Once inside I was instantly riveted… The man was speaking and existed in what felt like a very different world; not at all American and yet wholly familiar to me. I sat down quietly. He spoke of meaningful things, gave teachings, and laughed heartily. It was the first time I saw someone live life fully and in the present.
I struggled a lot as a kid. My parents didn’t know what to do with me. I was willful, determined and though I had a lot of energy, I didn’t have a focus. My father thought it would work itself out in time. But it weighed heavily on my mother’s mind. Seeing me struggle, she often thought about how I would best learn and what would spark that for me. Education was so important to her; it was a link with her beloved father. He believed in education as a way to grow in life. She looked into all kinds of alternative learning systems and schools: Montessori, Steiner, etc. Each of these schools prized the individual rather than the student’s academic achievement alone. Not yet finding my place, I went to a different school almost every year. In some I excelled; in others I did not. The ones I did well in were those that focused on the artistic nature of life and the development of the human being.
Since I was 8 years old, I’d always been interested in questions that no one seemed to know the answer to or were even remotely interested in. Philosophical questions like: Why are we here? Who am I? And what is the purpose of life?
A turning point came for me after I finished a year at an alternative school in Weston, MA. I’d had a great year there and was exposed to many new ways of seeing. At the end of that year I read Shirly MacLaine’s ‘Out on a Limb.’ In her book, Shirley shows great courage and a deep interest in understanding her self as a way to relate with her world. She seemed to approach life as though she was on a great adventure. Her story inspired and spoke to me. I know it sounds silly, but I believe that book helped prime me and make me ready to meet my guru. Later, I recalled having the same feeling reading that book that I had when I met him.
That year we couldn’t afford the private school anymore, so I came home. Sitting in the kitchen with my sister, Jen, while she was visiting from college, we saw this small newspaper on the table called the ‘I AM News.’ Our mom asked if we wanted to go to the nearby yoga center where the paper was made. Jen instantly got excited. I did not. Then Jen read something in that newspaper that said a woman went to a thing called a re-birthing session and lost 20 lbs in an hour. As a young teenager, I’ll admit my interest was piqued!
Later that month after my sister returned to college for the Fall session, my mother asked again if I wanted to go to the nearby yoga center. Reticent, I agreed. Once there she casually asked if I would like to hear this man speak in the main hall. I squinted at her to see if she had an agenda, but she, being wise, looked as though she said the most matter-of-fact thing in the world. So I softened and said, “Sure, ok” and we went into the hall.
Once inside I was instantly riveted. The man was speaking and existed in what felt like a very different world; not at all American and yet wholly familiar to me. He wore everything red, had two assistants, and many people sat cross-legged around him asking him questions and listening intently to his answers. I sat down quietly. He spoke of meaningful things, gave teachings, and laughed heartily. It was the first time I saw someone live life fully and in the present.
During that satsang, a turning point happened for me. He looked at me amidst that crowded room, smiling and teaching, and said, “But what about the real questions that are so important in life like: Why are we here? Who am I? and What is my purpose? Why am I here?” I was shocked. He had picked up my most meaningful thoughts. In the past, most people I’d asked that of had just looked at me like I had ten heads, but this man was not only interested to discuss them, he insisted. I could tell by his comfortable delivery and joyful manner that he knew something about these questions. Something I wanted to learn.
The program ended that night and I began going to see him every day after my classes ended at the nearby high school. This began my formal period of training with the man, whom I now call Guru ji (Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati). Guru ji took me under his wing and not only didn’t recoil from the big questions in life but, as I said, he encouraged them. I became like a granddaughter to him and he like a grandfather/wise wizard to me. I often say studying with him was like learning under Mr. Miyagi meets Yoda. During those years Guru ji taught me tenderly, fiercely, and lovingly about everything: energy, how to work with it, how to know my Self, how to understand Sanskrit and the great tradition of the yogis and how to live a noble life, how to cook. He laughed often and spoke with ease about the road to transcendence.
The time I was privileged enough to spend with Guru ji was profoundly healing and an enormous blessing. It was during that period that I finally discovered a system for learning that matched me. It was a school without walls, per se, but it was made of deep thirst for knowing about my Self, of learning how to see beyond my own perspective. It was a training of integrating genuine kindness and love. He taught me about Sanskrit and how to relate with my soul in daily life. As the years passed I started to see how Sanskrit offered me so much beauty. Each time we engaged the language together the universe would expand a little more. I was being given the needed keys to see as deep as my heart desired, and I soared in such nurturance.
Manorama is the founder of the Sanskrit Studies™ Method of learning Sanskrit. She is also the founder of Luminous Soul™.
Manorama evokes healing through the universal arts of language and conscious living. “Happiness,” she often says, “is the free flow of energy, and communication is energy. When we use our voices authentically and confidently, we create harmony between ourselves and others.”
A renowned, highly respected teacher, Manorama offers Sanskrit Studies™ programs for yoga teacher trainings, as well as Luminous Soul™ retreats. She tours the globe, training students in the Sanskrit Studies™ Method and the Luminous Soul™.
Through the Sanskrit Studies™ Method Manorama offers a direct, accessible and joyful approach to Sanskrit, encouraging her students to focus on its dynamic sound qualities and philosophical beauty rather than simply memorizing grammar.
The Luminous Soul™ Method fuses sacred Eastern and Western wisdom teachings with everyday life. Luminous Soul™ is comprised of Mantra, Meditation, understanding our Archetypal Imprints and Yoga philosophy.
Combining her earthly charm with a healthy dose of humor, Manorama guides students in bridging the ordinary with the spiritually sublime.
Yoga teachers and students alike treasure Manorama’s recordings on Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, Learn to Chant Yoga Invocations and Learn to Pronounce Yoga Poses. Celebrated for her haunting melodies in chanting, Manorama is featured on numerous albums, including Invocation (with Krishna Das and Ty Burhoe) and Wade Morisette’s, Maha Moha: The Great Delusion.
Manorama earned a B.A. in Film at Columbia University, where she also studied linguistics.