Ahymsin Newsletter: Yoga is Samadhi

Lucas, Bhishma, and Swami Veda’s Blessing

by Gustavo Plaza

It must have been 11 PM -Ecuadorean time- the 18th of August, 2012. We were at our dear friend Gisella’s wedding reception when I received an e-mail from Swamiji (he was writing from London):

“Dear Gustavo and Cintamani:

I am missing Lucas and often thinking of him.

He received the 'blessing' I normally give to very young children. His mantra will come when he is between 8 or 9 if you can bring him to me even though I will be in silence.

Thank you so much, for making my visit so comfortable, fruitful and enjoyable.

With many blessings -- swami veda bharati now in London”

This e-mail lightened that already happy celebration night.

The 10th of that same month, Lucas had received his special “blessing-initiation” from Swamiji’s hands.

We were at the Galapagos Islands with the group that attended the “Himalayan Tradition Meditation Retreat” that was organized just after our Sadhana Yoga Conference.

One morning, Swami Veda said to me “Gustavo, I want to give Lucas a special blessing. I would like you to bring him to my room tomorrow night, at 9 pm.”

That afternoon, Swamiji didn’t go out, he didn’t give any lecture. He just stayed in his room, and submerged himself in a long, deep meditation.

That same day, my sister in law, Valeria, had arrived to stay with us. Lucas has a great loving relationship with her. And I must admit, I was a little bit afraid that Lucas could have a tantrum not to leave her aunt, that he wouldn’t want to come with his parents to have his initiation instead of keep playing with his aunt.

Why was I so afraid of that? Because every time we called Lucas to eat, to brush his teeth, to go out, etc., and he had to stop playing, it was a problem. He had just turned 5 years old, so playing was the most important thing in the world. I knew how it was going to be…

So the time came. Swami Veda made us call him. I went to fetch Lucas, anticipating the pre-initiation drama.

When I told him that Swamiji was calling him, naturally, calmly and even with a happy face, Lucas got down from the chair he was sitting on, and walked with me to Swami Veda’s room.

This was the first surprise.

When we entered Swamiji’s room, there was a quiet and deep contemplation environment. Swamiji was sitting in a meditative posture.

He invited Lucas to seat on His lap and to rest his head on His chest. He also made us seat on the floor, in front of Him.

Second surprise: Lucas has never liked to be hugged.

Since he was little, every time me or his mom laid on his bed with him he would tell us: “Ok, now you go. You warm my bed.”

Swamiji guided him to a deep meditation, invoking special mantras, making some blessings upon his chakras and marmas, and then, he whispered to his right ear the mantra.

It was a moment of deep rejoice. Just another surprise was that Lucas stayed quiet and still for over 30 minutes, just there, seating with Swamiji. 

As a 5-year old, to watch him stay still, calm, and peaceful was something to remember. It can just be explained through the transmission of stability and serenity that Swami Veda’s presence and guidance produced him.

That same year we visited Swami Veda’s ashram in Rishikesh, a place I consider my home away from home.

The trip to India with Lucas and Cintamani was an incredible adventure we cherish in our hearts, and the days we spent next to Swamiji in Sadhaka Grama Ashrama inspired our lives.

Once again, Swami Veda Bharati reminded us that when Lucas turned 8 we had to take him to Rishikesh for his formal initiation.

The 2nd of July of 2015 Lucas turned 8, and everything was ready to take him to his deeksha in October.

But we never expected that our dear Swamiji would leave His mortal body almost two weeks after that.

The news was sad and painful, but it was worse to think that we would go to Rishikesh just to find out Swamiji wasn't “there” anymore. Every time we thought of that, our eyes were flooded with tears, and our hearts ached.

Some months before I had been next to Swamiji. One night He received me in His room, we were talking about Lucas and Bindu, and He told me:

“Gustavo, you know what my only concern is? If I die, who is going to take care of my grandchildren? I would love to be here for them always.”

He was talking about all his spiritual grandchildren, his disciples’ and initiates’ children.

