31 Mar 2014

Some impressions from last weekend

We had a very full weekend here in Shree Peetha Nilaya:

Starting with the Satsang given by Swami Vishwananda on Friday night, we started Saturday morning with the workshops that were offered:

Children's Bhajan workshop: Meera, Tandav and Chatur sang with the children
Nikhilananda gave an introduction to Sri Swami Vishwananda's teachings
Bhajan Workshop with Chaturananda
We were joyful that the offered workshops were so well received!

At Saturday night more than 500 people came for Darshan - it was a long night for us, and also for Swamiji! 

On Sunday many visitors had to leave and it was time to say goodbye. Swami came and again spent time with the guests. He had an open ear for the people who came to him, even answered a few urgent questions.

The time Swami gives to each person is a blessing that we never really understand with the mind.

The peacocks had fun as they love black new shiny cars!
Since some months, we chant in the temple, continuously from 9 am till 9 pm, the mantra 

Bhaja Nitai Gauranga Radhe Shyam -  Japa Hare Krishna Hare Ram.

On sunday night Swamiji showed up and sang with us. Immediately the temple was packed full, and he blessed us once more with a very special time to be in the presence with our Guru! 

29 Mar 2014

Satsang with Sri Swami Vishwananda in March, 28th 2014

Last night we had a beautiful Satsang evening here in Shree Peetha Nilaya with Swamiji.

Here is one of the questions:
When you look into our eyes when you give Darshan, what do you see?

Sri Swami Vishwananda:
"I think I answered this question many times. When I look into your eyes, I'm actually not looking into your eyes. What appears in the moment I touch your forehead is your soul. Thats where I'm looking. I look into the depth of your heart. That means, whatever is written there, I see everything - but there is no judgement into it.
So, this is in little what I see."

Some of you are already members of "Friends of Bhakti Marga" and so you got the opportunity to watch the whole Satsang on live webcast from home. If you are not yet member, you can become one here:

28 Mar 2014

Sri Swami Vishwananda visits Krishna Balaram Iskcon Mandir in Vrindavan

On the 25th of March 2014, Sri Swami Vishwananda received an official invitation from the Temple President Panca Gauda Das of the Krishna Balaram Iskcon Mandir in Vrindavan to come through and take Darshan of the Deities Krishna and Balaram and the full complex.

Krishna Balaram Mandir

Swamiji was warmly greeted and led to the office of Panca Gauda Das who is the Temple President and welcomed Swamiji with due respects and honour. At first there were only a few devotees with Swamiji when we first came to sit in the office but after a few minutes the office was packed with devotees and the president jokingly remarked that next time Swamiji comes He will need a larger office!

In the President's office

Panca Gauda Das kindly extended the facilities and accommodation to Swamiji offering the use of the lecture Halls in the future if he ever wishes to give class and even to come and stay in the Ashram that is situated behind the main Mandir Complex. After offering Swamiji and a few of the devotees garlands directly from the Deities, he began to take us on a tour of the complex.

Beginning Tour

Panca Gauda Das led Swami to the main Mandir area and offered Dandavat Pranams to His Guru His Divine Grace A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Sri Prabhupada, as it is customary in the Hindu culture to honour the Guru first and then the Deities. We then moved to the Deities and offered obeisance's to Sri Sri Gaura Nitai, who are seated to the left of the main Deities. The temple was very full and the temple President first offered Pranams to the Deities and then cleared a path in front of the Deities so Swamiji could offer His respects by bowing down and offering Pranams. We repeated the process by offering our respects to the Main deities of Sri Sri Krishna Balaram and then once more to Sri Sri Radha Shyamsundar, who are situated directly to the right of the Main Deities.

Krishna Balaram Deities

The next stop on the tour was the Samadhi place of Srila Prabhupada, where He is depicted sitting in Samadhi with a carved white marble memorial constructed in his honour. There is also the house of Srila Prabhupada which now serves as a museum with various items that Srila Prabhupada used during His life for devotees to venerate. It is a beautiful place of honour and gratitude to their Guru that resonated closely with many of us as we naturally feel that same spirit of devotion and gratitude towards our own Gurudev.

