Praying for God’s Grace to Descend

Cross-posted from sweta.srichinmoycentre.org

In Nepal, venerating God’s Presence at home and in temples is daily ritual, as Sweta explains in her story. However, she wondered why an Avatar — a spiritual Master of the highest Height – had not come to earth in these times. Little did she know that finding her Master and integrating meditation to her already strong prayer life in the process would help her find God in her own heart.

Growing Up in Nepal

As long as I can remember growing up in Nepal, I never missed a single day without praying to God, every morning. Like other Hindu families, ours had a small puja (prayer) room. I learned Sanskrit mantras and prayers from my mother and tiny prayer booklets. Chanting mantras every day, I came to remember them by heart.

I had strong faith in the existence of God, but I thought God lived in Heaven, somewhere far beyond the blue sky. Like everyone else in Nepal, I believed we had to pray hard to please God. Every time I had some wish, like passing exams, I’d make a vow. “O Lord Ganesha, please make me pass my exams, and I promise to offer 108 laddoos (candied balls).” I visited all the temples in my neighborhood, one of the busiest in Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital city; offering my fervent devotions to Ganesha, Durga, Shiva, Krishna, Mahakal, Bhairav, Hanuman, Narayan and many others. Sometimes I also feared that if I missed visiting temples and offering prayers then I might displease the gods. So, I never failed at it. I even used to fast sometimes when I desired some special boon. 

As a member of the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run, Sweta takes the Peace Torch on a prayerful pilgrimage to a Nepalese temple.

My grandfather sacrificed live animals on special festival days. When I was 12, I got so overwhelmed watching these poor animals being sacrificed I decided to never eat meat again. My family ate meat, so it took me almost four years of sincere trying to give up eating meat and fish.

Sweta with her mother, Indira, during a Peace Run ceremony

 While praying, I cried to God. Lord Vishnu had incarnated in human form to destroy evil and protect people in a different era – I asked why do we not have an Avatar for this era to guide us?

Finding my Guru

I took up a part-time job in an educational consultancy after graduating from the university, and enrolled for a postgraduate degree at the same time. The very first day I joined the office, I became good friends with a girl who had been working there already for a few months. I liked her company the most as I felt she was very smart, yet so simple, kind and caring. She later told me that she does meditation, and that she has a Guru. My feeling and respect for her grew even more.

Cover of 'The Spiritual Life' showing an early picture of Sri Chinmoy in meditation.

On my birthday, she gifted me The Spiritual Life (Path of the Heart), a book by Sri Chinmoy. When I started reading the book, it was a miracle change in my life. I felt all my life’s questions answered. Every word and sentence gave me so much joy. I was literally crying, reading this book. I felt it showed me the Absolute Truth. I felt Light coming out of the book and showing me what Truth is. God is so lovable. I felt the palpable existence of God. His sweetness, affection and love inside my heart. I felt these qualities emanating from inside my own heart, too — not somewhere in the far blue beyond, as I’d previously imagined.  

The cover had a picture of Sri Chinmoy in a seated position. Before reading the book, I thought I was seeing the picture of a Guru who was great because my good friend gave me his book. After reading the book, I bowed down to Sri Chinmoy’s picture on the cover. 

I shared my experience with my friend. She told me everything about becoming Sri Chinmoy’s student and following the spiritual life. But my mind was strong; I thought my family would never allow me to join and I would be okay with my prayer life. 

One evening after work, she took me to a free meditation class. For the first time, I learned what meditation was about. It was a guided meditation to imagine a flower blooming petal by petal inside the heart. When I closed my eyes to imagine the flower petals, I couldn’t imagine it, not even for a fleeting second. So many thoughts came pouring in. I thought meditation was the most difficult thing on earth and thought it was not for me, I am happy praying. I didn’t continue. 

However, I asked my friend for more books by Sri Chinmoy, that she borrowed from the Centre. I would finish reading them quickly and return it to her, hoping to get to read new ones. The more I read, the more intense my spiritual hunger got. It had never happened before, that my mind was absolutely silent while reading books. There were no thoughts, but just the reality of the writings were melting my heart, stirring my soul. 

Adding Meditation to My Prayer-Life

Once she got me a thick book, an early version of Meditation: Man-Perfection in God-Satisfaction with photos of Guru in his highest meditation, along with smiling pictures. Every day, I looked at Sri Chinmoy's Transcendental picture1 and prayed to be accepted as his student. I desired nothing else in my life — only to have Sri Chinmoy as my Guru. I implicitly felt he was an Avatar, here to guide and illumine us. 

I told my friend that I wanted to become a disciple. She took me to her Centre, and the Centre leader had me fill an application form and also took my picture to send to Sri Chinmoy in New York. I was informed that my application was sent, and that I would have to wait. I started praying every day, looking at Guru’s picture, telling him that even my meditation capacity is poor, but that this life is only for God alone and that I would never give up trying to become good. After a month, I heard Sri Chinmoy had accepted me on Tuesday evening, 13th March 2007. 

I cannot imagine life without prayer and meditation now. Problems and challenges are inevitable for every human being. Our daily prayers and meditation help immensely to stay focused, running towards our real goal to please God, in God’s Own Way. My favorite meditation is memorizing poems and prayers written by Sri Chinmoy. When I recite them, I feel I am intimately conversing with God. Singing prayerful and devotional songs are another favourite, as it helps me dive inward quickly.   

