Category Archives: Ganeshpuri

Reentry after India. Posted on April 2, 2013 by Swamiji

I am in India and it is in me. I am back’ but not fully; changed forever. – Sarvataa

I am waking early in the morning, sometimes to chants in my head. A nice call to meditation. At one point I looked around my house and thought ‘I’m home’. Then I could hear Swamiji ask ‘who is home’ ? I sat with that thought and decided I never left. I feel as though a thick layer of ‘identity’ or armor has been peeled away and my Self is closer. I am quieter, more self contained. I am also grateful for familiar food, clean air and water and readily available toilet paper. – Shanti Ellan

DSC_0571-1024x731I returned home quite sick and jet lagged, so it’s taken me a while to settle in. I have noticed that I’m more centered and peaceful and embodied! This was really evident when I taught my first yoga class the other night. There is definitely a shift from where I was to where I am now. – Padmakshi Andrea

Re-entry has been surprisingly smooth. A few days after returning from Ganeshpuri, I had a work meeting with someone who is a meditator in a different tradition. I walked in, sat down and our eyes met, and without a second’s hesitation, she said “You’re changed!” Yes, I am. It’s incredibly wonderful. I’m so grateful for the trip, for Swamiji, for her for taking us, for those who came before her and for the delicious connection with all you yoga sisters and brothers. My heart is very full. – Priya

Yes, the experiences are amazing. And yet they solidify what Swamiji has been saying for years. Or maybe it is the experience rather than hearing the words. For example, I had all sorts of valid reasons why I couldn’t meditate for long time periods: I work 8 hours, teach, family, already get up very early. Since returning home my morning meditation has increased to 90 minutes. A new timer, one that goes into hours rather than maxing out at 99 minutes, is on my shopping list. And Swamiji really IS right! Meditate more, sleep less. Nothing is more important to me than the Self and no one with whom I need to spend more time. None of this is new but my understanding certainly is. And I remain so quiet inside. – Sheynapurna

It took about a week to realize that the trip to India on the outside may be over, but the journey that it initiated on the inside continues to draw me deeper and deeper. I am taking myself less personally, which is difficult to explain but pleasant to witness. Life is simpler, and it’s not just because it is so obvious that 2 or 3 squares of toilet paper suffice. LOL! To have been immersed in that constant, simple, sincere divinity supports me in living more of the same, more of the time. That Nityananda invited us all is an astounding mystery. — Bindu

India taught me so much. Yesterday I quit my job, moved out of my house & moved to Byron Bay, looking for a house farm with my princess. India helped me grow some cojones and it growed me! Oh yes, I am still 0ne & very Conscious of my Actions. Thank you all! Any time you are welcome in my casa. – Tito

I just made a pot of rice and dal this afternoon…delicious! I am seriously missing someone cooking 3 meals a day for me. And there is Joy in the shoveling of two feet of snow today. Om Namah Shivaya. — Kamala Gross

So, for my own re-entry into “life in these United States”, the car service driver that came to pick me up said to me: I’ve only seen you once before, when I dropped you off at the airport, but now you look different: “You look as though you have seen God.” It was a good thing I was already sitting down in his car, but I nearly burst into tears. – Nancy

From Swami Nirmalananda – I hope these many blogs have helped all of you enjoy the pilgrimage with us! While India is a place on the outside, it is also a place on the inside – a holy place, the space from where your Self shines. If our trip has helped you find your vast inner spaciousness and Beingness, then we have served you well. And had a great time doing it!

If you’re thinking you’d like to come along next time, I’m planning to do a trip every 2 years – look for early 2015!

Sacred Ash. Posted on March 29, 2013 by Swamiji

By Swami Nirmalananda

The power of the mantras and the offerings burned in the fire are concentrated into the ash, which is why I brought it home from our yaj~na in Ganeshpuri. This is why the Ashram is sending it as a gift to new Monthly Donors as well as those who increase their monthly gift. It’s about outside and inside.

