3rd Nov 2008
We came out from the airport at about 3:00 AM. Many dear friends and devotees were waiting to welcome us. We touched the ground and bowed to Mother India! What a joy to be back!
We were home by about 4, and after a bath, some of us sat down to chant the Chandi Path in the living room Mandir that had just been created.
After the Chandi Path and a loving breakfast, we went to the Yogamaya Mandir near Qutub Minar. There we sang the Kali Sahasra Nam and took darshan of the wonderful deity and ambiance of this very old temple. Yogamaya is the name of the girl child which was born to Yashoda and exchanged for the boy child, Krishna, born to Devaki, in order to slay the wicked king Kamsa. In this story she is the form of Mahalakshmi.
Yogamaya is also a name for Mahamaya and Yoganidra, names of Kali in the first Chapter of the Chandi Path. In this capacity She is the form of Mahakali, who causes the balance between Too Much and Too Little when the Supreme Consciousness, Vishnu, was in the sleep of eternal union. That is why we chose to sing the Kali Sahasra Nam, to celebrate the cessation of all our darkness and the illumination of light.
In verse 58 of Chapter Two of the Devi Gita, the Mother who manifested in Hastinapura, Yogamaya, is called Jayanti, She who is Eternally Victorious. This Jayanti, the Yogamaya of Hastinapura, confers the blessings of Union with all manifested existence. Here is a picture of Yogamaya
4th Nov 2008
After our morning Chandi Path we visited the temple of Hanuman in Connaught Place, and then to took darshan of Lakshmi Narayan Mandir near Chandni Chowk. Here is a picture of the Howan Kund at the temple
5th Nov 2008
Today we went to the Katyayani Temple in Chhattarpur, sang the Durga Chalisa, and we will leave for Banaras by the evening train.
6th Nov 2008
We reached Banaras at about 8 AM to a rousing welcome from the devotees at the railway station. We went home to Devi Mandir Varanasi, freshened up and chanted the Chandi. Shree Maa set up a beautiful altar in the living room.
We planned the schedule for the days ahead – here is the itinerary
6th Nov –
5.30 pm Satsang at Devi Mandir Varanasi. Open to group.
7th Nov –
6.00 am Devi Mandir Varanasi, Chandi Path. Open to Public.
5.30 pm Sundar Kand, Devi Mandir Varanasi. Open to Public
8th Nov –
7.00 am Annapurna Mandir , Chandi Path, Open to Public.
5.30 pm Sundar Kand, Devi Mandir Varanasi. Open to Public
6.00 am Lalita Ghat, Shiva Sahasranama Homa. Open to Public
7.00 am Annapurna Mandir , Chandi Path , Open to Public
5 00 pm Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple, Sundar Kand . Open to Public.
11th Nov –
7.00 am Annapurna Mandir , Chandi Path , Open to Public.
5.30 pm Vinay Bhushan Mishra’s house, Kirtan .Open to Public
12th Nov –
7.00 am Annapurna Mandir ,Chandi Homa, Open to Public
5.30 pm Satsang, Devi Mandir Varanasi. Open to Public
13th Nov –
7.00 am Devi Mandir Varanasi, Chandi Homa, Open to Public
14th Nov –
6.00 am Devi Mandir Varanasi, Chandi Path. Open to Public
We sang the Sundar Kand in the evening with devotees.
We sang the Chandi in the morning. The Mahant of the Annapurna temple visited us, bearing special gifts. We did puja to him and got his blessings. After a pleasant hour, he left, promising to meet us again at Rishikesh during the later half of our India trip.
Here are a couple of photos from the Mahant’s visit – one of the Mahant, and one of Swamiji performing a puja on behalf of all the devotees
We completed the Sundar Kand path this evening. Shree Maa sang kirtans to a joyful audience.
We visited the Vishwanath Temple with a few of the devotees and watched the Mangal Arati. Shree Maa performed her puja to Vishwanath.
After a brief rest, we went to the Annapurna temple and sang the Chandi. Swamiji went inside the inner sanctum and offered bhog to the Goddess, which he then distributed to the group.
In the evening, Maa sang kirtans to a delighted crowd. One of the devotees had composed songs on Swamiji and Shree Maa and mesmerized the crowd with his compositions, his effortless and inspired singing and above all his evident devotion to the Gurus.
We went to the Lalita Ghat on the bank of the Ganga before the crack of dawn. As the boat drifted to the Ghat, we saw the preparations that were being made for the Ganga Mahotsav (festival of Ganga) that starts today and culminates on Kartik Purnima (13th Nov).
The Lalita Ghat is very close to the famous Manikarnika Ghat – where bodies are cremated 24 hours a day. The Lalita Ghat itself is just another entry point to the Ganga, where people come to take a dip. After cleaning up an area, we set up a havan kund and performed the Shiva Sahasranama. With the burning pyres some distance away (about 200 meters), the sun rising in the east over the Ganga, it was an unforgettable experience in chanting the names of Shiva.
