Thursday, the day of the first satsang of this tour, started with Guruji performing an abishekam to Giridhari in the Sri Ranganath temple.
There was no garland for Giridhari, so Guruji made one on the spot. It was very sweet.
After the morning prayers, Guruji went out into the nearby neighborhoods for running errands, and then went to see the ocean.
While driving around, he was pointing out all the places where he had walked and played as a child - the streams where he and his friends would catch fish, and the forests they had run around in, which have since become neighborhoods of houses.
Devotees kept busy decorating the temple for the first official event of the trip. Spirits were high, and devotees were happy to prepare the building for their Guru.
Kadambari from SPN shares:
"Later on the day we were helping with the decoration when Guruji played a game with the matajis at the temple: he asked them to change the decoration they had made. This included the position of his chair for the satsang. The team was so flexible and joyful that we felt really welcome and connected with everyone. We helped with the decoration until it was time for us to go and prepare ourselves for the satsang."
Guruji spent much time both before and after the satsang speaking with many Mauritian devotees in private interviews. Many people who knew Guruji in his childhood came and spoke with him, and listened at the satsang.
One such experience:
"Wednesday evening we had been informed that Guruji would do abishekam in the Sri Ranganath Mandir at 7.30 pm. We had 45 minutes to get ready and drive there. So, quick quick... and we went down in the hotel to ask for a transport possibility.
Ashvin, a friendly receptionist called "Vicky Taxi" and 15 minutes later we sat in the car on the way to our Lord. After showing our driver the flyer with the address and map in Rose Hill, he said: "Ah, my house is close by this Mandir and I know him. I went to school with Sri Swami Vishwananda." So, we started talking to him, that in this case, there would be no excuse for him not to come for the satsang and darshan with Guruji! His reaction was a bit shy - he would be busy and his two kids are quite naughty, he said. We insisted inviting him and his family.
On the very next morning, some time after Guruji has finished his Abishekam to Giridhariji, a car stopped at the mandir, and Guruji's neighbours including the whole family stepped out. They came closer (a bit shy and hesistant). Guruji, of course, came to welcome and bless them open heartedly. All of them have been very touched and insured to come for Satsang and Darshan."
Devotees from Russia, Europe, and China began arriving for the upcoming pilgrimage, just before the satsang began.
The satsang was delivered by Guruji in his native language of Creole. Even though we didn't understand much of what he was saying, listening to his voice in his language was sweet.
Guruji started the satsang by singing a bhajan - Tum Hamare Te Prabhuji, Tum Hamare Ho, Tum Hamare Hi Rehenge, O Mere Priyatam - and then gave commentary on it.
Here are some of the main topics he spoke about from this song:
- We can pretend to be happy on the outside, everybody pretends. True happiness is found only inside.
- Ignorance makes us unhappy. If you have a desire, and it's fulfilled, you'll be greedy. If it's not fulfilled, you'll be angry.
- Everyone is bound by the three gunas. By surrendering to the Lord, you become free from them, because the Lord is beyond the three gunas, even if he incarnates in human form.
- You have an eternal relationship with God. This brings inner satisfaction, and is the real meaning of life. Realising it brings eternal happiness
- Weekend spirituality: going to church/temple/mosque only during weekends... This is just to make you happy for some time. The same way the happiness comes, the same way it goes.
Guruji then sang his favorite bhajan with the audience, Sabse Oonchi Prema Sagai, and then spoke about its meaning:
- Prayer without devotion doesn't mean anything
- What people call love, that's bargaining - business. If the business goes well, everything is good. If not, everything falls down. These are rajasic qualities.
- Not everybody dwells on tamasic, but mostly on rajasic. Rajasic people act good when everything is good. When it's not good, nothing they do is good.
- In the Ramcharitramanas, Tulsidas Goswami said all is just a show-off. This is weekend spirituality: only if you have time, then you take yourself. Then, what is spirituality? It's only when you have time for it.
- That's what people do. Time to time they will go to temple/church/mosque. It doesn't lead you anywhere. It doesn't awake this bhakti, this devotion inside of you.
- Pure love can only be awakened by true devotion.
- Krishna said: Surrender to me.
- Can you tell your mind to stop? You can't! You've been using your mind since childhood. How do you think? How do you do business in life? How do you succeed? How should your life be? You can't ask the mental to stop.
