Tag Archives: ganeshpuri

Landing in Ganeshpuri by Karuna Beaver

carolyn_beaver

Karuna (Carolyn) Beaver

We have arrived in Ganeshpuri — all 37 of us Svaroopis. It has taken us weeks of preparation to make it here, but Ganesha has cleared the obstacles, and we have all arrived safely.

We have landed in a place that removed obstacles for our spiritual leader, our teacher, our Guru — Swami Nirmalananda — who has been coming to Ganeshpuri for nearly 40 years. We have come to join her here to deepen our practices in a place that shimmers with shakti. We are all here to soak up the incredible energy field that is Ganeshpuri. We are here to take a dip into the flow of Grace that emanates from this little village north of Mumbai.

And we are here to pay homage to the lineage of the Svaroopa® Sciences, in the place where the ultimate originator — Bhagawan Nityananda — attracted a following of devotees and disciples, including Baba Muktananda, Swamiji’s Guru. We are in the place where Bhagawan Nityananda chose Muktananda to carry on his teachings. We are in the place where Swami Nirmalananda sat at Baba Muktananda’s feet, absorbed in his teachings, and was inspired to develop the asana practice and deep yet accessible yogic teachings she has brought to the West.

We are lucky to be here, and we will be in touch with you often to share our personal experiences over the next two weeks. We know you will feel the micro-waves of energy we’re emitting from here. In this way you join us in our journey from your own home. You are all here within us in our hearts.

Packing for India by Sheynapurna Peace

India_ Sheynapurna 2Swamiji says to put all you want to take, including money, on your bed.  Remove half the clothes and double your money.  I absolutely agree.

In 2013, my suitcases were full, heavy and packed with “essentials.”  I didn’t use half my essentials, and couldn’t even find several items until back home.  Here’s my abbreviated list. It contains only what I found to be truly needed:

-2 pairs of loose cotton trousers
-2-3 tops
-6-12 undies
-as many bras (ladies) as you like
-2 warm pairs socks (if heading to cooler climes)
-1 light jacket
-2 dhupattas (scarves) to match tops or bottoms
-small container with toiletries – (e.g., shampoo, soap, skin lotions, and sunscreen; some bug repellant, to use until you can get some Odomos in India; toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss; hairbrush or comb as well as a small hand mirror and tweezers)
-maybe a pack of tissues.
-Small first aid kit with some band aids, antibiotic ointment, some aspirin or ibuprofen, and any prescriptions.
-Your supplements, if you think you’ll take them, and not a whole lot of them
-Sandals – especially inexpensive slide-ons
-Long underwear, if you’re heading north
-PJs  – remember it’s fairly warm in Ganeshpuri, so not your heavy ones
-Soap for washing clothes
-Meditation shawl/asana
-some small foods that won’t attract monkeys or rats- something you might not be able to get in India (Their chocolate is awful but ours might melt – ah, tapas; I’ll do without.)
-Females: sanitary protection for that time of month
-Stout lock/key with rounded hasp for your door
-Small powerful flashlight
-Small inflatable neck rest or pillow (good for meditation as well as plane)
-Noise canceling headphones (if airplane noise bothers you)
-3-6 medium/large sized safety pins (for sari pinning)
-Lip balm
-PASSPORT WITH STAMPED VISA
-MUST BRING YOUR E-TICKET RECEIPT or you won’t be allowed into the airport in India!
-Cash.  Some money can be changed in the Mumbai airport, if you feel the need.  Iqbal’s friend Shamin provides this service in Ganeshpuri.
-India adaptor. NOTE:  India electricity does not work with “universal” plug adaptors.  You can get an adaptor on Amazon.com good for India plugs.  But it is 220 volt, not 110.

Really, you won’t need much else.  I am hoping to use a carry-on size suitcase, and bring along a backpack or large purse-like bag that closes.  I want room in my case for presents to bring home – might even consider buying clothes to wear and then giving them to friends.

