On the right: Swami Sivananda, founder of The Divine Life Society. On the left: Swami Chidananda, became the organisations president after Sivanandas passing.
In April 2017, Tobias and I traveled to northern India to visit different holy places in and around Nainital, Rishikesh and Dharamsala. When we planned our trip to Rishikesh, visiting Sivananda Ashram ended up being quite high up on our priority list. The Sivananda Ahram is the main ashram of The Divine Life Society, created by its founder Swami Sivananda, a famous Indian saint and guru. However, not to long before our trip to India, none of us had ever heard about The Divine Life Society or Swami Sivananda, so how did this place become one of our top priorities during our stay in Rishikesh?
The reason why I went to India in the first place was because a vision I had during a spiritual experience. I knew from that vision that we were supposed to go to India and that one of the locations we should go to was Rishikesh, but I did not know why. For this reason, we did not really know what places to visit in this area. However, I felt that the higher Self would take care of that and that I did not really have to worry about finding out. I trusted in God.
When Tobias and I was planning our trip to Rishikesh I remembered that the Indian yogi Sri M had written about a few holy places in and around the city in his book Apprenticed to a Himalayan Master: A Yogi’s Autobiography. In the book he talks about his meeting with Swami Chidananda at Sivananda Ashram in Rishikesh. I noted this place as one possible location to look into some more. I later googled Swami Chidananda and instantly fell in love with the man I saw in the pictures. He radiated such love and divinity. I watched a short film about him at Youtube called Chidananda, Walk with me and my love for him grew even further. I did not, however, feel any direct pull at the towards his guru and the founder of The Divine Life Society, Swami Sivananda.
After this, a number of strange events occurred, and “the why” of visiting Rishikesh became quite obvious. Well, at least one reason why we should go there became obvious, because I was open to the idea that there might have been multiple reasons (which turned out to be quite right). The following weeks after my discovery of The Divine Life Society the name and the people associated to this society popped up everywhere. It was almost absurd how unlikely these synchronicities were. In particular, did the picture and name of the current president of The Divine Life Society show up in the most peculiar ways. By then, I just knew we had to go there, and I had a strong feeling that we were supposed to meet the current president Swami Vimalananda. However, I did not have any high hopes that this would actually happen.
Swami Vimalananda in the middle. The current president of The Divine Life Society.
Later, when Tobias and I came to Rishikesh after an amazing time in and around Nainital, we decided to go to The Sivananda Ashram quite early on. The ashram is a huge complex with many buildings. We actually got lost for a short while searching for the main shrine called Holy Samadhi Shrine. We didn’t use the main entrance when entering the ashram since we came with our scooters and had to search for a parking lot and therefore ended up walking amongst the buildings not really meant for visitors. Suddenly I saw this old man walking in front of us together with a younger man and I immediately recognized him from the pictures that mysteriously had popped up everywhere while planning our trip. The old man was no other than the current president of The Divine Life Society, Swami Vimalananda, the very man I had felt we where supposed to meet. He just happened to be the first person we ran into.
We went up to him and talked for a while. He turned out to be a very kind, loving and humble person. We didn’t talk about anything particular. He asked us where we were from, and said he had been to Sweden a few times. We then took a photo together as a memory and parted ways. Immediately after we parted I knew intuitively that this meeting was the reason why we were supposed to come here and I didn’t feel any need to stay at the ashram any longer. To this day, I have no idea of why this meeting was important, only that it was.
Even though I did not feel any need to stay, we stayed for quite some time anyway just because the place was so beautiful. Walking around in the main hall, reading the quotes of Swami Sivananda, I started to see how extraordinary this saint had been and an affection towards this man started to grow. All over the ashram, beautiful quotes where written on the walls, and the spiritual messages they conveyed affected me deeply. The Divine Life Society is such an amazing organization spreading love and spiritually worldwide and I would recommend visiting the beautiful Sivananda Ashram if you’re in Rishikesh.
We returned to the ashram for two more days attending kirtan and also the evening arti at the river Ganga. The ashram became our favorite place in Rishikesh. I did also meet Swami Vimalananda one more time but did not talk to him this time. I just sat in his presence, listening to him reading holy literature. Nothing else was required than sitting in the hall of the master Swami Sivananda, listening to this loving man. I did not feel like searching for anything. Just sit there and Be. Perhaps this beautiful quote of Swami Sivananda says it all, even though I just caught a small glimpse of it: Seek, find, enter, rest in God.
