29 May 2014

North India Pilgrimage with Swami Vishwananda, Day 5 & 6

First of all something that I forgot to mention about the Meerabhai Krishna Murthi: Whenever they celebrate Krishna Janmashtami once a year, the murthi shrinks down in size and becomes 1⁄4 of its normal size, since the birth of Baby Krishna is being celebrated...

Chamunda was Goddess Kali who sprang forth from Durga Devi during the great battle with demons Shumbh and Nishumbh. There were two generals of Shumb and Nishumbhs Army by name Chand and Mundh. From her own body, Durga produced the goddess Kali who chopped the heads of Chand and Mundh. This made Durga very happy and she gave Kali the boon to be known from then onwards as Goddess Chamunda.

Gurpreet arranged a puja/VIP treatment for Guruji also. We offered Her sarees, incense, food, water and other items. After the puja we went down into a cave where there was a Shiva Lingam. Every Shakti peeth has also Shiva present. Without Shiva, Shakti cannot be there, and vice versa. Up again in the Devi Temple, Swami told us what Devi had told him about Herself. She said that as Chamunda She is responsible for destroying qualities like attachment and possessiveness. She is situated in the region of Svadishtana Chakra, basically She controls the lower chakras together with Chinna Mastika Devi who controls sexual energy. Only when She has destroyed all the negative “animal” qualities the energy is free to be able to travel through the Manipur Chakra to Anahata Chakra, the heart, where Bhakti / Love can be felt and grow ever stronger.

Guruji said, that this site of Chamunda Devi, is favored by Siddhas who come here to progress spiritually and attain siddhi, spiritual wisdom and power. It is one of only two Siddha Peeths, besides Jwalamukhi.

The next temple we went to was Vrajeshwari Devi Temple. There are many inter-connected explanations on who Vrajeshwari Devi is. I will try to make it as simple and clear as possible.

First of all, the place of Vrajeshwari Devi Temple in Kangra, is one of the main Shakti Peeths. It is the places where Sati’s breasts fell on earth. The place “Kangra”, meaning “Kan” and “Garh”, means “Fort build on an ear”. The story behind it is found in the Puranas: This “ear” on which the fort was built, is the ear of the demon “Jalandhar”, husband of the saintly wife “Tulsi Devi”. After having deceived Tulsi Devi to kill her demon husband Jalandhar, Vishnu and Shiva feared Tulsi’s wrath. In order to appease her, they granted a boon to Jalandhar. Jalandhar wished, that where his body lies, this ground should become a holy site for Gods and Goddesses and their devotees for worship. Since then the area is known as Jalandhar Peeth and has 64 temples on it. The most famous one is the temple of Vajreshwari Devi, which also houses “Mahavir Bheron” (see story about him further down), Lord Shiva, Dhyanu Bhakta and TaraDevi.

There is another connection of to Vrajeshwari Temple with Vishnu: Dhyanu Bhakt, a saint who came from Mathura (Vraja), after receiving Her Darshan, he gave Her the name Vrajeshwari.
There is also a more tantric or esoteric explanation of this goddess: As already mentioned before, the Kundalini energy travels from Mooladhara (Base) Chakra, through Svadishtana Chakra to Manipoora Chakra. In Manipoora Chakra, also called “the seat of fire”, the energy travels through a nerve called “Vrajesh” and manifests there as Vrajeshwari Devi. She is also called Vajr-Tara, Ugra-Tara and Vajr-Vero-Chaniya. With Her blessing the energy can travel to Anahata to kindle Divine Love/Bhakti.

On a personal note: It is such a great blessing to be able to travel “through” these Shakti Peeths, especially with my Guru. One can feel that Divine Mother blesses us at each Peeth with Her corresponding aspect. It feels like an inward journey through the different chakras/aspects of oneself, taking place in the outside. Or as if the outside and the inside fuse into one.

Swami also seems to enjoy this trip a lot. He mostly rides with everyone else in the bus. Also present in this temple is Mahavir Bheron. His murthi is the oldest murthi of Bharaiv, over 5000 years old! When you look at his face/eyes for some time, you can see His form changing into different forms. Also, whenever there is a calamity coming, his eyes start to cry tears. It happened in 1904 when there was a great earthquake that this destroyed the entire temple, excepted the shrine of Tara Devi which is also present there. The tears were again seen in 1982 when there was a tragedy in Punjab in which many Sikhs were killed.

Interesting about the temple is that it has three different roofs. The top one has the shape of a mandir roof, the middle one the shape of a Gurudwara (temple of Sikhs), the lower one the shape of a mosque roof. 

People of all these three major Indian religions visit this temple because they are all historically connected to it. Even Buddhists like to come to this temple for the Blessing of Tara Devi (Vraja Yogini).

In the evening Guruji gave a satsang. During the satsang I was typing everything up, so if I left out one or two sentence please forgive me. So firstly Guruji said that it was interesting to see again Mothers grace and blessings, all was easy going and very nicely. He then asked Gurpreet to speak about a conversation he had with him. He said Guruji spoke to him about the Guru Parampara, which starts with Mahavatar Babaji, then the Sadguru then the Guru. He said that Mahavatar Babaji was an incarnation of Krishna. In 2001 Babaji gave him the title of Paramahamsa. This title is only given to an Acharya and is very rare.

