From August 2018 through January 2019 Swamiji performed tapasya in India in several areas of Uttarakhanda, Sikkim, and West Bengal.
This sacred yatra marks the longest period of time that Swamiji stayed in India since his return to the United States with Shree Maa in 1984. It was also the first time Swamiji went this deeply into his own sadhana since taking on the roles of ashram administrator and Divine Father and Guru to the many Devi Mandir children around the world.
By the completion of this yatra, Swamiji was sitting up to 14 hours a day in one asana, chanting from sun-up to sun-down in a small village Kali temple in a remote area of West Bengal.
This blog series shares Swamiji’s teachings and lifestyle, as well as what it’s like to sit with him and be with him throughout his tapasya. It is split into three sections, with posts written by Swamiji as well as accompanying devotees.
You’ll find increasing depth and subtlety as you read through the first section, so we hope you’ll bare with us through the first few posts, as there are many jewels of wisdom and inspiration to be found in the series.
The first section is the Himalayan Yatra series, which follows Swamiji to Dehradhun, Gangotri, through Kolkata for Navaratri, and then up into the mountainous regions of West Bengal and Sikkim. Sikkim was particularly interesting for its interwoven presence of Tibetan Buddhist, Nepalese, and Hindu mountain culture. This combined with a magnificent and mythological setting, where the majestic peak of Kanchenhjung stood before us every day as we performed our sadhana.
The second section, Sadhana on the Plains, takes you along with Swamiji as he descends from the mountains for the cold winter months. You’ll travel again through Kolkata and ultimately settle in Gokarna, West Bengal for two months in the Shyam Rai Kali Mandir, a small village Kali temple that has been in the same family for 60 generations.
Gokarna provided the backdrop for a series of nine-day sankalpas, during which Swamiji built the asana to depths and lengths that defy understanding….10 hours, 12 hours, 13 hours…
What is it like to undertake this type of tapasya in such a setting in village India? What is the experience? How does Swamiji do it? How can we do it too, in our own ways, to the extent of our own capacities? How does it change our lives?
The third and final section, Swamiji’s Tapasya in Gokarna, explores these questions, giving us a taste of the power of Swamiji’s tapasya, and dipping us into the beautiful Bengali culture of the area. These posts include videos of Swamiji holding satsangha in the Temple, in which he gives teachings in Bengali (with English translations) on the path of sadhana and what it is like to live as a Rishi.
We hope you enjoy the yatra. For us, it was life changing!
Yatralogue #1: Arrival – by Shivani
Namaste! We’ve here less than a week, it already feels as though we’ve gone through lifetimes.
Before leaving the United States, a friend told me that India is a mix of the sublime and the crazy. And from what I see and feel so far, it’s true. The road from Delhi to Rishikesh was lined with truly impressive amounts of trash, and the Ganga is polluted (particularly this time of year, because of the rains).
But the spiritual vibration next to Her waters is palpable, and there’s a special feeling that really does make you want to sit down and worship Her in whatever form calls to you in that moment.
Many of us have dreamed about sadhu life in India. What does it mean to live as a wandering seeker? What does it mean to renounce the usual comforts and worldly demands of life, and create a daily rhythm that revolves around sadhana and devotion to God?
Rural West Bengal is a region that always called to Swamiji’s heart, and always felt like home.
I feel the same. I feel this is one of our places…
All of us who love Kali, and Chandi; who love music and the poetry of devotion; who love Nature, and who crave a humble lifestyle with more room for love and kindness, and less room for division, meanness, and the rat race of modern life.
This is one of our places.
There’s a simplicity here, both in the feel of the rural land and village atmosphere, and in the people. The current of Mother worship runs deep.
As Swamiji has already written about our excursion in Gokarna, I’d like to take you back to Rishikesh – one of our first destinations when we arrived in India, and also one of Swamiji’s old stomping grounds.
Whether we walked along the ghats of the Ganga, or through the backstreet alley ways, there was another familiar face, smiling with joy to see the Sahib Sadhu that they had known so many years ago.
It was clear that just as Mother India gave so much nourishment to our Swamiji, Swamiji also gave so much nourishment in return, to this holy land and Her people.
Swamiji truly did what so many of us have only dreamed of.
He travelled alone into distant places, where no other foreigners had ventured, and where he didn’t understand the language, searching for Love and Wisdom and the path of its attainment.
When I asked Swamiji how he first came to venture into West Bengal, he replied that he received a note from his Guru with instructions to meet him in a particular location.
Swamiji laughed, saying he went “Far, faaaar into the interior of West Bengal…” by ox-cart, horse, any other mode of transportation he could find – without knowing a word of Bengali!
For me, to see the places where he performed his tapasya, and to hear the stories of his sadhu life, is such a beautiful blessing. It’s family history, rich with inspiration and joy.
So now, back to Rishikesh…
One morning, after completing our worship, we walked along the river and visited some of the spots where Swamiji used to do sadhana: a banyan tree by the ghats, and the building where Swamiji had an ashram for several years, which he called “Deva Loka” ashram.
At this point in time, Rishikesh was much smaller, and still off the beaten track.
Swamiji would stay in his Devalok Ashram when in Rishikesh, until he was ready to move on to the next destination.
One of my favorite Swamiji Rishikesh stories is about a tree very close to Deva Loka ashram.
This particular tree is where mail was delivered to the sadhus of Rishikesh.
All the sadhus would congregate under the tree, and a mailman would come with the mail and call out each of the names from the envelopes.
Because sadhus often have the same name, several sadhus would call out for each letter, at which point they would all look at it together, see from whom and from where it came, and determine who was actually the intended recipient.
Amidst those sadhus, three spoke Bengali: our Swamiji, Swami Ram Kripaluji, and a sadhu named Gopal Baba.
We passed Gopal Baba’s little ashram on our walk, but unfortunately, he was not at home.
Swamiji held on to the window sill and peered in while calling “Gopal Baba…” in such a childlike and unassuming tone.
As Swamiji peered through that window, I got my own little window into Swamiji’s world as a young sadhu, wandering through India, dedicating his life to God, and making friends along the way.
I’m having the same experience in West Bengal: the privilege to witness the attitude toward life that empowered our Swamiji to gain so much richness and shed so much selfishness.
It’s an attitude of respect, humility, and appreciation; a joyful willingness to learn; a sincere thirst for knowledge and wisdom, and most of all, Love for God.
I pray I can inculcate those qualities, even a little bit more, into my own being.
Yatralogue #7: Long Asana Sadhana in Gokarna – by Swamiji
Today is Shashthi, and the beginning of the next Navaratri.
We sat for five hours today, completing the Cosmic Puja and the full Chandi cover to cover at seven verses per breath. We did Manas Puja, and only chanted silently in “Pumsa” bhavana, where our lips move, but no sound comes out.
What a joy to share such silence! Inside and out!
Today is Saptami, the second day of the Navaratri. We sat for 5-1/2 hours, with the Cosmic Puja and PanchaRatna Gita, silently in “Pumsa” bhavana at six verses to the breath.
Please remember, there are three modes of recitation: Sabda, where we chant everything out loud; Pumsa, where we only mouth the words with no audible sound coming out; and Manas, where everything is heard inside with no movement outside.
From the outside, if we see someone who is doing a manas recitation, we would probably say, “They are not chanting! They are in meditation.”