After the morning chanting, some of the devotees left on a day trip to Vindhyachal to pray respects to Goddess Vindhyavasini.
In the evening, some of us got together with Maa and Swamiji for the Arati. How we danced!!! More importantly how Maa and Swamiji danced!!! Here are some pictures ..
and here is Swamiji with Sushil (author of the “Sahib Sadhu”)
Another busy day. The group travelling with Maa and Swamiji headed to the Annapurna Mandir this morning and chanted the Chandi Path, lead by our beloved Srini . In the evening, Maa and Swamiji, accompanied by devotees visited the famous Sankat Mochan Hanuman temple. We settled ourselves in one corner of the temple and sang the Sundar Kand. From time to time, we were joined alike by the curious and the devoted in singing the praises of Ram. News of our chanting was published in one of the local Hindi Newspapers.. Extract below.
Maa and Swamiji accompanied by a few devotees made their way to the Annapurna Mandir at 2.30 AM . This was a very special event. They were going to personally perform the abhishek and puja to the deity, a privilege rarely accorded to anyone outside of the temple priests. At 3 am, we were escorted indoors and found places just outside the sanctum sanctorum. Maa and Swamiji, along with one the temple priests, took their sankalpa (vow of worship) and started with the abhishek (ritual bathing of the deity). They offered Ganges water, and many many pots of milk, yoghurt, ghee etc. Most of the offerings were collected to be given as prasad (sanctified offering) to the devotees. They draped the Goddess in the many beautiful sarees offered by the devotees, and piled flower garland upon flower garland on her. When finally they were satisfied that they had given their best to the Goddess, they offered arati – with the temple priests clanging bells, bellowing drums. We filed in one by one and got the blessings of the deity and the Gurus.
Later that morning, the group reassembled for reciting the Chandi Path at the temple.
In the evening, some of the local devotees had organized a satsang with Maa and Swamiji in their apartment buildings. There was a large turnout and people crammed every nook of the suddenly small hall. Swamiji blessed everyone with the ashes collected from all his yajnas in the last 40 years.
This morning, Swamiji invoked the fire. He set up a havan kund in one of the courtyards of the Annapurna temple and we sang the Chandi Path. It seemed as if the line of devotees to get his blessings would never end, as more and more people inched towards him and paid their respects.
In the evening, there was a class on the Tattva Jnan at Devi Mandir Varanasi (the residence of our hosts). Swamiji shared his thoughts on many aspects of Siddhantachara. There were several questions and the lively discussion extended to over 2 hours. This was followed by the song “Bhava Sagara” and arati.
Today performed the Chandi Homa at Devi Mandir Varanasi. In the evening, we were to go on a boat ride across the Ganges and watch the lights and fireworks of an occasion that was unique to Varanasi – the Dev Deepawali. We all gathered at Assi Ghat, and after a cheerful start with bhajans (Hara Hara Mahadeva Shambho Kashi Vishwanath Gange), cruised on Mother Ganga. Every ghat was lit up thousands of little mud lamps, and there were spectacular fireworks going off it seemed literally on top of our heads. Each devotee also got the opportunity to light a little mud lamp and let it afloat on Ganga with a little prayer. We watched the many young men and women perform the Ganga arati in almost perfect synchronization.
This Dev Deepawali was the culmination of the Kartik Purnima. Later we found out from our host , that this was one of the main reasons they had planned Maa and Swamiji’s visit to coincide with this festival.
Here is a picture of Swamiji and the group singing bhajans on the boat.
Here is a photo of the famed Ganga Arati
And here is a picture of the lights on that day – the best we could do given our amateur cameras …
Our visit to Varanasi was almost over. Maa and Swamiji were staying behind for a couple more days, but the majority of the group were headed to the next destination Kolkata.
There was an unexpected treat on this day. Maa decided to visit the Trailinga Swami Ashram and took a few of us with her. The ashram is really a small temple on the Panchganga ghat. Lord Krishna greeted us at the entrance and to the right side was a huge Shiva Linga. The story is that one day Trailinga Swami dived into the Ganges and came up with a huge stone that now serves as the Shiva Linga. There were pictures of Trailinga Swami with Ramakrishna and Vivekananda throughout the entrance.
Maa and Swamiji offered Ganges water to the Shiva Linga, puja to the Kali murti near the linga, and their pranams to the samadhi of the great Swami. They went downstairs to the underground chamber and meditated in silence. Some of us were fortunate to be in the same chamber and meditate with them in silence. This was one of the most beautiful and profound moments of the trip – a rare opportunity to visit the samadhi of a great soul under the wings of another great soul.
Jai Maa ! Jai Trailinga Swami !