To Mummy with Love; My Journey of Self-Discovery

Happy Mother’s Day! I chose well a mother like you! I have great admiration for you. I drew inspiration and strength from the way you have always presented yourself with grace. In times when I forgot and felt alone, I remembered you were always a role model for me. My life has been fashioned and influenced by the many things you have accomplished in your life like singing, philosophy, scriptures, cooking and many other things. You have been truly loved by your children. Each of us cares deeply about you. What a gift that must be for you.

What you taught us by example was that the inner life affects every part of our worldly life. This work must be done alone and preserved and strived for (sadhana). But what is the inner life? While we have plans to improve our inner life to develop a healthy mind, emotions, and psychological resilience and to grow our spirit, which is undoubtedly important and desirable, this concept gets forgotten. These leave our lives valueless and barren. I have learned that life has given us an opportunity to strive to reclaim, remember, and reconnect to the spirit (atman) within us to flourish and thrive.

We are all on a journey of life, questing and thirsting for that precious jewel within us – the spark (atman) which is part of the big flame (Brahman).

As mortals, each one of us is part of the divine dance (lila). We have forgotten our true nature (aridya). We have been playing our parts for so long that we as actors on the stage of life have forgotten our unique parts, which is the divine essence and the spark within us. Think of it this way, we are thirsting and yearning for something. We do not know what, and we feel lost, and yet, we are seeking…

We are mortals playing the game of “Lila” as Krishna and Gopis did in Vrindavan – forgetting and remembering and playing hide and seek.

We are here on earth to act out our parts and live the best life we know of. We are here to re-embrace, recognize, and restore our true nature. Recently, I’ve been immersed in studying the book Pratiabhijna Hridayam, which means splendor of recognition of self. It has touched me and revitalized my purpose.

Life, as we know, is a gift. We are here to live life to its fullest and to quest and journey within ourselves to taste the nectar (amrita) of the divine which is enshrined in our mortal hearts, forgotten and buried. We are here to take delight in tasting this divine juice, which is rasa. It is time to reclaim that which we took for granted and never did lose. We are here on earth to find out who we are, what we came here to be, and what we are made of. We are here to bring our unique, beautiful essence (Svabhava, or atman) into full expression in this lifetime to experience joy, bliss (ananda) and peace. This is freedom and our birthright.

My journey with my cookbook, Turmeric & Spice, was a challenging one. In this sacred journey, I learned many lessons about my strength and weaknesses. I learned about relationships and technical things. I am ever so grateful to all those who touched the shores of my life to help me finish my cookbook. It was an empowering journey for me, which gave me a sense of accomplishment and self-worth. Many times during writing the book I lost hope and courage, but I persevered and completed it. I read a beautiful quote by Phil Cousineau: “Success is the peace of mind attained only through self-satisfaction in knowing you have made the effort to do the best of which you are capable.” I think I did this with my book, my children, my husband, my friends, and everything I’ve touched in my life.

Despite living so far away from you, I have been extremely lucky to have shared many adventures to sacred places in India with you. I was looking at the album of our trip to the north of India in 2002. Dad was supposed to come, but he was called back to Bombay for work. We went to Vrindavan, Banaras or Varanasi, Sarnath, Nalanda University, Bodha Gaya, and Rajgir. In Bodha Gaya, we saw the Kala Chakra festival, and we were able to do pranam to the Dalai Lama. That I think was a tremendous gift and a blessing. In Rajgir, we visited ma’s ashram temple and Dasha Maha Vidya temple of the Ten Goddesses. Do you remember the boat ride we took in the wee hours of the morning on the Ganges as the sun came up? These moments I have been lucky enough to have shared with you. You have always been a pilgrim with me on my sacred journeys. Some others I should mention are when you came with me to my diksha in Poona, KARE to the Ayurvedic facility, to Bhimpura for papa’s Bhagavat. Not to forget our trip to South India, do you remember our ambitious expedition to the south? Mahabalipuram, Kanchipuram, Jambhukeshwar, Kumbhakoam, Darashuram, Tanjore, Chidambaram, Madurai, Rameshwaram, Tiruvanamalai, Trichy, and the Navagrahas (Nine Planets). I am sure I have forgotten a few places, but you get the gist.

As I go down memory lane, there were so many magical moments we have experienced as a family. We have spent quality time together in Hyderabad, Shrinathji, Udaipur and Kashmir. Remember the tulips in full bloom in Srinagar, the saffron fields in Pampore, and ah, my red carpet I bought which I love and cherish. I remember Uday’s skillful bargaining was able to strike a good deal for us. These were good times and memories that have been carved  and imprinted in my brain and heart that have left behind a fragrance in my life always to be remembered.

This last trip to Bhimpura and Haridwar was a bonding experience for you with Kabir who you fondly termed as Hrushi Kumar, meaning yogi. At his request, you came, and he will cherish that time spent with you. The aarti on the Ganges and the laghu rudri in Anandamaye ma’s ashram were a blessing for all of us—an extraordinary experience in our mundane world.

The sheer exhaustion and exhilaration of this trip have forced you to stay home for months to recover. Time to retreat into the cave of the heart (anahata) in the thunderous silence (Brahman or source). Here we reconnect and contemplate and reflect within us which brings value and meaning to our lives. Most people are resistant to developing their inner lives until tragedy, disaster, illness, accident or major loss strikes. This is when people turn their gaze inwards to awaken to the “why” of life. The ultimate purpose is the “why” of your life, anyway. This is a gift I have received from you, from which I have derived the value and purpose of my life. I am humbled and ever so grateful.

This inner life, the only life where we experience deep joy in the core of our ordinary life, is the very foundation of our life here on earth. We experience something extraordinary if we develop and allow this trust—this hidden, vibrant life within us—which is life eternal in all of us.

The magical mantra below was written by Dr. Annie Besant, by then President of the Theosophical Society:

O Hidden Life, vibrant in every atom
O Hidden Light, shining in every creature
O Hidden Love, embracing all in Oneness
May all those who feel themselves one with Thee,
Know therefore they are one with each other.

Know therefore they are one with each other. Mom, for all the gifts you have bought me, you gave me the gift of awareness of that jewel, which is the atman, that resides within us. This jewel has been with us all along, waiting for us to receive, accept, and acknowledge our inner life. I indulge in this sweetness, which is rasa. This is very profound for me.

I love you, Mom. Thank you for all you have done for me! Happy Mother’s Day!

Love, Bina