Travelogue Video: Kali Homa at Tryambakeshwar Town
On the night before Diwali, we prayed to Kali Maa to remove our darkness and negativeness. There was an incredible energy present on this auspicious evening, as Shree Maa and Swamiji led the group in a fire ceremony (homa) while chanting the Kali Sahasranam, the Thousand Names of Kali.
The bhava and energy that was created in the worship culminated in an ecstatic Arati celebration. Everyone sang, danced, and afterwards, enjoyed prasad.
We invite you to enjoy watching the video of that evening – an evening with such power that it touched the hearts and lives of all present.
The day following the Kali Puja was Diwali. We celebrated the Divine Mother as the Light, and worshiped her as the Goddess of Truth Wealth, Maha Lakshmi.
Travelogue: Bhoomi Shuddhi, The Purification of Land
Early morning, Shree Maa, Swamiji, and ten devotees gathered in a beautiful location surrounded by hills and a nearby lake. This beautiful piece of property is owned by one of our family members who is about to get a terrific blessing!
On this day, Shree Maa and Swamiji were preparing to lead the group in a sacred Homa for Mother Earth (Bhu Devi) – and the Earth being blessed belonged to this fortunate devotee.
This very special Homa is called “Bhoomi Shuddhi”. The word “Bhoomi” means earth, or the land that we live on. So, the Bhoomi Shuddhi Yagna, which is also commonly spelled Bhumi Shuddi Yagna, is a special fire ceremony used for the process of purifying land to render it fit for residing.
Swamiji explained that there are many ways of performing Bhoomi Shuddhi. It is done “Jatha Viddhi”, which means according to the traditions of the scriptures, the local traditions, and those of one’s own Gurukul (traditions of one’s family Guru, or traditions of one’s Guru’s family of disciples).
According to our traditions, the Bhoomi Shuddhi is performed by first invoking Lord Ganesh, then chanting the Shiva Sahasranam (the one thousand names of Lord Shiva), followed by blessing the land with the sacred ashes.
After puja, Swamiji invoked the sacred fire and began the Homa.
The group chanted one mala of “Om Gam Ganapataye Namah” and then immediately began the Shiva Sahasranam.
Swamiji, who felt great gratitude to be once again merged with the divine fire, enthusiastically offered ghee with each mantra. The rest of the group offered masala, a mixture of green barley, whole grain rice, sesame, milk, honey, and sugar.
As we reached the last of the thousand names, Swamiji picked up one more oblation and made an offering with the name of “Napeshwar.” Napeshwar is the name of Lord Shiva’s manifestation at the Devi Mandir in Napa, California.
Shree Maa, totally surprised with Swamiji’s addition, was visibly very pleased as a look of total delight beamed from Her face!
(There is nothing that makes us more happy than to watch Shree Maa and Swamiji playfully interact with each other. This was one of those moments!)
Later in the day, after the fire from the Bhoomi Shuddhi Homa had cooled, Swamiji took the ashes from the fire and led us around the property. We chanted the Gayatri Mantra as Swamiji spread the ashes along the perimeter of the land, soothing and comforting the land with his grace.
This process of blessing the perimeter of the land with the holy ash is called “Lakshman Rekha.”
The name was derived from the great epic Ramayana. Lakshman, the brother of Lord Rama, was to protect Sita Maa while Lord Ram was away from the hut.
To do so, he drew a line around the hut where Sita Devi was residing and declared that no one with bad intentions could cross that line. When Ravana came to kidnap Sita, he was unable to cross the line.
In the same way, Swamiji spread the ashes around the perimeter of the property to protect it from the entry of anyone who may have ill intentions, negativity, or bad vibrations.
Afterwards, Swamiji patiently took the opportunity to explain to us in depth other aspects of these Vedic traditions. For example, the procedure of Bhoomi Shuddhi often includes establishing a pot (as you would do in a puja) and then, with mantra, sprinkling the sacred water around the property.
Also, he taught that in the case of new construction, we typically apply a three step process. First, we bless the land by performing Bhoomi Shuddhi. Second, we perform a special ceremony, called Shilpa Arambha, to bless the commencement of construction. Then, after the completion of construction, we perform the Griha Pravesh ceremony, which blesses our entry into the newly constructed premises.
As Swamiji taught us, I came to realize that his knowledge of Vedic traditions goes far beyond the homas and pujas that we have learned in our classes at the Devi Mandir. I have grown in reverence towards him, as he not only has the knowledge, but also is so willing to share it. Thank you Swamiji!
Jai Maa! Jai Swamiji!
Travelogue: Gayatri Mandir and Gayatri Sahasranam
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:
For the Gayatri Sahasranam recitation, Swamiji took the group to a Gayatri Temple located just at the entrance to Tryambakeshwar. It is a small, ancient temple and is around 1000 years old!
