Kumari

Kumari Ellis

Kumari is a Mullumbimby based author. Her novel about her mystical experiences in India is an absorbing and enlightening tale. Join her on a great adventure into one of the world’s most exotic and intricate spiritual cultures.

“I have always loved to write and it was six years ago that I first sat down to write this story of my time in India. Initially I had two days every week when I was released for a few hours of mothering duty, and in that time I would brew chai, and sit down to write. It was surprisingly easy for me to slip back to the days of India and I found great solace in doing so. It has been a lengthy process and I believe with this first manuscript I have learnt so much about the writing process. Indeed about myself as it took me beyond the edge of comfort at times with revealing more about myself than I ever set out to share. It is a story that wants to be shared and I found that the more I could get out of my own way and simply be present, to show up to the empty page, the more it revealed.”

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A gift from a true seeker
ByJohn Wade on February 13, 2018
Format: Paperback
What a wonderful ride I was taken on by this book. Kumari's descriptions of places across India are so accurate and highly emotive. Having visited India numerous times I had to resist cancelling everything and immediately buying a plane ticket to experience India flowing around me and through me once again. The book is gifted to us by a dedicated seeker of Truth. Tracing the Moon is an important affirmation for many "on the path". It affirms we are not the only one having the experience of doubts and the sometimes bumpy auto rickshaw ride from one moment of clear ecstasy to being swamped by our worldly uncontrolled mind in the next moment. Thank you Prem Kumari.
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2 days ago

Maha Shivaratri - The Great Night of Lord Shiva

Shiva is the ultimate power, the Adiyogi. He is where we come from and in him, we will return. Also known as auspicious, propitious, gracious, benign, kind, benevolent, friendly, in whom all things lie, all pervading, embodiment of grace, Lord of the dance, the sacred void which is endless, pure energy.

During Maha Shivaratri, devotees stay awake all night chanting the name of Lord Shiva. This year it will be celebrated in South India on the night of the 13th of February while in North India on the night of the 14th of February.

There are a number of popular legends related to Maha Shivaratri.

It is believed that on this day, Lord Shiva married Parvati.
It is also believed that on this night, Lord Shiva performed the Tandava Dance (cosmic cycle of creation, preservation and dissolution).

Maha Shivaratri is celebrated as the day Lord Shiva saved the universe, when during the churning of the ocean He drunk the poison and held it in his throat becoming known as Neelkanth.

Another legend associated to Mahashivaratri is the Shiva Linga (also known as Lingodbhavamurthy). According to the story, Brahma and Vishnu searched hard to discover the Aadi (beginning) and the Antha (end) of Lord Shiva. On this auspicious night, Lord Shiva manifested himself in the form of linga to reveal that there is no beginning or end to His Being. This story is associated with the formation of the holy hill Arunachala.

Another legend related to Mahashivaratri is the descent of Holy River Ganga from the heavens, when Lord Shiva held out his thick matted hair and softened Ganga's journey to earth.

Another famous story is one of a hunter who unknowingly dropped bael leaves on a Shivalinga and attained Moksha. While hunting in the forest, Suswara the hunter shot a deer but could not return home as night fell on the forest. To spend the night, he climbed a bael tree. He kept awake the whole night because of hunger and thirst. He shed tears thinking about his wife and children who would starve without food. To divert his mind, he engaged himself in plucking bael leaves and dropping them. This happened on Maha Shivaratri. There was a Shiva Lingam under the tree and unknowingly, the hunter worshipped Lord Shiva throughout the night. Moreover, he had fasted all day and night. Thus he received salvation. This fable was narrated by, Bhishma, discoursing on Dharma whilst resting on the bed of arrows during the Kurukshetra war (Mahabharata).

Happy and Blessed Mahashivaratri
OM NAMAH SHIVAYA!
HAR HAR MAHADEV!!
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1 week ago

Here is a review Tracing the Moon recieved today...thank you Vivienne Pasters.... Beautiful, insightful and intimate

When I started reading Tracing the Moon I didn’t want to stop. As I found myself closer to the end, I didn’t want it to finish, for fear of the void it might leave inside me.

This is such an intimate sharing, with beautiful descriptive chapters and photos, how could I not find some of myself in the lines.

