Recently, I coerced one of my Ramayana buddies into watching the original Ramayana tv series produced by Ramanand Sagar in the late 80’s; a series that revived a whole consciousness and national pride, and had far-reaching effects on what is offered on Indian television today. Having seen at least seven different tv versions of the Ramayana, some of them numerous times, this most recent viewing confirms for me that while there are others I have enjoyed and even “loved”, this original is in a league of its own.
I did not discover the plethora of Indian tv serials available on YouTube and DVD until just about three years ago. I’ve been a lost cause ever since, taking a few other with me down the rabbit hole. We have a secret club (well, not really secret, but somewhat embarrassed at publicly admitting our enthusiasm) exchanging links to yet another subtitled series, and we have been known to shuttle entire sets of DVDs containing hundreds of episodes back and forth from one end of the US to another.
When I have confessed this obsession to various Indian friends young and old, it usually evokes a “you’re kidding — you?” laughing response. That’s generally followed by full disclosure of their own obsessions with similar series.
Those of my own generation, (50’s and above) may then share stories such as the one I heard recently from a woman friend: how excited she was when, as a young woman, she happened to be in a hotel restaurant at the time that the entire cast of B.K. Chopra’s Mahabharat came in. Even telling the tale 25 years later her face lit up with youthful excitement. Or I heard a young father’s enthusiastic recounting of how he recently watched Mahadev online with his children and they used the opportunity after every episode to have a lively family discussion about values, morality and choices.
I hesitate to use the word mythological when describing these series, but it’s the way the genre is referred to by the tv industry.
For us, while it is entertaining for sure, it is not just entertainment. It’s a form of devotional practice—even if it does come with cardboard crowns, hunky actors and subtitles. The very last thing we do at night is to be absorbed in the “leelas of the Lord” (the divine stories of the lives of the avatars and dieties).
Listening to the stories of God’s play on the earth is one of the nine paths of devotion recommended by the great sage Narada in the Narada Sutras; that practice is the core of the Srimad Bhagavatam itself.
Of course, Narada muni probably wasn’t thinking about Mohit Raina as Shiva when he was first disclosing the devotional path, but it’s the 21st century, and there it is.
Convincing my friend to sit through many episodes of this first Ramayana was not an easy task, because it was produced when technology —and perhaps production budgets—were both relatively low. Compared to the avalanche of green-screen / Star Wars-like / Industrial-Light-&-Magic quality mythologicals that now flood Indian TV, this original Ramayana can seem primitive indeed. And some people, my friend among them, just don’t like classic movies with their slower pace and dated production values.
For those who were a part of the 80’s – 90’s Indian television-viewing population, (a group that does not include me), this Ramanand Sagar Ramayana remains the standard against which all other Ramayanas—and there are many—are measured.
For those nurtured on the current generation of shows like Devon ke Dev Mahadev or the current Siya ke Ram with their superhero physiques, stunning sets, drop-dead-gorgeous costumes and video-game-influenced special effects, it takes entirely rebooting a mindset to return to the early days of foil crowns and fully-draped females, not to mention some aging and (gasp!) flabby-by-today’s-standards actors (translation: normal people) in a couple of the famous co-starring roles.
To make an American analogy, I believe Arun Govil, whose placid demeanor and beatific half-smile immortalized his portrayal of Ram, would have about as much chance of being cast to play Ram today as Rex Harrison would have of talk-singing his way through the lead in My Fair Lady—if that musical was being premiered in 2016 instead of in 1956. No one gets cast in a major Broadway production anymore who is not a triple-threat: actor, dancer and singer capable of belting out the big notes.
Comparably, acceptable physical standards for tv and movies have radically changed in the past 15 years, in some cases sacrificing nobility of character and depth of talent for six-pack abs.
I muse that Arun, a handsome actor and very well-proportioned by 1986 standards, would no doubt need to spend three hours a day in the gym to meet current expectations for a hero, as did Mohit Raina during the 2011-2014 filming of Mahadev.
The brilliantly nuanced performance of older actor Dara Singh as Hanuman would never make it to the screen today, nor would Arvind Trivedi’s portrayal of Ravan; so much more complex than some of the blustery characterizations of later versions.
So, despite our periodically giving way to laughter at the plastic demon costumes that look like leftovers from the sale section in the back of an Oriental Trading Company catalog, it didn’t take long for us to get sucked right back into the Ramayana vortex, and to be reminded that almost none of the writing in the mythological genre today compares with the powerful level of prose in the screenplays that Ramanand Sagar himself penned—and I say that going only by the English subtitles.