On the outside, the Vedic fire ceremony or yajña (pronounced yaj-nya or yag-ya) produces the ash. But the fire is more than a simple fire; it does something on the inside. My Baba introduced me to yajña in Ganeshpuri. I sat, completely riveted, for hours every day. The priests chanted the ancient mantras while feeding the flames, which leapt high in the air. I attended many more in my years of study, some of the yajñas lasting several days.

At night, when the Vedic chanting was done, I walked around the fire for hours, repeating mantra silently. The fire burned outside and inside, burning away everything that kept me from God. That is its purpose. That is yoga’s purpose.
The ash is called bhasma (bas-ma) or vibhuti (vib-hoo-ti). Yogis have been using it for millennia. You may have already indulged in the three traditional “Siva stripes across your forehead, as I’ve been sharing this practice on retreats for over ten years.

Simpler, a small dot between your eyebrows supercharges the energy center located inside there. It is often marked with a red dot to honor  the Guru, whose inner seat is there. Using the ash leaves a grey dot, almost like injecting the mantras from the fire into this profound inner center. One of the names for this location is Prayag, where your three spinal currents merge into one that goes all the way up; it is like the three rivers merging at the site of the Kumbha Mela.

Outside and inside…

marble-box1We have only a few days remaining in our fundraising campaign, Making a Difference. Please consider making a difference by pledging your monthly contribution – and allow us to make a difference by sending you a gift of ash, in one of the marble boxes I brought back from the Taj Mahal. Thank you for your support – and for your practices.

Click here to offer your donation, in any amount, as a single donation or monthly gift. If it would be easier, email enroll@svaroopavidya.org or phone 610.644.7555. Thank you!

Monthly Donors – please accept our loving thank you for your continuing support. Click here to add to your monthly dakshina or to make any other change. Thank you.

OM svaroopa svasvabhavah namo nama.h

Before India – After India. Posted on March 25, 2013 by Swamiji

BLESSINGS FOR ELMIRA
By Antaraj~na (Deborah) Mandel

“Next time you see Swamiji would you please ask her how I can die and leave my body? I am ready to go and I can’t,” asked Elmira, who at 102 was still fully functioning mentally, but deteriorating in her physical body. She was done with her body. A spiritual being of the highest degree, she was ready to go and be with God. She was done with her earthly existence. I had been sharing my experiences with her about Svaroopa yoga and Swamiji, and she loved hearing about it. I agreed to ask the question of Swamiji, so I emailed her, and within twenty minutes I received back the most beautiful letter for me to give to Elmira. While I can’t remember the details of the letter, Elmira memorized it.

In general, Swamiji told her that she was already God and to be with herself in this knowing while she remained alive. She shared words that Muktananda had taught her. It changed Elmira’s life. She stopped wishing to die, and to accept each moment for the gift that it was. She shared the letter with everyone. She wrote Swami, and at some point Swami said that she kept the letter out on her desk, it was so special. She sent me home with a mala bead for Elmira and a mantra. Elmira insisted on putting it right on, much to the dismay of her nurse who had to undo all her breathing apparatus.

Ntyananda-Murti-in-the-Samadi-Mandir-Temple-1-300x289Elmira was looking forward to hearing all about India, but she died on the day I came to India with Swami. During the morning ceremony in Nityananda’s temple, she told me she had died. How incredible that I was able to say goodbye to her in Nityananda’s Temple. What a gift for me to say goodbye to her there.

Then we came to the Kumbha Mela and went by boat to the Sangham, the holy site where the three rivers converge. I had a puja done to bless Elmira. The puja took place on a boat with a Brahmin priest, who had us repeat mantras and gave us coconuts and flowers. After the mantras were finished, we released the coconuts and flowers into Ganga with our own prayers. Mine were blessings for Elmira. I feel her presence here every day. Good bye and hello. It is not an end. Only a change.

When Swamiji had sent me the letter for Elmira, at the end she wrote a note to me, “She’s ready to hear this, are you?” Those words stayed with me. After these three weeks I can finally feel that I am ready. The changes inside are profound. I am one with the Guru, I am the Guru. I receive grace from my Guru. I receive all I need from my Guru. I just have to stay open to hear it. It is all inside. It does not come from the outside. I don’t need my asana to have it; I don’t need my OM necklace to hear it; I just need to be in me. That will be my challenge when I leave India. Staying open. I hope I am up for the challenge and trust that I will do my best, just like Elmira, who, at 102 was ready to hear and live by what Swamiji had to say to her.