Like the temple of Tryambakeshwar, it is constructed of beautiful carved stone stacked together with no mortar.
Swamiji shared with us 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 of the 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 as he spread the mud on the bricks. In a short period of 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!
At the foot of the Anjaneri Mountain was Hanuman’s Temple, a small vedi underneath a broad tree in the middle of the forest.
It was so silent and still, and when we began to recite the complete Hanuman Puja, the birds joined our chorus, the wind rustled in the leaves of the trees, and the refreshing breeze made us forget the mid-morning sun.
We offered each of the ingredients from our hearts, subscribing to the theory that if God is pleased with our puja, all that is needed will be provided.
In fact, when we completed our puja, the local priest came and began the arati, just as we were singing. He offered incense and lights, while we sang Hanuman’s arati, and then we sang the Pranam and offered some dakshina for the privilege of worship.
Also present were the murtis of Shiva, Nandi, and Ganesh. We sang to them all.
Travelogue: Hanuman Puja at Anjaneri
Along with Swamiji, we visited the Hanuman Temple at the base of the Anjaneri Mountain, situated between Nasik and Trymbakeshwar. This temple is extraordinary in that, Anjaneri is said to be the birth place of Lord Hanuman, who is also known as Anjaneya, the son of Anjani.
The temple has a very large 11 foot murti of Lord Hanuman, who is seated in a meditation posture.
In front of this large main murti, is a precious murti of Lord Hanuman as a small child.
As we entered the temple, Swamiji explained to the priest that we would like to perform a puja for Lord Hanuman.
The priest offered us a nice place to sit, off to the side, where we had a clear view of Lord Hanuman, and yet would not be disturbed.
Swamiji set up the broadcast so devotees worldwide could join in the worship. Once Swamiji received a broadcasting signal, he picked up the broadcasting computer and gave our online viewers darshan of Lord Hanuman! He also introduced our family members who were present in the temple for the worship.
Then, Swamiji exuberantly led our group in chanting the Hanuman Puja.
As we chanted, devotees were coming in and out of the temple and, as customary, they reverently offered flowers and incense to Lord Hanuman.
A few would sit and quietly read the Hanuman Chalisa.
The people in the temple began to take notice as we chanted the repetition of the Hanuman Mantra. Led by Swamiji, the energy of the japa grew exponentially and many people became drawn into the sound of the chanting.
As we reached the end of the puja, we noticed that people began flocking to the temple and sitting quietly. The time was quickly approaching for the temple Arati.
Miraculously, as if right on cue, just as the sounds of the temple Arati ceased, we reached the place in our own puja where it was time for us to sing the Hanuman Arati. We sang with great devotion and fervor!
Then, to top it all off, Swamiji pulled out his traveling keyboard and played for us while we sang the closing mantras in one voice.
When we finished the puja, the gracious temple priest expressed his sincere appreciation to Swamiji and the group.
Making sure not to miss a golden opportunity to share wisdom with a fellow sadhu, our beloved Swamiji invited the priest to answer a few questions for the online viewers. The priest was very willing to contribute.
Swamiji asked him what it was like to live a life of worship in the temple.
The priest responded, “it was the greatest privilege he could imagine to get to worship God all day long. He said that he could not imagine doing anything greater with his life.”
As the dialog continued, Swamiji told the priest how our group was going from temple to temple and performing sadhana.
The priest said, “So many people come to the temple and just take darshan for a moment. They offer a flower, or some dakshina, and then they leave.”
By sitting down, chanting and performing the worship ourselves, we demonstrate to the people the extreme joy in worshiping God. We help them experience the inherent power in the vibrations of the sanskrit mantras. We inspire them to worship and to perform Sadhana for themselves.
Therefore, in performing sadhana with a pure attitude, our devotional worship becomes a beautiful seva offered to humanity!
May all be blessed to sit down, pay attention, and give their love and devotion to God!
Jai Maa! Jai Swamiji!
Travelogue: Dattatreya Temple and Guru Gita
During our stay in Nashik, Shree Maa, Swamiji and the group visited a small temple in honor of Lord Dattatreya.
Lord Dattatreya means the “Ambassador of the Three.” Swamiji explained that He is considered the Guru of all the Gurus, and is a manifestation of the three divinities: Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.
We arrived at the small temple and were warmly greeted by the pujari. After getting situated, Swamiji recited the specific mantras to offer various articles of worship while our beloved Mother Shree Maa made the offerings to the murti of Lord Dattatreya.
When it was time to offer a flower garland, the pujari kindly gave to Shree Maa a beautiful flower mala for Her to put on Lord Dattatreya.
