Posted in Diary, Spirituality, Travel

Shivamogga Trip – 2

Next day we woke up early for the Bhadra river dam, place where Guruji Meditated. The climb was bit unexpected but became pleasant when I saw Guruji walking around with a hundred plus crowd! I joined them too and we had a great stroll around the place. the Dam has some wonderfully lush green islands with resorts on them. the breeze flew so well, and masters gestures and smiles were all too good!

After a truly close meet with him, we did the long sudarshan kriya, and took a bath in the river. the water was so inviting, first I thought I wont take the whole bath, but after wetting feet, I just got into it fully and enjoyed the cold water thoroughly, splashing water on those next to me! we also took a darshan of the temple there.

Whole trip I had the stomach upset, emphasizing to me how much more sadhana I need to do for fitness! Especially the stomach related exercises are getting missed out, so will add them.

The bus returned to Shivamogga town, where we rested and had meals.  Evening we went to another town Sirsi, this time the bus had an added flavour of Truth and Dare game challenging the people beyond their comfort zones! We reached the place just when Satsang got over. The view of Jog falls on the way was awesome. In Sirsi, we visited Marikamba Temple, where it was so wonderful to sing the Devi songs we sing in Satsang. The temple has such serene blissful energy, and the deity has such innocence and beauty!After meals we returned to Bangalore with a fully filled trip and a truckload of Sattva !

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Posted in Diary, Spirituality, Travel

Shivamogga trip – 1

The Art of Living foundation is celebrating its 30th Anniversary. We visited Guruji’s mahasatsangs in Karnataka last two days. The journey began from an early morning bus in Bangalore, packed with some 50 YES!+ graduates, volunteers and teachers. The bus carried with it laughters, singing, puzzles and stories ranging from ghost stories to Guru stories! The first stop was at Arasikere, a town north to bangalore. The school grounds was packed with seats under a shamiana, and we had lovely music by Chayanna – Swami Suryapada going on. His singing is like fresh water in the fast flowing river! The songs, samskrit shlokas, just flow through him.

Guruji soon arrived and after a couple of formalities, and songs, spoke about keeping cleanliness, removing ignorance, fighting against corruption and such important things. He said by practicing pranayama, meditation, one automatically gets into doing good work effortlessly.

After Satsang we had delicious curd rice made with hot boiled rice and some other dish, served with love by the volunteers for all the satsangees. They must have served thousands of people that day!

Then we moved on to Shivamogga, often called as Shimoga for short, and got into our lodges which were booked by our local organizing team there. It was all made so much comfortable!

Shivamogga satsang started at 6 pm in a huge ground again filled with chairs. Guruji made it a point to invite and give seats to all the Math incharge swamis, who had came to grace the occasion.

Posted in Spirituality, Travel

Mahashivaratri @ Kolkata

I had been wanting to go, and of course it would be costly to fly to Kolkata from Bangalore… But then I said, what the heck, let me just go… money will anyways come. Like Bawa said in recent yesplus at Mumbai, “Money gone will come back, Time gone will never come back…!”

So I took a flight to the city of joy- Kolkata!

on afternoon I booked the ticket, and got into plane at 9pm or so. I just love flying in a plane… its like a huge bird awaits you and then you enter into its stomach and it takes you for a flight!

On the airport I met two more devotees flying to Kolkata!! for them it seemed to be quite a usual thing… for me flying is very very special!

The flight landed at around 11pm. I stayed in the dormitory accommodation @airport itself.

Morning 5am I got up to get ready, and took taxi to Ravindra Sarovar Stadium!! It was the venue for Mahashivaratri and the YES!+.

It was great to see all those 1200 youth gathering early morning to do yoga and meditation in the first day of YES!+…

Kriya was awesome…

Then I roamed around with friends, it was great to meet many who came from Bangalore!

Then I found an accommodation at a home converted into a guest house.

Evening was Mahashivaratri with Guruji !!

Posted in New avenues, Travel

Tirupati memories – 6

vishnu_sheshnag_zu95smIn the ground town of Tirupati, there is a temple of same deity in a sleeping posture. The deity is a form of Vishnu, the lord of maintenance of 14 worlds. So is it that the lord has got tired of maintaining all the worlds and got to rest for a while!? 🙂 You would also notice the sleeping Buddha. What does it indicate? God is governing this world so effortlessly, as if in sleep! He hardly needs to do anything. It has been all put on the “auto” mode… 🙂 Like a computerized company. It is not even visible, its all unseen, yet difficult to hide! 

And Aadishesha, a serpent of several heads is covering the lord Vishnu. Means – snake is very alert always. Like that the lord of maintenance is full of awareness, vigilant. And Lakshmi the Goddess of wealth serves the lord of maintenance. Means what- money is needed to maintain the state, do respectfully use it.