I do suggest you obtain and wear compression stockings on the long plane journeys.  Several people experienced swollen feet/ankles/lower legs on the 2013 India Yatra.  DVTs can be an issue as well; compression stockings will make your feet and legs more comfortable not only on the long plane right, but throughout the entire trip.

Bottom line: Don’t overburden yourself!

Chanting to the Divine by Priya Kenney

Priya Kenney

Priya Kenney

We were never far from hearing the sounds of worship of the Divine on the 2013 Ganeshpuri trip.  I loved the auditory presence of the Divine in Ganeshpuri.  It was one of the reasons our senses were so filled with Consciousness.  That ever-present current of mantra and chanting filled our ears and hearts and the act of chanting sent vibrations of Consciousness through our bodies.  We were in the current of Grace.

Brahmin priests began chanting soon after 4:00 am at the Nityananda Temple for the devotional abhishek (ritual bathing of Nityananda’s murti).  After breakfast, we settled in for the Guru Gita and all the accompanying chants.  Every day, Swamiji gave us a few more Guru Gita verses translated into English and we chanted those too.  In the afternoon, we gathered with Swamiji for more chanting, satsang and meditation.

Some chants were familiar — the Guru Gita and Jaya Jaya Arati Nityananda — and the new and mysterious chants that flowed from the Brahmin priests during the all day yajña, fire ceremony.  Those chants propitiated the gods, the planets and all the forces of Consciousness by using a mysterious and mesmerizing rhythm that propelled us into a meditative state.

In the Nityananda Temple, we heard many beautiful chants as well.  One of the Brahmin priests, Prasad, has a particularly celestial voice.  One morning, I entered the sound of his chanting, and was lifted to a beautiful place of adoration and devotion.  I was especially taken by the nearly monotone Om Namo Bhagavate chant that came through the loudspeakers during a rest period of the abhishek.  That same chant flowed through the streets during other parts of the day and evening.

Some of us chanted the Guru Gita at Gurudev Siddha Peeth, where Swamiji lived, served and sat at Baba’s feet. Their rendition of the Guru Gita has a similar but slightly different melody, sung in call and response with men singing one-half of each verse, the women the other half.

Chanting and the mantra are the powerful pathways to meditation, ways to stay close to God.  Meditation gives us the Self. All the chanting took me right into meditation. When I looked around at the other yogis, often they would be deep in meditation. It was a beautiful sight. During the abhishek and the yajña, the chanting went on for long periods of time and it was impossible to sustain conscious awareness.  I noticed people around me in ecstatic meditation and others immersed deep inside. The sheer magnitude of the chanting overpowered any resistance we might have had.  Our minds became still in that river of Consciousness and there we were, right in ourSelves.

For information on the India 2015 trip, click here for FAQs.

Who is the Guru? by Jyoti (Rebecca) Yacobi

Jyoti (Rebecca) Yacobi

Jyoti (Rebecca) Yacobi

“Meditate on the Sadguru,
embodied form of consciousness,
knowing, being, illumining,
giving me That which is my Self”

Thus says one of the introductory verses in the Shree Guru Gita, the ultimate song to the Guru.

In February 2013, after witnessing life in Ganeshpuri, whose heart is Bhagavan Nityananda, I found that I had many questions: What is my relationship to the Guru and how is it deepening? How did the yatra to India affect this relationship to my Guru, Swami Nirmalananda? What effect did this pilgrimage to the fountain of spiritual energy have in me?

Devotion and love of the Guru is the core of life there, and the Nityananda temple in the town square is a true testament to this.  Ceremonies are performed several times every day to the enlivened murti (statue) of Nityananda. In our yatra to Ganeshpuri, we were fortunate to accompany Swami Nirmalananda to witness these devotional ceremonies.

Every morning, at 4:00 AM, the temple came alive with chanting, beating of the drums and ritual bathing of Nityananda’s life size murti.  The two-hour ceremony was absolutely spellbinding.  We were riveted by the affectionate way the Brahmin priests engaged in their tasks. When they concluded with the waving of lights to Nityananda, we all joined in the chant of “Jaya, jaya Arati, Nityananda.” The temple was transformed into a powerhouse of spiritual magic and mystery.

