Today is the 8th day, Ashtami, in the lunar calendar and Swamiji suggested we recite the Gayatri Sahasranam.
The Gayatri Sahasranam is especially auspicious to recite on the 8th lunar day:
To do our sadhana, Swamiji took the group to a Gayatri Temple located just at the entrance to Tryambakeshwar. It is a small temple in honor of the Goddess Gayatri and is around 1000 years old!
Like the temple of Tryambakeshwar, it is constructed of beautiful carved stone stacked together without mortar.
Swamiji shared with us that that he had performed Homa under one of these trees some 20 years ago.
We sat down at the base of one of the trees and Swamiji set up to broadcast so the rest of the Devi Mandir family could join us online.
We then began the recitation the of Gayatri Sahasranam.
It was a great privilege to sit so close to the temple of Gayatri Maa and recite Her thousand names.
Since our arrival in India, this was the first temple the group had visited which was dedicated to Goddess Gayatri.
The opportunity to chant this with Swamiji, under the same trees he performed his Sadhana 20 years ago, proved to be a great inspiration for the group.
Upon completion of the recitation, Swamiji picked up the broadcaster and showed our online family the temple grounds, the inside of the Gayatri Temple, and all of the devotees who were present.
Much to our surprise, we returned from the temple and became immersed in a fun new project! We were challenged with building a Havan Kund for a homa that was planned the next day.
It was the first time many of us had ever built a Havan Kund, and it was a delightful learning experience.
Swamiji participated and gave guidance to the group. Our beloved Shree Maa watched and monitored the progress like an affectionate, doting Mother!
First we began by placing the bricks to make a two step high Havan Kund, which is much smaller then the Havan Kund at the Devi Mandir.
Then, the fun part began – with most of us wearing white shirts and Dhotis, we began to cover the bricks with mud.
Of course, our Swamiji led the group and was the first to get his hands dirty spreading the mud on the bricks. In a short time we had a beautiful looking Havan Kund and some very dirty hands!
We all enjoyed working in unity to build the Havan Kund, especially under the guidance of our two gurus.
Later that evening, we all returned to the Havan Kund to put a final layer of Govar, which is cow dung. This serves as a plaster in the Havan Kund.
This time around, Swamiji was free from the dirty work and instead, he unexpectedly pulled out his traveling keyboard, and started singing Krishna bhajans!
In the most delightful, inspiring way, Swamiji sang, “Gopala, Gopala, Devakinanda Gopala” as we worked toward our goal. Shree Maa lovingly watched our progress.
With this inspiration, the group completed the Havan Kund and it was ready for a spectacular Homa on the next day!
Upon reflection, it occurred to me that we all worked so joyfully together.
I realized that, as a group, we can accomplish much more working together – in harmony and unity – than any one of us could ever do alone.
The special memories of this day will serve as powerful reminder of this lesson!
Jai Maa! Jai Swamiji!