Reiki to Mother Earth : The Magical Connect

One of the most beautiful aspects of Reiki is that a practitioner can direct this healing energy towards anything and anyone. And there is no one in this world who needs healing more than Mother Earth herself.

You might call her by any name, but nature which is a manifestation of the divine feminine, has consciousness. She has a soul, and you can connect with her spirit in unimaginable ways when you send her healing.

It is common for Reiki practitioners and energy healers to give healing to the earth. I have been also doing so, many times a week for the last several years, and there is one thing that I had understood quickly in the initial few months. What you give, she returns multiple times and more, in her magical ways.

It is often a deep emotional experience for me when I think of the pain she has gone through, and is suffering from, every moment. Mother Earth has no respite from her injuries and wounds, which just keep getting worse and larger. From the destruction of the Amazon rainforests to the Australian bush fires to our polluted rivers and seas … it is an endless list … then what difference will some minutes of healing make, I would often wonder.

Then one day she made me understand that just as each one of us is a soul born in a body, and the soul is always in perfect health no matter what the body is going through. Similarly, the spirit of Mother Earth is untouched by the tortures her physical form has to endure.

As one starts giving healing to Mother Earth, one starts forming a deep spiritual bond with her. You also start forming a greater bond with all her creations – animals and plants, rivers and mountains …. And truly start experiencing the oneness of all life.

Then, she starts sharing her secrets with you. And what she reveals and makes you understand goes beyond the realm of anything you might have seen or experienced, or ever imagined.

You had set out to heal her, and she makes your life magical. That is Mother Earth’s blessing and special gift for you.

She is the Great Mother of all – from a tiny seed to every plant, animal and human being, and loves everything and everyone equally. But shares her secrets, with only a few.

(The writer is a Reiki Master-Teacher, Akashic Records reader, Angel Intuitive, Oracle Card Reader, Spiritual Blogger and Storyteller. Email: sudiptadevc@gmail.com or thesoulenergy@gmail.com)

Light of the Brightest Moon

Most of his life Sugam has hid his face from people. He was 12 when a deadly disease left him with big pockmarks on his face, after which, he was afflicted with another skin ailment. He had to be forced to go to school where the other children would mercilessly make fun of him. The son of a poor Brahmin from a mofussil township in one of the backward regions in Bihar, Sugam ran away from home at the age of 16.

He joined a group of wandering minstrels who went from village to village singing spiritual songs, in praise of Lord Krishna. The boy had a beautiful voice that was much loved by the people, wherever he travelled, across the small villages and towns of Bengal and Bihar states. However, he would always hide his face with a cloth, till he managed to grow a full beard.

This was not the life he wanted – Sugam aspired to study more, become successful, earn well enough to take good care of his old parents, and get married. But he was confined to lead the life of an impoverished minstrel because he felt he had no place in the society. He blamed his pockmarked “ugly” face for everything, never understanding that the problem was rooted in his own mind.

The troupe would travel the whole day, and at night camp at one of the temple precincts where they would prepare food and rest for the night. At every temple, Sugam would have just one prayer for the deity. He always hoped that a miracle would happen someday. 

It was a very special night when the group of minstrels halted at the temple of Goddess Lakshmi on the fringes of a village. This was the night of the brightest moon in the sky in the whole year, celebrated as Guru Purnima in India – the full moon dedicated to the teacher who gives the light of true knowledge.

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Sitting in the courtyard of the temple, Sugam kept staring at the beautiful moon for a long time. He was feeling very restless and couldn’t sleep. He looked at the darkened temple, and something made him get up and step inside the sanctum sanctorum. He could not see the face of the goddess, so he lit a lamp.

“Thank you for bringing light,” he heard the voice, even before realising that there was someone else inside the temple. He looked around to see her stepping out from the shadows, and was startled to see the most beautiful face one could ever imagine.

Sugam started at her, almost transfixed, wondering who was this ethereal beauty in the dress of a village girl.

“Why should there be darkness inside when there is so much brightness of the beautiful, big moon lighting up the world outside,” said the young woman with a smile.

“What are you doing in this temple, so late at night ?” asked Sugam, unable to hide his curiosity.