At Her daily satsangs, Swamiji interwove tantric teachings into our experiences of the day.  Thus, Her satsangs facilitated self-reflection, contemplation and integration of what was unfolding in our bodies, minds and hearts. Each evening concluded with a Svaroopa® yoga class bringing the busy day into a tranquil repose.

The yatra with Swamiji is no ordinary trip to India.  It is a voyage of self-discovery that is guided and assisted by Swami Nirmalananda, who is a living embodiment of the Gurus of the lineage that preceded Her –Baba Muktananda, Bhagavan Nityananda as well as the sages prior to them.

The devotion and love of Bhagavan Nityananda’s devotees was very tangible, and it made it clear to me how my relationship to Swami Nirmalananda was evolving. The effects of the yatra are unfolding to this day in many subtle ways.

The yatra opened my eyes to what is possible – “the human capacity” was made more palpable, more real.  I know I am changing at the core of my being – I am not who I was; I am in a constant process of “becoming and being.” And in every moment I am guided by the immense Grace bestowing power of the Guru.

All I need to do is think of Her, say Her name and allow the Grace to carry me through the darkest, most difficult steps of the journey to the core of my Heart, to the stillpoint of existence.

As I delve more deeply into myself, naturally and organically my relationship with the Guru expands.  The Guru is outside of me as Swamiji and inside of me as my Self.  As I reach for the Self, as I sit at my Guru’s feet – the boundaries dissolve, expanding into deeper states of awareness.

Guru is a person who lives in a constant state of knowing of Divinity – their Presence, word and action are infused with Grace that opens the doors to the core my being.

Where can you go in this world that the Guru is not?  What can you see, hear and know that is not infused, pervaded and sustained by the Guru?

Where can you go that you do not experience the Presence of the Guru?

What can I say about the Guru that has not already been said? Yet the words flow through my being and from my heart and their expression is a testament to the evolution and revelation that I experience through my Guru’s Grace.

 

Who is the Guru?
In the black, velvety darkness
The path is hard to see
Yet I have a guiding light
That sits in the centre of my skull
At first – invisible, hidden
The steps are muddled, frantic
As I sit in the silence of my heart
The light begins to shine
Very distant, dim, elusive
It begins to grow and pulse through my blood
Shimmering crystal light
Effulgent sapphire blue
As it fills the chidakasha
Deeper and deeper I go

 

Who is the Guru?
What do I see?
She is the light and the Sun
The sky and the stars
The flame that kindles my soul
As she lifts the sadness from my heart
To reveal the stillness beyond

 

She is the Grace that guides my path
She opens the door and I float
Beyond knowledge and knowing
Beyond sound and word
My eyes are opened
To the infinite vastness
That is yet unborn

Ganeshpuri’s Heart by Priya Kenney

Priya Kenney

Priya Kenney

Ganeshpuri exists because of Nityananda. Before he came, it was a jungle.  After he settled there, others began to follow suit, and, before long, the jungle was cleared and a village formed.  Everyone who lives in Ganeshpuri or goes there is drawn because of that great being.

Ganeshpuri is like a geographical bindu of devotion.  A bindu is a point of concentrated energies and Ganeshpuri is all about a very powerful and concentrated devotion, all because of Nityananda. The devotion that he inspires is rooted deeply in Ganeshpuri and continues to pour forth, growing over the years.  Everyone and everything in Ganeshpuri — the stones, the trees, the bushes and buildings — all of it is saturated with devotion, and Grace too.

Nityananda didn’t say a whole lot, but he did say this: “The heart is the hub of all sacred places. Go there and roam.”  Being in Ganeshpuri is like being inside the heart.  Walking around Ganeshpuri, roaming the places where the Gurus lived, taught and meditated, and sitting with Swami Nirmalananda in a variety of wonderful daily practices is an amazing opportunity to do just what Nityananda said, both on the outside and the inside.

