On the 3rd of May 2022, a rather momentous event transpired at the Sri Badrika Ashram, when Sadhvi Vrinda Om was given the supremely sacred duty of managing the entire temple services for three months, and she led it with the utmost grace and beauty.
Her undying devotion melted the hearts of not only our beloved Sri Hari, who looked ecstatic and radiant beyond description, but ashram residents and devotees stood spellbound every morning, waiting in eager anticipation for yet another awe-inspiring darshan of Sri Hari and his myriad expressions, forms and bhavas, unique to the sentiment and eyes of the seeker.
Everyone present witnessed the magic unfold as she lovingly adorned the Lord and Devi Ma in a stunning array of elegant alankār and mesmerising shringār. Each day they responded to the love openly, as the idol of Sri Hari came alive and almost visibly transformed, allowing themselves to be seen and experienced like never before.
Let’s take a deeper dive into what went on behind the mysterious red curtains of the Garba Griha (sanctum sanctorum) of our ever merciful, smiling and playful Sri Hari from the eyes of one of his most ardent devotees, Sadhvi Vrinda Om – poet, author, foremost disciple of Om Swami and a true embodiment of what it means to manifest the deepest desire of the soul to be immersed in divine love.
From the first moment you laid eyes on Sri Hari in 2014, how has your relationship with Sri Hari evolved? Is it any different from loving a human being?
Bhagwan’s beauty and charm grow like a supple vine climbing on even the most hollowed tree, transforming it. The leaves turn brighter, younger and greener than they’ve ever been. It’s the same sunlight, rain and earth, yet now the tree roots derive nourishment just by being closer to the vine.
A bond of deep love and the sweetest reverence has grown in my heart since I first saw Sri Hari. They are not an idol to me anymore, but the waking, walking and talking parents that I’ve always longed for.
What are the different attributes, ‘Bhaava’(sentiments), ‘Svarupas’(forms), you have experienced up close of Sri Hari?
Bhagwan is natkhat (naughty), playful like a child, forever present in a loving heart. He’s a father, a brother, the beautiful beloved you’ve been looking for all your life.
He is also the Divine Mother shielding you from the world, from your own mistakes. As Devi, His beauty and grace are unparalleled, and as Bhagwan, He is the eternal refuge. His Svarupas are far too many to be summed up by one devotee or even a hundred. He listens and answers as clearly as one hears another person sitting across a table.
He is the singular bhaava behind every human bhaava.
In a country where religion is dominated by male priests these days, unlike the Vedic times where women shared equal status, there are so many superstitions and stigmas attached to women worshipping in temples, and so this is an iconic and celebratory milestone indeed. How does it feel?
It has only and only been possible with the grace of our Guru. He truly is the embodiment of truth and progressive thinking. In a country where women play second fiddle to men in religion, Swamiji has only ever seen a person’s intention to be in Bhagwan’s seva. It is a historic moment, for we live and breathe in a time where our Guru exists, lighting the dark corners of our consciousness that otherwise would never see the light. He is the one true celebration.
What was your routine like during this seva, and what did you love most about it? Were there any challenges to overcome?
The only challenge was to adorn Bhagwan with the same four things (vastra, garland, sandalwood, kumkum) every day and yet, bring out their many svaroopas when the curtain went up at 6 am. The day began quite early when the night was still dark and quiet. So by the time it was 9:30 am, the most precious aspect of my life had already been attended to. And my favourite part was to be alone with Bhagwan in the wee hours of the morning, a sacred feeling both Swami Raghaavanada and I share. 🙂During these months of temple seva, what were your favourite 5 shringār looks for Sri Hari? What was the inspiration behind them?
The inspiration has always been Sri Hari Himself. He has filled my life, mind and heart with such beauty and grace that this seemed the only way to thank Him. Even a spare thread on their vastra, an extra crease or a fold, felt intolerable as they left no stone unturned to iron out every misery from my life.