“Why are you so surprised ? This is where I live,” she said. He understood she must be the daughter of the temple priest.

“And may I ask what are you doing in the temple at this hour ?” she queried.

“I came to pray,” he replied.

“Pray for what ? ” came the next question.

Sugam kept silent. How could he tell her what he always prayed for, so that he did not have to hide his face without being ridiculed or pitied.

I am still waiting for your answer,” she said, still persistent.

Her beautiful voice, her presence, the sacred atmosphere of the temple, did something to Sugam. He did not know why tears started flowing from eyes. It was as if the last 10 years of his life, which he had lived in shame, hit him like a single blow. Guilt, shame, loneliness, being unwanted, unloved, every negative feeling overpowered him in waves. He did not know what was happening to him, crying before an unknown person. That too a beautiful girl.

She watched him silently, and then spoke softly, “What is it that you seek ?”

“Beauty,” Sugam blurted out, before realising how foolish his answer might seem to the young woman.

She smiled and said, “So it shall be. From this day you will realise the true beauty of your heart.”

“I am not talking about my heart, but my face,” Sugam wanted to say, but by the time he spoke, he realised that she had stepped into one of the corners of the temple where a stream of moonlight now entered through a latticed window. And disappeared.

“Hello, where are you ?” he called out loudly, wondering if there was a gap in the wall through which she had left. She seemed to almost melt into the moonlight.

His voice woke up the other three minstrels, who rushed inside the temple, asking what had happened. He told them about the beautiful girl, but nobody had seen her leaving.

Sugam looked at the idol of Goddess Lakshmi, he had not prayed to her yet. The goddess of beauty, auspiciousness, wealth and prosperity, everything that he wanted in his life, but never had. As he looked at the goddess’s face, something stirred in his heart. Tears welled up in his eyes again, this time of gratitude.

Somehow he realised that everything that had so far happened in his life was because he could be here, this very night. The words of the young woman echoed in his mind, “True beauty of your heart.”

He understood that before he could ask, the goddess had accepted his prayer.

As he stepped outside, into the courtyard, which was now awash with the silvery light of the moon, an elated Sugam looked up at the sky. He did not know who the young woman was – the priest’s daughter, a divine angel, the play of moonlight, or the Goddess of beauty herself….

She came as his teacher, to make him understand a truth. She was his Guru on the auspicious night of the brightest moon, Guru Purnima. He knew she would meet him again, maybe in another form, a different way. Of that he was sure.

When Your Angels Cry

She ran along the beach
The little girl of six
How she loved the feel
Of her hair blowing in the wind

She thought she was alone
But she did not know
She was always watched by four
Her Guardian Angels who loved her the most

Through the mirror in the sky
Or etheric realm as you can call it
They are forever watching
Loving, guiding and protecting

Sometimes when a drop of rain
Falls on you from a cloudless sky
Know that it is their tear
Of love for you on that beautiful day

When your angels cry
During your toughest times
Understand that it is their prayer to God
To bless you with patience and not lose faith

Often it is tears of absolute ecstasy
When they feel delirious in God’s love
Then they do their aerial dance
And share with you their love and energy

Reiki : How Distant Healing Works

Energy is omnipresent. The Universe is energy, what we know as God is energy, and we ourselves are nothing but energy bodies. It might take us many lifetimes to evolve spiritually and live in the experience of it, however for every energy healer and Reiki practitioner, this truth forms the core of his / her belief and practice.

And for the nonbelievers, the simple explanation is that if the electro magnetic waves (radio waves, telephone and wireless, microwaves, X-Rays, etc) can transmit through space, then why can’t an energy (that heals) travel thousands of kilometres, sometimes across the world, to reach its destination. Just because you don’t see, does not mean it doesn’t exist. The human eye, after all, is extremely limited in its range and can see only 1% of the visible light spectrum.

For traditional Usui Reiki practitioners, anyone who had completed the Level II, can do Distant Reiki. One just needs the name and address, to direct Reiki’s sacred healing energy to the recipient.

