By Marilyn Frazier
One of the first things you learn as a student of Sri Kaleshwar, my Guru, are the “opening prayers”. Three prayers: one to your guru, the teacher of your soul, one to Ganesh, the remover of obstacles, and one to Gayatri, the heavenly form of the Cosmic Divine Mother. These three figures and energies are invoked before any meditation or major process.
There are a lot of different systems or techniques within the singular system of Sai Shakti healing. I think of it as akin to the way that there are many Vedic godheads, many forms of the divine leading you to one singular goal of pure consciousness.
I’ve been studying this Indian tradition for 7 years and I haven’t learned them all. It truly is an ocean of knowledge whose waters I continue to traverse.
So much so that some of the more commonly practiced techniques can get taken for granted.
Like a lot of things in life, it can be easy to always be searching for the next big thing and to forget the power of what’s right in front of you. The way you can forget the invaluable importance of a loved one or a soul mate until you end up in times of trouble, needing support, needing someone to lean on.
I’ve spoken the opening mantra prayers thousands of times across the span of my ongoing seven year education. The words admittedly often roll off my tongue automatically and without much thought.
Last April, my grandfather died.
I grew up with my grandparents, and he was a central figure in my upbringing. He was 72 when he passed.
So, I flew from the West Coast, back to my humble hometown, a little ol’ place called Brooklyn, New York, to attend his funeral.
In life, my grandfather could be a lonely figure at times, and tended to shy away from people. He was a self-admitted hermit and had a social anxiety I think he never knew quite how to address. The society and circumstances in which he was reared in hadn’t seemed to equip him with the tools to overcome said anxiety and self-consciousness. And so I think he would have been surprised and touched at the family, friends, and neighbors who all came to send him off to his next great adventure. He had after all, a heart of gold beneath the classical New York intellectual neuroticism.
Their presence to mewas a final proof that when push comes to shove, love is ALL that matters.
My mother, grandmother and I were closest to him, and each stood up to speak our parting words about him. It was very emotional, as funerals inevitably go. It’s hard to maintain any semblance of composure in a room full of grieving, tearful loved ones. And maybe you shouldn't even try to, but God knows it’s hard to speak in front of a group of people with a lump in your throat and tears in your eyes.
When it was my turn to speak, I told the room full of beloved faces that before anything important in my life, I say three prayers.
I could hear my voice shaking and trembling as I began to speak. I could hear the crack in it as I began the familiar lilting melody of the Guru mantra, as I had sung so many times before. And as I continued onwards through the Ganesh mantra and into the final notes of the Gayatri….I could hear my voice get stronger and steadier.
I have never felt such a visceral difference in the power of those three opening prayers. Now more than ever, I could feel it in my bones.
The stabilizing truth of what underlies everything in creation, no matter what drama is playing on the surface of life.
Everyone else in that room felt it too.
I could see a cascading curtain of peace wash over the faces of the audience sitting in front of me, who moments ago had been besides themselves with grief. Most of whom had never heard a word of Sanskrit in their lives.
As I talked behind the podium, I shared my connection with grandfather, what he taught me, our struggles, and the things I was grateful for.
And at the close of my eulogy of his life I sang:
Loka Somasta Sukino Bhavantu.May all the beings in all realms have peace.
Shanti shanti shanti.
Some neighbors and an uncle whom I hadn’t seen in years asked me afterwards“...what WAS that?”
Apparently what that was, is something I am still continuing to discover, learn, and appreciate.
The opening prayers were there for me that day with warmth, comfort and guidance like everyone there who showed up to the funeral hall that day. A love which had been with me all along.
“What was that?”
How could I even say? The vibrational power of those mantras touched on something simultaneously vast and incomprehensible, and yet more natural and intuitive to us than anything else in the human experience.
An invocation of nothing more or less than love, love, love.
And if I do nothing more in my life but continue to learn and experience the unfolding layers of divine love and the spiritual knowledge that I’ve been blessed with, I will be happy.
May all souls, living and dead, know the deepest peace as we cross the ocean existence together.
Jai Guru, Jai Ma
RIP Juan Rios 1947-2019
Is originally from Brooklyn, NY, and moved to Walnut Creek in the Bay Area of Northern California in 2017. An occupational therapist and Sai Shakti healer with a passion for holistic healing, she’s been studying in the lineage of Sri Kaleshwar since 2011.