When we chanted the mantras for offering food, Shree Maa playfully took a little bit of the sweet and held a piece to each one of the mouths on all three faces of Lord Dattatreya.
She was feeding them, in Her motherly, affectionate way, and She was very much enjoying Herself. Seeing that the offering was given with such sweetness by Shree Maa, it seemed as though Lord Dattatreya was smiling back at Her with loving joy. He, too, was enjoying the attention and the prasad.
After offering the articles of worship, Swamiji began to set up the live broadcast to share with our family around the globe. Shortly after the broadcast went live, the group recited the Guru Gita.
Many devotees who were visiting the temple began to gather around us. With careful attention, they observed the radiance of Shree Maa and the power of Swamiji’s chanting.
Everyone listened intently, looking in through the doors, peeking through the windows – wherever a space could be found – just to get a glimpse of our two divine gurus.
Swamiji chanted slowly, taking care to pronounce each mantra clearly, so that the group could follow along.
The sound of the Guru Gita filled-up that small temple completely and everyone was delighted to hear the recitation.
At the end, Shree Maa blessed the priest and gifted him with the very book (The Guru and the Goddess) from which She was chanting!
With sincere devotion, the gracious pujari bowed down and accepted the offering as a divine gift.
Then, with great spontaneity, our Swamiji turned the camera to the priest and introduced the priest to the online viewers!
The priest was so humble and so kind. He just flowed like water with the entire scene, not knowing what to expect, but yet, never becoming rattled. A true divine sadhu!
In an effort to draw out new perspectives and wisdom, Swamiji, in his loving way, asked the pujari some questions about his spiritual life.
For example, Swamiji asked the pujari, “Why do you worship, what is the benefit in worship?”
The pujari replied, “When you perform puja, chanting and prayers, you have a feeling of being connected with God. Negativeness and egotism are destroyed.”
He continued, “When you have the realization that Ram (God) is behind this whole creation you will feel that God is with you and that you are with God. That feeling cannot be described in words. The financial wealth that rich people and kings have is nothing in comparison to the peace that we obtain when we are with Ram (God).”
When the discussion wrapped up, all were given prasad and the numerous devotees that were peeking from the outside, gathered around, bowed, and offered their respect to Shree Maa and Swamiji.
The small temple, and its devotees, were surely blessed that day! But we were blessed too, as we felt their gratitude, which will stay with us for a long time to come!
Jai Maa! Jai Swamiji!
Travelogue: Sundar Kanda at Tryambakeshwar
Swamiji and the group made a second visit to Tryambakeshwar, the Jyotir Lingam situated just outside of the city of Nashik. This is one of the twelve Jyotir Lingams where Shiva bestowed his eternal light.
As customary for this temple, there was a long queue of devotees in line to get the darshan of Lord Shiva.
We were so grateful that one of our family members was kind enough to set up a special escort so that we could enter the temple quickly. The escort cleverly took us through the exit door, bypassing the long line.
Once inside the main temple, we were graced with the darshan of Lord Tryambakeshwar.
At this temple, the main shrine is filled with a great roar of noise as many priests chant loudly and the people in the queue talk to each other. The combination of the chanting and the talking creates a continuous hum of sound echoing through the temple.
Despite all of the people and the noise, our efficient escort cleared a very nice spot for us to sit down and chant. He even asked some of the brahman priests to move to the side, which gave us room and protected us.
Swamiji set up his computer to broadcast, and, to our delight, we were able to get a signal inside the temple.
Once we got situated, with great intensity, our beloved Swamiji led the group through the recitation of the Sundar Kanda, which we chanted with pranayam, with two verses to the breath.
The group chanted together with a unified voice, the sound of which rose above the background noise of the temple.
Swamiji’s bhava became contagious!
The group’s chanting inspired both the temple priests and devotees, as several made the efforts to chant along with us.
Swamiji, in his unique way, would emphasize certain verses that were filled with wisdom.
By the end of the recitation, those fortunate devotees who joined us were so excited and absorbed in the bhava that they requested us to keep chanting!
To honor their request, we sang the Hanuman Chalisa and the Barang Ban, found in the Hanuman Puja book.
The people who had been sitting nearby came and gave their pranams to Swamiji, and one man offered flowers to the entire group!
The devotees who had chanted along with us expressed what an amazing power and vibration they felt! For them, it was a unique, uplifting experience. Upon reflection, we knew this recitation was a divine satsangha at its best!
After we finished the chanting, Swamiji graced the online veiwers with a glimpse of the temple from his broadcasting electronics.
Then, we exited the temple and circumambulated the beautiful temple grounds of Tryambakeshwar.
This amazing, ancient temple was built stone on top of stone, with no mortar.
