A voice said ‘ Yoga.’
From a mundane existence to one of an attitude of "Seva", Prabha Ragbir has brought her two sons into Appaji's fold and sets an example for us all to follow. See the silent miracle how Appaji can transform a person in life.
SADGURU SEVA IS ALSO YOGA
“ I would advise everyone to bring their children to do seva whenever possible. Through sincere Guru Seva, we gain Sadguru’s Grace. He takes such unique care of us! What more can we want? By Sadguru’s Grace, nothing will stop me from doing Seva, once I’m able physically! ”
Sadguru attracts each devotee in a unique way
I first came to the Datta Yoga Centre with my sister- in -law for the Yajna in 1995. As the car dropped us and we came into the Temple compound, someone said, “The Swamiji (at that time we called Him ‘Swamiji’) is not here.” As we were turning around, we saw the car had not waited. It had driven off, so we had no choice but to go inside the Temple. Ganesh puja was going on, with a different kind of chanting to what I was accustomed. I was lost looking around at all the decorations for this huge Yajna for Peace, and amazed, confused, I looked at the Dattatreya murthi. To me Lord Datta looked strong and dark. Devotees were offering Doob grass into a plate in front of them. I wondered ‘What is this?’
Suddenly, someone said, “Swamiji is coming. Come quick and make offering to Ganapati.” We were given a plate with yellow rice and doob grass and offered it. He was already sitting when I followed my sister-in-law into the Universal Prayer Hall and we sat down. My sister-in-law asked me if I was seeing Him and I answered, “No.” She said, “Look Him right there.” I still could not see Him and feeling foolish, I told myself, “ I’m not going to say anything.” Then I saw Him. He looked young and ‘small’ to me to be a Swami—just my first impression! This was the first time I was coming to the Datta Centre and seeing the ‘Swami.’
After the Ganesh offerings were over, Appaji/Swamiji walked through the crowd and sprinkled everybody. He gave me then a heart-shaped black stone and afterwards, on reaching home, I put it on my chest of drawers and from time to time, I would just pick it up, and simply enjoy looking at it, thinking, “ The Swami gave me this!”
Two weeks later, by which time Swamiji had left, my husband Dilip said he wanted to go to this Temple. We would go on Sundays as there was Sunday School for the children which we thought was a very good thing. Afterwards, I continued coming as I felt comfortable and some kind of peace there though I did not understand many things. Two years later when Swamiji came, I was excited like any other devotee, when I heard He was coming, especially as my then toddler son, Vitra, was getting a strange recurring fever which was not leaving him, for more than a year, though I had taken him to the doctor many times. I just knew that Swamiji could help him. The President, whom I had asked if he could talk to Swamiji for me, suddenly called me one night and led me to Swamiji on stage before the Program actually started and told Swamiji that my son was sick. Swamiji looked first at my son, then at me, and told me “Everything will be alright.” And to my relief, it was! That comforting moment was special to me and inspired me to serve more.
I start to do Sadguru seva
I just continued coming to the Datta Yoga Centre as I felt very fulfilled, helping in any way that I could for the various programs throughout the years. I never did seva for any reward. Every time Appaji came I could be found in the kitchen helping to cook, as I enjoy cooking for others. I helped to grind dhal, or make roti, and this brought me a lot of joy. Over the years, I felt privileged to be allowed by my Sadguru in His absence also, like many other devotees, when given the chance to clean and decorate the Ashram, or practice and sing bhajans, fund raise, chant mantras –whatever it was--- I happily did, and my heart would be full, overflowing with enthusiasm and deep satisfaction! When we would do satsangh for someone whose family passed away, the sense of appreciation we got gave me a warm feeling inside. Hustling and bustling became the norm. Somehow I enjoyed practicing bhajans more than singing solo, and the brotherhood in the satsangh group made me feel more that I belonged with Appaji!
A voice said ‘ Yoga.
When the children became older and I had more time, I became a student of Datta Kriya Yoga with Nalini Sammy. I had been operating a small food place and a nurse would come from the Health Centre which was very close by, to buy food. I had a picture of Swamiji by the front counter. That nurse would tell me the same things each time she came, and would complain that ‘this morning the Health Centre is very busy, with people’s pressure and sugar high,’ etc. and any time she came and repeated the same kind of things. I just listened not knowing how to help. One day, after she left, I looked at Appaji’s picture and said to Him, “ Appaji, why is she always telling me this? I can’t do anything for them.” The minute I said so, I heard a voice saying the word ‘Yoga’. I looked at Appaji and said, “Yoga?” a little confused. "I don’t know…they would not want to do yoga.” I found that practicing seriously was helping me to be calm and collected even amidst difficulties with children and with finances.
