24 Apr 2014

Inauguration of the Rama Temple in Riga, Latvia

On the 13th of April Sri Swami Vishwananda went to Riga to do the ceremonies for the new Rama Temple there. We got the following report from Kantishwari:

Satchidananda Vigraha Sri Ramachandra Temple in Riga, Latvia
Rama returns to Ayodha and to Riga 
It all started we don’t know exactly when and how... what we know is a dream, which Triyambakeshwari had two years ago. She told our Swami Vishwasharadaananda that she saw a dream, where she was helping to build a Rama Temple in Latvia. After some time Guruji told our Swami that the Temple in Latvia we bear in mind should be for Rama.

Murtis of Sita, Ram, Lakshman and Hanuman for the Temple which were bought in Chennai during pilgrimage with Guruji in November 2013 are made of 5 metals (Pancha Tattva). They are breathtakingly beautiful and we couldn’t wait to see them in real life. We had to be patient though as the first time we would see them would be on Ram Navami.
During Christmas celebrations in Shree Peetha Nilaya we had a brief conversation with Guruji in entrance hall. He asked: "I heard that you are having a Rama temple in Riga.” We took a chance to ask Guruji to come to inaugurate the Temple and adding that we miss Him very much. He looked like He wasn’t going to come but then smiled His beautiful smile and said in a rush: "We’ll see, but only for one day.” This sounded like a promise and we were happy. 
After Mahashivaratri celebrations, as we were heading to the airport, Swami Vishwasharadaananda told us the good news that Guruji indeed promised to come some time in April for one day to inaugurate the Temple. We had just over a month to make a proper Hindu Temple. 
Swami Vishwasharadaananda had a vision of something like that when giving instructions about decorations
At that moment we only had our BM Center and sketch of mulasthan (altar) made by Pankajaananda and approved by Guruji. 
Sketch by Pankajaananda! Seeing it, we all were mesmerized by the beauty-to-come-alive
It all had to become a temple. We weren’t even sure where it will be. Will we transform our Bhakti Marga center into the Temple? Or will we look for a new place? SO many things had to be done. You can imagine! But the best in this all was the notion that we are just instruments. We are serving our Guru and He will take care of everything, as He already knows all: where the Temple will be, how it will look like etc. We just had to attune to Him and let Him guide us, and feel the bliss of being His hands and in His hands. 
In process...
We started our preparations. Our Bhakti Marga Center changed, expanded; all Prabhus and Matajis were involved in the process. While Prabhus were doing construction works, Inga was learning and teaching us Rama Bhajans; Hemangi was sewing curtains and dresses for the deities; Anete and Janis (Prabhus were helping also Matajis and vice versa) in London (thank you, devotees from BM UK, for helping Anete and Janis and us) were buying decorations and jewelry for Deities; Prebhavani and Tamarija were responsible for Prasad; Ousha was involved in everything else concerning the Temple; Swami Vishwasharadananda was the heart of everything, coordinating it all including doing Kalash Pujas on Saturdays and Sundays.
Two weeks before the event on Guru’s Thursday we finally got the date – 13th of April!!! Sunday between Ram Navami and Hanuman Jayanti. Sunday which we usually celebrate with longer bhajan singing after morning prayers, as it is Ram’s day. How cool is that!? 
SVSharadaananda writes in our FB Bhakti Marga Latvia group: Jai Gurudev! No, not like this. Jai Gurudev!))))))) Even like this JAI GURUDEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEV! )))))))))))))))))))))))) guess what news I have!))))

The last two weeks passed in a whirlpool. Week before the event Guruji told that He will also give a Satsang. So we had to split into two teams,- one was responsible for the Temple; another for the Satsang, for which we rented another, more spacious place. Up to now we had not publicly announced about inauguration of our Temple, as we calculated that only some 50 people would be able to comfortably sit, sing and dance in the hall. Now with a Satsang we had to go public, wanting more people to be able to receive Guruji’s blessing. Accordingly we chose to do like in SPN – two shifts for the inauguration ceremony.
Ram Navami was so magnificent here with us. It was felt that auspicious moment of opening is coming soon.
On Wednesday Swami Vishwakeshavaananda came from SPN to help uz with the final preparations for the Temple, to check if everything is ok, and if we have everything neccessary for pujas etc. These were the last days before The Event... Every night we were staying late in the Temple, singing, learning, decorating, cleaning, planning the organization of both events.


