Archive | Uncategorized RSS feed for this section

A Tribute to Sai – Accidents & Miracles of Life

29 Nov
Sai Baba, rare photo

Shirdi Sai Baba – a rare true photo of Baba

Seeing this rare real-life image of the great Master Shirdi Sai Baba left me breathless and stirred so many deep feelings from the depths of my being. I felt prompted me to share with you a recent experience with Him that really touched my heart, to inspire you to connect with his consciousness and witness the miracles of Love in your life…

Mila’s fall

There is a nursery rhyme called Humpty Dumpty (…sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall…) – Mila likes it a lot and I now play for her a lovely 3D version of this song with an animation that shows a smiling face of Humpty Dumpty after falling from a big height. And Mila happily comments ‘See mama, Humpty Dumpty is OK… He is smiling’.

Witnessing Mila’s fall from the height of 4,5 meters onto a marble floor on Nov 5th 2013 was, I must say, the most horrible/scary experience of my life.

The exact place where Mila fell on 5 Nov

The dreadful place of Mila’s fall on 5 Nov

We went to a 5 star hotel for a meeting with the purpose of fundraising for our charity, and Mila ran outside while we were waiting for the meeting. She happily ran up the slope covered with green grass, with green bush fence at the top – it looked safe and I allowed her to play for some time, but as she kept climbing up towards the top and wouldn’t return, I started running after her. She reached the top, looked at me with a smile, and then, as if something pulled her from the back, disappeared. There was an opening between the green bushes and the arch next to it… – it was not noticeable from down.

The deadly opening between the green bush fence and the arch

The deadly opening between the green bush fence and the arch

A couple of seconds later, I witnessed a scene I will never forget – my beloved baby spread out on a marble floor way, way down (more than 4 meters of height). For a moment, I felt that I was no longer in my body but hovering above her – for a couple of seconds, I was in a detached witnessing state (that I recognize from my NDE experience in 2000), ready to cross over with her… It felt as if maybe 20% of me was still connected with the body and that part of me pushed back, to call for help urgently, to see whether Mila can still be saved… That part of me willed the floating part back into the physical body and at the second attempt I managed to produce a yell “Heeeelp!” Oblivious to the fact that there is a stone arch above my head, I suddenly straightened my legs in order to run for help and hit my head – due to high adrenaline I did not feel much pain, but suddenly felt warm blood gushing down my head (later on came to know I have a 3cm cut on my head) and bent forward, continuing to call for help.

Hotel guards responded immediately – one went to get Mila and one brought a small towel to me to press it against my head. In a couple of seconds, I held my beloved Mila in my arms – she was conscious and moaning… Shashank and Nandita were silent and quite composed – said that car was ready to go to a nearby hospital right away.

The minutes of reaching the hospital seemed so long – I fought the mind’s pull towards negative thoughts like “Will she ever walk again? Will she remain sane?” with prayers and chants… I didn’t know how to hold Mila, so worried about the spine and possible life-long consequences of not keeping her body straight at this critical time. After reaching the hospital, further traumas ensued – as I placed her on the bed in the Emergency Room, a big strand of her hair remained in my palm. It scared me and I did not know what to make out of it. Then the doctor asked to hold her and see if she can walk, but oh, she wouldn’t… That crushed my heart. However, soon enough, out of a protest, she suddenly kicked with both her legs and that brought a deep sigh of relief…

Doctor said her body seems to be OK but that there is a hematoma, i.e. since back of her head endured such a strong hit, internal bleeding is surely happening and that is very dangerous because accumulated blood is pressing the brain… He said that, considering the height from which she fell, brain surgery may be required, but that can be determined only after the brain scan.

Mohanji came, along with my parents in law, silent and focused within.. – all of us were in continuous prayer, knowing that the outcome of the brain scan is in the hands of Divine… I came to know later on that the word about Mila’s fall spread very fast among all our friends and family (blood family and spiritual family globally) within minutes and so many were sending loving rays of light and healing to Mila through deep prayer.

Survived!

Survived!

At last, the result of the brain scan – there were two hematomas, but internal bleeding started subsiding and it was established that brain surgery won’t be required. Mila and I (as her companion) were kept under strict observation in the ICU for three days and happily left the hospital a day before the ACT Fusion charity concert, which actually was the main reason of our trip to Delhi.

I took off the bandage from my head, washed my hair, put on a sari and colorful dress on Mila – it was especially strange when we stood on the stage at this beautiful ACT Fusion concert (video link) as if nothing happened – with my head bandage removed and Mila’s internal bleeding not visible, to those who did not know about the accident it looked as if nothing happened… Life is such a miracle!

On the stage - a day after the ICU

On the stage – a day after the ICU

Observed from a grand perspective, I am aware that all our experiences have a higher meaning and if this experience was meant to strengthen my faith and gratitude and gain further clarity about the challenges and beauty of our spiritual path, so be it.

I am forever grateful to all of you who contributed to Mila’s speedy recovery with your prayers, blessings and loving wishes – you have touched my heart deeply and those energies certainly did reach her. In the lap of our Grand Tradition, in the lap of Divine, Mila’s healing took place miraculously. Mohanji said that, when he placed his hands on her in the hospital bed, energy pull through the hand that was on her head was so strong that for some time it felt glued to her head. We are forever grateful for the blessing of Mohanji’s physical presence in our lives…

The mighty radiance of our Tradition shines forth

The mighty radiance of our Tradition shines forth

During our discussions after the accident, he shared we me some profound insights about our path and the following lessons which I now treasure:

“No entity can affect me directly. But beware, they could affect me through you or Mila or others who are close to me or my mission. If you are within my energy field and consciousness, you are safe. Otherwise, you are vulnerable. Their aim is to slow me down. This has happened to almost all masters of the past. Many road blocks have been created in their path, systematically so that they slow down. Even negative thoughts are given to their followers so that they are distracted and leave the path. The other path option is the path of binding. It is a path of comfort zones, fears and bindings.”

“There are numerous teachers and very few masters on earth today. The masters are connected to the source. They are the target. The teachers are not affected. Jesus was connected to the source. He was killed. Socrates and Osho were connected to the source. Those who are connected to the source are taking people from the earthly binding to the path of liberation. Most of them are avadhootas. Shirdi Sai was even taken to the court when He was in His body. Hence, being my wife, you have high responsibility. You should be connected to my consciousness always and operate in that. This is very important to know because, if they want to slow me down, they may use you for that.”

Being Mila - not easy...

Being Mila – not easy…

” Mila is Mohanji’s daughter and it is not easy for her. Lord Krishna, Jesus and all the higher souls had a tough childhood. How many beings attacked Krishna when he was a baby? The parents of Jesus had to go abroad to save the life of their child. The more powerful the entity is, so much more is he or she vulnerable. It depends on the power of the soul. Ammu was powerful as well. We know that now, as she is working through many people to wipe the tears of many through Ammucare/ACT. They will certainly leave their impression on earth irrespective of their time on earth. But, it is extra ordinary responsibility of the parents to take care of the baby. You cannot take chances. ”

“The Nath tradition or Datta tradition is powerful. Once someone is connected to it, he/she will always be protected. But, this path is the path of liberation and hence, everyone’s free will is well respected. The door of the tradition always stays swinging open for people to come, stay and if they choose to go. Once inside the house, they are well taken care of.”

All this was pondered upon during another week that we were asked to spend in Delhi before Mila could be allowed to fly back to Oman.

Nandita Singh - the silent smile of selflessness

Nandita Singh – the silent smile of selflessness

We remained at Nandita’s beautiful home in Gurgaon and hereby I must say that I can never forget the love and selflessness that we experienced during the period of Mila’s recovery – waiting patiently until we saw Mila transform from extreme crankyness to her old playful chirpy self was not easy. Nandita especially displayed exemplary compassion and care during the whole stay – was hardly sleeping during those days and the selflessness without any expectations that oozes out of her was truly inspiring. Shreya pleased all Mila’s demands for nursery rhymes on all possible electronic equipment in the house :-), their house help was amazing (hats off to Rade Sham, the best house help I ever saw) and so the recovery went very well. I can’t but also mention Shashank, Phaneedhar, Ravneet Singh, Bindu, Shaju & Aparrna, Amita Shukla, Smriti and Karan Arora, Bharti and Sunil Kapoor, Palak, Ranjan, Mohanji’s parents and uncle Anujan and Aunt Vasumathi – all who helped us most lovingly through this recovery period.

