29 Nov 2013

UPDATED! - Sri Swami Vishwananda meets spiritual leaders in Vrindavan

From the first moments in Vrindavan, the sweetness of Lord Krishna could be felt, that feeling that arises only in the place where Radha and Krishna spent their days.  "Only by Radharani's grace are we here, so tomorrow morning, before anything else, we will go have Her darshan" Swami said to us.  So in the morning we went to the RadhaRamana temple to say 'Jai Shri Radhe!' and give our thanks.  It was an interesting temple in that it was built like an open air courtyard-later we saw that this style is common to Vrindavan, with many temples open at top.  We were early and enjoyed the opening of the curtains to see Radha.

(Buying Tulsi malas to offer to the deities at RadhaRamana Mandir) 

(Inside the temple, morning Darshan of Sri Radha Krishna)

Dr Sathya Narayanadas of Jiva Institute hosted our stay in Vrindavan which quickly felt like a second home to us. The ashram was cozy and reminded us on our ashram somehow.

(Performing Aarti to welcome Swamiji upon his arrival)

After settling in and spending some time with Satya Narayana Dasa, Swamiji invited  Mahamandaleshwar Santosh Das Ji Maharaj to come and visit from Varanasi, which he gladly accepted, accompanying us for a day of visiting other temples and sadhus.  Beautifully attired in bright sunshine yellow and our Swamiji radiant in orange, the two made an impressive picture. Not only this, but the genuine camaraderie between the two made it a pleasure for everyone present.  

Our first stop together was to the ashram of Mahamandaleshwar Swami Chitprakashananda Giriji Maharaj who had invited our group for lunch. Although we were a little late in our arrival, they received us wholeheartedly and honoured Guruji, Dr Sathya Narayanadas and Mahant Santosh Das Ji very nicely.  They were seated on a stage; each received garlands and gifts and we had small satsang.  Afterwards we had a nice lunch. 

Swami Chitprakashanand Giriji is a prominent leader in the Niranjani Akhara, a Shivaite group encompassing millions of devotees in India and several temples and ashrams around the country and it was through his kindness that Swamiji and all the pilgrims of Bhakti Marga were able to accompany his procession and bathe with the sadhus on the most auspicious snan on the 10th of February in the Kumbha Mela this year at Allahabad. This was monumental because he is a Saivite and we are Vaishnavas and until then, this had never occurred.

Then to finish the evening we went to Bankhe Bihari temple, received His darshan and began a spontaneous parikrama around Vrindavan. Barefoot for ten kilometres we circumambulated the city, first along the banks of the Yamuna overlooking the sunset and then through the city by starlight.  Along the way in a small house we met the descendant of Nithyananda Prabhu and took the blessing from his mala. Singing the Lord's name and dancing as we walked was really special.

(Map of the path followed around Vrindavan during the parikrama)

(River Yamuna at sunset)

(The mala beads of Prabhu Nithyananda, the dearest and closest companion of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu)

The next morning we went first to pay our respects to a disciple of Radharaman Charan das. He is about 104 years old, lies on his sun bed outside, attended by one disciple, and chants constantly Harinaam. It was quite moving for all to see that although he was sick, still his hand and lips were constantly moving, reciting the name of God.  It seemed that he was already more with God than with us.

Then we went  to the goshala, the cow stables, of Sathya Narayandas' Guru who recently passed away.   After looking at the big, big bulls and cows of the goshala, Santosh das  and Sathya Narayan das bade us farewell and a safe journey and that they would see Swami again soon in the following year when his time would permit. 

(Report from Bhagyshri, currently in India with Swamiji)

25 Nov 2013

Darshan in Assam, India!

On the 20th of November Sri Swami Vishwananda gave Darshan for the first time in Assam!

 (The region marked in red is Assam)

Swamiji was invited by Deep, an Indian devotee living in Germany and a regular at Shree Peetha Nilaya, to visit his home state, to which Swamiji duly obliged.

(Deep receiving Swamiji at the airport) 

The day before Darshan took place, Swamiji was interviewed by the local Assam TV News station for a programme to be aired later the same evening. The interview with Swamiji ended up taking a full 30 minute slot on the evening TV schedule and those who watched said it was great!

The Darshan itself was very well prepared and all the devotees and attendees gathered waited patiently for Swamiji's arrival.

Here you see Deep and Pramod on the 'podium' delivering the opening welcoming speeches and recounting one or two stories and experiences with Guruji....

Until finally he arrived and began to sing beautifully, encouraging everyone to join in the bhajans!

Darshan went on for a few hours and all those that came and received his blessings spoke of the bhakti and love they experienced through Swamiji. They all asked Swamiji to visit them once more the next time he is in India and many felt inexplicably moved by their first meeting with Sri Swami Vishwananda.

And so here are a few more pictures and impressions from the first of hopefully many Darshans to take place in Assam. Jai Gurudev!

19 Nov 2013

Visit of Varadharaj Perumal Temple in Kanchi

During Sri Swami Vishwananda's visit to Kanchi Puram, the group stopped by at the Varadharaj Perumal Temple where the main deities are 3500 years old self-manifested murthis of Sri Lakshmi Narayan.

Here you can see the group handing over Tulsi Malas to be offered to the deities and then returned as Maha Prasad for the devotees.

Swamiji was of course garlanded with one Himself! :)

Here one can see the deities of Sri Lakshmi Narayan that were manifested 3500 years ago out of a fire!

