We made our second boat trip to the magic spot, where the rivers meet at the Kumbha Mela. In a peaceful trip 2 miles upriver, 35 of us accommodated in four rowboats, we took about 90 minutes to get to the sangham (meeting point). Sitting there while a few did pujas (traditional ceremonies) to offer ashes of loved ones to Ganga (the Ganges River), and then witnessing as several of our party did the full immersion. Their reports later make it clear that this is no ordinary river!
Tonight the winds are blowing in, thunder rolls across the sky and the rain begins. Ganga has whitecaps and is rising – growing and expanding in Her desire to bless us, from the heavens and from the earth. They tell us our eco-cottages are waterproof, but we’ll see! Yes, this is camping, but as one Svaroopi said, it’s 5-star camping.
and here are more reports from our Ganeshpuri stay:
GOOD MORNING – by Ellan (Shanti) Cattachio
A little after 4:00 AM we walk to the temple.
Its dark and the village is quiet.
We wake the dogs.
The flower vendors are opening their stalls,
we buy garlands, deposit our shoes and enter the temple.
We bring our offering to the table then sit on the marble floor,
men to the left, women to the right. We are surrounded by our stuff.
The local people come in and sit.
We are all here to say good morning to Nityananda.
The curtain opens on another day in Ganeshpuri.
ASANA CLASS – by Shuchi (Sue) Cilley
I don’t know how many days we’ve been here now. Measuring time has no meaning. There is just one experience after another – always present if you are available. You don’t have to go looking – just be.
I’m finishing an asana class in the open sided dome at Fire Mountain Ashram. It was very sweet, simple poses to take care of our bodies, after supper, at the end of the day. It’s dusk and darkening. The dome is only dimly lit – we’re mostly dark outlines to Karobi who is tonight’s teacher. None of the familiar class music – the man who tends the mysteries of the sound system has gone home. Night sounds surround us – insect sounds as the day has finally cooled with gentle evening breezes.
But wait – softly and so present I hear the clanging bell and deep pulse of the drum wafting across the valley marking the evening events at the Nityananda Samadhi Temple. The Brahmin priests are beginning the ritual, the puja, that puts the big golden murti of Nityananda to bed for the night. My eyes are closed as I do Ujjayi in a chair and I see the temple filling with men, women and children for evening darshan after a long day’s work. The women are of all ages, dressed in saris of all colors and patterns, so beautiful. Everyone comes in quietly to sit on the thin carpet covering the marble floor. Men on one side; women to the other. Each bows before sitting, honoring the Divine presence. Bowing easily but with intention, offering gratitude and prayers, offering love and flowers. They come and go as though what happens here is “normal”.
From my Janu in the chair I hear the chant “OM Namo Bhagavate Nityanandaya” echoing across the valley to our Fire Mountain site. I see the priests tending to their duties, cherishing this connection with the Divine that pours powerfully through our Svaroopa yoga practice wherever it is done. I am grateful to them beyond words as they prepare the murti for the night, tucking him in with a blanket, a shawl, a hat. It’s been a long and celebratory day, a rare opportunity for all who come to actually touch the golden murti.
We’ve done Seated Side Stretch, and abs, a Lunge and Warrior, then a re-release. Karobi tends to us with gentle precision. I’m in JP as the chant ends and the drum begins again. It’s arati, honoring the Divine with flame circles. Enveloped in the beat of the bell and drum, the arati is mesmerizing to watch as the priests do four circuits, each with larger towers of flame. The drum crescendos and stops. In my head I hear the echo of the familiar chants as I finish the second side of JP. It’s over. I am bowing in Yoga Mudra. I am the Divine In human form, caring for my body. It’s “just” an asana class – changed forever.