Monthly Archives: February 2015

SHIVARATRI — by SheynaPurna Peace

Shakti fever or some unknown ailment laid me low for a day.  I wondered if this was my small-s self trying to keep me small and pondered this as I walked alone in the dark early morning to abhishek at the Nityananda temple.  A maha maha (big BIG) abhishek happened today as a devoted (and most probably wealthy) family lovingly bathed Nityananda with the ‘full monty’ of milk, yogurt, honey, ghee, oils and water.   As the milk poured down Nityananda’s face tears streamed down mine.  It was rapture.

The gates to the Sanctum Sanctorum are open today with the darshan line very long, but a few of us chose to stay.  We were rewarded with the Grace of being stopped directly in front of the larger than life Nityananda.  We stood, waited, immersed in His gaze.

DSC_0102As we passed out of the temple, Kusuma and I wandered to the small Shiva temple adjacent.  Peering down the stairs into the temple we saw another one of our group doing an arati, so we came inside. As it ended, we moved around to the rear of the Shiva Lingam.  The brass cover of the lingham was removed, granite stone revealed in the spaces that were not covered in flowers and greens.

A local family was beginning an abhishek ceremony to the lingam; they asked us to stay and participate in the ceremony.  We poured water, milk, grains, flowers and tulsi leaves, waved candles, chanted and stood up to turn in circles.  Bliss poured through the room, filling each of my cells with the power of love, the power of creation and destruction, the Shakti.

Ganeshpuri flower vendorsWhen the abhishek ended, after thanking our incredibly generous hosts, we returned to Nityananda in the main hall.  We were able to go inside and even touch Him again.  We went across the plaza for flowers to offer both to Nityananda and to Shiva (in the lingam).  Full, so full, I sit with pen and pad to journal about Ganeshpuri’s Grace.

How Has India Changed You? – Betsy Bommer

India map toptourguid-comSwamiji asked us, “How has India changed you?”

My answer came from a memory of landing at the airport and being embraced by a swirl of warm air that brought tears to my eyes. My heart opened into an experience of limitlessness with the recognition “I am home.”

How has being home changed me? My hard edges have softened. Judgments come less often and stay briefly. Compassion expands and I feel I am a part of the flow and activity of living. Others are living their lives and there is a dance among and between us. The dancing offers and allows me to continually change.

In Nityananda’s morning abhishek I became aware once again that I am the silence in the midst of activity of my senses. I am the silence out of which comes the activity. India has deepened, expanded, enlivened my living. My heart and mind are open to the more of living. I am graced beyond words.

I Thought I Could Never Go  — By Rama (Ruth) Brooke

When Swamiji first began offering trips to India, I thought I’d never be brave enough to go. On the 14 plus hour plane ride over I could taste the “avidya” (the not-knowing who I am) as I left behind my family, work, pristine environment and all that I know well.  Gradually my attachment to these identities began to melt with each mile, as we approached the Maha Devi, the mother land of yoga.

DSC_0891Several days later, after soaking up the powerful shakti from the abhishek in Nityananda’s temple, from the yaj~na (Vedic fire ceremony), day two of Shivratri (a 3-day Shiva celebration) and our daily Guru Gita, meditation and asana practices, I feel my “container” expanding.

Earlier I had not able to sustain the openings.  The bliss would come and go, come and go; one minute ecstatic, seeing Consciousness in myself and everything around me, the next contracted and experiencing limitations. Now, increasingly, there is a spacious calm in the ecstasy.  With a few mantra repetitions, I can settle into the bliss.

It is always there; the undercurrent of Grace. Nityananda’s Grace pervades everything and everyone in Ganeshpuri: the beautiful, the ugly; the clean, the dirty.  Everywhere you turn in Ganeshpuri there is Nityananda. You cannot escape him. As stated in Shree Guru Gita, verse 63:


The Guru knows: I am unborn,

undecaying, no start or end,

unchanging, consciousness and bliss,

smaller than small, greater than great.*

*Translated by Swami Nirmalananda

It’s Everywhere — by Monique Martin

You can’t run away from it; it grabs you every time. In the chants of the Brahmin priests, in the flames of the fire, in the temple, in Nityananda’s house, in the room where he took Mahasamadhi, in the sounds of the bell and the beating of the drums, in the murtis, under the banyan tree that Nityananda planted near the river, in the air, it catches you every time.

DSC_0102You cannot hide from it, Kundalini “Sakti. It’s even at the tip of your tailbone.

Shanti, Shanti, Shanti

Impressions — by Yogeshwari (Melissa) Fountain

Beloved readers, yogis of the heart: salutations from Ganeshpuri!
Every day I journal my impressions, inner and outer, and try to find a way to describe what is happening to me (to all of us) in this magical, mystical, beyond-time place. My awareness keeps expanding and what I thought was so succinct yesterday shrinks in comparison to the next day’s recognitions. Here are my hot off the press bullet points — for now.

Swamiji describes Ganeshpuri as a sleepy little village. Yet it is hardly ever quiet and rarely seems to sleep! The cacophony of outer noises (bats flapping, dogs barking, horns honking, mantras permeating the air, bird song, kettle drums) oddly draws me deeper inside to the quiet of my inner Self. When I am at home, my outer environment is controlled and quiet, but my mind drives me nuts. Funny about that. Ahh, India.

