Bangalore, known locally as Bangaluru, would be the final destination of Shree Maa and Swamiji’s Yatra (pilgrimage) around India before returning to the US.
While in Bangalore we stayed at the home of Srini and Ramya, two long time devotees of Shree Maa and Swamiji.
Srini and Ramya are professors at IIMB (Indian Institute of Management Bangalore), one of the most prestigious and highly regarded schools in India.
Their home is in the faculty housing located on the campus.
Bangalore is a large city and has little greenery due to the abundance of buildings and roads.
However, the IIMB campus has preserved much of the natural greenery and looks almost like a school in the midst of a jungle.
There are many beautiful flowering plants and trees all over the campus.
It is a preservation of what Bangalore looked like before it was covered with urban sprawl.
Srini and Ramya always take such good care of every detail.
This year they decorated the front entrance with yellow, orange and red flower garlands and a large Kolam or Rangoli design made from chalk and rice powder.
These chalk designs are a traditional form of art in India and are often drawn free hand. The design is believed to produce positive energy for those who live there, but in modern days it is also a form of welcoming people into the house.
Shree Maa and Swamiji always enjoy staying on campus. They like the campus grounds so much that each morning after puja and before chanting the Chandi Path, we would all go for a short walk around the campus.
Just before we had left from Shiva Shailam in Mysore, Shree Maa had decorated one large pot holding a tulsi plant, as she was worshipping that tulsi plant as a part of her puja each morning during our stay.
When we arrived at Srini and Ramya’s house in Bangalore, I was surprised to see that recently Ramya had also made and decorated an altar for a tulsi plant just outside her house as well, and had been worshipping it each day.
As Swamiji always says, the true disciple is a reflection of the Guru. Just as Shree Maa had been inspired to decorate and worship tulsi while we were in Mysore, Ramya in Bangalore, without having heard anything about it, was also doing the same thing in her home.
Srini blew the conch shell as Shree Maa and Swamiji arrived and Ramya joyously welcomed them. They had prepared a pada puja to worship Shree Maa and Swamiji’s feet, but they knew very well that Shree Maa and Swamiji had just traveled quite a distance to come there, and so they asked the Gurus what they would like to do first.
Shree Maa and Swamiji greatly appreciated the gesture and decided to first freshen up and then eat something. After they were rested and fed, Shree Maa came and smiling requested them to do their pada puja.
The puja to the Guru, which truly has their comfort in mind, is a real puja. Shree Maa and Swamiji sat happily enjoying Srini and Ramya’s expression of devotion as they chanted the mantras and performed the worship.
Naren, who manages the Shiva Shailam Temple in Mysore, has his home in Bangalore. He invited Shree Maa and Swamiji to come to his house. They readily accepted.
In Naren’s home there is a lovely temple room. It has an altar featuring Ramakrishna, a Shiva Lingam, and several other smaller murtis. Shree Maa helped us set up the puja and then went to the kitchen to help cook, as she wanted to make prasad for Naren and his family.
Swamiji led the rest of us in performing puja to Lord Shiva.
We chanted various Shiva Stotrams and then the Shiva Sahasranam, as well as making the offerings of worship.
We were having such a wonderful time in this protected private temple that we didn’t want to stop chanting. So we didn’t!
When we had finished the thousand names of Shiva, Swamiji opened up the Sundar Kanda and we continued chanting to God. It was just such a perfect place for us to perform our worship.
Eventually Shree Maa returned when all the cooking was finished. Swamiji chanted the mantras for the prasad and we drew our worship to a close.
We all ate the meal prepared by Shree Maa and Naren’s wife. During the meal, Shree Maa noticed a hand painted picture of Krishna hanging on the wall. She asked Naren where he had gotten it from. He told her that his son, who is maybe 12 or so years old, had painted it. The style was very unique and it looked very professionally done.
Shree Maa smiling told Naren that she wanted his son to give her that picture. Naren was very excited to hear her request and told his son to give the picture to Shree Maa, which he happily did. We departed from the house soon after that.
Despite being an urban area, there are still many temples in the city of Bangalore. Each day after chanting the Chandi Path, we took the opportunity to visit one or two of them and to do some worship there.