A day before our return Nandita took Mila and I to a beautiful Shirdi Baba temple in Gurgaon. Still recovering from the head injury, Mila was quite cranky that afternoon, but the moment we entered the energy field of this temple she suddenly became joyous and peaceful.

The soothing energy at Sai Temple in Gurgaon

The soothing energy of the Sai Temple in Gurgaon

While offering our prostrations at the murti of Shirdi Baba, we happened to meet a beautiful man with glossy eyes whom I presume was the priest of this temple. He spoke to me, saying something in Hindi (while Nandita was on the phone), and I could only make out that he is talking about Baba, his blessings through direct experiences that he gives to all those who pray/connect to him. I told him that I have indeed experienced many profound blessings from Baba and that, in fact, the first word that Mila uttered when she was a couple of months old was not Mama or Papa but ‘Baba’. He looked into her eyes intently for a couple of seconds and smiled.

I also told him briefly that when I was 4 months pregnant with Mila, I almost lost her through miscarriage, but Baba saved her. In my mind, I re-lived the drama I experienced 3 years ago:

Miscarriage – gone with Vibhuti

The cause of this possible tragedy couldn’t be more silly. I overexerted myself in the Gym, watching a movie and walking on the treadmill and then stepper for 3 hours.. I must say that at the beginning of the pregnancy Mohanji warned me not to go to the Gym but only go for the walks outside – I remember clearly that he said “Negative entities will put silly thought in your mind and you will regret it”. I discarded this warning applying the logic that there is no difference between walking outdoor and walking on the treadmill. However, only later (that is, when it was too late…) did I realize that exactly that happened – the movie played on the TV was interesting (‘Australia’) and lasted much longer than I thought. As my attention was fully on the movie, my awareness level was low and eager to see the end of the movie I disregarded body’s signals of exhaustion.

Pregnant with Mila

Mila in the womb and in the lap of the Masters

The next morning I woke up and suddenly felt horrible, sharp pain in the abdomen, as if someone was stabbing me with the knife. I was in shock and could not move. After a minute or so of break, the unbearable pain would continue. I called the doctor and she said this is definitely not normal in the 4th month of pregnancy and that I should go to the hospital at the earliest. It did not take me long to realize that these are contractions, i.e. signs of miscarriage.

Mohanji was just about to leave for an important meeting when this started – he prayed to Baba right away and got a telepathic message that I should swallow the full packed of Shirdi Sai Vibhuti (sacred ash). Mohanji gave it to me, but at that moment I could not lift my head. I told him to leave it with me and I will do it somehow. For the next 45 min. I struggled with this horrible pain, coupled with so much fear, and struggled to somehow gulp the sacred ash. With the last atom of my energy, I somehow prompted myself up and swallowed this packet of Vibhuti. In that very second, as if touched by a magic wand, it all stopped – no more contractions, no more pain. I was in disbelief, bowed to Baba mentally and quickly got dressed to go to the hospital. It was a beautiful, sunny day and the world seemed perfect – what a contrast to the nightmare I was in only minutes ago…

In the hospital it was established that traces of contractions were visible on the walls of the uterus, but baby is completely safe. Praise to the Great Sai! This experience taught me the importance of obeying the orders/advice of the Guru without applying small mind’s logic…

Back to Shirdi Sai’s temple in Gurgaon – we soon parted from the priest with glowing eyes and went for a calm walk within the temple premise, simply soaking its energy. At one point I noticed that the priest is calling us to come back, mentioning ‘baccha’ (the child).

He held a beautiful mild green scarf in his hand and said “This is for ‘baccha’ – from Sai Baba. I watched in wonder how softly he put it around her head and tied it under her chin – what’s even more surprising, she did not complain at all (she usually doesn’t like to be touched by strangers and would shout straight away ‘Don’t touch!’). Mila said so sweetly ‘Thank you Sai Baba’ and kept this scarf on her head silently for more than 30 min… I was in awe and went into silence – I knew from the basics of energy healing that mild green is the color of healing – and it is surely no ‘coincidence’ that priest was asked to place this scarf exactly on Mila’s head.

Baba's special gift - the green scarf of healing for Mila

Baba’s special gift – the green scarf of healing for Mila

From all my past experiences with the Great Sai, I know that whenever he performs a miracle, he also makes sure a concrete ‘evidence’ or sign is given to confirm the same to our doubting mind.

No more proofs are required in this body-mind-soul system dearest Baba – I am yours and you live in my heart forever….

Moreover, when Mohanji shared with me the loving words of Vittal Babaji, whom he happened to meet soon after we left Delhi, I was deeply touched. He said:

“Mila is the child of our tradition, the powerful Datta Tradition. She is the child of all the masters of this tradition. Nobody can harm her permanently. Out of jealousy, they will try. But, she is well within our protection ring. Being Mohanji’s child, she would be too visible to the world. She will always be protected by the masters.”

Mohanji with Vittal Babaji, Hyderabad, 23 Nov 2013

Mohanji with Vittal Babaji, Hyderabad, 23 Nov 2013

Ending this experience sharing, I would like to prompt all of you who have not yet read the most amazing living book called ‘Sai Satcharita’ (basically, the gospel of Shirdi Baba’s life) to do so – connect with this Love and experience most touching first-hand miracles in your daily life. No matter how many experience sharing stories one reads, one’s relationship with Divine is individual, soul to soul, and can be established only through direct experiences.

Many people claim they can connect with “God”, that is, the formless Absolute, through their prayers, as per the directions/conditionings of their faith. However, I do believe that unless the Divine consciousness comes with a form and one first connects to that form through deep experiences and iron-strong faith, he/she cannot develop faith in the Formless. In the critical times especially, during the harshest tests, this generalized faith fails us. The Divine in human form serves the purpose in preparing us to comprehend the Formless Absolute/the Father/Allah/Parabramha…

Sai Baba’s ‘Satcharita’ is a book filled with special energy and blessings which simply overwhelm one’s inner space while reading about the life-transforming experiences of people living with the Great Sai Baba in the small village in India called Shirdi a century ago.

Compassion of the Universe expressed through the eyes of the mighty Shirdi Sai

Compassion of the Universe expressed through the eyes of the mighty Shirdi Sai

There is one such experience described in Sai Satcharita that really touched my heart and spoke volumes about Baba and the depth of his Love:

“In the year 1910 A.D., Baba was sitting near the Dhuni on Divali holiday and warming Himself. He was pushing fire-wood into the Dhuni, which was brightly burning. A little later, instead of pushing logs of woods, Baba pushed His arm into the Dhuni; the arm was scorched and burnt immediately. This was noticed by the servant Madhava, and also by Madhavrao Deshpande (Shama). They at once ran to Baba and Madhavarao clasped Baba by His waist from behind and dragged Him forcible back ward and asked, ‘Deva, for what have You done this?’ Then Baba came to His senses and replied, ‘The wife of a blacksmith at some distant place, was working the bellows of a furnace; her husband called her. Forgetting that her child was on her waist, she ran hastily and the child slipped into the furnace. I immediately thrust My hand into the furnace and saved the child. I do not mind My arm being burnt, but I am glad that the life of the child is saved.”