Swamiji had a special love for kids. He was a kid Himself. His innocence, His kindness. I remember Him in Galapagos, leaning towards a baby sea lion, just wanting to touch it. He whispered to the baby animal with a naughty boy’s voice, “Ahh, if you would only let me pet you, come with me to my Ashram in Rishikesh.”

Those are caring scenes I remember and keep in the most intimate place of my heart.

And now, who would take care of my Lucas and Bindu? Who would take care of Lucas’ initiation?

We wrote to Swami Ritavan Bharati, a dear friend and one who was chosen by Swami Veda to be the spiritual successor of His organization. E-mails came and went about all these details.

Swami Ritavan, always kind and generous, told us that he would personally take care of Lucas’ initiation, and also, that it would be better that together with the mantra deeksha, he received the upanayanam or sacred thread.

After a beautiful and intense trip around northern India, we settled at the Sadhaka Grama Ashram. The long waited day came.

Swami Ritavan told us that we had to be patient, because this initiation had to come for itself, it would show us “when” it had to be done, no pressure, nor organization.

The morning of the 29th of October of 2015 Lucas was wearing yellow pants and kurta, just like the Ashram’s brahmin ordered.

At Shiva’s temple inside the Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama Ashrama, the sacred thread ritual was held.

In the Vedic tradition, the upanayana was restricted to the upper three of the four varnas (castes) of society — brahmins, kshatriyas and vaishyas. It is a ceremony in which a guru (teacher) accepts and draws a child towards knowledge and initiates the second birth that is of the young mind and spirit.

A boy that belongs to any of these castes is born the first time from its mother’s womb; and the second time, during the upanayana ritual, when the guru teaches him the gayatri mantra in his right ear and gives him the sacred thread.

The yajñopavītam or sacred thread has three cotton strands tied together. They stand for Gayatri (goddess of the mind), Saraswati (goddess of knowledge) and Savitri (goddess of action). The knot that ties them together represents God.

It is ideal, that he who wears the sacred thread has pure thoughts, words and actions.

These three strands could also represent the debt that the brahmachari has to his guru, his parents and to society.

Once again, Lucas surprised us. As an 8-year old, he doesn’t like to get bored, to wait, to be where he has to be still, quiet and “doing nothing”.

That morning Lucas felt inspired; he was so happy, thrilled to go through this important ceremony. He woke up very early, put his new clothes and told us he was ready.

Meditations, mantras, sacred hymns and silence, sacred rituals filled with deep meaning, were the layout for this old and always new ceremony that gave birth to this new brahmacharya.

Vibrations of peace were felt. The Great Himalayan Masters and spiritual guides, from Swami Rama to the whole Parampara were there, in spiritual and subtle presence.

Since the beginning of the ceremony the environment was filled with deep spirituality. Like if a powerful, calm presence was there embracing us, making us feel peaceful. It was like Swamiji Veda Bharati was next to us.

In a traditional way, Swami Ritavanji, authentic parampara representative, sat under the blanket, invited Lucas to do the same thing, and secretly, he whispered the sacred mantra to his ear.

Walking the first steps as a brahmacharya, he got from the guru through Sri Ritavanji the sacred text, the danda and his clothes.

He got from his mother, Cintamani, and his friends, the first food and shelter donations.

After receiving his new brahmacharya life initiation, Swami Ritavan gave him deeksha and with this, his new name: Bhishma (son of Mother Ganga and one of the most powerful characters of the Mahabharata).

To see him standing there, with his danda, his yellow brahmachari clothes, his eyes full of hope, made me proud (in a good way), happy and made me feel optimistic again.

Our baby boy is Bindu, and he was blessed with the loving touch and gaze of Swami Ritavan.

We have entered a new era, with new obstacles, where apparently the new generation has forgotten the spirit. Even yoga in the western world has taken a path as opposite as it should be.

There is no better job than to raise children that later can become the best human beings they can be.

Paraphrasing Swamiji, that should be our only concern, because they are the only legacy we can leave.



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