At the end of November 2017 I went to Maui, Hawaii, to attend the Ram Dass Thanksgiving satsang which he held together with Krishna Das. The following day, Krishna Das also held a kirtan concert. During both evenings, the beautiful church of Makawao Union Church was filled with people who came from all over the world hoping to get to know the path that Ram Dass and Krishna Das have been teaching for years – the path of the heart. The meeting with these two people came to affect me deeply and they touched my soul, and for days after my intellect struggled to understand what had happened in my heart.
The first evening started with Krishna Das, along with his band, playing music for about an hour before Ram Dass entered the stage together with Krishna Das and Raghu Markus. During the evening they talked about subjects such as joy, love, ego, soul, God and, of course, their guru Neem Karoli Baba. But for me, it was not the words that were important or that left an impression on me. I had already read the books, listened to the talks online. To me, all of this was overshadowed by Ram Dass’s presence. It was obvious what an enormous effect he had on the people in the church. It’s hard to put into words how his presence affects one’s self and others, but noone can avoid noticing what an incredible human being Ram Dass is. He is like a sun that illuminates everything in his presence. And for my part, what I loved most of all was his silence. In it was more than words could express. It was as if his invisible hand was stretched out to me and touched my soul. A palpable silence appeared within me in which I stayed the whole evening. Ram Dass was impossible not to love, because he was love. He was joy and peace. Never before have I met a person like him. I think nobody in the audience wanted the satsang ever to end. The church was so full of love and joy and we all sat there and drank as much as we could while we had the chance.
After the satsang I was given the opportunity to go up to Ram Dass to take a photo for this article, which I had decided in advance to write. As he took my hand and looked into my eyes, my heart burst open and I could barely speak. I got my pictures for the article and just barely managed to say a few words before I somewhat dazed walked away. It would take several days before I could start to understand what had happened this evening, if it’s even possible to understand.
The next evening it was time for Krishna Das’s concert. For several years I have listened to his music daily and it has been a big part of my spiritual practice and for many years I have longed for an opportunity to attend one of his live concerts. He has an incredibly down to earth, humble and lovely way to be, and it’s very easy to feel good around him, but it’s when he starts to sing the true magic takes place. During the evening I sang along song after song and gradually I went deeper and deeper into myself and the evening would turn out to be like a rollercoaster of experiences.
The first experience came when he sang Good is real / Hare Ram which is a song where he mixes Indian kirtan with American gospel. I felt that I could fully relate to his words and suddenly I experienced the Beingness that is the source of everything. I experienced how all I experience was within me, within my own Being. I felt boundless, happy and full of love. I have experienced this before during meditations and now it came back again.
Later, between two songs, Krishna Das pulled a joke and a woman behind me laughed loudly and I found myself judging her for trying to get Krishna Das’s attention. I felt very ashamed of my silent judgment and went into a bad mood. Then I realised that I was actually judging myself because I had not laughed at the joke as she had. My judging of her was in reality a covert judging of myself. I had looked down on myself because of how I am as a person, who was unable to laugh at the joke, and this judging of myself I projected on to her to avoid looking at myself. But after this painful insight came the next one that lifted me up again. I saw that I do not have to react and act like other people do, that I can choose not to laugh without judging myself for it. That I do not have to do what others do and I can be confident in being myself. In other words, I found love for myself, and with that insight my judgment of the woman went away and was instead replaced with love. The totality of this entire episode took place in just a few minutes and afterwards I can see what an amazing personal insight and transformation I experienced there and then. Never had I thought that so much would surface from within me during this concert.
The next experience during the concert came to the song Saraswati. I saw what simple technique it is Krishna Das teaches us. How it is enough to just remember God. To repeat his name over and over again. The rest will take care of itself. You do not have to try to get into different states of mind, try to be happy or look for anything. You only need to repeat God’s name over and over again, and things will happen by themselves over time. You do not have to worry about when and how. It happens when it happens. Just keep doing it. I really connected with the beauty of this teaching.
After this experience, I again lost contact with the joy that came with my insights and I could no longer feel the high I had just had. Then I realized that it’s not the high that is It. The highs comes and goes, but It is always there. I started to see that between my different experiences of ups and downs there was always something in the background, and suddenly it hit me, I remembered God in my heart. I felt how God was there, in the middle of my chest, radiating out in all directions. I suddenly remembered several occasions during the evening when I had been fully aware, but how I forgot about this when I returned to unconsciousness again, but how I could now see that it was just my definitions of It which caused me to miss It when It did not fit my definition. I now felt how everything was God, and that I was all. It was a memory brought to life. A recognition rather than a discovery. I remembered God in my heart. There he was. As me. Where he had been all the time.