AFTER INDIA
By Sheynapurna Peace

It’s been over 2 weeks since our return from India. It’s become apparent that some of the changes, those internal changes, have become part of who I am now – parts of my personality seem altered. It’s also clear that the freedom of our journey, during which time we were so completely cared for, was wonderful but was defined by time. There was a part of me that never wanted to return and I keep that part in India; I have many memories to access along with over 1700 photos for when memories become foggy.

I have given a lot of thought to our India experience. There is India herself: colorful, joyous, dirty, dusty, and sometimes sparkling clean. The sights, smells and sounds still resonate. Ganeshpuri, so full of Nityananda and Muktananda that grace seeps through the dust and is found in every breath.

The Himalayan Institute campus on the Sangham, with energies so ethereal and powerful they draw even the uninitiated into meditation.

DSCN0050-150x150And Varanasi. Varanasi almost defies description; it is such an area of contrasts. The steep steps of the ghats, each section with slightly different rise and fall, the cows and water buffalo, sadhus, foreigners taking photos, including a large boatload of tourists wearing medical face masks, each camera boasting a 6- to 10-inch lens.

The goats, monkeys and piles of dung on the walkways, laundry stretched out on the ghats drying in the sun. Hundreds of boats and boatmen, priests, temples and people and traffic everywhere. The silk shops and veggie sellers, souvenirs, statues, incredible smells of food from street corner stands, the paneer shop, tailors in their dark shops creating clothing or weavers creating beautiful silks. And over all is the Ganges, and the thousands of bathers coming to cleanse themselves in her sacred yet alarmingly polluted waters. All of this is spectacular, phenomenal, enticing and exciting. More important, however, is that special aspect of our journey, the glue holding all together.

Making it so much more than a mere trip to India was Swami Nirmalananda and the teachings with which we were daily graced. Each experience was looked at and questioned. Swamiji taught us to look beyond the external into the internal. What was really happening in Ganeshpuri, at Kumbha Mela? What is the meaning of all of our experiences? What did we see and what was there that we weren’t seeing? What could we feel? What did we know that we did not recognize we knew? This expansion was not what we expected and yet it profoundly affected each one of us and we were each aware of our changes.

India herself cannot make me more patient, forgiving, understanding, compassionate. India could not propel me into my now daily chanting of the entire Guru Gita or to my each morning rise to meditate at 4 AM. India did not open my eyes to what is happening inside myself, she did not cause the river of Grace flowing within me, within each of us. But a month in India or a month anywhere with Swami Nirmalananda – now that is a life changing experience.

Two of Three… Posted on March 20, 2013 by Swamiji

You have already funded two of our three goals in our 2013 campaign, Making a Difference:

● Swami Support: Goal $15,000 to provide for Swami Nirmalananda’s personal and professional support.

● Ashram Essentials: Goal $10,000 to support our ongoing programs and the facilities that are available to you.

The Ashram Board is gratified at your support, not only for your generosity but also for your heartfelt message that Swamiji’s work is important to you.

Our Capital Fund still needs your support, with $6,800 giving us a start toward our goal of $35,000. These monies are dedicated to replacing our Ashram furnaces and building the Outdoor Temple that Swamiji has designed.

GAS FURNACES: The Ashram building is heated by natural gas but the furnaces are almost 30 years old. While they are a good ecological option, they are inefficient and they heat the building very unevenly. Thus we need to use electric heaters to ward off the chill in several corners, including our Meditation Hall. We’ve made it through another winter with these furnaces, but hope to replace them in the off-season, a lower priced alternative to waiting for a crisis to occur.

