On our last night in Australia we were hosted at the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha Mandir in Sydney. Our hosts did an amazing job of creating an interesting and profound evening, continuing the tradition that ties our two fellowships together. This began in 1995 when Gurudeva was invited to be the chief speaker one evening at the 75th jayanti of Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the fifth satguru in the lineage. From that day, we have felt a special sambandam with our brothers, as tradition speaks being with them "is likened to milk poured into milk."
The two swamis who oversee some 300 families in Australia and hundreds more in the larger Asian region (they are on the road almost constantly in performance of their duties) greeted us, placed the auspicious tilak on our foreheads and tied the traditional red rakhi (string) on our wrists to mark their affection and our connectedness. On the far left is Sadhu Adarshmuni Swami and next to him the senior monk in the Asia-Pacific region, Sadhu Jnanpurush Swami (Ruda Swami).
Thence to their temple hall where the evening arati.
There were beautiful devotionals and chants.
Our dear Bodhinatha was given a seat of honor, a white shawl and a number of little gifts. The swami, in his introduction, spoke of the history of our relationship, of Gurudeva's visit in India, of Bodhinatha's presence at the consecration of their temples in Houston and Toronto.
Then Bodhinatha was asked to speak, and speak he did, so beautifully on the subject of "Obey your Guru," words that Gurudeva had bravely spoken out to the 50,000 BAPS devotees gathered under a giant tent that at Pramukh Swami’s jayanti in Mumbai.
Two groups were in the hall. The BAPS members and our own friends and students in the area, who were given special seats of honor. The talk was so marvelous, and a number of times Bodhinatha was interrupted by loud applause. These are subjects that are a bit touchy, and not spoken of openly as they engender misunderstandings outside of groups who honor the satguru highly, as we do. In fact, when Gurudeva first spoke out the words that night in India, Vamadeva Shastri was present and told us, "No one in India can say such things. It is politically incorrect. It took a great master from the West to come and fearlessly tell devotees this all-important message." You can read the talk here.
A wonderful meal ensued, served lovingly by the BAPS swamis.
With it, lots of friendly conversation.
There was sharing of their work in the region, of the new temples they are building here and there.
Toward the end of the evening, they were talking about the strong training of BAPS children and Palaniswami took out his iPhone to show them some photos and cartoons he keeps there to entertain children when traveling.
In all, a blessed event, cordial sharing of our similar mission, some talk of the Climate Change issues and brotherliness all around. Jai Gurudeva! Jai Swaminarayan!