Category Archives: Ganeshpuri

The yoga of quietude — Karuna (Carolyn) Beaver

I was going to call this blog the yoga of quarantine, but that’s a pretty jarring title for a day that has proved quite blissful.  I’m running a temperature from a flu bug and feeling like a truck hit me, so I’ve spared my fellow travelers from my germs. You might think, ‘oh, that’s too bad,’ a day of missed opportunities in this trip that is chock full of them.

Instead, it’s been a day of sweet surrender. There’s the yoga of letting other people take care of you, and the yoga of gratitude for their compassion. There’s the yoga of bed Ujjayi, asana, japa and meditation. There’s the yoga of opening my heart to the sounds early today from the nearby temple, as well as from our group chanting the Guru Gita in the meditation hall next to me this morning.  And right now I can hear from our afternoon satsang, where students and teachers from the Ashram’s Ganeshpuri Music School are playing drums, harmonium and singing. What a full day I’ve had!

Even with this full day, because I have limited my physical activity and my interaction with others, it has been a contemplative day. It has been a chance to slow down and let the Grace of Ganeshpuri wash over me. It has felt like a retreat.

As I re-enter the group and activities, I hope tomorrow, I will hold dear this experience and see if I can stay centered in awareness without chasing my senses and my mind.

Om Namah Shivaya

Dinner with Swamiji — by Shuchi Cilley

DSC_0095This evening the group from our guest house is sitting around the dinner table with Swamiji on the wide veranda of the “big house.” The heat of the day is dissipating.

India’s ancient teachings once again float on the evening air as our Guru asks each one of us in turn “What did you hear?” from the afternoon satsang.

Story after story unfolds for each of us as we connect the cosmic forces she has been describing (in her teachings on Vishnu) with the present time and events in our lives. We’ve just heard an intricate story of Vishnu’s incarnation as Narasimha, a man-lion, in order to kill a devotee, helping him fulfill the terms of a curse.

Each of us has picked out a different theme and Swamiji draws out the details revealing more layers and nuances to the story. She meets each of us where we are at — as Devaraja says, “There are no wrong answers”.  It’s a joy to see how we are each individualized forms of Shiva reflecting back a specific facet of the teachings, and in turn the Guru is reflecting back personalized responses. The blaze of Consciousness grows brighter and brighter around the table, blazing into the still India evening.

How fortunate am I to be here in this place and this time at the feet of my Guru….

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.