The twin Ramesvara Mahadevas

2 06 2010

In a recent article about the guardians of Radha Kunda, I mentioned how Ramesvara Mahadeva protected the west side of the kunda. I just learned that there are actually two Ramesvara Mahadev shrines and they are side by side. If you look closely in the first photo below you can see the shrine to Shiva that I originally posted.





The guardians of Radha Kunda and Mahaprabhu’s love for Shiva

27 05 2010

Radhakund is protected in all four directions by Mahadeva. The two most ancient mandirs are Kundesvara and Bankhandi. When coming to Radhakund it is best to first stop and offer your obeisances and prayers to Mahadeva and seek his permission the enter Radhakund. Kundesvara Mahadeva protects the south side of Radhakund. Bankhandi Mahadeva protects the east side. Ramesvara Mahadeva protects the west side and the Mahadeva shrine adjacent to the Radha Raman Mandir guards the north side. I have attached some photos I took of these four Mahadeva temples and told the story from Caitanya Mangal, by Locan Das Thakur about Mahaprabhu entering the village of Ekamraka, which is the place of Shiva and Parvati and is located in Bhubaneswar. Jai Bholenath!

Gaurahari walking like a ferocious lion eventually arrived at the village of Ekamraka. Shiva and Parvati stay in this village. Gaura’s heart went wild and He ran to see them. Soon Gaura Mahaprabhu found the temple. Great longings filled His heart. He became wild with ecstatic loving emotions. A beautiful flag fluttered on top of the mandir. Seeing the flag on the temple Gaurahari offered obeisances. He got up and continued walking until he was able to enter the temple of Shiva.

In the village of Ekamraka there are ten million Shiva-lingas. The main Shiva-linga is known as Visvesvara. It is said that the ground of that village looks like sandesa. The waters of all the holy rivers are present in the Maha-bindu sarovara which is there. Many different holy places are also present in that village.

Upon entering the temple, Gaurahari saw Shiva and Parvati. He bowed down before them, and was overcome with prema. Anyone who sees the linga of Shiva and Parvati finds that his troubles are soon broken into pieces. Seeing the linga of Lord Shiva, Gaurahari was overcome with ecstasy. His body trembled, and He was unable to remain peaceful. From His reddish eyes tears flowed nonstop, and the hairs of His body stood on end. Again and again He recited prayers.

Note: Sri Gaurahari then recites prayers that are said to have been composed by Himself to glorify Sri Shiva. The verses are known as Sri Shivastakam—eight verses along with a ninth verse known as the phala-shruti which states the benediction one receives by devotionally reciting these prayers.

Sri Shivastakam

namo namas te tri-daśeśvarāya
bhūtādi-nāthāyua mṛdāya nityam
gaṅga-taraṅgotthita-bāla-candra-
cūḍāya gaurī-nayanotsavāya

I repeatedly offer my obesisances unto you, controller of the 30 primal devas…unto you, original father of created beings…unto you, whose character is gracious…unto you, whose head is crested by the sickle moon arisen from the waves of the Ganga and unto you, who are a festival for the eyes of the fair Goddess, Sri Gauri.

sutapta-cāmīkara-candra-nīla-padma-
pravālāmbuda-kānti-vastraiḥ
sa nṛtya-raṅgeṣta-vara-pradāya
kaivalya-nāthāya vṛṣa-dhwajāya

I offer my obeisances unto you, who are dressed in garments resembling molten gold, the moon, blue lotuses, coral, and dark rainclouds…unto you, who bestow the most desirable boons on your devotees by means of your delightful dancing…unto you, who are the master of the impersonalists, and unto you, whose flag bears the image of the bull.

sudhāṁśu-sūryāgni-vilocanena
tamo-bhide te jagataḥ śivāya
sahasra-śubhrāṁśu-sahasra-raśmi-
sahasra-sañjit-tvara-tejase ‘stu

I offer my obeisances unto you, who dispel darkness with your three eyes—the moon, the sun, and the fire…unto you, who causes auspiciousness for all the living entities of the universe and unto you, whose potency easily defeats that of thousands of moons and suns.

