Retreats are a time for rejuvenation and cleansing in the presence of a Master. This year (2018), the Mohanji Foundation has organised many retreats in exotic power centres all over the world, just to give us an opportunity to be in the energy of our Guru, Mohanji. One such retreat happened in early April at Machu Picchu! Read on and delight in the vivid descriptions/experiences painted by some of our family members – Ketan Patel, Arvind, Geetha Vasudevan and Vidya Iyengar! Ketan Patel’s detailed travelogue and events in the retreat will have our hearts yearning for an opportunity for a similar experience.
A panoramic view
By Ketan Patel
As Mohanji says, Machu Picchu is a Shakti Centre. Couple of years back, a retreat in Machu Picchu was advertised by The Mohanji Foundation team but for some unknown reason, it was cancelled. Since then, I had a wish to go and visit Machu Picchu with Mohanji. I was lucky to grab that chance this year. My wife Manisha and I attended the Machu Picchu Retreat with Mohanji from 31st March – 6th April 2018. It was an experience of a lifetime. I have gone on numerous tours but this one was special.
From the time I commenced planning for the retreat, I faced a few hitches – which I thought was a test of my faith in Mohanji – I had to transfer funds in US dollars for the retreat. I went to my bank and did the needful. After a few days, I was told by the Peru team that the funds had been transferred in Swiss francs and not in dollars and that I was still short of 350 US dollars. I went back to the bank and told them about the issue. They said that it was not their fault and that they cannot do anything about it. I started praying to Mohanji to resolve this issue. I was kept waiting for almost half an hour after which to my surprise, the bank manager called me into her office and told me that as a special case, they would put the required funds into my account and would retransfer it without any additional charges. I had tears in my eyes while leaving the bank. I thanked Mohanji for taking care of my smallest wish. From then on, I knew instinctively that this retreat would be the best experience of my lifetime.
The day finally arrived when we started our travel to Cusco. We reached Cusco on 30th March 2018 and were greeted by Ananth and Rakshita from Australia, who were taking care of the whole retreat for Machu Picchu, making arrangements for our stay and looking after our minuscule needs.
Cusco is a beautiful city situated near the Urubamba Valley, near the Andes mountain range situated at about 3400m altitude. It was declared as a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1983. As advised, we had to get acclimatised to the low oxygen level which was not as difficult as it sounded. We had some cocoa tea and cocoa candies served by the hotel staff. After a day’s rest, we were fine and dandy. We explored the city on foot. The roads of Cusco are made of blocks as opposed to tar. The streets were full of colours of the Inca tradition. The shops displayed the goods made from Alpaca wool. The use of vibrant colours in their textiles showed similarities between the Indian and Inca cultures. After a stroll, we came back to the hotel.
The day finally dawned to welcome our beloved Father Mohanji and Devi Maa. A group had gone to the airport to receive Mohanji and we were waiting in the hotel courtyard to welcome Him with a diya for aarti. The tour operators had arranged an Inca style welcome for Father by calling a tribal head and his wife, accompanied by a small alpaca. Once Mohanji entered the hotel courtyard, He was seated surrounded by all the loving people of the retreat. We simply dissolved in HIS love trying to absorb His energy as much as we could. There were tears of gratitude among most devotees. Father interacted with each and every person, making them feel special. After having a lengthy talk with all, He retired to His room and we dispersed for dinner to be ready for our journey with Him the next morning.
A sightseeing tour was planned with Father and Devi Maa on foot through the vibrant Cusco city. The tour guide explained the minutest details of the Inca civilization – how they had built the city with special stones and the intricate architecture. The whole group enjoyed the nearness to Father, with special explanations from Him regarding many aspects of life. The calmness of the place which, according to Him was the result of the water body flowing underneath the ground, was seen everywhere. Even the street dogs were calm and did not bark. There were numerous churches around the city. We also visited a small museum which depicted the Inca life, their animals and their traditions. Around lunch time, we retired to our respective rooms. In the evening, a small satsang was planned with Father. As it was Haunman Jayanti on that day, Father recited The Hanuman Chalisa. We concluded with Mohanji Aarti and out of gratitude, one of the devotee sang a Guru bhajan for our beloved Father. Then the tour operator shared some information regarding our next leg of the journey which was a visit to The Sacred Valley of the Inkas and our two night stay at a very beautiful luxury wellness resort called Willka Tika.
