Nothing Can Stay The Same

“Guru was in a white dhoti, and the whole background is kind of white. The blue carpet was giving a feel like the sea. Everything was white and blue.”

Adarini talks about one of my favorite photographs of Sri Chinmoy. It is a picture that she took just moments after he had given a concert at the Jefferson Memorial in Washington. The air charged with energy as storm clouds are rolling in across the Potomac. Within minutes the rain will thunder down upon us.

Adarini july 88 Washington concert

Adarini july 88 Washington concert

I remember the moment very well because I was fortunate to have been there. But Adarini’s interpretation of this moment adds even more to this special memory. One now that took place nearly 30 years past.

“Guru at that time was walking back and forth. He said the had to walk back and forth 7 times in order to come down from this high plane that he was on.”

“The picture is not perfect. It is a little grainy. But the feeling you get from that picture is unbelievable. For me there is this peace and this vastness.”

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Question: What is the spiritual significance of a photograph

Sri Chinmoy: A photograph is at once meaningful and fruitful. The inner life can be seen on the outer face. The inner reality can be visible on the face of the outer reality. The inner height can be measured by the outer eyes. The inner depth can be felt by the human heart. Each photograph, if it is taken from a higher plane of consciousness, leave behind a new hope, a new aspiration and a new realization for Mother Earth to cherish and treasure.

Sri Chinmoy, Flame-Waves, part 10, Agni Press, 1978

There are of course many thousands of photos that have been taken of Sri Chinmoy. It occurs to me that like the photo Adarini took in Washington, each one has its own unique story. Little details, that add more than what simply meets the eye. Significant information that as time passes will simply disappear unless it is recorded.

Over the years Adarini has taken some of those thousands of pictures herself. But like many disciples, I don’t know hardly any of the fascinating details that brought her into Guru’s orbit. When I spoke with her earlier this year, she has been visiting with the Christmas trip in Malaysia. So on one hot afternoon inside the cool function room she shared some of her many early experiences in the center, photographic and otherwise.

Adarini’s first direct connection to the center occurred in 1972 when her Father became a disciple in Switzerland. “I was quite young when I first saw Guru in Europe.  But the first time I saw him in New York was when I came there when I was a teenager.”

Click to Play Interview Part One:

Adarini Part One

With Guru-10

The year was 1984. “It was interesting that visit. I had a good time overall. It was my first celebration. I really enjoyed everything.” After that August celebration she returned to her classes in Europe where she was studying architecture.

“Back then I started feeling that I would like to return to New York.”

Prior to all of this, Adarini describes her early childhood as one in which she felt constantly protected from the usual youthful experimenting and diversions. “Guru was completely protecting me in my teenager time.”

“Little by little I lost interest (in school).” It was shortly after this that Guru visited Europe on tour. He was giving a concert in Cologne and she and her family went there by bus from Zurich. “That is where I really had an experience. There it was amazing. There is where I consciously wanted to become a disciple.”

She was surprised however when, “Guru said, Why does she ask. He said I was a disciple since I was 7.”

“But I didn’t know. I didn’t know what it means.”

It was then that an even more powerful inspiration came to her. Could she be granted permission to come and live in New York. The request was delivered directly to Guru after being translated into English for her by Kailash. The answer was yes, as long as her father would agree to it.

“Back then my father was really strict and I didn’t think he would say yes. But he did say yes. That was pretty nice so I came to New York.”

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It was 1986 when Adarini came to live in New York. At the time not knowing how to speak English, but most definitely knowing how to take photographs. She jokes that her first English words were sidewalk and carrot. Words apparently necessary to understand when you are helping out at Annam Bhrama, as she did.

She had majored in architecture at a Swiss art school and had also studied photography. “That was kind of interesting, because I did not know that I would become a photographer. But I really liked it.”

“It went for a while that I was just taking photos, because it was so interesting. When you come from Geneva and then you see New York and you see Guru lifting all these interesting things.”

It then happened that she had a dream in which Guru explained to her how to take photographs. At first she describes being worried that she would not understand him. But then was surprised and pleased, because in the dream he spoke to her in French. “That was my first introduction as a photographer in a dream.”

