17 May 2015

Bhakti Seva Program Opportunities at Shree Peetha Nilaya


At the moment Shree Peetha Nilaya ashram needs Seva Helpers as part of the Bhakti Seva Program for the following projects:

1. Painting the Ashram's Exterior

Do you have experience in painting? For the 10 Year Anniversary, Lakshmi's home should look as beautiful as possible!





For this unique occasion - our 10 Year Anniversary - our construction team would be very happy to have someone who would like to help to refurbish our facade for three weeks from now on.


2. Improving the Ashram's Electrical Systems

Are you an electrician?


We have many ongoing projects where help in this area is always very welcome.


3. General Construction Projects

Do you have experience in any king of construction work?


We have throughout the year construction projects ongoing and any kind of skilled help is always welcome.

If you are interested to come between 2 to 4 weeks please send your application to the following email:
seva@bhaktimarga.org

Application form for Bhakti Seva Program:
  1. First Name & Family Name:
  2. Spiritual Name:
  3. date of birth: (age)
  4. home address: / email:
  5. profession/formation/experiences:
  6. photo 
  7. short motivation: WHY you would like to do seva at Shree Peetha Nilaya?
  8. Did you come already here? If yes, when and how long?
  9. Did you meet Sri Swami Vishwananda already (e.g. Darshan)?
  10. Are you a devotee of Sri Swami Vishwananda?
  11. Do you have already other seva experiences? If yes, where and in which area?
  12. WHEN and for HOW LONG would you like to come?
  13. Do you have a valid European health insurance for Germany?

We look forward to seeing you here!

14 May 2015

Highlights of Sri Swami Vishwananda's speech during Mahalakshmi Yagna 2015


Sri Swami Vishwananda performed the first Bhu Devi Yagna, at Shree Peetha Nilaya, in May 2009, to send positive vibrations to the overburdened Mother Earth, due to mankind's negativity. He conducted the Bhu Devi Yagna for four more consecutive years, and in 2014, he decided to rename this event as Mahalakshmi Yagna. Last weekend we have just had the opportunity to participate for the second time in a Mahalakshmi Yagna at Shree Peetha Nilaya.


At the opening of Mahalakshmi Yagna in 2014, Sri Swami Vishwananda explained:

“In the Hindu calendar, the month of May is considered very auspicious for Mahalakshmi. As you know very well, Shree Peetha Nilaya is Mahalakshmi's place. Every year, since 2009, we have celebrated Bhu Devi, but actually, there is no much difference between Bhu Devi and Sri Devi. They are just two forms of the same Mahalakshmi.”

“Mahalakshmi came out of the Churning of the Milky Ocean. What is the symbolism of the Churning of the Milky Ocean? When the mind and the heart are churned, then the spiritual wealth awakens. That spiritual wealth is Mahalakshmi, and when She awakes, She brings all the spiritual qualities with Her.”


Last Saturday, at the beginning of the Mahalakshmi Yagna, Sri Swami Vishwananda gave a speech about Mahalakshmi and emphasised the importance of this event for Mother Earth. Please see below the highlights of this speech.

The two forms of Mahalakshmi: Bhu Devi and Shree Devi

“Mahalakshmi is the Goddess of material and spiritual wealth. She gives prosperity, wisdom, fortune, fertility, generosity, courage and many other gifts. She is also the Goddess of beauty, charm, grace and in the Vaishnava tradition She is a mediator between Lord Narayana and the people.

Every time Mahavishnu has incarnated on Earth, She has also incarnated either fully as Mahalakshmi or in the two forms of Bhu Devi and Shree Devi. In the case of Venkateshwara, both aspects were manifested, Apara Shakti and Para Shakti. Apara Shakti is Mahalakshmi in the form of Bhu Devi; Apara symbolises the creation, everything which is material. Para Shakti is the manifestation of all the spiritual qualities. Both of them are in the chest of Mahavishnu.”


The Churning of the Milky Ocean and the purification on the spiritual path

“What does the Churning of the Milky Ocean stand for? When you start your spiritual path, what first arises in the mind is always the poison, which is all the pride, arrogance, guilt, all the negativity which is deep inside of you; you don't want to see it, nevertheless it is there. On the spiritual path you have to cleanse yourself, you have to purify yourself in order to approach Lord Narayana. If you are not purified it's very difficult.