I assume we all know how unreliable subtitles are in conveying the beauty and subtleties of thought of the original language. Subtitles usually represent several degrees of devolution from their source material. By now, I’ve watched enough hundreds of hours of Hindi to know when they are skimping on or changing the English flashing at the bottom of the screen. To be profoundly moved by second-rate translations says something about the power of the original.
Our current viewing has reminded me that portions of Sagar’s scripts—particularly the monologues and question/answer segments—contain philosophical wisdom of the highest order. They come across with a vibrational frequency that remains unmatched. That frequency is the difference between a line that resonates as truth, and one that simply serves up well-known platitudes. I believe it was with the attunement of someone who has imbibed and lived the truths of his dialogues that Sagar succeeded in dispersing Vedic wisdom all over the globe.
Current mythologicals, with each generation of technology, put the emphasis more and more on buff bodies, lush sets and special effects. I admit to thoroughly enjoying all those improvements. Unfortunately, much of the time, improvements in production values have come at the expense of another, higher value—the level of vibration that infused Sri Sagar’s writings in this and other subsequent productions. I am confident that sentimentality is not coloring my observation through a lens of longing for things from my youth, because my youth was spent in the Bronx, NY in a Jewish home and all things Indian were far in my future.
The philosophies Sagar spoke through the mouth of Ram or any number of his other characters are a combination of the many versions of the Ramayana he lists in the opening credits plus his own interpretation. But oh, what an interpretation!
I have come to believe that like Tulsidas, Ramanand Sagar was another incarnation of Sage Valmiki.
Tulsidas, widely believed to be a reincarnation of Valmiki, put the Ramayana into the vernacular to make it available to those who could not access the story in scholarly Sanskrit. It was much like Johannes Gutenberg taking the Bible away from the exclusive provenance of monks and putting it into the hands of the people.
Sagar likewise re-cast the story in the new vernacular—television—and made the Ramayana available again to new generations on an unprecedented scale. His Ramayana has been viewed by at least 100 million people worldwide. Some YouTube uploads, from the many people who have uploaded it, carry viewer numbers in the hundreds of thousands still. Talk about making something available to a new generation! Perhaps only George Lucas has had that level of impact on mass consciousness.
Every year or two, there is a new Ramayana plying the airwaves. Of course there is, it is an inexhaustible source of remakes and retellings, no matter how difficult some aspects of the story are for a modern woman. (I will save wrestling with that topic for another post at a later date). Ostensibly, this newest one (Siya ke Ram) tells the story from the point of view of Sita. I caught a (probably bootleg) upload on YouTube of several episodes. I had to do without subtitles; since that kind of official release may be a few years away. But the story is embedded in me such that I can watch it and figure out most of what’s happening.
Tellingly, I happened to start with an episode where Ram (presumably taking a ritual bath) rises from the river water like Venus on the Half Shell, or Esther Williams in a 1930’s musical—a gorgeous man, dripping wet and stunningly lit. I wasn’t sure if this was the Ramayana or a centerfold shoot. I know that my first association with what I was watching wasn’t exactly devotional. I laughed out loud, both enjoying it and marveling at how the edges of commercialism are pushed.
A quick visit to the series’ Facebook page has the gushings of this generation of fans, that this is the best Ramayana ever, the one they’ll remember forever and ever.
I’m sure that’s true for the audience of now. I also know that, sucker that I am for anything beautiful and artistic as this production is, that I will be on alert for when, eventually, the dvd’s will be released.
But I’m glad I saw it right in the middle of my revisiting that first, landmark Sagar series. Between that one, and the later 2008 version also produced by the Sagar clan, a standard was set in a way that I, and legions of others, will cherish…”forever and ever.”
I’m thrilled to announce TWO special events presented through the team of Ordained Spiritual Healers (that would be me and friends!) who have together been offering free spiritual healing services in Evanston, IL.
Padre Paul Funsinn, of Celebrating Life Ministries, will be joining us for two events that together, make up an afternoon of wonders!
TOUCHING THE FREQUENCIES OF HEAVEN: MAGNETIZE YOURSELF FOR DIVINE GRACE!
An afternoon workshop (paid registration) 1:00 pm to 3:30 pm
A late afternoon FREE HEALING SERVICE 4:00 pm to 6:30 pm
One event builds on the other! Come for both and saturate yourself in the healing waves of energy!
