Uncanny, PFA, Mysore

Yesterday a few of us went over to the People for Animals shelter. I arranged for us to meet at the shala, so arrived there a little early to wait for the others. Two friends from Toronto arrived first. We got to chatting and for some reason I was telling them about how uncanny it is that when I arrived for my second visit, Sharath actually remembered where I was in my practice. Even as I was saying it, I was recognizing how ridiculous that sounded — surely it was a kind of coincidence, or an illusion? He couldn’t *really* remember such a thing… And I looked up and saw Sharath walking down the street toward us. I was sitting on the ground, and my friends had their backs to him, so didn’t spot him. Well, not until he said, “Why weren’t you in class yesterday?” They whirled around and quickly (& hilariously) started explaining that though they weren’t at led class, they’d practiced at home. Really!

“You pay a fine. Five hundred rupees,” he said, and laughed.

Seriously? He taught — one after the other — three led classes chock full of students, and he knows these two weren’t there?

I don’t even know how to think about that.


So yes, another trip to People for Animals. There were many more puppies than usual. Most were in good shape; a few were sketchy. The sad metric is that there is usually one dog dying per week, it seems. And then the few who have intractable, but not fatal skin conditions, and those who are sailing along relatively healthily and happily.

One of the workers had enough English to tell me that they adopt out maybe 2 puppies per week, and that there is enough food for the dogs. I need to learn enough Kannada to talk to the workers here. That is my project for next year. I don’t want conversational Kannada necessarily, but questions like “Why are some of the dogs in cages?” would be good to ask. I think that the answer to that was that they cage mother dogs and pups together if the mother is nervous, but I am not sure if I understood correctly.

While there we saw “Pili,” a little stray that Anu, who runs a cafe in town, found wandering in her neighborhood. I didn’t recognize her at first, when I saw her hiding by the fence near the puppies. She’s a sweet little street dog/Doberman mix. She seemed pretty traumatized and frightened, so we tried to console her. She’d been at PFA for less than 24 hours. It’s hard for me to imagine how she feels about transitioning from life in Gokulam (presumably with owners, as she doesn’t have the independent personality of a street dog) to life in the dusty confines of the shelter, with its motley, rough and tumble pack of not always friendly dogs.

One theme for this trip has definitely been: “Dogs.” Not just dogs, though — dogs and suffering and karma and how much action can actually be taken to ease suffering. Another mysterious thing that I do not have an answer for.


And then there is the suffering of Ashtangis, which — come on — pales by comparison. “I hurt my knee/hip/shoulder/whatever,” “Should I go to Mysore?” Etc., etc., etc.

In the last conference, Sharath said we practice in order to steady the body and the mind. Then we can use that steadiness out in the world. Simple. Whatever cultivates steadiness is useful; whatever destroys steadiness: not useful.

Everyone lucky enough to get a human incarnation gets to choose.


13 thoughts on “Uncanny, PFA, Mysore

    • Do you mean the dog at the coconut stand? She’s female, so not sure if that’s who you mean. If it is, she’s doing quite well. She looks funky, from regrowing her fur, but she is energetic in the morning before it gets hot, then lies around all day at the coconut stand, then moves over to the steps where we drink chai in the evenings.

      I’ll try to get a picture!

      And Butternaan is in fantastic health — muscular and happy and always the first in line to enter the shala in the morning.

  1. Karen,
    I’m curious about Pili.
    If she is someones dog in town there and just got out mistakenly, does anyone ever put up “Found Dog ” posters with her pic on it so possibly she could get back to her owners??
    I just ask as it might be an idea…as she is so terribly traumatized and afraid.

    • Thank YOU SO Much!! Please let Anu know how much I appreciate that as well!!! Let’s get her back home where she belongs!! 😉

  2. Hi Karen,
    …don’t know if your group that has visiting the People for Animals shelter has plans to continue visiting, spending time with dogs, etc., but I would be interested in joining after I arrive and get settled (arriving Feb. 10). Please pass along my email if there are folks who will still be in Mysore and are interested in continuing to go. hibiscus102(at)gmail(dot)com Is there anything in particular that the shleter needs as far as supplies and such?

    • Hi Christine,

      I’m not sure who will still be here in February, but one thing you can do is get on the Ashtanga Community in Mysore group on Facebook and ask if anyone is going. If no one is, I am happy to walk you through the steps to get out there (& if you say you’re going on the community page, there’s an excellent chance other people will want to join you). What’s necessary is that someone steps up to lead/sort out the logistics — easy stuff, like when to go, where to meet, etc. Once there’s a leader, there are always people interested in going along. I’m happy to walk you through that via email or Facebook!

      As far as supplies go, small cash donations are most helpful for them.

      Stay in touch. I really like the idea of people continuing to visit the shelter. Thanks for stepping up!


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