Lord Shiva drunk the poison because He has the quality which destroy all these negative aspects inside of oneself. However this is not the ultimate aim. The ultimate aim is to attain something greater and this means to move always forward. Very often when people go on the spiritual path, once they perceive some positiveness inside of them, they feel, ‘Ah, yes! I have reached there already. There is nothing else to do.’ You are happy. Of course, it's good, because then you build up a certain reality for yourself, but you have to move forward. There are deeper things, greater things to achieve. Until you have not attained the vision of Lord Narayana you have to keep going on your path, you have to earn that Grace. Actually, Grace is something which is already inside of you and it is waiting to come out. And this is the amrit.”


The sixteen gifts of Mahalakshmi and the ultimate aim

“Mahalakshmi is the One who gives the sixteen gifts like fame, knowledge, courage and strength, victory, good children, wealth, abundance of food, happiness and so on. But at the same time, She is also the One who deludes the ones who receive the gifts. By attaining a certain gift on the spiritual path, you advance, you grow, but it doesn't mean that you are free. This is not the ultimate aim. Do you remember the story of the woodcutter? (JL2; Deep Diamonds, Darshan, Steffenshof, Germany, May 4 2008; p. 27).

The story ends when he reached a cave which was full of diamonds. After entering it, he came out fully satisfied and as he looked around there was no other way to go deeper into the forest. Then inside himself, he felt what the sage meant by saying, ‘I will tell you a secret. In that forest there is a greater treasure. Go deeper into that forest and you shall receive that gift.’

This story is not just about the material gain. The diamonds stand for the Ultimate Himself. So, Mahalakshmi represents all these gifts but She also represents the Mother who cares for her children. That's why it is said that whoever surrenders to Lord Narayana should not worry, because She will look after, She will take care of everything; even if She has to leave heaven to come and manifest Herself on Earth.”


Offering the punya of the prayers to Mother Earth

“As nowadays you perceive great changes happening in the world, so offer your prayers to Mother Earth. When you are doing the yagna, offer that vibration to Her. Don't think only about yourself saying, ‘Oh, I have come here, I have to profit from it. I have to take everything for myself.’ She will give you enough so that you can even distribute. Of course, it's not something material that you can say, ‘Yes, I take this and I'm giving it now. Done!’ No! It is through your sadhana, through the mantra you are chanting that you receive and distribute.

Let this prayer rise and go around the world. May everybody profit from that and may everybody have peace. May peace truly be in the heart of each person. Let Goddess Mahalakshmi which we are praising today, give true wisdom to people so that they remind themselves that they are human beings and shouldn't act like animals. People do nasty things because they are not at peace with themselves. They don't love nor trust themselves; they don't trust their inner feeling. So, they can't trust others. They can't trust in God.


So, let's offer this prayer to Mother Earth, because then She will intensify it and give it to everybody. And when I say everybody, includes not only the people who are here, participating in this event, but also the people who are not here. And also the people who have passed away will profit from that, because they understand the vibration better than people who are physically present.”

At the end of this event, Sri Swami Vishwananda led everybody present, in a guided meditation to offer the punya of these two days' prayers to Mother Earth, to the needy, to the sick, to our relatives, friends, people who love us or don't love us... to humanity at large.

11 May 2015

Mahalakshmi Yagna with Sri Swami Vishwananda


This last weekend more than 300 people gathered at Shree Peetha Nilaya to participate in the Mahalakshmi Yagna with Sri Swami Vishwananda. This event was perfectly timed, as Sunday coincided with the international Mother's Day. Divine Mother's sweetness was felt throughout the weekend, filling our hearts with love and joy!

First day, 9th May
On Saturday morning, Sri Swami Vishwananda opened this event with a very interesting speech about Mahalakshmi. The highlights of this speech will be published in this blog in a next post. The ceremonies started with Guru puja, followed by Kalash puja and Yagna performed in three kunds simultaneously.

Guru puja
 
Kalash puja
 
A special mantra was given by Sri Swami Vishwananda to be chanted during the Yagna
The day ceremonies finished with Mahalakshmi arati but the magnificent kirtan of the day continued led by Sri Swami Vishwananda while people were having Darshan of Mahalakshmi.