Next day early in the morning, on 1st April 2018, we started our journey in two different buses to accommodate our big group. After travelling through the mountains, we descended from a higher altitude to a more comfortable one. The sight was amazing. It felt as though ‘Pachamama’ (mother earth) was welcoming us with her arms wide open. Our next destination was Awanakancha – the weaving centre. On the way to the weaving centre – where the traditional weaving techniques were displayed using basic tools and wooden looms – we saw four families of cameloid – alpacas, guanacos, llamas and vicunas. Alpacas have thick wool which is most commonly used, while the vicunas are small and delicate with fur considered the finest. We saw these four types of cameloids, learnt about the harvesting of the different wools and the natural dying techniques and had a chance to see native weavers from different areas showing their different weaving styles and dress. We also saw many different varieties of corn (purple, black, yellow to name a few) and also different varieties of potaotes (they harvest about 400 different potatoes in Peru). We took our time and enjoyed feeding the cameloid family and also visited the shop where they were selling all the products.
After our vist to the Awanakancha, we resumed our travel to Willka Tika Resort through a picturesque valley. On the way, we were taken to a sacred place of the Incas called Unu Urco or the watergate. It is a small confined place hidden between the mountains. Our tour guide Martin, who also happens to be a spiritual healer, explained to us the importance of the place. It was a snake like structure formed in the rock (though Father compared it to the yoni and kundalini shakti). Our group was given a special flora scented water to be rubbed on our hands and then smell it with eyes closed to feel the energy.
Later on, he called upon Father to put His head underneath the mouth of the snake and to make a wish. He then poured water from the top of the rock (which happens to be the tail of the snake). The water travelled through a channel that was carved into the rock (I am not sure if it was naturally made or made by the Incas). The idea was that the water flows from the mouth of the snake onto the crown chakra of whoever is kneeling underneath. Martin then invited each person in the group to follow the ritual. Everyone felt the energy, some of the devotees even cried their hearts out. Later on according to the Inca ritual, we were told to form a circle and hug each other. What an amazing experience it was! All our heart chakras were opened and the only emotion that was felt was that of love! When we were taking turns to finish the ceremony, Devi Maa and Father went into deep meditation to feel the surrounding energy. We then started the next leg of our journey and reached Willka Tika around lunch time. We were welcomed with tea made from herbs locally cultivated in Willka Tika gardens.
After a sumptuous lunch, we again resumed our journey towards Ollantaytambo Temple. Ollantaytambo is an Inca archeological site situated at an altitude of 2792m above sea level. Ollayntaytambo was the royal estate of The Emperor Pachacuti, well known for its urban planning and also for the religious, astronomical and military complex. It was remarkable to see how the Incas moved huge boulders from one mountain to the other across the valley and the river. The Incas built several storehouses on the hills surrounding Ollantaytambo. Because of the high altitude, these storehouses helped the Incas store their produce without fear of decay. The main function of this site was religious. The access to the main site was a series of stairways that go all the way to the top of the terrace complex. The main structure of the whole complex was the Sun Temple.
The group climbed to the top and felt the energy of the stones by touching them with their spines. Under our beloved Devi Maa’s guidance, it was decided to have a ten minutes meditation in the open space. We did the meditation under our Father’s observation. Doing meditation on the top of the hill, in the presence of Divine energy was really a wonderful experience. Everybody was in bliss and throbbing with energy to absorb more. After an exhausting day, we climbed down and boarded the buses back to our resort Willka Tika to rejuvenate for the next day’s journey.