In 2015, Nalini encouraged me to go to India and while there, she also urged me to do the Kriya Yoga teacher training. I was doubtful at first. However, encouraged by Nalini, I started training with Sri Gopala Krishna. At first there were others but they could not do the training for one reason or the other, so I remained as the only student. I did not know what to think, but stayed. It was challenging, and I had to put in a lot of hours practicing and studying. Sometimes I felt so exhausted I felt like giving up. When I told Nalini I was going to stop the course, she said, ”So you’re going to tell Swamii that you’re not doing it again?” I did not reply, but just took a long, cold shower, changed my clothes and was off to the Kriya Yoga Room again. I did not miss a single session.
Teaching Kriya Yoga—a blessing for me
One evening I went and he told me, “ Tomorrow morning is your assessment.” I calmly replied, “Ok”. I had to teach twelve people, some foreigners also since many of them had come for Shivaratri and were interested in Kriya Yoga. I was extremely nervous, but tried not to show it. My heart was racing, and I was sweating though the A. C. was on. When it ended, a few foreigners were walking out the same time I was, and told me they enjoyed the class and liked how I explained everything. I was still shaking like a leaf inside and could not even respond! When I did the written exam, and returned for the results, Sri Gopal Krishna said nothing but, “ Let’s walk down the road now.” I was scared, and all kinds of thoughts were running through my mind about if I failed or not. Somehow, I could not even talk to him. When we walked into the Temple, he told me, “ Swamiji is waiting for you,” and took up one of the offering baskets and walked with me to Appaji! Unknown to me, tears started flowing down my cheeks. As I reached, Appaji said, “ New Kriya Yoga Teacher has come to Trinidad!” I managed to reply, “ Thank You very much for the blessing”, and I bowed to His Feet and presented the basket offering. It was a real heart-touching moment with my beloved Appaji! Then a huge feeling of relief overpowered me as He gave me the Kriya Yoga Teacher’s Certificate.
Serve wherever and whenever it’s possible
It took me awhile to really accept that I was now a Kriya Yoga Teacher, and for the rest of my stay for Shivaratri, Kriya Yoga was on my mind, though I felt uplifted by the Programs as well! Since then I have been teaching Kriya Yoga, and whenever students report that they see results and improvements in their bodily ailments like anxiety, High/Low blood pressure, especially with Nadi Shuddhi exercises, I would feel very happy. I remembered how the Nurse would come and complain to me in my food place and I laughed when I remembered my own ‘fed-up’ reaction sometimes. I realised that Appaji was already guiding me towards Kriya Yoga. Nothing was coincidental! I learnt not to judge others, and I offer to my SadGuru every class. Once those opening Prayers are done, I have realised that He takes over and controls what happens! Kriya Yoga is now ‘in my blood,’ as they say. This does not mean, however, that I stay away from His other projects! Instead, feeling closer to Him, inspires me more and more to serve whenever possible in any field! In fact, how I see it is that being kind and helpful to anyone—be it a stranger or beggar or friend, a so-called‘enemy’ or relative—inside or outside the Temple , is also doing Seva—and is also Yoga!
Sadguru Seva means sacrifices and lessons
From serving food in the kitchen, I learnt devotees or anyone should not waste food. Just be contented with whatever you get to eat, especially in temples when you did not have time to prepare anything at home. Even those preparing and serving the food often make a real effort to come in time, and often neglect their own home and family. Also, many times when Appaji was/is here we would not get any chance to sit for puja or programs! Sometimes people appreciated the meal or the kitchen staff, other times they would find a fault, no matter what you do. I learnt to not react about it, as we learn lessons from every kind of Seva, and I find inner joy from serving the hungry, whether devotees in the Temple or the needy outside the temple! When I started to help in the Temple I didn’t look for any kind of reward from Appaji, and I pray I continue like this. Most times you must put your Seva first, whether it’s a strain or not, as Seva is always a sacrifice and such sacrifice only pleases the Sadguru, whether it is money, time, physical , mental or spiritual effort!
Both practicing and teaching Kriya Yoga, as well as doing Sadguru Seva help me to grow and always make me feel closer to Appaji!
I thank Appaji for everything I’ve achieved for the children and me, especially for any chance to do yoga/ Seva-- I see both as same when offered with selfless love devotion to Him-- for it 's only through His loving , compassionate Grace!
Harihi om tat sat