At a certain point, Swamiji took a bowl of water from the altar and started to distributed it to everybody.


At the end of the ceremonies everybody could partake of the delicious prasad.

Second Day, 10th May
On Sunday morning, the ceremonies started with Guru Paduka Abishekam, followed by Kalash puja. Afterwards, the fire was lighted in the three kunds and the Yagna started. Sri Swami Vishwananda arrived bringing a Mandir with some of his private murtis and placed them in the abishekam tray.



At the end of the Yagna everybody had the opportunity to offer a coconut into the fire. The coconut symbolises the ego and, as Sri Swami Vishwananda once again reminded us, the fire represents the mouth of Narayana.


After the Yagna Sri Swami Vishwananda performed abishekam on several of his private murtis, and on one of the main murtis of Shree Peetha Nilaya Temple, named Shree Dhanaa Karshana Shree Mahalakshmi Sahita Shree Kuberaya.


At the end of the abishekam Swamiji adorned this particular murti representative of Mahalakshmi with jewellery and afterwards poured the Kalash water over her and over all the other murtis placed on the abishekam tray.


Sri Swami Vishwananda offering mantra pushpam and performing Mahalakshmi arati

After arati, people could approach the altar to receive Darshan of Mahalakshmi. Everybody was also given the opportunity to give Guru dakshina and to receive a piece of laddoo from the hands of Sri Swami Vishwananda.


Before closing this two days' event, Swamiji led all the participants in a meditation to send positive energy to Mother Earth.


9 May 2015

Sri Swami Vishwananda explains how the human mind creates natural calamities


Yesterday at Shree Peetha Nilaya we all rejoiced as Sri Swami Vishwananda graced us with his physical presence during evening prayers and made himself available for a short Satsang, giving the opportunity to everybody present in the temple to ask him questions.

In the last 10 days, Sri Swami Vishwananda had a very busy events' schedule abroad (7 days in South Africa and 3 days in London), so we thought that he would deservedly take some rest before the events of the next intensive weekend at Shree Peetha Nilaya, which include a Darshan and 2 days of Sri Maha Lakshmi Yagna. On the contrary, again and again, Sri Swami Vishwananda shows everybody that God forgets about Himself and becomes the servant for the sake of His Love for mankind.


During the Satsang, Sri Swami Vishwananda gave very interesting answers to a few pertinent questions (please see excerpt below).

Question: Dear Swamiji, could you please tell us about the connection between our thoughts and the weather, in particular the calamities on Earth, like it had recently happened in Nepal. Is it connected to our mind?

"Yes, the mind has a great impact on nature, actually. Nowadays, you see how the mind of people function. Human beings forget that they are the Atma. Of course, the Atma is not something that you can easily perceive. You have to do something to achieve that level of perception. That's why people find it difficult, because nowadays everything is given with just one touch of a button. Then, what is happening to the mind? The mind, in place of becoming positive, is degrading itself, because everything becomes so easy that we don't need to utilise the mind to do anything. So, the mind will automatically run towards negativity.


The mind is like a magnet and whatever you feed the mind with, that's what the mind becomes. So automatically, when the mind runs towards the negativity it becomes negative, because that's what it is attracted to. Then, by attracting negativity what will happen to your inner potential, to the creative energy which God has given you? Do you think you will create anything positive? No, you start creating negativity, your whole vibration becomes negative. So, you can't expect that the people around you will be joyful and happy. Your vibration reflects on the people around you. They also feel your negativity and participate into it. That's how the minds intoxicate each other. So, your negativity also affects the people around you. In a global way, even if it starts with just one person, it reaches a mass of people; and the effect of all people together does react on nature, causing what you see happening in the world nowadays. Nature is Prakriti Shakti and you are part of nature, isn't it? On the other hand, one's positivity also reacts upon nature, but people don't want to be positive. People don't want to see the positive changes happening, because they are so happy to see the negative things happening.


Who is responsible for what has happened in Nepal recently? It's mankind. It is said that during some festivities two hundred fifty thousand innocent animals were slaughtered. How can any positivity come out of that? Nature has to balance itself when any act of aggressiveness, of cruelty, is done to nature. Don't think that these animals which were slaughtered were happily saying, "Oh, we are going to be slaughtered as an offer to the Divine Mother! Yippee! Yippee!" No! They were suffering! And do you think that this suffering ends when the animals die? No, it doesn't. They appealed to the Mother. And, you see, the Mother to whom the people did the offerings is like Maha Kali. Maha Kali is not soft, isn't She? She gives the same back. So, nature balances itself in that way. Like that, we can't expect the whole world to change now, but you can change yourself!