The carvings in the stone are so intricate that it would be difficult for any modern artisan to recreate. Indeed, the temple construction and design would be very difficult to replicate.
We all had a great delight walking around that ancient temple, and seeing the dedication and concentration with which it must have been constructed.
Travelogue: Nilambika Temple
Together with Shree Maa and Swamiji we all made a trip to the Sri Nilambika temple (Blue Mother) situated on top the Neel Mountain, which overlooks the city of Tryambakeshwar. There, the Divine Mother is also worshiped in the form of Annapurna, She who Nourishes with Food and Grains.
Swamiji related that he had visited this temple some 15 years before, and remembering his visit, the Sadhus living there were happy to welcome our group. They allowed us all to sit inside the inner sanctum and chant the Annapurna Sahasranam. Swamiji set up the computer broadcast for the world to see.
At the end of the names, the group chanted the Annapurna Stotram, and Swamiji offered dakshina to the Goddess.
Many people from around the world were able to see the beauty of that place through live web-streaming.
There is one spot on the temple wall overlooking the town below which is worshiped there at Nilambika. It is said that the Goddess who resided in the temple, Sapta Shringi, left the temple from that spot to go see the great Rishi Markandeya, who was performing tapasya nearby.
We then made our way down the hill and visited a nearby ashram to give our pranams to the Guru who lived there. Swamiji offered him dakshina and the Guru of the ashram did the same: offering dakshina, a flower mala and some fruit to Shree Maa and Swamiji.
Swamiji and Shree Maa took darshan of the murti of Durga located there as well.
Travelogue: Sapta Shringi and Kalaram Temples
There, we visited a fascinating temple known as Sapta Shringi (also spelled Saptashrungi or Saptashringi).
The word “sapta” means seven and “shrung” means peaks, so the residing deity is the goddess Saptashrungi Nivasini – “She who dwells within the seven mountain peaks.” She is also defined as: She who dwells in the seven levels of consciousness, She who is at the summit of Consciousness, and She who manifests the ultimate Peace in your mind and in your heart.
It is a very ancient temple, and, just like our own Devi Mandir in the United States, it has a murti of Mahalakshmi with eighteen arms. She has a huge beautiful smiling face. Shree Maa commented that it was Siddhi Pitha, where the Divine Mother is awake. She said that it is very powerful and all of us were in agreement.
Swamiji and the group made the walk up the long flight of stairs, while Shree Maa was carried on palki, a chair supported by long poles which can be carried by four men.
We all took darshan of the radiant murti of the Goddess and Shree Maa offered the various articles of worship: a cloth, sweets, flowers, and dakshina.
Then, along with Shree Maa and Swamiji, we all sat nearby the havan kund, which was just outside of the area for darshan of Sapta Shringi. Led by Swamiji, we chanted the Lalita Trishati for the Goddess. Then, Shree Maa shared Her love by singing for the Divine Mother with such purity that everyone nearby was mesmerized.
Despite the temple being so high in the mountains and in such a remote place, Swamiji was able to broadcast live on the internet for the world to see. Venkat, a great devotee of Shree Maa, held the broadcasting laptop up high above the heads of other visitors, so devotees around the world could see Shree Maa, Swamiji, the temple and the Goddess Sapta Shringi.
Shree Maa was delighted to see some monkeys in the temple and chanted Hanuman mantras while looking at them.
Afterwards, we made a trip to a devotee’s new factory, where they manufacture capsules for medicines. Shree Maa and Swamiji greatly enjoyed the tour and gave their blessings.
After the factory tour, we went to the Kalaram temple, built in the Panchavati area of the city of Nashik. This ancient temple is dedicated to Lord Ram and, in fact, it is believed that Sri Ram, Lakshman and Sita Devi actually visited this temple.
The word “Kala” means black and so the temple’s murti of Sri Rama is black. Kalaram literally means black Rama.
The inner sanctum also has murti’s of Lakshman and Sita Devi.
Swamiji demonstrated, once again, his unselfish determination to share the joy and love of worshiping God by carrying his laptop up the hillside, fiddling with a weak connection over the cellphone networks, and trying his utmost to share Shree Maa’s and our group’s activities around the world.
Upon reflection, it became obvious that Swamiji’s every action is a pure reflection of love. He demonstrates this through his determination to include the global family in this divine tour of India through live streaming.
Thank you Swamiji for your pure example, inspiration, and determination!
Jai Maa! Jai Swamiji!
Travelogue: Tryambakeshwar and the Procession of Shiva’s Crown
From Mumbai, Shree Maa, Swamiji, and our group made our way to Nashik, the home of the Jyotir Lingam named Tryambakeshwar. It was very pleasurable to have Swami Ramkripalulji in our presence as well.