The healing works at a subtle level. While often the effect can be felt within three consecutive Distant Reiki sessions, sometimes it is only after a few weeks of the sessions getting over that one gets a feedback from a satisfied client, a relative or a friend. It is important to know that Reiki is not a substitute for medicine, but is complementary, and helps in the healing process by making a person feel more positive mentally and relaxed.

I have been a Reiki practitioner for almost 15 years, and in all these years I have found Reiki to be extremely effective in healing trauma and other mental issues like depression and sleep disorders.

Every Reiki session is a sacred ritual. A client may be hundreds of kilometers away, but you are connected with him/her through the Universal Energy. Before starting the session, according to an individual’s belief one requests the Gods and Goddess, Jesus, Mother Mary, the Archangels, the guardian angels of both the practitioner and the client and other spiritual beings, to be present, and help in the healing process.

Most energy healers like me are often “shown” the etheric body of the client and are able to perceive the energy blocks in the body. Sometimes what one sees can be something unexpected. For instance, while giving Distant Reiki to a 23-year-old young man who was suffering from constant nightmares and consequently couldn’t sleep for days, I was “shown” that he was strapped like a mummy from head to toe with energy cords, tightly binding him. It took two consecutive days of Reiki with some Angel Therapy, and his nightmares just vanished, helping him to get sound sleep.

From sending Reiki to situations like a natural calamity in some corner of the world, to sending healing for peace in a strife-ridden region, there is no limit to Distant Reiki.

One important aspect that I keep reminding myself is that a Reiki practitioner is just a tool, a medium for the sacred energy to transmit to the recipient. It is therefore important to not take pride in the doership – for it is only God who heals, in His own time, and His way.

(Sudipta Dev Chakraborti is a Mumbai, India based writer, Reiki Master Teacher, Akashic Records Reader. Contact: thesoulenergy@gmail.com)

A Glimpse of Divine Beauty

You came in the vision of my inner eye
So suddenly and unexpectedly
In a flash of a moment
You were there and then gone

And in that moment
I saw and experienced your true form
Your astounding beauty
Left me stunned

I felt I couldn’t breathe
Tears filled my eyes and wouldn’t stop flowing
Because in those few seconds
I experienced what true beauty really is

My heart was overwhelmed
With what I have never felt before
The essence of my own divine beauty
The exquisite bliss which words cannot express

Your dark indigo blue form filled my whole universe
With streaks of gold accentuating the vision
Dear Mother, Goddess Kali, the world fears your ferocious form
Thank you for blessing me with the vision and experience of what you truly are

The Invisible Protectors

Ramnagar was once one of the most prosperous villages in Central India, bordering Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh states. It falls in an area near the Chambal ravines, a region which almost 50 years ago was the dominion of the dreaded dacoit gangs. For decades these outlaws evaded the police, fearlessly invading villages, looting and killing the select targets. Often kidnapping women and children, for ransom or worse.

The social change brought over the decades has altered the scenario, but as any old timer will tell you, Ramnagar village was a soft target of these bandits in the 1960s and 70s, primarily because of its prosperity. The village, named after Lord Rama (Ram-nagar meaning city of Rama), has an ancient temple, which according to local lores, has been a witness to many miraculous happenings. Presently, the custodian of all these tales is the septuagenarian Radhabai, and if you speak to her, one of the first stories she would recount is her own experience.

Belonging to a rich landowning family, Radhabai was a young girl of 17 when the incident happened. The girls in her village were mostly married off young, for fear of abduction by the dacoits. Some were even sent off to live with their relatives in cities or distant villages. For many years Radhabai was sent by her parents to live with her maternal uncle in Bhopal city.

That year, during the summer vacations, before starting college, she was visiting her family at her ancestral home in Ramnagar. After many years Radhabai was attending the evening aarti at the temple. She had tears in eyes during the ritual, as she spoke to Lord Rama in her heart, asking him why he could not ensure her protection. She had to forcibly stay away from her parents and three younger brothers. “I always thought that you come forward to protect the vulnerable. A bunch of dacoits cannot certainly be stronger than a God. Then why can’t you take care of me. It seems my faith in you is stronger than your love for me,” she complained.