Actually our concern is not for what we can detect from the outside; it is only for what is going on inside.
How can anyone else measure the intensity of another’s absorption? Only by the smile on their face.
When we become absorbed in Sat Chit Ananda, we cannot help but to smile!
Namaste! Today is Ashtami, the third day of the Navaratri.
We added an extra 45 minutes to the asana today with the Cosmic Puja and the complete Chandi cover to cover at seven verses per breath, followed by the Gayatri and Kali Sahasranamas.
Again She told us the choice is ours, whether to think about the world or to think about the sadhana to remember God.
She went on to say that it is good to think about God when we sit in an asana, but it is even better to think about God all the time!
That means to take the sankalpa to live life like a Rishi, with the values and goals of a Rishi; with the understanding of a Rishi, that everything is divine, and every moment is an opportunity to remember.
That means every relationship is a part of our sadhana, and the spiritual discipline and practice is to treat each other with the respect that we will want to show to the Gods, and always remind each other that we are all divine.
Jesus said very much the same meaning when asked which is the greatest of the commandments, to which he replied:
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and all thy mind, and thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”
Just like a husband and wife through their marriage vows take the sankalpa to remain a constant reminder to each other of their complete divinity, and to show the love and acceptance for each other no matter what events come about during their lives, the Rishis went one step further, and made that promise to all of creation!
Remembering that promise is called sadhana!
Sitting in the asana is one of the ways in which we remember that promise and do the sadhana.
All the rest of life is the other part sadhana.
The Bengali proverb says that Pain is the learning experience and Pleasure is the examination. It is easy to remember God while we are in Pain; “Oh God, please take away my Pain!”
The real examination is, can we remember God when everything is going right? How often do we say, “Oh God, please rejoice with me in sharing your blessings?”
It’s the next day, still Ashtami. We added another hour with the complete Bhagavad Gita, in addition to what we have been doing before.
Darshan comes from Bhavana.
It does not come from being technically correct. The technicals and accuracy of the vacharth, the literal dictionary meaning of the words, are important only in so far as they inform the Bhavana.
With dictionary meanings we stay in the mind, or at best in the Buddhi or intellect. With Bhavana we get Her.
When we chant, our objective cannot be to translate every word or sentence into our own language as we are chanting.
As we understand the Sanskrit more and more, we understand where we are in the story. We feel the bhavana, we know our goals, we intuit how we are proceeding, but we are not responsible to render a complete word-for-word rendition of the entire text in our native languages.
Understanding comes on many levels: Most important is acting in accordance.
Next in importance is defining what are those actions which we want, so they can be manifest when we are in control. What will be our Ideal of Perfection?
Our company business model is to exemplify the greatest examples of how a Rishi lives in this world with every interaction. Our Sadhana is our business.
Can you imagine getting paid to love God and Her creation?
That is all we need to do! Remember Her all the time. But especially
with the greatest intensity and efficiency when we do remember!
Sitting in the asana gives us the capacity to become free from
reaction. When we can’t move, then what reactions will we demonstrate?
When we rise from the asana, can we remember to manifest the ideal of
perfection in our every interaction? That will be the test of our
How much can we remember?
Today is Navami, the fourth day of the Navaratri. We crossed eight
hours today by adding the entire PanchaRatna Gita to the Complete
Chandi and Cosmic Puja.
There are no words.
We have run out of things to say, as well as language by which to say them. Neti neti is the only description that makes sense.
It cannot be said to be this or to be that. Is there any logic to anything we could say to excuse why we do not stay like this all the time?
It is a choice we make.
We know the karma that puts us into this state of absorption; we also know the effects of paying attention to our worldly attachments and interactions.
Why is it that we are so drawn to the worldliness?
Please forgive us, Mother.
Our nature makes us powerless to resist good gossip, even when we know fully well that there is no consideration superior to remembering You!
Today is Dasami, and we crossed ten hours. We will continue to make it grow…
Yatralogue #8: Rudra and Kalyani’s Arrival – by Rudra
Kalyani and I were on our way to Gokarna, the village where Swamiji and Shivani were in deep Sadhana and concentration.
It was late in the evening and everything was dark, but the goats and narrow roads were indicating that Swamiji had chosen a remote place in West Bengal for his Sadhana.
Swamiji has been doing up to 12 hours of Sadhana here every day, and it is marvelous to think that in this time and age there are people like him. The jungly smell of the land and the many trees increased the feeling of expectation; it was my first time meeting Swamiji in person.
Once we arrived at the temple the villagers received us with so much love and tenderness. They honored us with garlands, and they played the shank or conch shell! I felt God was receiving us.
The feeling of the moment, in the darkness of the late evening, the sound of the conch vibrating at the gate of the temple and seeing the happiness of the villagers receiving us with such a love, delighted our hearts, bringing to life the saying “Atithi Devo Bhava,” the guest is God. What a marvelous way to understand life.
After our arrival, we went directly to the Kālī Mandir where Swamiji and Shivani had just finished long hours of Sadhana. They were already up stairs, but after such a feat they were not resting. Shivani was cooking and Swamiji was getting ready to do his work with the computer to attend to his many responsibilities.
When we went upstairs to meet Swamiji, Shivani opened the door with a smile on her face and hugged Kalyani with so much love….. ahhhh, what a sweet arrival.
Once we went in, Swamiji came out of his room to receive us and hugged us together for a good long time.
While many Gurus don’t want to be touched, given that they are afraid they will lose power if they are touched, but Swamiji embraced us in a long hug where the Shakti of his Sadhana, the openness of his heart, and the total sincerity moved me to tears.
I felt loved and welcomed, and I didn’t even know this town, the Swamiji, or the amazing devotees who walk with him, and even perform with him 12 hours of practice, and then cook.
What an opportunity we have ahead!
Yatralogue #9: Witnessing Tapasya – by Rudra
Yesterday was an amazing day: Swamiji had instructed us to take the day slowly, so we get used to the time change.
When we went to the temple, Swamiji and Shivani were already deep in their Sadhana. One thing is to hear they are doing 12 hours of sadhana in one asana; another thing is to see it by yourself, and it must be something totally different to actually be doing it!
When I think about the amount of Sadhana they did in this nine day Sankalpa I am in awe. What kind of commitment is needed for this? What kind of determination? What kind of will power? What kind of Love?
The day of our arrival, we left our hotel in the morning to make our way towards KaliGhat in Kolkata around 7:00 AM, and stayed there till around 10:30. After that we had breakfast, and went back to our room to pack our things. At around 12:30 PM we departed towards Gokarna (the village where Swamiji is doing his tapasya), and were on the road until around 8 PM.
Can you believe that in all of this time when we were doing all of these things: touring, eating, packing, traveling, the only thing Swamiji and Shivani did was to stay in one place loving God?
Yesterday was so special because we could see and experience the vibrations of their worship. To see two people actually doing what Gurus and disciples have done for millennia….
Swamiji says this is his love affair with God. He wants to spend as much time with his beloved as he can. He wants to gaze into the eyes of the murti, chant Her names, and adore Her….not just from rote memory, or from reading another’s words, but from the depths of his heart.
When their practice was complete, it was nighttime. The villagers and devotees came close to the temple, wanting to experience the moment when Swamiji finished.
