There are several other notable temples in the city of Katra and the larger region of Jammu-Kashmir that we simply were not able to visit due to time constraints. But Shree Maa and Swamiji cleverly narrowed down the temple selection to a few quiet temples in which they thought we would be able to worship without the large crowds.
It was mid-morning, the air was brisk, the sun just coming up over the mountain top, and the birds were actively awake and seemed to be chirping “Ram, Ram-Ram, Ram!”
As we approached the temple, I looked down and noticed a beautiful dome with a red flag flying at the top. This was it!
My heart raced as I knew that soon we would be inside the temple chanting sacred mantras to Lord Ram.
We were all so eager to worship that our pace seemed to pick-up to a brisk walk as we approached the doors to the temple.
Upon arrival, I noticed that this temple has a warm, cozy feeling with its pure white walls and red carpeted floor.
Shree Maa lit a big candle, offered it to Lord Ram, and placed it in front of the altar.
Sitting on Her comfortable palki, which now was conveniently functioning as a chair, She and Swamiji led the group in the recitation of the Chandi Path.
There was another temple which afforded us the opportunity to worship. This was a Durga Temple located directly below Vaishno Devi. We chanted the Chandi Path here as well.
Shree Maa took the occasion to tell us a story about how Lord Brahma once created six Shaktis to do battle with the asura Jalamdar. My mind could not help but wonder if there was a correlation between this story and the six divine Durga’s on the altar, but before I could ask I found we were quickly getting set-up for worship.
With great vigor and enthusiasm, Swamiji started the Chandi Path. Listen as Swamiji shares this Chandi Path, and the related events at the Durga Temple, with you all:
After the worship in the Durga temple, we had a small satsangha where Swamiji explained that he had done many things in his life. He had many experiences and a variety of different accomplishments. But, he explained, at the end of the day, the very best experiences, the ones in which he is most grateful, were those in which he was able to sit and sing to God.
As Swamiji expressed himself with complete sincerity, my heart resonated with his words. It occurred to me that every moment of our lives can be a divine song to God – in every event, in every activity, in every thought, and in every emotion. Whether or not our particular situation allows us to be physically singing, certainly it is our choice to let our hearts sing no matter where we are and what we are doing.
As a final departure from Katra, together Shree Maa, Swamiji, and Swami Ramkripaluji, went back to Vaishno Devi to meet the head priest and extend to him our appreciation. Beloved Shree Maa sang a song in Her pristine voice.
The priest couldn’t help but ask for more! He suggested She sing three more songs — one for each Goddess! Shree Maa gladly obliged and her voice lifted our hearts in devotion to the Goddess.
Swamiji offered the priest cloth and dakshina while chanting the appropriate mantras with great enthusiasm and devotion. The head priest was deeply touched, as only someone connected with devotion from the heart can understand.
Watching this humble priest be moved to tears, I had a flash of insight. I realized the great gift that devotion offers back to us — it connects our human hearts together like nothing else can.
The priest then lovingly gave prasad from Vaishnav Devi to everyone present and our hearts soared with joy.
With joyful hearts, we departed the temple, packed our belongings, and were transported to the airport. It was time for our departure from the city of Katra.
It was a bitter sweet moment — sad because we were to leave this spiritual center tucked away in the middle of the Himalayan Mountains, but sweet that our next stop afforded spectacular views of Mother Ganga from Swami Ramkripaluji’s ashram in Rishikesh. Indeed, Rishikesh to many of us feels like home, and so we always look forward to our time there.
At the airport itself, there was a small obstacle that arose. We were all surprised when Swamiji had trouble getting through airport security. Enjoy Swamiji’s interaction with the Airport Security in Jammu:
I guess it’s a “small world” when you translate divine scriptures for a global audience!
We laughed all the way to the gate about Swamiji’s airport security incident, and recalled all of the “magic moments” experienced on this first leg of our journey.
We give thanks to Vaishno Devi for the blessings bestowed upon us and the entire Devi Mandir family.
Jai Mata Di! Jai Mata Di!