Later, as she stepped out of the temple and started walking home, she heard some noises in the distant. Darkness had already set in and she quickly started walking through the grove near the temple, taking the shortcut to the village.

Suddenly, she heard screams, it was coming from the direction of the temple. She stood stunned on the narrow pathway that ran through the grove.

Before Radhabai realised what was happening, she heard the loud sound of hooves, and then she saw two dark forms on horses, thundering down the path. Terrified at the sight of the dacoits, she felt immobilised, and kept muttering, “Rama, Rama, Rama, ….”

The dacoits had almost reached her, when suddenly they stopped. Then they quickly turned around and fled.

She looked around, but saw no one, just the dark trees and a narrow path. She could also see the towering spire of the temple at a distant. What was it that had so terrified the two men and had made them flee in fear ?

Radhabai says that even today, more than half a century after the incident, she still cannot forget the look of absolute terror on their faces.

For many months after the incident, the gang of dacoits kept away from the village. Meanwhile, the new police chief in the area was able to nab a few of them. There were others who laid down their arms, and surrendered.

Two among them had a very strange story to tell their interrogators. They recounted that a few months ago when they had entered Ramnagar, they saw a beautiful young girl in the grove near the temple. And with her, they saw an army of very tall warriors, carrying bows and arrows. Among them was a tall, unusually blue coloured man, standing right beside her. The dacoits confessed that they would have abducted her, had it not been for the large number of armed warriors, protecting her from all sides.

Both the men were sure that the grove was haunted so they warned the others in their gang and they did not venture near Ramnagar for a few months.

The police chief dismissed their account, thinking that they were high on hemp to have visualised all this. However, when the story reached the village, everyone was elated. They believed that Lord Rama’s army had protected Radhabai.

In the last five decades Ramnagar has grown into a little town, but Radhabai remains its most famous resident. Till this day, she would recount her experience again and again to anyone who would listen. Not to boast or to feel important, but to increase their faith. “If you truly believe, divine protection is never too far away,” she always says, concluding her little tale.

Life Changing Reiki

I discovered Reiki about 15 years ago, when I was at one of the lowest points in my life. I had just about recovered from a surgery when I fell and chipped my shoulder blade, and a couple of months later met with a minor accident, which left me with severe pain in my right knee. Physically I felt battered because of the nagging aches and pains, and mentally was distressed, finding it difficult to cope with the challenges. And this is when Reiki entered my life and turned it around, completely.

I chanced upon an advertisement in a local newspaper supplement about a Reiki class. I was kind of clutching at straws at that time and despite not knowing much about what it entailed, went and attended the Reiki Level I class. It was as if by miracle my knee pain disappeared within a week and my shoulder pain reduced.

Over the years, Reiki has not just helped me deal with physical problems, but has also been a tremendous force in my spiritual growth. I was blessed to have found two wonderful and selfless teachers in this journey.

I consider myself extremely fortunate that this sacred energy instilled in me the yearning to embrace it closer. It is believed that among the 100,000 people who learn Reiki Level I, about 10,000 make it a part of their everyday lives and learn Reiki Level II, and among those just about 1000 graduate as Master Healers, and later only a small number of 100 Reiki practitioners become Master Teachers.

This takes many years of constant practice, dedication, belief in the power of Reiki, and being witness to tangible results.

Everything in the seen and unseen universe is energy. It is not just our old scriptures that expound this truth, but even modern day science. My personal experience of being a Reiki practitioner and seeing its transformative energy work wonders with people – from physical to mental healing, has only reaffirmed my belief in Reiki in the last one and a half decades.

Yes, healing does happen, always. But we cannot enforce the outcome. Reiki is a supremely intelligent energy, which heals what is needed to be healed – in human beings, animals, and of course Mother Nature.

(Sudipta Dev Chakraborti is a Mumbai, India based writer, Reiki Master Teacher, Akashic Records Reader. Contact: thesoulenergy@gmail.com)

On Ganesha’s Sacred Trail

I came to Mumbai about 20 years ago, and shortly after settling down here, I unexpectedly found a new best friend, Lord Ganesha, who also happens to be the favourite personal God of most people I know. In the last two decades Ganesha has been my constant companion and support and I have experienced his miraculous intervention many times in my life. He is the god of beginnings, the remover of obstacles, the bestower of knowledge, prosperity and much more. For me, he is also the best friend and big brother, who always watches out for me.

