I was on my mat this morning when I received a call that Geetaji had passed away. It seemed unreal and fitting at the same time, she went in a blaze of brilliance after seeing the Centennial celebrations. But, I mourn selfishly for my regrets. I mourn for not reaching out to learn. I mourn for forever losing the chance to experience her as a direct teacher.
Ever since I became a student at the Institute, I wanted to share my briefest of brief moments in Guruji’s presence. Many years ago, I stood in line among others to seek his blessings at the end of a commemorative program. I was carrying my younger child and today I realize his presence and the gift of yoga blessed her far more than I can begin to imagine. I wanted her to know it but was too much in awe to share it. I thought I was an unworthy student and didn’t deserve to say it in person. So, I fiddled with the thought of writing her a letter and was stuck at the thought what would happen if she decided she wanted to know who is this person in Pune who would rather write a letter than meet. And so, I did not act for all these years.
My first act after I got off the mat was to write that letter. I reached the Institute and sat down next to an elderly lady and when she patted my lap, couldn’t help but share my regret about not reaching out. She consoled me and much later, as I left the crematorium, she told me to be bold. And so, at another ending, there is a new beginning. Just like Guruji’s words.
I wonder if it is ok to feel so much grief for someone I never directly knew. But, my heart is raw and the tears threaten to choke my heart. I swallow their hot pain and look upwards to send them back but they remain brimming. Many memories have been bubbling inside.
I would practise to her DVD and took back a different learning everytime. Her voice is imprinted in my brain. Even through an inanimate and indirect class, her energy would be palpable. I would feel as though I was at the Institute. Sometimes, I would linger on my way down after class to hear her voice back when she was still taking the ladies class. Lately, I would yearn for her guidance in the medical class but didn’t have the nerve to ask. I thought my knee issue wasn’t bad enough to ask for her help, or anyone else’s for that matter. I remember her talks, her earnestness in being true to the principles of yoga and her immense devotion to Guruji.
I cannot begin to imagine the sorrow of her family and those who have lived and loved her directly. The family was strong and supported those who were inconsolable. But, we stayed grieving only for our loss. Somewhere, the teachings from the Gita echoed as I heard the chatter of Guruji’s tiny great grandchildren and the noises of life outside. We don’t die. We just become part of the cosmos. We dissolve into that single unbroken stream of consciousness until the conditions are met for another creative expression. As the women of the family chanted Narayanaya, I remembered my reading of the morning
यच्चापि सर्वभूतानां बीजं तदहमर्जुन।
न तदस्ति विना यत्स्यान्मया भूतं चराचरम।।३९।।
She was a worthy disciple and daughter. I am reminded of the dream she had after Guruji’s passing away and which she so generously shared. In my heart’s eye, I remember her smile, the half smile of satisfaction at the end of a session. A childlike innocence. That’s how she will remain in my heart.
Humble pranams from an undeserving student.