I feel this is a pointer on my own path and I know I will be able to recover the feelings and emotions I felt by simply looking at the book on my shelf.

Thank you Kumari for sharing. Namaste
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2 weeks ago

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Such a wonderful book. I too have read it twice and should be on everyones must read list. 🙏

i have read this book at least twice, and each time I find something new. I totally agree with Vivienne Pasters review. It is a book to be read, then have a permanent home on your bookshelf. It will remind you of all the wisdom inside. If you have not read this book, please treat yourself to a copy. You will not be disappointed. I too say yet again, Thank you Kumasi........

In english only?

Amém

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From Lucknow we flew south to Chennai. A four hour drive delivers us to the holy mountain Arunachala, where Ramana Maharishi spent most of his life. After the brimming streets of Lucknow the south feels calm and more serene. Recent heavy rains leave everywhere green and vibrant. We stay in the ashram, an oasis of silence. Ramana’s presence lives on. Only five days but time looses its hold. A diving inwards, sitting long hours as pujas are performed, lingams are washed and scrubbed, offered holy water, milk, honey, flowers and sandalwood perfume. The care and attention, the dedication and focus, the beauty, the devotion is the rhythm of the days. To walk slowly around His Samadhi, his tomb where his body was embalmed, whilst men and women sing verses in praise of Arunachala: back and forth the play of masculine and feminine in harmony. Meditation is almost effortless as a tangible silence leaves a quiet and profound bliss. Meals are served in the dinging room to rows of devotees sitting on the floor with a banana leaf before us. Men in dhotis and the Brahmin thread strung across bare chests serve from buckets of rice, dhal, samba, vegetables cooked with curry leaves tamarind and coconut milk. Butter milk from the ashram cows. And above it all presides the holy hill. “All that is required to realize the Self is to be still. What can be easier than that?’ It was a truly blessed few days and time lost all meaning. On our last evening Soma took me to a Durga temple in town that I had never been to before. Standing before the image of Durga I find tears flowing down my face. Filled with her darshan I fall at her feet in gratitude. The temple is calm and peaceful with a large banyan tree covering a courtyard. The night sky dilute from the light of the city but stars visible all the same. A woman with a small babe offers worship at the deities. She places the baby on the ground to rub red vibhuti and yellow sandal paste on the forehead of Ganesh, at the feet of Durga, murmuring mantras, head bowed, before picking up the baby again, her gold and red sari flowing around her. This is the heart of India. The endless worship, the continuity of God, temples housing Durga, Shiva, Ganesh, and Hanuman. All the Gods are honoured and alive. Returning home to the fabled lands of the Byron Shire where beauty astounds and the air is clean and the waters crystal clear there is a profound absence. The chaos of India is regulated by the pulse of worship, the sweet symphony of the divine, as temple bells ring out in the cool dawn air, prayers are sung in angelic voices, and heads bowed before the greater presence. Suburban living, with the endless requirements that life demands, as if time can be snatched from my hands, working with those in their last years and the suffering so often present as life removes so much before they fade out like the stars at dawn. Personal stories gain too much importance, as the expanded awareness of sitting long hours, immersed in silence requires greater dedication, vigilance, commitment to a practise, and endless compassion for us all. I sit before my Agni hotra flame, a small flame of peace. Recite mantra, take a few moments to pause, remember and simply rest in the presence that indeed is available anywhere. Simply keep quiet. Nature is my goddess here, as the river runs turquoise and the ocean in the last hues of day throws a pastel pink and the water churns with opals. There is so much to be grateful for in this precious life. Ramana says: “The self is here and now, and alone. The one obstacle is the mind; it must be got over whether in the home or in the forest. Your efforts can be made even now, whatever be the environment.’ Hari Om Tat Sat. ... See MoreSee Less

1 month ago

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Thanks for sharing your auspicious experience. I am very happy for you. Please tell me more.

Loving the book. Beloved India. Always calling me home.

Beautiful words so rich with humility and gratitude 🙏

Beautiful. Resonate with this. Beloved India. Arunachala Shiva. Ramana. Always in the Heart.

Beautiful description.this os so Índia. Such a blusa do watcb and be present um sol that! Ah this!!!! VERY moment!!!

So beautifully expressed.

