Remembering a Titan

The institute has a few programs around the year and the hall is usually full for these events, even before the invocation starts. Yesterday was Guruji’s 2nd punya thithi and no exception. This time of the year also sees a lot of international students so it was a big gathering. 

remembering Guruji…

The program was a straight forward question and answer session with Geetaji. The questions posed were mostly about Guruji and his life. There were a few but two that stuck with me were the initial ones.

The first one was to understand the relationship of Guruji with the three important people in his life; his guru, Shri T. Krishnamacharya, his friend and pupil, Yehudi Menuhin and his beloved wife, Shrimati Ramamani Iyengar. Most of the world knew Guruji’s guru as a strict teacher to him. Geetaji showed us another aspect to the Guru Shishya relationship. It was his guru’s apparent refusal to teach him in depth that was essential for his self discovery and transformation. Knowing what not to teach is more important that knowing what to teach. 

The second with his friend and pupil, Yehudi Menuhin marked a turning point in his life’s purpose. His famous student was instrumental in bringing Guruji worldwide recognition and bringing a fresh lease of life to this ancient science.

The last but perhaps most important person in his sadhana was his wife. It is hard to imagine a relationship such as theirs today where we often do not have the magnanimity of heart to let go. Theirs was the equality of husband and wife as suggested in grihasthashram, soul mates in the true sense of the word. Ardhangani was the word used by Geetaji, an Indian word to denote wife. Perhaps a better description would be to say half of one’s being. Ardha means half and anga means body. Even Shiva need his Shakti…

Gurujis’s line of love, labour and laughter had someone wondering about ‘laughter’ since he was known to be a very strict teacher. Except for a brief moment as part of a crowd that took his blessings, I never knew him. But I always associated laughter with his personality. How could that expansive chest not be one of lightness and laughter? I hadn’t heard of the line before and coincidence or not, it was similar to what I write in greeting cards, “Love, laughter and sunshine”. Geetaji put it very beautifully, his laughter was Ishwara Pranidhana, an offering of everything to the Divine. 

Ruminating over these three words, I can’t help but think about the childlike innocence of these aspects of life. Children embody the best of being human. Their honest expression of love, their labouring to stand on their feet and gurgling laughter that light up the lives of those around. A little child is here, now. How can it be anything but pure joy? 

As a line from an old song goes, “Somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something good..”, to have found a way to Guruji. He lives on.

Pranaam Guruji

5 thoughts on “Remembering a Titan

    • We are because of our gurus! Guruji was a model student to his guru and there is so much to learn from his studentship. I’ve only looked at him as a guru and never thought about that aspect of his life. Sort of like how we consider parents to have always been fully grown adults.😊 Much to learn from our teachers and their teachers. It is so wonderful to have a lineage.

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  1. Beautiful! I often reflect on Guruji’s words when he talked about the “da da da” guru. We all have gleaned what we needed to learn from him even though it may be far less sophisticated than what he was trying to teach us. But the seeds have been planted in his students and we are starting to see the garden bloom. Some of the best fruits of our practice are yet to come based on Guruji’s steadfast dedication. So happy you are there in Pune. Many blessings to you Sonia.

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    • Thank you Michael. I remember you often when there are events such as these. I can only imagine how much you would soak up the energy of the place. These occasions are the few when everyone including the teachers chant the invocation together and it is very powerful. On a lighter note, after the chant, people stayed with their head down until Geetaji asked everyone to raise their head and open their eyes. She had a tiny smile when she said that…πŸ™‚

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