Almost out of nowhere, we remembered that a famous Indian saint lived in town, and so we asked about her whereabouts. And we walked. Asking directions from one person to another, we reached the unassuming bungalow with a cream-and-red sign. No labels, no fan-fare, no one at the gate. We opened the gate ourselves, almost feeling like trespassers.
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Almost out of nowhere, we remembered that a famous Indian saint lived in town, and so we asked about her whereabouts. And we walked. Asking directions from one person to another, we reached the unassuming bungalow with a cream-and-red sign.
No labels, no fan-fare, no one at the gate. We opened the gate ourselves, almost feeling like trespassers. As we meandered through the serene property, a woman in a white saree walks down a flight of stairs and kindly greets us. After some hesitation, perhaps feeling bad for us, she adds, "If you give me some identification, though, I will definitely let her know that you came.
I remember reading an article in WIE that called her the most awakened woman alive! It was a very powerful interview with her. We had never met her, but we were still fans.
Almost as quickly as that woman went up the stairs, she came down. We were silently elated, and followed her upstairs. Vimala Tai was seated on her chair. Her grace, poise and strength needed no introduction, as Guri and I sat on the ground. To all of our questions, she responded with a penetrating clarity. What is the purpose of life? Even in the Middle-East. Not in my lifetime, but during yours. When she spoke, there was a unique edge to it. And she had big eyes. Sometimes it felt like her eyes responded before her words were even formulated.
Despite her no-nonsense personna, though, she always felt welcoming. At length, she shared wonderful anecdotes from her life -- like when she was five and went out to the woods with a deep desire to find God. In everything she articulated, she was very clear. Often, she would run out of breath but would continue her responses without skipping a beat. We spoke a lot about Gandhi, Vinoba and J. Everything about Vimala-Tai felt unscripted.
Her bungalow itself was received as a spontaneous gift from a friend; all her books were transcriptions of spontaneous talks; her words, her actions, her next moment At the time when we met her, she had banned all recordings, media interviews, and photographs for more than a decade. To say that she lived a gift-economy lifestyle would be an understatement. Practically everything she said was quotable. Things like, "Every human relationship is a door for liberation.
Strength of your forgiveness is your true character. In fact, it was us who ended the conversation after seeing her fragile physical condition. And we even came without an appointment. What prompted you to grant us this wonderful dialogue? Today, thousands of years ago, Geeta was first spoken by Krishna. I am fasting today. Talk about being in the right place at the right time! For several hours after our meeting, both Guri and I felt unmistakenly elevated and grateful. Last week, on March 11 , Vimala-Tai passed away.
She herself would say that she is not a teacher at all, but a friend who comes to share her perception of life as she understands it, with whoever wishes to be present. Her total dedication to the search for ever deeper and subtler truths began at the very early age of five, and has never stopped. He made her promise not to depend on the authority of teachers past or present, but to rely on her own inner understanding as her guide in life. She met many spiritual leaders of her day, read eastern and western philosophy at university and joined Vinoba Bhave, a renown scholar and saintly man, in his Land Gift Movement, for a period of ten years during which she walked the length and breath of India, sometimes alone, sometimes in the company of Vinoba and his friends. After a forced retirement due to illness, she realized that only inner transformation could overcome violence and aggression, the source of so much misery in the world. Thus she began, at the request of a few friends, to share her deeply felt realization. Invitations to other places began coming in.
FRASI DI Vimala Thakar
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