The days after meeting Ram Dass and Krishna Das were confusing in many ways. My intellect had difficulty understanding, because in the exterior that not much had happened, but something had happened in my heart. I had recognized God within my own heart. I felt that a change had occurred within me. It was an humbling experience and I felt a huge gratitude.
On the plane back home to Sweden I discovered another strange thing. For a long time I have studied and followed several gurus and saints. In addition to Neem Karoli Baba, I have been strongly influenced by Ramana Maharshi, Martinus, Papaji to name a few. But when I now thought about them, I could no longer feel them like different individuals. This was very confusing for my intellect, because I had different faces of them in my mind, but in the plane of feelings they were all one. And they were one with Ram Dass and with Krishna Das when I thought about them too. It’s hard to put this feeling into words of not being able to see the difference between different individuals. The difference is still there in the outer experience, but on the inside, in the heart, they are all one. In my experience when I think about them, they are all The One. And also, I can not separate them from myself. Underneath the surface I can now feel something I could not feel before. An underlying relationship that is impossible to put into words. It’s still a bit unclear, but it’s there every time I look.
These two days with Ram Dass and Krishna Das really exceeded all the expectations I had prior to the event. I still feel dazed and find myself searching for words. But on the other hand, I also feel that no words are needed. The answer IS in my heart all the time. Of course, I still find myself drawn into the dramas of my life and tend to forget, but as soon as I turn my attention back to my heart, I remember. I remember God in my heart. In mine and in yours.
Thank you Ram Dass and Krishna Das. Thank you Maharajji, with all my heart, thank you! <3
The old Hairakhan baba
Tobias and I went to the area around Nainital in India mainly to visit the places where the two saints Neem Karoli baba and Sombari baba stayed when they where alive. You can read about our visits to these places in the earlier parts of this article series.
However, we knew through K.K. Sah’s book Deva Bhumi, as well as Ram Dass’s book Be Love Now, that another great saint had lived in the same area up in the Himalayan Mountains. Or actually two more saints. One was called Hairakhan baba and was contemporary with Sombari baba and died about a hundred years ago. The other one was called Haidakhan baba and died quite recently, in 1984. Actually, the two names are the same and the differences in spelling are just because our alphabet has no equivalent to the sound that is a bit of a mixture between r and d. Sometimes the name is spelled with an r and sometimes with a d.
Both Tobias and I had read about Hairakhan baba the elder in K.K. Sahs’s book Deva Bhumi and both felt a connection with him. He was considered to be one of the most highly developed saints in the area and was held in very high regard by Sombari baba. He was often seen with Tibetan lamas and seemed to have some connection to Nepal. No one really knew where he came from when he one day appeared in a cave near the village of Hairakhan (hence his name) in the 1880s, or where he went when he suddenly disappeared in 1922. Some believe he had lived for a very long time since he briefly mentioned that he had experienced historical events way back in history. Some also believe that he is still alive and there are those who claim that they have seen him even after his disappearance. There are even those who claim that he is the same saint as Mahavatar Babaji, the saint mentioned by Paramahansa Yogananda in his book A yogi’s autobiography. A being that has lived for thousands of years and is often called the guru of gurus.
Tobias and I felt we wanted to visit the temples and ashrams that were dedicated to him and on the outskirts of Haldwani lies his old ashram in Katgharia. During the time he was active in the area the ashram was located in the jungle, but today the city of Haldwani has grown around it. The week before our trip to India, I read in Ram Dass’s book Be love now how Hairakhan baba had been seen by his old devotees in 1958 during the inauguration of a new temple in the ashram in Katgharia. Suddenly a bright light had appeared above the statue of him and in this light devotees saw Hairakhan baba floating in the air. Several of his old followers went into ecstasy and fainted.
As we went out to the ashram, we quickly became aware that Westerners very rarely visited the place. The ashram was located in the outskirts of the city and was also in poor condition. The people who were there were surprised that we showed up, but they were at the same time happy to see us. The man who seemed to be in charge of the temple allowed us to sit and meditate in the temple where the statue of Hairakhan baba is placed. In the temple there were both pictures of Hairakhan baba the elder, as well as the younger man with the same name who lived until 1984. People here seemed to make no distinction between the two saints.
