Saturday, March 23, 2013

A journey to India with Shyamdasji Part 1

People often assume that since I am a yoga teacher that I am a fan of India as a place. This is not true. Or at least it has not been true for a long time. My first experience in India was when I was 13. I asked my teacher and Uncle... David Life, if I could join him on a trip. Long story short, he said yes. Being in India is a bit of a blur. I remember going to Ashtanga every morning for two months and Shri K. Pattabhi Jois keeping me on baddhakonasa for many weeks and him standing, one dry heavy foot on each thigh, on top of me saying breath... I was 13 from from the Lower East Side of NYC, I was not really into it.



Afterwards we made our way north, with a few stops we arrived in Gokul. Birthplace of Krishna and home to Shyamdas. This was a highlight for me. Spending time by the Yamuna, Mohan (Shyamdas's friend, assistant, right hand) taught me how to cook different thing including bread in a cow dung fire. Tasted pretty good!!!! Once you get over the part about it being cooked in poo. Cow dung has played an essential role in India providing everything from fire for cooking to plaster for walls. Shyamdas would take David and I out to the river for long walks or through the town's bazaars.

Any way, 3 months  total and when I came back to New York and I swore off yoga. I thought it was terrible. Vegetarianism as well. It was for the birds and I was not really a bird person either. On one of our trips in Mysore we went to a aviary where a huge pelican type bird pooped all over me as soon as I walked in.

It was a while before I came back to yoga, a few years of not really speaking with Sharon and David. They knew about India and they let me go anyway. I was bitter.

Fast forward 17 years later and I am teaching yoga, vegan but still not wanting to go back to India. I also started speaking with Sharonji and Davidji again...notice the ji's...

Shyamdas had stayed a friend the whole time and a very dear teacher. We would always talk about me going to visit him in India or him coming with me on a trip to Japan. We would email each other every so often trying to make it work. But inside I did not really want to go back to India. I said to Davidji once that the only way I am going back to India is if Shyamdas promises to host me and look after me otherwise I have no desire.

I was open to the idea of traveling with Shyamdas because I knew something about him tha you might not pick up on right away. He was in touch. He was in touch in so many ways it would be impossible to really give a fair descrption. However two things always played in my mind to allow me to even contemplate a trip back. Shyamdas was in touch with the deep and esoteric teachings of Braj. He was part of a lineage that very few westerners get a glimpse of. He was the only westerner that I met that was translating the teaching of Shri Vallabhacharya. He spoke Hindi, Sanskrit and Braj Basi. After living in India for the better part of 40 years he was in touch with the people and the teachings but also the fruit the teachings talk about.

Every time someone came back from a trip with him they would always exclaim how amazing it was that everyone knew Shyamdas, the sadhus, the saints, the people in the shops, the priest at the temples. He was in touch with the teachings and the land to the extent that they were almost non-different. He was at ease everywhere because of it.

Shyamdasji left his body on Jan 20th. I received an email from Sharonji the night (NYC time) after it happened (Goa).

"Do you want to come with me to India Jules?" Sharon asked me the next day. Without a second thought I said yes.


1 comment:

Meera Acharya said...

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