Divine Friendship: A personal memoir with a happy ending
Two strangers meet, and by an instantaneous choice of their hearts, they wish to help each other.
“How does this happen?” asks Paramhansa Yogananda in a talk titled The Divine Art of Making Friends, at a temple in California in 1939.
I discovered Nayaswami Asha last winter while preparing for a class on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Dressed in a deep blue Indian outfit, Asha spoke with immense clarity. I watched her on my computer screen. Her dark curly hair framed her fair skin. Her eyes shone with tender love. Her voice revealed her deep humility and devotion. Asha radiated beauty. She radiated joy.
Asha’s wisdom was garnered from the teachings of her guru Paramhansa Yogananda and her spiritual teacher Swami Kriyananda. Personal stories were sprinkled generously throughout her talks.
I understood Patanjali’s wisdom like never before. I related to Asha’s stories. I loved the way she spoke. I loved her gestures, facial expressions and her love and devotion to the path of self-realisation. I admired how she brought to life stories from the Bhagavad Gita, the Holy Bible, Paramhansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi and Swami Kriyananda The New Path. Asha became my role model, my super hero, my rock star spiritual teacher.
I imagined Asha coming to New Zealand. I imagined us walking side by side, basking in the beauty of our Guru’s teachings. I imagined sitting at the table with Asha sharing a lovingly prepared meal and exchanging stories like two friends who had met after a long separation. I imagined sitting with her by a warm fire silently enjoying each other’s company.
I had so much to share with Asha. I had so much to learn from Asha. I deeply desired to be in her company.
Asha’s talks on YouTube had begun to transform my consciousness. Increasing joy, love, and devotion to the path now filled my heart.
Asha taught me how to relate to God as Divine Mother. She taught me ways to deepen my faith and trust. Asha taught me to pray.
And I prayed: “Divine Mother, it’s time for Yogananda’s teachings to blossom in New Zealand. Mother, send Asha to New Zealand.”
It was a warm Friday afternoon in April 2014. I was evaluating the assignments sent in by my students taking the IYTA yoga teacher training course. I heard the sound of an incoming email. In the corner of my computer screen I saw the sender’s name – Nayaswami Asha.
The subject line read: “Should Ananda visit Australia and New Zealand?”
I hit “reply” right away and sent back what is likely the shortest email in the history of all emails: “Yes!”
Asha and I have been in touch since. We have exchanged many emails and have had lengthy conversations over Skype. Every exchange with Asha lifts my heart and fills me with joy. The feeling is indescribable.
Nayaswami Asha arrived in New Zealand that spring, and we carried out a 5-city tour across New Zealand with a team of six. In that summer, we began to plan the events for her next visit which would be in autumn. Asha hasn’t even arrived yet for this event, and we are already thinking up ideas of what to do for the next one.
The spontaneous mutual desire to be friends comes directly from God’s divine law of attraction, says Yogananda. Cumulative acts of friendship between two souls in past lives gradually create a karmic bond that irresistibly attracts them to each other in this life.
Through meeting Asha, I found a sister, a mentor, a teacher, and a divine friend.
Two strangers met, and with an instantaneous choice of their hearts they wished to help each other.
How did it happen? I’ll let you decide if it was a miracle or pure coincidence.
Kavita Parshotam is a disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda, and runs a yoga and meditation centre “the Narrows Retreat” in Hamilton. In April, she is hosting Nayaswami Asha and her three colleagues during a two-week workshop series in Hamilton and a weekend retreat in Taupo. Nayaswami Asha has been a disciple of Yogananda for over 40 years and is currently serving as a Minister at the Ananda Church of Self-Realization in Palo Alto, California. For more information about Asha visit www.nayaswamiasha.org.