Bhaav Jatra update: Experiences from ashrams near Narmada and border of Gujarat

Posted by Sheetal Vaidya on May 24, 2014

Early in the month of April, Sheetal Vaidya decided to set off on a journey of love across India - or what she called the Bhaav Jatra. We're blessed to be sharing updates from her journey across communities!

Ashrams near Narmada and co-traveler finding purpose in life at the border of Gujarat

We go to an Ashram at Garudeshwar and meet an old dada who manages the whole place for past 40 years. As he’s sharing his journey he says all of us have one of the three paths in our life “that of karma (doing), that of Bhakti (prayer in surrender) and Samadhi (being)”. Some people are strong in doing and are supported by other two and vice versa. But the most important aspect is maintaining absolute purity on any path you take. Once you walk on it universe will conspire everything for you. He simplified something very complex and it immediately resonated a lot with what all of us go through so many times, of finding our real path or calling.

From thereon we moved ahead to meet a banker turned organic farmer couple to learn more from their lives and most importantly to understand what made them shift from city life to village life from boardroom to fields. Amongst a lot of other things they shared the one that struck a chord with me was to connect with nature and learn from nature more than any other way.

They sent us to their senior friend who had guided them through the whole process of shift. When we reached that friend’s place we came to know that they were taking their first Vipassana course and we were greeted by their two sons in their twenties.

These guys were far from being in their twenties, they had been homeschooled and had knowledge about a lot of things that is usually rare in that part of the world. There house was a live eco-friendly model powered by solar lights, water recycling and a windmill of its own! Of course, with a cow in the shed and fruit trees all around. My body was tired but I was so alive and soaking everything around me, including juicy fruits!
As we all cooked together we discussed everything from farm to homeschooling to development and national politics as it was election time. The views that one of the boys had on development really put me to thought, questioning the whole definition of “development” as we think about it. He presented the ugly side of so called development and the pain of the uneducated people who get cheated in the process. This showed a brighter side also that the youth is becoming so aware and there’s hope. As some saint shared with us that today is the product of yesterday’s thought and tomorrow will come from what we manifest today. So we should focus on our thoughts today and create a beautiful tomorrow from it.

Over to Chanod a known place to Narmada pilgrims that houses a lot of Ashrams and we were lucky to stay at Ma Anandmayi’s ashram. This is a serene and silent space which offered good reflection time for us. My Sahyaatri Trilok uncle and I were discussing our paths and how we are on this yatra together and he shared that when he joined me it was more from a space of giving me support so I am not alone, but as the yatra proceeded he was feeling supported from within and was able to see life from a different lens as we kept meeting inspiring souls.

Next day we land up at Oasis a centre for learning where programs for kids, parents and teachers are undertaken. Here we meet Mehul who has spent 12 years in developing this space without distorting the nature around it. He was very kind to take out time for us and we could see the twinkle in his eye when he fervently shared the work they do. The programs they run are focused on learning from nature and trusting the eco system. They believe in nurturing children and bringing out the best in them by allowing them the freedom of expression rather than coaching or teaching them. As we were leaving I left some smile decks behind for him to experiment with kids.

We were then warmly welcomed at Paragbhai’s home in Surat and pampered in all possible ways. Paragbhai and Meetaben is this couple whose humility is beyond words. As we shared about their work and life, my co-traveller Trilok uncle had a beautiful moment of realization that he was nearing his purpose in life and felt immense gratitude for Paragbhai. We had a circle of sharing in the evening where a lady comes up and asks if she can suggest a place where I should go next if my yatra is not too fixated. I openly accepted her invitation and it turned out to be a universal blessing.

We found ourselves in the last village of Gujarat –Maharashtra boarder where Suchiben’s husband Muni ji does water restoration projects. He comes across as a man of science who tunes into science of nature and creates magic through his work. We interacted effortlessly with an uncommon vibrancy. He quoted lines from spiritual texts to explain the importance of human body. He further explained that God has given us this beautiful vehicle for effective use and when God takes human forms he also uses this vehicle so body should be given as much importance as a temple. He also showed us his work with childlike fervor and admitted that he has four stents in his heart so he has nothing to be afraid of even if he passes away and the beauty of it is that he is enjoying his work and the learning that comes from that. Here was a person in his seventies fearless and filled with joy and inner strength to utilize every minute in service to humanity.

In that moment, tears were rolling down Trilok uncle’s eyes and he suddenly decided that he found his calling in that space and he would stay back and volunteer with Muniji in his projects. We all sat in silence and welcomed Trilok uncle’s arriving back and coming alive.

From there on, I had to continue on my path all alone crossing borders of Gujarat and being welcomed by mountain ranges of Maharashtra. As I drove past the border area there was a check point where police stopped me to inspect my car and moreover I could read questions they were mulling over as to - why a lone lady on highway? What is the painting on the car all about? Was this a part of some political campaign owing to election time? Before they could ask anything, I pulled out heart pins and put it on them and shared about my journey. They were shocked and happily surprised at the same time and bid me a smiling goodbye, wishing me luck on my way!

Some point ahead I came across a couple, who had a flat car tyre so I stopped to help them in any way I could and again the same questions came up. A little later when we started driving, I saw that couple waving to me saying we are with you until this road ends. They almost drove 50 kms with me so I will not feel alone on the highway! Universe had once again won over all my fears and confirmed that we are being taken care of more than our brains can fathom.


Posted by Sheetal Vaidya on May 24, 2014 | permalink

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  • swara wrote ...

    Sheetalben ki jai.... yatra ki jai! with your kind of a persona.... everyone meeting you would become your sahyatri like the couple who accompanied you for 50 kms :) lots of love :)

  • Pinky wrote ...

    Sheetalji : it is brilliant. i really appreciate your journey - both the physical and mental. Hope one day i can leave behind everything and move out for similar experience.(atleast for few days)

    As of now, all the best. Wish you have wonderful experiences all through journey

  • ajit k rastogi wrote ...

    sheetalben,its just that your heart is so full of love, you always find similar person everywhere you go. otherwise too the world is full of saints, one just require to look inside to trace them.lots of love & best
    wishes for similar trips.

  • viswanath wrote ...

    wonderful. I only wish I am there one day and be their guest along with my wife.

  • Biswajit Roy wrote ...

    My heartfelt gratitude to you Ms. Sheetal Vaidya for writing such Soul stirring narratives. Your write-up helped to open up a new horizon..Hope to meet you one day if God willing.