He is always giving, taking little to no time for himself, and when he rises from the asana, with all this Bhavana, with all this Shakti, he still has more to give: a simple smile, some kind words.
Everyone gathers around this Sadhu to get a glimpse of God in his eyes.
The amount of sitting, takes a toll on Swamiji’s body, but that doesn’t prevent him from giving Love. He says the ancient Rishis gave love to everyone without discrimination, and that is exactly what he does, forgetting all about himself, giving to all of us. For him all relationships are part of his love affair, so even when he is tired, he sees Her in everything and everyone and loves Her in everything.
Once upstairs he doesn’t rest. He takes advantage of the time before dinner for instructing us and teaching us, and after we leave, he works at the computer.
Sometimes tears roll down from my eyes because this is real, it’s truly happening! I feel it is only by the Grace of the Divine Mother we are here, in the presence of truth that radiates from this Sadhu uplifting everyone who comes to him, also seeking to love God.
Yatralogue #10: Sitting with Swamiji – by Shivani
Many of us dream of the life of a sadhu. We might not even really know what that means, but still we have that dream: to do sadhana, to do tapasya, to live a simple spiritual life, and to be free and happy in our love for God; to actually leave behind negative patterns and tendencies.
To be in love all the time, without need of an object or recipient for our love; maybe that’s some of what we dream about.
I, for one, gave up on that dream, and stopped believing it could be possible for me.
Now, I believe it is possible for anyone.
To sit in one place without moving, fumbling over Devanagari for 12 hours at a time, is unimaginable even to me. But after coming out of that experience, it’s so clear that such a thing is purely and completely the grace of the Guru. It has nothing to do with individual capacity.
So what does that mean? Grace of the Guru?
The Sanskrit word for grace is kripa, which Swamiji defines as “what you do is what you get.” The root “kri” means to do. (The word karma, which means action, comes from the same root.) “Pa” means get. Therefore, kripa means, “What you do is what you get.”
The Guru Gita says you get everything from serving the Guru with selfless love and devotion. The highest seva we can give to the Guru is to integrate his or her teachings into our life.
Swamiji is fond of saying the highest respect we can give to our grade school teacher is to graduate from high school. The highest respect we can give to our high school teachers is to graduate from college.
Likewise, the highest seva we can give to our Guru is to try, to the extent of our capacity, to live the values they teach, and to practice the sadhana.
And when we get the opportunity, we can be with our Guru in person, and try to add value to their lives in whatever ways we can. Maybe we can wash their cloth, polish their puja utensils, or prepare their breakfast. Maybe can make an App, write an article, or wash and iron her saris.
There are many things we can do to show our appreciation, and we all have so many capacities and talents. All of it brings us closer to God, and closer to the understanding of tapasya.
In my own life, Shree Maa and Swamiji have shown me a path in which seva and sadhana weave into and empower one another.
Maa taught me how to serve with love, and inspired me, to the extent that I was able, to let go of myself in order to serve another. Some of the sweetest moments in my life have been serving Shree Maa, and in doing so, having the opportunity to witness and share in her bhavana, her giving, and her rhythm of life.
Shree Maa teaches us to leave behind our own desires, including the desire to do sadhana, in order to serve the Guru, and play our little, however imperfect parts, in empowering the Guru Kula, the family of the Guru.
Even if we can’t totally leave behind “I, me, and mine,” Shree Maa helps us to experience a way of life and being where, at the very least, there’s an understanding that “I” am not the most important being in this creation. Beyond that, she opens the doors to new degrees of peace that come from that realization; that come from looking to give, as opposed to looking to take. That encourages us to want more.
My seva to Shree Maa empowered me to do seva for Swamiji, and the highest seva for Swamiji is to do sadhana with him.
While Maa taught me to be willing to give up sadhana to serve, Swamiji teaches me that sitting is absolutely necessary to live in the Shiva-Consciousness that we seek. Strangely, I find those two work together perfectly, bringing me to a much better place than I would be with one of those teachings alone.
I know I’ve written this in previous blogs, but more and more it feels that the asana is the only safe place. It’s the only place where I won’t get into trouble!
Even if I can’t control my mind, at least of I’m in one place, I’m not creating more karma for myself. No matter how crazy my mind gets, I’m not moving: I’m trying to focus on God, and hopefully earning the privilege to sit more, understand more, and go deeper.
These last nine days of sadhana have been a magical, intense, and wonderful experience.
Swamiji wanted to chant silently in pumsa bhava (where the lips move, but no sound comes out), which meant that for the first time in quite a while, I wouldn’t actually be chanting with Swamiji. Because of that, it felt to be the perfect opportunity to practice chanting from Devanagari.
With Swamiji’s blessings and help, I have learned to read the Devanagari script over the last several months. I still chant almost entirely from the Roman transliteration, however, as Swamiji chants too fast for me to follow in Devanagari, and I do almost all of my sadhana with Swamiji.
So this was my big chance!
The experience of sitting in the temple for 12 hours, silently chanting – sometimes painfully slowly – each syllable of Devanagari is truly nothing I can describe. Neti, neti.
When we first started building the asana, it took me about 7 hours to move through one full Cosmic Puja. By the end of our Navaratri, I was chanting Cosmic Puja, weaving in sahasranam stotrams and namavalis to the individual deity pujas that come at the end of the Cosmic, and even adding other scriptures and stotrams like Guru Gita. I did, after all, have 12 hours to explore.
And that’s what it was: an exploration. If you know you’re going to be sitting there for the next 12 hours, no matter what, what else are you going to do?
I cannot tell you what I have done in my life or previous lives to deserve such an opportunity, but without hesitation, I can tell you that if we serve the Guru, and if we invite the Guru into our hearts, then undoubtedly, we will become empowered.
Every day we are worshiping, chanting, studying, and translating scriptures, and when we are done, we retire to our own introspection and try to share some inspiration.
It is such a privilege to share. Thank you for helping to empower me to such a sadhana.
Yatralogue #11: At the Feet of my Teacher – by Rudra
Today is pratipada of the Krishna Paksha, the day after the full moon.
Swamiji and Shivani finished their Sankalpa, and now are reducing their sadhana as they get to take rest while they get ready for the next Sankalpa, which will begin in a few days.
This doesn’t mean they stop the performance of Sadhana. For them this means they don’t do 12 hours. What a life!
This Swamiji with such a big heart, teaches a way of life that is as old as time. Even if he reads from an IPad, and sleeps in a precarious room next to the temple, his life is the life taught in the scriptures, the ancient life of the Rishis, doing long hours of Sadhana, living in continuous Satsangha, singing to God, loving everyone that he meets.
Yesterday, they finished their Sadhana around 12 noon, and in the evening we all came back to the temple and the villagers gathered around Swamiji at the feet of Kali.
He had so much patience, love, care, and understanding as he answered questions and talked about spirituality. Everyone had a smile in their face! When was the last time this temple saw a Sadhu giving Satsangha?
Swamiji unites two cultures, east and west, and two times, ancient and modern, and he does it in a magical way, because he makes everyone feel seen, appreciated, and Loved.
He alternated his satsangha in English and Bengali with singing to God. We clapped and smiled, and for me, I delighted myself in a timeless Divine vibration.
What I saw yesterday could only be seen in a remote past, in a temple or beneath a tree. What a treasure is our Swamiji.
This morning he brought us to the temple and we did Kali Puja. Swamiji took so much time for us (who are just beginning this path).
