Friday, July 17, 2009

Veda Vijnana Gurukulam

By traveling to Uddhavji’s place, I became an “expert” bus traveler. So with my new confidence I decided to go visit the Gurukulam where I stayed for a month last February, called Veda Vijnana Gurukulam, which is located in Channenahalli, in the outskirts of Bangalore. I went to the same bus stand as last time, and asked around for bus number 242, which is the bus number I was told to take. After asking around for a while, I again became as confused as I was the first time I went to the bus stand. For some reason, nobody knew anything about bus number 242. I was sent from one side of the station to the other side and back again at least three or four times, when I finally realized that I had a cell phone and that I should use it. So I called the Gurukulam, and the headmaster told me that the bus could actually be found at a different bus stand, not exactly Market. So I asked nearby folks where this bus stand was, and they directed me down the street. So I started walking.

After walking for a little while, I asked a few more people where the bus stand was, and they kept saying “Go down, just a little further.” I kept going, and finally I saw a bus stand. But my confidence was shaken now, so just to make sure I asked another person where the bus stand was. He looked at me as if I were crazy and pointed right across the street. I crossed the street, and here I asked guards where bus 242 could be found, going to Channenahalli. They directed me and I finally found a bus whose director was shouting, “Channenahalli!” I asked him if it was bus number 242. He said this bus didn’t have a number, and that bus 242 would not even be coming, so I should get on this bus. So I trusted him and got on the bus. I asked him about eight or nine times whether he would tell me when the Channenahalli stop would come, and he told me he would.

Nobody else on the bus spoke Hindi, so I was sort of lost. These were all people going back to their homes after school or work (it seemed), and they clearly lived in the village area. This meant they spoke only Kannada. For me, this was a problem because who could I ask to make sure this was my stop if the conductor was not available or if he forgot? Instead, I just kept asking the conductor if he would tell me where the stop was. He got kind of annoyed with me, but at least I knew he would not forget to tell me where my stop was.

I stood almost the whole way there. For about an hour I was standing in this bus going to Channenahalli, which had a T.V. in it playing some Kannada movie (really, really loud). People who did not speak my language and who were otherwise enraptured by the movie surrounded me. And I was holding the top railing the whole time. This was not the most comfortable position to be in for an hour, especially on a moving bus (in India), but I had a goal in mind, a mission to accomplish. I was going to get to Veda Vijnana Gurukulam no matter what it took.

Finally as we approached the stop I was supposed to get off at, I started to recognize the landmarks and the scenery. So I asked the conductor if this was where I was supposed to get off (one last time) and he said it was. I got off, and another lady who got off with me pointed me in the right direction towards the Gurukulam.

When I got to the Gurukulam, it was exactly as I remembered it, except for the new faces that I saw. It was break time for them, so they took me to their new volleyball net that they put up outside their temple. There was apparently a volleyball tournament going on amongst the students, so I watched for a few minutes and then made my way back to the grounds. I wanted to meet the Pradhan Acharya (headmaster). I met him after about a year and a half, but he remembered me perfectly well. I shared the rest of my story from last year (I had many more adventures after visiting Bangalore before I came back to the States). He was happy with my Sanskrit, and I told him I was going to Sringeri to study Sanskrit further. We had a nice discussion, and afterwards joined the other students outside for the collective prayer. They all wished me good luck on my journey ahead.

I noticed that as soon as I got on the grounds of the Gurukulam, I felt a sense of peace. The atmosphere itself was quiet, serene, welcoming. I shared this thought with the Acharya, and he told me that green is the secret to their peace. There is so much plant life on the grounds of the Gurukulam, which provides a calm environment and thus an opportunity for everyone to appreciate the beauty of nature and of simple living. And even if they don’t notice it at first, they come to notice it on their own eventually, because the area is so unique – it is totally calm, but full of life as well. And you feel the life around you, but you also feel the tranquility. This is the secret to their peace.

I was so happy to have come and visited the Gurukulam. It is always a pleasure to be in such a peaceful environment. I felt rejuvenated from the experience, and attempted to make my way back to Aksharam the same way I had come… When I got to Market, I asked a conductor if his bus was going to Girinagar, and he said yes, so I hopped in. Unfortunately, when the bus came to its last stop and that stop was not my stop, I realized that I was on the wrong bus. This bus was going to Srinagar, not Girinagar! I wandered aimlessly for a minute or two, not really knowing what to do or how far from Aksharam I had come. It was dark by this time, and I was actually a little bit scared. What if I didn’t make it back to Aksharam?

I found an auto rickshaw driver and asked him if he would take me to Girinagar. He said he would, which was a huge relief for me, because that meant I was not too far from it. At nighttime, auto drivers tend not to take anyone very far because they have their own homes to go to, so they don’t want to take too much time in driving a customer. I sat in the auto and was absolutely relieved when I reached Aksharam again. After dinner, I was so tired that I could not think of anything but comfortable, peaceful sleep.

No comments: