Such A Perfect Day – Elephant Orphanage

srilankaelephants121Volunteers with the elephants

My trip is half over now, must say the time went by quickly. I have been busy taking pics. – lots of them.The heat is well into the 30 degree range with rain sometimes. It’s really too hot to do anything. I have enjoyed my stay in Prashanthi Nilayam and so enjoy the Vedas and the bhajans, also other chants. Oh! how sublime it is here, away from the daily drudge of cleaning, washing and doing the shopping. I have many stories to share with you all, but they will have to wait until my return. My most pleasant surprise has been the superb food, not usually what I expect on my trips here to Puttaparthi.  

– love eve xxxx


 

I’ve dragged out another old document with a travel story from long ago. I can’t remember just what year I visited  Pinnawela? I guess it was at least 12 years back. I’d forgotten I’d written this yarn. This adventure, is one worth sharing, although not really in keeping  with  my blog. I could blog it under Ganesha, I suppose, the Hindu Elephant God Ganesha – the remover of obstacles. I love reading myths about Ganesha, still there’s nothing like a real elephant. To see them is to love them dearly.

Ganesh wood carving. Japan. Early Buddhist brought Ganesh to Japan.
Ganesh wood carving. Japan. Early Buddhist brought Ganesh to Japan.

Such A Perfect Day at Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage – Sri Lanka

Although the mini-bus was fully air-conditioned and comfortable our three-hour drive from Kandy to Pinnawela proved exhausting.

The boiling sun roasted the countryside making the air thick with dust. Also the war had taken its toll on the roads where we encountered numerous pot-holes and rough patches that caused our stomachs to roll over. Our driver manoeuvred our vehicle to avoid them but it was an “un-perrrrrfect” skill on his part.

My friend Karon who lives in Sri Lanka, helped to make the drive interesting by pointing out favourite landmarks along the way, telling me their history. She also insisted that our driver play her favourite cassette tape. The cassette had only one song – “A Perfect Day,” by Eric Clapton. The song amused me with its endless repetitions of the same four words – dare I repeat them, “Just A Perfect Day.” But after an hour or so our poor driver sighed and pulled at his hair,

“Enough!” he wailed. “Enough, enough, enough.”

I nodded quietly agreeing with him.

We continued our journey to the steady rhythm of Enya singing “In Memory of Trees”.

Our driver gave a mischievous grin, “Wonderful!” he exclaimed and began to sing along, but horribly out of tune.

At exactly 11.40 a.m. the driver informed us we were entering the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage. He hurriedly parked the mini-bus and urged us to go quickly because at noon the baby elephants were to be fed.

We rushed to the entrance paid our 50-rupee each fee, then sped to the enclosure where the babies were kept. Oh! What a beautiful sight met our eyes. Miniature elephants of varying size stood eagerly waiting their morning meal. Several really small ones, stomped their feet anxiously as they waited.

Others moved their heads up and down in an attempt to draw attention to their hungry bellies. The older ones trumpeted with undisguised impatience; they had to wait until last. We struggled to get nearer to the orphans but there was a large crowd.

elephant

Eventually we managed a front row spot,  where I could stretch out my hand to stroke one of the smallest babies. The infant still covered with baby hair felt like a brillo pad! I continued to stroke him/her, but he/she wasn’t having it. He/she roared at me, until I withdrew my hand. The infant although appealing still looked dangerous. The keeper seeing my concern came over and began to feed the baby elephant, who took the bottle greedily. The little thing closed her eyes, her long lashes looked almost like false ones. They were long and thick.

We tried to find out more about the orphans but the keepers were too busy. Our friendly bus driver joined us and offered intriguing details about the orphans. He had been bringing people here for years and had a wealth of knowledge he could share. He told us that most of the orphans had lost their parents in the continuing war in Northern Sri Lanka. We heard that one youngster had been found wandering with a group of wild buffalo and was eventually rescued and brought to the centre only a few days earlier. Another teenager elephant, crippled by a land mine, had been saved by soldiers and brought to the orphanage where the vets had amputated a back leg. The injury had taken three years to heal. The injured elephant had little trouble following the rest of the herd to the river, even on three legs.

After the baby orphans had been fed we made our way down to the river, where the joyful trumpeting of the adults was heard as they wallowed in the water. The elephants were divided into groups to aid them in establishing new family herds. They rubbed and trunk-hosed each other fondly, trying to keep cool in the soaring temperatures. Several youngsters caught my eye as they stood heaving their trunks over their backs splattering mud and water everywhere.

Fascinated by these gentle beasts, I wanted a closer view. I removed my shoes and with Karon’s help, climbed down the steep incline to the riverside. From my new vantage point, I could see that the river run deep in the middle, while flanked on both sides by a steamy jungle. A perfect setting for the wild elephants. Directly in front of me two huge adults, were lying on their sides in the river, being lovingly scrubbed by their keepers. Being within hearing range, I could hear the keepers giving commands to the great beasts who followed them attentively.

“Come closer,” one of the keepers shouted to me.

“Oh! no,” I cried. “It’s too muddy and I may slip.” Being close to the elephants was treat enough but I didn’t want to push my luck.

“Beautiful creatures,” I yelled. “What’s their names?

“This one is Lila.” The keeper nearest to me shouted back while pointing to the beast lying in the water beside him. “I’m the mahout.” (keeper)

Lila eyed me curiously, rolled over, and stood up. He was of gargantuan size!

“Oh!” I exclaimed, gingerly stepped backwards. “Is Lila dangerous?”

The keeper laughed and called a command to Lila who trudged towards him through the thick mud.

He can be dangerous but not with me in charge.” Assured the mahout with a chuckle.

aawhiteed

vols-river2From the rocks. A good vantage point for seeing the elephants in the river

aawhiteed

Karon stretched out her hand, “Here take your camera,” she said. “And be careful.” I took several photos of Lila until he came a tad too close. At which time I made a speedy retreat through the rocks.  From the safely on the riverbank, I waved to the mahout who continued to brush and wash the elephant.

“Now you’ve been close to a wild elephant,” Karon joked, her eyes twinkling with mischief. “Maybe you will be brave enough to ride one.”

Wiping the sweat from my face, I answered that I only might consider it. Karon took several more photos then we made our way to the cafe overlooking the river. We remained there sipping our ice-cold cola for sometime, watching the elephants. The younger ones as they played with each other, provided us with a glimpse of how elephants inter-act in the wild. The older ones explored the far side of the river, trumpeting as they went. The babies, farther down the river, enjoyed lessons in “elephant hygiene” given by their keepers.

One sad looking male stood chained to a rock. We were told he was ready to mate. He stood in the water, roaring ominously. Very upset with the hoards of tourist. We felt sorry for him as he stood there looking at the females, who flirted outrageously with him. Several of the elephants appeared to be sick, due to the terrible ordeals they had been through. We could only hope that with time and care they would recover and lead normal elephant lives.

At four p.m. the elephants were rounded up and led in a single file back to the orphanage. We stood captivated as each one filed past. Last but not the least; the three-legged teenager strolled by lapping up all the extra attention tourist gave him.

“Ah,” we cried, ” he’s so sweet.”

Sweet, yes, but powerful and majestic beyond measure.

From my travels…………

aawhiteed

Pinnawela-Elephant-OrphanageProperly taken from the Cafe – overlooking the river.

aawhiteed


 

I have no idea what Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage is like today. I hear different reports, some suggesting the elephants are not treated too well. On my visit The elephants looked very well cared for considering a cruel  war was waging. the orphanage lacked funds, often relying on volunteers to help out.  Might add the photos are not mine. They come from the Internet. My photos are on film.

aawhiteed

Ganesh wood carving. Japan. Early Buddhist brought Ganesh to Japan.
Ganesh wood carving. Japan. Early Buddhist brought Ganesh to Japan.

The Meaning of Ganesh in Japan

Ganesha assumes 30 distinctive forms in Japanese iconography, often as a dual entity. One erotic form, specific to Shingon Buddhism, features two embracing male and female forms with elephant heads and human bodies. These are rare idols, worshipped with secret rituals inside temples. Typically, they are made of metal as they must be immersed in oil during worship. Gumyo-ji, an 8th century temple in Minami, Yokohama has one such image. Often, Japanese temple doors feature two long-robed, elephant-headed figures in an embrace.

Young Japanese popularly worship Kangiten as a symbol of conjugal bliss. Many entrepreneurs, especially those whose business involves food and drink, worship Ganesha as Shou Ten, a benevolent obstacle-remover and enhancer of wealth.

Many thanks to the Ganesh blog for details.


Have you made it to the end of this epic read?  Need a break? Here’s Lou Reed with “SUCH A PERFECT DAY..” ~  Karon, if you are still reading my blog, this one is for you and Sam!

And it was a perfect day – as Lou Reed describes !

 

Kabir Estatic Poems – Inspirational Quotations

arose99
from my rose collection

Kabir composed in a pithy and earthy style, replete with surprise and inventive imagery.

His poems resonate with praise for the true guru who reveals the divine through direct experience, and denounce more usual ways of attempting god-union such as chanting, austerities, etc. Kabir, being illiterate, expressed his poems orally in vernacular  Hindi. His verses often began with some strongly worded insult to get the attention of passers-by. Kabir has enjoyed a revival of popularity over the past half century as arguably the most accessible and understandable of the Indian saints, with a special influence over spiritual traditions: Here are two of his estatic poems…

Oh friend, I love you, think this over

Oh friend, I love you, think this over
      carefully! If you are in love,
then why are you asleep?

If you have found him,
give yourself to him, take him.

Why do you lose track of him again and again?

If you are about to fall into heavy sleep anyway,
why waste time smoothing the bed
and arranging the pillows?

Kabir will tell you the truth: this is what love is like:
suppose you had to cut your head off
and give it to someone else,
what difference would that make?

aarose99framed

I talk to my inner lover, and I say, why such rush?
We sense that there is some sort of spirit that loves
      birds and animals and the ants—
perhaps the same one who gave a radiance to you
      in your mother’s womb.
Is it logical you would be walking around entirely
      orphaned now?
The truth is you turned away yourself,
and decided to go into the dark alone.
Now you are tangled up in others, and have forgotten
      what you once knew,
and that’s why everything you do has some weird
      failure in it.


Soul Mates, Love and Friendship

Sadhus Of India

Edgar Cayce believed we had a number of soul mates, i.e., people with whom we had incarnated before and with whom we could create a positive relationship. He discussed the characteristics by which we could identify those people.  They were people who would assist us in our soul development. He told us to look for the person who helped us be a “better person.”  He often referred to a spouse as a “help meet,” in reference to  “help mate.”  He said we would be drawn to souls we had known before and in order to complete unfinished business, we would pick up where we left off.

Cayce consistently encouraged us to look at our values, set an ideal for ourselves, and have a sense of life’s direction.  In some readings he discouraged clients from marrying a particular person.  “It would be best never to marry him—thy ideals will be destroyed.”  This response was based on his knowledge of their most recent past lives and the issues that were left unresolved between them. Here is a pretty good quotations from the book Eat, Pray, Love, that sums it up.

first you tube from a series of four.. I love this video, it answers so many questions about relationships…


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“People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.

A true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then leave.

A soul mates purpose is to shake you up, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light can get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you have to transform your life, then introduce you to your spiritual master…”

― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

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♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥¸¸.•*¨*¸.•*¨`*ི♥ྀღ
¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪ ❤ ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥Truthful
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Good Friend – Metta Teachings

photo taken this afternoon on the bank of a river, in Port de Carhaix

“Always set high value on spontaneous kindness. He whose inclination prompts him to cultivate your friendship of his own accord will love you more than one whom you have been at pains to attach to you.”

– Samuel Johnson

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Friendship is a blessing, and a friend is the channel through whom great emotional, spiritual, and sometimes even physical blessings flow. Friends can cheer us when we’re sorrowful or depressed. Friends can challenge us when we allow ourselves to get beyond our reasonable boundaries. Friends can motivate us when we’re ready to give in, and they can provide for us when life falls apart. They are there when all is well, and we want someone with whom to share life’s pleasant and memorable moments. We often just want them around to have a good time, to laugh, to act silly, to enjoy some mutually liked activity. In how many ways have friends enriched our lives and made us feel loved, accepted, respected and cared for? Probably, too many to list, and the list grows daily.

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★ ✿ Ṱℏαᾔк УỚυ ✰✿ ♥ ♫ ♥ ☼ ´¯`•.♥ღℒℴνℯღ ☆ ★ ♥

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The Buddha often emphasized the characteristics of a good friend. He spoke about a good friend as one who gives a kind of happiness based on knowing our interconnectedness, and that learning to be a friend to ourselves and being one to others is really the same thing.

Here are wise words about friendship from the Buddha; what better time to read them than at this very  moment.

He spoke about a good friend, or a true friend, as being someone who is a helper, who will protect us when we are taken unawares, when we are surprised by life in some way. This person will be a refuge to us when we afraid. He spoke about a good friend as someone who is constant in our time of happiness and in our times of adversity or sorrow, someone who will not forsake us when we’re in trouble. And as someone who will tell us their secrets and will not betray our secrets to others, and at the same time will be completely honest with us and warn us if they think we are heading off towards danger.

