@SundarYoga Padma Patil February 17, 2020
This was written last year- sharing it to celebrate the two amazing women in my life.
We completed 4 years @Sundar Yoga. I am truly humbled for the support from all our students, family and friends! I am very grateful for the warmth I receive everyday from all of you. Thank you!
As I am attempting to understand more about Yoga and Yogic Philosophy; I learn more everyday- every minute- every second about myself, fellow human beings, other species equally supported by mother nature around me and mother nature herself... at times, it’s overwhelming to gauge the vast knowledge and abundance of positive energy, each and every Jeev (soul) around us is able to share- give- also needs!
I try my best to keep reminding myself about the goal of Yoga- Integration of Jeevatma (individual consciousness) with Paramatma (Supreme Consciousness).
This reminder truly helps being mindful with the decisions, actions, reactions, interactions; and most importantly being very alert about this knowledge - the possibility of co-experiencing the universe.. pure consciousness from within; which I may have failed to fully appreciate so far!
I discuss a lot with my husband - Rohit, thoughts, points, something I read. We always debate on views and perceptions (most debates settle on a good note or tie! :-))
A recent debate brought many thoughts and I would like to share here.
For the Sanskrit word Sah-Anubhuti (Sahanubhuti), I was looking for the right word in English. This is where our debate went for a bit longer..
For Sah-Anubhuti the closest word can be Empathy but not Compassion.
Compassion is usually bestowed upon. Sah-Anubhuti is not Pity nor Sympathy, not even support and should not be bestowed upon.
Sah- Anubhuti is co-experience; experiencing exactly the same as someone else. Happiness or sorrow should not matter. At the highest level of Ashtang Yog- Dhyana (Meditation) or Samadhi (Transcendence - Moksha) level, when the Jeevatma (individual consciousness ) integrates with the Paramatma (supreme consciousness), I guess this may be possible. I read in Scientific American few years back about such connections between twins.
Anyways, I kept wondering about Sah-Anubhuti.
While I tried to collect all my thoughts, somehow I remembered my both grand- mothers- Akka (paternal) and Aau (maternal). I am blessed to get their love and pampering while growing up. Both were in small villages back in India most of their life. My vacations were full of wonders in the village set up and pampering from these two angels in my life!
I remember and cherish their memories as a Yogi. I want to share a few observations, memories and my impressions about the compassion and empathy they had for almost everything around them. Their world was small and not as vast as many of us today; but the level of connection, quality of their compassion was impressive and makes me think even today about my connections, impressions- influences and positive impacts.
I am sharing this about my grandmothers; but I am sure that every one of us have grandmas or some of these personalities around us who have left these simple yet profoundly positive impressions on us. I also believe that these positive impressions come to our aid when needed, whether we can relate to those at the right moment or not.
Akka was educated till 7th standard if I am not mistaken. I have always seen her reading books, and news papers once she is done with her daily activities, which to me were never ending chores around the house, the farm, people in the family, people in the village and many more! She used to talk about policies, politics, education. She was eager to learn more everyday for sure!
When I think about her routine now, it is astonishing how much she used to get done in a day. I realize clearly now, that the icing was- her command and compassion. Yes, I am using compassion here as I remember she used to take care of things and people both; but with a command. I would rather put her in a Jnana Yoga stream rather than Karma or Bhakti. She had command with knowledge, skills and hard work. She had a passion to learn- try new things and never stopped doing that. She was courageous too - in spite of the limited set up, she will always be the leader. She was not the order taker. Although she will do that with a knack and hence she had connections with many people and they used to respect her, adore her. She will remember minor details about someone, their family - their needs and she will definitely take care of it. It was an interesting understanding with most of the community people. I want to give an example which I remember very vividly..
Those days, one bus - state government transport used to pass via our village to Mumbai; where my eldest uncle and his family lived. The bus route was via the village roads and used to pass by our backyard. I don’t remember any other parcel/ post service other than Indian Postal services so no couriers or FedEx/DTDC/DHL that I was aware of.
Akka will cook all delicious food items - everything from scratch- most ingredients home grown/home made. She will pack to send it to our uncle and one of the family members or our farm staff will stop at the back yard with the parcel. The bus conductor/driver will stop the bus for a few minutes, the parcel will be picked up. The timing used to be around 9:30PM; next day morning, my uncle will pick up the parcel from the nearest bus stop to his house in Mumbai.