Padre Paul was, for 27 years, Rev. Dr. Ron Roth’s closest associate and designated successor to his powerful ministry of sacred healing. I met Paul 15 years ago. While his prayer life was always rich and his blessings healing in every way, since Ron’s passing, the anointing has literally passed to Paul and I’ve watched the explosions of miracles abound around him. Humble, loving and compassionate, don’t miss this opportunity to move your own spiritual life to a new, accelerated level. And hey, start praying for YOUR miracle—and everyone else’s—now!
Full details and tickets on my Healing Events page or click on Rev. Nettie’s Event Registrations in the right-hand column to get the full story and reserve your spot NOW!
Read some recent healing stories / testimonials on our events page!
Celebrating Life Ministries’ events on the West Coast have come to be known as “West of Heaven” events. On the East Coast: “East of Heaven”. That makes Chicagoland, where it all began for Ron Roth and Paul, “Heaven Central.”
DON’T MISS THIS ONE! SEE YOU THERE! BRING YOUR FRIENDS—YOU KNOW WHO NEEDS TO BE THERE!
You can open to the Divine by yourself in a cave, but for most people, it’s far easier to do in the company of others. What kind of company? “Good Company” advise the Great Ones. That is the meaning of the word “Satsang” — a community of truth-seekers.
My mentor, Rev. Dr. Ron Roth, who spent over 40 years conducting healing services with attendance ranging from 10 to 10,000 people at any given event, used to warn the audience: “When I call out your condition, NOW is the time to come forward for healing. Don’t think you’re going to corner me privately later in the hall and get any result.”
He was referring to the fact that in the energy of the group prayer and devotion, the healing presence of the Holy Spirit and the holy spirit helpers were called forth in that elevated energy (vibration is another way of saying it) and performed the healing work in a way that usually was astonishing and miraculous. “When Kathryn Kuhlman led services,” he would exhort over and over, “she would stand and sing with the choir and the audience for over an hour before she began the healing portion.”
Why did she do this? Why did Ron insist on long intervals of musical prayer? Indeed, I learned the role of music in healing by serving as one of Ron’s musical team for almost 10 years. I experienced firsthand how music and chanting elevate the vibrational field. All cultures and traditions everywhere recognize this, and there are virtually no healing traditions that don’t include some sort of meditative sounding, whether it is drumming, om-ing, singing, chanting, gongs, kirtan or any other form of music.
Yogananda once held a service in which he had the jam-packed crowd at Carnegie Hall chanting “Oh God Beautiful” for an hour and twenty five minutes!:
“For one hour and twenty-five minutes, the thousands of voices of the entire audience chanted…in a divine atmosphere of joyous praise…The next day many men and women testified to the God-perception and the healing of body, mind, and soul that had taken place during the sacred chanting, and numerous requests came in to repeat the song at other services.“* *
Could Yogananda, or other great mystics, bring about healing without a crowd of chanters? Yes. Such Divine Masters vibrate at a level much greater than your average spiritual healer.
I studied with Mahendra Trivedi for a time, and he joked about experiments in India where they hooked him up to various scientific apparatus and brought in the greatest of Reiki healers, whose effect was absolutely nil. The reason, he chuckled, was “the stronger energy always wins.” His own energetic field was so much higher that nothing she did could affect him in any way. But he himself has transmuted, in scientific experiments, just about every substance known to man, and great healings have also occurred through him. So the fully God-Realized can and do emit a healing energy regardless of the environment.
Yet, many of them; in fact almost all I can think of, did use the group to amplify and generate the field and invite in the Divine Presence. John of God, perhaps the greatest medium and spiritist healer in hundreds of years, has several hundred mediums meditating to generate the field in which the benevolent Encidades (healing entities) do their work through him. At the Casa Dom Inacio in Brazil, this energy field is called the “current”. It comes from the portuguese word corrente, which means both an energetic/electrical current and a chain…it is a healing current formed by a chain of people.”Sit in the current” is the most frequent prescription given at the Casa.
Current is a beautiful example of “give & get.” Some people prefer to have a healer work on them in private. This is effective too, depending on the healer. But one must remember, that’s all about the “getting.” The beauty of healing in and with a group, is that you are also giving. And in terms of your own Grace Bank Account, that can only be a good thing.