Upon arriving at the temple, we were all given special permission to go to a darshan line for special guests so that we did not have to wait in the queue with the large crowd.
After taking darshan of Tryambakeshwar, our group sat down to recite the Shiva Sahasranam.
In the area of Tryambakeshwar, there are many pujari’s present waiting to do puja for people. Our host had appointed one priest to stay with our group so we would not be bothered. The reality turned out a little different.
The priest began reciting the prefatory mantras for taking the sankalpa.
Swamiji, Shree Maa and Swami Ramkripaluji chanted along with him.
The pujari, however, took the Sankalpa to recite the Rudri, consisting of two chapters from the Rudrashtadhayayi.
Swamiji politely informed the pujari that our group was planning to recite the Shiva Sahasranam and that we were not planning to sit idle while watching the pujari chant.
The pujari protested, saying that he had already taken the Sankalpa to chant his Rudra Path! Swamiji agreed that it was fine for him to chant the Rudra Path, but kindly requested the pujari to sit to the side.
In this way, we were all able to begin our own recitation of the Thousand Names of Lord Shiva. In Her loving way, Shree Maa offered flower petals with each name.
While we were chanting, our assigned pujari was reciting the Rudri in a very loud voice. It was apparent that he was not accustomed to Sadhus coming to the temple and performing their own worship.
However, the chanting of Swamiji and the rest of our group was much louder than the single voice of one pujari. In fact, we chanted with such vigor and entusiasm that the sound of the Shiva Sahasranam swept through the building, though there were several pujaris chanting in the small area near the Tryambakershwar Deity.
Our recitation captured the attention of several people in the line for darshan. It also drew pujaris and priests towards us, who came peering at the books and iPads to see what we were chanting.
In the most beautiful turn of events, the pujari who had been assigned to us finally decided to leave his recitation and to join in on our chanting! He was able to view the Shiva Sahasranam mantras from one our devotee’s iPad.
Playfully, during the recitation, when we reached names like “He Who Has Great Matted Hair,” our Swamiji would make a motion of offering toward Swami Ramkripaluji. For names involving Brahmans, he kindly pointed to our assigned pujari. Everyone enjoyed our devotional chanting and bhava.
On reflection, it was a joyous experience to be there in that ancient temple, where so many great sadhus had worshiped so many years ago. We sat in the same location. We chanted the same names of Lord Shiva. We worshiped Him in the same ways as our respectable ancestors and the great sages of old.
At the end of the Thousand Names of Lord Shiva, the priest quickly completed his sankalpa and sang a short song. Swami Ramkripaluji expressed his devotional bhava while singing a song about Sri Shankaracharya. We could feel the eyes of everyone in the temple looking upon us with gratitude.
Later that same day, we watched a special puja and procession for the deity of the Five Faces of Lord Shiva. Shree Maa, Swamiji and the group all watched as the Priests performed a silent puja to the faces of Shiva.
The Shiva Lingam wears the five faces like a cap, much the same as Shree Maa’s Shiva Lingam at the Devi Mandir.
Then, we also were blessed with darshan of His crown, which is believed to have been given to the temple by the Pandavas in ancient times.
Almost everyone in the city gathered to get darhan of the Faces of Shiva.
It was heart-warming to witness the devotion of so many people, who were standing in the hot sun with utmost respect and attention, with just on hope – to get a glimpse of the Lord and to watch His procession around the town.
The demonstration of pure devotion from the people residing in India is something that will long be remembered.
Jai Maa! Jai Swamiji!
Travelogue: Mumbai and the Local Temples
Shree Maa, Swamiji and our group made a short stop in Mumbai on our way to Nasik. While in Mumbai, Shree Maa had the opportunity to meet with several of her family members and friends, and blessed them by residing in their apartment.
Mumbai is a big city with a lot of temples, so the group was able to visit several temples during our short stay.
One such temple was the small, humble, Lakshmi Narayan Temple. When we arrived, a group of devotees were having satsang.
Swamiji made his way into the temple and chanted some mantras for the temple deities Maha Lakshmi, Lord Vishnu, as well as Lord Ganesha and Lord Shiva. He then offered dakshina to the deities.
Noticing Shree Maa and Swamiji, the members of the temple were inspired to make offerings to honor the visiting sadhus.
They offered a bouquet of flowers on behalf of their community. Then, they brought Shree Maa and Swamiji microphones for them to lead in kirtan.
Using Swamiji’s iPad, Shree Maa began to sing Narayana, Narayana, Narayana! Everyone went ecstatic and began to clap and sing along. The joy and bhava in the temple began to grow as people stood up and began to dance. It was an amazing, spontaneous satsangha!
As Shree Maa and our group walked away from the temple, the sound of joyous kirtan continued to resound from inside. For sure, it was a day that the local devotees will never forget!