On 2nd April 2018, early in the morning, we again boarded the buses to go to the Maras salt mines. Maras is a small town in the sacred valley of the Incas. The town is well known for its salt evaporation ponds. Incas obtained salt by evaporating the salty water that flows from a subterranean stream. The salty water emerges from a spring which is the natural outlet of the underground stream. The flow is then directed through small channels into small ponds constructed from mud. The flow of salty water is controlled by the workers into these small polygon shaped ponds. As the ponds are built on the slope of the hill, the water is gradually filled into the ponds by gravitational descent. Once the ponds are filled with salty water, the channels are closed so as to stop the water flow from the stream. As the water evaporates from these ponds, the salt is deposited on the pond surface. The workers then scrape up the salt thus formed from the pond surface and sides. After the collection of salt granules, again the channels are opened for the next harvest. There were some shops surrounding the path to the salt fields, to enable purchase of the different varieties of salt.
Our next destination was the Chinchero Village and the archeological site. Chinchero is an Andean village combining the Inca ruins with the colonial church and home to the famous peruvian weaving and colourful markets. It is on a high plain with sweeping views of snow laden peaks. The group took some beautiful pictures and collected some pleasing mementos.
Huaypo Lagoon was our next destination. Huaypo Lagoon is one of the most beautiful lagoons of the Sacred Valley. The neighbouring communities use the water to nurture their fields. The surrounding mountains and peaks are reflected in the lagoon water. When we reached the place, out of nowhere a dog came near the area where Father was seated. I told Father, “Look Father, one of your vedas has arrived!” A few minutes later, I saw three other dogs appear out of nowhere. Father smiled and said “Wherever I go, they tend to follow me.” Post lunch, a religious ceremony to Pachamama was arranged for us by our tour operators. One of the Andean priests was called upon to perform their sacred ceremony. This ceremony is recommended for those who have problems like sadness of heart, headaches, stress, any suffering, bad energies or spirits, or for those who just want to open their heart and connect to the higher consciousness.
The priest started the ceremony in his native language which was translated by our tour operators. The ceremony involved usage of cocoa leaves which is considered as an auspicious item for the ceremony. We were given three cocoa leaves each to hold and then asked to make a wish for ourselves or for the benefit of others or for the whole universe. After this, he did some chanting in his language, placing various items needed for the ceremony on a paper which was placed on the ground. When he was done with the preparations, he called Father to sit besides him and asked Father to blow on the leaves and give it to him. He then put the leaves on the paper. After completing the procedure with Father, he called upon each one of us in turn to sit in front of him and do the same procedure as was done with Father. Once his part was finished, Father went and sat on a chair nearby. When the priest started the ceremony, we heard the sound of lightning echoing in the mountains. The valley and the lagoon was surrounded with dark clouds and it was felt that anytime the rain would start. At that very moment, I was astonished to see Father commanding the clouds through hand gestures to move away from the ceremony place. Nature also respected Father by promptly obeying His command. One by one, each of us went to the priest and did our part of the ceremony. Towards the end, Father asked everybody to hurry. He told us that within fifteen minutes the rainfall would begin. Everybody moved quickly and settled inside the bus. As soon as we board the bus, the rain started. We discussed the beautiful moments spent with Father at the lagoon and during the cremony, on our way back to the resort.
