Saturday 19 January 2008

swimming in memories

19 feb, bharata yatra 2008,
bhavani, tamil nadu

on the way to pondicherry we stopped at bhavani river.

bhavani opens a floop-gate of fond memories.

bhavani is a fascinating place. this is where amma started swimming with the children who travel with her during indian tours.

during the yatras 'bhavani stop' was an unavoidable one. amma used to stay here (many times we stayed here 24 to 48 hours ) during the trips. we would the rent a room, pour buckets of water and clean it for amma to stay. there was no good lodging facility. the small rest house would be dirty. but would be the only place available. maybe amma would stay there for but 4 hours, but we had to ensure that we offered the best that circumstances permitted, to amma. amma would take us for swimming in the river. some areas were deep and there would be a very strong current. the shallow areas, would be strewn with rocks. now they have protected bathing ghats.
this is the place where amma taught many of the ashram residents how to swim. holding them by their hands amma gave them their first lessons. amma used to have a few of the lucky ones hold on to her shoulders and she would walk in the water with them trailing behind. probably she was also teaching them how to swim across the ocean of samsara.

those were the times when amma played leelas like sri krishna with the gopis in kalindi. then only gopis were there with krishna, here gopas also were there with amma.

we used to sing and dance in the water, she used to soap and wash our faces, along with amma we used to chant the complete lalita sahasranama stotram standing in the water waist deep and chanting gayatri we used to take dips in the water. then call out "amma" and take dip, jump up again and dip for 21 times! amma would also take dip with us. what celebration it was!

the nights we slept on these banks, enjoying the cool breeze caressing and creating ripples on the waters of the bhavani, listening to the lullaby of the peepal tree leaves quivering and dancing, watching the moon across the river, travelling towards the horizion, ...

i had wonderful opportunities to swim alone with amma. that time there were very few people in the tour group.
i remember one particular moment. when amma is swimming and i was swimming with back stoke little ahead of amma, looking at her and smiling. wow...
once standing on the steps, i held amma with one hand, and took the photo of amma swimming in water. i think that was the first photo i ever took of amma.

now a days amma rarely stops at bhavani, but even then there is no swimming.

another memory that rises up in my mind is of amma walking on the road with a swimming dress on, a towel covering her shoulders and arms. she went to a shop bought a small pipe and started playing like a child, she went to another shop bought tea and walked sipping the tea.

we joked with amma at the strange poses of the village people sleeping by the road. had several satsangs, question and answers, prepared food and tea and ate with amma.....

this is the place where we prepared 'bavani kanji' for the first time. it is a special and tasty. rice + green gram + jeera + coconut scrapings make this kanji so special. (its very easy to prepare and now we have this on every tuesday night at the ashram.)

amma has herself told of her special connection with the bhavani river. do you remember that? read here--link

today amma reached bhavani after 7pm. sitting on the banks, looking down into the river, sang some new songs, chanted the gita and we all had our dinner - chappatis and iddlies with tomato curry. adding one more chapter to our memories we started off to podussery at 8.15 pm.

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