After we had meditated for a while we were gifted prasad by the temple caretaker and we went for a stroll around the ashram for a while. It was clear that the place needed to be restored, but I assume that a decreasing number of visitors has led to a lack of necessary financial resources. Perhaps it may help that K.K. Sah has written about Harikhan baba in his book Deva Bhumi and that Harikhan baba’s story is highlighted in articles like this to help people find this once flourishing ashram.
The younger Haidakhan babaji
We were also interested in visiting the ashram and the temples dedicated to Hairakhan baba located in the area where he first appeared, near the village of Hairakhan. The old Hariakhan baba had an ashram there back when he was active in the area, but today there is instead a large ashram there dedicated to the younger Haidakhan baba, often called Babaji, the person with the same name who appeared in a cave outside the same village in 1970 when he was a young man and whom died in 1984. The modern Haidakhan babaji is considered by many as being an incarnation of the old Hairakhan baba and therefore you will find pictures of both of them in the ashrams in Kathgaria and the one near the village of Hairakhan. The ashram outside the village of Hairakhan is today more or less entirely dedicated to Haidakhan babaji the younger.
My brother Tobias was somewhat curious about the modern Haidakhan babaji but I didn’t feel any pull towards him and I also suspected that he might not have been a true saint. To some extent, I even thought he might have been such a person who attracts Westerners for his own personal gain. I went to the ashram mostly because I thought that the temple on the other side of the river of the ashram was dedicated to the older Hairakhan baba which I held in much higher regards than the modern saint with the same name. We had also been recommended to go to Haidakhan babaji the younger one’s ashram by an Englishman and an Austrian woman the week before we traveled to India and they had experienced that it was a place with very strong energies. In other words, I were a little curious about the ashram but did not feel any direct pull towards the place. It was the last location we visited in the area around Nainital before moving on to Rishikesh.
When we got there we walked around in the very big ashram. There were many visitors there, both Indians and Westerners. We sat and meditated for a while in front of the statue of Haidakhan babaji the younger. The Ashram was very nice and lay beautiful in the middle of the mountains, but despite that, I still had some resistance to Haidakhan babaji. I instead wanted to cross the river to the temple on the other side, which I thought was dedicated to the older Hairakhan baba, which I thought was the real deal. We crossed the river to the temple on the other side and quite soon I realized that this place was fully dedicated to Haidakhan babaji the younger and to top it all, the temple was quite newly renovated and many buildings were quite modern. To say the least, I was very disappointed since I had the idea of coming to something much older and, in my opinion, more genuine. In a moment my expectations and ideas fell apart.
In the temple complex there were nine depictions of Hindu gods that I showed my respect to, mostly because you where supposed to do that, but it all felt fake because I really felt disappointed about this place. But when I had shown my respect for the ninth god something strange happened. As I walked away from the statue, I suddenly and spontaneously slipped into a higher state of consciousness. I felt how energy flowed into me, or maybe it was out of me, and a kind of divine inner clarity came upon me. Suddenly I could see how wrong I had been and how my ego had locked itself in with ideas and expectations. I saw how I had been chasing the spiritual for so long and how the whole trip to India had been a search for something that always exists here and now, no matter where I am. I saw how I had put some saints higher than others completely based on my false ideas. And above all, I saw how the whole trip to India, the visits to the places we had been to, had been excuses for finding something that was already within me. I saw how my strong spiritual experience I had the day before in Kainshi Dham, the ashram dedicated to the saint Neem Karoli baba, really had been triggered by myself and not, as I had assumed then, by Neem Karoli baba. I realized that all the visits to these holy places had only been to give my ego permission slips in order to open up for my higher self and that the excuses were not really needed. But at the same time they had been necessary. For if I had not had these permission slips, my experiences of my higher self had not happened. I needed something to believe in that gave me permission to see myself, but now that my ideas and permissions slips had shattered in Haidakhan babaji the younger’s temple, who I thought was a fake guru, and I still had a strong spiritual experience, I saw it for what it was, me using excuses to find myself. And Haidakhan babaji, the guru I thought was false, proved to be the one who gave me the best lesson, that I do not need the permission slips, but that I can go into these states of consciousness anywhere, anytime. The permissions slips in the form of external circumstances were no longer needed, they had fulfilled their purpose now that I saw them for what they were. The trip to India had fulfilled its purpose. It had taught me that the trip was not really needed, since what I was looking for was already within me. But paradoxically, I had never learned this without having made the trip. I realized that external circumstances can help as an permissions slip to the day you realize that it’s never really the outside circumstances that do anything to you, but yourself.