In 2005 he was officially made an Achariya, and when his Diksha Guru gave him the blessing, Mahavatar Babaji himself appeared and put his hands on his shoulders, putting his palms on Guruji and Shank and Chakra appeared on both his shoulders. There was a whole ceremony around that also with Yagna, etc, but this was the last and most important part of the ceremony.

One question that arose, Gurpreet said, was why was Babaji apparently not realized from childhood onwards, why did he need a Guru first? Swami said, that no matter who one is, one needs a Guru. It is to show that the Guru Parampara is important. Jesus himself waited for 30 years to start his own  mission, he waited for John the BAPTIST to give him diksha, Rama waited for Vishwamitra to give him Gayatra Diksha. Although they are born with all powers, it is dormant and becomes only active when it’s the right time. All is for a reason, whatever a master does, there is a reason behind it. Rama waited for Vishwamitra to reveal to him all the Shakti that was there for him. God created the universe but created certain rules that even He chooses to abine to, so that Humans understand that these Rules are important and order is upheld. He does not break these rules, but He can bend them. Like this the masters always wait for the right moment, as well as the disciples wait. With the master, also the whole troupincarnates. He said that people always dwell with four things, how, where, why, when... But on the spiritual path there is no “why”, because that will be revealed during the life, it becomes a life task/disclosure.

Then those present could begin to ask questions to Guruji:

Q: Is the yogic and Christian tradition of initiation the same?
A: There are different ways but the blessing is always from God. Traditions are many, the blessing is one. Whether its Christian, Hindu, muslim, behind is only One reality. That’s what Guru Nanak said. Ek ong kar sat nam, only the the truth shall prevail. When you are in truth with yourself. Truth is not what we talk, something outside of us. Once you realize your path, when you reach what you have to reach, it stands for the one truth that stands in oneself, the reality. That what the holy scriptures talk about. It is not only in you, but in everything around you as well.

Q: If Babaji is an incarnation of Krishna, how can some people say that you are also an incarnation of Krishna?
A: Who is not Krishna? He is the only reality. In the Gita it is said, “I am the one who is seated in everybody’s heart. You are, they are, he is, the whole world is...Krishna”

Q: Is there any difference when we are praying to different aspects/deities (Devis) in what (qualities) we get?
A: All Devis are one, even if there are many different aspects. Each form gives certain qualities. Your Ishta Deva and your Guru stand for everything. But it’s good to receive the blessing from all Devis. Every time you bow down with the Shahastrana Chakra (your head) Devi puts Her hand on you to bless you. She is standing in front of you and puts your hand on you. Saints have seen how Devi appeared and spread her love and blessings to everybody. You receive all blessing from Her when you go to Her.

Q: Should we ask for what we want or trust that She knows?
A: If you have full trust that She knows, then She will know. If you have little trust, then you ask. Even talking with God is a prayer, whether it is asking or doing it when you are in action. It’s not only when sitting down or in a temple, prayer has many forms. A positive thought is a prayer to the divine. Wherever you are you are carrying the Divine with you. Whatever you are doing is a prayer to Him. Even in action it is a prayer. Work is worship. Manually, spiritually, physically, when you surrender to God it is a prayer.

Q: Why did Shakti herself had to incarnate and go through suffering to reach Shiva?
A: Today I was explaining that. You have to understand, very often these stories have a deep meaning behind them. They are fancy for the mind, but very symbolic. When Devi fights with Chanda and Mund, representing Greed and Possessiveness, Devi stand for longing for the divine, the Atma Shakti, cause your soul is divine. Whether it is full of “dirt” or karma or not, it is divine. As much as the light can be covered with the dust, the light shines always. So Devi stands for that example, that when one removes this greed (and all not needed qualities), it doesn’t mean it goes away, but it is inactive, it doesn’t have power, you can go beyond. So Devi incarnates and goes through all that to teach humans certain things. If the Divine would not do that then humans would not reach where they had to reach. Also Sati incarnated to fall in all these places to energize them, it’s not just random places, they are places of great energy points. It’s what balances the flow of vibrations for the world. In ancient times the sages in Egypt built pyramids, because they knew, they could see and feel that this place is a holy place, something very strong, a flow of energy. These energies have dissipated nowadays. But here it is still there, the faith of the people make it stay. Also, when you come to these places you are into that field of energy. Even if you don’t feel or see, Devi gives you the blessings. It acts on your soul. Again, just to remind you what I said the first day, it’s not a coincidence that you have to be here, It’s because She called you.

Q: Are there any possibilities to open the energy of a woman if you feel she is lacking it and how?
A: Male and female energy is present in everybody. It’s just a physical body. Both energies are present in the physical body. For sometime peole get more male or female energy: One should learn to accept oneself. Some women have very masculine energy and some have very female energy, are very soft. One has to learn to accept oneself. The moment one accepts one is balanced. Cause the energy is there to create this balance. Also in relationships one can see it, but it’s firstly inside. It’s not about being more masculine or feminine, it about being who you are.

