Please enjoy the continuing stories from our recent India Pilgrimage…
By Daya Ma (Amanda) Ahern
A few days into Ganeshpuri, Michelle Gross and I bumped into each other in the dining room after most of the yogis had gone out on their day’s adventures. Michelle had heard about “Nityananda Island,” so asked me to join her. As I wanted to do some sketching, I jumped at the opportunity and we asked directions from our in-house jeweler, Sunil, who is also going to be cooking for the Varanasi group. He carried Michelle on the back of his motorbike to the turnoff and I walked along to join her. We wended our way across the rock pools in the river and very quickly landed on the island.
We were searching for the big tree where Baba Nityananda used to sit. As there many trees to choose from, we inquired from one of the many friendly locals, “Baba’s Tree?” In the heat of the day we were pointed in the right direction and came upon three large banyan trees. Immediately we knew which one it was as there was a puja on the tree, with a lingam decorated with golden marigolds, a small statue of Satya Sai Baba, a spiraled banner tied around the tree and a framed picture of one of the many Indian Gods leaning against the gnarly old tree.
Not one picture of Baba in sight, but the locals insisted it was the right tree. So many enlightened beings — how to choose? We settled in the shade on a raised garden step to take photos, rest and paint the magical scene before us. A local woman arrived to confirm we were in the right place and proceeded to do pradasksina (walk around, in a clockwise direction) around a small garden with a handful of sacred Tulsi plants. She bowed and touched the plants, then her heart and forehead.
As we sketched and absorbed the divinity of the grove another swami in bright orange, came to pay homage to the tree, the puja and palpable energy of the divine dwelling in this place. He promptly leant on the tree and went to sleep. In town, Ganesha’s birthday celebrations continued while we enjoyed the ongoing chanting wafting through the air, “Om namo Bhagavate, Nityanaandaya.” The pace and the peace of this magical land where they broadcast mantras all day fills you up. Actually it more than fills you, because we are swimming in it all day, every day, like moving underwater. Big Shakti is the way of life in this small village.
What a blessing to be here with Swamiji. She has generously shared her local knowledge and experience, which has made the transition to this vastly different culture easy. It feels like home after just a couple of days. Today we are in silence so the Shakti is more magnified without the external chatter. OM Namah Shivaaya.