For example, on Friday night we realized that we will have to sing Ram Aarati which we don’t know yet, so Inga cancelled her late night studio work and two of us were trying to learn the song. At one point we felt like we won´t be able to learn it properly but we had the very rare opportunity to talk to Swami Keshava who was extremely supportive. In SPN you can only see him in the temple, if you go to sing the mantra in the evening. Then he is singing with you while preparing everything for putting Deities to sleep. And that’s it. But here he sat with us, played songs from his phone, sang and played on harmonium, joked, told us about Ram and was so very calm and loving! Those few of us who experienced this blessing, felt very lucky and happy. 
On Friday and Saturday we were happy to welcome our brothers and sisters from neighboring Russia and Belarussia, everybody got a seva job, helped a lot and could feel part of Rama’s servants. Thanks to all of you for that. 
On Sunday at 1:00 PM the inauguration of the Temple started. 
Guruji’s plane landed at 1:30 PM. He was welcomed by Satsang team at the airport, while Temple team was already starting the celebrations and waiting anxiously for Guruji(/Ram) to appear.
As Guruji arrived in the building, we sang Narayana bhajan for 20 minutes until finally He came inside the main Temple hall. This moment was completely surreal. Our center had changed so much, becoming the Temple - decorated in garlands, flowers everywhere, 4 Divine forms on the altar surrounded by palm trees and orange orchids, the place packed with people, some of us sitting as singers (trained only for month). And then came in Guruji- in His orange robe, in padukas which were offered by entering into the Temple, with His black woven hair (so "Ram").... For a while He seriously examined the altar...

Padukas from wood with Carved OM signs, Lotuses and Shankhas handmade by devotee Ivo

After that He gave a little speech:
"Rama stands for dharma, righteousness. He was a righteous king and He was just. He was compassionate. The Name Ram consists of two syllables: Ra stands for Narayana and Am stands for Shiva. So Ram Nam stands for this unity. When Lord Rama had to cross over to Lanka (nowadays Sri Lanka), He did His penance to Shiva showing that Lord loves His bhakta, His devotee and that they go together.

The Lord can’t be a Lord without a devotee and devotee can’t be a devotee without God. And this is the eternal connection that one has. Firstly to the Guru. And the Guru will lead the way to Lord until you have the realization of knowing that there is no difference between Guru and Lord. The Guru is the personification of the Lord Himself guiding you.

So Rama stands for that dharma. Dharma for unifying. As a King, Rama was unifying. And whenever we sing the name of Ram, it is unifying our mind (Shiva Tattva) with heart (Vishnu Tattva). Until one has not overcome the mind, as the Gita said, one can’t move on a spiritual path - when one’s mind is still attached to the outside world. Only when the mind is unified with the heart, one can see. Then only, the Lord can reveal Himself - when you move away from this.

Knowledge is also very important – to understand. As Krishna said: "No Veda, no scriptures can lead you there. Only when you drop deep inside your heart with a help of a Guru, with a help of the Master.” That is called Guru Kripa – the grace of the Master - which will reveal the grace of God. You are blessed to have Lord Rama coming to your city and to your country. Serve Him! Surely He will awake this love inside of you! Jai Gurudev!”
After this beautiful speech, Guruji continued with ceremonies and we sang the name of Rama, unifying our mind with our heart. Guruji was lovingly guiding us, showing us what to do and when, correcting when we did something inaccurately. He was Love incarnate. He was Ram.
At one point He explained that now He will perform the Prana Pratishta ceremony – infusing Prana into statues, so they become Rama, Sita, Lakshman and Hanumanji Themselves. It was so very beautiful! Guruji was chanting mantras and Swami Vishwakeshavaananda was touching with the yagna the related parts of murtis. 


"I just finished the Prana Pratishta ceremony – infusing of the life force into the Deity, so now I will venerate different parts of Lord Rama, touching each part with the yagna, infusing the shakti into the Deity itself. Otherwise it is just a statue. So what makes it a Deity is Prana Pratishta. Prana Pratishta is a prayer where you call Lord Rama to install Himself into the statue in order for it to become a Deity. It becomes alive. They say that people who consider that statue is just a statue are fools - ignorant. The statue is not just a statue, it is the Deity Itself - Rama Himself. When we do Puja, the Yagna, it is Ram Himself here and Sita Devi and Lakshman and Hanumanji.”



Guruji asked us to sing the Narayana bhajan which we were singing, inviting Him to come. It was a magical moment. We were inviting Ram, but in our hearts it was all together - Narayana, Rama and most of all our beloved Gurudev which we were calling to come and stay with us, so we can eternally serve Him.

Soon after this we were singing Arati and it all went well. ;) 



We have been waiting for the moment when Guruji will give the name of the Temple and finally He announced: 


"This Temple will be known as Satchidananda Vigraha Ramachandra Temple, meaning Eternal Bliss.”
Guruji then gave the final speech after which it was possible to approach Deities and have a Darshan and also Prasad from the hands of Guruji. 