Q: What is the purpose of intelligence? Why does the Divine makes us so mind oriented?
A: You need both. On the way to the Divine you should not be stupid. You should have certain knowledge, but you have to differ what kind of knowledge. Spiritual knowledge is very important. It’s not in the mind, the focus should be in the heart. In the bhakti path the concentration is focused on the heart, but nonetheless you need to have certain knowledge and it is important. Because this is how you would advance. If you want to reach somewhere without knowing how to reach there it would not be possible. Outside knowledge is limited, but the spiritual knowledge you will also carry with you. Even in the next life. When you have acquired spiritual knowledge in this life, in the next one in the beginning you will search, but at a certain point it comes out, cause it is residing inside the soul.

Q: What is difference of Yoga Maya or Maha Maya?
A: Srimati Radharani explained that to me recently in Switzerland. There is Maya devi and there is Yog Maya, also called Maha Maya. Maya is covering the eyes of all humans, but Yog Maya covers even the Divine, it is His own Shakti which covers Himself. It’s his own will and power. Humans are bound by Maya, but He is not controlled by it, it is His own cosmic Shakti, and that yoga Maya that we have been visiting in all these places, it is the Shakti of the Lord himself.
When the veil of maya drops you are self-realized. Every form of realization is God realization. There are different classes of realization. It is not based on how much one studys, one can only move from one realization to the other by Gurus grace and Gods grace.

Q: It is said that Radharani is Krishna, not the Divine Mother?
A: Radha and Krishna is one, it’s not Durga. She is an aspect of Yog Maya. The Lord and his Maya are one, they are always together. It is Yog Maya herself that incarnates as Durga, but she is here to destroy, killing demons, fulfilling wishes, etc. But Radharani is the form of the devotee, bhakti. She is only concerned about giving that divine love. There are two words for love: Pyar or Prem. Pyar is common but Prem is the sublimation of love, that is Radharani, when this pure love awakes, it is Her.

Q: In Christianity, was it originally “Father, son & Divine Mother”?
A: Mother is the Holy Spirit, the Shakti. That is how God creates everything, He wills it and the spirit manifests it. The Holy Spirit is shown as a Dove, a Dove is feminine, it’s the soft energy, the Mother. In the “Our Father” prayer it is says “thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”, it is talking about the Mother, cause the will of God it’s the mother that manifests it. The Divine mother is the Holy Spirit itself.

Q: What when there is a conflict between asking for material things and spiritual?
A: One needs both, material and spiritual. Don’t feel bad to ask for material things. Be glad that you are also on the spiritual path.

Q: How should we interact with murthis in the temple? Should we ask for blessings? A: Just be open, open your heart. If you want something specific then ask.

Q: How to know where I stand on spiritual level?
A: I will not answer, it’s not good cause it leads to judgment and competition when people start comparing “I am in this or that level”. It’s only between your soul and God. On the spiritual path all problems arise when one begins with comparing. Then pride starts. And then the Devi becomes more wild, Mahakali, and so on.

Q: What is the connection between Vraja and Vrajeshwari?
A: Dhyanu Bhakt was from Vraj, so he called the Devi Vrajeshwari. Also, there is a Devi called Ekadashi Devi. It is said that whoever fasts on Ekadashi for Narayana, they will attain Him, whether they are good or bad. There was once a king, and everyone was scared of him because he was quite a bad person. But he did one good thing, he always fasted for Ekadashi, and he got the blessing to know the deepness of everyone’s heart. Once two birds flew towards his castle and one of them said “let’s not fly there the king is very bad. Let’s go that sage who lives in the forest instead”. The king heard that. Then he realized, even if he had received the blessing, that he was not as good as that sage? He went to look for the sage, then when he found him, he saw that he was just a farmer. He looked inside his heart and saw his simplicity, and thought to himself: “I could be much better if I changed myself”. So due to fasting he could realize it, that he had to change, and he did change his life, and became a very good king.

Q: Do we have a karma that we need to fulfil with everyone we meet? And what can we do if that person is not spiritual and we are in a relationship with that person?
A: With everyone you meet in life you have a certain karma. Doesn’t mean that you need to be in a relationship with everyone you meet. Knows that each person’s life is individual. You can influence a person to be more spiritual by being there. But if you are not, then you should not try, everything has its own time. You can’t force a person to be spiritual, maybe that person is spiritual in his own way. To pity a person would not change anything. He has a certain karma to fulfil. If he is meant to change he will.


That evening Gurpreet forwarded me a newspaper article that was published in a paper in Katra (near Vaishno Devi). A few of Swamis devotees were interviewed by a journalist while they went shopping in the town. They told the Journalist about Guruji and Bhakti Marga and this is the article that was published (but I can’t tell you what is written in it though):

Tuesday, Dharamshala:
On Tuesday morning we left the hotel by bus after breakfast. Guruji left already much earlier by car to Daramshala (Mc Leod Ganj). Mc Leod Ganj is a hill station overlooking Daramshala and is the residence of the Dalai Lama as well as the location of the exile government of Tibet.