Since the last two months of 2019, I had been feeling this strong need to visit the renowned eight sacred temples associated with Lord Ganesha, known as the Ashtvinayak. This yearning in fact started with an unusual experience one dawn sometime in October last. As I got up from sleep I could see a small yellowish orange coloured Ganesha, it was as if he was sitting on my eyelids. He was the first thing I saw when I opened my eyes, and sent me into a frenzy to find and buy an orange Ganesha, as I thought this is what he wanted me to bring home. I couldn’t find the statue, but a couple of months later I felt driven to join a group tour with Kesari Tours and set off on this amazing journey of three days across the hinterlands of Maharashtra, covering three districts, namely Pune, Raigarh and Ahmednagar, to visit his sacred shrines.

Entrance to Lenyadri Ganesha temple, cave no. 7

The temples are in Morgaon, Siddhatek, Pali, Mahad, Thevur, Lenyandri, Ozar, Ranjangaon, little towns and villages that have interesting legends and lores associated with Lord Ganesha and the existence of the shrines.

All the idols of Lord Ganesha in these eight temples are Swayambhu, i.e. they are not crafted by the hands of man, but had emerged on their own. They were sculpted by nature.

We started from Mumbai early in the morning and passing the picturesque Malshej Ghat reached the caves of Lenyadri before noon. The spectacular rock cut Buddhist caves offer an imposing site from a distance, and as you approach the cave temple, the awe increases. The 283 steps to the temple are not an easy climb. It is in cave number 7 that the Lenyadri Ganesha resides, and as you walk through the rock cut entrance and have a darshan of the deity, the tough climb is forgotten. The naturally formed stone icon, is covered with orange vermilion and is in sharp contrast to the black stone walls. Here Ganesha appears in the form of Girijatmaja, the son of Parvati. The orange coloured Ganpati here is indicative of how goddess Parvati had crafted him with turmeric. He was born in Lenyadri and lived here for 12 years, it is believed.

The 1st century AD temple is simple yet majestic in the aura it creates, perched on a hill, with the landscape sprawled around it. For the aged, there are comfortable palkis available for as little as INR 1000 for a return trip to the caves. Pilgrims need to be careful of the simian friends, a group of mischievous monkeys who will keep eyeing your belongings, looking for food.

Three hours away from the wine country of Nasik is the town of Ozar and its famous Vigneshwara Temple. Enroute there are little villages with houses lined with hibiscus plants, sugarcane fields and a few vineyards also. Being a Bengali, I am aware that hibiscus is the favourite flower of Goddess Kali, it was a revelation for me that these red flowers are also Ganesha’s favourite and are always offered to him.

Shops selling colourful offerings for Lord Ganesha, at the entrance to Vigneshwara temple in Ozar

The beautiful little temple at Ozar, next to a river, has an interesting legend of Lord Ganesha defeating Vignasura (the demon of obstacles), and it is believed that obstacles cannot trouble the true devotees of the Lord.

Located about 50 kms from Pune, in Ranjangaon, is the magnificent Mahaganpati, who is known to have helped his father Lord Shiva in wreaking havoc on the demon named Tripurasura. I stood enthralled before the gigantic statue which has a beautiful crown adorning his head. It is said that the idol here has 10 hands and 10 trunks. He is flanked by his two wives Riddhi (prosperity) and Siddhi (spiritual attainment). The temple gets crowded in the evenings so it is advisable to buy a VIP pass for INR 50, to skip the long queues. Photography is not allowed inside any of the temples.

Mahaganpati temple in Ranjangaon

The next morning we headed to Morgaon, to pay our obedience at the Mayureshwar temple. Traditionally, most people going for Ashtvinayak start their journey from Morgaon and after visiting the other seven temples, once again come here and end the pilgrim trail. So this temple has a special importance in Ashtvinayak Yatra. Popular lore states that Ganesha took the incarnation of Mayureshwar (riding a peacock) to defeat the demon Sindhu and his army.