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She says the instruction was technical. “I remember telling Guru a few years later about that dream. Adarini says that his reply was, that even though outwardly he was not an expert, inwardly he could explain to her how to take pictures. Implying that his inner guidance was always applicable and most significant when those who followed his path receive it.

Adarini describes that at this time she was not an official center photographer. Instead she often helped another girl who was taking pictures by volunteering in her darkroom. It was an experience she says that she enjoyed and had many nice experiences.

However there came a moment, after she had worked very hard in the lab on a batch of pictures, when she was present when the photographer was publicly receiving the credit.   Adarini however was sitting in the stands watching this all takes place. She admits, “I was a little jealous.”

“But then right away.   I didn’t like that feeling.” Her solution to this predicament she describes, was visualizing sending love from her own heart directly to the heart of the photographer. Surprised she says, “It worked.”

“I started to have this incredible feeling of oneness.” At about this point Guru publicly called her that girl’s assistant photographer. She felt that through this experience, Guru had helped her transform a quality that she did not like, into something that was really nice.

You place your Master’s picture
  Upon your heart,
And your Master keeps your picture
  In the very depths of his heart.

Sri Chinmoy, Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, Part 28, Agni Press, 2002

Click To Play Interview Part Two:

Adarini Part Two

Being lifted-7

“Those little experiences come to me that are very important. I don’t have lots of memories. But the memories that make you grow. Things that Guru does to you, inner and outer experiences, they stay with you. They are very real.”

About taking pictures…..”It was an incredible opportunity. When you are behind the lens I could see Guru’s eyes. For me it was an incredible meditation. I had so many experiences where I would be focusing on. What I am looking at through the lens, which was Guru, and waiting for the perfect moment. To take the shot.”

At the house-8

“I would wait for the perfect moment when Guru would go way beyond. For me that was amazing because it was like I was getting oneness with Guru’s height.”

For Adarini the camera simply brought her closer. “From Guru’s eye to my eye. When you want to take a picture, you want the most perfect picture. So you are waiting for the highest moment. For me it was an incredible blessing.”

Adarini cannot even begin to calculate just how many pictures she shot of Guru over the years, either lifting people, and when disciples where blessed by him on their birthdays. She describes how by taking pictures she felt as though she was, “catching the spark. It was absolutely amazing to be a photographer of Guru.”

Leaves two-

Photo by Sevati

She describes that when Guru was doing important lifts she did not want to use a camera that would take multiple fast shots. Instead she preferred to, “feel the highest moment. You had to press the shutter in a fraction of a second. You had to become one.”

“You stop breathing you feel what Guru is doing. Feel the moment when he is absolutely going to lift. Then at the very highest moment squeeze the shutter .”

“There is a favorite picture of mine.” It was taken at Guru’s house after most people had left. It was very late.

“I did not want to leave Guru’s house.  It was beautiful.  It was a magical moment. Guru was very casual and he was looking at me, posing. He asked me to take a picture. He was posing and he was smiling for me.”

Then Adarini discovered that her camera was out of film. “I am like totally frustrated. But Guru was so compassionate at the time. He gave me an even brighter smile as I changed the film. So much sweetness in the smile and affection….. which is the meaning of my name. That picture is really connected to me.”

Adarini- 1990 Guru paint

Adarini- 1990 Guru paint

“People love that picture, because Guru is looking straight into the camera. That is my favorite picture. It was very sweet that moment. Now everybody can enjoy it.”

Adarini spent 22 years living in New York. It was on her birthday, which followed barely a month after Guru passed that she began to appreciate and understand how to live in this new world in which he was not physically present. She had an experience that day that showed her dramatically, “That he wants you always to be there with him. He is always there at every moment.”

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By the springtime of the following year it became clear that she should move back to Switzerland. An opportunity suddenly came up that she work in an enterprise in Geneva. “Guru put it together and he put it really fast together.”

She describes how she found herself managing a store, and at the time, didn’t even know how to send a fax. “I knew very deeply that it was Guru’s plan for me. It was so obvious.”