And then another story ensues, which further explains Baba’s operating level, deeper meaning of all his words and actions, the unimaginable depth of his Love:

“On hearing the news of Baba’s hand being burnt from (Shama) Madhavrao Deshpande, Mr. Nanasaheb Chandorkar, accompanied by the famous Doctor Parmanand of Bombay with his medical outfit consisting of ointments, lint and bandage etc. rushed to Shirdi, and requested Baba to allow Dr. Parmanand to examine the arm, and dress the wound caused by the burn. This was refused. Ever since the burn, the arm was dressed by the leper devotee, Bhagoji Shinde. His treatment consisted in massaging the burnt part with ghee and then placing a leaf over it and bandaging it tightly with Pattis (bandages). Mr. Nanasaheb Chandorkar solicited Baba many a time to unfasten the Pattis and get the wound examined and dressed and treated by Dr. Parmanand, with the object that it may be speedily healed. Dr. Parmanand himself made similar requests, but Baba postponed saying that Allah was His Doctor; and did not allow His arm to be examined. Dr. Paramanand’s medicines were not exposed to their air of Shirdi, as they remained intact, but he had the good fortune of getting a darshana of Baba. Bhagoji was allowed to treat the hand daily. After some days, the arm healed and all were happy. Still, we do not know whether any trace of pain was left or not. Every morning, Bhagoji went throught his programme of loosening the Pattis, massaging he arm with ghee and tightly bandaging it again. This went on till Sai Baba’s Samadhi (death). Sai Baba, a perfect Siddha, as He was, did not really want this treatment, but out of love to His devotee, He allowed the ‘Upasana’ – service of Bhagoji to go on un-interrupted all along. When Baba started for Lendi, Bhagoji held an umbrella over Him and accompanied Him. Every morning, when Baba sat near the post close to the Dhuni, Bhagoji was present and started his service. Bhagoji was a sinner in his past brith. He was suffering from leprosy, his fingers had shrunk, his body was full of pus and smelling badly. Though outwardly he seemed so unfortunate, he was really very lucky and happy, for he was the premier servant of Baba, and got the benefit of His company.”

M family at the feet of Baba

M family at the feet of Baba

The e-book version of Sai Satcharita can be found at the following link:

http://www.saibabaofindia.com/shirdisai.htm

After reading this book one will surely wonder, how can human mind possibly comprehend the level from which Baba operates – it is only through expanding our hearts and connecting with His consciousness that we can begin to understand Him. Shirdi Sai taught the Truth through his actions, not through discourses. Sometimes his methods were stern, due to the conditions prevailing in the olden days. He once said: “Where are you searching for me? I am in one place and you search for me elsewhere. I am in all pure hearts. You are searching for me in all polluted places. How can you find me?”

Photo taken during Shirdi Sai Arati

Expanded heart during Shirdi Sai Arati

However, most could not understand the Great Sai while he was alive physically….

Mohanji described this beautifully:

“Today, Shirdi temple is rolling in wealth. When Baba was living, he lived as a poor man. People even denied him oil to burn his lamp. He hardly had shelter from rain or sunshine. We always tend to glory the gurus of the White Path after their death and we shower the riches on their tombs because we cannot deny the truth. Truth must be appreciated sooner or later!”

Sathya Sai said “My life is my message” – and indeed it was. But many were stuck with the ‘physical frame’ of Shirdi Sai and could not connect with the consciousness of Sathya Sai Baba, a different manifestation of the same Avatar. This is human nature… If one could simply connect with purest Love and evaluate everything in accordance with the same, all problems and conflicts would disappear…

Mohanji never shares people’s personal stories with me but told me once that most of the people approach him with regards to the relationship/marital problems and emotional issues devoid of any higher meaning. It is enough to contemplate for a minute on the Love that the Great Sai radiated (and continues to radiate) to realize how silly most of our problems are.

If we are to experience deep fulfillment in our life at all levels, there is only one requirement – a deep desire to be an instrument of this purest possible Love. To live it, to express it, to serve it – and eventually, to become one with it.

This remains my only prayer – may I be your instrument, may I be blessed to serve/express/glorify You.

May I be blessed to serve/express/glorify You

May I be blessed to serve/express/glorify You…

With love purest and eternal,

Biba

St. Petka – and her unimaginable blessings

2 Feb

It was way back in 1998 when this life-transforming direct experience of Grace happened, and yet it is only now that I feel the time is right to share it…
The Church of St. Petka (or St. Paraskeva) is a true place of power with an amazing energy, located within the historic Kalemegdan park (also known as Belgrade fortress), the largest park and most important historical monument in Belgrade.

http://www.traveladventures.org/continents/europe/kalemegdan-citadel.shtml

If you get a chance to go to Belgrade, aside from strolling through this beautiful park overlooking the confluence of Danube and Sava river, you should definitely experience the vibrations of this amazing Church as well and get the blessings of St. Petka. Her presence indeed can be felt there. In fact, the whole area around the Church and the little hill top nearby has an amazing vibration – whoever goes there feels refreshed and cleansed, although many probably don’t know why.

Re-visiting the church and enjoying the energy and blessings of St. Petka - Biba (with aunt Danica) in April 2011, a couple of days before delivering Mila

Re-visiting the church and enjoying the energy and blessings of St. Petka – Biba (with aunt Danica) in April 2011, a couple of days before delivering Mila

Moreover, there is a miraculous spring of water which appeared in front of the church with Her blessings. This water has special healing properties – small bottles with this healing water are distributed in the church.
Many people have had and continue having profound spiritual experiences at this humble little church of St. Petka – I remember reading the story of a Serbian soldier who was wounded and surrounded by the enemy. He prayed to St. Petka to protect him – he had nowhere to run as the enemy soldiers already surrounded him. The moment he thought his life is over, he suddenly realized that, even though they were standing right in front of him, the enemy soldiers could not see him! St. Petka protected him with a shield which made him invisible…

I would hereby like to share with you the experience I had in Dec 2008, an experience I will never forget…
That was the only time in my life when I sank so low that I did not care whether I would continue living or not. I totally lost my compass and what’s even worse, totally lost my self-respect. My mind made a big deal out of a mistake I made and a sort of a self-destructive mechanism got activated within me – there was no escape from my inner enemy and I didn’t know what to do with myself. Roaming around aimlessly all over Kalemegdan park on a cold winter day, I felt a pull to go to one specific area down the stairs covered with snow. I noticed a cute little building there and felt I should go inside. The moment I entered I realized it’s a Church. There was nobody inside and I took my time to carefully explore the frescos that cover the church walls and its ceiling/dome. It felt pleasant, with a beautiful vibe of loving intimacy. I was carrying a big load on my heart and simply I could not take it anymore.
The moment I noticed a painting with a compassionate expression of a frail saint dressed in black clothes of a renunciate, I looked into her eyes and started praying intensely, sharing all my sorrow with her. At that time I did not even know this was St. Petka (St. Paraskeva) a Christian saint and martyr (in brief, she lived in the 2nd century A.D.
Born in a rich family, she divided up all her possessions among the poor and performed intense penance in the dessert. Due to her purity, she was given the blessing to perform miracles, which she used mainly for healing of the blind, deaf, etc. She was tortured by the Romans and her physical life ended in the year 140 when she was beheaded. During her life she performed many miracles, but even today she helps all those who pray to her with faith). I pleaded to her to help me start loving myself again and take me out of the quagmire I was in. My eyes were filling up with tears and thus my vision could have been slightly blurred, but at one moment I became breathless upon realizing – her eyes BECAME ALIVE. I will never forget those eyes and the intense compassion they radiated. They were a true fountain of bliss which, within seconds, melted all the negativities within me.

The living eyes of St. Petka

The living eyes of St. Petka

At that moment all my inner brakes were gone and I sobbed loudly, bowing to her and asking her to bless me. And then all the crying stopped – I felt a big internal shift. I could not really pinpoint what that was because my analytical mind simply stopped functioning. I just enjoyed the incredible state I was in – super energized and flooded with immense love. I felt expanded and totally blissful. There was no more pain and definitely no thoughts – I just was, blissfully aware of everything around me, witnessing every breath of mine, simply being. My breathing was very slow and I was not even blinking. My awareness was spread all around me and there was a sense of oneness with the entire creation. At one point I moved towards the door – like a queen in a big flowing gown, I walked gracefully towards the stairs covered with snow. It was as if I was moving in slow motion. As I was witnessing myself climbing the stairs, my legs were doing the job of climbing but I could not feel my leg muscles being utilized. I was like a big cloud, much more than just the physical body – this feeling of lightness and bliss was overwhelming.

