Ramai writes us from the UK with an account of Satguru's recent visit:
Jai to Our Beloved Lord Murugan!
It seems fitting to be writing an account of our delightful journey through London with Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami and Shanmuganathaswami on Vaikasi Visakam. Blessed to have the second of annual visits and the Tamil Saivite community rejoiced, knowingly or unknowingly, to have their Guru in town. Sincerely it felt we were flying on the wings of Lord Murugan's peacock - a dynamic dance ensued which encapsulated one in a bubble of love and bliss.
The first day or so found Satguru and Shanmuganathaswami acclimatizing to the eleven hour time difference in one of London's most beautiful postcodes - Richmond Upon Thames. Here they enjoyed one of the infamous 'Turner views' of London - the only one protected by an Act of Parliament and largely unchanged since first painted in the late 1700s - a little Kauai in London. Naturally Lord Ganesha led the way and events began with bank holiday weekend of three mornings at Shree Ghanapathy Temple. The first two comprised of a workshop on the recently published 'Path to Siva' during which Satguru presented lessons with his unique style of simplifying the complex and applying it to life in a dynamic city. The audience were captivated and had the opportunity to ask questions. The second day of the workshop was attended by local Tamil school educators and students and Satguru incorporated verses from Auvaiyar's Atti Chudi and the most notable mahavakhayas from our Parampara which the Tamil school children had been learnt in preparation. Questions were aplenty and they kept flowing into the third morning at Shree Ghanapathy Temple which was a 'Children's Morning.' This focused on the younger youth and more informal in style providing an opportunity for children to ask Satguru questions anonymously. After a few contemporary stories of how the Great Gods work with us, Satguru Bodhinatha opened the floor to questions - and the questions came in abundance filling the remainder of the morning! "Why do I have to bathe before going to temple?," "Do I always have to pray to Lord Ganesha?," "Why do we wear vibhuti?" and "What is the difference between Saivism and Hinduism?" were just a few from the curious minds of the beautiful souls who attended. Parents were encouraged to attend as silent observers imbibing the answers to these questions from our beloved Satguru. The children made a garland of paper Ganeshas and presented it to Satguru as a nandri for this precious time learning in his blessed presence. Sincerely young and young at heart were enamored by the weekend of teachings - each learning much from the wisdom which flowed.
Flowing from Lord Ganesha's London Home to Highgate Hill Murugan Temple, the focus transitioned to the elders of the community as an event was held honoring the life and legacy of Paramaguru Siva Yogaswami. Satguru Bodhinatha and Shamuganathaswami were the guests of honour, and Satguru gave a beautiful speech on Paramaguru's teachings in the form of the Natchinthinai explaining in particular the words of Sollu Sivamey and the wondrous path to Sivathondu as a Sivanadiyar closing with the words '"See everything you do as Siva. Do everything you do as Sivathondu. Give up this 'I' and 'mine.'" London's only othuvar, Thiru Samy Thandapani, was in attendance and led singing of the blessed words of the Nathinthinai supported by the Pan Isai group. Additionally, we were treated to a carnatic flute performance by lifelong Yogaswami devotee Mr Janayagam with accompaniments which floated one further into bliss, bliss, bliss. Surely Paramaguru Yogaswami was in present and shining brightly through Satguru. A new Himalayan Academy publication entitled '20 Yogaswami Songs' was launched meaning the younger generation can further connect with the Natchinthinai. The evenings of the weekend were further filled with a visit and satsang at the homes of the Janayagam family and Santhirapala family respectively.
The Europe satsang members, who had travelled from corners of the UK, Republic of Ireland and France, enjoyed two activities in Satguru's presence which followed a regal theme. Firstly a stroll through London's Hyde Park culminating in a San Marga of sorts leading to Kensington Palace - the current London home of the younger Royals. The second was a visit to the Victoria and Albert Museum, the world's largest museum of decorative arts and design, where a very knowledgeable curator took us on a tour through British regal history emphasizing the influence of the East subtly so in times of yore to increasingly apparent as contemporary times were approached. Both activities led onto satsang lunches where the group has time to catch up with each other as well as Satguru and Shanmuganathaswami - truly it generated a feeling of Siva's Sambandam.
Returning to the most Royal of paths, His Dance took us on a further tour of the London Homes of our Great Gods. Many were reacquaintances from last year's visit building bridges between the Aadheenam and the London Saivite temples, with the exception of Sri Kanaga Thukkai Amman Temple which was celebrating its annual kumbhabhishekam festival with six Deities circumambulating during the pooja which was a sight to behold! Satguru Bodhinatha gave a profoundly insightful talk at each temple on the nature of our beloved Lord Siva emphasizing Anbe Sivam - Siva is Love.
Satguru Bodhinatha's visit to London culminated in the Maha Kumbhabhishekam of London's first all granite temple - carved in India and assembled in London. The realisation of a vision by the Hindu Tamil Cultural Association (HTCA), Enfield Nagapooshani Ambaal Temple is inspired by its sister temple off the west coast of Jaffna and aims to be a hub of Saivite worship, cultural activities and outreach in North London. The maha kumbhabhishekam events incorporated a public opening ceremony attended by the deputy London Mayor and Members of Parliament at which Satguru Bodhinatha gave a public speech introducing key concepts in Hinduism - the belief in One Supreme Being, the sects within Hinduism, the meaning of mahakumbhabhishekam and murti worship. Again, we marveled at Satguru's gift of teaching with clarity and wisdom and it was an upadesha enjoyed by everyone irrespective of faith. The mahakumbhabhishekam itself fell on the last day of the visit and provided a vibrant and dynamic morning attended by literally thousands upon thousands of the Saivite community as Ambaal established Her New Home in London. The yagams comprised of 33 homas and sivacharyas came from all corners of the globe as well as London. That evening, we enjoyed a Chitra pada puja at the home of Kulapati and Kulamata Veeragathiyar which was a fitting and loving close to a blessed journey through London - a beautiful satsang to simply be and enjoy the dharsan which flowed.
Satguru Bodhinatha's smile and glowing eyes captured the hearts of many - deepening connections for those on the Great Path of our Parampara or seemingly meeting him for the first time. There is much love for Satguru and his wisdom was recurrently commented upon as unique, applicable to life in the west and spoken with precision and clarity. Sincerely this visit manifested through the grace of our beloved Guru and the many hands of silent sevaks who poured time, energy and a generous abundance of love. Love is the sum of the law and emanated in the presence of one who has walked the path ahead of us - earnestly we felt blessed with such a treasured and precious visit which will be engraved on our hearts for eternity. The group helps the individual and the individual helps the group, and the key to our unfolding mission lies in the love that flows from our beloved Aadheenam and international family - whilst we walk gently towards Satguru's Holy Feet in Europe, you are all our examples of this blessed path. Mikka Nandri and Mahalo for joining us on this journey and for the loving inspiration.
Aum Namah Sivaya