“I want to deepen my connection”..

In YUVASPEAK this time, we bring you a straight-from-the heart account of Bengaluru-based Ankita Karnad’s introduction to and then, total involvement in many Math-centric activities.. Her earnest prayer-  (March 2022)

They say that life is made up of a great number of small moments and a small number of great moments. But I would like to think that I have been fortunate enough to experience a great number of great moments! After all, aren’t the truly great moments the ones in which we have felt the touch of the Divine?

One of my earliest memories is of running around in the sunlight-strewn Shirali Math when I was 5 years old. My family had received an opportunity to have an audience with Parama Pujya Swamiji and my mother tells me she had placed me at Swamiji-s Feet and requested for Blessings. The flash of that Brightest Smile, the weight of that Warmest Hand on my head and the sweetest Kit Kat I had ever tasted are indelible marks in my memory.

An incident that gave me a glimpse of the power of the Guru’s words was just before my 10th standard board exams. I had always been a fairly good student but for some inexplicable reason I was petrified of exams, so much so that I would work up a fever for even the monthly tests. During teerth-vitaran in Bengaluru Math, I mustered up the courage to tell Swamiji about it and seek Blessings for my upcoming exams. With a shake of head, Swamiji said “Bhaiyya? Kallyaka? Naaba!” (Fear? Why? No!) and with those words my exam-phobia was gone, never to return!  

The year 2015 brought me what I consider the Compass-Of-My-Life – Chitrapur Yuvadhara. I had entered adulthood and was pursuing an Engineering degree, but it felt like I was just a confused, oddball of a child with lots of questions. During Chaturmas that year, I attended my first Yuvadhara Sammelan at Mallapur and it was like a homecoming. I was new to everything – the stotra-s, the bhajan-s, the Anushthana-s, the daily Math activities, the Sanchalak-s/ Sanchalika-s and my fellow yuva-s. But I could feel an overwhelming sense of belongingness in the Guru Saanidhya. I recall singing my first bhajan during bhajan seva, with lots of encouragement from my new friends and I even received a smile from Swamiji for my attempt! Now that I look back, I think that the whole experience at Mallapur, set the course of my life and brought about a lot of “firsts”.

I was fortunate to get my mantra-deeksha when Swamiji was camping at Bengaluru in the summer of 2016. It started a never ending quest to understand the infinite facets of my Guru and the importance of the Gurushakti in my life. I still recall that day like it was yesterday. Sensing I was bubbling with questions, Swamiji very kindly prompted me to speak my mind. And so it was that I ended up discussing topics ranging from gender equality to the need for healthy debates in friendships with my Gurumauli!

Before I knew it, things within and without started to change. I started developing confidence, patience and the strength to make the right decisions both in my personal and professional life. My first foray into seva was as a Yuvadhara Representative for Bengaluru. It gave me many opportunities to work, grow and learn various skills like leadership, communication and public speaking. My sense of teamwork and sevabhav were further honed during the planning and execution of events like Musicals, Dramas, Bhajan Seva, Treks, Dandiya nights, Bengaluru Yuvathon, Anand Mela (a night of fun, food and games in the Bengaluru Math precincts) and Workshops on Mobile Phone usage for senior citizens. The Shivir-s and Sammelan-s have been like my regular “software updates” bringing invaluable lessons, experiences, friends-for-life and mentors. The extremely enjoyable Sanskrit activities in the Shivir-s even encouraged me to complete Aradhana-Prabodhah, one of Girvanapratishtha’s online courses.

Some of my most happy experiences are thanks to Yuvadhara - celebrating Janmashtami at the Yuvadhara Sammelan in Karla, learning to make wooden shelves and lamps from Harin Hattiangadimaam and the students of Srivalli High School, cooking on wood fires in Panchavati during Vanabhojana at the NRI Shivir, learning to make Rudraksha Mala-s at Mallapur and planting tree saplings on the Panchavati hill-top during the Shirali monsoons! Perhaps the happiest of them all is a dream-like experience of celebrating my birthday with Swamiji at Shirali!

The reason I consider Yuvadhara as my compass is because I now realise that the values that I have imbibed (and continue to imbibe) through seva and watching senior sadhaka-s/sadhika-s in seva have become my sanskaara-s. Operating in the Gurukshetra means building the alertness and fortitude to take both the Guru Anumodana and course corrections with equal acceptance, because we are never alone. This knowledge has given me the courage to face situations, especially for the past two turbulent years of the pandemic, with the thought “I face this in Your Presence!” 

The regular activities, programmes and Anushthana-s under Sayujyam have ensured that we begin this special year that marks the 25th Pattabhishekha Divasa of Parama Pujya Swamiji and the 75th Janmadivasa of Our Guru Swami Parama Pujya Parijnanashram Swamiji III on a spiritual and peaceful note. The year 2022 is ready to give all of us perfect opportunities to express our gratitude to the Gurushakti in various forms. My only prayer is that I can use this year as well as all the upcoming years to deepen my connection, offer seva and increase my adhikaara to become a worthy shishya of Our Guru and Guruparampara!

“While I wonder what it truly means to be deekshit,
Of the Parampara, the boundless stream, I endeavour,
To recognize the honour to be able to drink from it.
Like a patient Mother, kindly nudging me along,
They have always been here, eternally and forever,
Even before I was born, for it is to Them I belong!”