Swamiji, always taking the opportunity to teach, explained, “The greatest places to visit in India are often called “Anjan”, which means they are unknown and unmarked places. It is those places where real spiritual seekers and sadhus reside because they don’t have any interest in advertising or drawing big crowds. They are only interested in doing sadhana.”
The temple had a beautiful image of the Divine Mother Kali.
Swamiji made offerings of food and dakshina and then sat down to recite the 108 names of Goddess Kali.
After chanting Kali’s names, Shree Maa led the group in singing Kali Bhavani and other songs for Mother Kali.
When we had finished worshiping, the pujari of the temple brought prasad for everyone to eat and, as we were leaving, Shree Maa was offered sweets and fruit.
Then, we visited a neighboring Lord Shiva temple where the group took darshan of Lord Shiva and recited the pranam mantras.
In the evening, a large group gathered in the home where Shree Maa was staying. Shree Maa inspired the group by leading everyone in devotional songs. The singing grew louder and louder as more and more devotees joined.
Shree Maa inquired, “Does anyone else want to lead a song?” Swamiji, seeing that no one was stepping forward, burst into a song for Lord Krishna – loudly singing “Govinda Krishna Jai! Gopala Krishna Jai!” The bhava was amazing and all the while, Shree Maa sat smiling and laughing sweetly as everyone joined in with Swamiji.
At the end of the kirtan, everyone present had a chance to perform Arati. The small room could scarcely fit the large number of devotees who had now come to join us! Several people had to stand outside the doors as the room became packed from wall to wall.
After Arati, Shree Maa and Swamiji blessed each devotee with a tilak and prasad.
Jai Maa! Jai Swamiji!
Travelogue: The Niligiri Hills and Sai Baba Temple, Yedappalli
From Bangalore, Shree Maa and Swamiji, along with our group of devotes, took the train to Coimbatore. Upon reaching Coimbatore, the group traveled to the Niligiri Hills.
Along the way we stopped at a devotee’s house and, as is customary in India, the families in attendance performed a Pada Puja (worship of the Guru’s feet). They also offered a delightful meal to Shree Maa, Swamiji and the entire group.
In close proximity to where we were staying, there is a temple that was created by some of Shree Maa’s devotees.
The temple is located on the outskirts of the town and situated in a beautiful forest area. It has a large murti of Sai Baba and a Shiva Lingam.
This quaint temple usually enforces a rule of silence to encourage mediation and introspection. However, the local people were happy to have Shree Maa and Swamiji perform Shiva Puja to the Shiva Lingam and to chant the Rudrashtadhayayi.
All of the devotees in attendance were spell-bound watching Shree Maa worship Lord Shiva.
After the recitation was complete, Shree Maa performed Arati and everyone offered light to Lord Shiva.
During the Arati, there was no drum available. So, Shree Maa grabbed a metal plate and asked for a cup.
She playfully began to bang on the plate with the cup and keep the beat of the Arati. Everyone was delighted!
A few days later, we all returned to this temple in the evening for worship and Kirtan.
Shree Maa and Swamiji first performed Shiva Puja to the Shiva Lingam.
The room was teeming with devotees who were observing the puja with full attention. Everyone was touched as Swamiji loudly pronounced the mantras and Shree Maa made the offerings to Lord Shiva.
As Swamiji began to chant the mantra to offer Dakshina (money), he noticed that no money was on the plate to be offered.
As such, he encouraged and inspired all of the devotees to offer some money for Lord Shiva.
Suddenly, everyone in the temple reached into their pockets and passed money to be taken for the offering.
Everyone was filled with a beautiful bhava (spiritual attitude) as Swamiji recited the mantra for offering Dakshina several times so that everyone had a chance to make their offering.
After the Shive Puja, Shree Maa and Swamiji went to a large outdoor area with a havan kund.
Nanda gave an introduction about the lives of Shree Maa and Swamiji in the local language of Tamil. Then, Shree Maa led the group in bhajans.
The crowd began to grow and had become immense as Shree Maa swept everyone off their feet with the beauty of Her pristine voice. As the energy grew and grew, one devotee, Mahananda, stood up and began to dance.
Soon, many people were dancing and Swamiji stood with his keyboard and encouraged the crowd to stand.
The devotees formed a large circle and danced around as Shree Maa sang with greater and greater energy.
Shree Maa invited other people to sing as well and the devotion grew so strong that everyone continued to dance and sing for God.
The temple devotees made mention that they had never experienced anything like this before. All agreed that this was a true Satsang and that the inspiration will no doubt live on and on in the hearts of those who were present.
Jai Maa! Jai Swamiji!