This strong experience came to be the highlight for me during our trip to India. And it happened at the place I wanted to visit the least. The place I had previously concluded was fake was the place where the lessons was shown, and it was obvious why. You cannot have ideas about the truth if you want to find it, because the truth is nothing you can imagine what it is. You must therefore be completely open and receptive to everything. But with God’s grace, I had gained this insight despite my delusions and I was overwhelmed with humility.
When we went back to the ashram, I felt I wanted to go back to Haidakhan babaji’s statue and this time give him the respect he deserved. I had now seen his true greatness. With tears in my eyes, I prostrated in front of his statue and showed my respect, this time with full affection and genuine reverence. The guru I thought had been false was the one who helped me understand. Still fully established in the higher state of consciousness that I went into back at the temple, I apologized and showed my reverence.
When I came out of the main hall and out to the yard, an old man ran up to me with a big smile on his face. We had recently passed him as we walked from the temple back to the main hall with Haidakhan babaji’s statue. The man gave me a big hug and asked me how I felt. I responded that I felt very good and without saying more words, I knew intuitively why he had come running to me. In this state of consciousness, all the answers came to me without effort by them selves. He had felt what state of being I was in when I passed him and was bursting of joy that a visitor had an experience like this in his gurus ashram. That he once again got to see his guru’s loving work and that I had discovered his guru’s true greatness. I could also see that the man was pleased that someone who came to the ashram understood and experienced the truth. I sensed that it did not happen very often, especially not for Westerners. We hugged each other once more and then me and my company left the ashram. Just outside we crossed a store and for a brief moment I got eye contact with a young man who worked there. He ran out of the store and took my hand and I could see that he sensed my state of being as well, just as the old man had done. For the third time during this trip, I was able to see how many people in India have a completely different contact with the divine than many in the West. How many there, but far from everyone, can see and feel when someone is awake spiritually.
We then went back to our hotel and gradually I returned to my normal state of consciousness, but nothing would ever be the same again. What happened to me in Haidakhan babaji’s ashram changed me permanently. I now know that I no longer needed the permission slips to experience my higher self. And I now know that a judging heart is a heart that is closed. If I cannot see God in everything, I cannot see God at all. Thank you Haidakhan babaji for this, thank you.
Om Namah Shivaya.
One of the places we wanted to visit when we were in the area around the small city of Nainital up in the Himalayan mountains was the Indian saint Sombari baba’s two ashrams in Padampuri and Kakrighat. This area of India has hosted many great saints like Neem Karoli baba, Hairakhan baba, and of which Sombari baba is considered one of the most developed spiritually.
Sombari baba is relatively unknown in both the West and in India. Much because it is close to one hundred years since he lived. Therefore, his ashram in Padampuri is not very well-visited where it is beautifully situated in a valley between the mountains a bit from the city of Nainital. We were the only visitors when we were there and the place is more neglected and less expensive compared to Neem Karoli baba’s ashram Kainchi Dham. Nevertheless, it is one of the most beautiful places we have visited and a place we want to visit again. If you want to know more about Sombari baba we have written about him here.
The first thing that struck us when we got there was that it was bigger than we expected. The ashram lies next to a small river and we knew that Sombari baba never allowed anyone to come in without first washing their feet, hands and face in the river. In order to respect this, we did this before we entered the ashram where one of the area’s most developed beings spent a great part of his life. Once inside we were met by an incredibly peaceful place. It felt like you could walk around there without a thought of wanting to do anything else, hour after hour after hour. You did not feel the need for anything else. Even though we were the only visitors and we quickly saw all the parts, it was impossible to get bored there. You just wanted to be. Nothing more. What prompted us to leave after some hours was that our taxi driver waited impatiently on us outside.
We could feel that Sombari’s presence was still strong here and it was a strange feeling to sit at his dhuni that was still there, his sacred fire that he kept burning the most of the time. In the building above the fireplace there was a portrait made of stone of Sombari baba and this building was built at the place where he used to sit. We meditated for a while in front of this image and let us be immersed into his presence and energy.
In one of the buildings a young man sat and repeated a mantra while another young man swept the pathways. It turned out to be the caretakers of the temple. They gladly talked about Sombari baba in bad English and offered coffee as prasad. Although we had difficulty communicating with speech, we easily talked to each other with the language of the heart. The young men were incredibly hospitable and happy about our visit and the meeting with them came to be one of the greatest memories of the journey. We hope they will be there the next time we come to visit because it is a place we both want to visit again.