If you are fortunate enough to go there, I hope you will find, as I did, that something very special happens with your heart.  Early in the India 2013 trip, I had a vividly sleepless night.  I lay in my bed awake for what seemed like hours. My awareness was immense.  I knew I should be sleeping, but I was more than wide awake.  I was awakeness itself.

At some point, I became acutely aware that something was happening in the area behind my heart.  A dramatic unraveling began, like a tight knot being gently but deliberately unfurled.  Then more unraveling, more than I knew could be.  I felt so free.  My heart had never felt so open before.  No walls, no barriers.  Open.

In the days that followed in Ganeshpuri, I settled into a new openness.  I wanted to give everything to That which had opened me, to the fullness within, to the Guru, to the One.  The rhythm of the days, the outside, supported the inner openings.  Our chanting and devotional practices, all done in the presence of the embodied One, our Guru, Swami Nirmalananda, had a powerful effect on the heart.  My wish for you is that you can spend time with your Guru in this City of Devotion.  Your heart will never be the same again.

For information on the India 2015 trip, click here for FAQs.

Visiting Gurudev Siddha Peeth by SheynaPurna Peace

India_ Sheynapurna 2

February 2013, we first glimpsed this famed and fabled Ashram following our 15-hour flight from Newark to Mumbai, then a grueling nearly 3-hour bus ride through Mumbai rush hour, and finally onto the bumpy dusty road into Ganeshpuri, where we could see the Ashram’s high barbed-wire topped walls, stretching on seemingly forever. The grounds are very large and very private.

The mainstay of Ganeshpuri is Bhagavan Nityananda’s glorious MahaSamadhi Shrine, open and welcoming.  Gurudev Siddha Peeth sits at the other end of the village; the entrance doors are closed and guards patrol the front area. I found this daunting and at odds with my expectations.  The images I’ve seen of this Ashram are from Baba Muktananda’s early days – doors open wide and welcoming and dozens of people wandering in and out.  The high walls and locked gates were not included in my vision.

Swami Nirmalananda explained to us that, while the majority of visitors to Nityananada’s temple are Indians, Gurudev Siddha Peeth has long been a destination point for many visitors from multiple countries.  With the very real threat of terrorism towards Westerners, Gurumayi Chidvilasananda developed safety measures to protect the Ashram residents and visitors.

Helpful hints:  The glorious bookstore across the road is open throughout the week.  Visitors to the Ashram itself, allowed only on weekends, must sign in and check all bags with security across the way near the bookstore complex.  If you visit in the wee morning weekend hours, don’t carry much besides your asana, shawl and chant book, or be prepared to check all other items with the guards.  They will take excellent care of your personal belongings, but for the morning Guru Gita chant, you will find it easier to leave your belongs ‘at home.’

Once you’ve signed in, you’ll be directed to the hall for the chant.  There you will see that men are on one side and women on the other.  You choose whether to sit close to the leading chanters on the floor, or in a folding chair a bit further back.  Either way, the sounds of the chanting voices, the opening mantras and Guru Gita sung by hundreds of devotees will open your heart.

When the chanting ends, all visitors are escorted out of the Ashram – yet not rushed.  You’ll be able to return in the afternoon to visit Muktananda’s MahaSamadhi Shrine, where you may walk the perimeter of the room or sit on the marble floor where so many devotees steep in meditation.

Gurudev Siddha Peeth challenged me to look at my resistances and expectations.  As the Guru is the mirror showing not only where I am but who I am, the Ashram is as well.  It wasn’t until several months after returning home that I was able to see I had been caught up in my mind – not what is, but what I wanted. I realized that the guards were doing their job to protect everyone in the Ashram, myself included. The residents are doing their sadhana and their lives aren’t meant to be on display to hundreds of visitors. I recognize that Gurudev Siddha Peeth opened me up to see myself more clearly, helping me grow into recognition of my Self.  When I return, it will be with love, wonder and excitement – to spend time with my Guru’s Guru – what could be sweeter?

