Sunday, March 02, 2008
Our Arrival in Ganeshpuri
We arrived in Ganeshpuri a day earlier than our group. As we entered the town we recognized the Siddha Yoga Ashram called Gurudev Siddha Peeth.
As we came closer to it we could hear the sound of conch shells blowing and drums and we knew that 5pm Arati was just starting. We asked our driver to pull over and stop and we ran into the Nityananda Temple and sang Arati with a few of the other devotees. Our timing was impeccable. No cameras allowed in there, so no photos to show you.
From there we headed to the next little town, only 3 km. away called Nimbola.
After asking for lots of directions, we ended up with a young man leading us on his motorbike to the home of our new ashram. It was a beautiful sight and site to behold. Here's a panorama of the site at sunrise our first morning there. In this season it is very, very dry and the valley is often filled with smoke from the fires used to make bricks in small batches throughout the area. The region also is known for rice crops. In the monsoon season, the area can flood up to second story buildings - wow. The most significant feature in this photo is the sacred mountain in the distance. It is perhaps the most significant power vortext of pure spiritual force on the planet. That's why Hard Light is here, why Bhagawan Nityananda settled here, and why he in turn had Bhagawan Muktananda also begin an ashram here. It's amazing, in ways the eyes have no way to inform...
Joanne, came here 4 months earlier from LA to oversee all of the renovations. She accomplished a miraculous job getting it ready for us in such short time. Here she is with her best friend Premala who was her interpretor...
The ashram was freshly painted in the five colors of the elements: earth, water, fire, air and ether. Two buildings on 3/4 of an acre of land had been renovated. There was a little house for our teacher Mark - a simple bedroom, living room with a couch and a couple chairs for him to meet with people, and a kitchen and bath. The second floor gave a great view, and was open to anyone, and a great place to do yoga...
There had been a one story building, and in 4 months a second story was added to it for a dormitory; downstairs had a couple more dorm rooms and was also the kitchen and dining room...
Then there was a huge dome/tent platform where we would be meditating. In the panorama photo above, you can see the 40 foot diameter raised concrete pad that was poured for it. Hard Light owns a large geodesic dome, but it was held up in customs for obscure and typically-Indian reasons and would probably still take a couple more months to extricate.
The dome will be magnificent for the main meeting hall when it finds its
permanent home there, but in the meantime we made do with colorful
banners and tenting normally used for wedding parties. It worked great...
We're sleeping in a 5 woman dorm room and there are 25 people in our
group from Hard Light Center of Awakening. The rooms are very
comfortable with fans, lights, nice mattresses and barely any
mosquitos. It's hard to believe how easily 15 women are all able to
share 3 mini-sinks, 2 toilets and 1 shower that barely dribbles water.
The men are downstairs, sharing 1 mini-sink, 1 shower and 1 toilet.
They've also rigged an outdoor bucket shower behind a lean-to shed.
Here's our roommate Mary Weeks having a quiet lunch under her mosquito net.
The food is delicious – cooked by a large group of Indian women
who must love this amazing kitchen that was newly renovated with 2
refrigerators and a 6 burner stove. The food we ate here was delicious. Very creative considering the small choices of fresh vegetables they had.
A sample of the vegetarian lunch they cooked for us...
Later we went into town on our first TukTuk ride, a kind of 3 wheeled little scooter with no seat belts or sides. We were just in time for Arati at the Nityananda Mahasamadhi shrine in the center of town. Nityananda was Muktananda's Guru. More blissful timing. There was huge drumming and singing of the Nityananda Arati chant. Very sweet. Then darshan before the murti (statue) of Nityananda where the priests gave us holy water to drink, only we sprinkled it on our heads instead.
Then we went for dosa dinner while we were still in town. Yum. Masala dosas and onion uttapans. Delicious!
Luck would have it for us that the next morning we could go into Ganeshpuri to the Temple where Baba Muktananda is buried – his Samadhi shrine. It is open on Saturdays and Sundays only from 10-11 am and from 3-4 pm. We went both times today and felt so grateful to be able to sit with Baba and meditate in that incredibly strong vibration. It was a dream come true for us.
Then back to Nimbola to wait for the Big Yellow SWAMI Bus that would be bringing Mark and the rest of our meditation community to their new ashram. We had a glorious welcome with garlands, kum kum, and many blessings. Mark was thrilled with all of the renovations and everyone is very happy to be here on this remarkable spiritual pilgrimage.
Here's our happy group all reunited at our new ashram in Ganeshpuri...
Just a short walk from our new ashram is a wonderful Shiva Temple with a lingam that is worshipped daily. Here's our friend Ananda offering his blessings.
And just across the way from this Temple are the hot springs. One for the men and one for the women. Many of our group, Joss included, took a daily bath here.
And our favorite photo of the Pods with their beloved Mark Griffin...
Later we braved a one hour each way hot,
dusty, draining, exhaust-pipe-sucking drive in a Tuk Tuk into the next
big town to find a Cyber Café and post this blog, but we didn't have
any luck syncing our computers with theirs and would have the same experience in Varanasi, so couldn't post these blogs for the following 2 weeks. We tried - sorry!