The piercing cold wind ‘Kosava’ sure was blowing like every winter and my hair was flowing in the air, but I could not feel any cold on my face or anywhere else – as if I was within a huge glass shield filled with pure bliss! As I ‘floated’ through the entire Kalemegdan park with a blissful smile, I witnessed that whoever passed by me would turn. I was seeing only a portion of that with my physical eyes, but after they would pass me I could sense/see that they turned in wonder. I was aware of everything in 360 degrees around me…

This continued during the entire walk through the park and it was only when I entered the busy ‘Knez Mihajlova Street’ buzzing with people that the ‘glass shield’ suddenly disappeared. The cold Kosava wind made its presence known right away. I touched my face and just stood there, filled with awe and excitement, ‘digesting’ the experience. There was no trace of my self-hatred or any negative feeling whatsoever. My mind was not able to explain what just happened. All I knew was that I was as down as I could be and St. Petka uplifted me in the way I never thought was possible.

St. Petka’s inner mastery as Grace through eternity

St. Petka’s inner mastery as Grace through eternity

In the language of Christian Church, St. Petka is a saint and a martyr, while in spiritual terms she is a great Master who operates from higher realms of consciousness and continues to shower her blessings on those who connect with her with faith and an ‘open cup’.

What I didn’t know back in 1998 was that the blessing of St. Petka was not reserved to that singular experience. Ten years later, I recognized this blissful state once again – it marked another milestone in my life, the sacred moment when Mohanji initiated me into Shaktipat long-distance, i.e. astrally. After lying down for a couple of hours feeling as if I’m blissfully ‘floating on the waves’, I was asked to drive through the busy streets of Dubai, from Deira to Bur Dubai area, to conduct the Power of Purity meditation. Again, I was in this amazing expanded state, my eyes were ‘off focus’ due to intense energy in higher chakras. I was not even blinking, simply staring off focus and driving, but could see/sense everything around me. Driving in such a state would have been totally scary if the faith and surrender were not there. The energy was so strong and overwhelming that I felt I was burning in it, especially my spine. Mohanji was in Oman at that time and, even though I knew he is with me through this experience, I felt like contacted him over the phone as well to convey that the heat is becoming overwhelming. I thought he was joking when he told me I should have an ice-cream. I somehow reached my destination and stormed into the nearby supermarket – the moment I had the ice-cream I indeed felt better and settled into the experience.

The immeasurable Grace of Shaktipat

The immeasurable Grace of Shaktipat

Two years later, again, I recognized this most beautiful state which reminded me of St. Petka’s blessing – as always, it happened when least expected. There was a small group of us in Muscat who gathered to perform Pada Pooja (worship of the feet of the Master) to Mohanji. I was not familiar with the chants and I did not know about the subtle connection between the third eye and big toe, but the moment after I bowed to Mohanji touching his big toe (through which immense energy was oozing out) with my third eye/forehead, I felt a very powerful energy which catapulted me into this most beautiful blissful state once again. I barely managed to sit down and there I was again, in this most wonderful expanded state, as if within a huge ‘glass shield’ of purest beingness and bliss.

The journey continues on this Path of Pathlessness – there are no expectations, only deep gratitude and a deep desire to serve as the instrument of this Grace…

May I serve as Your instrument always...

May I serve as Your instrument always…

My Life With Mohanji -Part 1

7 Mar

A HOLI SHARING

Today is Holi, the Hindu religious festival of colors and I felt a sudden inspiration to narrate some of my ‘colorful’ experiences from the past. As in my Part 1 -3 blogs about Life with Mohanji, I speak as Mohanji’s disciple first and only then as his wife as well. Image

Indeed, many of you may not know this from the way he carries himself in the world. He is a deep introvert and a very elusive individual who would like to avoid all human company if given a choice. He could stay away from people for long, if that was anyhow possible. He is shy of limelight and actually blushes when people praise him. This was even more prominent at the time when I met him.

Another thing that I noticed was, he hardly opens up, until he is very familiar with his companion. He listens much more than he speaks and he finds his comfort inside his own deep ocean of silence. However, it would be difficult for you to believe that Mohanji is indeed an introvert had you met him while addressing the public in his commercial representations or during various spiritual gatherings. But, believe me, this is true.

Soon after I met Mohanji and felt a strong inner pull to get to know him better, one old woman looked me straight into the eyes, and said categorically with a tone of a soothsayer: “Know that you cannot own him. Nobody can own him. He belongs to the world.” With this clarity and understanding, I walked into his life and made it a point not to bind him in any way.

In the initial days when I started living with him, he continued to be a mystery to me. He was having profound insights, communions and various experiences beyond the comprehension of human mind. I remember one such experience.

When I walked into the room, Mohanji was sitting on the floor, his eyes fixated upwards, as if staring at some invisible object or space. He did not greet me. He looked frozen or like a person in a trance. When I came close to him, I felt tremendous heat, as if I am approaching a camp fire. He briefly uttered: “Do not come near me now.” By that time, I was quite confident that I can handle any kind of energy shifts because I am so familiar and close to him, plus had at least some training in Yoga and meditation. I replied: “I see you are in another dimension. Please give me a Shaktipat and elevate me as well”. He replied in a stern manner: “No. Do not come closer. You cannot handle this.” I was too confident, rather over-confident and told him. “Oh, come on. Of course I can. Try me.” He extended his right hand and instead of giving me a Shaktipat, he just mildly tapped my right shoulder. Before I knew what was happening, I fell face down on the bed and remained unconscious for almost 5 hours! When I got back to my senses, Mohanji was busy typing something. His body temperature was close to normalcy (as a matter of fact, his body temperature is always a bit high).

Needless to say, I was a total mess after hours of being ‘knocked off’, sleeping with my face pressed against the bed. As I was gathering my senses, out of curiosity, I peeped into what he was writing. He was describing his profound experience of being Shiva, when his consciousness exploded, engulfing the galaxies and the sacred ash Vibhuti flowed from the top of his head. However, after he finished writing about this experience, the document simply disappeared – it was neither in drafts, nor sent, nor trash items, it was nowhere! I understood later that all that he wrote then was removed by the Masters because of some higher reason, which later on Mohanji explained to me (He has narrated a part of it in his blog on Babaji).

Unassuming, fluid, child-like, yet powerful....

In the initial days of my life with Mohanji, I could distinctly feel the mighty presence of Masters. And I could also see/sense the communion that he was having with them. There was a period when I used to practice Mahavatar Babaji’s Kriya early in the morning (4.30am) and sometimes, Mohanji would also join me. We were living in a one room apartment. And surprisingly, whenever I had any doubt, Mohanji would clarify them after discussing with the Masters telepathically and then it would all fall in place. As I started feeling the presence of Masters, I started feeling the difference in my energy level too. Once Mohanji kept his hand on my head, all fingers joined and I felt his hand entering deep into me through my head and spine. When he removed it, I felt deeply cleansed and knew that something heavy was removed from me.

The more I knew him, the more I realised that I do not know him… He enjoyed acting like a common person, like someone who is ignorant of even the basics of spirituality and at some other times, he would surprise everyone either by delivering profound experiences or sharing profound insights. Slowly, but steadily, I started understanding the man behind this illusion.

