27 Nov 2015

Following the Master: Vrindavan 2015 – Day 9 & 10 (Conclusion)

"Try your best to become Divine. That is what all the great Masters have taught. Christ came and taught that, Krishna has taught that, and all of them have taught to realise your own Divinity, because only then, real happiness will be there." - Sri Swami Vishwananda 

The Journey:

The final two days of the pilgrimage was filled with deep thankfulness and excitement, with the highlight being the Darshan given by Sri Swami Vishwananda on the last day of the trip.

On the day of the Darshan, many visitors came to the Jiva Institute with hopes of getting a glimpse of Guruji for the first time. At the beginning of the Darshan, Sri Swami Vishwananda gave a beautiful Satsang, expressing how important it is to have love and respect for each other.

After reciting the Gopi Gita, Sathyanarayan Das also gave an inspiring discourse about the supreme Love which the gopis had for Krishna.

When Darshan finished, the pilgrimage group had to immediately leave for the airport. It was a bittersweet experience for most of the participants as they made their way to the airport, as they recounted the 10 amazing days they'd had in the land of Bhakti with Sri Swami Vishwananda. The task of the participants is to now spread the light and Love they received from Guruji and Krishna to the outside world.


Below is a first-hand account of the Darshan:

"The hall was filled with devotees, sadhus and yogis, Godseekers of every kind, Indian families with children, aunties, uncles and grandparents, and the noisy and joyful neighbourhood children reminding us of the Indian traffic with its own rules. Around 400 people came for Darshan which finished exactly at the time our pilgrimage group was supposed to leave for the plane."


We hope you enjoyed the “Following the Master” series to Vrindavan. We plan to have many more in the future as Sri Swami Vishwananda travels around the world.

If you would like to take part in a Bhakti Marga pilgrimage, please visit our website for future dates and destinations: http://www.bhaktimarga.org/events.

If you simply can’t wait for the next pilgrimage to be with Guruji and Bhakti Marga devotees, we invite you to join us for Babaji Day. Babaji Day is a celebration at Shree Peetha Nilaya (near Frankfurt, Germany) to honour Mahavatar Babaji on 30 November 2015. For more details on Babaji Day, please visit: www.bhaktimarga.org/events

We hope to see you soon, either at Shree Peetha Nilaya or on a special trip somewhere in the world with Guruji.

Just Love,
Bhakti Marga Communications

25 Nov 2015

Following the Master: Vrindavan 2015 – Day 8 (Radha Kund)

“Vrindavan is the land where your pride is purified and where the ego is cleansed. The more humble you are, the more the Lord reveals Himself to you.” – Sri Swami Vishwananda

The Journey:

The day started with Sri Swami Vishwananda blessing the soon-to-be new ashram. It was the first time Guruji had performed a puja in the ashram grounds and it was specifically done for Mother Earth (Bhumi Devi Puja). It was a very special moment for Swamini and all the bramacharinis living there.

After the puja, the group visited Radha Kund and Shyama Kund where Guruji performed abhishekam to Giridhari. The group then went to the ancient palace and samadhi place of King Jajarshri Vanamali Rai who was the father of Radha Vinodhini (remember the cute story of her relationship with Thakur the day before).

The group also performed parikrama around the two kunds and visted the place where Chaitanya Mahaprabhu used to stay when he came and found the two kunds before anyone knew of their existence.

In the evening, the group was invited for an event at Fogla Ashram. The event was held to celebrate the 500 year anniversary of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu visiting Vrindavan. It was filled with lots of music and good Indian food. The evening celebrations were a great way to end another phenomenal day spent with Sri Swami Vishwananda, filled with lots of laughter and love.


Bhumi Devi Puja:

According to Hindu tradition once must always perform Bhumi Devi Puja in honor of the Divine Mother before starting construction. It symbolises the act of asking permission from Mother Earth (Bhumi) to build on her. Through the prayer, we are not only seeking permission, but we are also asking for forgiveness from Mother Earth for causing her harm in order to construct the building.

Radha Kund & Shyama Kund:

When Krishna slayed a demon in the form of a bull, Radha “worried” about the karma associated with killing the animal (which is normally very sacred to Hindus), and asked Krishna to wash His sins by taking dips in various holy rivers. Krishna, amused by Radha’s naivete, simply struck the ground with His foot, whereupon a mighty river came gushing out and formed into a kund (a small water body). In this place, Krishna took a dip to please Radha.