By changing yourself, it will react on all around you and that will react on nature itself, because we are all linked together. There is a flow of God's life energy which connects us all. Therefore, the mind does have a big impact upon nature. You can see that in your life itself: when you feel miserable, everything around you becomes miserable; even the people who come on your way are miserable, because you attract them. But when you are happy, everything is fine and even things which seem not fine are transformed into fine.


The mind has been given not to dwell on things which are limited, but to access something greater inside of you. It is through the controlling of the senses that you achieve the control of the mind and then from that your awareness is transformed and you realise your unity with everything, your unity with Bhagavan Himself. Because as He is omnipresent, He is present in everything, in each atom. So, once you perceive Him inside of you, you perceive Him in everything."
 

Narasimha Chaturthi Celebrations Around the World

Narasimha Chaturthi - the anniversary of the appearance of Lord Narasimha - was celebrated on May 2nd this year. Bhakti Marga celebrated it around the world in many groups and temples. In this post, we'll show you pictures from seven different countries.

Check out the full set of photos here at our Flickr account.

Sri Swami Vishwananda went to South Africa, as mentioned in the previous post, to Durban and to Johannesburg, where he gave satsangs and darshans. Anantaananda, a brahmachari from Shree Peetha Nilaya, went with him, and talked a bit about how the trip went.

Sri Swami Vishwananda with Shanta Narasimha

Anantaananda in the center
Check out the whole post to see pics from the Narasimha Chaturthi celebrations from around the world, as well as stories from both the Bhakti Lakshmi Narasimha temple in the UK and from Shree Peetha Nilaya.

Here's Anantaananda:

So, the trips to South Africa with Swami are always very special.

It's a very personal trip with Swami and devotees there; the devotees only see Swami once a year. So, all the love they have pours out in just that one week visit with Him and they try to arrange as much as possible.




We have two temples in SA. The first temple is in Johannesburg, it's the Maha Jwala Narasimhadev temple. Maha Jwala means the Super Effulgent Lord Narasimhadev and He is power. When you're standing in front of Him you know that the temple is His. He is very very beautiful. That's in Johannesburg.



In Durban, where Swami Chakradharananda stays they have the Maha Shanta Narasimhadev temple. That is the Shanta. He is very peaceful and much like Chakradharananda. [laughing] Kind of like a big teddy bear, He is very cute.


Prayers in front of Maha Shanta Narasimhadev
In both areas they are supporting... there is a lot of underprivileged kids, abandoned kids. There is a big AIDS epidemic in SA and lots of the parents died, so the kids end up in orphanages. And, I know in Durban, while we were there with Swami, they went to go and feed them. They fed about a hundred kids. Some of these kids, that's the only meal they get in one week.

And it's the same in Johannesburg, they were supporting an AIDS home where people with HIV live and they don't have much. They don't have much in their lives. It's like... they think people forgot about them. I remember Swami was there last time and he said, “Just remember, people may have forgotten about you, but God has never forgotten about you.” And he built a small chapel for them to go and pray in Johannesburg.

---

In the Bhakti Lakshmi Narasimha temple in the UK, they also celebrated Narasimha Chaturthi, as well as invited Rishi Nikhilananda to give a satsang on Swamiji's teachings of the Guru Gita.

Here's Shez to tell about how the celebration went:

On the first weekend of May, Bhakti Marga UK welcomed Rishi Nikhilananda from Shree Peetha Nilaya, as he joined us to celebrate Narasimha Chaturthi and gave a Guru Gita Satsang.

Narasimha Chaturthi

The Bhakti Marga temple in London hosts the largest Narasimha deity in Western Europe, making Narasimha Chaturthi one of the biggest days in the year for devotees.



Proceedings began with Guru Puja, Kalash Puja and a yagna.




Rishi Nikhilananda then went onto explain the story of how Lord Narsimha burst out of a pillar to kill the demon Hiranyakashipu, to protect his dear devotee Prahlad. Rishi Nikhilananda said that although Lord Narsimha was only present on earth for 6 hours, it was the best 6 hours that this earth had known!