nāgeśa-ratnojjvala-vigrahāya
śārdūla-carmāṁśuka-divya tejase
sahasra-patropari saṁsthitāya
varāṅgadāmukta-bhuja dvayāya

I offer my obeisances unto you, whose form is brilliantly illuminated by the jewels of Ananta Deva, the king of snakes…unto you, who are clothed by a tiger skin and thus radiate divine effulgence…unto you, who sit upon a lotus of a thousand petals, and unto you, whose two arms are adorned by lustrous bangles.

su-nūpurārañjita-pāda-padma
kṣarat-sudhā-bhṛtya-sukha-pradāya
vicitra-ratnaugha-vibhūṣitāya
premānam evādya harau videhi

I offer my obeisances unto you, who bring happiness to your servitors as you pour on them the liquid nectar of your reddish lotus-feet, which ring with charming ankle bells….Obeisances unto you, who are adorned with an abundance of gems—please endow me today with pure love for Hari!

śrī rāma govinda mukunda śaure
śri kṛṣṇa nārāyana vāsudeva
ity ādi-nāmāmrta-pāna-matta-
bhṛṅgādhipāyākhila-duḥkha-hantre

O Sri Rama! O Govinda! O Mukunda! O Sauri! O Sri Krishna! O Narayana! O Vasudeva! I offer my obesisances unto you, Sri Shiva, who are the monarch of intoxicated bee-like devotees, maddened by drinking the nectar of these and other Holy Names of the Lord. Obeisances unto you, who destroys all grief.

śrī-nāradādyaiḥ satataṁ sugopya-
jijñāsitāyāśu vara-pradaya
tebhyo harer bhakti-sukha-pradāya
śivāya sarva-gurave namo namaḥ

I  offer  my respectful obeisances again and again unto you, who are forever inquired of confidentially by Sri Narada and other sages…unto you, who also grant favors to them very quickly…unto you, who bestows the happiness of Hari bhakti…unto you, who create auspiciousness, and unto you, who are the guru of everyone.

śrī-gaurī-netrotsava-maṅgalāya
tat-prāṇa-nāthāya rasa-pradāya
sadā samutkaṇṭha-govinda-līlā-
gāna-pravīṇāya namo ‘stu tubhyam

I offer my obeisances unto you, who are a festival of auspiciousness for the eyes of goddess Gauri…unto you, who are the monarch of her life-breath…unto you, who are capable of bestowing sacred rapture, and unto you, who are expert in forever singing songs of the lila of Govinda with great longing.

etat śivāsyāṣṭakam adbhutaṁ mahat
śṛṇvan hari-prema labheta śīghram
jñānaṁ ca vijñānam apūrva-vaibhavaṁ
yo bhāva-pūrnaḥ paramaṁ samādaram

A person, filled with loving sentiments, and who listens with rapt attention to this eight-fold prayer to Sri Shiva can quickly gain Sri Hari prema as well as transcendental knowledge, the complete realization of that knowledge and unprecedented powers.

Gaurahari recited these prayers to Shiva. His companions who surrounded Him also recited prayers to Shiva. Then one of the Lord Shiva’s pujaris offered Shiva’s prasada remnants of fragrances, sandal paste, and flower garlands. After offering His obeisances to Lord Shiva, Gaurahari left the temple.

Gaurahari went to the home of a devotee and rested. Later He ate, and slept happily. At dawn, He who is the master of the three worlds arose. Gaurahari then bathed, completed his morning duties, and after offering His obeisances to Shiva, He  departed. Mahaprabhu continued His journey accompanied by His companions. Now I will describe a conversation that took place between two of His associates, Murari Gupta and Damodar Pandit. Please listen carefully to the description of their conversation. Damodara Pandita asked Murari Gupta, why did Gaurahari who is the Supreme Lord accept the prasada of Lord Shiva? Because of a curse by Bhrgu Muni it is said that no one should accept remnants offered to Lord Shiva. Why then did Gaurahari accept them being fully aware of such a curse? Murari said, please hear me. Oh Damodara, how can I know what is in the heart and mind of Mahaprabhu? I can only speak as far as my intelligence allows. If your heart thinks I speak the truth you may accept my words.