Radha, in her child-like attitude, became angry that Krishna had used His powers to perform such an act, and decided that She and Her attendants would dig out a kund with their bare hands and bangles. Once the kund was created, they filled it with the holy rivers around the area. (The kund is now known has "Radha Kund," where people come from all over to take a dip.)

After Radha Kund was filled with holy water, Krishna told Radha that He would bathe daily in Her kund.  He declared that Radha Kund was as dear to Him as Radha Herself, and anyone who bathes in it will receive Her love. Radha Kund is the personified Love of Srimati Radharani.

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24 Nov 2015

Following the Master: Vrindavan 2015 – Day 7 (Wedding Day)

"The pure devotion which Radha had for Krishna, even though She was separate from Krishna, and even though She was separate from the Oneness, was just to teach us what surrender is." - Sri Swami Vishwananda

The Journey:

Today was basically a "free" day for the group. Some went shopping and others helped prepare for the main wedding celebrations that took place in the evening.

Before the wedding celebrations, Guruji and a small group visited the place where Nityananda Prabhu used to sit and meditate under a tree. The group also went to the temple where Jiva Goswami's relics are kept, including his japa mala.

At night, the final part of the three-day wedding ceremony for Swamini VishwaMohini Ma's daughter took place.


Here is a first-hand account of the wedding ceremony:

"Today was the third and final day of the marriage. The whole Jiva Institute was completely reconstructed. From the floor to the ceiling, everything was decorated nicely in typical Indian rainbow colours.

"Half of the group went to the Hotel where the wedding party was staying to pick up the groom. On the way back to the Jiva Institute, the groom rode on a white horse looking like a Maharaja, accompanied by an orchestra. At the Jiva Institute, Guruji and the other half of the group welcomed the groom and procession.

"The wedding ceremony incorporated many different Indian elements and took four hours to complete.  After the completion of the ceremony, we all had the opportunity to congratulate the lovely couple.

"Towards the end of the night, we had a fantastic dinner under the moon of Vrindavan. We all felt connected to the South African family and their friends."

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23 Nov 2015

Following the Master: Vrindavan 2015 – Day 6 (Fun in the Yamuna River)

"Imagine how blessed Yamuna is to receive the Lord every day in Her ever since He was small. The day He was born, She could touch the feet of the Lord!" - Sri Swami Vishwananda

The Journey:

The day fell on Ekadashi, which traditionally involves fasting, visiting temples and performing parikrama around Vrindavan.

The first visit was to Kaliya Ghat Temple, which is associated with a famous story from the Shreemad Bhagavatam.

A poisonous serpent, named Kaliya, lived in the Yamuna river in Krishna's time. His venom had poisoned the waters so neither people or animals were able to approach the Yamuna.

Young Krishna jumped from a tree branch into the river to fight Kaliya by dancing on his multiple heads. The wives of Kaliya begged Krishna not to kill him. Krishna agreed but with one condition,  Kaliya had to leave the Yamuna and never return.

Kaliya was afraid to leave the Yamuna river for fear he would be attacked by Garuda, but Krishna promised to protect him and left His footprint on Kaliya's head.

The temple has a statue of Krishna dancing on Kaliya's head, surrounded by his four wives. The temple is also famous for an ancient, giant tree which has Krishna's footprints on it. The tree is where the gopis would hide pots of butter from Krishna.

From the Kaliya Ghat Temple, the group made their way to the Yamuna for a boat ride. On the way, the group stopped at the Gaudi Matha Ashram, which is the only all-woman ashram in Vrindavan. From there, the group reached the banks of the river where Krishna fought the demon Keshi.

Upon the completion of the boat trip, the group divided. Some headed back to Jiva to prepare for the wedding and some went shopping in the Loi Bazaar.

At night, the second part of the three-day wedding ceremony for Swamini VishwaMohini Ma's daughter took place.


Below is a first-hand account of the wedding ceremony:

"The wedding ceremony began with Guru Puja, and then puja to Ganesh. This was followed by the haldi ceremony, where the bride was smeared with turmeric paste to signify internal purification. It also gives a nice golden glow to the skin.