Srila Prabhupada Memorial

After the tour we were asked to join the Kirtan that was taking place in front of Sri Sri Krishna Balaram and Swamiji was lead to the front of the Kirtan session and asked to sit near the musicians. After 30 minutes of vibrant chanting, Swamiji had another engagement to attend to and so we were led back to Panca Gauda Das's office to offer final Pranams and bid farewell to a fellow Vaishnava.

Kirtan session

26 Mar 2014

Diary from Vrindavan, part 6

It was a very early start - 4:30am - and we only got to bed at 2:30am, so that Swamiji could be there when they opened the room where we saw all the gifts for the Gopis the night before.

Swamiji was allowed into the room and he got lots of things from inside: bangles, saris, etc. He came back super excited!

Later, they went to Yoga Maya Devi Samadhi place and from what they said it was beautiful but sad. They led them into dark barn and that was her Samadhi place. 

Next morning we where supposed to leave early as it was a busy day all round. We went for breakfast and then Swami decided to do Abishek on a Lakshmi Narayanaya Saligram that he got. He decided to do an Abishek on the Lingams also, and we all joined in behind Him. 

It was wonderful to watch!

The Boat festival… 

"As in Rome, do as the Romans do", they say, so "When in India expect Indian Time"… We arrived around 3pm only to see them taking the boat out the water and we were told that it was being taken to another Ghat further down.

About 45 minutes later, a procession to the new place began as we followed the Deities through the outskirts of Vrindavan, past Govardan Hill and to a Ghat nearby. 

The walk was over 5km. When we got there, Swami and a few others sat on a ledge overlooking the Ghat while they put the finishing touches on the barge.

The decorations were super amazing as they had made a swan on the front, covering the barge, that looked really beautiful. They'd also decorated the barge really amazingly with flowers and garlands everywhere. 

Everyone climbed onto the barge and then we towed the barge with Swami and the dignitaries: Swami Shri Gyananand Ji Maharaj, Satya Narayana Das Babaji, Jyoti Shree Mataji, Balaramji Maharaj and the Deities of Shri Krishna Kripa and Jugalkishore Sarkar around the ghat from our row boat. 

It was a magical experience that takes you back to lilas of old. For instance, when you read of Lord Caitanya crossing the river by boat on His journey. As we moved across the water, we rowed silently around the ghat. It was dark and I could just see the roofs of the temples in the skylight.

We had two big bags of flower petals - about 5 kg! - on our boat and we kept showering petals on the barge with Swami as we rowed around the Ghat. It was a Pushpam abishek that did not stop! It was an experience that I am not sure I can fully describe. Surreal would be the best way to describe it. 

23 Mar 2014

Another day in Vrindavan, part 5

Another day with Sri Swami Vishwananda in Vrindavan:

Today we started off with the whole group moving towards Maharaj Balaramji's Ashram not far from where we are staying. It is very amazing to see that each day a ‘new’ person comes to see Swami and then all of a sudden they are taking us along to new Saints and temples to see. This morning was no exception as a new person came and he took us to see a Saint that was still alive and is 120 years old (ok, not in good condition) but still alive. We took his Darshan after one of the devotees in the Ashram picked him up and placed him in a seated position.

We then moved along to see another Saint who is 95 years, he is going along well and was really joyful and happy. Swami sat next to him for a bit and he allowed us to take pictures smiling with Swami. We sang a short Bhajo Nitai Gaur Radhe Shyam kirtan as his Guru was a Disciple of Radharaman Charan Das, who brought the Bhajo Nitai Gaur Radhe Shyam mantra into the world.

It is interesting to note that some of the people wont let us take pictures and they are usually closed off and don't allow you in, mentally and with the heart, and some, like this Saint, are so open and welcoming that you can not help but have an open heart. It is times like this that you really understand deep within how lucky we are to have Swami. Yes, sometimes we don't see him, but he is always accessible and always loving us.

So far Vrindavan and all the experiences have been amazing. We went up the stairs and sat down in front of Maharaj Balaramji, who was radiating love and happiness. He spoke a little bit and played with Swami, He was always smiling and welcomed the whole group into his small little sitting room. 

Then he gave us Prasad as he said his Guru gave him the instruction to always welcome guests and give them Prasad - "this is because Maha Prasad goes straight to heart after being digested" and then he showed with his hands exploding outwards from his heart, we all laughed. So as we were going to take leave of Maharaj Balaramji, he said, first please we do short Kirtan - so, the Kirtan lasted close to hour with dancing and such beautiful Harinaam. Everyone was in Divine Bliss seeing Swami and Balaramji (who is not that young) dancing. 