YES❤️🙏🏼❤️🙏🏼❤️🙏🏼❤️

Luiz Ortiz

Beverley

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the holy hill of Arunachala...... ... See MoreSee Less

1 month ago

the holy hill of Arunachala......

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Beverley-home! Some familiar faces 😊💖

Lucknow ... See MoreSee Less

2 months ago

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2 months ago

Haridwar did not let us go easily. The full moon, and one of the most auspicious days to bathe in the Ganga brought crowds of pilgrims from near and far. By midday traffic came to a standstill. Eight lanes of buses trucks cars autorikshaws slowed to a halt as the city became gridlocked. Our bus caught somewhere in the fumes and commotion gave us another afternoon to sit by the Ganga. As the sun dipped low hundreds of lights were lit along her banks illuminating the water with dancing reflections as the air filled with pujas. As night fell our bus finally arrived and we drove the back road, a meandering up and down narrow road through the forest, with the moon shining amidst the trees as we chanted and sang. Rishikesh. Wild winds sweep through the guest house where we stay up on the hill, the Ganga as yet unseen. Awakening to her vision spread below us, hills surround and the immediate sense of the Himalayas brings a tingle to my bones. She is perhaps more beautiful here as she emerges emerald green from the mountains where she has tumbled and rushed. Feast- filled days, Ganga arti, pilgrims, even rafting on the river. Sitting by her banks watching her glide by as loudspeakers proclaim her praises. Bathing in her waters, prayers on my lips. Jai Ma. The call of the higher mountains heard but not answered this time. A brief few days and back to Haridwar for a night train to Lucknow. We arrive at the station to find our train is cancelled. Careful plans discarded and a bus is organised. Unknown at the time our train was cancelled due to a thick blanket of fog and pollution covering a large sway of northern India. As we drove through the night it became a miracle that we arrived anywhere safely. Visibility was zero. We lost the road several times ending up in eerie Felinin type scenes as a grainy light spilled on a world blanketed in grey. The road was appalling. One moment a highway then all of a sudden diverted to a single lane commotion. The ride took 18 hours and revealed the ugly underbelly of India. No more temples and pilgrims, rivers flowing free. Lines of trucks bolted together from sheets of iron, garishly painted. Blaring horns. Kids squatting by the road side last minute moving from the path of traffic. Piles of garbage, filth, the roadside dwellers under black sheets of plastic. Figures sleep on the roadside under a blanket. As dawn emerged to reveal pale shadows visibility lifted to about 10 meters. The worst pollution even by India’s standards. We arrive in Lucknow exhausted and sore. The air is turgid grainy and my lungs ache. I have a sadhu room, a single bed, a rooftop. Dawn, even with the sun hidden by smog, heralds bird song, sounds from the street. Music so familiar to me I weep. A vendor calls his wares, women sweep. Satang house is still maintained and the presence of my beloved Guruji is profound in its certainty. It is 20 years ago since he left his body. The energy is the same: never born, never dies. Reflecting the unchanging Self that is the heart of all creation. I retreat to my room. Dive inwards. We watch satsang DVD’s and visit Papaji’s house. His bedroom is a shrine to Him and the silence is thick. Ecstatic bliss just to sit in the living room, served tea and biscuits, with memories of so many years that I lived in this chaotic bustling city with the focus on satang, on beloved Papaji. The grace flows freely. I cannot describe the relationship of devotee to ones master, ones Guru. It simply has to be experienced. I am so deeply profoundly grateful. Lucknow teems with life. I love that I can speak enough Hindi to connect. After a rickshaw wallah cycles me back from the market I give him 100rupees…$2. His face erupts in smiles and he touches my feet in gratitude. The beggars outside the temple, the small kid with broken teeth and a tin for coins, I just want to feed them all. India and her people touch a place in me that reminds me I am home. ... See MoreSee Less

2 months ago

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We were walking the back road the other day....back through the forest at dusk after meditating in Muni Babas cave.....many monkeys and enormous amounts of elephant shit and silent tiger eyes watching from the trees

Such divine storytelling - i feel filled by all that you share. Thank you and safe travels <3

With this awesomely written account of your experience I can feel it, smell it, sense it, be right there! Thanks for sharing in such a profound reflection, love and blessings 💚💙💜

Thanks for taking us with you on your inner and outer journey Kumari

Oh how beautifully written <3 ... I can so totally feel immersed in your experience, right there with you. TQ for all you share. Jai Ma ! xx

Great script, am living it right now! Jaimini

Thank you .. beautifully written and received

Beautifully written, Much love.

