I was second last to enter the yagyashala before they closed the gates for the first set of people doing the yagya. I was lucky to be in the first yagya of the day and the first day of the shivir. I liked the whole process. I wish I had known a little bit more about why we do yagya before I did the yagya.
Yagya are well known from ancient times and people do them at occasions or celebrations, but why do it daily? I still don’t have the answer. That was one of the reasons I did not attend all the yagya during my shivir. Another reason was the old ladies. I just could not see myself pushing people daily to do something as holy as a yagya. Besides later that day one of the speakers said something to the effect that if you have done one yagya in the shivir then you should not do it anymore since you will be taking the place of someone else, and we should give everyone a chance. So that gave me another reason not to get up so early in the morning from tomorrow. (But later I realized he may have been talking about something else!)
After yagya I went to my room did some jap and slept a bit. Even though I have been in India for a few days, my sleep schedule is not set yet.
During the first day of my shivir, I had no idea what to expect so I attended every single thing. Each lecture was preceded by two inspiring songs. These songs were sung professionally with great music and enthusiasm. Too bad the people listening did not have the same enthusiasm. For me the harder part was to comprehend some of the lyrics as the microphone was not very clear to me, and my hindi is not that great either.
Stories/summaries from Day 1 lectures
The first day was mostly about the significance of jap and discipline in life.
- If a lady is cooking rice and doing jap together then her mind is continuously on the rice and she is not concentrating on the jap. So at the end of the jap she will end up getting rice because that is what she was concentrating on during the jap. Moral: concentrate on the jap with something meaningful on your mind and that is the result you will get. Ideally you should think of the rising sun when doing Gayatri mantra jap.
- When your heart is into doing something then you have no discomfort in doing that thing, e.g. when watching TV you are fully concentrating on it such that you don’t realize what is going on around you. However, when we listen to pravachan, we fidget around because our heart is not in it and we would rather be somewhere else.
- Purpose of jap – just like you have to clean your teeth daily to keep them healthy and clean, you have to do jap daily to keep your soul clean and healthy.
- Purpose of yellow clothes – to adjust better to the disciplined environment. To respect the clothes you will not do certain things e.g. smoke or drink.
- Purpose of satvik food – so that your body is also doing sadhna while your mind is doing sadhna. Satvik food does not make your body smell so you will feel clean and pure. And more importantly your mind is not constantly on food while attending the shivir.
- Sanyam – self-control: Especially control your tongue. For two reasons – speech and taste. Control what you say and to whom you say, and control your taste buds so your life is not all about food. To control your bad habits write them each on a piece of paper and look at them when you feel you are losing self control.
- Even God said he prefers people with a good heart and pure soul, not the one who does jap or gives money to the temples. So make your heart pure and good. One of the easiest way to be and do good is by seva – serving other people wholeheartedly.
- Give your children good values, no matter how old fashioned they sound e.g. touching the feet of elders.
- Your home gives an idea of who you are as a person, so decorate your home with nice things. Animal decorations indicate that those are what you believe in, God pictures or nature pictures indicate your faith in those.
- Treat God as you would treat yourself. This was in context of when we do ceremonies during puja on statues of God. Don’t immerse them in water and leave them there….that would be as if someone left you in the swimming pool. Respect even the idols.
- Last story……You don’t have to look externally to find God, he is always in your heart. The story behind that is …. God made the earth so beautiful that he decided to come and live on the earth with Lakshmi. All the animals and plants lived on their own, but man was very needy, he came and asked God for everything every time. So God said to Lakshmi, "lets hide in the forest", but man found him there. They hid in the sea, but were found there also. Then they ran to the mountains, but man was right behind them. Naradji was roaming around and asked God who he was running from and God said, "man, he seems to find me everywhere". So Naradji said, "why don’t you hide in man’s heart, that is one place where he never looks". And since then man has been looking and not finding God.
Food was challenging the first day as I had figure out how to eat unsweetened and unsalted daliya. I had no sugar and I don’t really eat salty daliya. And since we are not supposed to leave any food in our plate I had to do the unthinkable (for my taste) – I mixed it with daal and rice and ate it! Oh! What an experience! Never eating daliya here again….And I have to remember to bring a spoon (which I never really did), I have a hard time eating the watery daal with my fingers.
I did not have any dinner. I was true to having just one meal per day. I did have to go out and get some bananas for that 5 pm hunger.