A person who serves Lord Shiva but does not honor the prasadi remnants of Shiva does so only because he thinks that Shiva and Krishna are different. The brahmana Bhrgu Muni spoke his curse for people with an impure heart that don’t know Shiva’s true glories. However a person who is fully aware that Shiva and Krishna are non-different, and who serves Shiva should certainly honor the prasad of Lord Shiva. Such a person brings great pleasure both to Siva and to Krishna. Shiva is the king of the Vaisnavas. For this reason he should be worshiped. A person who eats Shiva’s prasad is released from the prison of the material world. In truth Gaura was a guest in Shiva’s house. With a joy filled heart Shiva offered Him all hospitality. Please know that Bhrgu Muni’s curse is meant for the non-Vaisnavas. A Vaisnava who honors Lord Shiva brings pleasure to Sri Krishna. Gaurahari descended to this world to instruct the jivas. Damodara Pandit then said, you have destroyed my foolish ideas. Hearing these words everyone’s heart became full of bliss.  In this way Locana dasa narrates Sri Caitanyadeva’s pastimes. This is coming from the madhya-lila of Locan Das Thakur’s book. Similar descriptions can be found in Murari Gupta’s book, Sri Caitanya Caritra Maha Kavya in the third prakrama of his writing.





Manasi Devi and Chakalesvara Mahadeva Mandir

21 05 2010

Jai Nitai!

As I was taking photos of the project of cleaning the Manasi Ganga  I also took darshan and photos at a number of other mandirs as well. For now I will post the photos I took at Manasi Devi Mandir and the Chakalesvara Mahadeva Mandir.

Manasi Devi is the the Goddess that supervises and controls the Manasi Ganga area. There are four Devis in Braj Mandal that are considered by many as the most prominent. Manasi Devi on the bank of Brahma Kund  in Govardhan,  Yogamaya Devi (zrI pAtala devI) adjacent to the Govinda Ji Mandir in Brindavan, Paurnamasi Devi near Seva Kunj in Brindavan, and Vrinda Devi in Kamyavan.

The Chakalesvara Mahadeva Mandir and the immediate surrounding area is known as Chakra Tirtha. It is said that Krishna’s Sudarshan Chakra is embedded in the northern bank of Manasi Ganga. The Chakra was being used at the time to protect the Brajabasis from the deluge created by Indra at the time when Krishna was holding up the entire Govardhan Parvat.

Chakalesvara Mahadeva Mandir contains a group of five lingas and a beautiful Sri Murti of Nandi sitting and facing the main shrine. This is one of the main Mahadeva Mandirs that are protecting Braja Mandal. The other ones being, Gopesvara in Brindavan, Kundesvara in Radhakund, Bhutesvara in Mathura, Nandesvara in Nanda Gaon and Kamesvara in Kamyavan.





Radha Kunda photo tour…less frequented locations Pt. 1

23 12 2009

Jai Sri Radhey!

There are dozens of mandirs here at Radha Kunda. Even if you stay at Radha Kunda for a considerable amount of time there will likely be many places that remain unvisited and unexplored. I thought it would be interesting to go to many of these lesser visited mandirs and share the images and information I could obtain. I am posting the images in the order you will encounter them if doing parikrama of Radha and Shyama Kundas, but other than that the mandirs shown in this series are a random selection… I am just entering various mandirs and taking photos as the inspiration hits me. Since it is winter time many of the deities are bundled up in chadars and blankets so you can’t always get a good look at Them. I will probably want to take Their photos again after it warms up.

In the late 1600’s many original deities had to be moved to Jaipur because of Muslim invasions. Radha Kunda was a stopping point on the way.  Replicas of these mandirs were established here at Radha Kunda at that time and the worship has been going on for hundreds of years. These deities are known as pratibhU mUrti and represent the originals and are not to be considered to be different. So you can visit the seven major mandirs of Brindavan here at Radha Kunda.

