Day to day experiencing

Today was a very nice day.  After early morning sadhana we left Haridwar for Rishikesh, which is about 45 minutes away.  It was a Monday and Rishikesh was quiet and so lovely. The weather was perfect and the air sweet and free of pollution. The crowds of the weekend were gone and it felt as if only the locals were about.   We began at Sivananda’s Ashram.   The Samadhi Shrine temple was empty when we arrived, but within a few minutes pujaris began a abishekam (ritual anointing) of the Shiva Lingam. The samdhi shrine of Swami Sivananda is as powerful as any I have experienced. The chanting began and was beautiful and the hall immediately felt full to capacity with  energy, even though we were the only people in attendance.

I spent about half an hour in the library and was able to find rare books written by V.T.Neelakantan, in the 1950’s and 1960s. He had been a devotee of Swami Sivananda and I was happy to find that the library had a copy of at least four of his books. They had copies of ‘The Voice of Babaji’ and ‘Masterkey to All Ills,’ ‘Death of Death’ and a book I had not yet seen called, ‘One in Three and Three in One.’   I think how special it is that I find this book today, a book I knew nothing of and randomly discovered in a locked cabinet in Sivananda Ashram.

The new book elaborates on the idea of sadhana of what he calls ‘Trinity in Unity and Unity in Trinity,’ the trinity referring to:  Self-Reverence, Self Knowledge and Self Control. He discusses in the book, the importance of this particular sadhana and suggests that without proper focused concentration on these attainments spiritual process cannot be made, regardless of how many techniques one practices. This is what we are sharing in our Yoga sessions and the synchronicity of the message is not lost on me.

We must of course enlarge our range of power and develop our inner and outer sensing by stimulating and  developing our potential inner energy but just as importantly we must develop an inner identification with others. Perfection is created when there is no division between the consciousness of oneself and others.  This is so rare, but when it is Present, the pure soul has emerged and the mind has expanded into a liberating wideness that contains true knowledge.  Only a pure mind is capable of being present without dividing or comparing or classifying something as better than or less than, or defining it as good or evil.  A pure mind will not even pose the question,  “why is there evil in this world?”

We next visit the Kriya Yoga Ashram of Swami Shankarananda. I am so pleased that we are visiting this ashram for the first time and Swami is presently residing there. The beautiful white ashram with life- sized murtis of MahavatarBabaji ,Lahiri Mahasaya and Sri Yukteswar among all the Kriya Yoga lineage is awe inspiring.  Swami Shankarananda has designed the ashram and has been overseeing every step of its building. It is uniquely shaped in a perfect dome, which seems to represent the universe itself.  As one walks within the meditation chamber one hears the sound of his/her own footsteps reverberating.  The sound of a clap in the center of the meditation hall creates 16 proportional echoes.  It is quite remarkable. Swamiji gives us a tour of the whole ashram, and with its chambers and caves designed to offer an environment for deepest meditation.  

 Shankaranandaji normally resides in Orissa, but he is in residence in Rishikesh now due to the upcoming Maha Sivaratri celebration on February 12th.  He gives a little talk about the astrological relevance of the Kumbhamela and discusses the quality of asuddha or impurity that arises at this time when Jupiter enters Aquarius and of the particularly powerful configuration especially with the illumination of the full moon, which occurred on January 30.  This movement of  the planets and heavens on that date affected movements  within the chakras.   He specifically identifies the date and time  when the moon rose into  ajna chakra.    The bath is symbolic for what we must do to purify the powerful malas or taints that arise in this time.  And, while the timing of the Kumbamelas are not auspicious for the average worldly person, as it is not good for monetary wealth or sensuality and brings with it many difficulties, it is a most auspicious time for the yogi as it can bring about a purifying transformation.

 Swami Shankarananda spoke of the upcoming Maha Sivaratri and its importance for sadhaks and devotees. All the planets are there on that day, he says. It will be a grand and auspicious day for a ritual bath (snan) in the Ganges. It will be like bathing in the Grace of the Guru.  Many of the participants with us now are considering extending their stay to be at the Mela on February 12th.  I am especially happy that we had such a wonderful experience with our brother and sister kriyabans in this way.

The day was full of joy and peace , and little sweet experiences of Oneness, and we ended it seated at the ghats of the Ganges witnessing another arati and worship of the Ganges by waving the lights to Ma Ganga and listening to the voices of the young boy choir from Param Niketan Ashram. It was uplifting, devotional and emotionally gratifying.

A new day awakes us and after a breakfast of porridge and sweet chai, we walked to our camp and enjoyed a long sadhana. The energy of the camp was peaceful and silent, even though the trucks and tractors were still involved in the construction of nearby camps.

 There is another procession happening in Haridwar as I sit in a Dehra Dun bank transferring money for the Badrinath construction.  Today another sect of Babas,  the Nirinjans will be marching to their camp.  They are a wealthy order and the procession although much smaller should be impressive. Years before helicopters have dropped flowers onto the parade grounds as the Babas marched.

