Prostrations to Sri Sadguru; Prostrations to Sri Mother

The day breaks at Tapovana Vihar at the very early hour of 3-30 a.m. All the cottages including the ‘OM’ house up the hillock are lighted up and the inmates are busy with their ablutions and morning routines. The mooings of the cows are heard distinctly in that hour of quietitude every day as if announcing the activities up in the Ashram. By 4-30 a.m. the lights are up on the steps winding up to our Mandir – the Punyashram where Sri Mataji and Sri Swamiji are already immersed in work. On the one side, milking of the cows under Swamiji’s Supervision – while Mataji scrupulously cleans Her kitchenette to receive the big pails of milk. Thereafter Mataji is absorbed in myriad things demanding her personal attention which She alone can execute so adeptly.

The premises of the Ashram and the Shrine Hall is swabbed and cleaned, to make it ready for the devotees to sit and meditate by 5 a.m. for an hour and they all reach one by one lining in quietly. At 6 a.m. we begin the chanting of  invocatory verses and the Guru Vandana verses followed by Vishnu Sahasranama and other selected verses, concluding with Sri Krishna pooja and aarthi. Before we sit down for this worship, we all prostrate on behalf of all the devotees at the Sri Charana of Gurudev and Mataji. The early morning pooja is so sanctifying and peaceful. We can hear the sound of churning buttermilk by Mataji, and see Paatti decorating the sanctum sanctorum with alpana (special designs on the floor), the cocoanut palms swinging and swaying rhythmically in the early morning breeze, Swamiji often giving instructions to the daily workers, the cuckoo cooing away, the sight of grand entrance of the Surya Deva through the trees – all these enhance the beauty and inspiration of the worship. We disperse to our homes after receiving Prasad and chandan and on the way mostly meet Mataji coming back from Her morning walk. At home we hurry to finish our remaining chores.

Some day Swamiji, when He is free, takes up a Text and talks for an hour before lunch. Lunch is served in the dining hall at 11 a.m. soon after Swamiji and Mataji finish their meal. Simple nutritious and delicious food is served with love and care. Mostly Swamiji and Mataji come in between to talk and watch us eat. Sometimes Mataji prepares some sweet payasam and serves us, which is a special treat looked forward to.

After the food and a small chit-chat we make a quick exit, as otherwise both of Them do not go to take some rest. All of us come home, either have a nap or read, or do whatever one feels like doing. Between 1-30 and 2 p.m. the doorbell rings and the mail comes in. Everything seems to belong to some vague past and the voices of the letters sound as if from some other world. What is this magic, one wonders!

As the day progresses, this lovely cocoanut palm orchard studded with these cottages resound with the notes and calls of a variety of birds. The sheet of water which fringes this orchard is a glorious sight. The electric pump is on and the garden all over is being watered in such an efficient way. Who else but Gurudev is the ‘Mastermind’ behind all the small and big work of this divine complex!

Mataji, and now Sri Nambiar too, assist Him in all possible ways. Sri Nambiar’s car and driver are at the service of the Ashram. All our requirements from the town are also met so voluntarily.

One can see constantly Swamiji’s and Mataji’s orange form flitting in and out of the greenery. It is a marvelous feat for the eyes to see this pair seated so informally in any one of the cottages either inside or on the cement seat in the portico.

Their Graceful Voices float in the scented air and fill one’s ears, whatever one may be doing. Slowly the preparations for the evening prayers and bhajan are on. Some are plucking the flowers and tulsi for the garland of the deity and after bath all of us assemble in the Ashram Hall before the newly erected exquisite sanctum sanctorum.

After the bhajan we go straight to the bhojan hall, finish our light supper and come back to the front, where Swamiji and Mataji are already seated for the one-hour satsang. This is a relaxed and much looked-forward-to session by all of us. Swamiji and Mataji make us listen, discuss, debate, laugh, frown, think and analyse all the subjects under the sun. Right at the stroke of 9 p.m. we disperse with our milk containers full, after offering our feeling-full pranams at the Diving Pair’s lotus feet.

We come back to our cottages and thus the day comes to an end in the Tapovana Vihar, eagerly waiting for the next day-break to fill our being once again.

अनन्याश्चिन्तयन्तो मां ये जना: पर्युपासते ।
तेषां नित्याभियुक्तानां योगक्षेमं वहाम्यहम्  ।22  ।

ananyāś-cintayanto māṃ ye janā: paryupāsate
teṣāṃ nityābhiyuktānāṃ yoga-kṣemaṃ vahāmy-aham – 22

– Ammini Madhavan