Oh, they are the inspiration behind every look! Every day was a new day, a new look, and how our hearts rejoiced in it! The favourite five looks would be – Maa Jagdamba, Mahalakshmi, Bhagwan Narayana, Lord Krishna and Lord Vittala.
Which was your favourite look of Sri Hari, specifically during the Navratri time and the inspiration behind dressing up Ma?
The Gupt Navratras had just begun, and had it not been for the prompt notifications on the Sadhana app; I’d have never come to know. The joy of dressing the Divine Mother for nine days is indescribable.
A favourite look would be the one where Maa’s wearing an exquisite nose ring. She looks so breathtakingly beautiful up close, and the entire being just melts in Her grandiose presence.
Which Sringāar look did Swamiji love the most?
We’ll have to ask Swamiji that. 🙂 But, if I had to guess, then it’d be when Sri Hari draped and dressed as Ma Jagadamba. Swamiji was in much awe of how Bhagwan had just transformed to be every bit the Divine Mother.
Is there a miracle story or incident of Sri Hari and Swamiji’s glories that you can share with us from this time?
There’ve been quite a few, and I think I’ll save those for my book. Hehe… But what I can undoubtedly report from behind the red curtains is that Swamiji knows everything that goes on in the Garbhgriha. Every feeling, every thought, and every action is visible. He’s the Omniscient one who sees through everything and everyone.
What, according to you, is the essence of true devotion and what are the ingredients of true, heartfelt prayer?
Well, true devotion is, simply put, true. That one loves Sri Hari with all their heart and might. To find them in all our big-small moments. Bhagwan is equally present in joy and sorrow, in celebration and in sickness, in success and failures.
A prayer that emanates from love for the Lord and our fellow beings is a prayer that falls straight onto His divine ears.
What are the prerequisites of a holy prayerful life according to you? What is the result of living a life that is completely devoted to God?
Can one completely devote themselves to God? I’m not sure of that. I feel it’d probably take lifetimes to reach such a stage of consciousness. We can only hope to lead a prayerful life and trace the footsteps of our Guru.
Working hard and with discipline in the material world and our spiritual journey together is the middle way. It’s the way of balance, great inner peace and harmony.
Does one have to earn divine grace, or is it bestowed freely? If yes, how can one earn the grace of Sri Hari?
Divine grace is bestowed quite freely, especially when it comes to Sri Hari. All we’ve to do is lift the blindfold from our eyes. To be less cryptic and more forthcoming, I’d say, to appreciate everything life has given us.
Everything and everyone we have at this moment is quite enough, for that’s what the grand ruler of the Universe has bestowed upon us, most lovingly.
What is the fastest way to feel the presence and tap into the divine energy of Sri Hari in the temple?
Loving Sri Hari like a child is the fastest way to sit in their divine lap.
Does Bhagwān’s bhava change when he sees his devotees physically?
I feel it does, and I’m certain devotees experience it too. It’s why different people feel different things in their hearts for the same loving Vigraha.
How can a devotee best express gratitude for the immense blessings in their lives to Swamiji and Sri Hari?
Thank them every day, if not in so many words, then in actions and gestures, by expressing your love and care to the people around you. Do what you can do for others, starting with not judging them for who and how they are.
What deeper insights, growth, and wisdom have you gained during this time?
Life has meaning in their divine feet alone. They are the one true joy of a liberated heart and mind. And none of it is possible without our Guru’s grace.
By simply following Swamiji’s wisdom one can earn divine grace in this lifetime.
In revering our Guru as:
ध्यानमूलं गुरोर्मूर्तिः पूजामलं गुरोः पदम्
मंत्रमूलं गुरोर्वाक्यं मोक्षमूलं गुरोः कृपा ।
Meditating on the form of the Guru is the basis of all dhyana, worshiping the lotus feet of the Guru is the essence of worship. The Guru’s words are the root of all mantras, with His grace alone one attain moksha, liberation.
Bolo Sri Hari Bhagwan ki Jai!