By Ruchika Gandhi
Kumbh Mela 2019!!
Little did I know about this auspicious event earlier! Heard its reference, when I had a chance to visit Badrinath in 2018, one of the most special pilgrimages I have ever done so far. The year 2018 had been the toughest phase of my life physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually too. I went through multiple health issues with extreme pain all over my body, no energy and no strength, along with deep depression. All this went on for many, many months. With so many health issues, I didn’t want to spoil the pilgrimage for others. So I was doubtful about making the trip to Badrinath. Hence I asked my sister to check if it was advisable to travel with this health condition up the hills and back last year. Mohanji answered to the call – “Let her come.” I just surrendered to the command completely and left for the pilgrimage. I felt that He knows what is best for me. That trip had been just overwhelming for me at all levels. No words can describe what it means to me and how it has changed me. I have got a new lease of life. It’s the same body but with new life. Master’s grace flows unconditionally, and this life is now for a higher purpose – to serve my beloved Master and His creation selflessly.
Visiting Kumbh had been a wish sitting inside me somewhere. Although I was not aware of its significance, I only knew that this was something big and special. My family left for Benaras (a divine abode) on Jan 11th 2019. My family had been to this holy city earlier but I missed the chance then. I heard about the city’s tales and impressions from my sister and mother and realised that I had missed something great owing to my health conditions. I never thought that Kumbh would happen so soon, that too in this lifetime itself. It was made possible only through Mohanji’s grace. Bags were packed and we were ready to board the flight at 8:00am. As soon as we landed and packed ourselves into a private taxi, we got to meet an amazing driver who narrated the significance of Kashi, Sarnath, Bhairav and Sankat Mochan (Hindu temples). While driving, he started to chant some mantras and I could resonate with those chants, although I did not know the literal meaning. I felt some connection with those strange mantras. The kind driver offered to take us to all the temples and try to cover as much as possible in one day. He didn’t care for anything, either food or his old age, but was totally committed. The first spot we visited was the Statue of the Standing Buddha in Sarnath in a beautiful garden.
Soon, we moved out of the garden and stood near a nariyal paani (coconut water) cart. I was busy looking at the small stalls all around while everyone else had their nariyal pani. Once they were done, I was offered one. While I was drinking, I noticed an old lady in tattered clothes along with her potli (a small pouch) near us. When I offered a tender coconut to her, I was told that she had been offered it already. When I asked the old woman if she would like to have some sugarcane juice, she spontaneously agreed with a smile. She took out the glass from her potli, filled it with what the vendor gave her and drank it gradually. We moved ahead and started walking. But I felt something inside and I turned to offer my pranaams to her. From a distance, she smiled and did pranaams too. In my heart I felt she was Mother Divine (Tara Maa) who had come in this form to bless us. It was a touching moment for me!
From there, we moved on to Sarnath temple, known as Lord Buddha’s abode (Vishnu Avatar), a sacred place where Lord Buddha’s ashes are kept. My sister Pooja asked the priest to bless the entire Gandhi family & Keta Shah family with those ashes. The priest humbly agreed and ashes were touched on our heads with some mantras. What a blessing it was! It was not part of our itinerary at all.
After a little break at the hotel, and lunch at 5:00pm, we moved on to have darshan of Lord Shiva at Kashi Vishwanath temple. The city was bustling with people everywhere as millions were visiting the place for the Kumbh. There were long queues to the main temple, but our driver made us stop in between, at a shop where we left our shoes and bags and we were advised to take care of our purses etc. Two people escorted us to the inside of the temple and we had a quick darshan amidst the crowd. In a split second, we were in and out of the temple. I felt I didn’t have proper darshan although I poured jal (water) on the Shivalinga. As we were moving out, we got to bow down peacefully at other deities of Ma Annapurna and Lord Hanuman. By the end of it, we were all tired physically as it was a long day. We had left Delhi at 6:30am and finally reached the hotel by 11:00pm. The driver was kind enough to take us to a place for a simple meal.
We decided to leave early the next day to avoid the crowd and long queues. Feeding animals, such as dogs, cows and birds is something that I love to do. At the back of my mind, this thought always lingers and I keep looking for an opportunity to feed them. I was thinking whether this would be possible during this trip.
