The second day at Top Slip began with an early morning walk in to the forest. It was a one-and-a-half-hour trek, and was the first activity of the day, when the students, staff and elders wore bright clothes, which would act as a camouflage in the dense forests, and thus would not attract unnecessary attention from the in-dwellers of the jungle, the animals! By 7 a.m. everyone was ready and assembled in front of the guest house, and walked through the forest guided by the Forest Guard, and accompanied by Mr Rajashekar. While spotting the Malabar Squirrel, a pug mark of the Leopard and a couple of wild monkeys were seen! In this deciduous forest, most of the trees had shed their leaves with the onset of summer. This also happens to be one of the worst years of drought in this side of the Forest Range, so most of the animals had migrated towards Kerala where there is a large dam as a part of the Tiger Reserve. This particular Forest Reserve shares its boundary with Kerala, and on the other side is the Parambikulam Tiger Reserve, which has the Parambikulam Dam which still has plenty of water to look after the inmates of the jungle.
As everyone walked through the thick foliage of the forest, a variety of flora and fauna were spotted. The Forest Officer familiarised all with the many species of plants and variety of creepers, which were all around the jungle. A little rivulet which otherwise runs to its capacity, was dry because of the drought and summer. Forest fires were also widely prevalent on the other side of the border in Kerala, and hence people have been prohibited from visiting the area and the Dam. After a two-and-a-half-hour long walk, hungry and tired, Bhagawan’s students and guests returned to the guest house to shower and partake a sumptuous breakfast of idli, vada, dosa, pongal, shavige bath, accompanied by a variety of chutneys, sambhar and vegetables! Thereafter, everyone assembled at Swami’s residence at 11:30 a.m. for a private gathering. The corridors of the guest house became the Satsang venue, and Bhagawan entered amidst soulful Bhajans.
As Bhagawan took His seat, He cast His compassionate glance at all the dried-up trees around and remarked, “Oh the trees have dried up because of summer, and the animals had to migrate to the other side for the sake of food and water.” Brother Madhusudan later revealed that he could clearly see the compassion in Bhagawan’s eyes, as the Lord was filled with deep anguish for His creation. After a few Bhajans, Swami asked Sri Narasimha Murthy to speak about the different paths of Yoga. This was something he had read a long time ago, but was not used to speaking about it. Swami called him all of a sudden, and Sri Narasimha Murthy was rather perplexed as to what he was going to speak! But, being an old hand at oratory, he very beautifully started by speaking about the different paths of Yoga, that are followed as per the Indian tradition – the Karma Yoga (path of service), Bhakti Yoga (path of devotion), and the Jnana Yoga (path of illumination). He then mentioned about the Raja Yoga, which is essentially the Ashtanga Yoga, the eight-fold path of Yoga, prescribed in the sacred texts. He briefly mentioned the eight paths of the Ashtanga Yoga – Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi. Swami was there to assist him with the missing links in his memory and help the students understand all these better. Sri Narasimha Murthy emphasised that all other things, without the very first two paths, Yama and Niyama, which pertains to the outer and inner discipline, social and individual discipline, will be a waste!
Swami spoke for a short while next, about the importance of Sadhana in our daily lives. He clearly said that just because somebody stays close to Swami physically, it will not automatically ensure liberation or achievement of the highest. For this, every individual needs to put some self effort and when it is coupled with His grace, the results will definitely be achievable. Thus, Bhagawan advised every student, staff and devotee gathered to choose a particular Sadhana and follow it implicitly. He said, “On the other side, one must also engage in Seva or service, for Sadhana will be not be fulfilling without Seva, and Seva will not be useful without Sadhana.”
After the brief morning session, Swami and everyone were served lunch. Thereafter, everyone retired for a brief afternoon rest.