When we reached there by bus, after an adventurous drive over a not very concrete mountain road, we had to go on foot for about 500 meters until we reached the Entrance to the Dalai Lama Temple where Guruji and the others were waiting for us already. 

Guruji got an audience with the Dalai Lama although it seemed impossible in the beginning. Our official request was turned down, because Dalai Lama was supposed to be in retreat during this time. We were told, that even ambassadors were turned down. However, Guruji asked Gurpreet to try again and this time it was successful within 24 hours! They told us that they met with the Dalai Lama and had a brief but friendly encounter with him. The Dalai Lama enquired about Guruiji’s mission and how long he is already in Germany. Guruji also told me how it had touched him, to see how the Tibetans had tears of joy in their eyes upon seeing the Dalai Lama, displaying so much dedication to their leader, so much love for him and faith in him.
After the audience they went into a cafĂ© and got to meet the venerable Lama Bagdro. He told them about his life story (which you can read further down) and showed them around in the Dalai Lama Temple. 

When we arrived, he did again a tour with the whole group together with Swami. It was not possible to take any camera or phone along in the temple. First we walked through a small museum. Its theme is the current situation and recent history of the Tibetan people. A big part of it dealt with Tibets “martyrs” and those people who self-immolated themselves (set themselves on fire) out of protest against the Chinese oppressors, who in the name of “freeing” Tibet actually occupied it. As we got out of the museum, the rain started pouring down and we had to rush to the gates of the temple. The Dalai Lama Temple is on an elevated location. It houses several deities, mainly Buddha, but also Green Tara and Guru Padma Sambhava who brought Buddhism to Tibet in 8th century A.D. and is very revered among Tibetan Buddhists. 
I especially liked the Green Tara who looked and felt most compassionate. Guruji explained that there is no difference between the Buddhist Tara and the Hindu Tara, just that she is represented differently. Her essence is exactly the same. Also three Rajas (Kings) are present in the temple and revered as very important leaders of Buddhist history. Inside the temple are also many ancient original scriptures on various topics such as philosophy, science, astrology, tantra, medicine, etc. In their temple they also stored huge bags with a special herb that is kept there to get charged with the holy vibration of the temple. In a few days there will be a festival during which the Dalai Lama will distribute small packages of that medicinal herb to the people. A very common theme in the Temple and in this place in general was also the Kal Chakra, the wheel of time. It is the circle of life, the wheel of life and death.

We then all walked through the rain to “Nicks” Italian Restaurant which is reputed to be the best restaurant in town. I liked the thought of getting some Italian food for a change. We sat down in the second floor since the restaurant was still full of other guests and the venerable Lama Bagdro started to share with the whole group his life story. He is travelling in Dalai Lamas name around the world to share what is happening with the people of Tibet. He was four years in prison and also tortured by the Chinese authorities.
He said that here in Dharamshala is the Tibetan government. The Indian Government gave them this place since it is a hill station and looks/feels similar like Tibet. He told us that Tibetans have more than 3000 years of history, with own language, currency, etc. But the Chinese want to impose their own culture on Tibet, although it is completely different. Since the Chinese occupation, 6000 Tibetans monasteries were destroyed

He also told us, that since 2011 the Dalai Lama is no longer the spiritual and political leader, he chose to be only the spiritual leader, and instead introduced a democratic government here in Dharamshala.

Bagdro himself became a monk in his homeland Tibet in the year 1985, out of the simple reason that he was hungry and needed food. He had to wait for one year to get the permission to become a monk. He very much enjoyed life in the monastery because he was no longer hungry, and he received some Tibetan education. One day some Dutch tourists came and talked to him about the Dalai Lama (The Dalai Lama left Tibet already in 1957). They said that Dalai Lama is the leader of Tibetans. At first he did not believe it, he always believed that the Chinese Leader is his leader, they way he was taught by Chinese doctrine. Only when he read a book he got from these tourists he realized what had happened to his country in the past. He joined some protest movement with other monks. During one occasion, he was shouting “long live Dalai Lama” and “Free Tibet” with other monks and the Chinese soldierst started shooting at them, killing many, even young boy monks of 10 years of age, and jailed 75 monks and closed down the monastery. They began to search for him, they even put up his picture as “Wanted” and said there will a reward for information leading to his arrest. During this time he was wearing womens cloths as not to get recognized. He said it was like in movie. But finally, after over a month of hiding, they found him and arrested him as a “terrorist” accusing him of destroying the Chinese nation. They interrogated him, accusing him of receiving money from the Dalai Lama for causing upraisals. They tortured him with electric shocks, made him walk on broken glass, etc. After 10 months, he got lots of health problems, also mentally due to the torturing, and finally he was brought in another prison where he stayed for another 3 years. During this time they used him and other prisoners to take their blood to sell to Chinese hospitals. Some of his friends died because they removed their kidneys to sell them to Chinese hospitals/patients.