Mohanji belongs to the profound tradition of Dattatreya. All the saints of this tradition are unique. None like another. Lord Dattatreya himself is unique. He is the unity in trinity. He is the incarnation of Parabrahma, the Almighty. Mohanji often recommends people to chant “AumParabrahmaneNamaha” – “To know the unity, see Parabrahma in everything. He is the non-dual Truth.” As I started understanding the tradition that Mohanji represents, I realised how difficult this path is. It is both simple and tough. Simple because there are no rigid rules and practices. Tough because the duality always obscures the vision of unity. And Masters are all too unassuming and invisible. To realize or understand a Datta guru is very difficult. Only one who has his/her third eye active can see His glory. Look at the Datta Gurus whom we know. Powerful masters like SripadaSrivallabha Swami, NarasimhaSaraswati Swami, AkkalkotPrabhu, ManikPrabhu, ShirdiSai Baba, GajananMaharaj, Shankar Maharaj, to name a few. And Sathya Sai Baba – contested by many, because of his drastically different expression (those who judge are free to do so, but those who had their profound experiences know who he was…). None of them are not at all like each other. They are unique and distinct. They always confused people with their mannerisms and thus elevated them by their sheer presence. Tons of karma gets washed away by just being around a Datta master. Moreover, at times they behaved in a bizarre manner which confused people to believe that they are mad. I also realized that each Datta master lived a life of perfection, while being natural and transparent. Hindu-Muslim unity was essential in India in the early 1900s and the ShirdiSai avatar happened. It re-inforced the unity. Before ShirdiSai, Kabir Das – almost equal to ShirdiSai, expounded the same mission. Diversity is the expression of life, finding unity within that is the mission of human existence. I realized this through life of Mohanji.

All Datta gurus addressed their own contemporary community and situation, even though they were well beyond time and space. I realized this as I looked into the lives of the past Masters of the tradition. I have seen Mohanji working hard as a logistic professional in the gross commercial world and also as intensely active in the subtle spiritual world. I often thought why he has to take so much effort? When questioned, he always said: “Work is worship. Sitting idle amounts to Tamas. I am the fire of awareness in which Tamas cannot co-exist. I should lead by example. I will work as long as I can. Nobody should procrastinate, which equals to life wasted unconsciously or equal to death from existence”. I have seen the difficulty that he undergoes when he needs to reduce his “usual size” and bring himself to the level of his body to operate in the gross commercial world of various terrestrial dangers. I thought it would be much easier for him to operate only in one world, as he needed nothing from anyone. His goodness has been exploited by many and I have seen them going through troubled waters on that account. He maintains his silence and allows life to flow. He is active 24 hours, in some world or many worlds, as per the need and requirement. With his life, he is leading by example and expounding simple truths such as “work is worship…. do not under-estimate the value of noble work….sustain yourself through work and avoid dependency….defeat inertia by all means as inertia wastes lifetimes…..serve the helpless and needy….do not run away or escape from life as escapism amounts only to postponement…. have no fear as fear has no value in our tradition….faith and purity are the two pillars of the tradition….enjoy the existence and be grateful….” Thus, he is setting an example by his own life that all aspects of life are equally important, and we are a combination of everything. A son, a husband, an employee or employer or businessman, a spiritual person, a husband, a lover, everything. We cannot be only the one or the other. This is what he is telling the world. Be everything, but maintain equanimity. He leads by example.

Mohanji is always ready to help people whenever he finds someone who needs his help, irrespective of the person’s misbehavior with Mohanji in the past. Mohanji never kept any grudges. Whenever this question on why he does not feel angry with others’ insensitiveness towards him arose, he would smile and reply: “What have I got to do with earth and its human expressions?”

One of most striking traits of Mohanji’s that I noticed when I started living with him, was the changes that take place in his body. Sometimes, his body looks and feels like that of an old man. Sometimes, it looks and feels like that of a young man. His body is quite fluid and it changes from time to time. Mohanji explains these phenomena like this: “My body is fluid. As you go deeper and deeper in subtlety, your body will lose its grossness and as your dependency on earth and its elements lessen, body becomes much more fluid and subtle. When we become completely empty of karma, it is as fluid as your soul. It can assume the form and shape at will and necessity.” I have seen (and that has come in some pictures as well) how his body shifts within minutes, in front of our eyes. Also, I have sensed the fragrance of sandalwood, vibhuti (holy ash), flowers and even amrut (the nectar of immortality) emanating from his body depending on which dimension he performs from. We need keen observation to notice such changes. Many other people have experienced this when they were around Mohanji, as was evident from the mails, comments on Mohanji’s blogs and Facebook pages.

One day while we still lived in Dubai, I was driving the car with Mohanji on the co-driver’s seat. We were on our way towards the venue of the meditation. Mohanji was wearing his simple cotton kurta and dhoti, which he usually wears for his spiritual programs. Suddenly, without saying anything, he put his leg up on the dashboard above the glove compartment. I was amazed to see his feet much longer than usual and also a bit wrinkled. I was completely zapped and commented about his foot, while he just smiled. The whole meditation was different that day and everyone felt and saw ShirdiSai clearly.

A Classic Picture from 2008. Steady gaze into the rich world within....

One other great experience that I had soon after I met Mohanji comes to mind. Almost a month after I met Mohanji, I was planning to take two weeks off and visit my parents in Europe. It was close to the end of the year. Mohanji volunteered to drop me to the airport. Even though I told him that I would meet him before he goes to “sleep”, (around 10 PM) due to packing I arrived to his accommodation pretty late. Since I knew he would be sleeping, I entered his house without making any sound. Even though nothing really disturbs Mohanji when he decides to cut off from the world, I decided not to switch on any lights and tip toed into his room. I lit a tea candle, placed it on top of his Television and decided to get some sleep. My flight was in the early morning hours and I had to reach the airport by 3AM. I did not even realize when I dozed off, but was suddenly woken up by Mohanji and saw a big flame – the candle that I had lit caught the decorative element around it (I guess that AC caused the flame to catch it) and caught the Dhs500/- currency that was nearby as well. Before we knew it, the TV was on fire! Thick black smoke had enveloped the room. The candle already spilled on to the television and its plastic was melting. Since it’s an electric device, I was scared to pour any water on it and simply didn’t know what to do! Without saying anything, Mohanji started extinguishing the fire with his bare hands. I couldn’t believe my eyes. He did stop the fire but both his hands from elbow down (especially the palms) were burnt. The pieces of plastic of the TV had melted and stuck onto his palms. When I looked, it was still boiling on his hand. I was horrified and felt so bad that I put that candle on the TV.

He went to the toilet and put his hands under the tap water. There was some steam coming out of his hands. He came back to the room and asked me to apply some Vibhuti of Sai Baba. There was no shouting or screaming. There was perfect calm on his face and I was sure that it must have been hurting terribly. I applied the sacred ash on his palm and hands. It was almost time for me to go to the airport and I didn’t know what to do – call the taxi and leave him in such condition? I was shocked when Mohanji said that he will drive me to the airport. He insisted. Needless to say, it was difficult for him to drive. He literally drove the car with his elbows cause if palms would touch the steering wheel, pieces of skin would fall off. He dropped me and I felt so sorry to leave him in that situation. He assured me everything is alright and reminded me how lucky we are that the TV did not explode!

I reached my home country. And when I called him the next day, he told me that there is not even a sign of the burning on his skin anywhere. The sacred ash and the faith had done its job. When he woke up the next day, the skin on his palms and hands covered with Vibhuti was in normal state. And the TV, though burnt, was still working! How will I ever explain this miracle? I realized that the man I love is truly extraordinary. I wondered, The next task is, how do I live up to it all, if I continue to live with this man?

The next day was Jan 6th, Eastern Orthodox Christmas Eve and I went to a nearby monastery with my aunt who is quite evolved spiritually. She experienced several severe illnesses since she was a student and a near death experience as well. She prays intensely every evening before going to sleep and never misses any fast.

It was near midnight and the Christmass Mass was on. My feet and hands were freezing and I could not concentrate on prayers. I stood next to my aunt when she surprised me by exclaiming out of a blue: “Biba, I just saw Mohanji! I recognized him from the photo you showed me today. He kind of peeked, just to check if everything is alright, smiled to me and left. He wore a strange long shirt of maroon color.” I was completely zapped! Yes, that’s one of his favorite kurtas! I was confused. How could my aunt see Mohanji? She has never even met him. I called Mohanji up and asked, “Are you wearing your maroon kurta?” He said: “Yes, why?” I was overwhelmed! I knew this could not be a coincidence and also felt a bit embarrassed that my aunt saw him and I didn’t… But I was so happy for my aunt and explained excitedly about what happened. He laughed and said: “Oh, I came astrally just to make sure you are fine. By the way, your aunt is not ordinary. She has the power to see.” My heart expanded instantly and I was overwhelmed. Once again, I was learning another dimension of this seemingly ordinary man…

Image

Mohanji - at home deep within

 

Master As a Husband – The Story On How I Met Mohanji

13 Nov

I always feel rather odd (to say the least) when prompted to answer the question “So Mohanji is your husband?”

