Neither of us being in the mood for the frenetic end-of-year partying for which Manhattan is justly famed, a friend and I decided to spend the last few days of 1993 at Ananda Ashram in upstate New York.
It was stunningly beautiful in that snow-blanketed part of the world, and I was immensely grateful for this brief respite. You see, after years of trying every damn thing to make my marriage work, I had finally left my partner of fourteen years. All I carried away with me were my clothes, some furniture, a precious collection of books and music, and the invisible festering wounds of what felt like a major failure. Continue reading
Solace came in the form of hatha yoga, meditation and reading all the eastern philosophy I could get my hands on. Someone gave me Robert Svoboda’s Aghora—crude, intense, rich. His chapter on karma made one thing crystal clear to me—that none of us are victims in the big picture. Whatever we may experience—good, bad, neutral—is only the result of our own past karma—meaning, eons of thinking, speaking and acting in certain ways.
I felt sure that the half-a-million dollars or more that I’d lost by leaving my marriage was the sole result of the karmic pendulum swinging back at me. Had I retaliated in revengeful desperation, as several feminist friends exhorted me to do, I intuited that this same pendulum would swing back with even greater force, knocking me down for the count. Continue reading
Sometime in the early 90s, I put together a collection of short stories. Each tale dealt with an Indian woman who faces a terrible dilemma—and solves it with amazing panache and wile. The collection is titled: Sacrifice to the Black Goddess. My literary agent at the time had shown it to a bunch of Manhattan publishers. The universal verdict was that I had promise, but that I should first write a novel. And so the idea of writing something big and important began to stir within me.
In the winter of 1993, I met with James Kelleher, a brilliant vedic astrologer based in Los Gatos, California, who was on a work visit to Manhattan. Believe it or not, he saw a novel looming in my chart and said it was my dharma to bring it into the world. He even gave me the exact year I would finish it, and ended by warning me that I’d have endless problems trying to publish it; nevertheless, he stressed, I should persevere. Continue reading
My childhood in south India imprinted me with a hatred for suffering. I once saw a man—who had doused himself with kerosene and set himself on fire—walk right past the gate of our suburban home. I still don’t know why he did what he did; servants were buzzing about it for weeks afterward, but I could not bear to hear the details. What could be so terrible that a man would set his own precious body ablaze?
That Burning Man never left my consciousness; what still baffles me is that the flames scorching his body did not seem to affect him—he had staggered past our home defiantly, this blazing human torch, and I swear I don’t recall hearing him scream.
Pain, as we all discover sooner or later, comes in a range of gross and subtle flavors. Some are cursed with having to endure physical pain. My own suffering has always been emotional; to escape from the sometimes relentless inner torment of my earlier days, I confess I would do almost anything. Continue reading