When we have such a friend we have a gift beyond measure.

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A Friend Remembers – Sathya Sai Memories

A Sweet Story From Puttaparthi Visitor and Friend

It was Christmas 2000 when I first arrived in Puttaparthi with the intention of staying for a few months, not just a few days as I had done on my 1st trip in February.

Swami was in Whitefield and every day we would wait for a new canteen bulletin or news that He would be in Parthi for the Christmas celebrations. Much to our dismay, He DIDN’T come. Most of the foreign devotees moved to Whitefield. Having just arrived and in the process of settling down in my new home , I decided to wait for Him.

On one of those days , I stood before Swami’s house and I silently prayed ” Swami , please take away the Russians. I hate them!”.
Now, people that know me, can tell you that I’m not the kind of person that goes around hating other nationalities or the kind of person that would pray for such nonsense. But, I found the russians that I had met till this day in Puttaparthi extremely rude and arrogant. Some were even annoyed when the rickshaw driver didn’t understand their language.

To continue the story….From Swami’s house till the men’s shoe stands – where they used to line up in the past – takes only 3 minutes to walk…maybe even less. As I reached there, a woman came running up to me and asked me if I wanted to join her little group to go somewhere – i didn’t ask where but as Swami was not in Puttaparthi and as I am a addicted to travelling, it didn’t make a difference. I was not going to lose my chance. I jumped into a minibus and the door closed behind me as I sat in the one available seat. Then it hit me…I was sitting in a bus FULL OF RUSSIANS and I was the only non russian present!!! Swami’s leelas are wonderful!!
It took me a long time to understand where we were going…another ashram in Penukonda which was a horrible experience for me…BUT, beloved Swami had started to show me, in such a beautiful way, how wrong I was to judge.
After that…..my neighbour and best friend was a Russian, I was taken into a RUSSIAN GROUP and I even ended up going to Russian bhajans!!
Then, another strange happening, the 2 interviews I was blessed with was with the RUSSIANS!! What more can I say!! Only that the russians I met were such beautiful people and I’m SOOooo grateful for my russian friends!

1st Interview

I remember thinking to myself at some point ‘Swami, this year I will be alone on Valentine’s day ( I had just separated). i have never been alone on this day”…..just a fleeting thought.

On the the 12th February I was given a purple scarf….the group’s colour. That night I had a strange dream.

A hand giving me a key and the words ‘ I GIVE YOU THE KEY TO THE BEST ROOM IN THE HOTEL. ROOM NO7′

I’m sure that anybody with the slightest intelligence would have understood what room that was and whose voice that was. But not me or , I should say, I didn’t want to understand.

So, I didn’t go to afternoon darshan. I was feeling depressed and instead of going to the MY BEST FRIEND, I stupidly wandered around the Puttaparthi shops.

A man who owned a telephone booth knew me and my group. He came up to me and said ‘ I think your group has been called for an interview’.

For over 2 hours I howled not just cried. I cried and cried and cried so much that people outside stood in front of the house and asked what was happening. Eventually, the owners of my flat said to me ‘Stop crying. it was obviously not your time. Just go and find out what happened.’

So, I dried my tears and went to the ashram. Just as I was arriving at Ganesha, one of the group members, a friend of mine came smiling towards me and said ‘ Get ready for an interview tomorrow’. ‘But, you just had an interview today’ I said , not believing my ears.

‘We were called on to the verandah, Swami materialized a lot of gifts but then He said Wouldn’t you rather have private interviews.? I’m sure you would. And the problem today is that the room is full of boxes for my students, so better I take you tomorrow’. My friend then said to Swami ‘ Swami someone is missing today’ to which He answered ” BUT, TOMORROW SHE WILL BE HERE!!” How many are you today..12…so you should be 13′.

Swami often says ‘tomorrow’ and tomorrow nothing happens because His time is not our time. All we could do was hope, pray and be ready.

The next morning, VALENTINE’S DAY, one of the Russian ladies sat by the VIP section, hoping that Swami would see her and call us. We all sat near the patient’s section.

To this day, I feel tha amazing happiness of that moment, when Swami walked straight to her and said ‘ 13 TODAY? GO! ‘
– ( found this out later).

I will be forever grateful that HE GAVE ME A 2ND CHANCE. From both interviews, I will only refer to Swami’s sayings that could be directed to any one of us.