He patiently explained the method of breathing and chanting with pranayama.
He is so patient…. he is a great teacher. If we lost the page, he would wait for us to find it; if he had to repeat something three times, he would joyfully repeat it again and again.
I feel no judgement coming from him, but pure love, the kind of love that pacifies the heart, and in that secure place we are allowed to be ourselves, surrender and learn.
After the worship, he talked to us about the meaning of the Guru and the Guru principle. He communicates on many levels, in magical ways, not only with words, and slowly he opens our hearts to God. It is magical in how many levels he works. You can feel the Divine presence in everything he does.
Swamiji then proceeded to show us a way to recognize the Sanskrit words and associate them with the meanings. It was so revealing and instructive, and he does it with so much love. I feel he just loves us because he sees Her in us, in everyone, in everything.
There is a constant exchange of Love here. The people of the town bring us fresh milk and curd, vegetables, blankets, anything we may need, because they recognize Swamiji as a true Sadhu.
Living here with Swamiji may not be modern, nor fancy, but it’s definitely real.
Yatralogue #12: Beginning Our Sadhana – by Rudra
With Swamiji’s guidance and inspiration, we have begun a new Sankalpa. Today is the first day, and from today every day we will do more Sadhana and increase the time of our sitting in worship. Swamiji hopes to reach or surpass 12 hours again.
Do we really understand what it is like to remain seated for 12 hours on a cold temple floor in the midst of winter temperatures only thinking of God? Can we ponder that in our minds for a few moments?
It is easily said so rapidly, but this kind of sadhana is not performed so quickly. We have to be in a conducive place to limit our external distractions, eat in a conductive way, and organize our lives around these Sadhana goals and not otherwise. Who in this time of rapid acceleration strives to stop the current of the flow of karma, and reverse it to find the deepest meanings of the scriptures and the Supreme Goal?
Swamiji is such a Teacher, and he says only Rishis strive for That. He teaches us to be Rishis.
Today we did more than 5-1/2 hours of Sadhana. Seeing Swamiji undertaking that kind of Sadhana is a real gift, and to do it with him is an unimaginable boon.
Love and understanding pours out of his every movement, every word, every tune! All that he is doing is an act of Love, and he constantly strives to increase and perfect more and more of this river of love. It seems that Love springs out of his heart in every direction.
Sometimes I see him like Lord Shiva, helping the great Ganges of Love bathe the earth. Not only his Sadhana, but every moment in his life.
It is so amazing to be a witness of this. He always has time for everyone and doesn’t care how “low” or “high” they are, how educated or uneducated, how rich or poor. He has moved beyond cultural standards.
With a kind smile and compassionate look, he makes himself available for everyone all the time with the same intensity as he makes himself available for God during Sadhana.
His patience with us makes me see the Divinity in him. We all can learn to chant scriptures, but how many of us can let go of our needs and egocentric tendencies to become Divine?
Swamiji says that Sadhana is more than sitting and chanting Sanskrit words, but actually embodying the philosophy. Sanskrit is a way of life.
We cannot lose the opportunity when a being of this character crosses our path. I try to be like a sponge here, so in my own small way I can be a tiny reflection of the love Swamiji continually expresses.
Doing Sadhana with him is a rainbow of magic vibrations that cannot be understood by the mind alone.
Yatralogue #13: Coming Forward to Home – by Kalyani
As Swamiji repeatedly says: “We will never go back; only forward,” and
this is the feeling that I have in this moment back with Swamiji.
After a short absence and travels to America, it feels so GOOD to be back in India with Swamiji and other dear family members! I couldn’t resist going deeper into my heart journey, and that is possible only through Sadhana and good association.
This is what we do in our current reality, that is indeed so humble from the outside and rich on the inside. It is the opposite of what the world wants so much to achieve: Richness on the outside with emptiness inside.
We have a lovely ashram life, where everything flows with so much ease and love. The days are filled with an intensity to get liberated from our bonds through sitting and chanting, cooking nourishing meals with simple ingredients, and kitchen satsanghas illuminated by the generous teachings of Swamiji, laughter and many times tears of Joy and Love.
We join together with the same objective to fill our Hearts with love to our Divine Mother, and to learn to melt completely our Ego in Her.
For me, personally, it is still just an ideal, but Swamiji has offered an environment where this can be possible, through emulating what the rishis did to become Rishis!!
It is the magic formula; our blue print to HER. We have a conducive atmosphere for this and a simple life, away from unnecessary gossip, unnecessary shopping, and unnecessary desires, so we have more time for our personal work, finding the balance between Too Much and Too Little that can bring us to perfection.
My days start early, waking up with the music of animals of the jungle in the night, warming water in a pot on the stove to take a short hot shower, overcoming the body comforts, joining Swamiji and walking with him and the rest of our Rishi-like family through a jungly path that lead us to the MahaKali temple. On our way we pass through different plants which include: rudraksha trees, cardamon, cinnamon, pan, supari, and banana trees among others. It is an intense tropical jungle.
Then we sit in the temple.
Today we started a new sankalpa and reached 5-1/2 hours in complete synchronization and devotion. Is there something in this present moment more rich and rewarding then this?
I am finding for me, being close to God is the same as being close to my own self, and it is becoming the most important reality from the many that I can choose from! Swamiji shares so much wisdom and loving care, and inspires for this to become my only reality.
After our sadhana, we walk on our return path to our rooms, and prepare a simple breakfast. The meals are cooked with love, and we share as a family.
We invariably take this opportunity to have satsangha that can vary from mudra insights, philosophy, or just getting inspired by Swamiji’s sadhu adventures. In the afternoons we continue studying individually the meaning of the scriptures, so they can become more alive inside us.
This has even been complemented with Sanskrit classes!! Wow!
Maybe there is never a limit to everything we can use to go deeper into becoming a Rishi! As Swamiji says: if we want to learn from Shiva, we should learn His language.
I look so much forward to continuing filling my days with more sadhana and more love. I hope that can be manifested with the courage to walk firmly in dedicating more time to God, and less to “Me, Me. Me,” learning to love everyone that crosses my path, just like the Rishis did.
Yatralogue 1: The Sweetness of West Bengal
Bengali people are incredibly sweet. Mishti.
You don’t always notice it, because they make you feel so at home that it starts to seem natural, like nothing out of the ordinary. But that doesn’t make it any less special. It’s just that it’s that special all the time.
Nachiketa, a devotee who visits regularly from Kolkata, says that Bengali people will accept you as their own.
That is totally my experience, and I couldn’t have put it in better words by myself.
Even if you don’t know a word of their language, they’ll embrace you as their own. If you do know even one word of Bengali, they’re overjoyed. I can’t help but smile right now as I picture all the faces that light up and beam any time one of us speaks a word in Bengali.
Yesterday, Sushil took me to a nearby town to procure some items, such as urahd dal for Swamiji, some nuts, and a kosa kosi (the water pot we use on the altar for puja) for Rudra. I used a Bengali word with one shopkeeper (the word mishti, actually, meaning “sweet”) and he threw his head back and laughed, exclaiming with a giant smile, “You are Bengali!”
Sushil proceeded to teach me to say, “Bengal is my home.” Amar Bangla bari. That made everyone laugh and smile even more. It was so joyful!