DSC_0313Swamiji’s satsangs each day are filled with revelation, the Guru’s Grace. What rivets me is this: in our supplications to the Divine, we ask for so little. We ask for peace, protection, prosperity. We ask for help with our problems.

But in truth all we need is found in these five words: May I know my Self. This is my prayer now.  Come to a Ganeshpuri retreat with Swamiji and be prepared. As the Bible says, you cannot put new wine in an old wine skin!

Of all our practices, attending the 4:30 am Abhishek, the bathing and adornment of Nityananda’s murti (statue) continues to reveal new inner truths each day. Inspired by this ritual, and wanting to continue it at home, I bought a small murti of Him. I had the temple priest bless it. This means I bring to my home not a decoration, but a living, breathing source of the Divine.

Deeper still is the awareness that I am that source of the Divine. It is worthy and holy to bathe the murti of Nityananda, but how am I handling this murti — me? My body, my mind, my soul? Proper diet? Discipline in practices? This is worthy and holy. And yet I realize that without a continued inner worship of my Divine Self, it all becomes mere ritual.  This retreat has made me want so much more.

A Is for… — by Dean Cilley

Abishek is the ritual bathing of the Nityananda murti in Ganeshpuri each morning.

Balabala picked me up on arrival at the Mumbai airport for transport to Ganeshpuri at 1 AM.

dhotiClasses in Svaroopa® yoga asana were taught by one of three great teachers — Kamala Gross, Bhakta Johnson and Yogeshwari Fountain — daily at 11 AM.

Dhoti is the ceremonial clothing worn by men.

Early risers get the most out of each day (by attending the Nityananda arati).

Families provide support so we could all travel here to Ganeshpuri.

Gurus are everywhere.

Holy cows wander the streets.

Incredible — India is really incredible.

Jaya jaya arati” is sung to honor Bhagawan Nityananda.

47Krpa — Guru Krpa— is Guru’s Grace.

Lineage of Gurus:  Bhagawan Nityananda, Swami Muktanana, Swami Nirmalananda.

Moti and Iqbal Memon cover the logistical needs to make our trip go smoothly.

Nimboli is the home of the Fire Mountain Ashram, which hosted us for lunch one day.

Opportunities abound for meditation and deeper spiritual practices.

People — one of every six people in the world lives in India, the largest democracy.

Quintessential spiritual experiences happen in Ganeshpuri.

Ritual is a part of every day in Ganeshpuri.

Tuk-tuks are the small motorized rickshaws that offer public transportation.

Upma is a tasty breakfast dish.

Valentine’s Day is when this blog was written.

Weather in Ganeshpuri is sunny and dry this time of year. How nice!

Xtra-special is the time we shared together here in Ganeshpuri.

Yes, I am returning…

Zoom is how fast our time went here.

Sweeping the Dirt  — Kabir Cloonan

February 14 — On my way to the temple, I met a lady sweeping the dirt walkway. The interesting thing about this town is at first glance it looks rundown, chaotic, even a little backwards, but if you look closer it’s exactly the same as any town. Just place a shopping mall in the center instead of a temple. You see, this town was built around Nityananda.

“Hello,” I attempted to communicate while looking into her eyes to see if I can perceive contentment, i do and we talk. Turns out she 55, has one kid and her husband passed away 2 years ago. Her clothing and teeth show her poverty but she’s not living on the street; she’s just poor like many others around here. She says with a smile and a nod of her head, that she is doing seva for Nityananda.  She’s been sweeping around the temple for 35 years.  I say thank you, thinking this place wouldn’t be here without her. We talk a short time longer and I say good bye.

Indian broomI get some chai from a vendor and sit.  And think… It makes sense, sweeping the dirt walkways keeps the streets clean, which keeps the town plaza clean, the temple steps and the temple floors clean. She not the only one doing the sweeping, I just happened to talk with her. By the way, seva is not a job; they are sweeping for Nityananda.

I realize that I sweep the dirt too, but in a different way. I sweep the dirt from my body through a healthy lifestyle; I sweep my speech, trying to be kind and talk meaningfully to others; I sweep my mind by consciously trying to catch my tendencies, replacing un-serving thoughts with ones that serve my path.

It’s devotion that we have in common.  The actions one undertakes are not the important part but our intention.  You see, the lady sweeping is devoted to serving her Guru. This is her practice, her doorway.

The temple in and of itself is just a building.  It can’t bring you anything, unless you’re willing to devote yourself to sweeping the dirt,

Where’s your doorway? You’re standing in it…


February 15 — I talkeded to the same lady this morning, but there’s not much contentment in her eyes… in fact I see none.  Now I look further and see she is wearing a badge; I did not see it the other day.  Then she asked me for money.  I’m polite, we talk for a bit and then I walk away.

Shortly afterward, I spoke with a man walking along the river, i asked him if the ladies sweeping get paid. He said that they work for the temple and get their housing and meals taken care of.  That’s not my definition of seva..

Why am I spoiling the story?  Because I thought 35 years of devotion was beautiful.  Because I’d like to have that.  Because I’d like to be so certain and have no shadow of a doubt.  And if I see it others it gives me hope that it exists.

I know it doesn’t matter what others are doing, it only matters what you’re doing.  I’ll keep sweeping the dirt.