The first mandir pictured is Radha Ramana.  Along with Radha Raman you will see Balaram and Revati on the altar. Also just to the left of the entrance of this mandir is Mahadeva who is guarding the north side of the kunda. You will also find the carankamala of Sri Radha there. The next two places are found off of parikrama marg by going left down the first road you encounter. There is a mandir of Sri Sri Radha Binodji that are very beautiful and then a little farther down is and what used to be the bhajan kutir of Bhakivinod Thakur and his son Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati. It is called Vraja Swananda Sukada Kunja. Inside you will find some pushpa samadhis and some personal articles of Bhaktivinod. Also there is the first toilet in Radha Kunda. I was told that Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati installed the toilet which was stylish in those days in hopes of getting people to use plumbing and not just go anywhere that was handy. Now if you return to parikrama marg, immediately on your left you will find Bishwambhar Mahaprabhu Mandir.





Sri Sri Ma Anandamayi Ashram in Brindavan

14 09 2009

Jai Nitai!

Anandamayi Ma1The other day I visited Brindavan and while riding in a rickshaw I noticed a sign that said Sri Sri Ma Anandamayi Ashram. I had the driver stop and made him wait  while I went inside for darshan. I didn’t really know much at all about Sri Anandamayi Ma. I know a lot more now as I spent several hours today reading about her life and teachings. For the most part, my only previous exposure to her was from reading about her in Autobiography of a Yogi, by Paramahamsa Yogananda. The chapter describes his first meeting with the “Joy-permeated Mother.” She made quite an impression on me then and now I wonder why I never really looked into her life and her teachings before today. That wonderful picture of her in the book where she appears to be more or less peeking out from behind Yoganandaji like a child is still vivid in my mind.Ma and Yoganandaji

I am extremely glad that I had the rickshaw driver stop. I could have very easily just passed up going into her ashram  because I was running late in hopes of catching darshan at another place. As it turned out my timing at Anandamayi Ma’s Mandir was quite good. The doors to the deity rooms were closed when I arrived because Thakurji was eating, but within five minutes the doors were opened for a quick aroti before closing again for the rest of the afternoon. I had ample time to take some photos.

The Mandir is set a good distance off the road making for a quiet setting. It is located on Mathura Road across the street from Ramakrishna Mission. The sign above the entrance to the Mandir has the Maha-mantra written on it and also Nitai-Gaura and Om Namah Sivaya.

A brief biographical sketch of Ma:

Sri Anandamayi Ma took birth in 1896 in Kheora, East Bengal (now Bangladesh) and was named Nirmala Sundari Devi, meaning “Goddess of flawless beauty.” Her father was named Bipinbihari Bhattacharya and her mother was Mokshada Sundari Devi. Her father was a Vaisnava kirtaniya and as a child Nirmala would frequently enter into ecstatic states of consciousness while hearing her father’s kirtan. In 1908  she was married to Ramani Mohan Chakrabarti at the age of thirteen. For five years after her marriage she lived in her brother-in-law’s house where she was generally found to be withdrawn into a meditative state. In 1918  she moved to a town known as Bajitpur. At this time she was found to be even more withdrawn in deeper spiritual states. From what I gather, even though she was a model child in so many ways because of her tendency to enter these trance-like states many thought she had a mental illness.

Her marriage ceremony took place when she was thirteen, but it wasn’t until she was seventeen that she went to live with her husband in Ashtagram. Their marriage was always one of celibacy. When her husband would come to her with sexual desires it is said her body would take on the qualities of death and she would become faint. Life as her husband couldn’t have been an easy task. Sometimes after returning home from work he would find her laying on the kitchen floor in an unconscious state and the food burned.

On a full moon night at midnight, she went through the actions of spiritual initiation—initiating herself.  She said, “As the guru I revealed the mantra, and as the disciple I accepted it and started to recite it.” Because of his wife’s behavior, members of her husband’s family suggested that he remarry.  He apparently had love and faith in her. He must have viewed her behavior as signs of great spirituality instead. He asked her when and from who he should take initiation. She gave him a date of five months in the future when she would initiate him. A friend asked her for proof that she was qualified to initiate her husband. She then touched her husband on the top of the head. He went into samadhi for several hours, declaring later that he experienced indescribable bliss. When she gave him diksha she changed his name to Bholanath and he later became a great saint in his own right.

