We would be in Mumbai for a few days before traveling to Coimbatore, located in the state of Tamil Nadu, in the far south of India.
When we were previously in Mumbai a devotee named Pradeepta had invited us to visit his home. Shree Maa and Swamiji accepted the invitation and after our return from Ambaji we went to his home for an evening Satsangha.
Predeepta is a musician by profession and had previously visited the Devi Mandir in Napa, during a tour in the US.
His home has an altar in the front room with a picture of Kali and Ramakrishna, which Shree Maa had previously given to him.
It was duly decorated and shined as the center piece of his home.
I respected greatly his love and devotion for Shree Maa and Swamiji and found him to always have a kind and cheerful disposition.
We performed puja to the picture and then sang songs for Mother Kali.
He, his wife, and his son all sat attentively listening to all of the mantras and songs.
Before the singing Swamiji had been discussing, by chance, how he plays the keyboard with one hand because he learned first to play the harmonium, where one hand is needed to pump the air.
It had been such trouble to carry the harmonium around that he had switched to an electronic keyboard sometime back. Pradeepta was there during the conversation and brought Swamiji his harmonium. Swamiji smiled and delightedly played it during the singing.
As is often the way of Indian hospitality, and especially Bengalis in particular, they prepared a meal with many different dishes and many of Shree Maa’s favorites.
Shree Maa and Swamiji then sat together with Pradeepta as he played for them some of the music he had recently composed. They were very delighted to listen.
We all greatly appreciated their expression of devotion and enjoyed sharing in satsangha with them.
Another devotee, Chitra, had told us about a small Shiva temple, named Kileshwara, in a more rural area, away from the busy urban center of Mumbai.
She told us it was a small and quiet temple, maintained by the local fishermen. It sounded like a temple right up our alley.
We traveled to the temple and could see the ocean and fishing boats nearby.
There were only a few people there near the temple when we arrived. The inner sanctum where the Shiva Lingam was located had a lock on it. Prashant, who was with us, went and asked the caretaker of the temple and he happily opened the lock so we could sit and chant inside.
We entered into the inner sanctum and laid out our asanas, began our radio broadcast and started chanting.
The Shiva Lingam was quite large, though not so big as our Napeshwara, and was at ground level.
The temple had a dome shaped ceiling and had tiles inlaid along the floors and walls. This created a beautiful reverberating effect that made the sound of the mantras resonate and echo throughout the small inner chamber.
We chanted various stotrams for Shiva and his thousand names.
Exiting the temple, we again saw the ocean not far away, and also the places where the fishermen were drying their fish on large racks. It did smell a bit fishy, but we really didn’t mind in the slightest.
We felt blessed to find this jewel of a Shiva temple off the beaten path, where few people visit.
This would be our final outing in Mumbai for this year’s trip before we left for Coimbatore. It had been such a wonderful stay in Mumbai. From home to home, we had seen so much love and devotion, so much sincere seva, that it really delighted our hearts.
At Kishor’s home, he and his whole family performed seva with such dedication. They all moved out from their rooms and slept on sofas, floor mattresses or in one small room remaining in the back of the house. They gave the living room to be our temple room, and the rest of the rooms for us to stay in.
It was a beautiful example of what it means to do seva and to show respect to the Guru. We departed from Mumbai with hearts full of appreciation for everyone we had visited there, who had shared with us in real Satsangha.
Cidatmananda (John Embrey) was also with us in Mumbai. He was also inspired by the hospitality and love we received there. I asked him to share his experience:
“I was asked to write a small piece on my stay in Mumbai with the family of Kishor and Veena. I was simply amazed at their hospitality.
Always looking for new ways to serve the Guru, Shree Maa and Swamiji. The service did not stop with the Gurus. Even a humble man like my self, they were always watching and waiting to serve.
My whole adult life I have read stories in the Puranas about the duty of a householder to serve others. For me this family embodies this type of service. They stood by during meals. Waiting and watching to see if any thing was needed.
Even when the Gurus were not around, they treated the guests the same way, always with kindness and efficiency.
If your chai cup was empty, you never needed to ask for it to be filled. One family member was fasting during the day while she worked tirelessly to serve the needs of her Guru.
We western devotees have much to learn from our Indian brothers and sisters. They have had centuries and centuries of Vedic culture passed down to them. We in the west with our ideals of the rugged individualism, lends it self to more difficulty when trying to serve others in a selfless way.
The concept of seva is central to the spiritual life. It is a real help to see what it looks like in the lives of others.
It is a great blessing to travel with the Guru. To see and be with the Guru is always helpful in spiritual life.
It is also helpful to see the spiritual attainments of our brothers and sisters. Those people who reflect the attitude of our teachers in their real day to day life. I bow to Kishor and Veena and hope and pray that someday I will learn to serve others like they do. With a heart full of love.
With pranam to all”