This was my third consecutive year-end when I have not been on YES!+ Winter Break. A night before we were to leave for winter break on 24th december two years ago, one phone call changed the course of my life. That is a seperate story which would come up on the blog in time, or as a book by this year end released at Winter Break 2011 if the story finds an end. For now, I talk about the year end that just passed by. With no winter-break at the ashram for me, the next best option was the 2.5 days teacher's advance course happening at Vanasthali in Punjab. I had my seat reserved by sending an sms to Raman Agarwal,STC for Punjab. The course was scheduled to begin on 29th Dec and was to be conducted by Sejal. The dates later were shifted to 26th for reasons unknown to me at that time. I was fine with both the dates so it didnt matter much that the dates were changed suddenly.
Vanathali is near Ludhiana on Khanna road. By the time I reached the place it was 730 in the night and the satsang had begun. We were a batch of 22 teachers on the course. Our course teacher Tanuja arrived a few minutes later and joined us at the satsang. After the satsang we went back, had our dinner and checked into our rooms. The course was to begin with a yoga session at 7 am next morning.
Done with the talking processes, our silence began with a hollow-empty meditation before lunch. The second night at the place was in total silence other than the satsang singing in the night. The third and final night though in silence had the bonn-fire planned !!
By the evening we started gathering broken dry branches as well as wood. We had the pyre ready for satsang. Some local volunteers from Khanna, Mandi Gobindgarh and Nabha joined us in the celebration. In the middle of the satsang Prayag who was in the area teaching courses arrived too. With the fire full-on, gachchak and revadis distributed abundantly we were all lost in the ecstasy of the evening - dancing and singing. Towards the end Tanu maa began with a 'Jai Jai Jai Jai ....." bhajan. Prayag and I joined in leading it along with Tanu maa. This was the last bhajan before we moved in the hall to watch the knowledge video.
Prayag joined us for the session. He was now Swami Prayag. Since the silence was still on, there was no talking that we did other than a smiling glance we shared as we sat next to each other at the back of the hall.
As the talk got over, I was the first one to walk out of the hall. For some reason there was no light in the passage from the hall to the exit door. As I reached the door, I just turned back to look at Prayag walking out. He shined in his all white attire and his presence ans gait reminded me of Guruji at that moment. He walked free. He has always had a jumpy cheerful walk.This time it was silent....
The next morning on 29th Dec, meditation session began with usual yoga session followed by breakfast and then the final session of the day. After a hollow-empty, we came out of the silence speaking the first words that came to our minds. Tanuja ma said she has to leave urgently and that we all shall chant 'Om nama shivaya' for 15 minutes. While others closed their eyes and started with the chant, I sensed something different. I walked up to her who stood in the passage next to Saurav, the volunteer from Amritsar who was assisting on the course. He said, "Prayag is no more".
It took a minute for the thing to sink in. Tanu ma was leaving for Nabha immediately where Prayag's mortal remains were. What was to be done with the advance course participants. Tanu ma told me to reveal the news to the advance course.
As I got the teachers out of the chanting, I shared the news with them all. On person asked , "How?". I had no response to this question. I did not even want to know at that time "How". It sounded irrelevant. He was no more. He was NO MORE. How did it matter how.
We drove in cars to Nabha. As I walked in I saw his body covered till the face lying in the hall. My naval felt a pinch inwards, a momentary pain of immense loss as i joined everyone chanting Om Nama Shivaya.
I had no courage to see his face. Only when a few more people came in and they wanted to see his face did I also opt to see it. That one moment was a sight which is imprinted in my mind like engraving on stone. He didn't at all look like he was not alive. His face looked like that of a 15 year young boy in deep meditation. The glow and freshness on his face was seemed like a super-natural phenomena. His hair falling back from the head made the face even more clear. I had seen so many dead ones, this is the first time I felt someone is not dead. This is the first time I saw a face which looked like it was in deep meditation. This is the first time I felt death was nothing more than changing clothes. This is the first time there was no sadness but total emptiness. This is the first time death became so unpredictable, so real and life unreal...
As I was writing it I was reliving the moment. I am blank again. I need a break. Will finish writing about the funeral in the next one...