Padmavati devi’s temple is near Tirupati. The prasad there was so fulfilling – can’t describe it. The same curd-rice couldn’t have been sweeter and tastier.

There is a natural zoo, a rock-garden, a temple on top of hills – Vishnu Pada, KalaHasti, Ganga Bhavani, Papavinashanam and a Hanuman Temple.  The whole place is worthy of a 4-5 days of darshan. That’s what distinguishes a pilgrim from a tourist. A tourist is there to see things, a pilgrim closes his eyes on what he sees and reposes within.

Posted in New avenues, Travel

Tirupati memories – 5

Tirupati-PadmavatiThere is a very interesting story about the deity in Varah Purana. It is pictorially depicted in the series of blogs here. If you listen to stories from Purana, you would be perplexed! And that is the purpose of puranas- they enchant the mind with the stories, and deliver a hidden message of universal human values. They serve for children as well as adults. Indian Spirituality has everything that you want – it speaks of Advaita – the non-dual omnipresent single consciousness, and also the play and display of this consciousness, in many forms and names. Here the Gods and Godesses are children, they grow, marry, live and bless – just like human beings, indicating that inside every human being there is God. Otherwise, for a common man, its so un-connected to think of God as an abstract entity that is substratum of the world. It also strengthens the social systems like marriage – which are so much on the verge of breaking down in western countries. The Gods and Godesses exemplify the ideal human life.

The stories of Purana are however different from the Itihasa- the history scriptures in India.Ramayana and Mahabharata are two main history scriptures in India. Itihasa means “this is how it happened”, in Samskrit. See Bharath Gyan website and their book Triple Eclipse of 2009 for more details.  By the way this book on Triple Eclipse of 2009 engaged me a lot, throughout the journey to and back from Tirupati. It told me of so many unknown facts in such a comprehensive manner.

There is a nice water reservoir – cool water to wash your feet in.

tirupati1

Posted in New avenues, Travel

Tirupati memories – 4

pilgrim1Well, hair is an endangered quantity on my head, so I didn’t quite offer my hair, though I partially wished to. If I didn’t have the hair loss problem, I would have offered. I have heard that even a normal person has some hair loss, and those hair replenish. However, when some type of hair that are raised only once in  a lifetime, are lost, they don’t replenish again. I was concerned of this type, and didn’t offer. But many pilgrims do. In fact most of them. Even ladies. It is said as an indication of offering your Ego. Offering the beauty. I somehow didn’t quite agree to the idea, especially for the ladies, but its their choice and expression of devotion. What I would say is that, instead of removing the beauty from you,  feel that the beauty has been given by the God, and that its not mine.

In fact its the devotion of these people – common people in villages, cities that I noticed strongly. They are very innocent. They have faith – and it is their only saviour. They happily sing – “Govinda, Govinda, Go—vinda!” and stand in the queue for hours. For some of them, its a lifetime achievement to visit Tirupati. They may have sold their many savings to just reach there. For many of us reading this, its a weekend trip. They have the faith that they will be taken care off, which many with huge bank balance don’t have!

These are the people of my country. While I was traveling to Tirupati, I was looking at them. What could I do for them. Balaji is doing his job 24×7, uniting them, removing all their worries and differences, what can I do for them? Language is one problem. Adjusting to their habitat is other. Their problems are different. They don’t get stress and worries I believe – in fact they may have much empty minds – not clogged by the multimedia experiences of city life, living with nature more often.

Posted in New avenues, Travel

Tirupati memories – 3

There is an alleged activity being carried out by Christian missionaries on and near the Tirupati town – Tirumala hills region. Of course, why not, as they get so many people who are not so well educated, as prey for their conversion agenda. Some news articles for your reference. Protests against pamplet distribution, Tirupati declaration by Swamis, Biased actions of Andhrapradesh CM, Overall mismanagement of donations to temples. Since I knew these matters, I was very happy to see that they have now come up with stricter rules, and I saw a written notice that said,”Under  — and —  laws, Any practice of any religion other than Hinduism and any activity to promote any other religion is strictly prohibited.” 

tirupati-gate3The temple is known to be actively operational at least since 1300. There is a very wonderful  museum which can easily take your 3-4 hours. Though regular Pujas are happening from 1300 CE, there is a clear lineage of saints, their proficiency and works right from 700 CE {Modern Historians use CE for Common Era as the terminology instead of AD}. Is the reputation of Tirupati today, the work and honoring of those saints who lived then? They touched the hearts of the people and it is the practice of visiting Tirupati that has come to a peak today, through centuries of generations of people. The kings fondly cherished the temple activities, adored them with huge donations. Raja Krishnadev Rai is notably mentioned at many places. His wives are respectfully honored. Even Raja Todarmal who actually served in Akbar’s rule is depicted. Unlike his other family members, Akbar did not force conversion, and Raja Todarmal seems to have played a devout role in his visits and donations to the temple.