Shree Maa, Swamiji, and Swami Ramkripaluji took the group to very special temple for Lord Shiva called the Neelkanth Mahadev Temple (also commonly referred to as Neelkantha, Nilkanth and Nilakanth) located just outside of Rishikesh.
Shree Maa explained that this temple is the location where Lord Shiva went to cool his throat after He had consumed the Halahala poison at the churning of the milk ocean.
Nilakanth literally means “blue throat” and is named after Lord Shiva, whose throat turned blue after drinking the poison.
This famous pilgrimage site is located up beautiful, forested, winding roads in the Himalayan Mountains. The road turned constantly, weaving its way through the mountains.
Just below, we could see the divine Mother Ganga with all of Her twists and turns.
The journey to the temple itself was a source of inspiration, not only for its beauty, but also for the realization that here, in these ancient mountains, so many Sadhus had come in the past to worship God.
Shree Maa was very excited for the group to receive darshan of Nilakanth Mahadev.
Swamiji too was thrilled about the prospects of our sadhana at the temple.
Nilakanth is itself a very famous pilgrimage place for Lord Shiva. Each person usually has only a short time to see the Lingam and to make a quick offering.
Miraculously, when we arrived at the temple there was almost nobody present!
Shree Maa and Swamiji were able to make all of their offerings to Lord Shiva. In addition, we all had the opportunity to offer a bath of milk to Shiva at the end.
We then sat down within sight of Nilakanth Mahadev and recited the Rudrashtadayayi.
At the end, Swami Ramkripaluji commented that, during the chanting, he had seen dancing mantras! He felt that Swamiji’s recitation was so full of energy that the mantras of the Rudrastadhyayi were dancing as we chanted!
Afterwards Shree Maa gave her blessings to all the online viewers.
I have noticed that in every temple we visit, the priests are always so happy to hear that we want to do our sadhana. They invariably warmly invite us in and give us a place near the deity to chant. Typically, at the end of our recitation, they offer their pranams and sometimes garland our beloved gurus Shree Maa and Swamiji with flowers. The Nilakanth Mahadev Temple was no different!
Shree Maa had enjoyed visiting Nilakanth so much that, when we sat down for Arati in the evening, she spontaneously invented a new song. She began singing “Nilakanth, Nilakanth, Nilakanth Mahadeva” to the tune of Jai Maa. Swamiji quickly chimed in and, before we knew it, the whole group was singing the joyous arati of Nilakanth Mahadev!
Upon reflection of the days events, I am grateful that I have benefited through the years from Swamiji’s teachings as I feel that he has better prepared me for this tour.
I am continuously amazed at how he translated so many stories and texts such that, wherever we visit, we understand the background, know which scriptures to chant, and can fit right into the bhava.
For example, in the Swami Purana Book, Swamiji tells the story of Nilakanth Mahadev – of Lord Shiva drinking the poison and its significance. He also explains this story in his own words in the first class of the Swami Purana Video Class. How fortunate we are to have this wisdom at our fingertips.
Swamiji has often stressed to us that we are from the “Universal Religious Tradition,” meaning, we worship all of the Gods and Goddesses.
In traveling with Shree Maa and Swamiji to a variety of different temples, I have a much better appreciation for the significance of our tradition. We can literally go into any temple and be accepted and warmly welcomed.
This is the beauty of our tradition, the universal tradition, which Shree Maa and Swamiji have imparted to us!
Jai Maa! Jai Swamiji!