As this is not a tourist area (very few people speak any English at all), we are, without a doubt, the only foreigners you will see amidst this backdrop of the rural Bengali landscape and its people.
To be the only outsiders, and to feel so embraced, loved, and held by the culture is an amazing experience. I feel more at home here, and more loved, than I ever did in the United States. I feel like more of a foreigner in America!
Here, we are sadhus, and we’re embraced as sadhus. People see Swamiji’s tapasya, and they understand that it is something special. They regard Swamiji as an ancient Rishi, and they offer him the deepest respect, which they extend to all of us who are even attempting to practice and learn from this true Guru.
Just the other day, the main pujari at the Kali temple where we’re staying said to Swamiji that over the course of his life, he’s met thousands of sadhus, but no one like Swamiji.
It feels to me as though village India maintains more of a connection to old, Vedic India than the cities. True, there may not be sadhus like Swamiji (he is indeed a rare treasure), but the Indian cultural roots of Sanatana Dharma, tapasya, and rishis performing tapasya are still alive in the minds and hearts of the people.
They continue to hold sadhana and spiritual discipline in high esteem and regard, and when they see it, they treat it with the highest respect.
Jai Tapasyananda! Jai Maa! Jai Swamiji!
Yatralogue 2: Deep into India, Deep into the Heart
Swamiji often reminds me that over the course of all of his adventures and travels, it’s the people he remembers, not the places.
That it’s the people who make the places. It’s so true!
I was just reflecting on our most recent village excursion…
It was during our five-day break between Navaratris. One of the temple caretaker’s sons had come from university in Kolkata to meet Swamiji. He acted as our guide for the day, and took us through the village on the “forest route” around a pond, under trees, down a few tiny dirt alleys, and across a field, to get to a small Shiva temple where we could chant.
(Even in our tiny subsection of the village there is a small temple on every pathway and every street!)
This particular Shiva temple is part of a larger complex that is beautifully painted with bright golden and red colors. The Shiva temple itself is very simple on the inside, and contains large Shiva lingams.
After setting up our asanas and music stands, Swamiji led us in a Shiva Puja and Path that is a combination of viddhis from the Advanced Puja Yajna.
We began by reading the Sadhana Pancakam in English (the Five Verses in Praise of Spiritual Discipline by Shankaracharya), located right before the Devata Pranam in the Advanced Shiva Puja app.
I love the Sadhana Panchakam, as it so succinctly describes the path of sadhana, and reminds why doing sadhana is a really, really good idea:
Sit down in a quiet, conducive, and comfortable environment, and contemplate the Supreme Divinity. Look into yourself with the fullness of consciousness, and see the bondage of the gross world to the soul… With the strength of wisdom, free your mind from bondage… and after the past karma is complete, with an attitude of one mind, go to the realms of Union with the Highest Divinity and remain there.
After the Sadhana Panchakam, Swamiji led us through the introductory mantras, Shiva Dhyanam, and nyasas (establishment in the hands, body, and directions), after which we made silent japa of the sacred five-lettered mantra Om Namah Shivaya.
We went on to chant the Shiva Kavacham (Armor of Shiva), Shiva Shatanama (108 names of Shiva), and Shiva Sahasranam Stotram and Namavali, along with several other stotrams and hymns.
When we completed our worship, I left my iPad out so I could snap some photos on the walk home. I lagged behind the group a bit, and stopped on our way out of the temple complex to exchange a greeting with a Bengali woman who had come outside her door to watch our strange Sanskrit-loving tribe.
After offering pranam, I asked, “Tumi kemon accho?” meaning, “How are you?” This elicited a huge smile, after which she said something that, although I couldn’t recognize all the words, I knew was about my knowing Bengali.
I used a combination of the word “chota” meaning “little,” and body language to express that I know very, very little, and am completely incapable of carrying on a conversation.
But it didn’t matter.
Just one word and a smile was all that was needed, and in return I received a beautiful moment of connection, of union, with a poor Bengali village woman in a remote corner of the world that I could have never imagined.
It was a moment that will forever be etched in my memory. A moment in which all differences melted away, and there was only love and joy.
In that fleeting instant when we were free of differences, and free of separation, God was there. Shiva was there. Sanatana Dharma was made manifest. We were Savarni…He (or She!) who is One with All Colors, Castes, Tribes, and Creeds.
Shree Maa and Swamiji teach us that Devi Mandir is in our heart, and that every one of us is a priest and priestess in our own home. In our own temple.
Each one of us is part of a great network of light, holding up the flame of devotion in the midst of a time permeated by wordliness, attachment, and selfish desire.
But to be a sadhu alone in the world is also incredibly difficult. And for me, after so many years of feeling like a salmon swimming upstream against a massive current of confusion, to be so embraced by a culture, and surrounded by love, doing sadhana with my Guru, is like the most wonderful homecoming.
Here in this Shyamarai Kali Temple in a remote village of West Bengal, everyone and everything is empowering us to go deeper.
With Swamiji as our guide, we are walking in the footsteps of the ancient Rishis, in the same places they did, doing the same things they did, living, to the best of our ability, with the same bhavana they did, embraced with the same love and devotion that they were.
(In the midst of writing this post, I just left my room only to find Jayanti delivering a freshly-filled copper water pot that she had taken great care to polish. It was gleaming with her love and devotion! She had also left two neatly wrapped pieces of pumpkin on top of our “refrigerator” – aka basket of vegetables with a towel on top – along with fresh dhanya pata (cilantro) and chiles for Swamiji. My heart melted…)
I believe this experience of India is one that can only be found in out of the way places…deep into the country, deep in the villages, and deep in our own hearts.
Even more so, I believe this experience of India is one that, for most of us, can only be found alongside a Guru who has walked this path, and who can guide us to both the inner and outer destinations we truly seek.
I am filled with immense gratitude and reverence for Swamiji, who ventured into these distant places alone, without knowing the language, without a guide to protect him and be with him every step of the way, and who is now sharing such a treasure and privilege with those of us who sincerely desire to touch this way of life.
Om Namah Shivaya!
Yatralogue 3: Embracing the Light
Most of our blogs talk about how amazing it is to be here doing this sadhana, and sit at the feet of our Guru, listening to the great wisdom of the Vedas, that ancient path that Swamiji is so qualified to share.
But now I’d like to share with you a slightly different story. That is about the work. Our work. The work of everyone who is on the spiritual path. The work of being willing to give up our selfishness. To give up our suffering, and go into the light.
I have a pattern, which I’m sure many of you can relate to. That is, when something gets hard, and when something gets me down, I allow myself to…ummm…shall we say, spiral?
I remember Swamiji once talking about the process of falling down and getting up in a video somewhere on our website. He said everyone falls down, but he is like a yo-yo. He goes down, and he springs right back up.
I’m coming face to face with the fact that, when I fall, I don’t want to get to up. I hang on to my suffering with all my might. Like it’s my God given right to suffer, and I deserve to suffer to show everyone how bad I have it. Wow! How selfish? How self-conceited?
How unfair to everyone around me. A total breach in contract of what Swamiji calls upon us to do if we are to be Rishis: to uplift, to inspire, and to be a constant reminder to all those in our association that they too, are Rishis. That they too, are completely empowered to give up their darkness and live in the light.
K = the cause
La = manifested existence, the gross body
I = the causal body
M (anuswara) = perfection
The cause of manifested existence dissolving into the causal body in perfection.
