Shree Maa and Swamiji at Annapurna Temple
We awoke at close to 2 am, all of us excited to get ready to go to Annapurna Temple. Flowers and puja articles were assembled and everybody trooped into different cars. The cars are parked a distance away from the temple and we walked through the narrow gullies (streets) of Banaras to reach the Holy Temple.
At the entrance they had everybody go through a security check to enter the temple! Some police men were standing guard and refused entry for everybody before 4 am. It was still before 3 am and we told them that Shree Maa and Swamiji would be performing pre-dawn worship for Divine Mother!!! All of us devotees were upset at the state of India today – that we need police permission for a saint to enter a place of worship!!! Shree Maa sat in a corner and said “Hush! Hush! Don’t make noise!” Swamiji was standing peacefully, unperturbed – like Mahadev. After some discussion, the confusion was cleared up and Maa and Swamiji entered the sanctum sanctorum of the Annapurna Temple.
We watched from a little distance and had darshan of Mother Annapurna’s inexpressibly beautiful black form. In the Adya Stotram, it says that in Varanasi, Mother Kali is in the form of Annapurna and here She is, resplendent in Her blackness, taking all our darkness away! How gracious is our Mother, taking away our negativities and nourishing us with all goodness and divine qualities as Annapurna. Lord Shiva Himself takes biksha from Her.
It is said that the power of a deity is enhanced by the devotion offered and in Annapurna Mandir we can feel the devotion of millions of devotees offering their hearts to Mother through the ages. With our own eyes, we witnessed the pure love offered to Her by Shree Maa and Swamiji. Shree Maa and Swamiji adored Mother Annapurna by offering milk, yogurt, ghee, honey, sugar, panchamrit and Ganga water. She was adorned in a gorgeous red Banarasi silk sari and many, many ornaments.
After Mother was dressed and adorned, we sat outside the sanctum sanctorum with Shree Maa. Maa was playing drums and we were all ringing bells. Swamiji did arati. The entire temple resounded with the sound of Swamiji’s conch and all of us bowed down to Divine Mother in Her numerous forms everywhere.
The head of the Temple came to have darshan of Shree Maa and Swamiji and they humbly offered the Mahant dakshina and cloth. The Mahant garlanded Them and offered a beautiful picture of golden Annapurna Ma. We sat down a little distance from the murti and chanted Annapurna sahasranama as a group. The pundit at the temple gave us prasad from our worship – flowers and sweets.
As we left the temple to go to our car, Maa asked for some sweets and distributed it to the police men who gave us trouble in the morning. Later, I asked Maa, “Sakshaat Annapurna Devi came and those police men gave Her trouble!” Maa smiled gently and said, “They did not know. Don’t see fault. They were doing their dharma.” And Shree Maa was doing Her dharma – the dharma of a saint – to spread sweetness and love wherever She goes!