After this visit Swamiji and the group visited the famous Kanchi Kammakshi temple where no cameras were allowed. Remarkably, westerners who are usually never permitted to approach the deity or even enter the inner vicinity of the temple, were this time allowed to do so as the entire pilgrimage group was able to come really close to Maa and pray to her. It is truly a very, very rare occurrence and a big blessing for all those on the pilgrimage, made possible only through Swamiji's grace!

13 Nov 2013

Update from India Pilgrimage with Sri Swami Vishwananda!

Here are some pictures from Swamiji's climb up the Annamalai hills at Arunachala and a light-hearted testimony of the climb by Bhagyshri who is with Swamiji on the pilgrimage:

''Next on our agenda was hiking Arunachala. We were told that it would be approximately a 3-4 hour hike and that you should not go if you couldn't handle that, also out of respect for the group. But happily, no one felt daunted by this advice and everyone registered to go. So our group was very varied from big to small, thin, heavy, old and young. 

We left at 5 in the morning to avoid some of the heat. We drank a chai at the corner shop and then we began with Guruji and the guide leading the way. Guruji was like a professional, basically running up the mountain; he set a hard pace for the rest of us. And eventually we gave up trying to keep up (maybe his plan all along :). But there he was at every rest stop waiting for the rest of us, somehow encouraging us. "Come on Bhagyshri! What are you like 90 years old or what???" And so, he was our cheerleader. There were about six guides with us and they were truly amazing, carrying heavy backpacks, supporting us that we don't fall, and even later, carrying some of us!

Arunachala itself is Shiva, and so every step you take on Him is sacred. When we got to the top, Shiva's head, it was truly amazing. They were large flat rocks, charred black from the annual yagnas that are held there. The wind was high and the sun was hot. Out on a ledge at the top, were the footprints of Shiva and we all were able to make a small pooja to them. Swami went first, then the guide and then the rest of us. After this Swami sat down on a big rock to meditate, maybe 15 minutes or more. Only his hair was moving in the breeze and it was truly very beautiful.

13 people of the group stayed on the mountain and the rest of us came down. And oh did we discover that going up was nothing compared to the descent. With legs shaking from exhaustion we tried to navigate our way down without tumbling off the mountain. 

At this point, our amazing guides became extraordinary. Swamini Dayamati was making here way down very bravely but also ever so slowly, so one of the thin guides, wearing only a tiny dhoti and with thin strong arms glistening with sweat, bowed humbly to our Swamini and asked, "May I carry you down?". And Swamini Dayamati agreed, knowing that she was too slow for the group. Then we who were in front with Swamiji were shocked to see Dayamati - now she was the fastest! The little man even passed us, springing from rock to rock,  as she waved to us goodbye.''

Next the group travelled to Kanchipuram, one of the holiest sites on earth for devotees of Maa, so lookout for that report coming to you very soon!

7 Nov 2013

Pilgrimage in India with Sri Swami Vishwananda begins!

Swamiji's pilgrimage through India has now begun and we have received the first short report from the pilgrims!

Drishti says:
Jai Gurudev! Arrived in Arunachala! The Ashram is very nice, Swamiji arrived yesterday afternoon. We visited the huge temple (2nd biggest of India) for several different pujas with the high priest, today going to Ramana Maharshi ashram and to the caves on the foot of the Arunachala where he meditated. Much love

For those who don't know its history, here is some background information on Arunachala and it's spiritual significance to the world:

Arunachala refers to the holy hill at Thiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu. It is one of the five main shaivite holy places in South India. The Annamalaiyar Temple, a temple of Lord Shiva is located at the base of the hill. Every year in the Tamil month of Karthigai, the Karthigai Deepam (Light) is lit atop the hill in a great ceremony.

Annamalaiyar Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is significant to the Hindu sect of Saivism as one of the temples associated with the five elements, the Pancha Bhoota Stalas, and specifically the element of fire, or Agni. Shiva is worshiped as Annamalaiyar or Arunachaleswarar, and is represented by the lingam, with his idol referred to as Agni lingam. His consort Parvati is depicted as Unnamulai Amman. The Karthigai Deepam festival is celebrated during the day of the full moon between November and December, and a huge beacon is lit atop the hill. It can be seen from miles around, and symbolizes the Shiva lingam of fire joining the sky. The event is witnessed by three million pilgrims.

The story goes that Parvati, wife of Shiva, once closed the eyes of her husband playfully in a flower garden at their abode atop Mount Kailash. Although only a moment for the gods, all light was taken from the universe, and the earth, in turn, was submerged in darkness for years. Parvati performed penance along with other devotees of Shiva. Then her husband appeared as a column of fire at the top of Annamalai hills, returning light to the world. He then merged with Parvati to form Ardhanarishvara, the half-female, half-male form of Shiva. For this reason the hill is sacred and considered a lingam, or iconic representation of Shiva, in itself.

(One can see the Annamalai Hills in the background)

3 Nov 2013

November Darshan

Last night there was Darshan in the lighthall - the only one in Springen in the month November 

as there was nearly 500 guests, we had to organize 2 shifts. This works very well, thanks to the help and understanding of our guests!

Parallel Swami VishwaAnashuya performed the second Divali puja ​​in the entrance hall. Unfortunately I missed it to take a picture  :-(   

Tonight there will be the 3rd and last Puja for Lakshmi, with a lot of candles and lights...


In the first night of Dhanteras  Swami Vishwananda performed a special Puja to invite Lakshmi. 

It was celebrated in the entrance hall just opposite the entrance door.

Meanwhile some nice rangolis where done in front of the door.