So how do we dissolve our selfishness? How do we actually, finally, let go of “me and my suffering” and allow ourselves the joy and privilege of surrendering to Her?
Well, if there’s one thing I’m sure about, it’s that no Guru, no organization, nothing from the outside can tap us on the head with a magic peacock feather and give us enlightenment. It’s up to us to, as the Shiva Sankalpa Stotram says, “completely accept the nectar of immortal bliss, by means of the sacrificial fire attended by seven offerings on seven levels of consciousness.”
After our morning sadhana and Devi Gita chanting the other day, Swamiji led us in a meditation through the five koshas.
He took us from the annamaya kosha (physical body), to the pranamaya kosha (energy body, the breath, the life force), to the manomaya kosha (emotional body, the mind), to the vijnanamaya kosha (wisdom body), to the anandamaya kosha (bliss body).
As we moved from the vijanamaya kosh to the anandamaya kosh, Swamiji said something that really struck me…
“Yes, we can go into bliss. We are allowed to go into bliss.”
There were no caveats there. He didn’t say we can go into bliss if we’re already having a great day, or if everything is already perfect, or if we’re already a shining ball of light and love.
There were no caveats. No demands. No lofty standards.
Only that we allow ourselves to accept the invitation.
Swamiji says the role of the Guru is to inspire. I see that in my life in so many ways. Swamiji inspires me in so many ways.
A major one, which I think we can all relate to, is that when we witness him performing yajna or making puja, we feel his sincerity, love, joy, and somehow he always manages to make us smile and laugh.
When we see that, and feel it, it feels good. For lack of a better expression, it seems cool. So that inspires us to do the sadhana ourselves.
But there’s another major way that Swamiji inspires me that I’d like to share.
No matter what obstacles Swamiji faces, he keeps going. He keeps fighting on the side of dharma, love, forgiveness, and all things good. He keeps going. He keeps doing his sadhana, and he keeps sharing love and inspiration with those around him.
So if I want to follow him, I have to keep going through it all. I have to keep walking, no matter what comes my way. If I allow myself the indulgence of sinking into darkness and staying there, I’ll ultimately have to walk away. Darkness can’t exist where the light is.
That’s an incredible gift he gives that, maybe one day, I will be able to show him proper gratitude for.
I am reminded of Jesus’ proclamation that the greatest of those amongst you will be the servant. It’s so easy to think to be the Guru means we get to sit on a pedestal, enjoying adoration and attention. We forget that, indeed, the greatest amongst us will be the servant.
Thank you, Swamiji. I pranam to you, and to all those who strive in the path of Light.
Yatralogue 4: Swamiji’s Rhythm of Worship (+ Purnima Satsangha in Bengali!)
Swamiji structures his rhythm of life around Navaratris – nine night long sankalpas. Over the course of each Navaratri, Swamiji builds the asana up to 12 hours or longer, and in between sankalpas, he takes 5 days of “light duty,” which gives the body (and mind!) a chance to rest, and allows us to catch up on work and worldly karma, such as going to town for supplies, and updating the website, etc.
This organization gives Swamiji time for two sankalpas and two periods of rest per lunar month: one in shukla paksha (the bright fortnight, or waxing moon, which culminates on Purnima), and one in the the krishna paksha (the dark fortnight, or waning moon, which culminates on Amavasya).
Swamiji keeps to himself throughout the course of his sankalpas, spending most of the day in the Temple, and returning to his room to quietly reflect and do his work, away from as much outer interaction as possible.
Then, upon the conclusion of each sankalpa, Swamiji makes an extra effort to give and share inspiration, especially to the temple community surrounding us, which so graciously supports our sadhana in whatever way they can.
At the completion of our last sankalpa, Swamiji held a small satsangha in the Temple on Purnima. He spoke almost exclusively in Bengali, which is such a musical and poetic language. To hear Swamiji discourse on Sanatana Dharma in his Sanskrit-based Bengali is a treat for the heart, mind, soul – and ears!
Even without knowing Bengali, it is entirely possible to feel the bhava and the love with which Swamiji shares these eternal teachings. And if you’re familiar with Devi Mandir pujas, and some basic Sanskrit vocabulary, it’s amazing how much you can follow along.
Here are a few video clips from the Purnima satsangha. We hope you enjoy sitting at the feet of the Guru, wherever you are! Jai Sri Gurudeva!
Life of a Rishi
Throughout the entire system of worship I am performing pranayama. One mantra will be the measure of the inhalation, and one mantra for the exhalation.
If we focus on the mantras, then there will be no opportunity for the mind to wander.
At least this is our hope. This is our aspiration, that we can control the wandering mind by means of mantra. This is our sadhana.
Certainly you have all taken diksha. You have understood the systems of worship, the mantras with which you worship, the goals for which you worship. So you all will attempt to expand your sadhana according to your systems, mantras; you will achieve your goals, and make your goals ever more important in your lives.
By continually expanding and expanding, you will expand the length of time that you sit, and you will expand the duration and intensity of concentration. Your Peace will increase. This is the fruit of living like a Brahmin. This is the life of a Rishi.
ঐ পুরো পদ্ধতি দিয়ে প্রাণায়াম করছি | এক মন্ত্র আসবে অন্তরে আর এক মন্ত্র আসবে বাইরে | আমি সব সময় মন্ত্র নিয়ে থাকি | আর মনে ভ্রান্তি করার সময় নাই | আশা করি – বেশি ভ্রান্তি নয় | আমি একটা স্থির হুঁশ করতে পারি মন্ত্র দিয়ে | এই আমাদের সাধনা | তোমরা নিশ্চয় দীক্ষা নিয়েছো | তোমাদের পদ্ধতি আছে | এবং তোমাদের বিশেষ লক্ষ্য আছে | তুমি, তোমাদের পদ্ধতি, তোমার সিদ্ধান্ত, তোমার সাধনা, লক্ষ্য পালন করবে, প্রাপ্তি করিবে, বাড়াইবে | আর বাড়তে বাড়তে বাড়তে তোমাদের আসন বাড়বে, তোমাদের মনোযোগ বাড়বে, আর তারপর তোমাদের শান্তি বাড়বে | আর এই ব্রহ্মফল তুমি পাবে | এই তো ঋষি জীবন |
Seeing as a Rishi Sees
This is the meaning or definition of Rishi. Ish means to see through senses, the see in your mind, to illuminate in your consciousness. R means again. Ish means consciousness.
When we see in the gross body, it is called Pratakshya; when we see in the subtle body, it is called Pratyaya; when we see in the causal body, it is called Prakasha. In the gross body, Pratakshya; in the subtle body, it is Pratyaya; in the causal body, Prakasha.
Ishwara can see all without any limitations or boundaries. Free from limitations, free from boundaries, God is Infinite.
R means again. Human beings can again see as Ishwara sees: without limitations, without end. We can see both the individual and the cosmic. That is why our worship is called Samasthi Upashana. Upa means close; Asana to sit. Samasthi means everything in the universe.
How will we sit close to the whole universe? This is the system of worship. This is the puja, and by continual practice we can feel and make it grow.
So much as you churn the milk, so much cream rises to the surface.
