The next stop on the pilgrimage was Ahmedabad. We stayed at the Sivananda ashram hosted by Swami Aadhyatmananada. He welcomed us very kindly and gave us a tour of the ashram, as well as the temples from the ashram.
(Swami Aadhyatmananada with Sri Swami Vishwananda)
After the tour and breakfast, we set out to go to visit the Ambaji temple, a few hours away by bus. Ambaji is where it is said that the heart of Sati Devi fell to the earth. The entire structure is made out of marble with many, many intricate carvings everywhere. The top of the main shrine is covered by a golden dome that gleams so bright it is almost impossible to look at. The murthi of Ambaji is beautiful; the feeling is truly that of the heart of the mother. We all took a long darshan and then sat to the side, meditating and just feeling the love of Devi. This temple is very ancient. In fact it is the same temple where the parents of Krishna, Nanda and Yashoda, came to perform the ritual haircutting of Krishna. Also the Pandava brothers were once there.
(Pictures were not allowed inside the temple but here one can see it in the background)
On the way back to the ashram we had dinner with devotees of Swami Aadhyatmananada and we experienced what real hospitality is. They received Swami with arati and tilaka for everyone before the house and then invited us in upstairs for refreshment and introductions. Even they didn't know who was coming to their home and yet they welcomed us with the utmost care and warmth.
Then they served us dinner in which everyone of the family helped to serve, bringing dish after dish, and always checking if we needed anything else. We arrived three hours late and per Indian custom, none of the family had partaken of the meal yet, first waiting that the guest should eat. And yet they were so happy to serve, that it inspired us all. Completely stuffed with delicious food, we went back to their living room where Swami gave satsang and we sang bhajans.
Swami spoke about Chaitanya Mahaprabhu as an incarnation of Radha and Krishna, three quarters Radha and one quarter Krishna. Afterwards Swami sang bhajans, captivating everyone in the room. In this small room there were 4 generations of the family and everyone, young and old were enjoying, clapping, singing and dancing. Nobody wanted the evening to end, especially because they had made it such a nice visit but because of the long bus drive, we knew we had to go.
Before leaving, each one of the many brothers wanted his house blessed by Swami's feet and graciously Swami granted their wish.
On the bus we still felt very touched by this hospitality and for sure it is something we will carry with us; as memory, but also as example of how the guest is always God.