27 Feb 2016

Acting Prime Minister of Mauritius receives Darshan of Sri Swami Vishwananda

Xavier-Luc Duval, Acting Prime Minister of Mauritius, visited Mahamandaleshwar Sri Swami Vishwananda on the evening of 27 February 2016, in the country’s capital Port-Louis, to receive his Darshan (blessing). The fourth and final Darshan concluded the Mauritius tour 18-28 February 2016, in which well over 1’000 individuals from across the country met with the fully realised master.

Mauritius is Sri Swami Vishwananda’s native country. He spent his youth there before he left for Europe in 1998 to launch his international mission, which is now active in over 50 countries under the name of “Bhakti Marga” (Sanskrit: “Bhakti” means devotion, “Marga” means path). Sri Swami Vishwananda’s main message and teaching is simply “Just Love” and the goal of his mission is to open the hearts of Man to the Love of God, irrespective of religious, cultural or social backgrounds.

Video: Receiving Darshan

Video: After receiving Darshan

The Destructive Nature of Lord Shiva

In the Hinduism Trimurti (the three primary Gods), there exists Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Each one of these God’s have a specific role to perform. Brahma is the creator. Vishnu is the sustainer. And Shiva is the destroyer. Together, these three Gods make up the three primary manifestations of Narayana, the Supreme Lord. With Shivaratri soon, it is more than appropriate now more than ever, to reflect on the duty of Lord Shiva in regards to His destructive function. 

At first, Lord Shiva may seem like a bit harsh. Since Lord Shiva is known for being in the company of ghosts, demons, and the likes, it is easy to cast judgement onto Bholenath, “the innocent one.” But without the blessing of Lord Shiva, one cannot attain the highest goal of them all: the attainment of Narayana.

To understand the destructive nature of Lord Shiva, one most look at the context of His destruction. For example, when Lord Shiva does His dance of destruction as Nataraj, the Lord of Dance, He isn’t just destroying the whole universe for the fun of it. Lord Shiva destroys the Universe so that a new one may be created. And this destruction isn’t limited to the material plane either.

On the spiritual path, it is our goal to remove the layers of karma and samskaras covering the heart, covering the presence of the Divine seated within us all. To truly feel the presence of God, we must somehow get these removed. It is the nature of Shiva to destroy these layers and reveal the Eternity of the soul. Hence, Lord Shiva is also called, “Mahakala”, the Lord of All Times. 

There is a well-known Hindu story of Kama Dev (the Lord of Love) trying to get Lord Shiva to have intimate feelings for Parvati. Since Shiva’s wife Sati had left Her body, Lord Shiva was bent on tapasya and wished to not be disturbed. But due to the circumstances the Devas were in, Kama Dev was instructed to make Lord Shiva fall in love with Parvati. However, things didn’t go quite as planned. 

When Shiva found out what the Lord of Love was up to, He became furious and incinerated Kama Dev with a fire from His third-eye. Instantly, Kama Dev was reduced to a pile of ashes. Though this ended up to be a blessing for Kama Dev, nevertheless there is a great symbolism to be found in this story.

As Kama Dev is the Lord of Love, the word ‘kama’ can also refer to ‘desire’ or ‘lust’. In this story, Lord Shiva is the one destroying this desire to ash. It is Lord Shiva’s duty to destroy all which keeps one from attaining the Absolute. By receiving the blessing of Lord Shiva, one can easily overcome the fear of death and transcend the dualities perceived by the mind. 

The destruction of Lord Shiva is the manifestation of His grace. And as a Destroyer, He will not only eliminate the burdens weighing onto one, but He will also take those burdens upon Himself. This aspect of Lord Shiva is exemplified in the epic story of the milky ocean. 

In the churning of the milky ocean, when the devas and asuras were both trying to obtain the amrit of immortality, Lord Shiva consumed the exuding poison called, “Halahala,” into his throat. The “Halahala” was not your average poison to say the least. It was threatening to ruin the entire Universe, but with the blessing of Lord Shiva, this poison, or negativity one could say, did not affect either the devas or the asuras. From this consumption, Lord Shiva’s neck turned blue and since then He has also been called, “Neelakantha” the blue throated one. 

In addition to destroying our accumulated negativity and taking our problems upon Himself, Lord Shiva is also the destroyer of spiritual pride. As Sri Swami Vishwananda has taught, one of the biggest obstacles on our path, if not the biggest, is spiritual pride. Lord Shiva is the destroyer and conqueror of this pride. The story of Bhagirath and Mother Ganga illustrates this perfectly. 

When Bhagirath did penance for his ancestors, he obtained the grace of having Mother Ganga descend to Earth to purify and liberate those ancestors from their sins. Mother Ganga however was not happy to leave heaven, and arrogantly, She decided to descend with full force to disrupt Earth. At seeing this, Bhagirath took refuge in Lord Shiva, who entangled the Devi into His matted locks before She could cause any disturbance. Lord Shiva humbled Her and released Her pure waters in small streams onto all the three worlds. 

