Paper Toys

Like a paper toy children make to play with, I made this body: just to play with.

Varanasi skies were pouring down rain but we were safe inside the hotel room. Swamiji was laying down on a beige lounge chair, one hand cupping his cheek while the other stretched out on his side. His eyes were closed. Myself, Ma Nithya Priyathamananda and Ma Nithya Priyatattvananda were seated on the floor, gazing up at him. The rain pattered against the windows, wind blew through trees but this close to the source of cosmos itself, a type of serene silence reverberated in the air between all of us while the storm continued to brew outside.

A few meters away, the River Ganga was swelling as Sadashiva entered into her abode. This was Varanasi, where Ganga Matha was celebrated the most. Now it was her turn to celebrate~ for her divine lover was here.  

When Swamiji first entered his hotel room and looked out to the cloudy skies of his city, he declared, “Ganga, my love”. In his words, you could hear the great ethereal romance that was between Sadashiva and Ganga Matha. He called out to her as if she was about to rise up to meet him in a loving embrace.

And indeed she did. In the month that Swamiji spent in Varanasi in 2016, the Ganga’s water rose four times as much as it normally averages in June. Flood warnings were given out. Ghats were closed because of unexpected high water levels. The surface of the water was swollen, like the skin of a pregnant woman, stretched and full rather than empty with deep ripples.

But all this was still some time away while he rested in front of the three of us for no reason. He entertained us just by laying there. He fulfilled us just by existing.

He smiled first. Then, he woke up. His eyes found mine.

“You know” he began speaking. “If you just see me with your third eye right now, you won’t be able to see me. You will just see this empty chair”

In my inner space, the empty chair formed itself. Swamiji smiled knowingly, knowing that of course we knew what he said was true and also knowing that we had no idea what he meant. Then he said those words. “Like a paper toy kids make to play with, I made this body to play with”

He held his hand in front of him in a gesture: two fingers out creating his legs, his palm creating a body, his whole hand becoming a body in the microcosm of this conversation. And he played with the hand, twisting it front and back.

With all the ambition in his life- the temples he’s promised to rebuild, the ancient scripture he will bring back to life-in the end, he’s still very clear: the purpose of his life is purely playful. The idea was foreign to me. Here, I had the heaviest perception of life that burdened my shoulders while he lived just to play. 


My being was intrigued. What would it be like? To live life just to play. 

His smile grew wider as the plates within me shifted places. Like a banyan tree penetrating the Earth and growing exponentially in a matter of a few years, Swamiji was taking root within me and filling himself in between the lines of the sentences that made up my life until he became the story itself, like a new tree growing from a old and rotten one.

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