If there is one thing I have learnt after so many moons on this earth, it is that there really are no coincidences in life. Everything, down to the smallest detail, is ordained and follows the karmic laws of cause and effect. It is also true that, in life there is often a synchronicity of events, which if recognized and acted upon leads to fortune.
I was reminded of this the other day when having a chat on spiritual matters with my office colleague Mr. Ramakrishna. When the subject of meditation came up he casually mentioned that he had been at it, morning and evening, for the last 30 years. Since it was a subject that interested me greatly, I was curious to know if he had been initiated and if so by whom. He told me that his master was a Rishi who once resided in Bangalore, somewhere on the outskirts, where he had an ashram.
The word Rishi made me sit up and take notice since it is not a title commonly used when referring to spiritual masters. While I have been initiated by a variety of masters in the past, it is only in my current Guru-Shishya lineage that our master is referred to as a Rishi. As things turned out, my instincts were proved right…..we shared the same Supreme Master. In fact he was a direct disciple of Ambarisha Varma Desai, or Amara, the astral name he was popularly known by and the ashram where he spent many of his bachelor years, along with Amara, was Manovati, the abode of the Rishis. Amara called it Manovati after the name of a city in Brahma Loka.
Ramakrishna, or Ramanna as he is popularly known, was quite astonished that I had even heard of Amara, since Amara, being a Rishi worker, always believed in keeping his activities unpublicized. Only a small circle of people were even aware about his true identity and the nature of his work at the astral levels. In fact, he was so taken aback at this strange turn of events, that he promptly started making a few calls to his old brother disciples. It appears that since his marriage (at the instance of Amara), he had become embroiled in worldly matters and had lost all but cursory touch with the Ashram and its old inmates. Our talk rekindled old memories and he was eager for news about the Ashram and its activities. It was with a great deal of wonder that he then turned to me with the information that Amara Jayanthi (the day he slipped his mortal coil) fell on Feb 1st, just a few days later, and but for our talk he would not have remembered the event or made the calls that jogged his memory.
This chain of events becomes even more significant when you consider that I have been interacting with this particular colleague for the past 1&1/2 years without any mention of these topics. In fact, I had thought about Manovati and harboured the hope of visiting the place just a few days back and here my wish was approaching fulfillment in the strangest of ways, since we immediately decided to drive down to Manovati and take part in the function that was organized every year on that day.
I admit I approached the venture with some trepidation since Manovati was a sacred place, consecrated by the Rishis with tremendous energies. It is definitely not a place for the casual visitor or any tourist. So I wondered at my own temerity in making plans to visit without the Rishis permission. I pacified my own doubts with the logic that the synchronicity of events seemed to indicate their tacit approval and if they did not intend me to visit, they could always abort the plan by subverting my mind and causing me to lose interest.
Finding the place would not be easy, since it lies somewhere on the outskirts of Bangalore and they have always abhorred publicity of any kind. Most of Amara’s original inner circle (most of them were initiated by Markandeya Maharshi, with Amara’s personal intervention), now in their 60’s and 70’s, continue to be associated with the Ashram and make visits to meditate at his Samadhi every Sunday. I wanted to have a one to one interaction with them and absorb as much knowledge as possible. Hence, Ramanna’s presence was a big boon as my guide and facilitator for the visit, since he was part of this inner circle for more than five years, in the eighties, and knew all of them intimately.
|THE APPROACH FROM THE GATE|
The moment we parked our car, we removed our footwear, including me of the Manor born and the soft soles! This was hallowed ground, home of the Rishi’s. It couldn’t have been otherwise. Bare feet on the red earth also ensured that the powerful energies anchored by the Rishis in the place would be best absorbed by us. Strangely, I spent the whole day bare feet on the red earth, with flint like stones strewn around and barely noticed the discomfort.
|HORTICULTURE SECTION AT MANOVATI - RED ROSES IN BLOOM|
Then there was the silence, a deep all encompassing silence that echoed within us till it assumed deafening proportions ….the mental plane. The sounds of the factory some distance away made some futile efforts to intrude into the silence without quite succeeding. Lastly, the scenic beauty of the place itself was quite magnificent, unpolluted and untouched by the material energies of the bustling city that lay just a few kms beyond its boundaries…..The physical plane…..reminding of the little village where I was born and where I hail from…..reminding me of the fact that while I may have flown far and wide, at heart I still remain a country boy.
The buildings are few and were all made by the then inmates with their own hands or supervised by them….a dining place cum office, a cottage with a pooja room, toilets, the Samadhi building and other functional edifices. Horticulture work is also carried out there with the flowers sold in the nearby markets at throwaway prices.
We first had a simple but sumptuous breakfast. I had parked the vehicle beneath a low hanging tree for the shade. When I came out after breakfast I was both aghast and amused to see the car almost swamped by the local rhesus monkeys. By then they had examined every facet of the car and left their dirty, white clay marked imprints over the entire car and windows! Luckily the doors were locked or it was quite possible that one of the more enterprising simians would have taken it for a spin! Needless to say I made all haste to park the vehicle in a more secure area!