The massive statue of Nandi in front of Mayureshwar temple in Morgaon

The colourful Mayureshwar temple precincts

The next stop was Siddhatek temple in Ahmednagar district. Bhima river flows through the area. It is the only temple in the Ashtvinayak circuit where the idol has its trunk turned in the right direction. In all the other temples it is turned towards the left. It is said that Ganesha with the trunk turned right side is the giver of supernatural powers (siddhis), but not too easy to please. Lord Vishnu is supposed to have performed penance here to please Ganesha and acquire special powers.

Chintamani Ganesha in sanctum sanctorum (clicked through TV)

Ganesha at the Chintamani temple in Theur in known to be an eradicator of worries. It is a large temple complex located about 25 kms from Pune. Another story says that when the arrogant prince Guna took the wish-fulfilling jewel Chintamani from Kapila sage, the latter asked for Ganesha’s help, who defeated the prince’s army and killed him. At his devotee’s behest Ganesha agreed to stay in Theur, where he is known as Chintamani.

The last two Ashtvinayak shrines are enroute from Pune to Mumbai, in Raigarh district, so were closer home. At Mahad, the idol of the Varadvinayak temple was found in the pond about 350 years ago. This is the only temple in the circuit where devotees are allowed to step inside the sanctum sanctorum and touch the idol, which was a deeply emotional experience for me.

Devotees queue up to enter the sanctum sanctorum at Varadvinayak temple in Mahad

At Ballaleshwar temple in Pali, Lord Ganesha’s shrine gets its name from his devotee, a young boy named Ballal, who defied strong parental opposition to worship Ganesha. The stone icon here is known as Ballaleshwar (Lord of Ballal). The eyes and navel of the icon are encrusted with diamonds.

By the end of the journey, I found that all the Ashtvinayak idols were orange in colour, they were smeared with vermilion at each temple. And I realised that it was not that he wanted me to bring an orange idol home, but make me visit his sacred shrines and seek his blessings.

Important info:

How to reach: From Mumbai by bus or car, the total journey covers approximately 1200 kms. The distance is less if travelling from Pune.

Accommodation: Many of the little towns have budget hotels where you can halt for the night. The best option is staying at Pune and doing the whole circuit from there. We were put up at Lemon Tree Hotel, Hinjawadi, in Pune.

Best time to visit: September to April. Monsoon and summer months are best avoided.

A Lesson From Kali

We think we own the earth … this is mankind’s greatest folly. We often forget that we share this land, the seas and oceans with millions of other species for whom this earth is as much their home as ours. This mistake of ours is not just born of ignorance, but arrogance.

As millions of people across the world are caged in their own homes, if the animal world had the ability to understand, I wonder how they would feel. We have after all caged them for thousands of years, restricted their movements and destroyed their habitats.

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Our ancient scriptures say that human birth is very rare, after 84 lakh (8.4 million) cycles of births and deaths through various life forms, we evolve and get this human body. We are spiritual beings, gifted with a human form.

God puts a piece of his own heart into each one of us as we are born in his image. While there is so much beauty, such great capacity to experience and share love in this human heart … but our sense of superiority never goes.

It is to destroy this arrogance comes Kali. For she is the supreme slayer of the ego. And in this case, the global pandemic under which the world is reeling today, which has brought down a helpless mankind to its knees, resonates with the transformative energy of Kali.

Kali is the ferocious goddess of change … whether it is in our personal life or for the humankind at large. She steps in only after she realizes that we are not about to bring about the transformation ourselves. The tumultuous times we pass through while she shorns us of everything false, destroys every pretence, drags us through the torturous fire of change … so that the only thing that comes forth is a simple, humble heart that is receptive to a new awakening.

And new awakening there will be, for there is always a balance in Nature, not just from a physical perspective, but energetically as well. Whether we like it or not, Mother Nature will claim her suzerainty.

Who Was She?

I first noticed the strange happening when I went through the 1800 odd photographs that I had clicked at the recent Kumbh Mela in Prayagraj, but could not find even a single photo of hers. I was absolutely sure that I had clicked at least 25 to 30 photographs of the young ascetic and was baffled how she managed to escape the lens.