Healing services are an opportunity to come together and generate that energetic field in such a way that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This is the meaning underlying the famous quote of Jesus: “Where two or more are gathered together, there am I among you.”
Join me at our next free healing event January 10th, 2015 in Evanston, IL: https://revnettie.com/healing-events/
2) Spiritual “seekers”, or those who are drawn to spiritually-charged environments where they experience Divine Presence, whether they are immediately concerned with healing a particular condition or not.
But really, do you know anyone whose life doesn’t “hurt” in some way? It may not be a physical need at all; sometimes it’s just an intense spiritual longing; longing to be free, to feel whole, to know God, by whatever name or form you recognize.
Whatever brings you into the room, there is one big question on the mind of most people who come to a healing service, event or retreat: “Will I get a miracle healing of my situation?”
This question comes with a whole lot of little questions dangling off of it. Questions such as: “I don’t know if I even believe in this—why am I here?” or
“Everyone else will get something, but probably not me, right?” or
“Why does this one get healed and so many others don’t? Why does someone experience instantaneous relief, and for others it may be a long process, and for some …’they died anyway.'”
Here’s what I want to say right at the get-go: I have no idea who will or won’t get healed, what level of healing they may experience, what is energetically initiated for them, and how it may play out in an individual’s life in terms of time. Unfortunately, “knowing” did not come with the job description. 🙂
I wish I did know.
Every one who dares to be identified as a “healer” of any level of ability—whether being a healer constitutes a mommy-kiss on the bruised knee, being a medical doctor or even a John of God—all healers must ask themselves the same thing: why do some “boo-boos” heal and some don’t? The truth is, we don’t really know why two situations that look very similar end up with different results, although it can be pretty enticing to make up fascinating reasons, which may or may not have merit, and there are some great books on the subject. We just surrender to Divine Will.
But I do know a few things.
I know that great miracles of healing do indeed exist, and I’ve witnessed them and been a part of them; the long slow ones and the “miraculous” instantaneous ones. When it comes to the great healers, I’ve been with some of the Best in the World; those who heal publicly, and those who heal silently from a distance.
I know enough to know that with all that I do know, I don’t know much. (Say that one five times fast.)
Here’s what else I know: healing, by whatever means it happens, is a function of Divine Grace, not of the person through whom it comes. Grace means, hey, you may or may not deserve it, but here’s a gift from the Divine.
If you don’t get the gift you were hoping & praying for, then sometimes the gift is accepting that you’ve got some learning from the situation you’ve got.
I’ve been with enough spiritually amazing people who have died of cancer or had other disagreeable endings (at least from our physical point of view.) All have said to me or to others: “I would not trade what I’ve learned from this experience for anything.” That doesn’t stop me or them from desiring or praying for a different ending. Listen, surrender is difficult, and every time you think you’ve mastered it in one area, up pops the opportunity in yet another.
Surrender is like an ongoing game of Spiritual Whack-a-Mole.
Here’s another thing I know: healing comes from the word for “whole”. Healing is, much as WE DO NOT WANT TO HEAR THIS, not really ultimately about making our arthritis go away or our cancer disappear—although, I’ll take all the physical healing I can get or give. God knows I’ve chased that kind of healing literally to the “ends of the earth” for myself and many others. I’m as agog as anyone else each and every time I hear of or witness a miraculous physical or emotional healing. It’s what I live for.
But that’s not truly Wholeness, is it? Because—brace yourself for this news—in this game of Life, nobody gets out alive. So healed today, gone tomorrow is still the unfortunate truth.
Then, wholeness means something else; healing means something else, beyond just bodily or emotional healing.
Healing is about one thing only: healing that sense of being separate from your Divine origins; call it “separated from God, or Spirit or the Self.
When we recognize someone as “enlightened” or “awakened”, we are recognizing that they have healed that breech at the soul level. What happens then to the body is immaterial (pun intended). That is one reason why Ramana Maharshi, the great Indian saint of the last century, cared little when his devotees begged him to heal himself of the cancer that took him out; why I believe that Ron Roth spent two years in a wheelchair before finally exiting, and there are many other stories like this.
So what can you expect at a healing service?
On the pure physical level, the formats differ from healer to healer. In the legacy I’m a part of, there will definitely be a good deal of music and chanting to bring everyone into a sense of unity, community and raised vibrations. As Ron Roth used to teach us, all spiritual traditions start with raising the vibrations through chant, drum, music. There are some talks that are divinely guided in that they are usually inspired in a way that someone in the room needs to hear. And then there are some organized hands-on healing prayers, where you may be lightly touched on the head.