"All of you have the grace of having Ramachandra here and also the blissful one, who spreads the message and Love... His love on all of you so that you fullfil your life’s purpose. And whatever you wish through His grace you may achieve.

But the most important thing in life is to attain Him. Don’t dance in Maya! Everything around is Maya!

Yesterday I was listening to one verse of Surdas’ poem. One part said - "People say to love this and love that, to love the world to have this and that. What is the use of all that if everything is You, if I just love you and you fulfill my life’s purpose."

So like Surdasji said – to love God is the ultimate. To attain Him - to receive His grace - is your duty. That’s the dharma. That’s why you incarnate on Earth. And it is lucky to know about it, because after so many lives, you get the grace of knowing Him, serving Him. That’s not something like, "Ah, I am born on Earth directly. I jump and become Vaishnava, I jump and become spiritual". No, it’s not like that. It is many lives of service to Lord, many lives you have polished.

Like when you find gold deep down from the earth, you can’t make jewelry directly out of it. At first, you have to purify it. And gold goes through many fires, until it becomes the beautiful jewelry like you are wearing. Like that, your soul also has gone through many lives of purification. Until you receive the grace of knowing the Lord, serving Him, loving Him. Because in His love there is no limit.

Everybody can love Him the way they want. He doesn’t say: You can love me only one way. No. You can love him as a child, as lover, as a father. This is up to you. This is your choice. You can have your personal relationship with Him. This is not something as - "God is there and I am here". No! He is seated inside your heart and He is calling. Love Him the way you want and He will come to you accordingly.

Surdas Ji was blind, but every day, when the priest would dress the Deity in the Temple, he would sing the Glory as if he was seeing the Lord with his eyes, like other people see. He would describe in great detail each jewelry which the Deity was wearing and people would ask – how come he knows it!? He must be lying, he is telling everybody that he is blind, so people would pity him, but in reality he can see. So they wanted to test him.

One fine day the pujari of the temple didn’t dress Krishna, he left Him naked. They wanted to see the reaction of Surdas. He didn’t tell him nothing and everybody was waiting. The Pujari said to the people: It’s time now, soon the temple will be open. At that moment Surdas exclaimed, "Oh My Lord, they forgot to dress you! You are naked, but in even your nakedness you are the most beautiful."

So then they knew seeing that nothing is open yet, that Surdas is revealing the truth. He saw not with his physical eyes, but with his inner eyes. He saw inside the temple. Like that many people have eyes, but yet they don’t see.

Even Christ said it so many times: "If you have eyes, you will see." But yet people don’t realize that. When you look with your heart, you see everything more clearly then with your physical eyes. And that's what the Lord said in Gita: "See me in everything, see me in whatever you do and you shall attain me". He said it to Arjun: "It’s not about the food what you eat, it’s not about what you do. But it’s about how you do it. With what intention you do it." It’s very important.

He didn’t say not to do your duty. He said, "Firstly you have to do your duty - your dharma is very important - but don’t hang on the fruit of your actions. Don’t hang on the glory which comes with it, because it’s all your downfall."

So Ramachandra Bhagavan – you know His life story. I don’t have much time now to tell it, but He was sent for 14 years into exile. He was a son of king Dasharath and yet He was sent into exile, where His wife was kidnapped. He shows that even if the Lord incarnates, sometimes He has to play certain role, to show the dharma of life, to show the duty. With how much dedication we are serving Him? With how much dedication are we living our life? So through Sri Ram and Sita Devi’s grace and blessing, may you achieve also the state of surrendering to the Lotus Feet of the Lord and attaining His Grace. Jai Gurudev!” 
At that point most of us left for the other part of the event – for Satsang, as it was already 6:00 PM and Satsang was starting at 7:00 PM and we had to welcome guests.

21 Apr 2014

Christ is Risen!


...Truly He is risen!"

This was called many many times in the Great Easter Night - in several languages but mostly in Greek: 

"Christos Anesti!"  and than the answer: "Alithos Anesti!"



Here follows an excerpt from Swami Vishwananda's Easter speech: 

"Christ has risen to show that deep inside of everybody, one can rise. One can rise and find the Divine! Through his grace, through the grace of God, the grace of a Master it is possible! 
One just needs to say: 'Lord in Thy hand I commit my spirit. In Thy hand I give my hand.' When you give your hand into the hand of the master, into the hand of God you just need to trust. Trust that God will guide you to where you have to be. Trust that the Master will guide you where you must be. Because nothing what happens doesn't happen by the will of God!
God says: 'Come, I will give you that Love, I will show you that you are not just a mere human being. You are more than that, you have the Love of God inside of you. You have me inside of you. 

