Saturday, 16 January, our taxi driver picked us up in the morning and we drove into the direction of Puri. On the way we stopped at the Shanti Stupa at Dhauli. A battle had been fought there by Emperor Ashoka Maurya (304-2232 BCA) and he felt afterwards that he should do something after the war for the welfare of the world. So he saw that a Buddhist centre was developed there, and stupas etc. were erected at Dhauli. In the 70s of last century, the Japanese constructed a beautiful Peace Pagoda there overlooking the countryside.
Peace Pagoda at Dhauli
At a statue of the lying Buddha an Indian – as I discovered later – asked me in a friendly way and started doing a puja, where he and a colleague asked for the names of a friend and mine and of our families, since he wanted to bless us. Then he asked for 500 Rupees, for the maintenance of the site and the ritual to their God Buddha. I thought that the priests had “pocketed” the Buddha for their purposes. Since we did not want to start bargaining in the beautiful ambiance of the Stupa, we paid the money but afterwards felt being tricked by the priests’ marketing strategy. We did not want to keep the flowers he had given us – to carry them home and receive the abundant blessings – but offered them the next day at a small temple of the 9 planets near the Sun Temple in Konark.
A little further we visited an archaeological site where you could see engravings of the famous rock edicts of Ashoka surrounded by a little park.
The Rock Edicts of Ashoka at Dhauli
A little later, some kilometres before Puri, the driver brought us to a small village. An artist aged 85 years, Shilpi Guru Ananta Maharana from an old lineage of artists was the head of a school (Gurukula Ashram) in a traditional way of painting with stone-colours. They have many students living there for a while to learn this kind of painting. One senior disciples showed us a number of highly meticulous paintings and the way how they are done. For some of these paintings it took several years to finish. We were very much impressed seeing the great quality of their work, the humbleness in which the work is being done. Stone colours do not fade away – he showed up paintings aged several centuries still looking well. We stayed there for nearly 2 hours. There was no commercial attitude at all, just one simple proposal if we would like to support the work with a donation – and we did. Meini bought a beautiful Ganesha painting done by the Guru 30 years ago. When showing a painting about the life of Sri Chaintaya, the great Bhakti Yogi of the 15th /16th century, the disciple explained that Chaitanya had come through this village via the way directly in front of the house. The house itself was several centuries old.
The octogenarian artist sitting at the front door of his ashram
We finally reached Puri in the early afternoon. The sun was burning down when we set out to walk to the Puri Jagannath. temple.
Great amounts of people were pouring to and fro the temple, and bicycle rickshaw drivers tried to convince us to take a ride – in vain. It is forbidden for foreigners to visit the temple –the orthodoxy keeps non-Hindus out from seeing the shrine.
The taxi stopped about 1.5 km from the temple – after a certain point only rickshaws and motorbikes are allowed. We decided to walk in the hot sunshine. Everywhere beggars or street-vendors tried to get some money. In the mid of the road some cows and a bull were “meditating” in stoic silence. A serpent of humans pressed towards the temple entrance control. For some money we were allowed to go up to the roof of a house to have a look at the temple and the masses below. We did a short prayer and descended again.
Sri Kumar had told us to get a poster of the temple tower and focus on the wheel at the top as the centre of the energy, also at home. This proved to be a special “key”: Rosa asked at the temple administration where we could get that picture. They said, at a kiosk at the entrance of the temple. The kiosk was inside and some policemen were guarding the entrance. With her charming smile and a sari Rosa asked if we could enter. The first policeman said no, the other, irritated, said yes, and so we slipped to get just in front of the temple gate, a place which is normally not accessible for foreigners. While Rosa bought the posters we stood there and aligned to the energy inside – it was a vibrant, magnetic radiation, much stronger than outside the precinct. Rosa said: “It is a blessing of the Master to ask us to get these pictures and thus coming here, a bit inside.”
Puri Jagannath temple
“Only Hindus are allowed…”
After a lunch in a nearby “pure-veg” restaurant (vegetarian without onions and garlic”) we set out to find the place of the Mahasamadhi of Sri Yukteshwar, the teacher of Yogananda. Miquel had found on Google some description of the place but not any precise address. It was supposed to be near the beach of Puri. We didn’t find anything. Finally Miquel and the driver asked at a hotel. They gave a vague description. We drove along a side road. Suddenly Miquel said, There is a sign of a Kriya Yoga. We stopped and found an old signpost. We went by foot through a small sand-road. Finally we found a house where a sign “Kriya Yoga Ashram” was painted. The house seemed to be closed. Miquel tried to speak with the neighbours, without success. We wanted to return. Then Rosa came. She started speaking with the neighbours, asked if someone is living in the ashram and if the door is closed or can be opened. The neighbours started shouting, and after a while a young swami appeared at the door. He made us enter and we mounted up to the second floor, where there was an assembly hall with the images of the Masters of the Kriya Yoga lineage. There was a beautiful ambiance. With the few words of English he knew he said that this was not the Mahasamadhi of Sri Yukteswar, at another ashram. With the help of mobile connection to our driver as a translator we got the right address – in a side-lane not far from the beach road. We had a short meditation at the ashram and some exchange with the swami, then set out to find the other ashram.
At the Kriya Yoga Ashram
From the busy beach road we entered by feet into a small lane and then a smaller lane until we finally saw the sign: “Karar Ashram. Sri Yukteswar Kriyayoga Centre.”
It was closed at 5 pm but we had informed them that we would come a short time afterwards. After some ringing we finally were allowed to enter – but “no photography!”
We entered the inner court of the beautiful and simple old ashram. While the man was searching for someone I took a hidden shot – and one of our group then took a picture also at the Mahasamadhi, the place of the final rest of Sri Yukteswar.
We first saw the prayer hall and then met the head of the Ashram, Swami Yogeswarananda. He told us that he is often travelling to the west to teach Kriya Yoga, and comes twice a year to Germany and Switzerland. He was very warm-hearted and smiling. We exchanged about our pilgrimage and our teachers and he proposed several places in the surroundings of Puri which we should visit – and we visited them the next days.
After a short meditation at the Mahasamadhi we finally set out to return to Bhubaneswar – after a very rich day full of surprises.
At the Mahasamadhi of Sri Yukteswar