OUTDOOR TEMPLE: Swami Nirmalananda would like to get outside for the sunrise! The backyard temple is designed for the morning chant and meditation, and can be used for almost three seasons. She’s designed a sacred center with eight points, corresponding with her Guru’s mystical teachings on the heart chakra, and plans to install a sacred statue from India there (in 2014?). The outer portion will be four-sided, the square of muladhara chakra, grounding the tailbone in physical reality. Our landscaping plan includes a fern garden and a water feature. A multi-year project, we hope to build the gazebo this year.

The Board works to create the Ashram infrastructure and oversee it, understanding that every penny that is spent is your money. Our team of Board members and sevites reviews every expenditure closely and assists Swamiji with ongoing management. Our many sevites team with our administrative staff to keep personnel costs low so that your donations are put to careful use, along with the tuitions from Swami Nirmalananda’s courses and retreats. In addition, the Ganeshpuri Music School continues to be supported by the Ashram.

You are Making a Difference in so many ways:

Your practices change your life, which touches so many other’s lives and helps to change the world
Your interest in the teachings and practices draws Swami Nirmalananda into teaching
Your financial support makes her able to dedicate her time to writing and teaching, as well as invite your participation from your home or when you are in Downingtown.
Click here to offer your donation, in any amount, as a single donation or monthly gift. Thank you!

Monthly Donors – please accept our loving thank you for your continuing support. Click here to add to your monthly dakshina or to make any other change. As announced in Tadaa! (page 4) new Monthly Donors and those who increase their monthly gift will receive Swamiji’s gift of a marble box from the Taj Mahal filled with sacred ash from our Ganeshpuri yaj~na (Vedic fire ceremony).

India in Hindsight. Posted on March 16, 2013 by Swamiji

by Swami Nirmalananda

As I settle back into my American routines, I can see a gradual improvement in my ability to describe what happened on this India trip. Being immersed in the Grace of the holy sites we pilgrimaged to was an experience, as so many are saying, beyond words. That’s because the power of those sites is such that it propels you past the words you usually use, into the vast innermost beingness that is your own Self. What words will describe that?

An immersion into consciousness is a treasure beyond price, whether for a moment, in your own meditation or yoga practice, or whether for weeks, as we experienced in Ganeshpuri and Allahabad (the location of this year’s Kumbha Mela). The value is found in the experience of consciousness itself, but if it is a true experience, it’s not dependent on place, for consciousness is everywhere. Consciousness is everywhere, everywhen, everyone and everything. The goal is to know, and see, and be That — everywhere, everywhen and with everyone and everything.

So the value of the pilgrimage shows up in the return home. Over 43 yogis have stepped back into their lives, with the same wheres, whens, whos and whats – but the yogi is herself or himself different. Who are you now? Who are you in the same places and in the same relationships – you’re a new you, while you are the you that you have always been. All at the same time…

For now, I’ll describe it this way:

Ganeshpuri provides an immersion into the Grace of the Guru, where the gift of your own Self is being given 24/7/365. Try to avoid Grace in Ganeshpuri — you’ll fail. Bhagavan Nityananda can overpower your resistances, even though He is not embodied any more. His tangible and continuing presence in Ganeshpuri, supported and maintained by those who still serve Him, propels you into your own Self and leaves an indelible imprint on your heart.

Allahabad provides an immersion into the purity and spaciousness of pure Beingness. This is also a gift of Grace, but it’s an impersonal type of Grace — not grounded in the relationship between one who knows and one who seeks. An ethereal type of consciousness, the joining of the rivers bathes you in a pure flow of irresistible consciousness. It a time-sensitive experience, at its fullest only once every 12 years. Ephemeral, it gives you a glimpse of your own Self that leaves an indelible imprint in your mind.

Benares (Varanasi) is embodied Grace. The flow of consciousness, embodied in Ganga (Ganges River), is an external expression of the uprising flow within. Your own upliftment is made real in this Grace, the revelatory power of Kundalini outside and inside. The city of “Siva, every street corner gives you another opportunity to see and worship God. Temple bells sound as you walk by, following the cows and dogs through the ancient alleyways. Life is real in Benares, truly real — and truly holy. Benares shows you the Divine in every form passing by, and leaves an indelible imprint upon your whole being.