The building housing the pooja room, pictured here, bears special mention. At the time when Manovati (around 50 acres of land) still belonged to a German national, the Rishis had instructed Amara to proceed to a hillock nearby and meditate for 24 days, in preparation for receiving a powerful ball of energy which had to be anchored in the Manovati earth. It took Amara a few attempts before he succeeded in doing so. There is a small temple on the hillock, which was, at that time, visible from the place where the Pooja house is at the moment. Now the row of trees which were subsequently planted obscures it from our view. Following this, as per the Rishis Instructions, he purchased the land, though it took him 25 years to do so and a further 25 years to develop the place. The Rishis told him that they had chosen the place to open their centre and they would be bringing down a special energy every night to spiritually prepare the place for their future work. I was told that the pooja house was built directly above the place where the energy was anchored.
|ROOM NEXT TO POOJA ROOM|
At this point I started meeting all the members of the inner circle, notably Mr. Satish, a long time associate of Amara. Normally reputed to be a very reticent individual, for some reason he started talking to me and continued to do so till the sun went down and the shadows lengthened. In the process he gave me invaluable insights into the persona we know and admire as Amara and what he preached and stood for. From him I came to know of certain principles that Amara advocated for his followers and also practiced till the last. He forbade people from touching the feet of anyone, including himself, other than Mata, Pita, and Devam. Likewise he avoided functions and shaking hands with anyone (preferring a namaste instead) as far as possible. This was because all these activities meant serious transfer of karmic baggage from other people. He also avoided carrying any money on his person. How he managed is anyone's guess, but manage he did! Talking to him also meant we had to skip the bhajan session which was at that time on in full swing in the pooja room, with Mrs. Amara and his daughter Maitreyi in attendance. People here also hold them in great reverence since they are reputed to be Amsha's of Yamuna and Ganga respectively.
People have witnessed the strangest phenomena in this place. Many were the times when Amara entered the pooja room to interact with the Rishis and came out only for people to find the room covered in sacred ash, from floor to ceiling. The ash used to be so heavy that one could actually see it deposited even on the ceiling in ripple patterns. Most of the times even Amara used to be covered in the ash and would then hurry off to bathe before people noticed and started commenting on it. Though most of the disciples were also eager to met the Rishis, few had the courage to broach the topic to Amara. They would then represent their case through his sister-in-law, Madhu, whose requests he rarely refused. He would then consult the Rishi, take an appointment and specify the time when the aspirant would have to be present in the pooja room. The Rishis value time very highly and are never late. On the dot of the hour, the room would be enveloped with the most divine fragrance imaginable and Amara would intone, "the Rishi is here, you may ask your questions". Each Rishi has his own special fragrance and could be identified by that alone. By all accounts, Jasmine is the signature fragrance of the great Vishwamitra Maharshi.
Near the entrance to the ashram stands Amara's Samadhi. By this time, the Samadhi had been decorated with flowers and we decided to enter for a meditation session. In fact I was strongly advised to link up to him with a strong intent, since he is always available for true seekers. Quite a few people were already inside and I settled down on one side. The energies inside were so strong that I went deep without much effort. The next 45 mins went by in a daze and when I finally opened my eyes my new found friends had already left the room. I found them under the group of trees near the ashram. This group of five trees is known as Panchavati and are basically from the Himalayas. The inmates hold them in great reverence and also conduct pooja’s for them along with the other deities.
Another interesting object inside the samadhi room is the model of the cosmic tower. The tower was conceptualized by the Rishis and is said that it would come up on the Manovati land once Satya Yuga was fully established, which is but a few years hence. The tower is unique in that it is basically a combinations of three pyramids, with two pyramids placed vertex to vertex, which in itself means it would be an engineering feat to erect the structure. The significance of the structure and the pyramids is detailed in the plaque below. When I asked which agency would be entrusted with the task of erection, I was told that entire feat would be accomplished by the Rishis themselves.
The oldest member of the group Mr. Ramapriya is basically a homeopath by profession and makes the visit to Manovati, every week, both to perform pooja to all the deities and to conduct free medical clinics for the neighbouring villagers. He commands tremendous respect both amongst the inmates and also amongst the villagers. Amara and the group after him never sought publicity since they did not want hordes of curious people thronging the place. It was therefore a surprise to me also when I found a Kannada program on Amara being broadcast for a few Sunday's on TV9, with interviews of Dr. Ramapriya and a few others. I understand that later on a request was made to the producers to refrain from disclosing the location of Manovati on the program. The Rishis are very clear that this is definitely not a place for tourists or random visitors and no activity concerning the place is ever started without their express permission. In fact, it is most likely that you would not be able to visit the place unless the Rishi's themselves wish you to do so. Still, in deference to the sanctity of the place I have scruplously refrained from giving any clue as to where exactly it is located, except in very general terms. It is a tribute to the power of the place that the TV's Sardar Videographer came there as a tourist and went back a believer!
Satish shared a great many revelations that Amara had made during his time, but that is fodder for another article which I will be penning soon. It was dusk when we reluctantly decided that we had to get a move on if we wanted to make it back to Mysore before midnight. My mind was in a whirl over the day's experiences and the wealth of information I had gathered and I craved solitude to assimilate it all. I came back a little more evolved, a lot clearer in my thinking and very sure as to the direction my spiritual journey should take in the future.