কিন্তু ঋষির অর্থ ? – অর্থ – ঈশ মানে প্রত্যক্ষ, প্রত্যয়, প্রকাশ. আর র মানে অপার
প্র: কি বললেন, আবার বলুন|
ঈশ মানে চৈতন্য | চৈতন্য স্থুল শরীরে প্রত্যক্ষ করতে পারে, চৈতন্য সূক্ষ শরীরে প্রত্যয় করতে পারে, চৈতন্য কারণ শরীরে প্রকাশ করতে পারে | স্থুল, সূক্ষ, কারণ শরীর – প্রত্যক্ষ, প্রত্যয়, প্রকাশ | এবং ঈশ, ঈশ্বর – যে সব দেখতে পাচ্ছে | কোনো সীমা নাই | কোনো মায়া নাই | কোনো boundary নাই | অসীম|
আর র মানে আবার, তো মুনিগণ আবার দেখতে পারে – যেমন ঈশ্বর দেখছে. কোনো সীমা নাই | কোনো অন্ত নাই | আমরা ব্যক্তি এবং সমষ্টি উভয় ই দেখতে পাচ্ছি | ব্যক্তিরূপ দেখতে পাচ্ছি, সমষ্টি রূপ ও দেখতে পাচ্ছি | সেই জন্য এই পূজা আমরা করি – সমষ্টি উপাসনা | উপ মানে নিকটে, আসন মানে বসি | সমষ্টি কি করে? সাধু সঙ্গে নিকটে বসে | এই পদ্ধতি, এই পুজো, করতে করতে করতে আমরা উপলব্ধি করতে পারি | যত মন্থন করবে, ততো মালাই বাড়িবে |
Give Her Your Best
When we recite the mantras we will contemplate: what am I offering, who am I inviting, to where am I making the invitation to sit?
It is here in our hearts. And when She is seated there in the heart, we will remove Her and put Her on a flower in front of our hearts, and recite the mantras to the Goddess on the flower.
We raise Her up and then place Her on the yantra in front of us.
We invite Her, establish Her, empower Her, and we appreciate Her.
Now She is within the murti or symbol of worship, within the heart, sitting on the yantra, sitting on a flower. I can withdraw that energy from the deity, put in on the flower, and moving that flower, I can give that energy to whomever I choose.
It is with this attitude that we are able to perform worship. It is so blissful, and it is our right to experience. This is what is called Sanatana Dharma, the eternal ideal of perfection, the infinite eternal ideal of perfection, to which we want our seat to move closer and closer.
Then we can think: why did I invite Her? What do I want to share with Her? Everything I have is Hers. I am offering the mirror of my soul to reflect the most pure example I can possibly reflect. A perfectly clear mirror is the best reflection I can offer to you, the reflection of my highest ideal of perfection is YOU!
As many objects as we offer in the puja, all have similar significance. We offer milk, which represents infinite consciousness, and we offer yogurt, symbolizing individual consciousness. Ghee stands for brilliant illumination, and honey, the sweetest attitude. With sugar we offer nourishment.
This is the way we offer to bathe you: we give infinite consciousness, individual consciousness, illumination, sweetness, and nourishment. This is the meaning of the five different baths.
এই আমাদের প্রার্থনা | যখন আমরা পড়বো এই মন্ত্র, কি অর্পণ করছি? কি ভাব দিয়ে আরাধনা করছি? কি আবাহন করছি? কোথায় বসাচ্ছি? এইখানে (pointing to heart) | তারপর এখানে হৃদয়ের স্থান থেকে তুলবো (point to forehead) এবং
অম্বে-অম্বিকে-অম্বালিকে ন মা নয়তি কশ্চন |
সশস্ত্যাশ্চকঃ সুভদ্রিকাম কাম্পিল্যাবাসিনীম ||
হঃ! (Breathe into right hand) আমার প্রাণ ফুল করে দিচ্ছি |
জয়ন্তী মঙ্গলা কালী ভদ্রকালী কাপালিনী|
দূর্গা ক্ষমা শিবা ধাত্রী স্বাহা স্বাধা নমস্তুতে||
ওম এইং চণ্ডিকায়ৈ বিধমহে ত্রিপুরারই ধিমহে , তন্ন গৌরী প্রচোদয়াৎ|
ওম এইং হ্রীম ক্লিম চামুণ্ডাঐ বিচ্ছে|
ইহাগচ্ছ, ইহা তিষ্ঠ, ইহা সন্নিরুদ্ধাশ্ব, ইহা সোনিহিত ভব, অত্রাধিষ্ঠানম কুরু|(show mudras)
দেবী মম পূজাং গৃহাণ
দেবী ভক্তসূলভে পরিত্রান করাইতে|
যাবৎ ত্বম পুজোইসামি তাবৎ ত্বম সুস্থিরা ভব ||
এখন উনি মূর্তির ভিতর, হৃদয়ের ভিতর,যন্ত্রের ওপরে, অগ্নিকুন্ডে আছেন| যেখানে আমি ঐ শক্তি নিয়ে যাচ্ছি, ফুল দ্বারা, সবাইকে দিতে পারবো. এই ভাবনা দিয়ে আমি পুজো করতে পারছি | কি আনন্দ | এই মায়ের অধিকার আমাদেরকে দিয়েছেন| এর অর্থ সনাতনধর্ম |
এ তো চিরস্থায়ী, সনাতন, শ্রেষ্ঠ আদর্শ| মায়ের সামনে বসলাম, উপাসনা করলাম. উপ আসন করছি | তারপর আমরা কেন ডাকলাম, কেন আবাহন করলাম? যত সব আমার আছে তোমাকে দিতে চাই | যত আমার অধিকার আছে |
দর্পণম বিমলং রোম্যং শুদ্ধবিম্বপ্রদায়কম |
আত্মবিম্বপ্রদর্শনার্থর্পযামি সুরেশ্বরী ||
এই শুদ্ধ বিম্ব, আমার আত্মবিম্ব প্রকাশ করার জন্য আমি এই দর্পন, এই আয়না আমি তোমাকে নিবেদন করছি| দিখাইবো এত্র বিম্ব আছে আমার শ্রেষ্ঠ আদর্শ | তুমি এই আমার দর্পন দর্পন| যত আমরা অর্পণ করছি – আমরা দুধ দিয়ে এই চিরস্থায়ী চৈতন্যকে নমস্কার করছি | দধি দিয়ে, দই দিয়ে আমরা ব্যক্তিরূপ চৈতন্যকে পুজো করছি| ঘৃত দিয়ে, ঘি দিয়ে আমরা তোমার উজ্জ্বল প্রকাশ কে আরাধনা করছি| মধু তোমার মিষ্টি ভাবনা দিয়ে, এবং শর্করা দিয়ে তোমার পুষ্টি করছি | এবং এই পঞ্চ অমৃত দিয়ে তোমাকে স্নান করাচ্ছি | আমার চিরস্থায়ী চৈতন্য, আমার ব্যক্তি চৈতন্য, আমার উজ্জ্বল প্রকাশ, আমার মিষ্টি ভাবনা, এবং আমার যত পুষ্টি দিতে পারবো তোমাকে, অন্য ভক্ত কে| এই আমাদের পঞ্চামৃত স্নান|
Dharma Seeks Perfection
I seek to employ this knowledge in all my behaviors in life. With what attitude will I pursue my journey through life? With mantra. “This is the definition of my best behavior.” Isn’t it?