After going to the resort, we were told about the Seven Chakra Gardens of the Willka Tika Resort. Everybody planned to get the tour from one of the guides of the resort. Each garden is associated with different chakras of our body. We started with the throat chakra or the Visuddhi chakra. This garden had a structure made in the form of ‘infinity’ symbol. With guidance from Devi Maa, we did the Hoom meditation in the throat chakra garden. After that we moved to the heart chakra or Anahata chakra garden. A beautiful divine chant was played – sung by Natesh for Mohanji – duing which many devotees started crying out of love for Father. The heart chakra was opening for everyone once again. What was experienced by each devotee was just pure love! The next garden was the third eye chakra or the Agnya chakra garden. The third eye chakra garden was made into circles starting from the smaller one in the centre surrounded by the bigger ones. All the devotees again under Devi Maa’s guidance did conscious walking in those circles. Moolaadhar Chakra garden was the next in line. The guide took us to the root chakra and asked us to pick three cocoa leaves each and pray with eyes closed. Later we kept the leaves wherever we liked on the ground. After the root chakra, we went to the Swadhisthan Chakra garden. The time was short, so we quickly went to the next garden – the solar plexus garden or the Manipura chakra garden. There were yellow flowers all over the garden symbolising the yellow colour of Manipuar chakra. As it was getting dark and it was time for our dinner, we quickly assembled in a circle inside the garden and once again some leaves were given to us. That brought us to the end of our journey of the seven chakra garden. The next day, we had to leave early for Machu Picchu by train so we dispersed and had our dinner and retired to our respective rooms to get a good sleep before our next journey.
On 3rd April 2018, we got up early and started our bus journey towards Ollantaytambo station. We had our tickets booked in Inca Rail. The rail sation was a sight that has to be seen to be believed. Surrounding the train station were the mountains partly covered in clouds. We were waiting to board the train. The tour operators had arranged the tickets for us. We had to travel light as there were luggage limitations on the train. About 8 kgs per person was allowed. So from the beginning of our train journey, we had shed our luggage, the physical as well as the mental! This was the actual start of our retreat to the great Macchu Picchu. The train soon left the Ollantaytambo station. We enjoyed the sights from the windows. The gushing river also seemed to accompany us from the start of our journey.
The landscapes were beautiful. The rocks in the river, the sound of the gushing water and the clouds that followed us shielding us from the sun, all appeared blissful. I have never ever enjoyed nature as much as I did in this whole journey. We were served Inca tea and light snacks on the train. Few devotees sang hymns of Soundarya Lahiri and Mahisasuramardini. The whole atomosphere was mesmerizing. Before we realized, the train entered the station at Aguas Calientes. We alighted from the train and started our journey on foot towards the Inca Terra Resort.
The Inca Terra resort is spread over 12 acres of land and is well known for its ecological tourism and has also been on the list of National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World. It is built on terraced hills, waterfalls, stone pathways and rooms which are placed in the midst of the forest area. The resort has vast lands of gorgeous natural beauty. This resort is known for its bird species viz. the golden-headed quetzal and the iconic Andean cock-of-the-rock. It also houses the world’s largest native orchid collection. There are special hotel guides who take you to the in-house excursions explaining the details of the flora & fauna. The vast restaurant windows had a spectacular view of the Vilcanota River surrounded by the clouded mountains.
On reaching the resort, we were ushered into the reception area. Later on, we were taken on a resort tour by the hotel guides. It was as if we were going on a jungle trip. The whole area was covered with large trees. We saw Andean cock-of-the-rock, the national bird of Peru. At various places, the bird feeders hung, filled with a mix of water and honey. The humming birds, in huge numbers, were seen feeding on it. The guide explained to us about the various orchids. We saw a minute orchid for which we needed a magnifying glass.
When everyone was done with the tour of the resort, we started our journey to the magnificent Machu Picchu. We had to take a bus to reach the base of Machu Picchu. Our lunch was planned at that base. After having lunch, we started on foot to climb to our long-awaited highpoint of the retreat. The awe inspiring ancient archeological site was built in the 15th century by the Incas. It was not known to the rest of the world until it was discovered by an American historian named Hiram Bingham, in the early 20th century. Macchu Picchu is renowned for the panoramic view and its stylish dry-stone walls constructed by fusing huge blocks without the use of mortar. It is also known as the Lost City of the Incas. UNESCO has declared it as a world heritage site. We climbed the stairs to get a feel of the energy of the site. Walking with Father on such a spiritual journey was exciting. Martin, our guide, explained the details of the place and how Incas had built the site. We saw Alpacas and Llamas on the hill. Normaly llamas do not come near humans. But when we were walking with Father, we saw two llamas walk towards Him and stand in front of Him. Father then caressed and blessed those souls. Even the llamas were enjoying the attention, standing calmly. Going further, we saw various structures made on the hill. Each stone has special energy. We enjoyed the beauty and felt the love of mother nature. We passed through the narrow gates and small paths, getting an explanation about each place from our guide. At one place we were handed cocoa leaves. Each one of us held the leaves to our heart and made a wish. Later we were told to put them on the ground wherever we felt was right. Then, we reached a small room type structure with an open roof. Father asked us all to stand with our spines touching the stone and do a small meditation while standing. What an intense meditation it was! We felt our heart chakra expanding. Everyone was filled with love. We sent our love to the nature and the universe. The day had come to an end. Soon, we went back to the base station and boarded our bus back to the hotel.