He finally got out of jail with the help of “amnesty international” and escaped to India where he met the Dalai Lama. He said to him that they should buy weapons and start fighting back. But the Dalai Lama said that fighting will not help, it will only make it worse. However, the Dalai Lama gave him the job to write books, he said that books are more powerful weapons. He started travelling the world with the help of a Spanish Judge to spread his message. He wrote already three books. He speaks in universities, schools and other places. He said that situation of Tibetan people is very bad or even worse today and asked us all to share this information. His family is still in Tibet, he has two sisters (one died due to hunger) and his parents who are still living in difficult conditions in Tibet.

After his talk, Guruji said that he is so impressed by the faith of the Tibetan people in their leader the Dalai Lama, despite the hardships they have endured. He said that one can see the calmness on their faces, despite all they had/have to go through, and that they choose compassion and forgiveness, even for their enemies, and that we should see them as examples and also help to spread their message. He said that he hopes that the Lama Bagdro will come to Germany and visit us. He said that he is very happy that by Divine Providence we have met him.

Afterwards we went one floor down and enjoyed our meal together. After some shopping we got back into the bus and drove back to the hotel. On the way the bus had to take a diversion and twice we almost got stuck as the road was so narrow. But with the help of local inhabitants our 3 person bus driver team managed to get us through these small streets which was strongly applauded by the whole group.

(This report is written by Paartha, who is with Swami Vishwananda on the tour)

Sri Swami Vishwananda visits His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Here are some pictures from their meeting that took place earlier this week at His Holiness' residence in Dharamsala, India: 

Soon we will have a report from Paartha, who is on pilgrimage with Sri Swami Vishwananda in Northern India, which will be posted here! 

27 May 2014

North India Pilgrimage with Swami Vishwananda, Day 3 & 4

In the evening of Saturday, Pramod, Kalpit, Gurpreet, the Swamis and myself went with Guruji on a short drive to some of the nearby temples. The first stop was Hansali, the place where Shri Dhar had the first time Darshan of Vaishno Devi in the form of a little girl. Shri Dhar’s daily sadhana was to do Kumari Puja to little girls. One day (as already mentioned in the previous report), there was a very special girl among them. After all of the girls left, it was only her who stayed and instructed him to organize the Bhandara to feed all the people. 

So the place we went to was the living place of Shri Dhar. There were several small temples all connected to each other. Upon arriving we were greeted by several little girls who accompanied us to the first temple. The first temple had the Samadhi tomb of a saint who was a disciple of Shri Dhar. The pundit there said that the trishul present belonged to that saint. The next little temple housed several deities, among them Radha Krishna, Ram Dharbar, Durga and others. There we were invited to the care takers room who told Swami a little bit about the history of the place. Afterwards we visited another temple only few steps away.

As we were going to leave, the little girls came back and insisted on getting some gifts. So Guruji ended up buying for each one of the 15 girls a package of crisps from the local food stall. It was quite a scene to look at and it took long until each of them was happy with a packet of crisps in her hands. Since in the beginning it was quite chaotic, Swami made them sit down all in a row before he would begin to distribute the crisp packets to them. With a lot of patience and love he then one by one distributed the packets. Even the last one who came late and was crying because she did not get anything was also satisfied when Swami Sharadhananda gave her a packet of dry fruits that he still had in his pockets. It almost seemed Guruji was repeating Shridhars Kumari Puja…

We left the place to drive back into the town to visit another temple called Shri Ragunath Temple which was established by the 19th century Saint Swami Nithyananda. There was a very beautiful Hanuman Murthi that Swami liked very much. 

There we also got the directions for finding the local ashram. We drove about 20 minutes until we reached the ashram which was next to a lake (actually it was more like a pond) in a village called Pental. 

There Guruji met the ashram caretaker Baba Sita Ram, an old man who used to fight in the Indian army  and after his retirement renounced the world and now looks after the ashram there. The saint who  established the ashram was Swami Nithyananda. 
The old man told us, that Swami Nithyananda was an “angry saint” who, whenever he got some gifts from the king (He was also the Raja Guru) like gold, jewellery and the like, would throw it into the lake next to the temple. 

He told us of another saint who was more recent, a disciple of Swami Nithyananda, with name Ram Das Tyagi, called Paratha Baba. He got this name because he used to eat up to 20 Parathas with every meal! Baba Sita Ram gifted Guruji with the Padukas of Paratha Baba as well as a shawl.  

The next day, on our way to Dharamshala, we made a short stop to visit a temple of Usha Mata. She was a Kali devotee. At the age of 5 she already started her tapasya (spiritual practice) and is very well known in the area. She took Samadhi in 2005. As we were there, the pundit told us that there is also a Krishna temple nearby. Of course we also went there. The temple was in an old palace complex (ruins) that dates back to the 16th century. 