So there I was sitting on the verandah waiting to be called into Swami’s interview room. The feelings and thoughts that go through one’s mind at this point cannot be expressed in words.

In general, the whole interview and any communication I have ever had with Swami has always had the feeling of a dream. When it’s over, I am never sure that the things I remember actually took place. Did Swami hold my hand? Did He smile at me? Did He really say that in the way I remember? And because Swami knows this , there has always been a witness to confirm that things happened as I thought they did.

Once inside, I sat at the back of the group of women. Being the only foreigner in the group, I felt abit of an intruder. Swami asked everyone where they are from, He skipped that with me!!

Before coming to Sai Baba I was a Yogananda devotee. It was through him that I found my way to beloved Swami. I remember being in Ranchi at Yogananda’s ashram. Some devotees were speaking about Sai Baba. I didn’t want to hear anything. I was not interested in this Swami who performs miracles and I did not fancy the crowds that I heard went to Puttaparthi.

Now 5 years later, I was sitting in Swami’s interview room….exactly 7 years to the day since a friend gave me the copy of Autobiography of a Yogi. Swami, of course, who knows our every thought, materialized watches, pendants, lingams, rings for everyone or maybe almost everyone in the room. The only devotees in there who got nothing, not even vibhuti were my russian friend who had shared my beliefs in the past and myself !!!

Swami blessed us so much in that interview……

At some point He took 2 at a time into the smaller, private interview room.

There was a Russian lady, the translator in the middle and then me. We were literally sitting at Swami’s feet.

He turned towards the Russian lady and pointing at me and said,

– ‘SHE IS ALWAYS WORRIED, ALWAYS UNHAPPY” then turning towards me, He continued ‘ WHY DO YOU WASTE SO MUCH TIME AND ENERGY WORRYING? BE HAPPY!! ‘ and showing me the palm of His right hand, He smiled with such love and said ‘ DON’T YOU KNOW EVERYTHING IS WRITTEN HERE? BE HAPPY.’

This is really what He wants from all of us….our happiness and our love. Everything is in His hands anyway.

When I heard Him say the above, I was somewhat taken aback. Out of all the things He could have said, did these really have to be His first words to me? My ego was not happy and I felt that He was being abit unfair for yes, I do worry or used to worry about everything, but I never saw myself as unhappy. In retrospect, OF COURSE, beloved Swami couldn’t have said anything more beautiful and more knowing than what He did say. He knew my nature more than I knew myself. Most of the time we are not aware of our true nature.

The Russian devotee in the room then asked Swami.

– ‘ Swami I have separated, will you send me a good man?’

Swami ‘ NO, I WILL NOT!!’

– ‘ Please Swami, I am very lonely.’

Swami ‘ NO, I WILL NOT!!! WHAT IS MARRIAGE?? MARRIAGE IS NOT ALWAYS HAPPINESS. ONE PERSON WANTS ONE THING AND THE OTHER PERSON WANTS ANOTHER THING.’

As we know, what Swami said in that room to us was not directed to everyone and He says different things to different people. I think that what he said above was for our ears. For her and for me….marriage was not always happiness. To others , He says ‘where is your wife?’

And this was what happened with my Russian friend. He had said to me that he would NEVER get married. He wanted to be a monk.

‘I will only get married if Swami tells me to’ – To which I had responded ‘That is so silly!! You are so young, you can’t not get married and how can you wait for Swami to tell you…He may never speak to you.’

Well, within a month Swami spoke and His first words to my friend were ‘I will give you a good /beautiful wife.’ …which He did!!!

When we were all in the bigger room, Swami chastised a young girl for her behaviour…too many men…and He then materialized a pendant with Swami on it….He was also very strict with a young man who actually looked as if he had fallen into the room by accident.

All the time I remember the cuckoo clock..yes, there is a cuckoo clock in the room …so sweet. And his little basket with the coloured packets of vibhuti. I was so relieved and grateful that He also gave ME 7 of these packets.

When our precious time was over, Swami led us to the door and blessed us by placing His hand on our head, one by one..

(The personal things Swami said to me have not been mentioned.)

The BEST Valentine’s Day of my life!!! How foolish I had been to think that I would have been alone!!! We are never alone when we have Swami in our heart.

As the months passed after the interview, i would often say to Swami ‘ Why didn’t I also ask you for a little something..maybe a japamal…something to hold on to when in need, afraid, lonely! I’ve changed my mind….next time i will not say no to one of your miracle gifts of love!!!’