Next morning on April 4th 2018, we started our climb again from the base station. Enjoying the beauty and listening to Father, we climbed the steps – an inclined area. Everyone was breathing heavily to balance the steep climb. All of a sudden, I saw Father trip over a couple of steps and quickly balance Himself so as to avoid a fall. I saw that He hurt His left leg below the knee area. He was quickly on the move again. Later on, He told us that He had taken a fall for Deva and some other devotees on Himself! He makes sure that when you are with Him, you are His responsibility! We then reached a place where there were two different paths to tread – one going towards the Sungate and the other towards the Inca bridge. We had to make a decision as to which path to follow, as both paths were not possible to be explored in the limited time that we had. One group decided to take a higher trek called the Sungate. The rest of us remained with Father at that junction to be in His physical presence. Each of us who remained with Father went to a separate space and did our meditation. Doing meditation in the presence of mother nature was really something which I will always remember. The connection was perfect in the serene atmosphere. When we were done with our meditation, we sat near Father and got answers to our questions. It was almost like an open satsang. Later on we went back to board the bus back to our hotel in time to catch our train back to Ollantaytambo. It was going to be an extended journey, as after the train journey we had to take a bus once again back to Cusco. Our retreat was coming to an end. Next day, on 5th April 2018, ACT USA had organized food seva in Peru and in the evening a small satsang was planned at Ayni centre which was hosted by a group of local Peruvian people. A brief intorduction about Mohanji was given by Devi Maa. Father gave an indepth talk on different aspects of spirituality. Later on, there was a round of questions and answers by the participants. The satsang was followed by an intense Shaktipat. In the past, I have taken Shaktipat from Father several times but this one was special, so intense, so full of energy and full of love. The tears of gratitude were flowing from each devotee. Later in the evening we went back to our hotel to end our beautiful spiritual retreat with the Divine!
To conclude this experience, I just want to say that I am extremely happy to have been a part of the first batch who took part in the Machu Picchu Retreat with Mohanji. There will be many more to come in the future. The only thing that I can say is that please make an effort to go to Machu Picchu with Father and leave the rest to Him. I can assure you that the Machu Picchu retreat will be the best time of your spiritual journey where you will have peace, bliss, calmness and connection with mother nature!
An empty cup
I had very little expectation when I impulsively signed up last December for the Machu Picchu trip in April 2018 with Mohanji. All indications and signs came to me quickly within a span of days/weeks: learning about Machu Picchu as an energy centre from multiple independent sources (including an article that mentioned Ramana Maharishi’s prediction about a Shakti energy centre in this part of the world), peaking interest in this place in general, and finally hearing from my cousin about this trip in the presence of a Master. As a lifelong spiritual seeker, I wanted to experience what it’d be like to travel with a Master though I’m not much of a group traveller. I wasn’t sure if I was open enough to fit in with a group of random strangers (the amazing group of lovely people I encountered in this one-week journey made it super easy), and whether this trip itself would be meaningful in some way – beyond a tourist dimension (it absolutely was). There was something magical about Machu Picchu itself (which is why millions flock to it every year without completely understanding why) – it almost looks like the out-of-the-world Pandora from the Avatar movie. But experiencing it in the presence of a Master is something else altogether. If you are finely tuned in to yourself, you’ll absolutely see subtle changes in yourself lasting for days and weeks (so far) after the trip that I can only label as serious progress. No details can do justice, as some of these are so intensely personal that one has to experience it themselves. The trip itself was amazingly well organized by the volunteers of Mohanji Foundation (thanks Rakshita, Ananth, Mahesh and others!) with every part of the itinerary well-choreographed, with radiant local tour guides who felt like they were an integral part of the group and not paid outsiders. I’d highly recommend this trip to both the casual or an intense seeker, and experience the presence of a true Master that goes by the name of Mohanji in our times, who can guide you as long as you approach Him with a relatively empty ‘cup’ :-).