I was fortunate to bring a small group with me to Benares, all of us continuing on from Ganeshpuri and Allahabad. While I was there, I received the keys to my new home, a small house alongside Ganga. I’ve been trying to buy something there for more than five years, and was able to complete the purchase just one week before, with the help of my Indian family there.

Varanasi-house-150x150We gained access to the house on our last day, seeing the “before” – there’s a lot of work to do before a Westerner is comfortable in it. “After” will happen in 6-8 months, and then I’ll be able to invite you to visit me in Benares, when I am in residence there. My primary home continues to be in Downingtown, but now I’ll have a personal home when I’m in India. Finally! After 37 years of visiting India, I have a home there!

My new home does not affect any of Master Yoga’s or Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram’s activities. It is a personal residence, not financed by either organization or through anyone’s donations. How fortunate I am to be able to fulfill one of the traditional functions of a swami, to create a home in a holy place. Perhaps you can visit me there as well as in Pennsylvania. And allow Benares to imprint upon your whole being. OR simply do more japa!

India Treasures, Still Coming… Posted on March 12, 2013 by Swamiji

SO EASY! by Sarvataa Christie

Ganeshpuri, what a place! Now called home, it has hens with waddles, the roosters have, too, of course (but much larger!), the cows have horns and humps and roam free, along with the dogs and cats. And the people! Oh! The people! So friendly, lovely and gracious. The villagers either came to Ganeshpuri for Nityananda , are descendants of those, or are the indigenous jungle people for whom this land has always been home. I am surrounded by Nityananda!

Waves, smiles, namaskars, “hi”s hand to the heart and nods abound from passersby who are working, bicycling, or motorcycling (with sari-ed women riding side saddle!). The villagers love to have their photo taken and especially love to see the photo.

Rosie always greets us with a big “Welcome Home”! My first day, I missed the taxi back to Fire Mountain Ashram. I cried and cried and wanted to go home. My cries were met with a big hug and a call to a “Tuk-Tuk” (motorcycle-rickshaw). We can walk anywhere we want to or need to be, although in the afternoon you probably wouldn’t want to (too much sun)!

After discovering my papaya allergy, Moti separates it out from the other fruit. He also came back the Ashram, where I dropped my room key, found it, and brought it back to me so we could get into our room! From the conversations with the locals and the police (while registering as tourists), to the elderly lady who saved me from the heat by sending me to the park for shade, while I was waiting for Nityananda’s house to open, to the tailor who stayed up all night (this is not India time, not even close!) to make my sari for Ganesha’s Birthday Yajña the next day… and I can go on and on and on… I am taken care of.

The gracious hosts of Fire Mountain Ashram are also wonderful sevites for the Shree Nityananda Education Trust. They have many, many wonderful programs for giving back. I know that this is not the reason for coming all this way; that’s to know my Self. That is everything. But to be so taken care of, and so welcomed, and made to feel at home here, in this place, allows for a haven for “Shakti Fever” while diving deeper into the knowing of the Self.

I am Nityananda. Nityananda is me. Nityananda is Home. Nityananda is everywhere. I am home here. Home is within me wherever I go. Om namo Bhagavate Nityanandaya.

NITYANANDA, by Jyoti Yacobi

The enormous rhythmic sound of bells and drums

The glorious chant of Brahmin priests

It is that time of the morning again

To call Nityananda’s vastness and eternality

Into the beautiful golden murti

.

The yogurt, milk , honey and water bathe and caress His form

At some point, there are no differences –

Whose hands are washing whom?

Who is the object of such great love and devotion?

Who is the one who adorns this form?

What is the subtle formlessness

That manifests this form?

.

Then I sense this powerful, enormous energy in my body

Infinity contained within my own form

For an instant, I doubt whether I can hold it

And then – freedom and expansion

Nothing can keep me away from you, Nityananda

Nothing can close the door to my own Self

Gems from India. Posted on March 5, 2013 by Swamiji

Connecting with Friends

by Lucia Miller

Who knew I wanted to go to India?

It wasn’t on my “to do” list, yet here I sit, settling into a quiet inner stillness. Each day there is an opportunity to go to “downtown Ganeshpuri,” to witness and participate in temple celebrations, to walk through town and visit local shops, or just wander off from our homebase at Fire Mountain Retreat Center across the river.

