7 Jun 2014

NorthIndia Pilgrimage with Swami Vishwananda, 10th - 12th Day

Paartha writes: 

Sunday, 1st May 2014
Today we left earlier because we had a long way ahead of us. We drove few hours until we reached Bala Sundari Temple. Bala Sundari is the child form of Vaishno Devi (whom we visited on the first day on the mountain). The story of the temple goes like this that a local shopkeeper, Lala Ram das, buys salt in the city of Saharanpur and brings it to his village. There he begins to sell the salt. However, despite him taking out salt from the bag, the salt never finishes but always remains the same quantity. After few days he has a dream in which Vaishno Devi in the form of a child comes to him and tells him, that he brought her to this place in his salt bag and that She is there present in the form of a Pindi (Rock). She instructs him to build a temple for Her there. He replies, that he does not have enough money to even think of building a temple. She assures him by saying, that She also spoke to the local king in his dream and that he would finance the project. She also says, that his descendants (family) would always be looking after Her as priests. Soon thereafter he meets the king and together they construct the temple for Bala Sundari. 
When we arrived, our whole group was invited to sit down in the managers office. We were served Masala Chai (tea) which we all greatly appreciated. Afterwards the priest showed us the temple. Guruji and few of us got to sit right at the Pindi to worship Ma. When we were told the story of the temple, Guruji reminded us of “Notre Dame des trois epines” in France: “Mother Mary appeared to this man, a farmer, and told him to do prayers there (and build a chapel). He was scared to go and tell the priest. So the third time that Mother Mary appeared when he did not listen, his bag of flour, he could not lift it at all, it was so heavy, and also this flour would never finish. Also another saint, the “Curee d’Ars”, he also had a relic of a saint and he put it in the bag of flower during the war and then distributed the flour (which never finished) to the people.”

Guruji and Pramod also narrated similar incidents of another saint: “Jalaram Baba would feed thousands also. When the food was finished he would cover the pot with a cloth and food would be there. Also one of his disciples wanted to go on a pilgrimage to the holy three rivers, Ganga, Sarasvati & Yamuna. But then he said to him to wait, and in the night he had a dream where three beautiful ladies entered his room, each with a pot of water which they gave to him. When he woke up, the ladies were not there but the pots were there. So Ganga, Yamuna & Saraswati came and gave him their waters. And these pots are since then ever full.” 

After Darshan we were invited for a Bhandara (feast) in the temple. We were told that in this temple they feed 4.000 persons daily. We sat down and were served a very tasty meal. During the Bhandara the Indian devotees took a lot of pictures of us. It must have been the first time that Europeans have visited this temple, at least such a big group. It’s funny on this trip cause instead of us “tourists” making photos of Indians, the local people are constantly making photos of us. Very often it happens that they ask me or someone else to pose with them. During the Bhandara they also handed me their small children and took photos.
After a wonderful meal we continued our journey towards the temple of Shakumbhari Devi.

The history of Her is that there once was a powerful demon called “Durgam” who mastered all the vedas and received a boon from Brahma that he could not be defeated in battle, not even by the gods. He went around and destroyed everything and also imprisoned Indra which led to a great drought on earth since it would not rain anymore. The rishis and gods invoked Ma and when She appeared, having hundreds of eyes on her body, told her what had happened. Looking at them with compassion through Her hundreds of eyes, She was so touched by their story that She cried for 9 days. Her tears flooded the earth and everything became green and all the crops started growing again. After that She got the name Shakumbari Devi. After reestablishing the balance on earth, She asked what else She could do for them. They told Her about the demon. She then went and fought with the demon and killed him. Since then She is also known as “Durga”.
This is all described in the Durga Sapt Shati in the last chapter called Murti Rehasya. She is described as having a blue complexion, eyes like the lotus flower, a navel slightly below the normal place with three curves and the breasts of a virgin. She carries a lotus in Her hands which is thronged by bees. In Her other hand She carries arrows, in another a bow, and yet another flowers, roots and vegetables.