Travelogue: Kali Sahasranam and Rudrashtadhayayi (Video)
The day started with Shree Maa performing Her Puja and Swamiji leading the chanting of the Kali Sahasranam.
After the morning sadhana, they traveled to Naren’s house, a long-time devotee, who had invited them to visit his home and bless his altar.
Upon arriving, Naren and his family, with great devotion, showed their respect for Shree Maa and Swamiji by performing a Pada Puja, which is the worship of the Guru’s feet.
Both Shree Maa and Swamiji were pleased with their worship.
Then, Shree Maa performed the Shiva Puja, offering an abundance of Bilva Patra. Bilva leaves are extremely auspicious and sacred in the worship of Lord Shiva.
It was a special moment watching Shree Maa worship Her devotee’s Shiva Lingam with so much love and devotion!
After the Puja, our beloved Swamiji, Shree Maa and the devotees chanted the Rudrashtadhyayi.
During the recitation of some of the key chapters, Shree Maa offered leaves of Bilva with each verse.
At the end of each chapter, the energy lifted as both the Damaru (small two sided drum held by Lord Shiva) and the conch were played and everyone shouted out with great intensity “Mahadev Ki Jai!” (Victory to the Great God, Lord Shiva)
Share in the Bhava – Watch the Rudrashtadhyayi Chanting:
After the chanting, Swamiji offered prasad to Lord Shiva and the entire group performed Arati.
Swamiji then delighted the eager-to-learn devotees with a discourse on Lord Shiva’s form as Rudra and the meaning of each chapter of the Rudrashtadhyayi.
Swamiji explained – “Asru Trayate Iti Rudra” – He who takes away the tears is Rudra.
In the first chapter of the Rudrasthadyayi, we pray “May I have the same Sankalpa as Lord Shiva – to be completely still, focused and concentrated with one point of Consciousness. May I be completely absorbed in the goal.”
The second chapter states: “Lord Shiva, you have a thousand heads, a thousand eyes and a thousand feet! You are everyone, in every form, and in every being. Every being in the entire universe is a reflection of You completely. They are all Purush!”
The fourth chapter says, “Lord Shiva, You are the light of the sun, the light of wisdom, and the warmth of devotion. Everything we perceive is through You, through the light of wisdom and the warmth of devotion.”
In the fifth chapter, we show our respect by saying, “Lord Shiva, we bow to You in everyone and in every form. You manifest in all – You are in the lake, the river, the trees, the sun, the moon. You are every where and we bow to You!”
In the sixth chapter, we pray to Lord Shiva to give us blessings.
In chapter seven, we acknowledge that Lord Shiva is in the tapasya, is in the sadhana, is in the light, and is in the truth.
In the eighth chapter we realize, “Lord Shiva, you are inside me! You are inside me in the form of truth, tapasya and sadhana. By means of sacrifice, I can conceive that everything is within me.”
In the ninth chapter we pray for all beings and everything to be at peace. This is the prasad of our worship.
After explaining the meaning of the chapters, Swamiji concluded the discourse by stating “This is why we chant the Rudrashtadhyayi. It is our offering to Rudra, He who takes away the tears. He removes all of our pain and suffering and He unites us with God on every level – this is the highest form of worship.”
The devotees present bowed to the Gurus in gratitude for these spiritually significant teachings.
Jai Maa! Jai Swamiji!
Travelogue: Satsang and Raj Rajeshvari Temple
The day began with a rousing Chandi Path!
In the morning, Naren came for his daily visit with Shree Maa and was accompanied by his father, named Rishi.
Normally, Rishi’s personality is quiet and reserved. But, in front of Shree Maa, he completely transformed as he openly melted and became like a child.
Such devotion was further demonstrated as Rishi lovingly prostrated to Shree Maa and jokingly asked Swamiji to lift his feet so he could touch them (he was unable to bow down).
That morning, Shree Maa and Swamiji had a delightful visit and satsang with the devotees. During satsang, Shree Maa encouraged the devotees to ask Rishi questions.
One devotee asked if God could be realized in a short time. Rishi responded, “Ramakrishna told that realizing God requires many lifetimes of tapasya (spiritual practices).”
Another devotee asked which was preferable, the path of wisdom or the path of devotion. Rishi quickly responded, “devotion was preferable, but even better was the path of devotion with wisdom, as the path of wisdom taken without devotion is foolish!”
Sri Rishi also emphasized the importance of surrendering to the Guru and taking their blessings.
By mid-morning, Shree Maa and Swamiji traveled to the Raj Rajeshwari Temple, where Swamiji led the devotees in chanting the Lalita Trishati.
This Devi temple closes its doors at noon to let the Goddess rest.
As the time grew closer to noon, the noise and commotion in the temple grew louder as people were trying to communicate to us that the doors would soon close!