The hotel arranged for two autos for Bhairav Nath temple the next morning (Jan 12th) and in 15 minutes we reached the temple. As we moved closer to the temple to buy a basket of flowers and oil, deep peace and calmness dawned on me. The Mohanji Gayatri and Om Sairam were playing continuously in my mind. I stepped into the temple and had a beautiful darshan. I felt something familiar stirring within, looking at the big eyes of Lord Bhairav Nath and other deities inside the temple. As we came out to return the empty basket, I noticed 3-4 dogs were wandering near the sweet shop. I think my Master heard my inner voice. But this time, it was unique as not only I but my sisters (including Keta Shah) also joined me in feeding the dogs. I felt so happy. I know it is all His doing; we are just mere instruments through whom the seva happens. This journey had one thing common from beginning to end – feeding dogs. It was a delight to find them and serve them with milk.
The next stop was at the Sankat Mochan (Hanumanji) temple. It is said that Hanumanji was seen on a tree here by a gardener. The beautiful idol inside the temple emerged on its own, not created by human beings. While we were in an auto rickshaw, my sister mentioned that Lahiri Mahasaya had lived in Benaras and we were hoping for a chance to visit the Master’s holy place that day. Miracle! Suddenly on the way, we found a big sign board with the name Lahiri Mahasaya Lane. It was a narrow lane; we were not sure how to locate the house. We just kept walking down the narrow lane. A Hanumanji temple was seen while we were searching for the house. I prayed deeply within for a clue to guide us to our beloved Master’s home when we came upon a man cleaning the surroundings. When we asked him about Lahiri Mahasaya’s home, he promptly replied that it was close by and offered to take us. God had sent us a guide! The great Master’s house remains locked throughout the year and it’s only opened on the auspicious Guru Purnima day. We bowed down in front of the door in deep reverence and gratefulness. We meditated there for a while and chanted. Our hearts were filled with utter joy and bliss.
Then our autos moved towards Sankat Mochan temple. We had a beautiful darshan of Hanumanji there. I prostrated on behalf of our beloved Deva Mohanji first and thanked Hanumanji for making us visit the temple. I prayed silently from within. A silent monkey was seen on top of the roof all alone, I went closer and offered a banana. He happily came down to take it. After the darshan, we fed more monkeys there in the temple premises. The whole environment was serene and blissful. Right opposite the Sankat Mochan temple, there was a Ram, Sita & Laxman temple where devotees were chanting. We joined in too.
Finally our drive to Allahabad began the next day (Jan 13th). Priti Rupee joined us at the hotel and we had to pick up Madhusudan from the airport. We all moved together in two different cars. The journey was tedious as it took us 5-6 hours to reach the city. The whole road was choked to the brim and the driver smartly drove through narrow lanes and inside the villages to reach the main road. The main road was jam packed too with big trucks, with no breathing space. The driver continued on and after few hours we reached a clear road with no congestion.
We finally arrived at the Kumbh! We were dropped off at the site where the structure was set up. It was so huge. Sitting inside the car, moving my head from left to right, I could feel the vastness of the set up and had a panaromic view of the whole architecture around it. My sister and mother mentioned that it was a barren land earlier and now it was a whole bustling city. Private vehicles were not allowed to go inside the Kumbh area, so we were dropped off at a point with our bags. I took my mom and aunty (Keta Shah’s mother) in a battery rickshaw, while all other members walked. Finally on locating the right spot, I got down and walked ahead to find Parmarth Niketan camp.
We had imagined a temporary set up with basic tents and amenities. But when we arrived, we were surprised to see the separate temporary quarters set up with all the basic facilities in place. Everyone settled in gradually into their rooms. Winter was at its peak there. I was eagerly looking forward to meeting our beloved Father Mohanji the next day. I woke up early (4:30am), completed Mai- Tri Healing chanting and meditated. I had a bath and breakfast and waited for instructions.
Finally we got to meet Mohanji! To be in the physical presence of a Master of His stature is a big blessing. He shared the holiness and significance of the Kumbh and said that without the blessings of our ancestors and Gods, and Guru’s grace, it won’t be possible for us to be there. He stressed a lot on ancestors’ blessings and their role. As Mohanji spoke to us, I felt each word entering into my being one by one, as if my soul had received something it had desired for many lifetimes.
I felt a deep peace and calmness all over again. Next morning (Jan 14th), we all got ready to visit the Hanumanji temple. The boat ride to the other side of the shore was amazing and soothing. I enjoyed feeding the birds on the way. The temple was crowded, but we still managed to have a beautiful darshan (here Hanumanji can be seen lying down in a resting position).
I got a chance to spend some moments with Dr. Wasir and got to hear about his Kailash pilgrimage experience. “Have no expectations while going there and no expectations after coming back” were his words. “You will experience a state of inner silence, no thoughts.” These words were powerful enough for anyone to realise the importance of this pilgrimage. Be in a state of total surrender and let the Master take charge of you.