You can see the Krishna Murti in the back (Bhanke Bihari Temple)
After lunch we ended up at the Radha Ramana Temple. Swami knows the priests and we got such beautiful Darshan of Krishna. We sang bhajans and when Swami started to sing Radha Krishna -  imagine the tune… people started to gather around and watch him.

Then to end off the day - well, almost - we went to the Garden were the Maha Rasa took place.

It was so beautiful and Swami showed us the trees in the garden that have two parts and he said one part is Krishna and one part is a Gopi. 

Each night, he said, the trees come alive and they do the Maha Rasa Dance. I did say "lets try and get locked in", to which he replied, no, you will die from pure ecstasy. (I can think of worse ways to die ;) ). 

We walked around the garden and got to small Temple dedicated to Haridas Thakur and the place he found the Bhanke Bihari Murthi.

Moving along we came to another temple that has a Deity of Radha Krishna and people leave bangles, bracelets, saris, etc, and after they close the temple the Gopis come and use all the items each night for the Maha Rasa Dance. When they open the doors in the morning all the items are used and all over the place. Swami was in a different place when he told us this, like he was with them.

(Thank You Anantananda for your update!)

22 Mar 2014

Satsang & Darshan Program at SPN (Germany) March 28th & 29th, 2014

In ancient times, Yogis would receive Divine Inspiration through the connection to God in nature. Shree Peetha Nilaya is such a place.

 Sri Swami Vishwananda

The Bhakti Marga Family welcomes you to Shree Peetha Nilaya (“the abode of the Divine Mother”). It is a place of ongoing spirituality, where residents and guests come together to participate in prayers, mediation, singing, seva and to share their love of the Divine with one another. 

Please find below the daily schedule for the upcoming Satsang and Darshan; we encourage everyone to participate in the activities offered at the Centre:

Satsang 28th March 2014
19:00-Open Satsang with Sri Swami Vishwananda

Darshan  29th March 2014
9:15-13:30 Art Course (basic facial drawing techniques) Price: 50 Euros / Location: SPN Atelier   
9:30-10:45 Bhakti Music Intro (introduction to bhajan singing) Price: 10 Euros / Location: SPN Bhajan Café
11:00-12:30 Philosophy and teachings of Sri Swami Vishwananda and Bhakti Marga Location : SPN Bhajan Café
11:00 -12:30 Children’s Music Intro, Location: SPN Children’s Room  
14:15-15:15 Shree Peetha Nilaya Tour, Location: SPN Main Lobby 
16:00-Open Darshan with Sri Swami Vishwananda

21 Mar 2014

With Swami Vishwananda in Vrindavan, part 4

We started out at 10 for Govardan Hill and first went to the place were Uddava spoke the Bhagavatam. It was a small temple (one of only two to Uddava in India) but was very beautiful. The Ghat there is where will we have the Boat Lila with Swami on the 21st. 

We then went off to Govardan Hill and spent some time there with Swami.

It was a fast paced day with Swami with plans changing as we went along and trying to keep up with everything. The names were a bit hard. After Govardan Hill we made our way to Radha Kund and that was very beautiful. We all stood in the water and paid respects and hopefully we go back there after the boat festival in a smaller group so we can swim. We walked around with one of the priests and He showed us all the Goswami samadhi places and then we went to Shyama Kund for Krishna and did Puja there. This Kund is actually super quiet even though they are right next to each other. Everyone is trying to get the mercy of Radha.

We had a very interesting surprise on the next change of plans and we only realised it once we were there. We ended up at the Vallabaacharya Samadhi place - yes, the head of one of the Vaishnava lineages. It was interesting as it was in the back towns, out in the middle of nowhere. It was run down and Swami even said that it was interesting, as it was like, "this is where the head of one of the Vaishanava Lineages is, and no one realy comes?!" It was still beautiful and Swami managed to get some of the tree that was said to be from His time.

One of the highlights of the day was going out into the rural farm area of Vrindavan where the forest are said to be as they were in Krishna’s time. Swami was in an especially happy mood out there and He said this reminded of what it would have been like. 
It is a really amazing pilgrimage and Swami is really having a beautiful time playing and laughing through the days.