As a photojournalist based in New Delhi, working with a foreign news agency, I knew that the unusual photographs of the beautiful young woman with her group of woman ascetics was sure to be featured in at least a few European publications. I had photographed them sitting in meditation, walking together towards the river bank for bathing, chanting mantras and performing sacred rituals. The spectacular sights and sounds of Kumbh Mela, the world’s largest spiritual congregation that attracts millions, are a photographer’s delight and always has been my favourite assignment. I have covered it for more than 25 years, but this kind of a thing has never happened before.

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I don’t know why I could not shake off her image from my mind. The young Sanyasin (ascetic) with her long flowing hair that almost touched her knees, the half smile on her lips, high arched eyebrows, the calm countenance. I realised that she was everything that I wasn’t. Including the fact that I was an agnostic.

I so wanted to know her story – who was she ? Why did such a beautiful young woman become an ascetic ? What did she want from life ? And most importantly, how did she manage to elude my camera ? I had to find all the answers. I did some digging around and found out that this particular group of woman ascetics lived all by themselves in a cave in the Himalayas. They also had a spiritual hermitage in Uttarkashi where they resided in the winter months.

So I sent a request that I wanted to do a photo feature on them for an international publication. My request was turned down, but I was told that if I wanted I was welcome to just meet them as long as I didn’t publish anything. A bit disappointed that I won’t be able to bring their unusual life before the world, nevertheless I agreed to meet them at their mountain habitat.

Asked to keep my camera and cell phone in Uttarkashi, I trekked for almost nine hours with the caretaker of the Ashram. We only halted once at a village to have food. By that time I had lost all sense of direction.

When we reached their mountain habitat, I was surprised to see how the narrow entrance led to the large cave. There were 12 Sanyasins there, who seemed happy to see me. I am sure if I was a man, I would have never been allowed to come here. The woman whose search had brought me here was nowhere around.

After I had had a simple meal of fruits and rested for a while, the eldest of them, who everyone addressed as Maa Tara spoke to me, “We will take you to our temple now where you can take the blessings of our goddess. This is the most sacred place for our order and rarely has an outsider been allowed inside.”

I had little interest in seeking blessings from their goddess, but I silently nodded my head. A narrow passage led to a large cavern dominated by their stone goddess, from ceiling to the floor. “She is Devi, the Divine Feminine,” whispered Tara, pointing out that the image in stone was not crafted by man, but had emerged on its own.

I stared dumbfounded at the beautiful face, the same half smile, the long hair, the arched eyebrow …. It seemed the young woman who almost had a hypnotic spell on me now stood as a gigantic image in stone.

“Where is the woman who looked like her ?” I almost shouted, my mind was whirring, I couldn’t make out any sense from all this. I did not know what was happening to me as tears flowed down my eyes, as I kept asking, “Where is she, who is she?”

My hosts were clearly stunned, at what I was saying and maybe by my reaction also. “What are you talking about ? Which woman? Whom did you see?” asked Tara.

“There was a beautiful woman who looked like the statue, she was constantly with you in the Kumbh Mela. I clicked so many photographs of your group, but she was not there even in one. It was my curiosity about her that made me search for you and brought me here,” I blurted out.

“So she brought you here. You are very fortunate to follow the call.” Tara continued,

“She appears as you want to see her, that is why we only call her Devi (the Goddess), the manifestation of the Divine Feminine. You may call her by any name, but her essence remains the same. She is also in you.”

Tara continued, “She has manifested as you want to see her … in essence as you want to see yourself. The young woman whose beauty and peaceful face mesmerized you so much is your inner goddess. She wants you to find her – not in a mountain cave or photograph, but in your heart.”

The skeptic in me had taken a beating … no reasoning or logic could explain what had happened. I returned to Delhi but whenever possibly made a short trip to their Uttarkashi Ashram.

Gradually, meditation, mantra recitation, chanting, became an everyday practice for me. It took me many more years to understand what Tara had meant that Autumn afternoon in the cave temple.

My restless heart had by then found its anchor.