From the beautiful Nilgiri hills we traveled to Mysore, known locally as Mysuru.
There we stayed at Shiva Shailam, a temple complex constructed by Rishi and Narendra, who are father and son.
It is located outside of the main city of Mysore in a rural area.
The temple grounds and the Mandirs located on it are themselves exquisitely designed and constructed.
There are a total of five different Mandirs on the property. The largest of the Mandirs on the property are the Chandramouleshwara Mandir, for Shiva, and Guru Bhavan, which is for Ramakrishna.
There are also Mandirs for Kamakshi (a form of the Divine Mother), Hanuman, and a smaller one for Kala Bhairava.
Just past the Kala Bhairava temple is a tributary stream of the river Kaveri, one of the seven sacred rivers of India.
Presently the area has not received much rain and the stream was very calm, though in previous years I have seen the water of the river rushing, more like a small river.
It is a private temple complex, though it is open to the public. During normal days only a few people come there, though on big festivals it becomes quite busy there.
Guru Bhavan has a large murti of Ramakrishna, and it became our main place of sadhana during our stay there.
Shree Maa also set up her own altar in front of the murti of Ramakrishna, thus creating an altar that looked like it was from our own Devi Mandir, in terms of the variety of deities.
It was a convenient place for Shree Maa’s morning puja as it was very close to her room. Each morning after Shree Maa’s puja, we all sat in front of the murti of Ramakrishna and chanted the Chandi Path together.
The Guru Bhavan temple was constructed much like the temples for Ramakrishna that you see in the Ramakrishna Math. The pictures of his sannyasi disciples were hanging on the walls, and there was another small temple for Sarada Devi as well.
Rishi and Narendra both joined us each morning to chant the Chandi Path.
In the afternoon we made our way to the Chandramouleshwara Shiva Temple.
All of the temples are close by to each other, so it was a very short walk.
We sat in the inner chamber and performed puja to the Shiva Lingam, offering milk, flowers, garlands and all the other articles of worship.
We also chanted many stotrams (hymns) for Shiva and then recited the Shiva Sahasranam (the thousand names of Shiva).
With each name Shree Maa offered flower petals to the Shiva Lingam.
Then we performed arati and Shree Maa and Swamiji gave everyone blessings.
There is also a Panchavati (a spot with five sacred trees planted together) on the property.
It has a concrete vedhi (raised platform) to sit on with a huge old banyan tree in the middle.
You can often see monkeys playing on its branches.
Around midday Swamiji and I sat there to recite the Durga Sahasranam and other stotrams.
The beauty of nature, palm trees and various flowering plants adorning the property was the only thing in our view.
The breeze was blowing softly and everything was quiet.
When the chanting was finished, Swamiji sat quietly smiling, letting the sacred vibrations of the mantras sink in.
We enjoyed the serenity of that uplifting spot under the Panchavati.
There is a special building on the property for Homa.
Shree Maa decided that the next morning we should perform Chandi Homa there.
There were three different sizes of Havan Kunds (fire pits) there and Swamiji selected one of mid-size for our Homa, as we were a small group of people.
The sun was just starting to rise when Swamiji began invoking the fire.
Shree Maa offered oblations of ghee while the rest of us, led by Swamiji, offered masala.
Our hosts were very pleased that we performed this homa. They felt that Shree Maa and Swamiji had really blessed Shiva Shailam (the temple complex) with their presence and worship.
Naren collected a handful of ash so that he would have it to put on his forehead for a long time to come.
Though we had stayed extremely busy trying to worship at all the temples in Shiva Shailam, we decided to travel to another temple the next day.
Just outside the city of Mysore, there is a well known temple named Chamundeshwari, located on the Chamundi Hill. It is said to be the place where the Divine Mother slayed Mahishasura, the Great Ego.
The famous Mysore Palace faces the Chamundi Hill, as the king wanted to first look at the temple of the Goddess each morning before beginning his day.
The temple is a very tall building and the hill is also very large, so it can be seen from a great distance.
We first entered the temple and offered flowers to the Murti of Chamundeshwari, who is the same as the Mahalakshmi of our Cosmic Altar in Devi Mandir, having 18 arms, the slayer of Mahishasura.
After offering our pranams to the form of the Divine Mother, we found a place just outside the temple on a raised veranda to chant. We recited the Kali Sahasranam and other stotrams for Kali.
It seemed appropriate as Chamunda is the form of Kali which slays Passion and Anger. The veranda where we were sitting was not far from the place where people come out after taking darshan of the Goddess.
Many people stopped and looked on to see what we were doing, lingering for a few minutes. A handful of other people, fully inspired to see Shree Maa and Swamiji’s worship, sat and remained with us until the end of the recitation.
When the recitation was over, the people who had stayed with us bowed down to Shree Maa and Swamiji and took their blessings before departing. We then departed as well.
On the day of our departure from Mysore we awoke early. Shree Maa performed her puja, and then we chanted the Chandi Path together.
Traveling or not, we have to keep our priorities in order, first worship, then travel.
After puja and chanting the Chandi Path, Shree Maa decided to decorate the murti of Ramakrishna with a new cloth and mala.
Shree Maa was smiling so happily to give Ramakrishna the cloth and mala.
When Shree Maa had finished decorating the murti of Ramakrishna she and Rishi posed together behind it.