Of course after spending so many years living in New York she says that unavoidably she experienced some doubts about what to do next. But when her intuition to play a lottery to win a photo of Guru played out and she won. She was convinced that the bigger decision of moving to Geneva was absolutely correct.

“Guru is always in charge and he is always showing you the way.”

Click To Play Interview Part Three:

Adarini Part Three

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She is comfortably smiling as she describes how her spiritual life is playing itself out these days. Her inner connection to Guru in no way diminished with his passing. “In the inner world he can help everybody at the same time. He could do that before also. He is in every experience you do.”

In her Divine enterprise she appreciates being able to bring Guru’s light and experience to a generation of people who have never even heard the name Sri Chinmoy.

“They come to a place that they feel something different…. Special. You are serving Guru in this way. It is continuing. It is not the end. Everything is Guru. Your manifestation is Guru. He is giving you the opportunity to do those things. You have to take on the opportunity.”

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“It is always changing. It is always challenging and you always have to have faith. Faith is a major important thing.” She confesses that in a very direct way her life is changing once again. Her Mother recently passed and her shop is about to close.

“Basically I have no clue what I am going to do next. But I know that Guru is going to guide me.”

What that exactly is as of February 2016 is not yet clear. “My life is going to be a lot more difficult, but I feel that there is no other way. I have to go on with something that is related to Guru. Guru is always giving you new challenges. He makes you grow and he makes you find new things in your life to go forward, to grow, constant change.”

“Nothing can stay the same. Guru is constantly changing. God is changing.”

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To take the most beautiful
Picture of God,
What we need
Is a devotion-camera.

Sri Chinmoy, Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, Part 17, Agni Press, 2000

15 Comments to “Nothing Can Stay The Same”

  1. Alexey Beysov says:

    Listened to all the 3 parts of the interview in a row – absolutely loved it, thank you!

  2. That’s nice, thank you Utpal and Adarini.

  3. Hridayinee says:

    Beautiful! Thank you so much.

  4. Lyalya says:

    Thank you for giving a glimpse into the world of a photographer of Guru, of what it was like. Very insightful, especially the part about “waiting for the highest moment.” Beautiful story, beautifully written, beautiful photographer and beautiful photos!

  5. adhiratha keefe says:

    once again Utpal, you have captured beautiful and unique moments…life’s journey in the various forms and expressions…Thank you to Adarni for sharing such precious inspiration… I agree the feelings and experiences are not time or location bound…practicing remembering the way forward with grace is it own reward…..with sincere gratitude – adhiratha

  6. Aditi says:

    Unbelievably inspiring!

  7. manatita says:

    Incredibly inspirational! A most wonderful Spirit, our Adhirini. Gratitude …

  8. Bhadra says:

    Thank you Utpal. Talking about photography, your (I assume it’s your) picture of Adarini is really first-rate.

  9. Ashish says:

    Very nice interview. What a life experience. Thank you.

  10. […] Photograph by Adarini / Check out also Utpal’s interview with Adarini on his blog “Perfection-Journey”. […]

  11. Vasanti says:

    Great interviews! So inspiring to hear and read these “inside” stories of our disciples sisters and brothers about their spiritual life with Guru – when Guru was in the physical and now…!

  12. Astika says:

    Hi Utpal,

    I’m sorry I took so long to look at this blog about Adarini. It is really very insightful, very compassionate and tender hearted. I remember her well. I remember her taking the one picture that Guru most liked of his visit to the Statue of Liberty. A very kind and devoted disciple.

    I appreciate your work very much. A needed touch.

    Astika

  13. Satyavaha says:

    WOW!

    What a beautiful interview where Adarini shared with us in a spontaneous way some moments with Guru.

    Please keep practicing your art…

    Satyavaha

  14. kamaneeya says:

    Thank you so much. Such a beautiful and inspiring interview!

  15. Kristina says:

    The world is constantly changing. God is changing, Guru is changing.
    Therefore is so inspiring to know about a Photographer of God Manifestations and their Changes.
    Guru is inspiring. Adarini is inspiring. Perfection Journey is inspiring!
    Inspiration is precious, that is the seed of new beauty and a new peace.

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