Who wrote this beautiful piece?

Oh my good

Thanks. You take me there...

Thanks. Oh my good

🌹❤️🌹🌹

Amém

❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

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some images of Haridwar...... ... See MoreSee Less

2 months ago

Christmas can be a time of rawness. Expectations, memories, nostalgia and a deeper meaning lost amongst the tinsel. I recently returned from a pilgrimage in India. Here is a brief account of the first few days of a truly profound pilgrimage. Haridwar is a city seeped in ritual and tradition with ornate and elegant stone buildings, narrow lanes alive with market stalls and shops spilling colourful wares, people everywhere, horns incessantly peeping and cows meandering oblivious. Wide walkways, temples and bathing ghats, shrines and sadhus add their own magic. The air is filled with devotional songs, the rhythmic sounds of sweeping, temple bells, and traffic passing nearby. Haridwar hosts the Ganga, rushing from her Himalayan abode. Revered and worshiped, mystical and majestic, she weaves her way in a rush of turquoise and aquamarine. It is said to dip in her waters removes and cleanses karma. Early morning sun trails golden light on her waters. A pujari rings a bell as swallows dip and dart. Oil lamps burn in offering to her divinity. Flowing endlessly, eternally, to merge with her source.
Anandamayai Ma has her ashram here in Haridwar. I last visited 22 years ago and it was rural then, on the edge of town. The city has grown to enfold the white marble buildings within its markets and narrow streets, filled with rickshaws bicycles scooters people walking, shopping, pilgrims, sadhus in orange cloth, and endless commotion. The sanctity within remains the same.
‘You had enough play of intelligence in life. Victory or defeat whatever it was has passed away. Just for once, looking at Him like a helpless one, jump into His lap. You will not have to worry about anything else.’ Anandamayai Ma
This pilgrimage is with a group of family and friends of Mira, whose beloved husband, Tansen, died 3 years ago. Tansen’s wish was that his ashes be given to the Ganga. Mira and Tansen were my midwives, assisting the safe arrival of both of my children. This pilgrimage is personal too as all pilgrimages are. It has been six years since I have been in India, almost to the day, when I packed up my kids and took them with me to visit Babaji in the foothills of the Himalaya. So much has occurred in these last six years and this time for myself, to step out of the routines and requirements of householder life is more necessary than I had realized.
Haki Puri Ghat is one of the revered places to attend Aarti, and every evening hundreds and sometimes thousands of people throng to her banks to worship this Ganga. A river considered as the Mother of all, a Goddess of divine grace. The rituals are elaborate and people push and elbow their way to be close. We are guests of honour and Mira sits on one of the wooden platforms where the priests perform the ritual. The build up to the flames being lit is immense as more and more people throng and mass on the banks. As the sun sets oil lamps are lit and Aarti is sung through loud speakers. Offerings to the river – a leaf boat with orange flowers and a candle alight, bob and sway before being whisked by the current down stream, the flame bravely holding out against the breezes. The energy is high. I am in my own personal heaven.
The next day is the ashes ceremony for Tansen. His ashes fill 2 large containers. We also have the ashes of Nici, a vibrant woman who filled her life with service. She died the week before we left. Mira’s grandson has bought ashes of his father, who died a few years before. We gather again at Haki puri ghat. Onlookers surround us, asking for a photo or a selfi with one us westerners chanting the name of Ram. It is a profound and touching moment as Mira tips the ashes into the fast flowing Ganga. The last remains of her beloved. Gone the way we all eventually will. Ashes swirl for just a moment before rushing headlong away. Mira dips under three times in the freeing cold water. We all dip and bath, hanging on to the chains as the river is strong. I have my own silent offering as the lotus flower of grief rises from deep within my body. A brief sting of tears as the sadness still held by the loss of my breast is released - my breast that was removed by a surgeon’s cold knife.
I am the last to bathe. I hold tight to the chain as my feet are taken from me and I feel the river catch me in her strong currents, pulling me away.
Crowds gather as the full moon brings pilgrims from near and far. I walk alone along the ghats, loosing myself in the scenes and sights that are so deeply familiar. Bright colourful saris hung out to dry, peanut sellers, food stalls and woks sizzling with aromas, boys selling giant sized balloons, women dipping small children into the river, others standing with hands folded in prayer. Cows amble amongst it all, sadhus sleep under the shade of a tree. Families and groups gather together. Temples housing gods adorned with orange flowers, loud speakers singing praises. The name of God resounds from every stone, every leaf of this god intoxicated land. A river worshiped as the goddess Ganga Ma, flowing fast and free beside me.
Jai Ma Jai Ma.
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2 months ago