We entered the temple and the pundit there led us upstairs to the little Krishna temple. There was a black, wooden Krishna murthi about 3 foot tall. We sat down in front of it and the pundit began to relate its history. It turned out, much to Guruji’s amazement and great joy, that it was in fact the very murthi into which Meerabai Devi herself merged with her physical body when she left this earth at the age of 73 years.

The murthi was given from the Raja (King) of Gujrat to the local Raja here. In fact, the local Raja visited Gujrat and asked from the Gujrati king if he could have the murthi. The Gujrati King at first refused as his mother prayed to this murthi every day and he said that his mother would die if she could not do puja to him anymore. However, being a very loyal and dedicated Rajput king, he did give the murthi (together with a smaller “utsava” murthi) to the local King who took it to his own palace. The very next day the Rajputs mother died.

Now the murthi was here in Himachal in the palace of the local king. A few years later the area got invaded by a muslim king. Short before the attack, the king buried the Krishna murthi together with the smaller Krishna murthi in the sand behind the palace to hide it. 6 months after the attack was over, the king had a dream in which Krishna came to him and said: “You have forgotten about me, I am still dug in the sand, get me out of here!!!”. Immediately the king dug out the two murthis and installed them again in the temple here they remained until this day.

However, the pundit gifted  the smaller Krishna to Guruji as a present, together with a shawl that the big Krishna was wearing. 

The name of the little Krishna is Nurbur Krishna. We then got instructed to stand in front of the big Krishna and focus on his beautiful golden eyes. It was truly a very special moment. You can see that one of the eyes of Krishna has turned red because he was buried in the sand so long. The pundit said, that some 20 years ago, one of the eyes cried tears which were caught in a small bottle, which unfortunately cannot be located anymore. 

We then hit the road again, driving past snowy mountains, announcing the nearby Himalayas, and reached our hotel near Dharamshala, the home of the Dalai Lama, in the evening…

26 May 2014

North India Pilgrimage with Swami Vishwananda, Days 1, 2 & 3

Thursday morning at around 8 o clock we arrived in Dehli, India. After un-checking and re-checking our bags we had plenty of time to wait for our connecting flight to Jammu. As we were then boarding the plane, it seemed there was a problem with the engine. But thanks to Kalpit who duck taped some tubes, the plane could take off with some delay. When we landed in Jammu Airport, it was about 40°C hot!


In the evening after dinner, Swami gave a satsang on Vaishnavi Devi (or Vaishno Devi). During the satsang Pramod read the story of Vaishno Devi and Swami elaborated on it. Originally She (who is an incarnation of Lakshmi, Kali & Saraswati) incarnated as “Trikuta” in order to destroy several demons on earth. While growing up, Trikuta felt the urge to devote herself to Lord Vishnu. Already as a young girl, her beauty, lustre and holiness attracted many people. Even Lord Rama, who was on passage (on the way to Lanka to save Sita) paid her a visit. She recognised him as being Lord Vishnu and asked him to marry her. However, the righteous person he was, he said “no”, since he was already married to Sita. But he said, that if she recognised him on his way back he would marry her. Unfortunately she did not recognise him in the form of a sadhu. When he did reveal himself he promised her to come back and marry her in his incarnation as Kalki Avatar. While Pramod read that part, Swami jokingly said, that he should have promised to marry her as Krishna Avatar, since in that incarnation he was less strict than Rama. Anyway, Vishnu blessed her with immortality in her body and she is since then living in North India (here in Katra), where Rama instructed her to live.

Some 700 years ago, She visited a righteous and holy pandit with name Shri Dhar. She came to him in the form of a young girl (Adi Kumari) and instructed him to invite everyone around for a Bhandara (a feast in the name of God). Since she seemed very special, Shri Dhar believed that all would go well, despite his worries that he would not have the space, nor the food for such a festival. He invited everyone, including a group of Naths (yogis). Their leader was the famous saint Gorak Nath. In this group was also Bhairo Nath (or Bharaiv Nath) who was a very powerful yogi. 

During the feeding, the strange young girl dished everyone their most favorite food. They realised that this girl was no ordinary girl and Bhairav Nath, wanting to know the secret of her power (since he himself was interested in her powers), grabbed her arm. In that moment she disappeared. In his meditation, Bhairav Nath could see that she was going into the mountains. After receiving the consent of his Guru, Bhairav Nath followed the girl into the hills. She disappeared in a cave and when Bhairav Nath got there, he was able to defeat Vaishno Devis Guard (a monkey), who was guarding the entrance.

And even the warning of a sage, who told him that this girl was no other than Adi Kumari (the Divine Mother in the form of a child) and that he should not pursue her with lower motives, could not stop him. When he finally was face to face with her, the young girl changed into Maha Kali and chopped off Bhairons head which flew to the next mountain peak. In his spiritual form, realising his mistake, he begged Ma for forgiveness and felt sorry that now everyone would remember him as a sinner. She answered his request by granting him liberation and by blessing him, saying, that the place where his head fell would become a temple, and that any pilgrimage to her would not be complete, unless his temple had been visited after hers.

