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Spiritual safari

A recent tiger safari to Kabini, Nagarhole got me thinking. There was so much more to it, than just looking for a striped wild cat.

The nature reserve forest is beautiful, yet deadly. Looking for the cat, without the aegis of an able guide and dexterous driver, is a fool’s errand. The guide is ever alert, hearing warning calls from Samba deer and langur that normal ears do not pick up. The driver too is trained to pick up sights as he coasts along – paw prints on the sand or fresh dung, among other things.

Despite all this, there is no guarantee of a tiger sighting. Some make multiple trips and tries, in vain. Some may have missed the sighting just momentarily. Others may see all kinds of other animals and get distracted, but the tiger is special. So much so, that only one thing is certain – that an excruciating amount of patience is needed.

The thing with such safaris is, that we can only undertake the journey. Whether the tiger chooses to present itself in front of us or not, is not in our hands. And when you actually get to see a tiger, it is surreal. Of course we can sit at home and watch a live episode on Nat Geo or Animal Planet, but it is not the same. While many have seen tigers in safaris, they go back again and again, to be one with nature and its killer cat.

It is hard to ignore the similarities here to spirituality. The guide and driver are like the Guru. The tiger the Supreme One. And the safari itself, our sadhana.

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