Comment on Facebook

So well expressed and deep. I am there🙏🕉🙏

Gratidão!

Beautiful writing Kumari 💕

Feliz Ano Novo, Luisa e Caio!

Thankyou 😍

Feliz nocha vija amigo!

❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

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In three weeks time I leave for a short trip to India. I am going on a pilgrimage, part of a group taking the ashes of a dear friend to the Ganga. It will be six years, almost to the day, since I last visited this land that holds so much sacred for me. That last visit was fuelled by a strong pull to see Babaji.
The previous summer I had made an Indian lunch feast for friends. It was a refreshingly Indian gathering as we shared stories, spoke a little hindi and ate dhal chapatti and subze. As I was brewing chai a phone call took me completely by surprise: a deeply familiar voice that I had not heard in fourteen years. “Kumari, Prem Kumari?’ I knew immediately who it was. Over the next months we spoke often: the age of technology and Babaji had a mobile phone! In a mix of Hindi and English he told me what was growing in the ashram garden and who was staying there. He always asked what did I eat and how was my health. Did I grow my own vegetables? He quoted from the Bhagavad Gita, his favourite scripture, reminding me that all is the mind. Only God is real. Everything looking is God. Our phone calls invoked vivid memories of ashram life, sitting by his dhuni, smoking a beedi, his quietly spoken ways, the nod of his head, the way his dark eyes glistened. His often spoken words: all for God Kumari-ji, all for God. The dance of his hands as he made chapattis’, sacred fire, murmured mantras. It pulled at my heart that was often challenged by domesticity, motherhood and the routines required. I found myself all too easily drawn to his ashram nestled in the hills, snow peaks above and eagles wheeling free against the blue. Caught between two worlds I started to leave longer gaps before returning unanswered calls.
Then one night I dreamt vividly of him. He had come to visit me and we were walking up to the lighthouse. He wore his faded orange lunghi and russet red woollen waistcoat. He carried his kamandal as he always did when walking in the hills. As we stood gazing out to the infinite blue of ocean and sky I asked: ‘Babaji how long can you stay?’ He turned to me with those eyes full of light. ‘I have never been apart from you. I am never leaving you.’
I knew I had to answer the strong pull to visit him. My kids were five and just turned eight, and had already been three times to India, to the holy mountain Arunachala and the ashram of Sri Ramana Maharshi.
November in the foothills of the Himalayas is already cold. Skies clear and blue as we wound our way up the zig-zag road to Macloed Ganj. Of course the place had changed in the fourteen years since I last visited. The hillside visibly groaned with the extent of development. Maruti vans whizzed dangerously along the crowded narrow streets, and the increase in middle class Indian tourism was obvious. Monkeys swung from the wires strung across the street, and the familiar sight of Tibetan nuns and monks filled my heart.
The forest was quiet and still. Deodar pines leaked their fragrance. The bridge over the small river new and wide and the gate too had been replaced and the entrance more defined. The ashram extended with a double story building behind the temple, the fluttering flag and the low rooved buildings of my era. A straggle of red dahlias tied up with string. Red geraniums spilt from rusty tins.
He is in the small kitchen in the new area of the ashraam. ‘Ho ho’ he calls, as he sees us. And then he holds my head for a moment with his wide brown hands and I can smell his fragrance of juniper wood and incense and beedis. His hair grey now and beard too, resting half way down his chest. Our foreheads touch for a moment before he pulls back. ‘Tickhe kumari ji? Tickhe? He asks, just as he did all those years ago when our lives entwined.
We stayed a month in the ashram, my kids and I. It was a time I will treasure always. If you have not read Tracing the Moon here is an excerpt from the early days after I first met Babaji, so many moons ago now. I hope you enjoy. Hari Om.

