Monthly Archives: May 2012

Weird and Wonderful. Posted on May 24, 2012 by Svaroopa Vidya Ashram

India is notorious for surprising visitors with the unexpected, the weird, and the wonderful. This trip was no exception, with plenty of the above mentioned in happy, balanced quantities. Swamiji went to great lengths to counsel each of us and help us cope with jet-lag, tour guidance, and culture shock, so it all went really smoothly. The staff at the hotel cared for us as family members, taking us around town and to nearby attractions safely and in comfort.

A personal highlight was watching the fire walk done in the nearby village of Kovalam. It happens every year with an auspicious moon, and it was our great luck to be there on that day. A large group of about 200 men and boys, some of whom seemed no older than 8 or so, prepared themselves for weeks to enter an altered state whereby they would be able to walk over red-hot coals without burning themselves… and they did so before our very eyes. It is done to gain favors from God and/or pay for wrong doings; women never do it, only gents.

We watched, mesmerized, how they prayed as they dressed and decorated themselves at the Kali Temple and then went a few blocks away to an outdoor auditorium where the coals were ready. They jogged through the streets to the beat of some drums and other instruments yelling “Jai Jai” in unison..

Then, in complete awe, we watched among an audience of several thousand people as one after the other danced over the coals to the other side, then walked back and went over the coals again and again. Our cameras were snapping photos as fast as the eye could cope, trying to catch as many shots as possible of temple, walkers, audience, and the place itself, which was full of vendors of all sorts.

It took a few days to wash the excitement out of my heart from that weird, wonderful, and unexpected glimpse of India’s soul. Sometimes I wonder if it ever will wash away completely…


Laura Marshall

The Palpable Rhythm of Everyday Life. Posted on May 24, 2012 by Svaroopa Vidya Ashram

Once I had all my travel arrangements completed, I could relax a moment and take in that I was really going to India. This was in February 2012. Friends who had traveled and lived in India shared stories and gave me books to read. I had a stack of about 10-12 books on history, destinations, food, etc., even two novels that reflected some of the cultural-social aspects of India.
But nothing could prepare me for the experience that I had once I arrived in Thiruvananthapuram, India.

From the point of pick-up at the airport to the point of return, the hours and days were filled with grace. I felt “at home” almost immediately, though I had never been to India before. I believe that it was all from grace and the grace that pours from Swami Nirmalananda that created the experience. Everything flowed even when it wasn’t planned a certain way. The flow seemed to be a natural part of the experience: to allow what is and to be in the moment, in each moment. We were partially cocooned in the Ayurvedic center, being cared for and treated by the Ayurvedic doctor and the practitioners of the various forms of Ayurvedic therapy. We were fed healthy, Ayurvedic foods at every meal, and we had lots of time to wander out into the various towns and temples nearby. Whether we were in the city, at the southern-most point of India, or at the Beach and Lake Resort, there was always a sense of peace that seemed to pervade my experiences.

I struggle to find words and to find a way to describe the indescribable internal experience of just being in India and to be there with someone who is so steeped in the experience of India as is Swami Nirmalananda. When we left the resort area and went into town, there was a palpable rhythm. It might seem as though everything is chaotic and there are no rules to driving and walking, yet the people all seem to be comfortable in what a Western mind might view as chaotic and out of control. Motorbikes with two adults and maybe two children on board, small cars filled to capacity zipping in and out and between cars… yet, it felt safe and it felt “normal”. I just watched and took it all in and did not feel as though it was crazy; it just looked that way.

Reflecting on the trip and experience, it was all the people who made the experience so memorable. The staff at the resort, the local children who would come out and greet us as we walked to temple, all the people seemed so comfortable looking right into my eyes and greeting me. Gratitude radiated from the faces of those who were treated at the free Muktananda Ayurvedic Clinic a short walking distance from the resort, their hands at their heart, and eyes looking right at us… so grateful for the help that they are receiving. It is so natural for them to look directly at another and to acknowledge each other. The experience opens the heart.

I was so glad that I made the commitment to go to India. The experience of a small part of the country and of the people will always be in my heart.

by Chudala Darling

Blessing and Grace. Posted on May 24, 2012 by Svaroopa Vidya Ashram

When I think about the trip to India, two words come to mind: Blessing and Grace. From the moment I stepped off the plane in Mumbai I knew I was blessed to be in India. At the Beach and Lake Resort I was greeted with such graciousness and love – it was a blessing just to be in the presence of everyone who worked there.

The Grace began to flow when we reached Ganeshpuri. I felt engulfed in a presence of Grace that flowed from Swamiji through her Guru, Muktananda, and from his Guru, Nityananda. There are no words to describe that feeling of unconditional timeless love. Thank you Swamiji.

by Terry CozadIMG_1275-copy-300x225

The Beautiful Aroma of Swami Nirmalananda’s Shri Guru Gita. Posted on May 24, 2012 by Svaroopa Vidya Ashram

After months of anticipating Swamiji’s rendition of Shri Guru Gita, an E-letter announced that it was ready for purchase. I put in my order and waited expectantly. The package arrived more quickly than expected. The beautiful reds and golds on the CD’s cover reached out and into me. I was filled with longing to hear Swamiji chant the Guru Gita. When Saturday morning arrived, there was finally enough time to listen to it. As soon as the opening strains of the harmonium filled the room, I was flooded with emotions of joy. Swamiji’s song of love to her Guru, Om Guru, Mere Guru, is mesmerizing. The deep devotion conveyed by Swamiji’s voice is like an aroma filling my own heart with longing. One song melts into another and soon Swamiji is chanting the entire Guru Gita and it is even possible to make out the words and follow along! I have loved Baba’s Guru Gita, but it has a completely different feel and for someone who is just learning the Guru Gita, I can only make out a few words here and there. Swamiji’s voice clearly brings forth every word. Clearly, she has put great effort into creating this so that all of us may learn to chant it and know it deeply, as she does.

by Priya Kenney