Our humble wedding in Novi Sad, Serbia on 18 April 2010. Two hours after the wedding function, we conducted a meditation in Belgrade 🙂 - that marks the beginning of an unusal union 🙂

I guess that is so in the limited ‘worldly’ terms, but how is one to describe the profundity of the inner world and its intricacies within the verbal and mental frames of the gross…

Our 1st photo together - March 2007

To me, Mohanji is first and foremost my spiritual Master, the pillar of my connection with the grand Eternal Tradition of Masters, with Divine. And only then do I see him as a life partner as well, someone my soul chose to travel with unconditionally, through all the ups and downs of life – but as someone who is not ‘owned’ or limited by me in any way.

This was my sincere attempt to describe the story of how Divine brought us together, in life of Love and Service…

http://jolitaasmara.blogspot.com/2011/10/prince-on-white-horse-different-tale-by.html

http://jolitaasmara.blogspot.com/2011/11/prince-on-white-horse-different-tale-by.html

http://jolitaasmara.blogspot.com/2011/11/prince-on-white-horse-different-tale-by_12.html

Two years after this story was written, my life has changed drastically. I am now privileged to witness myself play the role of a mother (we were blessed with a beautiful daughter Mila) and a role of a Marketing Manager for Mercedes-Benz Oman – who would have guessed that some years ago…

Mila - joined our journey on 6 April 2011, bringing so much joy!

With gratitude to the loving Jolita Kelias who inspired me to write this story (part of her amazing book “When Dreams Come True”) and share it with you in this colorful way,

Biljana Mohan (Biba)

The childlike within me and child in my arms rejoice - Mila and Mom, Muscat, Nov 2011

‘Small B.’ introduces the ‘Big B’ :-)

16 Mar

It was a lovely, truly GLAMOROUS evening –  the 6th Muscat International Film Festival (MIFF) Felicitation Ceremony happened on March 14th, 2010  and guess who was asked to be the Master of Ceremony (MC). 🙂

Biba as MC - welcoming the guests

It was a great pleasure and great honor – another surprising thing that “just happened” in my life, with effortless ease… 🙂

The event took place in the Majan Hall of Al Bustan Palace Hotel, the most luxurious hotel in Muscat (the unique landscape surrounding the hotel indeed resembles a fairy tale).

Aside from several Omani and Egyptian celebrities gracing the occassion, the celebrities that stood out that evening were the following:

Resool Pookutty (Oscar winning sound designer, editor and mixer – won the Academy Award for Best Sound Mixing for the renowned film ‘The Slumdog Millionaire’),

Mohanji, Resool Pookutty, Firoz and Satya - March 13th, after the Opening Ceremony of MIFF

Antonino (Lakshen) Sucameli (a well known Hollywood director, writer and independent producer from Italy, who is currently working on the feature film called ‘Osho The Movie’ (www.oshothemovie.com), the first ever film about the great Master from India – Osho),

Sudeep, Mohanji, and Biba the MC, with Antonino (Lakshen) Sucameli, March 14th, Al Bustan Hotel, Muscat

However, most definitely, all eyes were GLUED on the astounding Amitabh Bachchan, who created a big sensation when he appeared on the stage wearing the traditional Omani dress. His charisma, elegance, and most of all, his humbleness, surprized me.

The elegant Big B introduced on the stage by the ‘Small B’ :-), March 14th, Al Bustan Palace Hotel, Muscat (photo borrowed from Big B’s blog)

I really enjoyed the moment when I was to introduce Amitabh Bachchan on the stage – I could feel the great anticipation in the audience, brimming with desire to see him. Here are a few lines from my MC script (which, I must admit, Mohanji wrote for me spontaneously a weekend before the event), introducing Amitabh Bachchan before he stepped on the stage and created great excitement in the hall:

“The LIVING LEGEND. A man beyond comparison. From an angry young man on the silver screen, to the most VERSATILE actor the world has ever seen. Over the years we have seen him outshine his fellow actors by his SHEER PRESENCE and his THUNDERING voice. Yes, IFFO is honoured to present you the LEGEND, the one and only – AMITABH BACHCHAN!!!”

 

Biba announcing the Q&A interactive session with the celebrities on stage

It was an exclusive gathering with a crowd of approx. 200, the elite of Muscat. After introducing the actors, I announced the Question & Answers session with the celebrities. After the mike was given to the audience and first, second, third and forth question went to Amitabh Bachchan only (!), it was evident that the main reason why most of the people came was just to see him – they did not care much about social etiquette and what is or is not appropriate. I could tell that Mr. Bachchan, answering one question after another, was starting to feel uncomfortable, especially after one lady exclaimed: “For me, you are God!” (a highly inappropriate statement in a Muslim environment)

Q&A with Sucameli, Resool Pookutty, Magda Elsabbahy, and Amitabh Bachchan who completely ‘stole the show’

As the evening went on, it was becoming impossible to prevent the people from crowding around Mr. Bachchan,trying to approach him,  take a photo of/with him, or simply stare at him spellbound. The Security surrounding him was becoming helpless and frustrated.

It Sure Does Get Lonely At The Top… – Big B surrounded by the crowd of admirers

 At one moment, without even having his dinner, the sweet Amitabh simply had to get up and leave, followed by the security guards.

When I saw him leaving, I too rushed behind the stage, knowing that this was my last chance to hand over a small gift I prepared for him (even though I was one of the organizers, the ‘Big B craze’ was so intense that, during the past two days he spent in Muscat, there was no chance of approaching him for even one second. Many waited for hours, and got so disappointed. Our dear friend Anilji came all the way from Dubai to see Amitabh Bachchan – he neither slept nor ate that day, brought a suitcase full of photo albums (collected over the last 20+ years), books and photos of his beloved Amitabh,  spent endless hours in Al Bustan Hotel waiting, but could not see his beloved star. I felt sad that I couldn’t fulfill this indescribably great wish of his – here was a man who sends birthday greetings to Amitabh Bachchan EVERY YEAR for the past 20 years or more, and he couldn’t even shake his hand. Oh well…

I must say that I have never seen this kind of genuine devotion to a film star before – but as I got to know more about the stature of Amitabh Bachchan, which indeed is ever greater than his status, I started to understand Anilji better).

The giant of Bollywood, Amitabh Bachchan wearing the Omani dress and 'khanjar' around the waist - a gift he received from the Omani government officials

Back to March 14th – I’ll never forget the scene that followed:  security was rushing Mr. Bachchan down a narrow corridor towards the elevator. Running after them in my expensive cocktail dress, I was just about to reach the elevator that Mr. Bachchan already entered, when the security guard suddenly BLOCKED my path violently with his muscled arms (as if I’m some kind of a terrorist aiming to attack Amitabh Bachchan). I found that to be SO RUDE and exaggerated –  out of revolt, I just screamed, from the top of my lungs: “Hey, I am A LADY!!!

(please note that ‘making a scene’ is really not my cup of tea – I have no idea how this scream came out of me, but it did). My voice resounded in that marble hallway like a thunder 🙂 and all the heads turned towards me. Amitabh Bachchan, who already stepped into the elevator, signaled to the security to let me through.

In the next contrasting moment, I WAS IN BLISS as the living legend of Bollywood, a great gentleman, shook my hand softly and looked deep into my eyes. I forgot all about the security guard and the discomfort that preceded this moment. A grand, heavenly feeling of calmness and loving serenity overtook me as I bathed in the bliss of this precious moment. This brief eye contact indeed said it all and no words were needed – the genuine kindness and unmistakable radiance of Amitabh Bachchan left a deep impression on me. It is indeed, through the eyes, that we get the glimpse of the soul’s unfathomable depth…

Deep blue ocean-like eyes of a genius..