Swamiji, who was nearing the end of this recitation, remained focused, and payed no attention to the noise and commotion in the temple.
Amazingly, as Swamiji offered the final name to the Goddess, the doors began to close!
Shree Maa expressed a look of total delight upon Her face and gratitude in Her heart upon realizing that, by the grace of the Goddess, the doors to the temple stayed open just long enough for the Goddess to listen to that very last name! Jai Maa!
After the recitation, Swamiji lovingly delivered a beautiful teaching to the devotees.
He recounted the importance of staying focused.
Even though there was so much noise in the temple and several people were stating “the doors will be closing soon!”, Swamiji continued to chant undeterred.
Had he wasted anytime, he would not have been able to complete the recitation in time.
Several devotees led songs, including a young boy and girl who offered delightful classical singing to the mix of our traditional bhajans. Shree Maa was so happy to listen to their singing.
After kirtan, everyone took blessings from Shree Maa and Swamiji, and then enjoyed partaking in the prasad.
Jai Maa! Jai Swamiji!
Travelogue: Lakshmi Purnima
For the auspicious occasion of Lakshmi Purnima, Shree Maa and Swamiji recited the Chandi Path in the early morning. The event was broadcast live on Justin TV, which could be viewed from our Webcam Page.
Shiva Cave Temple and Shiva Sahasranam
This remarkable temple is a cave, which seems like a refuge from the city life around it. In fact, it is said that the city of Bangalore was built around this temple!
The temple priests were so pleased to hear that Swamiji had come to chant for Lord Shiva that they invited the entire group to sit in the main sanctuary facing the Shiva Lingam.
There, Swamiji and the group recited the Shiva Sahasranam, the 1000 Names of Lord Shiva.
Swamji’s chanting of the names of Shiva echoed throughout of the temple, inspiring all of those who were present. A strong energy was felt as Swamiji neared the final names of the Sahasranam.
Upon completion, the temple priest presented a flower garland to Swamiji and gave him a cloth as an offering of respect. Swamiji then made Parikram, circumambulating the temple, and took darshan of the other Gods and Goddesses present.
Afterwards, Swamji recounted:
“It is wonderful to have the local priests accept our sadhana!
There are very few Sadhus who worship in the Samasthi tradition, the universal tradition. But, wherever they go, they can be in harmony with everyone, and everyone respects and appreciates them.
If you are going to learn puja, then why not learn the Samasti Upasana (Cosmic Puja)?
It is your passport to freedom; wherever you go you will be able to be in harmony with everyone in every tradition.”
Lakshmi Puja and Lakshmi Sahasranam
Later the same day, Shree Maa and Swamiji led the devotees in Lakshmi Puja and the chanting of the Lakshmi Sahasranam, the 1000 names of Goddess Lakshmi.
Swamiji projected the mantra’s from his iPad onto the wall so that everyone in attendance could join the chanting. This event was also broadcasted for viewers all over the world.
Singing and Prasad
Everyone then performed Arati.
After Arati, Shree Maa led the group in singing devotional songs for Vishnu and the Divine Mother.
Everyone was inspired to join in the singing!
Shree Maa and Swamiji then blessed all the devotees – our beloved Shree Maa offered prasad while Swamiji blessed each devotee with a tilak.
It was a special moment watching Shree Maa lovingly witness Her children enjoy the prasad which had been offered in the Lakshmi worship.
She would often inquire about anyone who had left without taking food, and was constantly making sure everyone was satisfied and full.
That is the love of the Divine Mother. As all are Her children, She is concerned about the welfare of all who come to see Her.
Jai Maa! Jai Swamiji!
Travelogue: Shree Maa and Swamiji in Bangalore
Shree Maa and Swamji arrived in Bangalore, and were greeted by loving devotees. The devotees welcomed Shree Maa and Swamiji by performing Pada Puja, the traditional worship of the Guru’s feet.
Shree Maa was delighted by their devotion. and with a radiant smile, raised Her hand in blessings.
Later the same day, Shree Maa worshiped and installed some new images of Kali and Chandi at the front altar in the devotees house. Her worship was a beautiful sight to see.
The next day, Swamiji went with a small group to a local temple of the God Ayyappa. Ayyappa is said to be the son of both Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. He was born in order to slay an asura (demon) who had won the boon that he could only be killed by the son of Shiva and Vishnu.
At the temple, Swamiji and the group of devotees took darshan of God Ayyapa and the other deities established there, which included Hanuman, Ganesh, Maha Lakshmi and Kartikeya. Afterwards, Swamiji led the group in the chanting of the Lalita Trishati, the very powerful 300 Names of Goddess Lalita.
Jai Maa! Jai Swamiji!