For six years she led a life of intense sadhana in Ashtagram. Many view it simply as lila , believing that she had integral knowledge of reality from birth, and there was nothing for her to personally attain. For the sake of all who would later come to her for guidance, it was necessary that  all the kriyas and sadhanas of every religious tradition spontaneously be manifested in her person. Practices that take most sadhakas lifetimes to perfect played through her body in a matter of minutes. In later days, she was immediately familiar with the problems and practices of anyone who came to her for advice, regardless of what culture or religion they came from.

In 1924, Bholanath was working as the manager of a large garden estate in Dacca, and the story spread by word of mouth that there was a special Mataji living in the gardens who was absorbed in a divine state. People became attracted to her, and soon a large following had gathered around Anandamayi Ma. Many of these people remained devoted to her for the rest of their lives. The garden estate became the center of daily kirtans and festivals. She didn’t give formal speeches, but answered everyone’s questions and guided all according to their inner needs. Although she had little formal education, she spoke by the authority of her direct perception, and her spontaneous replies impressed even the scholars and pandits that heard her.

In 1932, Ma left Bengal and for the next fifty years she wandered throughout India, never staying in any place for long. She was led by the needs of the many devotees that surrounded her. She was also led by the inner call of mankind to manifest spirituality. She gave comfort and guidance to anyone that came to her. She had a divine attraction that drew people to her. People found a joy and inner awakening in her presence, and many felt that she was someone  known to them eternally. There are hundreds of stories of Ma’s guidance and blessings– many accompanied by supernatural manifestations. Many ashrams began to spring up in her name. Even some political leaders of the time came to her. She was loved and respected by Mahatma Gandhi, and Prime Ministers Nehru and Indira Gandhi. Many famous saints realized her divinity and even openly proclaimed it.

Anandamayi Ma departed in 1982 in her ashram in Dehradun. Her body was enshrined in a  marble samadhi in Kankhal, south of the pilgrimage center of Haridwar.

Some of Sri Anandamayi Ma’s teachings in her own words:

This body tells of one sovereign remedy for all ills: God. Trust in Him, depend on Him, accept whatever happens as His dispensation, regard what you do as His service, keep satsang, think of God with every breath, and live in His Presence. Leave all your burdens in His hands and He will see to everything; there will be no more problems.

All this, which is His creation, is under His dispensation, in His Presence, and is verily He Himself. In whatever state He keeps anyone at any time, it is all for the good, for verily everything is ordained by Him, and is of Him. Relative happiness, which is happiness depending on anything, must end in grief. It is man’s duty to meditate on God Who is peace itself. Without having recourse to that which aids the remembrance of God, there can be no peace. Have you not seen what life in this world is? The One to be loved is God. In Him is everything–Him you must try to find.

To a human being the most noble, irreproachable line of conduct should alone be acceptable. It is a matter of great rejoicing if anyone strives to mould his life upon this pattern. Only actions that kindle man’s divine nature are worthy of the name of action, all the rest are non–actions–a waste of energy. Any line of behavior that fails to quicken the divine in man should be eschewed, no matter how enticing it might appear; but any that helps to awaken man’s inherent divinity must be resolutely adopted, even though it be seemingly uninviting. Man’s calling is to aspire to the realization of Truth, to tread the excellent path that leads to Immortality. What appears delightful to the senses later develops into a hotbed of poison, generating inner turmoil and disaster, for it belongs to the realm of death.

In whichever direction you may turn your gaze you will find One Eternal Indivisible Being manifested. Yet it is not at all easy to detect this Presence, because He interpenetrates everything. As a King is known by his majesty, as fire is known by its heat, so the Unmanifest reveals Himself through the world of manifestation. The analysis of the substance of all created things, if carried sufficiently far, will lead to the discovery that what remains is identical and equally present in all creatures: it is He, it is That, which is styled as Pure Consciousness.

If in the midst of the diversity of the world of appearances you make a sustained effort to do all your work as a faithful servant of the Almighty Father of the Universe, love and devotion for Him will awaken in your heart. As the confining prison walls of the ego are broken down, you will become more and more persistent and wholehearted in your pursuit of Reality. Then all the manifold pictures you perceive will merge into one single picture and all your divergent moods and sentiments will be engulfed in the one great ocean of Bliss.