The first temple we visited was the local temple for Ayyapa, who is widely worshipped in the South. He is said to be the son of both Shiva and Vishnu (in his form as Mohini).
The temple also has altars for Ganesh, Hanuman, the Goddess and Kartikeya, each having there own separate compartment in the temple. Just outside the main temple building there is a covered area with plenty of shade. We sat there and chanted the Lalita Trishati, led by Swamiji.
The Ayyapa temple was the beginning of our temple going spree. The next day we visited the Dodda Ganesha Temple (dodda meaning large in Kannada the local language, as the murti is big!). We chanted the Ganesha Sahasranam as well as other stotrams for Ganesh there.
Just next to the Dodda Ganesha Temple is a temple know as the “Bull Temple” where there is huge murti of Nandi and a Shiva Lingam. Just after finishing our worship at the Ganesh temple, we made our way to the Bull Temple and chanted the Shiva Saharanam and other stotrams.
People always take notice of us when we are chanting at temples, as you don’t often see people other than the pujaris doing so. One man saw us and asked someone in our group how Swamiji’s Sanskrit pronunciation was so good.
He told him how Swamiji excelled at everything he did, and how he had spent many years in the Himalayas performing sadhana.
The man responded saying, “It’s just nice to see people doing puja where puja is supposed to be done, and its really unbelievable that it is foreigners who are doing it!” He was very pleased and inspired to see us.
On the way to the Ganesha Temple, Swamiji had noticed a sign for another temple named Banashankari. We looked up the location online, and the next day after chanting the Chandi Path, made our way there.
We took darshan of the diety and then found a suitable place on the temple grounds to chant the thousand names of Durga. When the thousand names of Durga was complete we chanted the Durga Chalisa.
Swamiji had no interest to desist from worshipping and neither did we. We next sang the Saraswati Chalisa.
By time we were done chanting we had done Durga, Saraswati, Kali, Lakshmi, Shiva and Hanuman Chalisas, as well as Bajranga Bana.
Swamiji sat quietly for a while and then said to us, “As soon as we sit down and put our minds on God we become free from all the worldly thoughts.
Each evening we performed arati and sang together. We usually kept it as a small event, though on Sunday night, we invited anyone who wanted to come to attend.
Many professors from IIMB came to attend, as well as other devotees in Bangalore who knew Shree Maa and Swamiji.
We began with our usual group arati and then Shree Maa began singing. Shree Maa sang song after song and everyone was so delighted to join. She sang for Ganesh, Shiva, Vishnu and the Divine Mother.
When she had finished, one little girl, the daughter of a devotee, sang a song with her parents for Shree Maa. She was a little shy seeing so many people present, but aided by her parents, found the courage to sing the song.
Shree Maa and Swamiji were very pleased, gave prasad to everyone present, and talked with several devotees who had questions.
Of course as is the nature of our Divine Mother Shree Maa, she made sure everyone sat and ate before they left. The space was small compared to the number of people present, so we had to rotate who was eating, so that everyone had a chance to have their prasad.
Our stay in Bangalore came to a close and we prepared to depart back to the US. What an adventure it had been!
So full of worship and so full of love. The loving service we received from devotees all along the way was incomparable.
People respect Shree Maa and Swamiji’s example of living a life of worship so much! They wanted to empower them to continue it with whatever resources and abilities they had.
From the north of India to the South, from the West to the East, we met with the same love and respect for this way of life, everywhere we went. We performed Sadhana in the cities, in the mountains and in the plains.
Shree Maa and Swamiji show us that it doesn’t matter where you go, so long as you always keep God and love as your priorities.
As I have written here many times, the first thing Shree Maa did anywhere we went was to create an altar for worship. The first thing Shree Maa and Swamiji did every morning was worship and chant the Chandi. The last thing they did every evening was arati, celebrating God.
The topics they discussed with devotees in every place were how to make our lives divine and filled with worship. They taught the knowledge and techniques of how the Rishis became Rishis.
They encourage everyone to keep up and increase their efforts, organize their lives and to realize God.
Everyone who had the privilege of meeting with them during this journey, or traveling with them like myself, was deeply grateful for their presence and examples in our lives.