It is Fire Mountain where we spend most of our time for meals, satsang and yoga. We gather every day – morning, afternoon, and evening under a huge soccer ball shaped dome with skylights, with mosquito netting all around. There’s plenty of room for yoga blankets, chairs and the whole gang of Svaroopa® yogis. Funny to see all the familiar plaid blankets just a few feet away from a big cow pasture and coconut trees. If you go to http://www.firemountainretreat.com/ , you’ll be able to see a picture of this amazing space.

The retreat center is not large and what strikes me the most is that it’s right in the midst of the countryside. You can see and hear and taste all of the village life going on around you – brick makers, grazing cows, local workers coming and going, children walking by going somewhere. And what you can count on is hearing them shout out “hello” as they pass, like a joyful bird call, and we call back “hello”. It’s all so amazingly simple.

You don’t have to be here to be here but being here is like nowhere else in the world. To live is to love, and when you are in Ganeshpuri, you do nothing but love.

The Walk of Your Guru

by a Ganeshpuri Retreat participant

When you look at photos of Nityananda, do you see pure love?

To walk the paths and lanes where Nityananda once walked.

To meet his photographer’s son! Who carries on his father’s work.

To chant slowly Om Namah Shivayah in the dome while awaiting Nirmalananda to arrive.

It is loving to reach these lands as we have, in this age, to carry on what the sages have laid before us. Think of what those who have lived here – what they have devoted their lives to! Swamiji says that most of the people in Ganeshpuri moved here, or their parents or grandparents have relocated here in devotion of Bhagawan – that is the reason they are here.

Who will you follow and let lead?

Big Shakti from a Small Village. Posted on March 2, 2013 by Swamiji

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.

Kumbha Mela & more about Ganeshpuri. Posted on February 23, 2013 by Swamiji

images (12)Kumbha Mela: waters below and above – by Swami Nirmalananda

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.

The Play of Shakti. Posted on February 21, 2013 by Swamiji

Our last days in Ganeshpuri became a whirlwind of shakti and events, and now we’ve been at the Kumbha Mela for three days! I have the pleasant duty to catch you up with reports from so many yogis, covering our Ganeshpuri dosa party (food), more about the yaj~na (fire ceremony) and our Music School Performance. Yet I will also tell you we’ve been to the precise point where the rivers meet and merge and are returning tomorrow, with many meditations, mantras, meals and long walks through the amazingly easy crowds. With love, Swamiji

NO PLACE LIKE HOME – by Karuna (Carolyn) Beaver

Do you really need to come half way around the world to come home? Apparently, some of us do! When I say home, I don’t mean the physical location where I live. I mean being at home with my Self, in my Self, as my Self.

In our Ganeshpuri satsang a few days ago, Swamiji talked to us about the searching – the yearning – we all have for something more. She told us about her love for God and the human need to worship and adore. But, she said, Yoga is not about worship, and it’s not about religion. Yoga, she said, is about the relationship with a living master. “Yoga is about having a role model.”

While I am thoroughly enjoying visiting the holy sites and participating in the traditional ceremonies in Ganeshpuri, this little village with so much concentrated spiritual energy, what I am enjoying the most is being with my Guru in the place where she spent time with her Guru. I told Swamiji that I felt a little like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. All she had to do was click her heels and say ‘there’s no place like home’ to find her way.

All I have to do is to look into my Guru’s eyes to realize that I have the same ability. I do not worship my Guru (well, I DO adore her!!). I find myself in her eyes and in her presence, and my search is over.

DOSA PARTY

Michelle Gordon: Dosa is like being at the Copa!!! Colors, fast moving, lots of movement, famished yogis, and then: the chefs, delectable choices, magnificent presentation, professional, of course! Yes all this in Nimboli India. Come along, join our par-teeeeeeeeee!