Traditionally, the ceremony would last for up to nine days and the bride would be fully covered in turmeric powder from head to toe, and men would not be allowed to watch the ceremony.  In our case, a modern version was used whereby the turmeric was smeared mainly on the bride's face. Guruji bestowed his blessings, and the whole ceremony was very touching.

The official part was followed by a nice dinner outside. The main part of the wedding will follow tomorrow."

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22 Nov 2015

Following the Master: Vrindavan 2015 – Day 5 (Wedding Celebrations)

"He (Sri Krishna) has never taken birth. Even His birth is just a manifestation of Himself. He was ever present and He is ever present." - Sri Swami Vishwananda 

The Journey:

The day started in a bit more relaxed mood with abishekam to Giridhari.

Afterwards, the group visited the temple of Jami Krishna, also known as Hukka Krishna. Every day in the temple they offer a hukka (tobacco pipe) to Krishna. It is said that one can hear the pipe bubbling when offered, signifying that Krishna is actually smoking it.

From the temple, the group proceeded to Neem Karoli Baba's Ashram where his samadhi can be found.

At night, the first part of a three-day wedding ceremony for Swamini VishwaMohini Ma's daughter began with many decorations, food and kirtan.


Here are several first-hand accounts that highlight a few interesting stories:

Cow Dung:

"As we traveled through the streets of Vrindavan we observed Indian women putting cow dung, in the form of flat bread, on the wall for drying. It is interesting to note that the women use cow dung for many household purposes like keeping insects away. It is also a very good conductor of heat and can be used for disinfecting purposes."

Neem Karoli Baba:

"As we arrived at Neem Karoli Baba's Samadhi, we met his son who told us a very interesting story. Once Baba wanted to travel by train but they wouldn't let him. As a result, the train could not move. Once the train driver realised who Baba was, he begged for forgiveness. Baba answered that he would forgive, under the condition that from then on all saints and sadhus could take the train free of charge. Baba is said to be an incarnation of Hanuman who represents complete surrender and devotion."


"Swamini VishwaMohini Ma sang a beautiful kirtan that speaks about the real meaning of marriage. In reality, it represents the union with God; the path so that we can find God in our partner. On the first day of the wedding celebrations, it is traditional to do henna on the hands and feet, which most devotees enjoyed throughout the evening."

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21 Nov 2015

Following the Master: Vrindavan 2015 – Day 4 (Radha's Birthplace)

"We say Radhe Krishna, Radhe Shyam, because She is the Shakti of Krishna. She is the One who gives power to Krishna." - Sri Swami Vishwananda 

The Journey:

The day started very early with a visit to Bihari Van at seven in the morning. It is a beautiful place, with a pond where it is said that Krishna used to come and eat chapati in one hand, chatni in the other,  and then wash his hands in the pond afterwards. The pond is also the place where Sri Haridasji used to come often to meditate and do Hari Nam.

Here's a first hand account of the day's events:

"We were lucky to get relics of a saint named Sri Madan Mohan Dasji who used to live at the same place. He took samadhi in 2007 at the age of 138.

"Afterwards, we proceeded to perhaps the most beautiful place yet: Radha Ra. It contains a murti of Srimati Radharani in deep meditation. Radharani lived there for around 50 years after Krishna left Vrindavan. She was constantly absorbed in Krishna japam and dhyanam (meditation).

"The day concluded with a meeting with Sri Vinod Bihardasji Maharaj in Barsane, which is the birthplace of Radharani. We joined him for Parikrama around Barsane which he does every single day while distributing sweets to children and also to monkeys and birds. Afterwards we had darshan together with him in the temple in Barsane."


Satsang by Guruji at Bihari Van:

Under one of the trees at Bihari Van, Guruji gave a small satsang. He told us that every time we go to sacred places, we receive a different energy. This energy is like a seed that is planted in our hearts, and if we water it properly, it will blossom at the right time.


"One of the highlights of the trip was a visit to Saint Vinod Bihardasji's ashram, where we found  a beautiful garden full of Tulsi. What an atmosphere, a oasis in the middle of the desert. Guruji said that the place is energetically very powerful and asked that we meditate for several minutes there. Thanks, Guruji, for an amazing day!" - Dakshini, Germany

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20 Nov 2015

Following the Master: Vrindavan 2015 – Day 3 (Radha Krishna)

"Actually, Radha represents all of us, the creation and the manifestation. She symbolizes the Love, the example. She symbolizes the bhav, the complete surrender to the Will of God." - Sri Swami Vishwananda

The Journey:

The day started as usual with abhishekam to Giridhari. After abhishekam, the group visited the temple of Sri Radha Shyamsundara. We were allowed special access to a place in the temple (similar to a very small cave) where Dhuki Krishna used to sit and do his japa.

