A Dip in the Holy Ganga

For a long time now Yoginathaswami has held a gentle wish in his heart that, one day, he would touch the River Ganga, bathe in its sanctifying waters. That desire was finally fulfilled in Rishikesh.

We were taken to the river's edge by the swamis of Omkarananda Ashram, to a gentle spot in front of one of their many massive buildings. A sandy beach greeted us, the river's soft invitation to enter.

Yoginathaswami went first, finding a spot deep enough to permit the required three immersions. Then Sadasivanathaswami followed, soon to learn how very cold this water is. It makes sense, as it is all glacial melt here, not far from the beginnings of the great river. It even has that tell-tale color that glacier waters always have. Cold. Cold Cold! Blessed. Blessed. Blessed!

We bathed with a mind that all of Gurudeva's shishyas were here with us, all dipping down with us, all releasing karmas of the past, all receiving Siva's special grace. Jai Gurudeva! And thank you, Bodhinatha, for blessing this journey.

Off to Singapore

Today, Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami and Sannyasin Shanmuganathaswami left on their two week journey to Singapore and Malaysia. Upon reaching the airport, the two had a firsthand look at the Airport's island author display, which showcases the Master Course Trilogy, Lumarian Scrolls and The Guru Chronicles, as well as photos of Gurudeva and the monks.

Off to Rishikesh, Land of Sages

We reached Dehradun airport after a day of flights from Chennai and were escorted into Rishikesh, just half an hour away. The two swamis from Kauai Aadheenam were generously welcomed by the disciples of Sri Swami Omkarananda, whose story has been told in the pages of Hinduism Today and whose Swiss ashram was a part of our story on Hinduism in Europe. Bodhinatha has been to their Rishikesh Ashram, but this is our first visit. We spoke with the swamis about publishing, about guru bhakti and more.

Upon our arrival at the Dehrahdun airport we were greeted by Nageshwari (Padmarajah's wife--from Malaysia) and a local devotee. She is spending several months at the Omkarananda Ashram doing seva. 

We were greeted by three of the senior resident monks who have lived here for decades: Swami Vishveshvarananda, Swami Satchitananda and Swamini Somashekari. We attended their evening 6 pm arati at the ashram's Kamakshi Amman temple. The temples here all follow the South Indian tradition, and the ashram is rightfully proud of the traditional form of the temple. The founder and guru, Swami Omkarananda, is originally from Andhra Pradesh, though he settled in Switzerland and Austria for many years. Right now they have 20 local priests doing the nitya puja and havan. 

After a light dinner, we were taken to a delightful kutir--very clean! We can see the Ganga flowing from our kutir. The ashram is supplied with water from Ganga. So we were fully immersed in sacred water!

The ashram is not exactly on the banks of Ganga but about 600 yards away. They do have another property with a padashala that sits right on the bank of the river. It looks like an ancient Vedic-age place with incredible scenery. Within just a few steps one can walk into the holy waters. They have a four story building that is functional and are building a couple more. The first two floors are utilized by padashala boys, while the top two stories are reserved for monks.

Chennai Gatherings

Yoginathaswami and Sadasivanathaswami are deeply impressed with the scale of development in India. Here in Chennai there is a massive rapid transit train initiative underway that goes for miles and miles, something that will transform the landscape (traffic) here.

Having settled in for a few days, we were able to catch up with our reporting from the road and to sit with many good souls, begin some projects, end others and just spend friendly time with families in the area.

We are in the Chennai airport, online due to our Airtel modem which works everywhere (something that is priced beyond reach for the monks in the US). Swami and I will sleep on the banks of the Ganga tonight, a fact that would certainly have confounded the early sadhus and sannyasins who explored Bharat on foot in those early days. Not to mention that not that many decades ago it would have been unthinkable that this report, replete with photos, could be in your hands within moments of completion.

With infinite blessings from Bharat Mata to the many who are, in fact, but part of the One...

Atritex & Our Special Visitors

Yoginathaswami and I were a bit amazed at the level of technology here in India. Our room, for instance, is run entirely from an iPad, everything from lights and sounds, room service, laundry, every single thing that happens in the room is on the iPad. In this, India is far ahead of the US. 

Our room boy was enamored by the Gurudeva shrine we keep in the room, and said he would offer a surprise. When we returned from the temple, we found he had made an elephant out of two towels!

Ponni Selvanathan, wife of our Sthapati, came to meet with us along with her younger son Raja Ganapathy and her nephew, who is a marking silpi. Her son is being groomed to become a sthapati.  So encouraging to see that young men still are dedicated to the ancient arts. Even his older brother, now an airline pilot, plans to do the same after he has seen the world.

Details of the Temple Builders' bronze Memorial were worked out and we asked Pooni about the idea of having cows present at the opening of temples and homes (for our article in the magazine on cows). She is enormously knowledgeable and offered many insights to us.

Around 10:30 am we were met by the founder/owner of Atritex, Mr. Satya Narayanan and his partner, Srini, and together the four of us drove to their offices. Atritex has been instrumental in working with the Ganapati Kulam on transferring all of our books and resources into ePub formats. This is the first time we are meeting them in person. 

Satya is a PhD in technology and a brilliant head of this small but innovative company. Yoginathaswami said: "He is one of the most intelligent, eloquent and ethical businessmen I've ever met."

We were introduced to his team of 25 youthful nerds, all amazingly focused. Satya has intentionally kept them close, in two rooms working side by side in a home, not a corporate office, so their culture would be that of a family.  

He showed us an incredible tool they use for creating ePub files from PDFs, something they have cobbled together from various sources. It's a game-changer in the digital publishing industry and you will be hearing more and more about them in the future. I am under confidentiality vows to say no more!

That afternoon we met with Kulapati Ramesh Sivanathan and his family who are on a 21-day pilgrimage to all the major temples of South India and then spent a valuable hour with our respected  Sabarathnam Sivacharyar, who guides us on all matters regarding Vedas, Agamas and vastu tradition.

We told Sivachariya about our cow article in the magazine and he offered to give relevant references from the Agamas which have much to say on the subject. 

Archives are now available through 2001. Light colored days have no posts. 1998-2001 coming later.

September 2015
October 2015
November 2015
December 2015
January 2015
February 2015
March 2015
April 2015
May 2015
June 2015
July 2015
August 2015
Subscribe to RSS Feed
Audio Video Slideshows Images Publications Web pages