya you could be known to the world.
(admittedly this made me nervous, so I asked him if I could get married.)
Yes, you can get married, but if you want to have followers and become someone who is known, you should choose not to get married.

To increase your philosophical abilities, there are several practices that you can do.
In front of you, place two oil lamps or candles, a glass of water and some fruit. For fifteen minutes meditate on Om Namah Shivaya. Drink the water and eat the fruit.
Before you go to bed each night, hold a glass of water in your hands. Meditate on Om for five minutes, drink the water and go to sleep.

You can speak to your soul. Sit eight feet away from a mirror and make a point on the mirror between your eyebrows. Stare into that spot for fifteen to twenty minutes and you will soon be able to talk with your own soul.

Then the rishi asked if I owned my own business. I responded 'no' and he meditated a bit more. Then:

In a year you will have the opportunity to own your own small business in yoga. If you choose to do so, you can be successful.

We were then allowed to ask a few questions and were ushered out. We were allowed to take a photo.


And that is what happened when I met a rishi.....

India Part 3 or Adventureland

Everything is India is an adventure. Truly everything. You are like "okay, now I'm going to walk across the street" so then you think, "alright, so, I have to avoid these cars, and they are definitely driving on different sides of the road then I'm used to, and oh wait! look out for those bikes, and where is that honking coming from and did I just step in shit?" and then somehow with some seriously deep breathing and incredible eye on the present situation you make it across the street. And then a new adventure starts.

Taking the train in India is the mother of all adventures. The equivalent of this adventure in the context of yoga would be something like...the teacher comes in and says, "okay, today we are going to start with one- handed handstand, and from there we'll be doing drop backs, then tick-tocks, and then we are going to do kapalabhati breath for 25 minutes in headstand and then everyone is going to stand as close together as possibly and we'll turn the heat up to 150 degrees and meditate on the word Om.

Yep.

So, we took the train from Madurai to Kanyakumari and it was the most incredible adventure.

For one, we are unfathomably interesting to Indians. So, we're sitting in the train station minding our own business and the next thing you know 50 Indians are talking to us in Tamil and telling us everything they know about the US (John F. Kennedy, Niagara Falls) and inviting us to their house for dinner. Then when the train comes, (we had already decided to ride in the ladies carriage) all the ladies run full speed to the door and start handing their bags in through the windows. There are no such things as lines in India, you just cram into a huddle and try to push your way to the front. And damn if those 14 year old Indians girls aren't strong as hell.
So then once you finally cram yourself on, and I mean cram, and you have to do so really fast or the train will most likely leave, you find yourself next to the bathroom (um) and again in a situation with a lot of cramming. And all the Indians are looking at you and still talking to you in Tamil and Indian grandmas are yelling at you because your bag came close to their face and Veronika's 3/4 length pants show her knees when she sits on the floor, which is utterly unthinkable.


In the middle of this complete pandemonium I had to step back and take a look. It was so wonderful. Here was this complete chaos, a big sweaty mess of ladies and babies all speaking (shouting) at once but everyone was smiling at us. And we were smiling at them. And several got up and insisted upon giving their seats to us. And we took pictures of the babies and watched to Indian countryside whizz by.
I was so pleased. It would have been a breeze for us to book a nice cool bus with a seat and a smooth ride, but we took the adventuresome path. And it turned out to be the most culturally relevant thing that we'd done so far. I have always been pretty good at "taking the leap" and trying adventurous things, but this was one of the best in my life.
With an open mind and heart I move bravely through the Indian lands.