The meaning of mantra, “Man Trayate, to give up the mind and all thoughts,” will define what is my most excellent behavior.
What will I feel when I act with the most excellent behavior? This is our Dharma, our highest ideal of perfection, and I am searching for that highest ideal of perfection in everything that I do!
Whatever action I perform, the goal must be to illuminate that highest ideal of perfection. Can I perform perfectly with complete accuracy, or will I leave somethings left undone?
কি ভাবে আমার জীবনের ব্যবহার করবো? আমি কি ভাব দিয়ে আমার জীবনের যাত্রা করিব মন্ত্র দ্বারা? This is the definition of my best behavior| এই মন্ত্র – মন ত্রয়োতে – সমস্ত মনকে সংহার করে | এই মন্ত্র এই অর্থ আমার শ্রেষ্ঠ আদর্শ ব্যবহার কেমন হবে? আমার শ্রেষ্ঠ আদর্শ উপলব্ধি কেমন হবে? আমার মন কোথায় রাখবো? এই আমাদের ধর্ম | শ্রেষ্ঠ আদর্শ | এবং আমরা ধর্মের জন্য কোশিশ করছি যে প্রত্যেক কর্মতে আমরা ধর্ম প্রকাশ করবো| প্রত্যেক ক্রিয়ার একটা লক্ষ্য আছে – ধর্ম প্রচার করার| আমি নিপুণভাবে করতে পারবো, অথবা আমি অর্ধকাজ করেই ফেলে দেবো |
You have come to me? How fortunate I am!
What scripture, what Philosophy has empowered me to have such a darshan, such a fortunate experience, such a vision as to see You? I am so fortunate! Certainly I will want to study the meanings of what I am saying! For what actions I am allowed such a wonderful life? I would like to do it again! And my next life will be even easier and more delightful!
By continually practicing in this way, the cream rises to the top, and I get to dissolve in the divine nectar. The ocean of worldliness will dissolve, and I get to submerge myself in the ocean of nectar. This is the actual Soma Ras, the nectar of devotion. “When the attitude of devotion rises and rises, oh, oh, I dissolve all duality in that ocean of devotion!”
With this attitude, so much as we can churn, so much as we can make japa, so much is our appreciation, so much is our good fortune, so much is our bliss! You gave this to us. I only invited You. All I have for You is my Thank You! As much as we can recite, we can feel even more. What bliss You have given, what progress You have given, what good fortune You have given.
At the end of every asana we say: from the Anumaya Kosha, we move to the Pranamaya Kosha; and from the Pranamaya Kosha, we enter the Manamaya Kosha, and from the Manamaya Kosha, we go to the Vijnanamaya Kosha, and from the Vijnanamaya Kosha, we enter the Anandamaya Kosha. There we experience the radiant bliss of Satchitananda.
From the Anandamaya Kosha, we go to the Vijnanamaya Kosha, where we see the principle of the light of wisdom, which is pure illumination. We take that pure illumination from the Vijnanamaya Kosha to the Manamaya Kosha, where we illuminate all ideas which have form.
We illuminate all reflections with the light of wisdom. From the Manamaya Kosha we join the Pranamaya Kosha, where we exhale our breath and life force into the external world of the Anumaya Kosha, and we open our senses to the world of sense. What a fabulous pilgrimage!
Anumaya Kosha, Pranamaya Kosha, Manamaya Kosha, our minds are illuminated with great delight; Vijnanamaya Kosha, even greater light; Anandamaya Kosha, no words, it is beyond description. This is our road map by which to make our journey from the gross body to the subtle body to the causal body, step by step we raise the level of our awareness.
সে এসেছে! কি ভাগ্য! নিশ্চই আমি অধ্যয়ন করবো, কি বুঝছি, কি অর্থ, কি উপলব্ধি করিব, কি প্রকাশ করিব, কি দর্শনশাস্ত্র দিয়ে এই সৌভাগ্য পেয়েছি| কি কর্ম দিয়ে আমি এই পেয়েছি – যে আমি এই জন্মে আরো করিব, তো সামনের জন্ম আরো সুবিধে হবে | তো এই উপলব্ধি করিতে করতে যত মন্থন করিবে তত মালাই উঠবে | এই ভাবনা ভাবতে গিয়ে গুলে যাবে এই রস নিয়ে, সংসার সম্বন্ধে তো ভুলে যাইবে, গুলে যাবে এই রস নিয়ে – সোমরস | এই তো আসল সোমরস| “ভাব ভক্তি উথলে উথলে আহা মরি মরি.” এই ভাবনা দিয়ে আর যত মন্থন করতে পারবে, যত জপ্ করতে পারবে, আমার কি অগ্রগতি, কি আনন্দ, কি সৌভাগ্য| কি তুমি দিয়েছো, এই ধর্মে তুমি আমাকে নিমন্ত্রণ করেছো | ধন্যবাদ | (Thanking the Divine Mother)
কি ভাব দিয়ে আমি ধন্যবাদ বলতে পারি আর যত জপ্ করিবে তত ওর উপলব্ধি আসবে | আমার কি সৌভাগ্য, আমার কি আনন্দ, আমার কি অগ্রগতি, আমার কি সচ্চিদানন্দ প্রকাশ| প্রতি আসনের পরে আমরা বলছি অন্নময় কোষ থেকে প্রাণময় কোষ, (breathing in) এবং প্রাণময় কোষ থেকে মনোময় কোষ, (pointing at temple) মনোময় কোষ থেকে বিজ্ঞানময় কোষ, (pointing at forehead) বিজ্ঞানময় কোষ থেকে আনন্দময় কোষ (pointing to the top of the head) | এবং আনন্দময় কোষে রশ্মি , রশ্মি, – সৎ, চিৎ, আনন্দ | আনন্দময় কোষ থেকে বিজ্ঞানময় কোষ, কেবল তেজতত্ত্ব , কেবল ঐ জ্ঞানশক্তি, জ্যোতির্প্রকাশ | ওই জ্যোতির্প্রকাশে মনোময় কোষের সমস্ত বিচার জ্যোতি বিম্ব করছে, প্রকাশ করছে| এবং মনোময় কোষ থেকে প্রাণময় কোষ , (long breath exhalation) বাইরে এসে গেছে, তোমরা ইন্দ্রিয় খুলবে, এবং দেখবে অন্নময় কোষ| কি যাত্রা! অন্নময় কোষ প্রত্যক্ষ রূপ, প্রাণময় কোষ, মনোময় কোষ আমার মন তো উজ্জ্বল প্রকাশ| মনোময় কোষ থেকে বিজ্ঞানময় কোষ কেবল জ্যোতি প্রকাশ | বিজ্ঞানময় কোষ থেকে আনন্দময় কোষ – এই সৎ চিৎ আনন্দ | অপ্রত্যক্ষ |
প্র: বাবা, এগুলোর উপলব্ধি আপনা-আপনি হবে – এই অন্নময় কোষ থেকে মনোময়, মনোময় থেকে …?
নিশ্চয় | এর একটা নকশা আছে | আমরা এই নকশা দিয়ে আমরা পদে পদে শ্রেণীর পর শ্রেণী আমরা উঠছি | ওই নকশা দিয়ে আমরা জানি কোথায় পা রাখতে হবে, কোথায় যাচ্ছি | কোথা থেকে আসছি |