Anilji, indeed, I am understanding you more and more 🙂

I happily handed over the gift I prepared for him, which included Mohanji’s Bless the World Meditation and the spiritual visit card. I felt deep contentment within, like someone who, after a long struggle, finally fulfills an important mission.

After this blissful experience, I floated off happily back to the hall, joining Mohanji and Sudeep (whose birthday happened to coincide with that evening) for dinner.

Sudeep and Mohanji surrounded with empty chairs as most still crowd around the stage, hunting for a photo with Amitabh Bachchan

I was just sharing with them the experience with Amitabh Bachchan, when one Omani government official approached our table. He told me that Mr. Bachchan sent him to APOLOGIZE to me ON HIS BEHALF. As he was uttering these words, I could feel my heart centre expanding. Wow! What a gentleman, a wonderful, accomplished human being – the Big B indeed! Since then I named myself  ‘the Small B.’ 🙂 

I may appear to be sitting, but I was floating 🙂

Resool Pookutty was another humble artistic giant whom I got to speak to that evening. This is the second time I’m meeting him since he first came to Muscat a few months back, for the occasion of inauguration of International Film Fraternity of Oman (IFFO), of which I am a founding member. What a sweet man, a real embodiment of humbleness. Mohanji told me that he symbolizes the new generation of Bollywood celebrities – hard working and humble to the core. I felt so comfortable to chat with him, as if he was a dear friend, or a cousin. Oh, what a lovely evening! 

Resool Pookutty and Major Ravi, the famous movie Director from Malayalam film industry (now working on a movie with Big B and Mohan Lal)

And Antonino (Lakshen) Sucameli – another surprising character, the first film director with a spiritual bent that I ever met. 🙂 He is a direct disciple of Osho, who himself gave Mr. Sucameli the spiritual name ‘Lakshen’. He attended our Bless the World meditation last Friday, said he really enjoyed the Shaktipat experience, and later on shared with us his intimate spiritual experiences with Osho.

I am so looking forward to seeing his “Osho the Movie” feature film materializing on the big screen. Osho was/is a great Master, completely misunderstood by many due to numerous scandals and controversies – however, his spiritual stature is amazing and he surely deserves a movie which will tell his unique story and reveal the truth about how his physical existence was ended…

Antonino (Lakshen) Sucameli - freshly introduced on the stage

 While reading one interview with Amitabh Bachchan published in Omani newspaper on March 14th, I found out about his personal blog, on which, to my great surprize, he promptly wrote about his experience in Muscat (as he said, the secret of his success is that he applies himself fully, is prompt and fully dedicated to his work). I was really touched by his humility and childlike spirit of exploration visible in the three write ups about the Muscat experience:

 http://bigb.bigadda.com/

 Thank you Universe, thank you Masters for this unexpected, memorable experience!

A sincere, joyous THANK YOU

 Love to all,

 Biba

IT JUST HAPPENED – Part 2

25 Jan

Movie Shooting

The next day started at 6am (which was to become my standard starting time of action until the very end), stretching up to midnight almost every day.

Morning scene in the sleeping gown and the "I don't really need to put up with this" expression

While in the car, on the way to the shooting site, Sanjivani would give me my script in Marathi, read it out to me in Marathi, translate it into English, and then emote it. I would write the pronunciation in English, and start memorizing the words and corresponding emotions/expressions.

Chanting a Sanskrit Shloka in the Kitchen

All in all, it was tough – especially so if, 5 minutes before the shooting, they suddenly decide to change a few words, or decide that Sanjivani’s version of Marathi was not fully correct (it became evident to me that, in India, nobody speaks their regional language 100% correctly!), or decide to replace the scene with another one for which I did not get the words in advance.

Sometimes I would envy other actors – unlike me, they were not appearing in all the scenes and had a lot of time to rest and joke around, not to mention that memorizing the script in their native language was a piece of cake for them. I was the only one who was puffing and sweating all the time – either memorizing the lines, or changing costumes and make up.

Jennifer prepares the lunch for her husband - 'pakka Indian'!

However, those issues were nothing in comparison to my biggest problem – the toilet issue. When I first saw the toilet they were using, I did not even realize that was a toilet! A hole in the corner of the floor, with a stone in the middle on which one is to stand. That was a real shock (a ‘cultural bump’, as Americans would call it)! Moreover, when I was to wear the traditional Marathi sari (called Nawari Sari – the cloth is wrapped around each leg, which made me feel like a sausage..), I would inevitably get dehydrated because make up and shooting would take at least 3 hours, and using a toilet in this sari was not an option, unless it was to be taken off completely.

Biba (Jennifer) in Nawari sari - performing the Thread Ritual by the banyan tree

The most memorable ‘toilet experience’ happened during the shooting of the windmill scene in the hill area. There was nothing but barren hills and windmills all around us. The breakfast I had that morning didn’t go well with me and my stomach was giving me alarming signs. I asked Sanjivani to take me to some toilet ASAP. She said: “Oh. We’ll have to drive down to the nearby village and request someone to allow us to use their private toilet – that’s all we can do.” That was a real test of my endurance. When we finally reached the village and started walking down the street, deciding on whose door to knock and ask for this mighty favor, I felt truly embarrassed. We picked one house that seemed decent and were welcomed by a lady preparing the lunch in her modest kitchen. She welcomed us with a big smile. When Sanjivani explained her what we were looking for, she moved one curtain and signaled to me to go to the room behind the curtain. I was totally confused as I stepped into a completely empty room. I soon peeked behind the curtain and pleaded to Sanjivani: “I really can’t see any toilet here”. The lady said again that it is there. It was then that I noticed a small hole in the corner of the room. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry! I ran out and told Sanjivani: “This won’t work for me. Please, I need a proper toilet – with a flush!” We continued our search immediately and Sanjivani explained to the neighbors she spoke with what we were looking for. Finally, we found it. I was overjoyed – agh, what a relief! I still laugh when I think of the “hole in the floor” scene, one of the strongest impressions I carried with me from the movie shooting – it is amazing what kind of conditions some people live in, and still manage to be happy and grateful. That is the big lesson that Indian villages taught me.

In terms of movie shooting and acting, my greatest challenges were:

  • not to look at the camera lens during the shooting but at the CORNER of the camera, which felt very unnatural

Jennifer in a sari for the first time in the movie

  • the crying scenes (I almost never cry in my real life. I’m just not the type. Crying in front of a camera was naturally even more difficult. My co-actors explained to me that I should swallow saliva, raise the eyebrows and remember some deeply painful moments from my real life, which will trigger the tears, and then get into the role fully. I was amazed – it worked! When my first natural tears came and the scene was over, there was a big round of applause! I soon gained confidence and most of the scenes were done in a ‘one rehearse and take’ mode, which was, as the Movie Director told me, “how the professional actors do it.” I was very happy!)
  • the awkward moments when they would shoot only facial expressions in reaction to a group discussion. They would mainly not have the time to translate to me what each actor was saying, so I felt a bit idiotic as I could only guess how my reaction should look like.
  • long monologues for which I had to memorize several sentences in Marathi (if the scene involves other people, they can show their facial reactions and thus cut the monologue and give me a chance to refresh what I memorized. But if it’s a proper monologue, there can’t be any cut). That was really tough. Two such scenes were my greatest challenge.

Aside from these few issues, it all just flowed with utmost ease. There was a fighting scene as well, prior to which I saw Mr. Pradeep (Movie Director) completely upset. I asked him what made him so disturbed and he said: “The stunt who is supposed to do the fighting scene is late. This will disturb our complete shooting schedule.”  When I understood that the stunt was supposed to do my bit in fighting against several thieves who steal a golden statue from the temple, I smiled and told the Director – “That’s not a problem at all. I can fight. I’m almost black belt in Tae Kwan Do.” His face brightened up instantly and we started the shooting then and there.

The fighting scene - Jennifer against 3 thieves

It was a lot of fun and they could see that I enjoyed this scene thoroughly. I always loved my martial arts training, but was not sure whether this skill would come to be of any use in life. It was so fulfilling to see it utilized.

