On March 24th, 2010, Bodhinatha bathed in the Ganges at Haridwar and then later visited the ashram of Sri Swami Avdheshanandas Ashram in Haridwar.
There are hundreds of thousands of people here. Being Ram Navami, this particular is held in high regard by many.
Many shrines and temples line the ghats. Some of them are actually in the water.
With so many devout Hindus offering their prayers admist the clanging of temple bells, loudspeaker-broadcast mantras chanted by pandits, the presence of thousands of sadhus, one feels especially close to the Divine
In the beautiful madness, shots of our monks bathing could not be taken, but we can see our team here post-snan.
Acharyaji Swami Avdheshanad Maharaj-ji kindly arranged for professional escorts to accompany us for this snan to help make our way through all the lakhs of devotees more managable.
Throughout the short duration of our stay at Swamiji's ashram, we were graciously and lovingly hosted by Swami Muditvadananand Saraswatiji.
Swamiji kindly showed us around the ashram compound. Here, Swamiji took us to a place were important saints were honored in the form of worshipping certain trees.While Swamiji offered milk, saffron and other holy items, a pandit recited mantra. Bodhinatha offered his respects at the sacred tree site. At this same site, the tree is encircled by 12 lingams, in honor of the 12 Jyothirlingam of India. Later, we visited the small but mighty Sivalingam temple of the ashram. Inside, Bodhinatha was invited to participate in the performing of abhishegam to Sivalingam. This is the typical North Indian style, where devotees are not only allowed but requested to perform personal abhishegam to Sivalingam within the garbhagriha. As you will see, they use this special implement for offering liquids. It is a conical brass vessel, with a curved, small, yalli-like spout at it's base. After having the blessings of Sivalingeswarar, we exited the temple and made our move to another holy lingam site with in the ashram. Swamiji explained to us that this Sivalingam is made of parad, or mercury - a highly prized substance for creating murtis in this part of India.Swamiji also informed us that this is the largest solid parad lingam in all of India.
Bodhinatha and Arumugaswami were invited to hand the saints and sages temple prasadam along with dakshina. This is something that Sri Acharyaji Avdheshanand Swamiji typically does himself, but invited our Bodhinatha to perform this most holy task as his honored guest. There were more sadhus to feed and bestow dakshina to on behalf of Sri Swami Avdheshanandji later in the morning.
Later, Swami Muditvadananand Saraswatiji took us to a temporary shrine/yagnasala in which preists and priests-in-training built up the atmosphere with mantras from the Veda. Sri Dattatreya is a highly important Deity for this Akara (monastic order) . He is considered the Adiguru for their spiritual lineage. You can fully learn about both the Akara and Dattatreya on Wikipedia. Swamiji later shows us a showcase of photographs which displayed Sri Swami Avdheshanandaji's participation in Hindu-Jewish religious leaders' summit held recently in Jerusalem.
Later that afternoon, Swami Muditvadananand Saraswatiji and Bodhinatha addressed an assemblage of devotees.Bodhinatha introduced to the audience the mission purpose, history, and current activities of Kauai Aadheenam.
Usually behind the camera, we wanted to show our photographer and reporter - Mr. Devraj Agarwal (centre) and Mr. Rajiv Mailk (right).
We met this sweet man who seemed to want to know all about the monks from the "Hawaii ashram." He was so kind and sincere, we spent a few moments with him engaging in enjoyable dialogue.