We got instructed that breakfast is at 7am and we would begin our journey at 8am. At 8:15 our group left the hotel. We had to obtain a “yatra pass” in order to be able to make our pilgrimage. Firstly the way lead us through noisy and stuffy food and other shopping stalls. But the higher we climbed, the less food stalls there were and the more pleasant the air was. However, the higher we climbed, the more tiring it all became. We constantly had to drink water in order not to dry out as we were sweating our way up the mountain, next to hundreds of mules, palanquins and other devotees on foot. Some who got exhausted after a while, happily accepted the repeated offers of the mule owners and overtook us happy on the back of their mule while taking pictures with their mobile phones of those who were walking their way up. After a while we rested, only to find out, that we did not even walk 1/7 of the way. We were told it was 14kms steep climbing. At some point, we thought being very clever, and we took the stairs that were “shortcuts” to the normal path. But that proved to be just too tiring, so we stuck to the regular route again.

Bit by bit we got closer to Ma Vaishno Devi and, after 4,5 hours climbing, reached Her abode in the mountains. 
Once we arrived, we had to put all our cameras and other items in a locker since they would not be allowed for the Darshan of Ma. Once almost all of our group had arrived, we set out for Darshan. There was literally no Darshan queue and we walked straight to Vaishno Devi who is situated inside the mountain in a cave. 

She is present there in the form of three “pindis” (rock formations, looking similar like lingams), representing Saraswati, Lakshmi and Kali (from left to right). The pandit explained them to us very kindly. After the Darshan we sat outside on a platform for some time in mediation, surrounded by mountains. It was a very, very, peaceful and serene atmosphere which we all enjoyed.

One person who is on our tour with us is Gurpreet an Indian devotee. Yesterday, when we got back, he told us, that he actually wanted to organise VIP passes for Swami and 5 other people in order not having to queue. He said to Swami, that he has been to Vaishno devi three times already, and each time there had been a queue of about 3-4 hours for Darshan. With the VIP pass he used to be able to get there faster, however the Darshan was at maximum 10-15 seconds before being pushed out again. But Swami told him, that he did not want these VIP passes, that we would go there all together as a group. Amazingly enough for him, we did not have to wait even 1 minute in a queue, and we had Darshan of at least 2 minutes, with the Pandits being very patient and explaining us everything! Swami was even able to go back in a second time in order to offer the Sari to Ma, which we did not have the first time. Gurpreet said that he never experienced something like this. Also our guide, Gurdeep, said that in the 10 times he has been there, he has never experienced this.
After our meditation, walking downwards again towards the lockers, there was an announcement saying “This is an announcement for BHAKTI MARGA GROUP, one of your group got lost, please contact the police station…”. Gurpreet and I went there, only to find the “lost sheep” Christina sitting in the police station drinking tea. Immediatly we also got offered tea by the police. She told us, that the police had been so kind as to “escort” her to the cave where she had Darshan of Ma, then taken her back and brewing her tea before making the announcement. 
Also Anupriya, who at some point took a different turn than the rest of the group, arrived short after and had Her Darshan.

Swami said in the evening, how amazingly nice Ma took care of each and everyone, how she covered the sun with clouds while we were climbing up, how there was always a gentle breeze in the air, how easily She let us have Her darshan, etc… He also said that once in the cave, the mind stops working, one cannot think, one can only feel and enjoy Her motherly Love.

After we all had lunch together, some began their walk down, and some of us decided to complete the pilgrimage by climbing up further to visit the temple of Bhairon (where his head  fell). It was another 40 minutes “staircase” until we reached there. Inside the temple was Bhairons head, a murthi of Hanuman and one of Parvati. When I put my finger in the “cup” to get the vibhuti, I burned it as the ash was still on fire underneath. But funny enough the burning sensation lasted only a few seconds, afterwards I felt nothing. Others had similar experiences.
Then we began again our downward journey, some on foot, some on the back of donkeys.

Meanwhile, Gurpreet was able to arrange some helicopter tickets (despite them being sold out) and Swami and 4 others were able to make their downward journey through the air. However, before boarding the helicopter, Swami expressed his sadness for not paying respects to Bhairon. Gurpreet contacted the valley station and asked them if it was possible for the helicopter to fly near to the Bhairon temple. He was denied since the temple of Bhairon was on another peak and the pilot would have to stick to the route lest he would get into trouble. The helicopter arrived, and the pilot happened to be an old friend of Gurpreet! Gurpreet introduced his Guru to his friend and told him about his Gurus wish. Without hesitation, Gurpreets friend took off with Guruji in the helicopter, turned left instead of right (to everyone’s amazement at the helipad) and flew up to Bhairon temple hovering in front of it, giving Swami the chance to pay his respects to Bhairon and thus completing his pilgrimage.

Us who went by foot, after 11 hours and 34 kilometers, we finally reached again our hotel, had dinner, then Swami gave a short satsang, and then we all fell into our beds, exhausted, but happy!

