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The title of this blog comes from the words of Indian Prime Minister Nehru after the passing of Mahatma Gandhi. "The light that shone in this land was no ordinary light," Nehru said of the peaceful modern saint. The name of this blog, which chronicles my journey deeper into Spirit, is to remind us that there is no such thing as an ordinary light. The spiritual scriptures of many traditions such as the Bible, the Vedas, the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, the Koran and others all tell us that God is Light and so are we. It is the essence of who we are as a universe. Turn on your inner glow and shine it like a search light across the darkness of the world. We are the stuff of suns and stars.
We are no ordinary lights.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Saint and the Crazy Woman

There is a woman who attends aarti at Parmarth Niketan some nights. You cannot miss her if she is there. She is a white woman with dirty blonde hair who wears an all white skirt and all white robes. She stands on the ghat and dances, a very solemn expression on her face and a series of complex and intense mudras on her hands. Everyone stares. She makes no indication that she notices and continues along in her dance, winding her hands from mudra to mudra, twist and contorting, sometimes holding a small sprig of white flowers in her hands. People whisper, some laugh. You can’t help but notice.

One day while walking in front of the ashram I saw her go into a bookstore. I followed her inside and told her that I thought her dance was beautiful. I figured that she was the object of so much ridicule that she might like to hear a friendly voice tell her something kind. Her voice was small and delicate and she spoke very deliberately. Often she would close her eyes and squint, as if trying to hear some very quiet voice on the inside of her head tell her what to say next. She was eager to talk and share spiritual discussions of her path and her practice. She said she lived in the mountains and experiences much harassment from the locals. She said that she works with flowers and herbs, spent four years in a cave, is a total renunciate, fasts for much of the year and practices levitation as a form of daily meditation. She said her name was Upasana and that she had come to India after a very painful upbringing of abuse to find God. She spoke of specific intense sadhana practices, her guru, and asked me to say prayers of protection for her from my tradition. I asked her if I could watch her levitate, but she said that only her disciples were permitted to view it, as people outside of their order were not allowed to watch other than in certain very public instances that have been, according to her, well documented. She was a gentle and delicate woman, seeming more fairy than human. It was time for arti, so I suggested we walk together and I told her I would sit behind her and do a meditation for protection for her, since she had said that she was very aware of the negative attention she got. We went through aarti like that, me chanting softly “Aad guray nameh, jugad guray nameh, sat guray nameh, siri guru devay nameh” behind her and her dancing her mudras. After aarti, she thanked me for my mantras and my kind words, said she would pray for me and we went our separate ways.

I asked someone I knew at the ashram afterwards who she was. They said she was a “mentally unbalanced” woman who lived in the hills. Now I do not know whether she is a levitating saint or a crazy woman with visions of grandeur. It doesn’t matter to me. She is a woman who is living her life how she chooses to live it, and I don’t agree with her being the object of negativity from so many just because they don’t think what she is doing is normal. Maybe she is crazy, so she should be looked upon with compassion. Maybe she is a saint, so she should be looked upon with compassion. Essentially who and what we are doesn’t matter. Our souls all deserve to be treated with compassion, tenderness and the freedom to express ourselves how we choose. We all deserve a mantra of protection.


  1. Thank you Ramdesh Kaur, not only for this beautiful reflection, but for all your stories. Having been in Rishikesh and India just before you got there, in early February, I recognize much of what you write and at the same time your writings are teaching me new ways to look and worship. Sat Nam Siri Wahe Guru, keep sharing your light, even if you are back home now I hope you keep sharing on your blog.

  2. Thank you Ramdesh Kaur for your graciousness towards Upasana Yogini. I have made her acquaintance is a small village in rural South Africa where she continues her work. She is still gentle and delicate, and still receives negative attention, but she smiles and prays and leaves blessing wherever her feet take her. She is an amazingly talented artist and I have been privileged to see some of the work she does using only elements from nature that she finds in her walking.
    I think she is finding it hard to be in South Africa and although she smiles and makes beautiful movements with her hands, she seems to be suffering.