Moreover, when the whole movie was done with, I realized it was as if this role was tailor-made for me. The story and character of Jennifer resembled my real life quite a lot (accepting the challenge of life and choosing to live out of the comfort zone, remaining dignified in spite of lack of basic living conditions after a life in abundance, etc.) and acting part was not at all so difficult.

However, the hectic shooting schedule and lack of sleep got to me in the end – no make up could hide the dark circles around my eyes during the last few days of shooting.

The songs were done the last and were therefore the greatest challenge. Running through the field enacting great joy and bubblyness (while my skin was itching from the leaves touching my arms and sweat kept pouring down my spine due to the scorching noon sun) was definitely not fun. A real blessing was that the dance choreographer noticed I could dance and therefore suggested I should improvise some of my dancing scenes, which prevented us from wasting a lot of time in rehearsing under the harsh sun (not to mention that some of his choreographies, alas, belonged to ANOTHER ERA)– thank God I could improvise!

As I was commenting how smoothly all is going, a bull chewing grass next to me sneezed and splashed all the mucus from his big nosedrills straight onto my right arm! That topped my “Yikes list”, as it was even more yakky than the ‘hole in the floor’ toilets and the cow dung cakes that I had to use (and smell) during the cooking scenes in the hut with no windows.

Jenny, the millionaire's daughter, cooking in a hut made of mud

All in all, the experience was great fun! After the hectic schedule, Sanjivani and a few of her family members offered to take me to Shirdi, to pay gratitude at the samadhi tomb of a Great Master whose energy presence and direct guidance and blessings continue to touch the lives of thousands of people across the globe.

Already exhausted, I nevertheless agreed to a full night jeep ride on bumpy village roads just to reach Shirdi for the Morning Arati at 4.30am. The car was packed, driver wild (especially with the brake pedal) and I sat at the very back, on top of the luggage. By the time we reached Shirdi, my legs were red and swollen due to many merciless bites of bed bugs (my first ever encounter with these cruel creatures) – ugh… However, irritating itching and utmost tiredness were all forgotten the moment I entered Shirdi Baba’s magical abode and the vibrations around his samadhi tomb expanded my heart. This is something one can only experience, but not describe in words…

In order to do justice to all the amazing experiences with this great Master,  a separate blog will be written on this topic. For now it will suffice to say that it was COMPLETELY CLEAR to me that this movie was entirely his ‘Leela’ (divine play) – I noticed that most of the Foreignchi Patlin film crew members were Baba’s devotees and the movie even starts with his image! (I was soon to find out the real reason why Baba brought me to Maharashtra to act in this movie – a story yet to be told).

And finally, 15 months later, the greatest surprise of all came my way – I received a phone call from Sanjivani who said that I should come to the famous Dadar Hall in Mumbai for the Movie Awards organized by the government of Maharashtra – to receive the Best Actress Award!

Sanjivani and Biba – Movie Awards Ceremony in Mumbai, March 2009

Even though ‘Foreignchi Patlin’ is an emotional drama with elements of comedy, Sanjivani also received the award in the “Best Comedy” category. Furthermore, I was amazed to learn that  ‘Foreignchi Patlin’ was screened in the main cinema in Kolaphur for more than 100 days in a row, houseful (which means that many people must have went to see it several times). It did very well in other cinema theatres across Maharashtra and the songs became very popular on Marathi chanells.

‘Foreignchi Patlin’ made history as the first Marathi movie with a foreign actress in the lead role, acting in Marathi language.

Here’s a short movie trailer video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCrNCF9M5oQ

All in all, I can’t but conclude that the success that comes as a result of a conscious choice to follow one’s intuition (against all the odds) is so incredibly sweet as it opens the doors of the new, magical dimension of life – SURRENDER…

Love to all,

Biba

IT JUST HAPPENED – Part 1

25 Jan

I always believed that the right things in life just happen – when the time is right, they land into our lap effortlessly. My first movie acting experience was one such gift from above.

Trailer:

Song:

Gratitude for all the blessings – the movie scene at the Church

When I first met Ms. Sanjivani Gawai, the Movie Producer of “Foreignchi Patlin”, she just finished her postgraduate studies and was contemplating how to make a Marathi movie that would be DIFFERENT. It was Valentines, Feb 14th 2007. My life partner and spiritual guide – Mohanji and I met only a month or so before that day, and this was one of our first outings together – we were aiming for a romantic Dhow Cruise at the glittering Dubai Creek, and landed with a not so enjoyable dinner (and definitely not so enjoyable Philippino entertainment) on a boat from which, unfortunately, one could not escape until the 2h-long ride finishes. We tried to make the best out of the situation and somehow managed to survive all the noise, smells and other stimuli to our senses.

Little did I know that this boat ride had a much larger purpose in my life. Throughout the evening, Ms. Sanjivani was actually eyeing me for a role in her movie. She was looking for an innocent, bubbly westerner

A chewing gum, camera, hat, black clothes – the Western stereotype

who would be able to carry the role of the heroine in her movie and TRANSFORM TOTALLY into a proper Indian wife. That evening I was wearing something semi-Indian, semi-Western, and kept talking about my Yoga training and deep appreciation of the spiritual richness of India. Since I was in a relationship with an Indian and kept travelling to India, she thought that I had EXACTLY THAT what she was looking for.

A proper Indian ‘bahu’ – Foreignchi Patlin in a colorful sari

Later on, she organised a proper casting inIndia and considered several western ladies who are already involved with Bollywood industry, but none of them matched the role. Finally, she contacted me through her father who lives in Dubai and knows Mohanji from before.

The most unusual ‘casting’  followed.  Sanjivani and Pradeep Ghonsikar, the Movie Director, decided to entrust her father with a task of buying one Indian sari and recording me with their Sony handycam wearing that sari and reading a few lines in Marathi that they prepared. I did not even take it seriously and fulfilled the task simply out of fun.

Soon enough, I was informed that the entire film crew agreed, with great enthusiasm, that I am THE ONE for the role of a heroine Jennifer in their movie “Foreignchi Patlin.” They thought that my Marathi pronunciation and the way I looked in the sari was just perfect. To say that I was surprised would be an understatement. I reminded Sanjivani that I NEVER acted in any movie in my entire life, not even in a school drama, and that this is not just any role that they are offering me, but THE main role. “How can you be sure that I will do well?”– I asked.  She replied: “I don’t know, it is my intuition.”

Sanjivani, Biba and the chief cameraman; mango growing scene

At that time I had a part-time job in Dubai, in one Event Management company with a high-class lady from Mumbai as my boss. When I told her about this most unusual offer, she told me: “Don’t even think about getting into some low budget movie in the villages of Maharashtra. They’ll probably do some sloppy shooting and won’t even be able to release it. You will just waste your time and end up not getting paid.” I thought about the whole thing carefully and consulted with my dearest Mohanji whose faculties of deeper insight I trusted fully – his words matched my intuition: “It’s not a coincidence that this came to you. Why not take the challenge? You have nothing to lose.”

Movie Expressions – Innocence

So there I was, on my way to India, ready for a serious ‘out of the comfort zone’ experience. The entire movie was to be finished in 25 days, before the end of Dec 2007. I’ll never forget the moment when I landed onto the miniscule ‘airport’ in the middle of a corn field, near Kolaphur village in Maharashtra. I knew it that very second – the adventure is on!  Mr. Gawai and a few other members of the crew welcomed me with a big bouquet of flowers and recorded the arrival of ‘the star’ on the same Sony handycam.

The newly arrived ‘village heroine’ surely stood out – all the eyes were on me. We went straight to the shooting site, a shanty village house where they already started filming the scenes that do not involve Jennifer (my role). I was happy to meet my co-actors and the entire crew – all were very sweet, witty and natural.

Biba and the tailor – fun during movie shooting

I was surprised to see the amount of make up on the faces of the actors who were being filmed – the thick layer of facial powder made them look very funny. However, they looked most natural on the screen. That was the first insight I got about the difference between what we see in vivo, and what we see on the screen. Many were to follow…

Maharashtran village idilla – sheer fun!!!

(to be continued…)