- What governs the mind? The five senses - the pancha tattva. You cannot ask them to stop.
- We cannot interchange the function of our senses - we can't ask the eyes to hear or the ears to eat. Each sense has its own duty.
- You cannot stop thinking, but you can decide what to think and what to feed the mind with.
- Krishna said, "Let the mental be focused on me. Do what you have to do, but let the mind be focused on me."
Guruji also answered questions from the audience.
Can women perform abishekam on Shiva lingam?
If you go according to the Shastras, then no. But, if you guru asks you to do so, then it's ok.
Why did Krishna nearly kill Bhisma with the chariot wheel?
The most interesting part of the Mahabharata is when Krishna takes the chariot wheel to kill Bhishma. To understand the question, we need to go back to where the decision of who should take Krishna's army, and who will take Krishna.
When Arjuna took Krishna and Duryodhana took Krishna's army out of pride, Krishna vowed not to fight.
Before the Mahabharata, Bhishma said to Karna that he could not enter the battlefield while Bhishma was still standing on it. Only when he fell, then Karna could enter.
On the 11th day of the Mahabharata, Bhishma knew who Krishna was: Ishwara Parama Krishna, Satchidananda Vigraha. He didn't need anyone to tell him who was standing in front of him. Even if Krishna was disguised as a normal human being, he knew that Krishna was Sriman Narayana Himself.
Krishna was not like any previous avatars incarnated. He was fully Himself incarnated.
Bhishma said during the Mahabharata war that he would make Krishna take a weapon and fight.
When Arjuna was arguing with Krishna, asking Him not to fight with his uncle, Krishna replied, "If you are not going to do your dharma, I am going to kill him."
Arjuna said, "Why are you going to kill him? You yourself said, you are not going to take up any weapon."
Krishna replied, "I created this law, and I can destroy it."
This is very important. This phrase. The Lord is not bound by any of His laws, even if He created the law Himself. There is no law that binds the Lord.
Krishna showed that to Bhishma, because Bhishma wanted to see Krishna break His own law (not to take up a weapon).
All the previous avatars showed obedience. For example, Rama was exiled, and He agreed to it. Krishna was different. He said, "I created this law, and I am not bound by anything."
When Krishna lifted the wheel, what did Bhishma do?
Bhishma said, "Kill me! That's what I want!"
The whole of Mahabharata was created by Krishna. Even if the Kauravas think that it was them who were making this fight, it was Krishna Himself who allowed that.
Since Barbarik's head was watching the Mahabharat battlefied, Krishna asked him, "Who was responsible for the Pandava's victory?"
Barbarik was laughing at Arjuna. Arjuna said, "Why are you laughing at me? Are you making fun of me? Don't you know who I am?"
Barbarik said, "Yes, yes, I know you are Arjuna. I'm laughing at your arrogance."
Arjuna said, "How can you say I am arrogant? I just won a big war."
Barbarik said, "I am seeing how your arrogance is blinding you, that you could not even see, that it wasn't even you who was fighting. All that you did, it was Krishna doing it for you. What I saw from above was only Krishna."
Barbarik said to Arjuna that "All the arrows that you shot at your enemies were preceded by the Sudarshana chakra." Krishna was the one who did everything.
The satsang ended with Guruji singing bhajans with the audience, and with an arati to Krishna. Afterwards, Guruji spent more than an hour speaking with the people who came, one by one. Traditional Mauritian prasad was served to everyone.
Afterwards, the devotees of Mauritius and some newly-arrived pilgrims sat down together to have a family dinner. Guruji sang bhajans and had many laughs with the devotees.
Late in the night - or, at this point, early in the morning - we were in for a small show of fireworks.
The transition of the night, from spiritual lessons into family gathering was beautiful, in such a simple way. We were able to drink in knowledge and wisdom from the stories of Lord Krishna and of mystically sweet practices of bhakti yoga, from our Master.
We were then able to experience a bit of the love between God and His beloved creation: spending time enjoying each others' company, focused on each other. All the devotees were wound up in respect and gratitude and service for Guruji, and it felt like this must have been like being amongst the gopas and gopis with their beloved Gopala - simple experiences, but overflowing with love.