29 Mar 2015

Do you want to live in Shree Peetha Nilaya?

Jai Gurudev dear family!

Are you interested in living at the central ashram of Bhakti Marga, Shree Peetha Nilaya, the Home of Sri Swami Vishwananda and the Divine Mother?
Either for some time doing part-time seva, or even on the basis of a full-time job?
We have opened a new little section for you on the Bhakti Marga webpage with more information:
http://www.bhaktimarga.org/seva

SEVA:
If you would like to stay for a while at the Shree Peetha Nilaya with the Bhakti Seva Program, then you should use the following link for more information:
http://www.bhaktimarga.org/seva/bhakti-seva-program



LIVE/WORK:
If you want to live at Shree Peetha Nilaya, the ashram has positions open in many of its different departments!



Use the following link to find out more:
http://www.bhaktimarga.org/seva/job-openings

Much Love from Shree Peetha Nilaya

12 Mar 2015

Sri Swami Vishwananda visiting Mauritius

After Vrindavan, Sri Swami Vishwananda went to the island of Mauritius.

They visited the Rajarajeshwari Temple and the Mama Tookay Temple. Swamiji also met an old devotee from 20 yrs. She used to stitch His clothes when he was 15/16 yrs old. She said "I speak to you everyday." Swami said, "Yeah I know, I hear you."












10 Mar 2015

Vrindavan Pilgrimage: Day 8 & 9 (March 8th & 9th, 2015)


“Even when India was going through the most terrible time during the invasion by moguls, when they were destroying all the temples, they could not destroy one thing ... the faith in the people. You can destroy something outside but how can you destroy something inside.” – Sri Swami Vishwananda

Darshan March 8th, 2015:

Sri Swami Vishwananda had His first ever Darshan in Vrindavan today. More than the Darshan itself, it was amazing to see how the Bhakti Marga family worked together to set up for Darshan. Everyone was willing to do what they needed to make sure the Darshan was a success.



As a result many people got to see Swami for the first time and receive His blessing.



Swami set the foundation for amazing things to come in this Country. He is uniting the West with the East and reviving Sanatana Dharma in a time when we are all longing to realise the Love we have inside of us for God.   


Last Days:

Swami left Vrindavan on the afternoon of March 9th, 2015, and the 8th was the last full day of the pilgrimage. After Swami left, Swamini Mohini and Swami Paranthapa held a satsang to discuss how the trip was for everyone. 

It was nice to see the changes that people went through in this trip. Most people were scared of India, they were anxious about the dirt, the people, and the crowds etc… But as the days went by we started seeing the spiritual side of India … the “old Vrindavan.” We were able to experience a side of India that most people never get to witness.



We had the Grace of Swami to long for God in Vrindavan. It is a feeling of pain and pleasure at the same time. This type of feeling or “bhav” is what the Gopis had for Krishna. It is said in the Gopi Gita that there are two types of love; the Love you feel when you are with your beloved and the Love you feel when you are longing for your Beloved. Out of the two, the longing is better because it is much more intense. In Vrindavan everyone is longing for Krishna … everyone is Radha waiting for Krishna to come back.

Holi Pilgrimage:


“When the different colors are mixed together during Holi the individual colors disappear. All the colors merge into one … this is symbolic to Krishna who is the doer of everything. Even as it appears that there is individuality in reality there is only One.” – Sri Swami Vishwananda #KingofLove   


8 Mar 2015

Vrindavan Pilgrimage: Day 7 (March 7th, 2015)



“The greatest yogis can’t see the Lord directly, even the demigods can’t see Him. Only a part of Him is shown to them but they never see Him directly. Once the inside is fully cleansed then one sees Him clearly.” – Sri Swami Vishwananda

Giridhari:

The day started as usual with puja to Giridhari. As mentioned in the previous blog you can find below comments made by Swami about Giridhari.


“The Giridhari we have is from Mirabai. When she was three years old a sadhu came to her father’s house. This sadhu was serving the deity. When Mirabai saw the deity she said 'I want that deity, I want nothing else.' The sadhu said 'I can’t give you this deity, it is my personal deity.'




At night Giridhari appeared in the sadhu’s dream and said 'I have good news and bad news - which one do you want. The good news is that you have done what you have to do here, the bad news is you have to give me to Mirabai.'