From the temple, we proceeded to Nidhivan which is the forest where the Ras Leela first took place and is still happening even today. During the night no one is allowed inside, and even the animals leave, as it is said that anyone who stays inside would die.

 While in the forest, we sat for a few minutes to meditate and sing Radharani's name. Guruji gave a short Satsang about the pure Love of the Gopis for Krishna.

In the evening, a friend of Guruji invited the group for dinner at his home. During dinner, the man sang a very sweet song about the love of Sri Krishna and how through the intensity of your love for Him, you will make Krishna dance in your rhythm and not His.


Sri Radha Shyamsundara Temple:

The murti is believed to be manifested from Radharani's heart. She gave it to Shyamsundara, also known as Dhuki Krishna, due to his Love for his Guru.


It is said that at night, each tree becomes one of the gopis. One can notice that each tree is split in half, a gopi and Krishna. Also, the trees in the forest have not grown or died since the first Ras Leela happened.

Another nice legend associated with the forest is a small room for Radha and Krishna to rest after their dance. Every evening the pujaris prepare everything nicely, a bed, prasad, toothbrushes, etc., and then lock the room. In the morning when they open the door, everything is used, even the laddu is bitten into.


"Guruji told us about the mystical and limitless Love that Radha has for Krishna. He also said the main goal is to find Vrindavan and the Ras Leela in our hearts. I felt at this moment a deep love in my heart. I'm so thankful that this story was told to us by our beloved Krishna, personified in our Satguru, Sri Swami Vishwananda." - Shree, France

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19 Nov 2015

Following the Master: Vrindavan 2015 – Day 2 (Satsang with Guruji)

“Vrindavan is the land where your pride is purified, where the ego is cleansed. The more humble you are, the more the Lord reveals Himself to you.” – Sri Swami Vishwananda

The Journey:

Today was a very special day in Vrindavan since the president of India visited the city to celebrate the anniversary of Chaityana Mahaprabhu's arrival 500 years ago.

Because of these celebrations, Guruji changed the program completely. After abhishekam to Giridhari, there was a Satsang with Guruji. We also went to visit the new ashram, which is still under construction. Swamini VishwaMohini Ma and the chief engineer explained to us the difference between the Indian and European ways of building houses.

After visiting the ashram, we took a temple tour around Vrindavan. It began with the Shri Banke Bihari Temple. The temple was extremely crowded, but the energy was immense. We also enjoyed personal talks at different places between Guruji and other respected spiritual figures. Every place was nicely decorated because of Kartik Month.

The evening closed with a typical rickshaw ride through the narrow and bumpy streets of the town back to the Jiva Institute.


Mahaprabhu's aim in Vrindavan was to bring Muslims and Hindus together again by rebuilding temples destroyed during the Muslim invasion, and uncovering hidden murtis that were buried for fear of destruction during the invasions.

Satsang with Guruji:

Guruji talked about Krishna and His leelas, numerous temples, and the history of Vrindavan. He also spoke about how Krishna is the One making all the plans. We can try to make plans, but in the end it is only His plan.

Temple visit:

A small but beautiful place we visited was the Mirabai Kutir where the saint used to dance for Krishna in ecstasy. Mirabai lived in Vrindavan at the same time as Jiva Goswami.

We also visited the Sri Radha Damodar Temple where we did the four parikramas (walks inside the temple) which are equal to walking around the entire Govardhan mountain. The temple also contains the tomb of Srila Jiva Goswami.


"It was really really amazing to see all this sweetness of dear Krishnaji and Gurudev. I've never seen  more beautiful Krishnas in my life. For each, there is a beautiful story and almost all of the deities are swayambhu (self-manifested). As in most temples, we were not allowed to take pictures. Especially beautiful was the temple of Radha Damodara where we saw a stone very nicely imprinted with the footprint of Sri Krishnaji." - Swami VishwaKeshavananda

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