I knew that my menses would start any time soon, which meant no dip in the holy sangam of the three rivers – Ganga, Yamuna & Saraswati. I surrendered completely at Mohanji’s lotus feet. The day for the dip arrived and I was down with my periods. Due to the extreme cold, I would wake up early and before sleeping I used to pray to enable me to wake up during the Brahma Muhurat (3-6am). I didn’t want to lose this precious time and space for chanting and meditation. Early hours were peaceful for both these things and I enjoyed doing it.
We all followed Mohanji for Shahi Snan day, attended the homa before the snan (dip) wherein Swami Chidanandji also joined us. The group chanting of Maha Mrityunja Mantra at the holy homa was sacred and divine. We took the blessings of the Lords and moved ahead for the holy snan in the boats.
Pilgrims participated in river cleaning before boarding the boats, a beautiful way to thank our beloved rivers for flowing seamlessly. The beauty of the scared rivers was felt strongly as millions took dips on the first day itself. From a distance, Keta Shah and I were watching Mohanji entering the sangam (where the 3 sacred rivers meet), bowing to them, to the sun and finally dipping into the rivers with a big smile. Wow! What a blessing to be a part of this divine sight. One by one, the other pilgrims also took dips.
Beautiful Abhishekam was done by all, by pouring the sacred river water on Mohanji and Mohanji did the same for each pilgrim. A sight to behold!! While all this was happening, I could feel the presence of a beautiful energy and of divine beings and ancestors, as if blessings were being showered upon all of us. Tears flowed and I wanted to just sink into this moment forever. As I closed my eyes, I felt as if it was Lord Shiva’s Abhishekam taking place.
It was touching to take a special dip in the boat itself (Mohanji’s drenched dhoti was rinsed on me and Keta Shah). It was a magical moment, totally out of the blue! A special blessing on us! I poured a little water on myself – in my name, that of my ancestors, Masters & Sai Deva. Words fall short to express the gratitude for such a blissful moment.
With cold waves and very little sun, it was a sight to see everyone drenched in their wet clothes, shivering but happy and filled with gratitude, peace and bliss. We all headed back to the ashram immediately after the snan.
Afternoon was well spent under the sun, remembering those moments and waiting for the next meeting with Mohanji. I was joined by Reena Di in the afternoon and we decided to do food seva. Without any hassles, food was arranged from outside the camp, through local vendors. We fed a cow and a few people with bread, pakoras and poori, choley. Tranquility and deep joy was felt, as the seva was happening through us. No wish was left unfulfilled on this holy land. All thoughts were heard and our Master was taking care of everything.
On Shahi Snan day, Mohanji had sprained His back. So we were asked to attend the Ganga aarati and satsang. After a satvic dinner, I was still hopeful of some news about Mohanji and for His darshan. Opportunity opened again and Mohanji gave us darshan despite being in deep pain (Mohanji explained that He took over the karma of someone who met with a severe car accident, and had responded to a child’s prayer). Mohanji is omnipresent, working for many in different dimensions. This is our beloved Master, filled with unconditional grace, love, peace and humility. Physical pain will not deter Him from answering any seeker’s prayers, meetings or spending time with true seekers. Mohanji operates from higher energy levels; He doesn’t need a physical body to talk to us. Connecting to His consciousness will open the gates to higher realms and eventual dissolution.
We could spend hours with Mohanji, but He was in deep pain. At the back of my mind, I had a wish somewhere to be able to serve my Master by pressing His feet. I had a chance to do this earlier in Badrinath. As the group settled into Mohanji‘s room and I got to sit next to His feet, I started massaging Mohanji’s feet and legs. I felt as if I was melting in His unconditional love, purity and vastness. It was another wish heard and fulfilled J. Out of pure love and purity in my heart, this was a little wish I had, for which my Master blessed me unconditionally and allowed it to happen during the satsang.
In my heart I know, to serve the Master is to serve creation in any form, in any capacity. Surrender fully at the Master’s lotus feet. He will take care of everything. You just keep walking, and leave the rest in the Master’s hand. It feels like I am truly living now and having a meaningful existence with complete acceptance and reverence! Gratitude at your lotus feet Mohanji…. Lots of love and only love.
It is not just about meditations…. It is not just about satsangs…. It is just about being in the moment and accepting and experiencing the way life happens. Thinking of the Master night and day and surrendering with utter devotion, love, faith and patience has become a way of life now.
Deep Love & Gratitude to Mohanji!
Thank you Madhu, Preeti Di & Rajesh for being around and taking care of everyone…
||JAI BRAHMARISHI MOHANJI||
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