On the way there we crossed the river Yamuna and drove partly over grawel roads. We arrived at the place which was pretty much in the middle of nowhere. It was not a very clean place from the outside. 

We then had Darshan of Ma Shakumbhari. You can see Her (in orange) very small next to Guruji’s head). There are 5 deities present there: From left to right:  Veema Devi, a Devi whos name I don’t know, Ganesha, Shakumbhari Devi, and another Devi that I don’t know. 

After Darshan we drove further to Saharanpur where we stayed for the night. On the way Guruji said how excited he was to go to Kurukshetra the next day. Especially for visiting the place where Krishna gave the Bhagavad Gita to Krishna. 

Monday, 11th day:
On our way to Bhadrakali Temple in Kurukshetra we stopped at a gas station. Right next to it was an ashram. We went in there and enquired about the Guru lineage. We were told that the Guru with name “Atamram Nand Guru” living in this ashram was 113 years old, born in Pakistan in 1901. He was in the police force and took sannyas in 1930. 1936 his Guru died and in 1938 he went to do tapas for 90 days during which he drank just 250ml of milk and one spoon of ghee every day. He is an ayurvedic teacher and cures all ailments by producing his own medicines. Since he had the habit of going to rest at noon and only coming out at 4pm we were not able to meet him. However, Guruji received some clothes and a picture of him from one of his monks. It was a very simple ashram but very beautiful. We were told that 45 people lived there. The monk told us, that the secret of the Guru’s old age was to get up at 3am and do yoga from 4am until 7am. We received some Prasad and then drove further towards Kurukshetra. 
In the bus I read the story of the Bhadrakali temple we were going to visit. It is the left ankle of Sati that had fallen there. I will give a shortened version of the story: Once a certain Vrishala King wanted children and therefore undertook a human sacrifice to Bhadrakali. However, the victim escaped and ran off in the forest. The kings attendants followed him and found a young man, Vishnudatta, son of a saintly Vaishnava priest. They captured him. As they were going to cut his head with the magical, tooth-edged sword, Bhadrakali Herself came out of Her murthi, with a blazing body, Her eyes red in anger, and with a hideous laughter killed those who were going to perform the sacrifice with the same sword in order to save Vishnudatta. Vishnudatta, witnessing all this, was unmoved. For him it did not matter whether he would be sacrificed to Kali or would be spared, since he was totally surrendered to God. 
Guruji then said: 
“It’s a great blessing to really go to this place also and spend some time there. In the story that Paartha was just telling, this is the famous story that shows the greatness of a devotee. The one who is surrendered to the lotus feet of the Lord fears nothing in life, even in death. Because the Lord is taking care and shelters everyone. So the story also shows, you see, people do sacrifices, but they don’t sacrifice their animal qualities. And this is what Bhadrakali wants, this animal quality that is inside of you. When this animal quality is offered to Her, She destroys it, and makes one a pure devotee, so that one can attain the feet of the Lord by Her grace. Not to forget that all the Devis that we have been visiting, they are just one Devi Durga, which is the sister of Maha Vishnu Himself. So Parvati is none other than the sister of Maha Vishnu. And Her aim is always to bring the devotee to a higher degree of spirituality, which means makes one achieve the lotus feet of Lord Narayana. And that’s what Krishna Himself in the Gita talks about to Arjun. You know very well that Arjun did not want to fight in the war and Krishna said well, you are a warrior, you have to fight, even if your family is in front of you, the duty of a warrior is to fight, because the opponent is the enemy. And there he gave the Gita, which is divided in 18 chapters of how one has to live life. And Kurukshetra stands for life itself. The Shrimad Bhagavatam is one of the most essential teachings of all, because it is compromising the vedas, the puranas and everything. So it is the fullness of the veda itself. So in the Gita there are 700 verses where Krishna explains to Arjun about the essence of life, and why one is incarnated and what one has to do to achieve that state of fulfilling ones life purpose. It is always amazing to look at, that all the pilgrimages that we do, at the end, either we go to Brindavan, or we go to Udupi, it’s always “Krishna shamarana astu” (not sure if I spelled this correctly), it’s always like you surrender the whole punya, all the good things that one receives into the pilgrimage at the lotus feet of Lord Krishna, which is none other than Narayana Himself. When we were planning it we did not even realize it, but it takes its own plan in that way, that we are ending this pilgrimage also by “Krishna Arpan”, we are offering it to Krishna, because it’s all from Him and it all goes back to Him.”  

