My friend Raghu commented on my blog on Mahabharata: 'Dear Nidhi, Are you getting converted to being a believer. Mahabharata seems to be doing the track!'.
Track could be a typo for 'trick' or he meant to say the epic was 'putting me on track'! Either way it makes sense. It is all about how we interpret! Actually we come across many variances in the interpretations of our scriptures. I admit this used to frustrate me. As a hands-on executive I wanted things to be made clear in a few short sentences, bullet points is what I looked for!
I saw Raghu's comment just after I returned from a satsang by Sri M on Kathopanishad. Sri M is the founder of satsang foundation and his autobiography, Apprentice to a Himalayan Master, is a fascinating read. Sunnad group sought his guidance when they put together 'Swar Katha Upanishad'. (Words in bold are linked to the website! Tara says it is not obvious.)
Sri M is different, very unassuming, without the usual frills we usually associate with spritual gurus! I enjoyed listening to him. He is soft spoken, so even though the mike was good, I had to concentrate . It was the best compromise possible as the word upanishad actually means, sit close and listen.
Sri M began the satsang right on time without any preamble, except for the request to 'Please turn off the cell phones'. I thought I was in an ideal situation, the best possible way to learn our scriptures. But I had chosen a seat not too close to the stage and nearer to the door, a throwback to my student days! And it was not easy to concentrate as we were tested in many ways.
First we heard a baby babbling somewhere. The father took the baby out. Then the cell phone rang right behind me, and the person who received the call was my clone. He did not know where his phone was! May be the reason why he did not switch it off earlier. Anyway he did manage finally to turn it off.
Then another baby wanted to go out. But that was not as irritating as the noise the springs of the push back seats made. Each time someone moved forward or back, the chair groaned. And there were many chairs!
As I was sitting near the door, the noise the warped and tight door made, each time a person entered, was loud and disturbing . The satsang began at 6.30 but people kept coming in till 7.00. Each time there was a tap on the door, the volunteer struggled to open the door and again shut it. She tried her best to close it softly, but it was still noisy. She could have kept the door slightly ajar, but she did not!
Sri M continued to speak calmly. He did comment on the latecomers but with a smile. I really admired Sri M, as he did not show his irritation even once. He waited for the latecomers to get in and picked up the thread of his thoughts again, but it was not that easy for me to connect again.
He spoke of Yama testing Nachiketa about his sincerity to learn and I thought we were also being tested, our ability to concentrate and our patience!
The next day was better, they had closed the middle door shut as soon as the satsang began. Of course a baby babbled and the father walked out, but it did not distract me as much and I suppose I got used to the music of the chairs. I had chosen, cleverly, a row closer to rear of the hall. But it proved to be a bad move, as people entered from the door at the rear and closer to my seat . But luckily the speakers were a little louder or I had learned not to get irritated.
You might ask what did you learn? It is not easy to put it in a few words! I think I have made a good start. Nachiketa in Sanskrit means one who does not know. I think I can claim to be one with him there.
Then we were asked to start with a clean slate. It is not easy, especially at my age, but I could get there.
Next, the ability to listen and learn, think through and the burning desire to keep at it. Well that will be a challenge. Now I understand why the rishis taught on one on one basis and they wanted the seeker to sit close and listen. It is so easy to get distracted. Tough to find a guru who would teach you this way. Even if you find one, it is a must that both the guru and shishya switch off their cell phones!