Purpose of Life
By Geetha Vasudevan
First, I would like to thank Mohanji for accepting my application to travel with Him and the team! I applied at the last hour and all things related to travel fell in place. He willed it and it happened! I would also like to thank the organizing committee for a fabulous job in coordinating the entire trip.
It was heart-warming to see fellow spiritual seekers who had a common goal in mind and that was to experience the divinity within, in that atmosphere of serene beauty amidst the magnificent mountain ranges.
The chanting at the enchanting chakra garden followed by the hike and satsang at the mountain top in Machu Picchu promoted peace within and outside. The local ceremony invoking the nature God, stood testimony in the presence of Mohanji!
I am thankful to Mohanji for allowing me to try out my culinary skills at the Inca kitchen and the cooks were very friendly, earthy and welcoming.
I was able to interact with Him for a while on this spiritual journey and received clarity on the purpose of life. He addressed the “purpose of life” and “Turium” in a public satsang which I was able to connect to. I was moved by His kind gesture to give “Shaktipat” to me and felt enormously blessed to be in the presence of such divine beings.
Jai Sai Ram and Jai Mohanji!
The Master knows!
By Vidya Iyengar
Jai Shri Mohanji!
I never thought even in my wildest dreams that I would visit Machu Picchu with Mohanji. I was the last person in the group to book my tickets after making the decision to go to Machu Picchu. In fact it so happened that on the day before I had to travel, I was under tremendous stress. There was this huge inertia to travel. I was reluctant to leave my kids because my husband was also going through some personal crisis regarding his career at that point. He was not happy that I was going. So that day, I almost cried in front of Mohanji’s picture and said, “I do not want to come!”
Fast forward, I reached Peru. On reaching the hotel, I saw Mohanji talking to our Machu Picchu group who had already arrived there. I was so happy to see Him. I took my paadnamaskar (prostrated at His feet) and gave my passport to the hotel management to check into my room. Soon, one of the staff members came and conveyed that my passport was not stamped at the Peru Airport. I was totally taken aback! I remembered that at the customs counter, the guy checked my passport and documents, but I couldn’t remember if he had stamped it.
With that incident, Mohanji started making fun of me all the time asking, “How is your passport?” That evening, we had a beautiful satsang with Mohanji. He chanted the Hanuman Chalisa with us and that brought out goose bumps and a lot of tears among all present there. At the end of the satsang, when I went to touch His feet again, He teased me again about the passport 🙂 and then in a very different tone added, “YOU DID NOT WANT TO COME!”
I instantly realized, this was the answer to the request I made before starting my journey in front of His picture in my house:)…Lesson learnt: Always be careful of what you ask and be careful of what you think before going on such pious pilgrimages. Of course, as I had full faith in Mohanji, there was no problem returning to my country.
All my thoughts, questions, and prayers were answered on this trip. It was an amazingly beautiful experience. The whole trip was organised very well; food, hotel stay, and transportation. After returning from this trip, so much is yet to sync internally. To analyse everything from the trip is very difficult. All that I would like to convey is that my heart is filled with gratitude and love towards our beloved Guru Mohanji and towards all the people around me. I convey my soulful gratitude towards everything and everyone 🙂
Through the eyes of the participants of the Machu Picchu retreat, the importance of a retreat with a living Master is highlighted. Each retreat is unique and what we receive from Mohanji cannot be described but only experienced!
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