 

India Retreat: Travel Tips by Matrika (Marlene) Gast

Priya Kenney

Priya Kenney

When you decide to go to India, what preparations come first — and soon? Even now is not too early to obtain or renew your passport, if needed; apply for your visa; and decide which of the recommended immunizations are appropriate for you. For more advice, I called Priya Kenney, and she offered tips based on her 2013 India trip with Swamiji.

First, fly with the group. You will, of course, book your own India flight. However, Priya says, “Flying with the group is a very sweet way to establish retreat community starting at the boarding gate.”

Book your flight as soon as possible. For our group flight, book the United flight number on the Retreat web page for the February 7th departure date. That flight lands you in Mumbai in time for the Retreat start on February 9th. Recalling her 2013 flight, Priya says, “It was great to see ‘pods of yogis’ sitting together throughout our svaroopa plane! Then sitting together to await flight connections in Europe — even just charging our phones together — cultivated camaraderie, with the sweet shared sense of being fellow travelers on a pilgrimage.”

If you will fly from your home to Newark, Priya advises planning for generous time between any connecting flights. She says, “International travel can take more time than you’d expect. You need plenty of time after landing in Newark to get to the gate for our group flight on United Airlines. You also need plenty of time between any connecting flights to Newark, for weather delays etc. Also, on international flights, the airline can sometimes close the flight well before the published departure, so arrive at that gate with plenty of time to spare, and plan to enjoy a restful wait, and to do japa!”

One preparation that gave Priya stamina and solace throughout her travels was uploading every one of Swamiji’s chants to her iPod. Priya says, “I listened to them the whole way. Those chants are so full of Grace, and that carried me. Listening to them when I was half falling sleep was especially supportive and soothing.” Besides an iPod, or course, you can upload chants from Swamiji’s CDs to any smart phone, laptop or an iPad. Then all you need are earphones. Just remember your charger!

Regarding packing, Priya says, “I started packing weeks in advance. That way, I experienced so much ease in beginning my trip. That was important for making the transit smoother. I wasn’t exhausted from having to sort through a mountain of last-minute details.”

The point of extra packing time is not about fitting in a great amount of clothing; rather it’s to make effective decisions about what to bring. Even though you’ll be away from home for two weeks, you don’t need to pack much clothing. First, choose your walking shoes; they are very important says Priya. After that, pack essentials but leave ample room for clothing that you’ll be able to buy in Ganeshpuri shops. While you are certainly free to wear Western clothes there, the cut and fabric weight of the traditional salwar kameez are appropriate for every occasion. The Punjabi-style pants (narrow ankles, full knees) and knee-length tunic are comfortable as well as elegant. Priya says that, in her experience, when you purchase a salwar kameez outfit in the US, the neckline can be cut too low and the fabric can be too heavy for the Indian climate, even in February. Yet, for early morning travel in open air vehicles to Nityananda’a Abhishek ceremony, you’ll want a light jacket or a shawl.

For your suitcase, other useful items might be granola bars, a bag of nuts and even protein powder for your blood sugar if that’s an issue for you. Your own mosquito repellent can prove useful, too, until you can buy the local stuff, which Swamiji recommends. However, before you travel, you don’t need to worry about exchanging US dollars for rupees because you can do that easily at the Fire Mountain Ashram upon arrival.

Priya found that the transportation arranged by Iqbal and his crew from the Fire Mountain Ashram from the Mumbai airport to Ganeshpuri was extremely smooth. She says, “After we turned in our forms at the immigration desks, we retrieved our luggage from baggage claim, and it was a short walk through a terminal lobby to the parking lot where Iqbal was waiting for us with his bus. It was quite easy.”

Click here for more information about our February 2015 India Retreat ‑ Ganeshpuri’s Grace.

Click here to support your ashram and your practice.