But for that you have to change your mind. You have to change the way you think. With the mind you are limited. Let the wisdom of God take control of you!

Happy Resurrection! 

You see: When Christ resurrects He resurrects in the heart of everybody! You are all resurrected with Christ because you are One with Him. So awake, let the spirit of God inside of you awake. So let Christ guide you, let the Master guide you, so that you can be in the Glory of God, that you can be in the Love of God. That you can shine!" 

Christos anesti ek nekron
Thanato Thanathon patisas
Kai tis en tis mnimasi 
Zo-in charisamenos!
(Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs, bestowing Life!)



After everything, there was a special tasty Easter Lunch and Swamiji joined us in the big dining hall.


All the Deacons, Singers and Priests where sitting with him on a huge long table and we all had a lot of fun listening to "Swami Pepe's" story about Krishna and his flute, and other stories in Krishna's life (you may wonder, why stories of Krishna on Easter Sunday, but when one looks deeper, one finds the same essence in the life of Krishna and Christ(na)).



19 Apr 2014

Easter 2014 - The First Days



Over the easter feast days we have a lot of prayers in our church - here is the timetable for the 2nd half of Easter Week:


Services have been observed daily for hours in the Church, celebrating the many stages of Christ's last moments on Earth



Mira and the choir have been singing the whole time in their wonderful way: 


We have already observed several liturgies and readings about the events and reasons why Jesus died on the cross for us. Several priests gave homilies, bringing clarity and understanding to the parables and words of Christ and his apostles. Everybody has been listening very attentively.

 


In the light hall there were two screens, one displaying the text of the readings and one a high quality live broadcast from inside the Church. This way it was possible for everybody to follow all the ceremonies in a comfortable way:


There where lamps prepared for the procession at the end of the ceremony of Good Friday. Everybody took one and we carried Jesus's body outside in a procession around the centre. 




So far it's been a fantastic week of love and devotion to Christ and the sacrifice he made for us all. We now head into the final stretch of easter with a renewed spirit and with great anticipation for his resurrection!

17 Apr 2014

Restoration of an Icon


Today Sri Swami Vishwananda brought an antique icon to the atelier and restored it on some parts. 


Seeing him in deep concentration, while he is doing this work is always something very special. 


16 Apr 2014

Hanuman Jayanti - A special gift from Swamiji

 Some pictures from early morning Puja for Hanuman:




In the end, after 4 hours of Puja and a lot of Hanuman Chalisas, Sri Swami Vishwananda opened his treasure box and spoke for more than two hours about the meaning of every verse of the Hanuman Chalisa and interpreted the deeper meaning! What a great gift!


15 Apr 2014

Today is Hanuman Jayanti!



Sri Swami Vishwananda said in his speech on Hanuman Jayanti 2010:


"Mahavishnu decided to incarnate as Rama and after that, He incarnated alone. So all the Deities, all the Devas incarnated.

At the same time He was asking Shiva: 'You are the Lord of the Universe, you are realised. You are one with God all the time, but tell me one thing:

On whom are you meditating, like that? You always sit in meditation, but for sure you are meditating on somebody.'


Shiva replied: 'Yes, all my thinking and all my mind, all my concentration, my meditation is only on God, Mahavishnu. So whenever I meditate it’s on Mahavishnu, that I’m meditating and my Love for Him doesn’t have any limit. So now that He is going to be incarnated on earth as Rama, I’m thinking also to be incarnated.'


So Hanuman is a manifestation of Shiva. He is a pure incarnation of Shiva actually. He is not just part of Shiva, but a full manifestation of Shiva.

Even if Shiva has space in Shiva Loka, in His body, He is a full manifestation of Hanuman. That’s why it’s said that if you can not pray to any Gods, pray only to Hanuman - you will have everything. And when you chant the Hanuman Chalisa, this part of the Hanuman Chalisa that says: 'I don’t pray to anybody, but only to you.' 

'Aura Devata Chitta na dharayi,
Hanumata se yi sarva sukha karayi'.

It means: even if you don’t pray to any Deity, but only to Hanuman, you will receive the blessing of all the Deities."





14 Apr 2014

Darshan in Springen, 12th April 2014


Here are some pictures from Darshan at Shree Peetha Nilaya last Saturday: 


Sri Swami Vishwananda came a little later and sung some beautiful bhajans. Afterwards the darshan started ...




After a while some curious peacocks came and wanted to see where the music came from and what was going on. They sat for a while on the railing of the outside stairs and watched us before they flew up into the trees to sleep.



After about 6 hours the Darshan came to an end with the Aarti ceremony. Next, in the early morning Swamiji went already to Riga / Latvia to celebrate the inauguration of the Rama Temple there and to give a Satsang.