In our Dec 13th Service in Evanston, IL, Rev. Wendy Chojnowski and I will be working together. We’ve had that opportunity before in one way or another, and it’s always full of delightful spiritual surprises and amplified energy. Our styles are different, but we are sourced from the Same Place.
In some way, we who function as the conduits open up to let a more powerful energy of Grace touch your life. That Divine Wisdom knows exactly how much voltage you can handle, what needs to be done, in what order, for the healing of your own life. You can relax, and rest in the fact that a Grace bigger than your small self can be in control, even if you can’t dictate the outcome.
Sometimes people experience immediate releases of pain or find out within a short period of time that something troubling them in their life miraculously clears up. Some people notice incremental changes. And others walk away feeling “nothing happened.” And maybe in the moment, it didn’t in a way they wanted. From where I stand, something always happens when you open yourself to greater blessing energy. Maybe, five years later, they turn around and realize that some profound changes in their lives were initiated by someone’s Grace-filled touch at a particularly crucial moment.
What can you expect at a healing service? Expect the good. Expect a better, higher connection with God; another name for Good. Expect to open to more goodness and love in your life. Be willing. Be open. Open yourself to possibilities that you only dare to hope for. Ask for what you need. Ask to be Whole. And then, be grateful.More on that another time.
Join us in Evanston, IL on Dec. 13th for our Free Healing Service: Grace, Power & Miracles… from 4 pm to 6:30 pm at Unity on the North Shore
Details here: https://revnettie.com/healing-events/
Download flyer: Dec13FlyerFInal3
This is a service especially for those with “difficult-to-heal” conditions: cancer, neurological conditions, chronic suffering of all sorts, emotional pain…those who feel stuck in their life: in beliefs and patterns that no longer serve them or bring them joy; and anyone who needs the touch of light, faith and hope in their lives.
Download Flyer Here: Dec13FlyerFInal2
Full Details Here: https://revnettie.com/healing-events/
Learning to trust the inner voice, (or Inner Voice) is natural to some people, but a learned skill for most.
In the beginning the Voice can seem like just another thought amidst the LA Freeway Traffic Jam of the Mind. Yet something about it catches our attention: perhaps the thought is novel in some way, or there is a body sensation that accompanies it, or it’s a thought that just keeps coming around for another turn, asking for attention. Learning the difference between the voice of guidance (“call that person!”) and the voice of the ego-mind (“go ahead, eat the chocolate cake!”) is a skill worth mastering. And, it’s a lesson that’s never over, Spirit keeps upping the ante.
Life teaches us about intuition, and for some it’s a slow learning process. “I had a feeling I shouldn’t have gone out tonight…” “I knew I should have called her…” My healer friend Robbins Hopkins has an expression: “You get as many chances as you need.” It’s her gentle take on the reality that life will keep repeating the circumstances—both the tough lessons and the golden opportunities— till you step up and match the lesson being offered.
For some people, guidance comes in very strongly, in a clearly discernible way. Over decades, I’ve become one of those people. It wasn’t always as clear as it is now. Still, there are moments when I question, because it can be a thin line between your lower mind and your higher Self at times. Negotiating that line is one of the main lessons in life.
Just prior to a trip to California to do a healing/blessing event, when I received an inner message saying I should bring along a red silk sari I bought two years ago on a trip to India and had never yet worn, that little voice of doubt raised it’s volume for a few moments. Wearing a queenly red sari and playing the guitar at the same time could raise all sorts of questions in the minds of attendees, and did I really want to deal with that? (One of the participants later suggested I call it a “guitari.”)
But years of experience have taught me to trust and listen, and so I did. Upon arriving in CA, I found that my co-leader, Rev. Susi Roos, had also brought along her Indian garb, so we knew something was afoot.
That something turned out to be an evening devoted to the blessings of the Divine Feminine. Everything both of us had brought in our hearts and in our suitcases turned out to be perfectly synched, helping to create a powerful experience for the attendees and for us as well.
What messages have you received that you have brushed aside as silly thoughts, or that put you at risk of looking foolish? When have you followed that guidance and realized it was the Real Deal? I’d love to hear from you in the comments! (If you are reading this on the Home Page, Comments links are at the bottom. If you are reading this as a single-entry page, the Comments link is at the top.)