14 Sep 2015

Following the Master: Kumbh Mela 2015 – Day 5 (The First Bath)

"When you are bathed in the Divine Name, whatever Name, whatever deity - the Name of Jesus, Rama, Krishna, Devi - if you get bathed in that Divine Name, you are released from many births." 
- Sri Swami Vishwananda

The Journey:

After much anticipation, the day of the first bath finally arrived. It is said that when one takes a dip in the holy water during the Kumbh Mela the person is cleansed of all past sins. Millions of people around the world have been waiting for this day for the past two years. The Bhakti Marga devotees finally got their opportunity, and here are a few highlights of the experience.


The night leading up to the first bath, an Indian TV channel interviewed Sri Swami Vishwananda for live TV. They were eager to speak with Swamiji and to show the bhajans sung by the Bhakti Marga musicians.  Most of the people in that region are used to traditional performances, and the "call and response" style of singing that is done by Bhakti Marga is very intriguing to them.

The timing worked out perfectly to show Mira in full force as she sang “Sabse Ounchi Prema Sagai” (Love is the Highest Prayer), and the crowd going absolutely crazy.

The next day the first bath took place. Here's a report from one in the group about the experience:

"Similar to the Kumbh Mela in 2013, Santoshji was kind enough to be our host and we joined his chariot for the procession. Guruji and he were side by side on top of the chariot.

Then we waited as a group a little ahead of its position. When we say “group”, you have to picture well over 100 devotees from Bhakti Marga as well as the devotees of Mahant Santosh’s Akara. At this point, there was already a crowd amassing and the intensity of the occasion could be felt more and more.

We were “holding” our position with bravery as we were waiting for what must have been about an hour, with many cars and chariots getting into the “take-off” position, before finally it was our chariot’s turn.

What followed was just an amazing journey through the winding and picturesque streets of Nashik.

The people of Nashik lined the streets of the town and gave us and all the other pilgrims a warm welcome. It was very sweet to observe their reaction as they saw to their big surprise a big western group of pilgrims with tilaks, etc., marching by, and when we smiled and waved at them, many responded with a big smile on their faces and folded their palms to give pranam greetings.

The drums of the group gave a strong rhythm and energy, that lasted throughout the journey. We danced and jumped, interacting with Guruji on the chariot, and sharing his Love to everyone around us.

Finally, after about 1.5 hours, we reached the Ram Kund of the Godavari river, where we took the holy and very refreshing dip. The culmination of the procession.

We then returned to our chariot and winded our way back to the camp of Santoshji, where we were again greeted by countless citizens of Nashik, who greeted us with “Radhe Radhe”, “Jai Sri Krishna” or “Jai Sri Ram” and throwing flowers and petals on us."

Many of the Bhakti Marga devotees were featured on a short video clip by the BBC during the bathing. Click here to watch it:  http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-34237280?post_id=889684867779538_889684854446206#_=_


"It is much more than just the bath, it is a journey. Another portion of the path that leads us from the mind to the heart. Especially when you undertake this journey under the guidance and in the presence of your Guru, like we have the privilege to do, it becomes a highly mystical experience. Like everything on the spiritual path, it’s not about the outside, but really about the inside, but the outside helps us connect with the inside. The blessings that are evoked, are not only for us here onsite, but are extended to the rest of our spiritual family that could not be here physically, and ultimately the whole of humanity." - Swami Vishwakurunandhanananda (a.k.a Swami Kuru)

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