After receiving Darshan of Bhadrakali, we noticed hundreds of smaller and larger horse statues, especially near the lotus pond. The reason for this is, that Krishna and the Pandavas promised to give their horses to this temple (to Bhadrakali) if they should win the war. They did win the war and then donated their horses there. The pond itself is about 8 meters deep. It is said that the ankle of Sati is in there. Guruji also mentioned that Krishna and Balaram had their Mundan (hair shaving ceremony) done here. 

Bhadra Kali

(Today Ratnadevi mentioned, that living in Vrindavan, she always had a hard time to explain why in Bhakti Marga we also worship Ma besides Krishna. This temple is a nice example/symbol for this coexistence/tolerance that Guruji teaches, since even Krishna Himself went there to pray together with the Pandavas to Kali Mata.)

We arrived only about an hour later in Kurukshetra. There we were greeted by a huge statue of Krishna and Arjun in the chariot. 
Our first stop was Jyotisar, the place where Krishna revealed the Gita to Arjuna. 

There was a big water pond at which we sat for some time in meditation with Guruji and enjoyed the peace of the place. 

The very place of the Gita revelation was actually beneath this Banyan tree: 

We also visited Brahmasarovar. While Brahma was engaged with the act of creation, he felt exhausted. In order to obtain more Shakti or power, he performed a yagna to Shiva at this place. That is why Kurukshetra is considered to be a sacred spot and all who would be killed in battle there would directly reach Heaven. 

There is also a huge statue of Krishna and Arjun in their chariot. 
 There we sat down in the grass and Guruji gave another short sat sang:

“If you don’t realize yourself, life is useless. Whatever you can do in life, if you don’t achieve one step, you can’t advance. You see the simple things of the Gita that Krishna said, is to realize your Self, this is the aim, the goal why you have incarnated, and if you don’t realize yourself in this life, life becomes very useless. And also to be born and to get to know about spirituality, the good karma you have done in previous lives, the merit you have done you are receiving now in this life. But it’s not just about that, you can’t take it for granted. Because until you don’t achieve God, you don’t achieve the Lord, still it’s a learning, ongoing process. That’s why it’s said one has to watch oneself in ones actions, one has to watch oneself in ones thoughts and with what thought we are doing the action, if it is centered towards God consciousness or not. If whatever we do is for sense pleasure or just idle like this, it doesn’t make sense. What you have to be aware is whatever you do, you are doing for God. And that only the Lord will be pleased and will reveal Himself to you when your mind, your body and your intellect, everything is centered only towards Him. As Krishna is saying to Arjun, even in war, when you are doing your duty, but yet still it’s an action, but if a kshatrya dies into the war, there is no karma created, because they go directly to heaven, directly to Vaikuntha. So in that context Krishna is revealing in a very simple way, not complicated, that it’s very easy to realize one Self. 
The only thing you have to do is to awake bhakti inside, just have devotion for God and let everything. Because everything goes by itself normally, you don’t need to really force things to happen, only when you let it go by itself then everything takes its place, how God wants it, not how you want it. He has placed you somewhere, He has put intelligence, knowledge inside of you, he has guided you to certain things, because your dharma is there, otherwise it would never be like this. How many people I have met, doctors who have said “oh I have been a doctor all these years, now I want to stop being a doctor”, but what has guided them there was their dharma. So it’s time to move and change and what is the dharma to accept, in the moment, to accept whatever God gave you, and wherever you are guided to. And the moment you learn to accept this reality, now the reality, then God can give you more to the next step. So, but also be detached from it, cause if you become tense you attach to things. But when you are relaxed you are not attached, you are free to let go of it. That’s why, when you see, good moments when they happen in people’s lives, they forgot very quickly about it. But when something bad happens in one’s life, they hang on it so much, they are attached so much in it, why? Because they carry it, because they hang on the fear, they hang on the sadness, they hang on…. They are not relaxed about it. When your body is not relaxed, when your mind is not relaxed about certain things, you hang on it and become slave to it. But whereas when you are relaxed you can let it flow. So the same thing in spirituality, the same thing in life itself. If you are relaxed, everything is guided. Then you know deeply inside God is guiding me. So, it’s that, the Gita. So, we go…?”