It was an order from the Lord so he had to agree. Mira from the age of 3 had this deity with her. Once I had a vision of her ... how she would carry the deity. She used to hang Giridhari with a cord around her neck and wear it on her all the time."

Saint Visit:

In the afternoon we went and visited a saint in Vrindavan named Sri Hit Kinkar Sevak Sharanji Maharaj. His mission is very much about Love. Below you can find some comments made by him:


“Religion and scripture is only just there to ignite the flame of Love in you.”

“To get Krishna Consciousness you need to have Radha Consciousness. In order to get Radha Consciousness you need to have Vrindavan Consciousness.”


The connection between Swami and the saint was very special. Sharanji Maharaj asked Swami for a blessing before leaving and Swami replied, “I’m in your heart and you’re in my heart.”



Personal Interview:
In the evening Swami gave a personal interview with everyone on the pilgrimage. It’s amazing to see Swami constantly giving …


Tomorrow will be a very exciting day; it will be Swami’s first Darshan in Vrindavan!

7 Mar 2015

Vrindavan Pilgrimage: Day 6 (March 6th, 2015)



“If you open up your heart and start seeing with your heart you will perceive the glory of the Lord everywhere.” – Sri Swami Vishwananda

Holi:

Today was the main day of Holi. The celebrations started as soon as we woke and didn't end till the night.

In the morning we celebrated Holi at Jiva Institute. We sang, danced and drenched ourselves with water and colour the whole morning.



A few things Swami said about Holi:

“On our journey to God we have to be humble, we can’t have pride. Even spiritual people have certain arrogance, certain pride inside of them, they think they are everything … there is no one better them. Pride leaves when the Lord Himself becomes everything for you.



The colors symbolize the quality of the Lord. The color we put on each other is the joy, the color of the saints … who have drenched themselves in the color of Krishna. We are inviting the quality of the Lord to be on us.The deeper meaning of Holi is to stain oneself, to drench oneself in the color and stain of the Lord. To drench oneself in the color of the Lord, without Guru’s grace, it is not possible.”



Vrindavan Parikrama:

In the evening our group was invited to perform a Parikrama with Babaji Satyanarayana Dasa around Vrindavan. It felt like a welcoming party for Swamiji and Bhakti Marga as we move closer and closer to establishing an official ashram in Vrindavan.




6 Mar 2015

Vrindavan Pilgrimage: Day 5 (March 5th, 2015)



“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

Gaura Purnima:

We had a lot of fun today celebrating Gaura Purnima in Vrindavan. Gaura Purnima is a festival that occurs in March celebrating the birth of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. He was a 16th century Hindu monk known for advocating the worship of Krishna. He popularized the “Bhakti” movement and is known for spreading the “Maha Mantra” (Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare,…).

The celebration was moved to the front entrance of the Jiva Institute where we celebrated Holi in true Bhakti Marga fashion. I think the pictures say it all …






Yamuna:

After the Holi celebrations we made our way to the Yamuna River for a fun boat ride. We rented boats and floated on the river for some time performing kirtan. Krishna spent most of his youth in Vrindavan on the banks of Yamuna, playing the flute and playing with Radha and the gopis on the banks. It is believed to be one of the holiest rivers in the world.




Nidhivan:

After visiting Yamuna we went to Nidhivan. Below you can find some comments Swami made about Nidhivan.

“Nidhivan is the place where Krishna did the Ras Leela. Even today it is still happening. At night in the garden ... nobody can stay in the garden. Not even the animals can stay. Like that the leela of the Lord is present in each part of Vrindavan.”



The Rasa Lila is when the gopis of Vrindavan, upon hearing the sound of Krishna's flute, sneak away from their households to the forest to dance with Krishna throughout the night. In the Bhakti traditions, the Rasa Lila is considered to be the highest bliss one can achieve in life. Romantic love between human beings in the material world is seen as merely a diminished, illusionary reflection of the soul’s original Love for God. It is believed that Krishna does the Ras Lila every night with the gopis, even today, 5,000 years later. 

Celebration:

The night ended with dancing and kirtan to celebrate Gaura Purnima. The ability of Swami to show us the Love we have inside for the Lord is amazing. It is by grace that we are able to hear kirtan and enjoy it. Most people hear it and even though it has an effect on them on the spiritual level, they don’t appreciate it. Only because of Swami are we able to hear the Lord’s name and enjoy it … He truly is the #KingofLove. 




