Two Pilgrim Sisters On The Narmada
Yesterday, Swara and Trupti left home for their pilgrimage. They are walking the Narmada River, a 2,800-kilometer sacred pilgrimage route.
Just before they were leaving, all four of us, including papa, sat in our front room talking about something as trivial as which phone should they take. In a couple of minutes, there was complete silence and we all folded our hands and sat in silence.
It has been a three year long journey for Trupti and at least an year long for all of us before they set off today. Her steadfast commitment and intention manifested into many little practices at home, like reading pilgrim stories. At one point she printed out at least 10 or more copies of stories from Nipun and Guri's pilgrimage, and gave them out as gifts. It has been a process slowly silencing the collective mind and bringing that stillness needed to embark on a 2800-kilometer-long journey into the unknown.
Last three months, while preparing themselves for the physical rigour, they were consciously closing all the open loops -- be it relationships, work or service. Not a pin is out of place at home. They have worked hard to see that when they are gone not a single person is troubled because of their absence. Swara's cupboard is near empty. She has almost given everything away except for a few pairs of clothes and this giving was also a process of really finding the right match and doing it with utmost love and dignity.
I remember once Nirmal Tai (a monastic who has walked across villages of India for twelve years with Gandhi's spiritual successor, Vinoba Bhave) said that if one wants to embark on a pilgrimage like Peace Pilgrim, they have to "prepare".
You know it is time to go when things start to happen in a serendipitous way. Everything that they needed for the pilgrimage started to come. Our father met women pilgrims on his way to a village, which put his heart and mind to rest. Swara's Awakin kids wrote beautiful letters with sweet "do's and don'ts" for them to follow and much more.
Their final preparation before leaving for the Narmada was a visit to Gandhian elders at Brahma Vidhya Mandir, an ashram Vinoba had established for women many decades ago in the town of Paunar. All these elders had walked with Vinoba during his Bhoodan (land-gift) Movement. Just as we were sitting in the auto on our way to the station from Paunar, Arun dada sang 'shubh mangal ho' [may all be blessed and happy], and all the elders at Brahma Vidhya Mandir were standing there blessing us. "Shubh Mangal Ho," Arun dada shared, "there are many crocodiles in the river, you have to be careful. But if a crocodile comes by then that is also a blessing." Our hearts will stay still and warm like the mountain as the streams of water pass through it.
Yesterday, when we sat in the front room, all quiet, we all felt complete, joyful, full and ready. After all the madness of the last couple of weeks, there was a feeling of completeness. After they left the house felt still and heart felt warm. What a blessing to be a sister to these two pilgrims, whose sincerity can move mountains.