That same evening Muktaananda, Pramod, Sunny (who came together with Ramana from Varanasi) and me sat in Guruji’s room where he spoke again a bit more about Kurukshetra. I wrote it down, however I missed the first few sentences, so here’s first what I remember, and then the transcript of what he said.
He began talking of the point where Krishna asked the Pandavas and the Kauravas, whether they wanted him (Krishna) or his army. The Kauravas chose the army, the Pandavas, knowing Krishna to be an avatar of Narayana, chose Krishna:

“….there are 72.000 Nadis. So the army represents that in the body. At the end one comes face to face to God, Narayan. As long as the mind is full with all the pride, the ego, eccentric and all these things the mind will always fight. But inside the Kururkshetra, the body, there is also the good part into it, if they are not mingled, diluted, with this negative things, they stay separate. But if they get changed by the negative qualities, they get polluted. The mind pollutes the body, the body pollutes the person and everything there is swept out, only Narayana is left. As much as one tries to fight Him, He is the one which will win. 
He did not say everything this man when he was talking right now. The head of the grandson of Bhima was put up (over the battlefield) yes, but when they asked him, what did you see, (when the war was going on), who was fighting? You know what he said? “It was only the Sudarshan Chakra”. No Pandavas, no Kurus, not anybody. It was only the Sudarshana Chakra. That’s what he said also (to Krishna) “You are the one who does and you are the one who undoes”…” 

Tuesday, 12th day:
It is Tuesday today and tomorrow very early morning we will be driving by bus to Delhi for our flights back to Europe. Yesterday evening Muktananda and I were talking about this pilgrimage. He mentioned that in all these pilgrimage places, God or Goddess, in one form or the other, has given a promise of a certain blessing to each and every one visiting the place, although we are not aware of it.
I have no clue of all the blessings that we have received on this pilgrimage. However, we all do have one blessing: That is our Guru, because it is only due to Him that we are undertaking such pilgrimages, visiting all these holy sites, and receiving countless blessings. Where would we be without Him? I can’t consider myself enlightened, but I can say that without Him I would not be nowhere near the (the awareness of) Light.

Thank you all for accompanying us on this pilgrimage by reading these lines and by your love and affection. You all were in Guruji’s heart when he was praying at the holy sites, and you all participate in the many blessings.

Jay Guru Dev!

Jay Sri Krishna!

Jay Mata Di

Thus ends of Paartha’s report about the pilgrimage to the 9 Goddesses. With his detailed, spirited description of the journey, the information about the pilgrimage sites, the transcriptions of the Satsangs of Swami we were able to travel along when reading his reports, to receive at each Holy place the blessing also, like he says at the end of his report, that we were in Guruji’s heart when he was praying. A very warm and hearty „Thank you“ for your labour to write for us, underway in the hot bus over bumpy roads, when making a rest, at the feet of Guruji during the satsangs, in the evening before going to sleep. As someone told me: For me it is the greatest gift, that I may read these reports and in this way be present with Guruji at these holy sites.