He has remained in the attic of my mind but now steps clearly into my thoughts. I smile as I cross the wooden bridge. The stream is full with snowmelt, and the gate creaks as it opens. The silence of the deodar forest whispers a blessing. The garden beds are bare and I pause at the temple, fold my palms to the lingam. A smudge of incense still burns and an oil lamp flickers. The gentle sense of belonging as my soul knows this imprint.
Smoke curls from the roof just as it did six months before. ‘Namaste!’ I call and I pause just a moment before looking around the doorway. Babaji sits by the fire. His face remains curt, then in a moment smiles wide. ‘Ho, ho! Namaste!’
I realise how much I have wanted this welcome, his recognition.
‘Behtou, behtou!’ [Sit, sit!] He tells me, gesturing with his hand.
The fire is neat, a small glow of flame under the pot. The tridents have fresh orange marigolds strung around them and the silvery ash is smooth. Babaji wears thick socks and a cream blanket around his shoulders. His beard seems longer and his hair is tied in a neat knot as if recently oiled.
‘When you come?’
‘Last week, Babaji.’
‘Accha.’ He is silent again and I am quick to fill the space.
‘What are you cooking, Babaji?’ The aroma is like the forest - dank,
mysterious and fecund.
‘This medicine. Leaf boiling, tea coming. Good for body
when cold time.’
‘Winter time must be very cold. You have much snow?’
‘Winter time is winter time.’ He holds my gaze. ‘Everything resting,
much time for looking God, inside.’ He places his hand over his heart. ‘Much snow coming. Beautiful looking.’

‘You learning some English, Babaji?’
He laughs his light laugh, flashing white teeth. ‘One Israeli boy stay, speaking some Hindi. Me little English learning.’
I lean back against the whitewashed wall and tuck my legs beside me. The burlap sack curtain at the doorway lets the cold wind seep in and I pull my shawl tight.
Babaji takes a small pot from the shelf and throws in a handful of tea from a jar. He unwraps a cloth bundle and empties cardamom pods into his hand. He breaks the tight pods open, crushes the black seeds between his fingers then tips the lot into the pot. Then pours water from the fire-blackened kettle and rests the pot on the fire.
‘Chai piou?’ [Tea drink?]
He pours milk from the kamandal by his side and watches the brew rise as it boils then pours the chai into two stainless steel cups.
The chai is sweet and creamy and the cardamom is rich. Babaji slurps noisily and lights a beedi. He passes the packet to me and I take one. These little rolled up bits of tobacco leaf are hard to keep alight and after relighting it a couple of times I give up.
Babaji laughs. ‘This Indian smoke. Sometimes smoking, sometimes no smoking.’
I let my unease vanish with the smoke. This is too good to be distracted by my inner chatter. It is six months since I sat on this earth floor. There have been so many images, experiences and emotions – stories grand and dismal. Yet here I am, in surroundings unchanged. Even the cat sits in her place on the window ledge. I’m invited in too – to sit within myself in that place of rest. To notice the chill as the breeze moves through, to hear the layer of sound as nature sings her song, a profound quiet that fits like a glove.
I rinse my cup then sit for a while longer. Time has no hold. No idle chit-chat, just sitting. Babaji sits with his eyes mostly on the fire. Every now and again he looks up.
‘Tikhai, sub tikhai?’[Everything okay?] ‘Sub tikhai,’ I repeat. [All good.]

