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Harmonising with My Self

Kajal Sheth, offering seva as Trustee of Shrimad Rajchandra Mission Dharampur (UK), and a retired Feng Shui practitioner by profession, expresses how Pujya Gurudevshri’s refuge has helped her bloom spiritually and develop virtues essential on the path of devotion

“US or UK?” Gurudev asked me as I entered the appointment room for my very first meeting with Him at the Mission’s Centre at Hughes Road, Mumbai. “UK”, I replied. Little did I know then, that every word that Gurudev utters has deep relevance! In hindsight, I wish I had said US, implying us – Him and me, because it would have encapsulated the entire path of devotion in one stroke. But obviously, I still had a long way to go!

That morning of January 2008 changed the course of my life. As I probed deep into Gurudev’s eyes, I felt as if I was being initiated into a personalised spiritual practice through 7 distinct messages. His words during the first meeting entered my heart like mantras: “Let go of that which no longer serves you”; “Remain choiceless in all situations”; “Observe impulses and reactions as they arise”; “Move from the periphery towards the centre”; “Grow vertically, not horizontally”; “Practice the inner smile”; “Watch the arising of the ego”.

These teachings have, since then, become the guiding force steering my life. I had found my Sadguru! Rather, as He remarked a few days later, I was the one who was lost and He had found me.

Meeting My One-stop Spiritual Solution

Throughout my life, I have been exposed to spiritual teachings in many forms – practising Vipassana and various other styles of meditation, listening to Buddhist teachings by Tibetan Rinpoches, staying with monks in a Zen monastery in France, sitting underneath trees and listening to discourses of J. Krishnamurti in Mumbai, attending satsangs on Advait Vedanta, participating in Gurdjieff’s Work, reading countless books by Osho, following the teachings of contemporary Indian and Western spiritual Masters, poring over books on self-development, learning different modalities of spiritual healing and more!

I could honestly describe myself as a spiritual shopper browsing through multiple options. I found fascinating aspects in every spiritual tradition but I could not find someone or something that encompassed all the qualities that I considered special. All along, there was a burning desire to meet a Master who would miraculously embody all the attributes that I cherished so much. A tall order indeed! But when I met Gurudev, I knew that my dream had been realised. He was everything that I could ever wish for and more! The spiritual shopper in me had found her one-stop shop!

Rising in Divine Love

I worked as an extremely busy and successful Feng Shui consultant managing schools and projects around the world. Years of slavery to my profession had made me extremely headstrong and heartless. In February 2009, a year after meeting my Sadguru, I visited the Ashram at Dharampur. I had heard Gurudev propound the path of devotion as the easiest option, but the sight that met my eyes at Dharampur came as a culture shock! Watching flocks of devotees running behind Him wherever He went; standing in clusters looking up at His balcony trying to catch a glimpse of Him; having endless discussions about Him; this was all a bit too much for me. I could not see myself fitting in with this culture at all!

During the pravachans in Paryushan Parva in 2009, Gurudev explained in detail the attributes of a beloved bhakta from Shrimad Bhagavad Gita. To my utter dismay and horror, I could not find a single trace of any of them in me! In the following year, during the pravachans on Narad Bhakti Sutra, I cried insanely and uncontrollably because once again, I realised that I did not possess any of the qualities of a devotee.

By 2011, I had made up my mind! Although I had deep respect and complete faith in Gurudev’s teachings, I felt like an outcast in the company of devotees. In desperation, I decided to confess my inability to pursue this path of devotion with the hope that He would allow me to leave. At an opportune moment, I raised the subject, but He instantly interjected with absolute certainty, and said repeatedly, “You are connected. You are connected. You are connected.” My fate was sealed. I was on a path of no return. This incident made me realise that devotion can have different forms and I did not have to conform to any particular style or method in order to be accepted by Him.

Being My Guiding Light

I had to commit to accepting additional responsibilities in my profession which would potentially leave me with no time to pursue spiritual matters. I wrote to Gurudev seeking permission to quit work. A few days later, I received His reply, “You may stop work and devote more time to sadhana and seva.” Guru-incidentally, that same afternoon, our 21-year- old disabled daughter, Tanvika, was admitted into hospital with severe pneumonia. Little did we know then, that she would have to stay in hospital for the next seven months and the trauma that we would have to undergo when doctors repeatedly warned us that she only had a few hours to live. Each time we prayed to Gurudev for strength. Seven years since, Tanvika is still alive and stable, only because of Gurudev’s grace.

This proved to be a turning point in the lives of my husband, Bharat, and son, Rohan. Until then, I was the only member in the family following Gurudev. My husband and son were disinterested in following Him. So much so, that when Gurudev performed pratishtha at our home, Bharat asked if he could excuse himself to attend an important business meeting instead! However, over the course of time, when they faced moments of personal crisis, they had direct and personal experience of Gurudev’s compassion, blessings and grace. Eventually today, our entire family is committed whole-heartedly in sadhana and seva.

Over the years, I have seen how Gurudev’s each and every word and action is filled with purpose. Even His seemingly casual remark is to inspire us to make greater progress and a means of inspecting our commitment to our own spiritual welfare. Once Gurudev remarked that His discourses on depression were going to start from day after but why was I looking so depressed right then. His words hit me like a hammer. I had not realised that the spiritual discontent that I was harbouring was bordering on depression. A couple of hours later, He noticed a smile on my face and acknowledged the change. From that moment, I have come to accept the ups and downs of my spiritual journey with equanimity.

Shaping Me through Seva

My efforts in acquiring skills and developing talents had resulted in making me arrogant, dictatorial, self-centred and insensitive to others. I am truly indebted to Gurudev for not only making me aware of my shortcomings but also involving me in various forms of seva with the sole aim of teaching me to channel my abilities towards selfless service to God.

My training began when I became the executive committee member of the London Satsang Centre and had to quickly learn to work as a team member and put the group’s interest higher than my own. This was a huge learning curve for someone who had taken her role as a boss very seriously! I was then blessed to offer seva as a Trustee of Shrimad Rajchandra Mission Dharampur (UK). In performing these roles, I was placed in situations that demanded responsibility, accountability, leadership and inter-personal skills, and I gradually started to imbibe the qualities that constitute true seva.

Gurudev would often comment that I lived too much in my head! To help me make the journey from the head to the heart, I was blessed to offer seva in the London Bhakti Group. It allowed the seeds of devotion that lay latent within me to be nurtured. The seva of translating Gurudev’s pravachans from Gujarati to English gave me the opportunity of spending many blissful hours being absorbed and immersed in His teachings.

Having been blessed to have the refuge of a Sadguru, I have no other aspiration but to lead my life in accordance with His will and fulfil the dream that He has envisioned for me.

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#SadguruWhispers Awaken to your true nature. Self realisation is an antidote to all suffering.