by Farah Moolji Nazarali
I didn’t know what I was searching for until I found it. And on that auspicious day, I realized I had found what I had been looking for my entire life. The details of that day are so vivid for me, deeply etched into my mind and into the memory of every cell in my body. It was the day I met my Guru, Paramhans Swami Maheshwarananda.
Until that day, I hadn’t realized how restless I had been as a yoga teacher – always interested in the latest yoga fad, even though the blissful experiences of the latest yoga styles were always short lived. When I met Paramhans Swami Maheshwarnanda, I realized that in front of me was not someone who practised yoga or who knew Vedanta and yoga philosophy, but a human being who embodies the consciousness that awakens when a person practises yoga. In that moment, I realized how shallow my understanding of yoga was.
For some people, the concept of guru invokes feelings of skepticism and cynicism while for me, meeting my Guru has been the greatest blessing of my life, awakening within me the attributes of viveka (discernment), vayaigra (detachment) and bhakti (devotion).
Guruji also helped me understand mantra and gave me guidance in using mantra-japa (repetition of sacred Sanskrit sounds) as a way to focus my mind from restlessness and as a way to find inner peace.
In the months after meeting my Guru, I began to understand how precious yoga is. Guruji taught me a yoga stripped of all the things we as Westerners impose on it in order to make it beautiful, trendy and hip. Yoga is, and always will be, a body of wisdom for living in this world, helping us understand our purpose in it and a way to realize and awaken our Divine nature. Yoga helps us avoid becoming entangled in materialism, consumerism and greed – the external attractions and distractions of modern everyday life – and brings us closer to love, truth and peace.
Guruji helped me understand how important diet is, encouraging me to adopt a vegetarian diet as a way to awaken compassion for all living creatures. Since becoming a vegetarian, I feel more connected to animals than ever before and I also feel that my karmic footprint is lighter. I will never forget the night I was riding my bike home and I saw a dog that had just been run over by a car. When I looked into the eyes of that dog, I witnessed his suffering and pain and his fear and loneliness in facing death. While I realize my dietary choice may not be right for everyone, I’m glad I have the opportunity every day to support the well-being of other living creatures and to help promote the health of the planet.
I now know I had been searching for a source of lasting happiness outside of myself, but that source is within me and yoga is the vehicle. All I have to do it practise – practise every day. And how appropriate that the system he founded is called Yoga in Daily Life; there are so many layers of meaning in that one phrase. Yoga is not something I do. It is not something I teach. Yoga is who I am in all areas of my life. Yoga is the choices I make on a daily basis with my karma indriyas through my hands (actions and behaviours), my tongue (speech) and my thoughts.
Before I met Guruji, I had many fundamental questions about life, including the question, “Why am I here and what is my purpose in being here?” Through the loving guidance of my Guru, I realized the postures in yoga not only help the body stay healthy but, more importantly, they awaken consciousness and wisdom. As wisdom awakens, we achieve clarity about our deepest questions and our strongest desires and yearnings. Indeed, my sadhana (practice) has provided me with answers to many of my questions about life.
What I love most about my Guru is his openness to all paths and to all the “Great Teachers.” It affirms for me what I have always known to be true: that love and wisdom can never be contained in any one religion or path, but are the essence of all religions and all paths.
I hope that through my daily practice, more and more of my Divine nature can be revealed and that one day, in this lifetime or the next, I can realize the words of my Guru, who when asked what yoga is, held out his hands and said, “These hands. What are they for? They are for serving others.”
Farah Moolji Nazarali is a yoga teacher and a student of the Yoga in Daily Life system. Her Guru, Paramhans Swami Maheshwarananda, will be visiting Vancouver in March as part of his annual World Peace Tour. Visit www.vanyoga.com for details.
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