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Ritambhara

Ritambhara

Photo by Gisele

Biography

Originally from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Rita, or Ritambhara, taught elementary school in Toronto, and at 28, went on a year's leave of absence. Rita decided to go to India where she knew a friend from her home town, who studied with a Guru named Swami Shyam. Having really no idea of what a Guru was, she travelled alone, and rather innocently came upon Shyamspace. Within a year, Rita had decided to make the empirical study of meditation her life! Rita is an expert on the Bhagavad Gita, and has created several audio tapes of herself singing this scripture. Ritambhara's warmth and sincerity reveal her high level of discrimination, which is the underlying meaning of her name.

Written by Gisele Beaupre

I have left the original text as is. 

Interview

Gisele:  Rita, when did you first meet with Swami Shyam?

Rita: Well I got into town at night and Dan and Akilesh, Swamiji's son, put me in a hotel. The next day they took me to meet Swamiji. He was playing chess. I sat down and he just asked me different questions. I must have sat there for five hours solid. I had done a lot of sports, so I didn't find it hard to sit. I just talked very naturally. I had no idea that he was anything special. I didn't really know what was going on particularly, but I liked him a lot, and he was really nice to me. Each day would go by, and I'd say this is good!

Gisele: So you liked it there!

Rita: Yes, I decided that I would stay longer. I spent a few days alone reading a book written by Swami Shyam. Something really clicked between that experience and the knowledge Swamiji was conveying. I thought, "This is amazing, this really makes sense! This is what I wanted to know, and this is really true." This feeling slowly started to come, that this knowledge really made sense to me. I put in my resignation for my teaching job in Toronto. I decided to stay. It became very clear to me what I wanted to do with my life. A few months later something happened which was also a deciding factor.

Gisele: What, what?

Rita: It was a full moon, and a few of us went to the banks of the Vyaas river. We were sitting on the side of the river and I had the most powerful meditation. During that meditation, the knowledge really unfolded itself very directly to me. It felt like I really travelled to the source, my source, the source of all. I saw the individual process, and all the sanskaars (patterns of behaviours) and incarnations; a kind of flipping back. There was a sense that none of it was that important. I knew that I was to just keep travelling in my consciousness, back to that pure space or source. This was the direct experience Swamiji was always referring to. It became very clear to me, that the sadhanaa or spiritual practice of remaining aware of this truth, moment to moment, would be my life's purpose and delight. I also realized that Swamiji was the living truth, the embodiment of this knowledge. I was determined to remain in contact with Swami Shyam, his teachings, and to continue to meditate to further unfold the knowledge of Oneness.

Transcribed by Gisele Beaupre

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