The Universal Body of the Lord comprises all things–trees, flowers, leaves, hills, mountains, rivers, oceans, and so forth. A time will come, must come, when one actually perceives this all–pervading Universal Form of the One. The variety of His shapes and guises is infinite, uncountable, without end. Just as ice is nothing but water, so the Beloved is without form, without quality, and the question of manifestation does not arise. When this is realized, one has realized one’s Self. For, to find the Beloved is to find one’s Self, to discover that God is one’s very own, wholly identical with one’s self, the innermost Self, the Self of the self. First of all it is necessary to become acquainted with Him Whom you wish to invoke. Constantly think and talk of Him, look at his pictures, sing His praises or listen to sacred music, visit places of pilgrimage, seek solitude or associate with the holy and wise, so as to become familiar with Him. When this has been achieved, you may call Him “Father” or “Mother”. Some relationship of this kind has to be established with Him, because people of the world do not feel affinity unless their bond is defined in such a manner. You are accustomed to ties of kinship in worldly life; this is why you have to bind yourself by some sort of relationship in the spiritual field as well. Even though at the start you may not feel deep devotion, learn to invoke Him unceasingly and with perseverance by repeating His Name, or by any other method, until gradually He will fill your heart. However, prayer, meditation, alms offered in His Name, and so forth, are necessary even after the bond of love has been forged, so as to keep it unimpaired. In this way the awareness of Him will become your second nature and never leave you to your last breath. This is what is termed communion with God.

Listen! Do not let your time pass idly. Either keep a rosary with you and do japa; or if this does not suit you, at least go on repeating the Name of the Lord regularly and without interruption like the ticking of a clock. There are no rules or restrictions in this. Invoke Him by the Name that appeals to you most, for as much time as you can–the longer the better. Even if you get tired or lose interest, administer the Name to yourself like a medicine that has to be taken. In this way you will at some auspicious moment discover the rosary of the mind, and then you will continually hear within yourself the praises of the great Master, the Lord of Creation, like the never ceasing music of the boundless ocean; You will hear the land and the sea, the air and the heavens reverberate with the song of His glory. This is called the all–pervading Presence of His Name.

Silent japa should be engaged in at all times. One must not waste breath uselessly; whenever one has nothing special to do, one should silently practice japa in rhythm with one’s breathing. In fact, this exercise should go on continually until doing japa has become as natural as breathing.

It is of great value to read sacred texts and books of wisdom. Speak the truth. Bear in mind that God’s Name is He Himself in one form; let it be your inseparable companion. Try your utmost never to remain without Him. The more intense and continuous your efforts to dwell in His Presence, the greater will be the likelihood of your growing joyful and serene. When your mind becomes vacant, endeavor to fill it with the awareness of God and His contemplation.

The Supreme Father, Mother and Friend–verily God is all of these. Consequently, how can there be a cause or reason for His Grace? You are His, and in whatever way He may draw you to Him, it is for the sake of revealing Himself to you. The desire to find Him that awakens in man, who has instilled it into you? Who is it that makes you work for its fulfillment? Thus you should try to arrive at the understanding that everything originates from Him. Whatever power, whatever skill you possess—-why, even you yourself—-from where does everything arise? And does it not all have for purpose the finding of Him, the destroying of the veil of ignorance? Whatever exists has its origin in Him alone. So then, you must try to realize your Self. Are you master even of a single breath? To whatever small degree He makes you feel that you have freedom of action, if you understand that this freedom has to be used to aspire after the realization of Him, it will be for your good. But if you regard yourself as the doer and God as being far away, and if, owing to His apparent remoteness, you work for the gratification of your desires, it is wrong action. You should look upon all things as manifestations of Him. When you recognize the existence of God, He will reveal Himself to you as compassionate or gracious or merciful, in accordance with your attitude towards Him at the time–just as, for example, to the humble he becomes the Lord of the Humble.

Through breath energy, Consciousness pervades Matter. Everything that is alive breathes. When breath stops, you die. Physical life depends on breath. Through Prana, matter becomes alive. Desires and wandering mind make the breath impure. Therefore, I advise the practice of concentration on breathing combined with taking any one of God’s Names. If the breath and the mind become one–pointed and steady, then the mind expands to infinity, and all phenomena are included in that one all–inclusive point. If you think of God with the breath it will purify the prana, the physical sheath and the mind. If you breathe while thinking of God’s Name, you will feel the call of His grace.