By cutting down our egos, removing our karma, and destroying all of our negativity, Lord Shiva removes the barriers of our perception so that we can perceive ultimate unity. By having Lord Shiva’s blessing, one can see God in every person, in each aspect of nature, and unconditionally within oneself. We are already Love, we just need the veil of illusion destroyed to experience it. Hara Hara Mahadev!   

“In the Hindu Tradition, we call Shiva “the destroyer”. He destroys everything. People might get a bit scared when they hear “the destroyer” but it’s always for a good cause. Whatever He destroys He always gives the opportunity to recreate. At the end of life we face death. We are so scared about death, but this is the time when Shiva comes. He enables the soul to be born again. He gives the opportunity just to do all the things you have not done. If you have not reached the level of realisation, He gives you the chance to try again. He gives the opportunity all the time. Each one of us should try our best to come to the point of realising God completely – to realise who we really are.” - Sri Swami Vishwananda

We hope to see you soon for Maha Shivaratri, registration is still available if you wish to attend. Just follow the link for more information: http://www.bhaktimarga.org/events/event/maha-shivaratri

Also, stay tuned for further insights into Lord Shiva with our blog and other social media channels.

Have a great day, and Jai Gurudev!

25 Feb 2016

2016 Pilgrimage to Mauritius (Part 2)

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.

20 Feb 2016

2016 Pilgrimage to Mauritius (Part 1)

We arrived in Mauritius in the early morning on Wednesday, after an overnight flight to the Port Louis airport. We were welcomed by the island in the middle of a hot and humid summer - a big change from the German winter we just traveled from.

After going through customs, we were met by many devotees who came to welcome Guruji back to his childhood home. They gave Guruji a garland, and exchanged warm hellos.

We drove from Port Louis to the Sri Ranganath Mandir in Rose Hill. The island is stunning - tropical climates and regular rains makes for a very green landscape, and the mountains spread throughout the island are strikingly beautiful. We saw many posters throughout the drive announcing Guruji's tour of darshans and satsangs.

After one hour's drive through sugar cane fields and cities, we arrived at the Sri Ranganath Mandir - the first Mandir which Guruji established. Devotees had prepared a welcome for him, with a Guru puja, a hand-painted banner, and a surprise of fireworks.

We said hello to the deities of the Mandir - Sri Ranganath (Lakshmi-Narayan reclining on Adishesh), Radha Krishna and Balaram, Shirdi Sai, Ugra Narasimha, many murtis of Durga, and a grand Shiva lingam at the entrance. We then got to see the house and room that Guruji grew up in.

Guruji's room is now filled wall-to-wall with murtis and posters of different forms of the Divine. Some of them have vibhuti manifesting from them, and one murti of Krishna stands in a bowl filled with manifested oil, which is said to become liquid only when Guruji is on the island.

Guruji showed us the first murti of Krishna which he ever had, and also the first Shiva lingam. To be able to afford the Shiva lingam as a child, he would save up the bus money he received from his parents, choosing to walk instead. After enough savings, he bought this Shiva lingam as his first murti.

The garden of the mandir is full of huge Tulsi plants, which give off a beautiful strong perfume.

While we were getting the tour, we heard a story about the Shiva lingam at the entrance of the mandir.

The story goes that a couple of local matajis visited the Sri Ranganath mandir while it was closed, but felt a strong desire to worship. They saw the Shiva lingam outside the entrance of the Mandir, and went to do a puja to it. While they started praying, an old man walked to the entrance of the mandir, and watched them from afar.

As they started doing the puja they noticed a strange event. While they offered water to the Shiva lingam, the man watching at the entrance got wet. One of the matajis noticed this, and thought that the man was peeing himself. His clothes were getting wet, on a sunny day - what else would be the reason?

The matajis continued praying, and, in the course of the puja, offered a flower to the Shiva lingam - but it disappeared.

Looking around, they saw that the flowers had appeared somewhere else - at the feet of the man at the entrance.

Realising who this man really was, the women were shocked, and looked at the man in awe and reverence. The man raised his hand in a blessing, and then disappeared.

In the evening, devotees gathered in the mandir for an abishekam and puja for Giridhari and Guruji's personal murties.

Devotees sang bhajans and kirtan while Guruji did the puja, and then afterwards he led many bhajans, including the Gopi Gita. The feeling in the room was so friendly and family-like. Everyone was so happy to have Guruji back in the mandir, back in Mauritius, and this was expressed very sweetly in their singing, and in their mood throughout the night. Guruji also was very relaxed, friendly, and happy to be with the people. He said at one point throughout the night that he was happy to be back in Mauritius because the people are happy that he's back.