The air is filled with the different sounds of worship as the sun starts to climb, spreading it’s red light over the sky. The white courtyard in front of the temple seems to be built in a way as to collect and enhance the sound in all directions. Loud singing blends with bells and drums. Through the massive mix of vibration one single counch is blowing, loud, warm and clear, calling people to the morning prayer.
Every new place you come to takes a little bit of time to adjust too, to understand, to get used to, to make your own in a way. You have to give it at least a few days. During our first day at the Ashram in Malsar, we observe all the routines that goes on in and around the temple, trying to understand and to take it all in to the best of our ability. This was the practice space for our teacher’s, teacher’s, teacher Maharaj Madhavadas who taught the pranayama tradition to Kuvalyananda, who then started the institute in Lonavla where we now are being fortunate to study with Tiwariji. Without the work of all of these men we would not be here doing what we are doing. That in itself is a humbling thought.
We learn about the pujas (arti). They are being held 6 times per day in different ways starting at 4.30 am and ending at 9.00 pm. Mealtimes are served twice a day, at noon and at 8.30 pm. In the big, open dining hall everyone is being served seated on the floor, men on one side, woman on the other. The first evening I end up on the wrong side of the room with the men. It seems ok and I don’t think twice about the different sides, surely there is a woman on this side just a few seats away from me? Later I realise the “woman” with the white hair in a bun on her head actually is the head swami of the place. How was it possible for me to miss that big beard? We eat chapatti, rice and dhal with our hands. I’m glancing at the lady next to me to get an idea of how to combine things but it seems like everyone is doing things in their own way. Although the eating style appears to be quite liberal (including plenty of farts and burping), in general rules seems to be the main thing here. There is a specific way for everything, how to sit, where to stand, when to bow, when to be served, when to wear shoes as well and when not to wear them.
We sing “Hare Ram” with Akash in the evening and the rest of the time he sings on his own from morning to nightfall. That is his practice. His voice and bells are still with me.