Putting Meditation to Work

Working in a bank for close to a decade (a six-day work week) can be monotonous and often stressful. However, my daily morning meditation is like saving “Peace Money” in my inner bank account. At the end of the day, when I recall the day's events, I feel only gratitude in my heart – if I were not following the spiritual path, work circumstances would affect my inner poise, disturbing my consciousness. In my evening meditation, I offer everything at God’s Feet. It makes me happy I have something strong to hold on to, an inner wealth that is infinitely more powerful than just outer wealth alone. I feel totally protected and safe in my Guru’s Heart.

We have Centre meditations twice weekly. Attending Centre meditation is equally important to fully recharge or fuel up my inner engine — an inner engine that keeps me humming smoothly and confidently, on the inner road and my outer journey. 

Regaining a Mistaken Loss

On 11th October 2007, when the message came from New York to all the worldwide Sri Chinmoy Centres about our teacher's Mahasamadhi2, I immediately ran to meditate at my shrine. I could not hold back my streaming tears. My only desire to see my Avatar Guru in person was shattered! I didn’t know how many more long years of sadhana (spiritual practice) would help me reach the highest meditation to see Guru, if only in the inner world. These thoughts were making me feel heavy, and I felt such pain in my heart. 

Suddenly, my eyes became transfixed on one very beautiful framed photo of Guru smiling. My face smiled, to see Guru smile. My mind asked how could I smile being in such a terrible heart-tearing condition, but I stopped crying. It was a strange feeling. I could only feel a big smile on my face, with my heart totally free from the devastating pain I’d felt just moments ago. The smile from the picture was so tangible, absorbing all my tears. I felt my whole being becoming light and free. 

Now, when I see Guru’s picture, read his books or watch his videos, I never feel we have not ever met. I feel I’ve always known him. Or rather, he has known me forever, always been guiding me and fully taking responsibility for my life. While Guru has left the physical, his more than abundant writings, music, art, and sports activities make our one lifetime too short to enjoy the vastness and preciousness of these sacred treasures.

My physical death
Is not the end of my life –
I am an eternal journey.

Sri Chinmoy 3

A beautiful statue of Sri Chinmoy has been watching over the mountains of Nagarkot, Nepal since 2011; amazingly, it remained unscathed following the 7.8 magnitude earthquake in 2015, despite the surrounding area being reduced to rubble.

Running for My Life’s Progress

Besides daily prayer and meditation, Guru gave so much importance to running or physical exercise. I was never active in sports when young, never into running races. After becoming a disciple, I started running. I started with one-mile and two-mile races. I used to be the last one at the finish line. The initial races, I remember I would be panting and gasping for breath. I was always totally exhausted after the race. I hardly trained for long distance running because I never liked running in the hustle-bustle and busy outskirts of Kathmandu. Finding a park or wide roads for daily training is difficult where I live. 

However, with running one way to make faster spiritual progress, I started running annual half-marathons in Kathmandu. When I finally could go to New York for the first time in 2014, I participated in the Sri Chinmoy Marathon. I finished my first marathon in 4:04. I was so happy because it was definitely not my body’s capacity. It was all Grace that I could finish. I’d watched videos of Guru visiting the course. I felt blessed and fortunate to run on the same course Guru had been on, and had blessed. The feeling of joy and gratitude fed my body with energy until I crossed the finish line. 

Sweta crosses the finish line in the Sri Chinmoy Marathon, August 2014.

Since then, I go to New York City for Guru’s annual Birthday Celebrations. I never miss the opportunity to run the Sri Chinmoy Marathon. In 2017, I ran the marathon in 4:15 hours; two days later, I finished the 47-mile race in 9:39 hours. It’s also thanks to the inspiration, encouragement and support of our wonderful brothers and sisters of our amazing spiritual family.

There is the Sri Chinmoy 3100 Mile race that happens every year in Queens, NY. It is so thrilling to see the 3100 mile race and to witness the brave runners finishing this most challenging race in the world. When we feel one with their self-transcendence, it inspires us immensely. When we could transcend our limited capacities with our faith, determination and surrender, the joy is then unimaginable.

In 2017, Sweta spent a few days at the 3100 Mile race as a helper for New Zealand runner Harita Davies (centre). This photo was taken at the finish, showing Harita with all her helpers.

In 2014, I ran the final leg of the North American Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run. It was the most amazing experience of my life. I was running on America’s beautiful wider roads for the very first time. It was far more than merely running miles. The moment of silence holding the Peace Run Torch was magical. It was overwhelming.

Sweta passes on the Peace Torch to her Peace Run team mate, Aparanji from Brazil.

Everything was new—meeting people, visiting local communities, YMCAs, schoolchildren. Above all, carrying Guru’s loftiest vision for world peace in such tangible ways was very special. It was entirely a newness-oneness-joy experience for me.

A presentation during one of the many school visits.

Thereafter, I joined the North American Peace Run again in 2016 and 2018. I always feel more fulfilled when I get to participate in the Peace Run. Each time, the experience gets more profound. It was great learning how much dedicated effort and selfless service team members and organizers put in, to make Peace Run so successful. Not only our aspiration but our dedicated service is also equally important in our meditation life or spiritual life, to make progress and to manifest Sri Chinmoy’s vision for a more peaceful world — that begins with the individual. 

  • 1. A picture of Sri Chinmoy in a very high consciousness that his students use for meditation. When they meditate on it, they connect to that higher consciousness and become aware of their own inner divinity.
  • 2. A term used in Indian spirituality to denote the departure of a spiritual Master from the earthly plane.
  • 3. From the book Sri Chinmoy, My Christmas-New Year-Vacation Aspiration-Prayers, part 52, Agni Press, 2007. This was the last poem published by Sri Chinmoy before his passing.