5 Mar 2015

Vrindavan Pilgrimage: Day 4 (March 4th, 2015)



“Bhagavan is beautiful in the temple, but He is much more beautiful in the heart of the saints. He is more alive in the hearts of the saints.” – Sri Swami Vishwananda

Giridhari:

The day started with puja to Giridhari. After puja we had free time till the evening to do as we wish. A few people in the group went shopping while others rested their feet from the Parikrama the day before. It was a relaxing day … the sun was shining and the weather was cool. In the background one can hear kirtan constantly; either sleeping, sitting, eating or shopping Vrindavan doesn't let you think of anything else but God.



Barsana:

In the evening we went to Barsana which is Radha's birthplace. The main temple is located on top of a hill overlooking the city. Barsana is about an hour's drive from Vrindavan. The temple was filled with people performing kirtan and it was covered with colors from Holi. 



As we were performing kirtan, Swami met a great kirtan singer and Bhakta named Sri Vinod Biharidas Babaji at the temple. Biharidasji invited us to come to his ashram to perform kirtan and eat prasad, it was an offer Swamiji couldn’t refuse.



After visiting the temple we made our way over to his ashram and performed kirtan with him and his devotees. Personally, it was some of the best kirtan I've ever heard. Their whole life consists of performing kirtan, glorifying the Lord day and night. Their voices don't take any long roads, there’s no traffic and no detours - just a straight shot to the heart.  



Conclusion:

It’s easy to fall in Love with this place. The kirtans are sweet, the people are sweet and the food is sweet. It’s like being back home at Shree Peetha Nilaya.



Vrindavan Pilgrimage: Day 3 (March 3rd, 2015)



“Bring your faith and your devotion. That will be your two shoes to walk on.” – Sri Swami Vishwananda

Parikrama:

Day 3 was an early start. After a quick breakfast we made our way to Govardhan Hill which is located about 45 minutes from Vrindavan to do a parikrama around the hill.

Parikrama means "the path surrounding something" in Sanskrit. It is a circumambulation around a certain object. The word parikrama is mostly used in the context of religious deities in a temple, sacred rivers, and sacred hills. Performing a parikrama as a symbol of prayer is an integral part of Hindu worship.



Govardhan Parikrama (going 21 kilometres around the hill) is a sacred ritual performed by many believers for spiritual purification. The walk is done without shoes. The quote at the beginning of the blog was the answer given by Swami about wearing shoes on the parikrama.



Story of Govardhan Hill:

According to the Srimad Bhagavatam, when Krishna was seven years old he saw the people making preparations for a yagna to Indra. On seeing this Shri Krishna advised the villagers not to do the yagna but rather a puja to Shri Girirajji (Govardhan hill) who not only protected them, but also gave their cattle grass and pure water for everyone to drink, and also small caves in which they could relax.


This made Indra very angry and he decided to punish the people for listening to a child (Lord Krishna) and not him. Suddenly it started raining very heavily in Vrindavan and the rain and storm accompanying it were so strong that the people started trembling with fear and they approached Krishna to protect them.

Krishna went to Govardhan and lifted it with His little finger in such a way that it formed a huge umbrella around the people. The rain continued for 7 days non-stop and Krishna used Govardhan for 7 days to protect the people. On seeing this Indra realised that this little child is no ordinary child but is an incarnation of the Lord. Indra accepted defeat and approached Krishna to seek His shelter. Since then Krishna was named Giridhari (bearer of Govardhan hill) and worship of Govardhan hill started instead of Indra in the entire region.

The parikrama started with Swamiji doing puja in front of Govardhan hill before the walk. It was very calm and serene. Swami and the rest of the group had our mala bags and we were doing japa throughout the walk. By Swami’s grace everyone was able to manage the walk without problems and rather than completing the entire parikirma we decided to go to Radha Kund and finish our journey there.

Radha Kund:

It is said that 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, so She asked Krishna to wash His sins by taking dips in various holy rivers. Krishna being amused by Radha’s naivety 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 mad that Krishna used His powers to perform such an act and decided that Her 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 known today 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 is 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.



Conclusion:

After a long day’s walk around Govardhan Hill we ended the day by venerating Radha Kund, singing kirtan and doing puja to Giridhari.