Sheyna Purna Peace: A little bit of background. Today most of us were at the Nityananda Temple by 4:30 (that’s A.M.) where we sat while abhishek (ritual bath) was done on the beautiful Nityananda murti. A few of us then meditated in front of the bed where Nityananda slept. A gorgeous walk before sunrise back to Fire Mountain Ashram, breakfast and Guru Gita. Some of us have had personal pujas (ceremonies) with Prasad, the Brahman priest who, among other things, runs the Ganeshpuri Music School. I went to one for a friend and it was very powerful. After lunch we dressed in our finest and today, being the auspicious day of Ganesha’s birthday, we attended a Yaj~na (Sacred Fire ceremony). This was incredible and needs its own entire blog. We returned to the Ashram for satsang with Swamiji and then, and only then, DOSAS!

Priya Kenney: The Mumbai chefs who came to us with this feast are fluid form in motion. Dipping into the batter to plop a large dollop on the hot griddle, spreading it around in an expanding circle, creating a food painting by dipping into their palette of veggies from the local soils. Hands fly into silver bowls for a pinch of carrots, a handful of this and a sprinkle of that. Their easy movement is directed at filling our forms, but it reminds me of the priests at puja, fluidly pouring milk, honey and curd over Nityananda’s golden head, so that we may know our formlessness. These dosha artists and the priests moving effortlessly through the ceremonies each know the complexity of their rites. We are fed, and so full, inside and outside.

AFTER DOSAS — by Millie Chang

After the Dosa party last night where we were encouraged to “pig out” and despite my refusal of the ice cream treat offered, my digestive system was somewhat compromised. Waking a few hours prior to the 3:30 a.m. needed to get to Nityananda Temple for a very big day (lunar anniversary of Bhagawan’s Murti Installation), I found myself laying in bed, silently chanting Jai Jai Nityananda, occasionally rubbing my tummy, asking for Nityananda’s help to allow me to feel well enough to attend this morning’s abhishek. And soon enough, I was feeling better, ready to walk to the Temple along the mostly dark road, accompanied by my roommate and two of the house dogs who romped along the road ahead of us, greeting other dogs along the way.

The nearby temple where we’d attended the Opening Ceremony for the three-day Ganesha’s Birthday party celebration was brightly lit as though tempting us to return any time for Darshan with Ganeshaji on the stage covered in floral glory. At the large temple plaza, all the flower garland sellers were busy soliciting shoppers, and I went to pick out a lei made all of leaves and tender shoots.

Inside, the temple was filling up quickly, men on the left, women on the right, with a wide marble aisle in the middle with a direct view of the Golden Murti of Nityananda. Perhaps a dozen people were behind the railings, in order to participate in the actual bathing process. The chanting in process involved many voices, with special and specific chants for this day. Many of those gathered chanted along or responded to the Brahmins’ devotional recitations.

Fast forward a couple of hours, through the abhishek process, all the time chanting of many voices, I opened my eyes to see the Murti already dressed in his brocade cloth, embellished with many long strands of malas and one large leafy lei over his torso, and a small wristlet of flowers on his prominent left hand, accenting his long slender downward flowing fingers.

Next was a series of aaratis with several versions of flame holders, and everybody chanted Jai Jai Nityananda. Near where I was seated, several young children joined their mothers or came by themselves, as they have been doing each day. Then the entire audience rose up to form a line, gradually turning into a “single file” as one of the caretakers requested of the masses of people. The men were asked to wait along their wall, while women filed through to circumambulate the beautiful, pure Murti of Bhagawan Nityananda , today crowned with a bejeweled golden cap topped with a multi-headed cobra.

Having the opportunity to actually touch and see Bhagawan with our hands and hearts is truly the opportunity of a lifetime. On this Journey with Swamiji we have had such auspicious days to celebrate, first on Friday (solar anniversary of Bhagawan’s Murti Installation), then on Monday (MahaAbhishek with Swamiji), and again this morning. Amazing is too mild a word to describe the feelings that come up and settle into me each time we enter this purification process. It is quite difficult to identify whatever is so very subtly seeping into every cell of my body, but I am more than content to let things fall where they lay.

As Bindu, my teacher just asked me: How do we share or explain this with our friends and fellow Svaroopis back in Pennsylvania? They might just have to come for themselves.