Most of us left Benares and headed to Kolkata after receiving so many blessings. For many, the trip to Benares had fulfilled the desires of a lifetime, whether it was taking a bath in the Ganges, reciting a scripture at Manika Karnika Ghat, or visiting the Annapurna and Vishwanath temples.
After arriving by train in Kolkata in the early morning, we headed to Daksineshwar. At Daksineswar, we unloaded our luggage and promptly made our way over to the much anticipated Daksineswar temple which was located only a few minutes away from our hotel.
Beautiful Bengali songs devoted to Mother Kali played over the loud speakers. The bhava of Ramakrishna’s devotion to the Divine Mother flowed as sweetly as the river Ganges beside the temple.
We took a late afternoon boat ride across the Ganges to Belur Math to attend the evening arati devoted to Sri Ramakrishna. We sang “Jai Maa!” all the way to Belur Math and back.
Once inside the building we sat down along with hundreds of other devotees and monks and sang Kandana Bhavana, a song composed by Swami Vivekananda about Sri Ramakrishna. The huge hall was dark except for the brilliant arati lights and marble image of Sri Ramakrishna. The deep melodious voices of the monks filled our hearts with joy and warmth reminding of us Sri Ramakrishna’s pure love for humanity.
The motto of the Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission is, “Atmano mokshartham jagad hitaya cha – For one’s own salvation, and for the welfare of the world.”
Satsang and 1000 names of Kali outside Kali temple
We woke up before the crack of dawn to attend the 4 am arati to Daksineshwar Kali. We stood outside the temple entrance singing and clapping “Jai Maa!” as the priests waved the arati lights. A little later in the morning, because of the grace of Shree Maa and Swamiji, we were allowed into the inner sanctum where Sri Ramakrishna used to worship. We offered a saree and ornaments that Shree Maa had sent along from Benares as well as some flower garlands and sweets. Seeing Daksineshwar Kali face to face was another long time desire fulfilled for many. She was shining brightly from head to toe and bestowing blessings upon one and all. Afterwards, we sat down across from the temple entrance and recited the 1000 names of Kali and sang a few bhajans. Feeling very fortunate and full of blessings we made our way over to the room of Sri Ramakrishna. No talking is allowed inside the room. We sat down to meditate for a short while with Thakur!
In the evening we walked to a small temple located behind Daksineshwar temple where there was a life sized marble statue of Sri Ramakrishna in the Kalpataru pose. When we arrived, there was one devotee singing many beautiful stotrams devoted to Sri Ramakrishna. One could truly feel the bhava of Sri Ramakrishna’s presence.
Sri Ramakrishna is said to have revealed himself as Kalpataru – ‘the wish-fulfilling tree’, on 1 January 1886 at Kasipur. In this particular pose, Swamiji explained that Ramakrishna is receiving Divine blessings from above and passing them down to earth.
Maa and Swamiji arrived in Calcutta and are welcomed graciously with lights, incense and flower garlands by Joydeep and his family and other devotees who have been waiting ten long years to get their blessings in person. Joydeep’s three-storied house quickly filled up with eager devotees. In the late afternoon after giving gifts and blessings to each and every person, Maa and Swamiji headed off to the Meera Mandir located in Central Calcutta.
The Meera Mandir is a home to many life sized marble murtis which include, Shiva, Parvati and Ganesh, Ram, Lakshman and Sita, Radha and Krishna plus many more smaller murtis located all around the perimeter of the Mandir.
This is where Maa, Swamiji and a few other devotees stayed for the next three days while Maa met many of her relatives and devotees from near and far after many, many years.
In the late afternoon, Maa and Swamiji met with many of Maa’s relatives from Calcutta, Bangladesh and Assam at the Meera Mandir. Some relatives and devotees had been waiting 20 years for this moment! Tears of joy and love filled the room.
Later in the evening hundreds of devotees and family members joined together for a very lively satsang!
A Chandi homa was performed inside the Meera Mandir.
In the early morning, Maa. Swamiji and a few devotees headed to Daksineshwar to receive the blessings of Daksineshwar Kali. Some of us had been waiting a long time to step foot in Dakineshwar with Maa! Next we performed a small puja inside each of the 12 Shiva temples. Afterwards, we went inside Sri Ramakrishna’s room. Maa offered a dhoti and a pair of black shoes to Sri Ramakrishna. She said they were the same kind of shoes that Ramakrishna used to wear. The priest put the cloth on Ramakrishna’s bed and did a small puja to the shoes. Inside Thakur’s room with Maa and Swamiji what more can one say …
Next, off we went to visit one of Maa and Swamiji’s oldest devotees named Gopal Maa. What a blessing to finally meet Gopal Maa and Gopal. We had been hearing her story for so many years now.
Briefly the story goes that Gopal Maa was very poor and all alone raising her children. After meeting Maa she went to take her bath in the Ganges and found this Gopal. She took him home and began to worship him with pure devotion. After some time, her life began to change. Her house expanded, her children did very well in school and all of them got good jobs. Gopal took care of her every need and she no longer had to struggle like she used to.
Swamiji bows to Gopal Maa’s grandson, who is like Gopal himself in living form.
Next, we headed off to see Tiwariji and his whole family who lived nearby.
Tiwariji is one of Swamiji’s and Maa’s oldest devotees. He has walked to each of the Jyotir lingams carrying water from Gomuk, in the Himalayas, which is where the source of the Ganges starts running, to all of the lingams located throughout India. Tiwariji is also the one who generously gave the 3 ton Shivalingam, Napeshwar, to our Devi Mandir. We were also very fortunate to have had Tiwariji’s two sons join in our satsang in Benares and Calcutta.
Many people who had been traveling on the tour left Calutta to return to their own homes or continue their travels. A few of us continued on to Delhi for a little rest and a visit with some more relatives and devotees.