After months of planning and preparation a dream was fulfilled at midnight on Tuesday, October 28, when a small group of devotees in Bellingham, Washington, welcomed Guruji back to the US after a six-year absence.
He was greeted with big smiles, enthusiastic waves and chants of Om Namo Narayanya, then taken to Varahi and Kailash’s home to settle in for a beautiful week of celebrations.
|The apple tree by the temple had begun to bloom just before Swamiji's arrival - far out of season!|
One local devotee said, “It is a miraculous experience to recognise one’s Guru for the first time. When our eyes met at the airport, I knew my heart would never be the same again. He has transformed me, opening my heart like a rose, petal by petal.”
On Thursday, 180 people were treated to a three-and-a-half hour Satsang and a surprise Darshan.
Nearly half of the audience came from out of town, some from as far away as Germany, New England, Mexico, Florida, Hawaii, California and Canada. Among other things, Swami spoke about Love as the most powerful force in the universe and shared a parable about the importance of focusing on our own connection to God and goodness rather than judging others. Reports continue to come in describing how deeply moved participants were, along with their recognition that something important within them has shifted.
The local devotees were blessed with such an infusion of Love, unity and patience as guests from near and far came together to support all the festivities with donations, shopping, cooking, garlands, decorating, setting-up and cleaning up before, during and after the events. A new devotee to the fold reflected how “the Love light that Guruji emanated strengthened and enlivened the community in ways that were visible and tangible", further noting how it "created a heart-opening presence in each person that is sure to linger and grow.”
|Swamiji gave birthday blessings to three devotees at the end of the Darshan|
Saturday was inauguration day for the Shrinivas Temple, which means "the home of Lakshmi". The two beautiful Lakshmi-Narayana murtis were named Deenabandu, meaning “friend to the poor.”
|The two murtis prepared to be installed|
The ceremonies included a Guru Puja to Swamiji, a Kalash Puja, Homa, Abishekam and Darshan of the newly enlivened and installed Deities.
|Karan, originally from Bellingham, and now living in the SPN ashram, giving a short explanation about his experiences of living in Germany|
|Guru Puja and Pada Abishekam|
After the Guru Puja, Sri Swami Vishwananda explained the meaning of the Names of the deities for the people present, and about how the mercy of the Lord is ever-present - that we humans who are poor in spirituality are always being uplifted and supported by God acting in our lives.
It was truly remarkable to witness the palpable transformation from stone to vibrant life in the faces and energies of the murtis. Already they seem to have taken on distinct personalities.
The next day, Lakshmi tossed the bell rose off Her garland at the pujaris doing morning puja, and then later in the day one of the other roses miraculously turned itself around to form another bell on Her garland! Now, a few days later, both She and Narayana have started to manifest oil from Their eyes and faces!
Guruji was scheduled to leave on Sunday morning, but He surprised us all by extending His visit for another three days. For the devotees blessed to be included, these extra special days were filled with so many precious moments that will live in our hearts for years to come.
|Swami prepared a special Mauritian dish for all the devotees|
|Playing the Bhakti Memo game|
|Springen connecting with Bellingham to see what Guruji was up to|
|Satsang about Krishna and Sudama|
Swami honoured us with impromptu Satsangs, including one on the Guru Gita and another that brought tears to our eyes as He shared the story of Sudama and Krishna. We spent hours late into the night singing bhajans together, dancing and sharing our personal stories with one another. Some of our favorite times were the intimate dinners Guruji cooked for us.
Swami was amazingly accessible and performed so many miracles during His visit. Despite the shorter days of the approaching winter we experienced more light than ever. The chaos and darkness of the Kali Yuga in the outside world faded away as He blessed us with the luxury of being able to see the light of the Divine more easily. Although many of us are novices to the ways of being in relationship with a Guru, He was magnanimously patient with our naiveté, simply smiling and shaking His head like one would with little children. We were so very blessed and forever changed by His loving presence and generous gifts of His time, wisdom and Grace.
The stories are many, here are a few reflections of our remarkable week with Guruji. Those with eyes to see and ears to hear gained new insights into how to be in relationship with the Divine, with Swami as Guru and each other. One young man was impressed by the power of Guruji’s simple truths which is helping him to stop over-analysing and complicating things so he can simply be in the 'now'. A guest from Ohio was most touched by Swamiji’s reflections that “although the US has all the material comforts, we are spiritually bankrupt and if we want to have some meaning in our lives and peace it would serve us well to dedicate our lives to God, service and humanity.” Several new people came to the first OM Chanting circle in the newly initiated temple, and all who attended remarked as to how it was the most powerful one they had ever experienced. Our local Sanga is excited and committed to sharing Swami’s teachings and bringing our larger community even more Love, unity and patience in the coming years.
|Swamiji asked that a statue of St. Francis be installed in a tree just next to the temple.|
|Getting ready to be permanently installed.|
Swami said his view of Americans has changed after his visit to Bellingham. He really liked seeing everyone come together for this trip and the way we all responded to His Satsangs. It is our sincerest hope that with the new Shrinivas temple, our deepened devotion and greater understanding of our mission Guruji will be eager to return to the US again and again. Jai Gurudev!