(This report was written by Paartha who is on this Pilgrimage together with Swami Vishwananda. Thank you Paartha)

22 May 2014

What a week! (part 1)

A personal travel report by Swami Kuru

Guruji spent the whole last week in the UK, and what a week it was! 
When some of us back in April were looking at Swami’s calendar, we were tempted with the idea of going. It seemed like a promising proposition: Not too far away from Shree Peetha Nilaya, many devotees who are ready to offer accommodation, a rich combination of events, starting with a Satsang on Monday (see blog post), and ending with a Darshan on Saturday (see blog post), and inbetween the main event, the glorious and powerful festival of Narasimha Chaturthi (see blog post) at the Bhakti Marga Sri Lakshmi Narasimha temple in Feltham. We felt that it would become a great week, and as it turns out, the week became even richer, and exceeded all our expectations.

The week began with a Satsang that took place in East London, Monday evening, light drizzle outside, in a “cool” location, literally, cause the temperature in this former church was quite low, and the atmosphere was a bit cool. Also, Guruji seemed toned down a bit, somehow less forceful than usual, as he was attuning himself to the many newcomers - amongst the estimated 150 guests - who met him for the very first time. I felt transported 10 years back, and reminded of Satsangs in earlier times. Guruji patiently and gently introduced the new visitors to the basics of his teachings as he would answer the questions that were posed to him.

One of the topics Guruji covered was that of chanting mantras, where he explained that the mind is like a tree full of birds, symbolising all the different thoughts that are flying in and around our head. When we stand below the tree and start clapping, then the birds will fly away. When we chant the Divine Names, it is as if we stand below the brain, the tree, and we start clapping, and make all the thoughts go away. When we sing the glory of God, the vibration of the Divine flows through us. The more we chant the Divine Names, the more the Divine qualities within ourselves start to reflect to the outside, and we get transformed.

Next day, Narasimha Chaturthi, contrasted strongly. Now the vast majority of the visitors who squeezed themselves into the packed full temple house in Feltham were no “newbies”. Guruji was in full force as he poured litres and litres of abishekam blessings over the great Murthi of Narasingha Dev. Again I felt pulled back in time, in the many more intimate moments that took place in the temples and private homes of Mauritius, Switzerland and UK in the early years of his mission, and also in the first Ashram in Steffenshof, before we moved to Springen. Many who had witnessed other Chaturthis in Feltham before, said that this time topped the ones before. It is not possible and important to compare, but it suffices to say, that it was a powerful night, with powerful chanting, and bestowing powerful blessings from Lord Narasimha to those who were fortunate to be in His presence. And for sure, out of his unlimited mercy, the blessings were extended also to everyone who was not there, and even to those who do not know Him or are not interested in Him. Also a nice bonus, this year, Swami Vishwananda’s dear friend Dr. Satya Narayana Das joined Him for the feast (his first visit to London since 1978!), and wonderfully explained the tale of Lord Narasimha and his great devotee Pralad. Amongst many things, he explained that true devotees, such as Pralad was, are fearless. Every opportunity they receive is to praise God. And that our life is meant to serve the Lord – full heartedly! The Night ended late, and it was the first of 5 long or rather short nights, with little sleep, and the strong sense of intimacy of a spiritual family, one of a kind, that of Sri Swami Vishwananda. Not only devotees from the UK came, many from other countries, Portugal, Spain, Russia, Germany/SPN, Greece, and even the US. Unfortunately, at Shree Peetha Nilaya, and also elsewhere, such nights are rare, and all the more we appreciated them, being aware of their precious nature.

Wednesday was the most laid back day, due to the intensity of Narasimha Chaturthi the night before. We had the privilege to enjoy a Satsang by Satya Narayana Das at Feltham. Many of the numerous visitors who came, heard him for the first time, and received valuable insights from the treasure box of his accumulated wisdom for the spiritual path. Dr. Satya Narayana Das (SND) is one of the world’s greatest vedic scholars, and it is always a great joy to hear him speak.

One question was about the Lord’s own abode, which is called Vaikunta, his eternal place in which he resides. Does, when the Lord comes on Earth, the place where he stays, become also Vaikunt? SND explained that God comes with his own abode, and whilst the place where he stays on the physical plane is material in nature and stays material, it becomes a place where Vaikunta becomes manifest. Actually, Vaikunta is always here, but we are not attuned into it. Most of us normally watch the “material channel”, because the mind and the senses are drawn to that frequency, but if we tune into the “Vaikunta Channel” and we change our consciousness we can attune to the higher consciousness.
There again lies the importance of chanting mantras, as they act like a remote control to attune to the frequency of the Lord.

He went on to explain that when the Divine descends (which is what the term “Avatar” means), then He overpowers all the other channels, then the Lord desires that everyone sees him, whether or not we have done sadhana. He makes himself manifest in the material world. 
So in short: He is not making the particular place into Vaikunta, but he is manifesting Vaikunta in this particular place. Same but not same. And everything exists already, it is a question of what we are attuned into.

In part 2 I will cover the second half of the week, in which we had many more wonderful and joyful moments in the sweet and loving presence of Sri Swami Vishwananda.