The Self, or God is unknowable to the ordinary intelligence, but He is not unknown to us as the life–breath. If one uses the rhythm of one’s breathing as a support in meditation, this increases one’s power. Therefore, one should daily sit in a meditative pose in a solitary place and turn the mind inward, and repeat the mantra in rhythm with one’s breathing, without straining, in a natural way. When through prolonged practice, the Name becomes inextricably linked with the breath, and the body is quite still; one will come to realize that the individual is part of the One Great Life that pervades the Universe.

I say to you that I am a little child and you are my parents. Accept me as such and give me a place in your hearts. By saying “Mother”, you keep me at a distance. Mothers have to be revered and respected. But a little girl needs to be loved and looked after, and is dear to the heart of everyone. So this is my only request to you: to make a place for me in your hearts!

A  few of my favorite quotes from Sri Anandamayi Ma:

“Remember, one is born to experience various kinds of joys and sorrows according to one’s desire. For the time being, God comes to you in the disguise of suffering. He is purifying you in this manner. The suffering is for your own best. A mother gives a slap to her beloved child for its own good, in order to keep it on the right path. When a fond mother gives her baby a bath, the child may scream desperately, yet the mother will not let the baby go until she has thoroughly washed and scrubbed him.”

“Just as fire burns away all dross and rubbish, so the three fold suffering purges man’s heart from all impurity and results in a growing single mindedness in his search after Truth. When he becomes deeply conscious of his weakness and tormented by the thoughts of his undesirable impulses and distressing characteristics, when afflictions like poverty, bereavement or humiliation make him feel his life is futile, then and then only does he develop real faith and religious fervor, and becomes anxious to surrender himself at the feet of the Supreme Being. Suffering should therefore be welcomed. Never does the soft moonlight appear more soothing than after the scorching heat of a summer day.”

“Leave aside every other thought, Just say Hari! Hari! Have faith in Him and cross the sea of the world.”

Some may be wondering why I have given so much attention to someone who is not a Caitanya Vaisnava. Actually, she never claimed to be of any particular sect and has been seen to  engage in practices from many different paths. As I mentioned earlier in this post that I spent several hours yesterday reading about her. After all my study my heart was deeply touched by what I read.  Her words and simple loving nature made a big  impact on me. I was struck with a great urgency to dedicate myself more fully to my gurudeva and the sadhana he has given me. I felt tremendous inspiration to surrender myself to the lotus-feet of my guru and to take complete shelter of him and Nitaichand, giving up my false sense of ego and just relinquishing my entire self to them, clinging to nothing else.

She was imbued with so much love and divine shakti. She created a desire in countless numbers people to embrace spiritual life, leaving behind the pain and futility of material pursuits and attachments. I believe she was a divinely empowered person whose task was to generate an urge and interest in the general populace to pursue a life of surrender to the Supreme. Everyone is at different stages in their spiritual development. Not everyone will have the adhikar to immediately appreciate and pursue raganuga bhakti sadhana and the esoteric teachings of our acharyas. Few people have the adhikar to perform yoga sadhana, and many may find it hard to perform karma yoga and work selflessly for the benefit of others. Fortunately for all of us the chanting of the Names of Nitai Gaura and Radhey Shyam are within everyone’s ability and there are no rules even involved in the practice. Sri Nitaichand in His infinite mercy empowers various souls to come and uplift the jivas in various ways and in different capacities. In whatever condition a jiva finds himself Nitaichand is there with him reaching out His hand, offering love, beauty, and eternal ananda.

The walkway to the Ashram

The walkway to the Ashram

Sri Sri Ma Anandamayi Ashram

Sri Sri Ma Anandamayi Ashram

Sri Sri Nitai Gaura

Sri Sri Nitai Gaura

Sri Sri Radhey Shyam

Sri Sri Radhey Shyam

Sri Mahadeva

Sri Mahadeva

Sri Anandamayi Ma

Sri Anandamayi Ma

Sri Bholanath Baba ~ Sri Anandamayi Ma's husband

Sri Bholanath Baba ~ Sri Anandamayi Ma's husband

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