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Meeting My Teacher for the First Time

Jaya Matri Sophie Ani
May 24 2014

I am Ani, a student from India of the Tantric teacher, Shambhavi Sarasvati, and a devotee of Anandamayi Ma. I had contacted Shambhavi in 2011 because of my interest in Ma. Since then, we regularly communicated via email and Skype. Meeting Shambhavi was life changing for me. I was in extreme pain when I met her. Now, life feels far better, and I am not as crazy as I used to be, thanks to her generosity and kindness.

After a long struggle with my conservative South Indian family, I managed to travel to the States to attend the Tantra Foundations retreat in April, 2014. I didn’t know, and still don’t understand, how to relate to a Tantric teacher. Meeting Shambhavi and the Jaya Kula community was totally a new experience.

Before leaving for the United States, I had imagined that I would cry on seeing Shambhavi. But when I met her, nothing of that sort happened. I only wanted to run away.

Ani and Elaine

Ani and Elaine

Meeting her over Skype was radically different from actually meeting her in person. There is a huge difference between watching a blazing fire on a video and actually standing right in front of it. I wanted a teacher who couldn’t sting me; I only wanted to feel good.

But when I met Shambhavi, I began to notice many of my fixations in her presence. One major problem was my inability to be honest and open. I longed to be with her, but at the same time I felt extremely uncomfortable to be ‘seen’ by her.

I used to feel happy when I heard her footsteps or voice, but I also told myself, “run Ani, run, she’s coming.” Half the time I stayed away from her, and at other times when I was sitting beside her, I kept my mouth tightly zipped. If I managed to say anything, I was only lying.

At one point, I stopped talking altogether when Shambhavi announced she was going to throw me out of the house where I was living with her and some other students.  She kept telling me that I have to be more honest with her. After that, I felt ashamed of the games I was playing and made efforts to be a little more open and honest.

It was really an eye opener for me to see how other students related to her. They were open to criticism and were ready to work with their fixations. I got to spend a lot of time with Matri, another student. She told me ‘participate, participate, participate.’ I am trying to remember that as far as I can.

Now, I understand that the foundation of a teacher-student relationship is honesty. This is the most important lesson I learnt in my three week stay at Kashi house.

I consider myself extremely fortunate to have been scolded by Shambhavi. Though it was painful then, now, when I think about it, I feel only love and sweetness in her anger. I want to be rebuked more and more, even though I am scared of being rebuked. I was struggling alone for almost three years. Now I have a community to rely on. I wish to see my teacher and my community again and work more deeply with them. Jai Ma.