Not surprisingly, this arrangement was only for Akka!
No wonder though.. as she used to pack three different parcels- one for my uncle, one for the bus driver, one for the conductor. She will keep track of their family members, different schedules and show Compassion.
My grandfather used to travel a lot for his job as an area education officer, and I have heard her managing the farms, house also very well on her own. I remember her always active, busy helping, supporting, teaching, mentoring many women and families around. Any happy events/occasions in the village, I remember she will be leading - planning- cooking- organizing. Of course, she was the leader- no doubt about it!
Her skills were impeccable and she used to expect that from others also. I used to get upset with her sometimes as she will be hard on my mother for household activities and cooking. Especially cooking as my mother was her favorite disciple, I guess. She used to have higher expectations from her for sure which to my kiddu-brain was totally unfair!
She also used to give a bit of pressure to me and all my cousins- studying and learning was never an option for us. She pampered and took care of us yet was strict when it came to certain disciplinary rules! When I miss her and close my eyes, I feel a brand new cotton saree- sharp and a smell of Neem or Chandan(sandalwood) soap- depending on my state of mind!
She had her own opinions and thoughts. I never saw her afraid of something but others mostly used to be mindful of her presence and expectations.
Akka exhibited community partnership and collaboration to get things done- for everyone. I believe watching her in action was a great lesson in leadership with passion, collaboration and also courage.
Aau was a completely different personality. I don’t really remember her talking in a group setting except maybe during late evening chit chat after all her work was done- with my mother, my aunts and maybe a couple of my younger uncles.
She was equally skilled in cooking, household activities as Akka was; I did not really feel that strongly because she would never express it in any way. I don’t know if she went to school and not that I can not find out now; point is I never felt asking her even during those days. She would speak mostly Kannad- which was the dialect in our villages. She used to speak Marathi also which was the mother tongue for us but she will mostly prefer Kannad. She used to ask me very soft and easy questions about my school days- not the marks or subjects. She will be always concerned about my health and food. :-)
She used to be too busy with her work. I hardly saw her talking to others; not even my grandfather. I have no idea when she used to get up and start working. I loved sitting next to her while she would make Bhakri (Sorghum Roti) on a Chulha(clay stove for cooking). She will give me some interesting and very yummy snacks right there!
I neither remember her advising someone nor arguing! She would be everywhere but busy working. I watched her connecting like Akka with everyone around her, in the community; but as one of them. She will be loved and adored by so many people. I don’t think they were afraid of her and I think no one came to her for advice; yet they used to include her. I think while Akka used to be the driving force; Aau used to be the anchoring force.
She was very affectionate- she was caring and loving to almost everyone. In my young mind, I used to feel people around us being mean to her and take advantage of her all the time. I used to be quite vocal at times for that and she would just smile- laugh and hug me. She would wonder - why do I think that much and also why do I study that much. She would ask me to relax and let go. She never gave me any complicated philosophy but simple answers.
If I ask- why so and so is not being nice to you; she would say- everybody is our family only!
If I ask - why are you doing everything or more than others; she would say- this needs to be done so I am doing it.
If I ask- why won’t you take some rest and chill out; she would laugh and say- this is giving me happiness so I am at peace.
I don’t remember her being upset or angry with anyone.
She would carry out her duties, activities with love. She used to feel everything with her heart and follow it. I feel like she never had or asked for her own expectations from anyone- any- thing.
To me Aau was the example of Sah-anubhuti. She felt everything as her own and took care of it like her own. She lived her life like a worship to the Universe with no fuss. She was definitely on the Bhakti Yoga side.
When I remember her and close my eyes; I feel her soft hands-soft saree and the smell of warm sweetened milk. I don’t think that she realized but she was the most selfless and affectionate person in our family. She taught me humility, affection and selflessness like a beautiful grand Banyan tree- you just want to embrace it and sit under its shelter. Simple lesson but very hard to follow.
All these memories and observations came up as I pondered upon the Sah-Anubhuti (Co-Ex- perience) word. As we practice Yoga and meditate on - “Aham Brahmasmi” ( I am the Universe); focus on Sah-Anubhuti will be the key. Compassion is critical and must. Going beyond and feeling equal- experiencing the supreme consciousness together as a whole would be the goal.