 We are presently trying to take care of the next steps in the construction of Babaji Kriya Yoga Ashram in Badrinath, so Govindan, Bobbi and I  traveled to Dehra Dun in the afternoon to rework some of the details with the architect, since the amount of land we were finally able to buy is reduced. Instead of  10,000 sq ft we were only able to purchase 8337 sq ft.  The plans are still beautiful and we are encouraged even with the many disappointing delays.  Badri doesn’t reopen until May 15 this year… so the season in which we can build is short, especially since the monsoons stop all building for at least a month during parts of July and August.   Each step takes so much time that we feel that the date of completion will be September 2013, not 2011 or even 2012.  Surely it will be worth the wait.  Delays seem unavoidable. What can one do but surrender to the process.

We visited Anandamayi Ma’s small ashram today just outside of Haridwar, and even though she left the body in 1982, the grace of her presence remains still. Anandaymayi Ma is best known as the beautiful bliss-permeated saint from Paramhamsa Yogananda’s ‘Autobiography of a Yogi.’   We arrived at about 3pm and discovered arati would take place at 6:15pm. We decided that the group should just stay there, meandering about the bookstore and the grounds and meditating until time for the arati.  I took a quick walk through of the bookstore and found a biography of Anandamayi Ma, written by Swami Mangalananda, a direct disciple of Ma and someone I have corresponded with, who lives on the island of Omkareshwaram.  Apparently he was at the ashram just the previous day but according to the manager of the bookstore has left, only to return in March.  He is expected to come to the USA in March, so this news surprises me.  I imagine that we will see him in the coming days on the Kumbhamela grounds. 

The ashram is small but lovely, tall colorful dahlias in all colors decorate the walks and there are majestic trees shading the garden grounds.  One is a towering rudraksha tree, covered with green rudraksha pods.  The  Temple is lovely which holds the large Samadhi shrine of Anandamayi Ma. Even though there are signs both in English and Hindi that demand Silence, cell phones and loud conversations echo in the hall from time to time.  Still, it is an easy place in which to meditate  I do not know how long I sat there. I do recall hearing a didgeridoo and thinking it strange.  About 6pm young boys dressed in yellow dhotis and maroon sweaters and caps file into the Samadhi shrine area and begin to chant. Their voices are sweet but perhaps not yet seasoned.  I listen as I would to children’s voices in a shopping mall at Christmas, reverently and with appreciation.  The bhajans continue for about 30 minutes, prior to the start of the arati worship.  The actual waving of the fire lights begins.  A nun, who is probably in her late 60’s and a direct disciple of Ma begins to wave the smoky camphor and ring a bell and almost immediately the energy in the temple begins to shift. 

 Her gestures create a divine dance and my eyes are fixed on her hands.   My hands close into a pranam and then begin to clap in a definite syncopation instinctively from my soul.  Within minutes the rhythm swells and takes me along with it.  It has been a long time since I have felt such a powerful arati. Anandamayi Ma is Present in the room and within moments my heart is so full I overflow. This is unexpected. Bliss permeates all … inside and outside.    Everything begins to expand, the chanting the instruments, the bells, drums and cartells.  A  conch blares among the other vibrations.  I keep glimpsing up at Ma’s photo above my head and am convinced that her smile broadens each time I look at her.  She speaks to me and to me alone, just as she must be speaking directly to the others in  the room.

The next day takes us back to Rishikesh and to Vasistha Gufa lying just outside of Rsikesh on the wildly curving road into the Himalayas. The cave is large and conducive for not only meditation but for transformtion.  it has a sacred history as it was the cave in which Sage Vasistha sat contemplting Vedanta in ancient days. In more recent times it has been used exclusively for deepest meditation. In 1920 a great sadhu by the namef Purushottamananda was told by his guru,  Swami Nirmalanada, a direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna Paramhamsa, to travel to the jungles of Tehri Garwhal district of the himalayas to find this cave.  Without the help of maps and with great challenges, Purushottamananda found the cave and lived an exemplary, selfless life, readily willing to help others and totally surrendered to the Supreme.  He lived there until his Mahasamadhi in the 1960s.  In 1952, his disciple Chintanya came to live at the cave in a small house just outside. He is now in his 80s and lives there still. A small ashram has formed around him.   THe cave is at the edge of a rocky beach on the Ganges.  there is no lovlier spot in or around Rishieksh.    There is much to tell regarding this trip, but the internet is very crowded and his computer is driving the equanimity from my heart  so I should complete todays sharing.  Everyday something new to see or experience, either inside or out….

    • Nityananda
    • February 5th, 2010

    Hi Durga! Thanks for all your sharings. Regarding the Vasishtha cave, here are a couple of interesting stories:

    See you soon,

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