I have no idea how long we sit but the cat awakens and stretches before disappearing out through the sack door.
‘Your country going?’ he asks.
‘No, I went to Thailand to make new visa for India.’
‘Accha, Calcutta going?’
‘Calcutta very big city! I saw many Kali shrines.’
‘Ah Calcutta is Kali’s place. You go Ramakrishna temple?’
‘No. No I didn’t.’
‘Ah, very strong place. Ramakrishna number one Indian saint.’ He
nods and falls again to silence. I don’t want to overstay my welcome for this first visit and decide to take my leave.
As I stand and arrange my shawl he looks up. ‘Going?’ ‘Yes, Babaji, going.’
‘Tikhai.’
‘Namaste, Babaji.’
He nods briefly. ‘You come sometime, eating time, afternoon time.’ My first official invitation – and as I walk back through the forest I wonder why I left so soon.
The very next afternoon I visit again. A cold rain falls and stings my warm cheeks. I hurry up the path through the garden.
‘You no umbrella taking?’ He tuts as I arrive with wet hair and my shawl too damp to wear. He fetches another. It smells of him: incense and wood smoke. The room is cosy with the burlap sack down and the fire burning free.
‘Tikhai?’
‘Tikhai, Babaji, tikhai.’ I settle cross-legged. Babaji sits as he always does, smoking a beedi, glancing at me. A pot sits to the side of the fire and the aroma of cumin seeps unseen.
‘You eating?’
‘Thank you, Babaji.’
From the storeroom he fetches a bowl of flour then squats again. He pours water from the kettle then kneads the mixture with hands that are sure and strong. He breaks the dough into little balls, places a chapatti plate on the fire to heat, and rolls the dough on the wooden board, thick perfect circles. He puts one on the hot plate and rakes glowing embers from the fire for the half cooked chapatti to rest against. After a moment the chapatti puffs and browns. His hands dance as they work, intent on his task until a pile of wrapped chapattis sit on the lid of the pot by the fire. He replaces the kettle, tidies the fire, takes the flour bowl to the tap and disappears outside.
Watching his routine soothes me. It is like watching an artist who has perfected their craft; the simplicity of his actions reassures me that all is in order. All is well. Ritual gives definition to the sacred. I hear the temple bell ring. Babaji returns with a stick of incense, sits again then waves it around the fire, murmuring, ‘Om, Om, Om,’ with his hand on his heart. Every action is precise. He breaks a piece of chapatti, spreads it with ghee and places it in the fire, then carefully throws a handful of sugar into the flames with a few more ‘Om’s’. The sugar flashes blue in the fire. With his palms together and eyes closed he prays, softly, as if the gods are near enough to hear. ‘Hari Om,’ he finishes.
If there is such a place as heaven, this will do it for me. Sitting by a dhuni – a sacred fire – with a sadhu about to serve me food, food offered to the gods first. I savour each mouthful – kidgeree, rice and dhal cooked together with cumin, turmeric and ginger. A spoonful of ghee on top melts to a pool and thick chapattis scoop the food into my mouth. Sitting here by his fire, I feel something of what I am searching for.
Babaji eats quickly.
‘Chapatti more? Rice more?’ he asks.
‘Bas, Babaji, bas.’ I finish up and take my plate to the tap. With a
scoop of ash I clean the plate and lean it against the wall to drain. I take my place again as he puts the black kettle back on the flame.
‘You like this sitting is better,’ he tells me as I cross my legs. He sits on his heels, with his legs folded beneath him, his back straight as a rod. He nods as I do the same. ‘This way sitting better for food stomach going.’
I smile. ‘Babaji, you much English learning.’
‘Accha?’ He looks at the fire then adds: ‘All for time pass. This doing, that doing, all for time pass.’ His eyes again fall to the flicker of flame. After a moment he adds, ‘Only for God looking. God looking, then no problem.’
Silence settles all around. The kettle boiled, he again piles the fire with wood and the flames surge and sway in the cold breeze that comes through the small opening of window.
Day is losing its light to a moonless evening. ‘Night soon coming,’ I say. Time to go before dark descends. ‘Thank you, Babaji, namaste.’
‘Hari Om, Hari Om. Sometime you coming, no problem.’
I climb back up the path through the deodar pines, the wind cold and the night descending. It suits me, I note, this climate, the freshness of the air and the smell of fires from the village below drifting in the trees. I reach Rishi Bhawan and unlock my door. A moment of fear rises in my throat as I realise my vulnerability at staying here alone. No doubt the other rooms will fill fast once the days warm. I light the fire, and sit watching the flames before turning in early for sleep.
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4 months ago

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Lovely to read, Kumari, very evocative… Sometimes I miss the simplicity of my sadhu years too… ❤️

❤️ I just arrived in Delhi last night! Here for a few days before going up to Bhutan with Gail. Back in Delhi just for one night 1-2 November. Wishing you a blessed time here 🙏🏼

I hope you will visit Ramana's it will be so wonderful to see you after all these years and show you what your hands planted the seedlings for that is now flowering here on Mother Ganga's holy banks.