The week before we traveled to India we were on a retreat with Sri M in Switzerland. There we met an Englishman who turned out to have visited Sombari baba’s ashram in Padampuri seven years earlier. That fact that we encountered someone who has actually been there the week before we left for India was an incredible synchronicity, given that very few westerners have been there or even heard of Sombari baba. The Englishman said that when he was there, a 119-year-old yogi had been there and the Englishman had never encountered a more loving person. We asked the two caretakers if this yogi was still alive and they confirmed that he was now 125 and lived in the ashram during the summer. However, we were there before the summer really started so the yogi now lived at his winter residence in Haldwani. We actually got his address from the temple caretakers but we never had the time to go there and maybe it was not meant to happen. Maybe we’ll encounter him the next time we’re there if he’s still alive. We are happy anyway, because it was Sombari baba’s ashram who caught our hearts.
Since there are very few pictures on this beautiful ashram circulating, we are sharing plenty of pictures here and we hope that more people will go to Padampuri and hopefully also donate a small or big sum to the ashram so that it can survive and and perhaps even flourish once more. Perhaps this article can pay back a small part of what Sombari baba and Padampuri gave us.
When we planned our trip to India, that is, we who run this site, Tobias and Magnus Ahlberg, we both wanted to visit Kainchi Dham. It is the ashram that is most associated with the Indian guru Neem Karoli Baba, also known as Maharaj-ji. The guru that Richard Alpert, or Ram Dass, made famous for the western world. It was there Ram Dass and other Westerners such as Krishna Das spent a lot of their time when they visited Neem Karoli Baba back in the 60s and 70s, and it was the first location we went to when we arrived at the small city of Nainital up in the Himalayan mountains. Kainchi Dham is just a few miles away from the city and you can read about our visit there in this article: A Trip To India – Part 1 – Kainchi Dham
We have both been drawn to Maharaj-ji for quite some time, especially the unconditional love he showed humanity. He had no big complex teachings but kept it simple. Love people, serve people and remember God. This was his small, but yet great teaching. Often he answered questions with “Sub ek,” all is one. You do not need to know much more than that in order to reach God.
Kainchi Dham was one of the biggest reasons we traveled to India in the first place. However, we also wanted to visit some other places in the area that we felt drawn to as well, but the place we will describe now was actually added to our list of visits mostly because it was close to Nainital and we had some time left in our schedule. None of us knew much about the place or felt any special attraction towards it.
Just outside of Nainital is the first temple that Neem Karoli Baba established located, called Hanuman Gadh. We knew there were more temples than Kainchi Dham where Maharaj-ji and his followers used to stay at and felt that this place could be fun to visit when it was quite close to our hotel. We had no idea what it looked like since we had not seen any pictures of it or read much about it.
The temple does not look like much from the outside. You mostly see some walls and an entrance, but inside the temple you are met by an mesmerizing and beautiful environment. The first thing you encounter when you enter is a large majestic statue of Hanuman, the Indian monkey god that Maharaj-ji is closely associated to, a statue that instantly leads you a connection to the divine.
The temple was also much larger than we expected and is located beautifully up in the mountains overlooking the valley. As we walked around, we quickly fell into a quiet harmonious peace. The temple was a place far more beautiful than expected. It was love at first sight. We strolled around while our smiles grew by the minute. It was a place where Maharaj-ji’s presence was strong. A place we want to return to again. Hanuman Gadh surpassed all the expectations we had before the visit.
The most beautiful room in the temple is where Maharaj-ji’s image stands. A beautifully decorated room with pictures on Maharaj-ji along the walls and a statue of him at the front. The gate in to the room was closed, but one of the temple workers let us in and said that if we liked, we could sing some kirtan. We stepped in, showed our reverence for Maharaj-ji, and then sat down in front of the murti, the statue of Maharaj-ji. We meditated for a while and then sang Krishna Das’s prayer to his guru, the beautiful song “Om Namo Gurudev.” Time slowed down, love flowed into us, but most of all the feeling of gratefulness. After a while we bowed again for this big man and started our walk back to the hotel.
That same evening when we returned to the hotel we saw a beautiful display of fireworks over at Hanuman Gadh. It turned out they were celebrating Ram Dass’s birthday that just happened to meet the day of our visit. Suddenly it became very clear to us how important Ram Dass have been for the temples in the area and how revered he is by the people there. We felt a deep gratitude for Ram Dass for inderectly bringis us to this place. For him showing the way for so many of us. To Maharaj-ji, to God.
We also talk about Hanuman Gadh in Episode 15 of our podcast.