Shortly after, we then had darshan of Lord Narasimha in his almighty form of ‘Ugra’ Narasimha – the form he took to kill the demon Hiranyakashipu.



Following another session of singing- the Maha Abhishekam on Lord Narasimha took place. The crowd was transfixed by the beauty and power emanating from the deity at this time.

Before the third and final Darshan, Rishi Nikhilananda gave a fascinating talk, where he drew comparisons about the symbolism behind the incarnation of Lord Narasimha, and our own spiritual path with our beloved Guru - Sri Swami Vishwananda. His talk was so enriching that we requested him to go on for extra thirty minutes!

By the time he finished, one could feel that the temple room was infused with Guruji’s Love and Grace.  With the final kirtan, various names of Narayana were being sung ecstatically by the crowd, as we reached the glorious climax to the evening - the final Darshan of Sri Bhakti Laskhmi Naraimsha. Once the curtain opened, He was adorned in garlands, jewellery and perfume.



Once again, through Guruji’s Grace, devotees experienced yet another one of those magical nights, where we thank God for giving us the chance to celebrate Him and that He chose us to be on the spiritual path.

Guru Gita Satsang

On Monday, the 4th of May, Rishi Nikilananda delivered one of his captivating Guru Gita Satsangs. He managed to speak continuously about Guruji for over 3 hours without pause. Time flew by as not a single person in the room wanted him to even pause for a break.



Besides the content itself, what makes any talk by Rishi Nikhilananda worth listening to is that he is completely open and honest about his many experiences with Guruji. It is due to having such an authentic approach that he is able to genuinely share with those listening, the lessons he has learnt and the knowledge gained from his experiences with Guruji.


It is always a pleasure to have one of Guruji’s representatives visit Bhakti Marga UK, and we look forward to receiving Rishi Nikhilananda again in the future.

---

Swami Keshava went to Warsaw Poland, to celebrate Narasimha Chaturthi with Vara Lakshmi Narasimha.







Russian devotees put on a dramatic reenactment of Lord Narasimha's appearance before giving Him an abishekam:






 In Varanasi, India, devotees sang bhajans and did puja together:



...as did devotees in Kenya:





And last but not least, Shree Peetha Nilaya also celebrated.

The pujaries started with a Guru puja, and then a invoked Narasimha into a kalash. Everything started very "shanti shanti"...






And then the "heat" started to turn up, as the first prayer began for Sri Narasimha in his Ugra (or "fierce") form:

video






All the devotees danced and sang kirtan for hours and hours. After receiving Darshan of Narasimha in His Ugra form, the final abishekam and arati was performed. Then all devotees went outside with a huge effigy and sang while walking in procession.








Do you see what Pramod is holding in his hand in that last photo? Look closer!

Guruji!
Sri Swami Vishwananda called in by video chat to say hello and to allow us to see that he was celebrating with us. :)

Make sure you see the photos on Flickr of Narasimha Chaturthi around the world - they include a visit Sri Swami Vishwananda took to the UK temple to do a special abishekam, just after his trip to South Africa!


Sri Swami Vishwananda, on Lord Narasimha (from the book Just Love 3)

"You see, the form of Nrshinga or Narasimha, most of the time is very terrifying. It's terrifying for us, because similarly, whatever negativity we have inside of us, is also terrifying for the soul. It's a danger for the soul. The form of Nrshinga is more than terrifying in itself.

"When all this negativity which is inside of us says, “Look, I am great!” what does the Lord show? He says, “Okay, you are great, but I am the greater One!” He shows His more powerful form and this Ugra form – Ugra, meaning the form of anger − that He expresses is to kill the anger, pride, egoism inside of us, showing that He is above all this. If somebody focuses on Him, He will remove, He will strip all this negativity out of him, but only if one surrenders. If you don’t surrender, it’s difficult.

"You see, if you want to do something in life, you give yourself completely to it, but if you just touch this or touch that a little bit, it will never work. If you want to go to a destination and there is a direct bus to your destination and there is one bus that stops everywhere, which one would you take? You'd take the express one, wouldn't you? How would you take the express one? Only by surrendering to God."



Narasimhadev Ki Jai!!!