Thank you for sharing this intimacy Kumariji. I feel very strongly the connection you have with Babaji. I feel it because of the intimate way you have of sharing this love. It pierces and warms my heart. I am very happy you get to go to see Babaji again. Blessings and heart are warm with this reading.

So lovely to know you are both indelibly ‘one’ together. Namaste 🙏

Boas tardes também. Amém

Tenha uma linda viajem!!!

Boas tardes também. Amém

Vais seguir a jornada da Ellis?

Travel safe my friend xoxo😎

Na sua volta se possível gostaria de estar com vc bjs

💜

❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

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Spring is subtle in these semi tropical surrounds. First the peach blossoms, deep magenta and the gentle hum of bees delighting in their spoils. The sun creeps south, and trees begin to flower. She-oaks erupt in copper and the landscape is parched. It’s been many weeks since rain spilled from above. It’s all blue skies and golden light. New growth shimmers and shines, and the red cedar dresses’ herself with delicate lacy leaves. The evening air is heady with jasmine. The season of rebirth and daily miracles as over some hours I watch a rose unfurl her peachy petals. The garden is a feast of colour. The creeper, run amok through the bottle-brush tree, fills with mauve flowers; petunias and phlox, velvet-red roses all in celebration. Love is in the air as a top-notch dove coos and curtsies, his tail fanned out, feathers plumped up.
The clients I work with are in the winter of their days, the twilight hours. Loss is a dominant theme of their sharing. Loss of friends, siblings, a generation of family connections, loss of mobility, loss of independence, loss of control, and very often loss of their life partner as theirs is a generation where divorce was seldom. ‘I have no one to talk to when I go to bed’, Elva tells me with a tear rolling down her face. She cannot stand fully upright and reminds me of a bird.
Old age brings loss of voice, of being heard, of being seen as a person - with a tapestry of experiences woven to make the thread worn person they now are. Old age is not pretty. Wrinkles serve as road maps and bodies soften and sag. Lonely souls left alone to pass the time, and time slows right down when your independence is restricted to the basic requirements.
Last week a client told me she is ready for death: ‘waiting for the lord to call me home. Its been a hard life and I have had enough’. I cannot disagree. Not all feel this way. Norma is 93 and negates the challenge of old age. ‘It’s up to you darling’, she tells me, ‘It is what you make it’. Norma wears red lipstick and once a week goes to the club for a drink with her friends. Not many left now, but enough to sit around a table and share a yarn. ‘I don’t expect to do what I did when I was sixty’, she tells me with a smile. ‘No, if the crystal glasses need dusting well to hell with it. It can wait’. And she laughs. Her husband was one of the few survivors of a Japanese prison of war camp.
Sylvia Boorstein, the well-known meditation teacher, reflects on her life: ‘Life at 80: well, everything becomes precious’ and it seems that we need these reminders at whatever age we are. It is so easy to feel that old age and death are some far off markers in a distant horizon. After all it was sickness and death that watered the seed of awakening in the young Gautama.
Four years ago I was diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer. It was not a tidy cancer. Two tumours in my breast, a large one close to the chest wall, and already spread to the lymph where another tumour had formed. A year of treatment and the anxiety easily associated with such a diagnosis lingered. In that first year not many days would pass without the thought of what if it comes back? It faded with time, as all things tend to. Recently the dormant seed of fear at the possible reoccurrence stirred. At work a case study scenario of a diagnosis not unlike mine own, then recurred some years later in lungs and bones, the client now palliative. It undid the knot of the unknown enough to feel the tremble. My heart is now left exposed. No soft roundness of breast to cover, just a thin white scar across my heart.
And at the end of the day it is our conversation with our self that peace of mind depends on. We don’t know what life will bring, when sickness might visit, when death will knock on our own door, or that of a loved one. As Thich Nhat Hanh says: the present moment is our greatest teacher.
Hari Om Tat Sat
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5 months ago

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Thank you for this Kumari.

I'm sensing a new book coming from you young Lady <3

Amém

Thank you Kumari your writing is profound - keep on sharing this with world ❤️🙏❤️

🙏🧡🙏 Holding you close in my heart Kumari.

Such precious sharing - thank you for your stark courage x

Lindo texto!!!

🙏

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