Each month at our Spiritual Park in Mauritius, just off the coast of South Africa, over 3,000 of Lord Ganesha's favorite devotees come for darshan. Here we see two of His five faces, decorated with sandalwood paste and flowers.
They bring offerings, listen to an upadesha, enjoy a short puja and homa, walk the paths down to the river or the ocean, bathe the Sivalingam, and enjoy a spiritual moment in time and space, a respite from the tensions of life, a reminder of their eternality, their soulful qualities, their spiritual work.
This month a budding photographer captured the day. As we thumb through her photos, we offer Gurudeva's thoughts on what to do when you wish your karma was better. His bottom line is to worry less and take responsibility more.
"The wise never blame God, for they know misfortune to be the return of man's self-created karmas, difficult but necessary experiences for his spiritual evolution. Whenever we are injured or hurt, we understand that our suffering is but the fulfillment of a karma we once initiated, for which our injurer is but the instrument who, when his karma cycles around, will be the injured.
(Ghee buckets for the homa)
"If you take responsibility for all that happens to you, then you will have the power to deal with your karma through the grace of Lord Siva. He will give you the intelligence to deal with it as you worship Him in the Siva temple, contact Him within as the Life of your life and find Him in meditation. Let's take an example. Say I am holding a plate of rice and curry and I pass it to you."
"All of a sudden the plate drops on the floor between us. I blame you, and you blame me. I don't want to be responsible for dropping the rice and curry, and you don't want to be responsible either. So, we blame each other. The rice and curry is scattered there on the floor."
(The priest offers the written prayers into the sacred flames)
"No one is going to clean it up until one of us takes responsibility and says, "I'm sorry I dropped the plate of rice and curry," and gets down on hands and knees and cleans it up. In the same way, only by taking responsibility, by recognizing what we have done as our own doing, can we begin cleaning up the results of our actions."
(The prayers disappear on this physical plane, to manifest in the subtle world of the devas.)
"Those who do take responsibility for their own karma have all the help in the world. The sages say, "Bear your karma cheerfully." Each time you blame another person for what has happened to you, or cast blame in any way, tell yourself,
"This is my karma which I was born to face. I did not come into a physical body just to blame others for what happens to me. I was not born to live in a state of ignorance created by an inability to face my karma. I came here to spiritually unfold, to accept the karmas of this and all my past lives and to deal with them and handle them in a proper and a wonderful way."
Rajen Manick makes a few announcements to the group
It was a special day for all, captured so beautifully on film (OK, in pixels).
A little more advice from Gurudeva on how to face our karmic patterns.
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What a spiritual wonderfland the island nation of Mauritius has become. Where else is Maha Sivaratri a nationally televised holiday celebrated for an entire week? A great change since Gurudeva sent his Siva ambassadors many years ago.
"Temples with multiple deities can be confusing, especially for today's Hindu youth. For clarity, we need to bring forward a more precise understanding of the different Hindu denominations and how the different Gods are viewed from within each denomination. For spiritual advancement it is best to focus on one deity and get to the vibration that deity. When we hear teachings from various Hindus, it is important to understand and identify which denomination they are speaking from. This will avert confusion when that teaching gets contradicted in a different context where someone is talking about the same subject but from a different philosophical background."
Bodhinatha reviews the main characteristic of Saivite philosophy and practice with an indepth focus on the four stages of religions evolution, chariya, kriya, yoga and jnana. He highlights how this shows that Saiva Siddhanta is unique and quite from the modern practice of Hinduism as Vedanta