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Simhachalam – The Temple of the Heart-Lion

Last Saturday morning after meditation and breakfast we went by bus to Simhachalam, the little village about 30 km from the retreat centre in Visakhapatnam, where the preparations for the Guru Puja celebrations were going on, a huge festival in honour of Spiritual Hierarchy. The next three days some thousands of group members will assemble here for the group living with rituals, lectures and presentations, to be in the presence of the vibrant spiritual energies.

At the foot of the mountain we changed the bus to go up to the temple compound on top of the hill. A lot of pilgrims were streaming up the stairs to the temple, through rows of beggars and colourful shops filled with devotional articles. Flowers, coconuts and peacock feathers were offered for sale to the passers-by, with cries repeated like mantrams. We rushed through the fenced stairways into the inner of the temple, being pressed by Indian pilgrims.

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The Man-Lion opening the heart-centre. The inner court of the old Simhachalam temple

We only had a very short stop near the innermost of the temple with the huge lingam: We had not paid the entrance fee allowing us full access… But we had a better chance: Master Kumar and Kumari Garu had joined us in the temple and now told us to assemble in the adjacent hall with old lion-shaped stone pillars. There we gathered around him and he gave us a lecture about the symbolism and importance of the Simhachalam temple. Simha means lion, and Simhachalam is related to the opening of the heart centre, depicted in the story of the avatara (divine incarnation) of the Man-Lion, Narasimha. In front of the temple there is a pillar of brass representing the vertebral column, through which the kundalini energy is being lifted up, liberating the soul captured in matter…

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Sitting inside the hall with the lion-pillars, listening to Sri Kumar’s explanations

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One of the brass columns symbolizing the vertebral column

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The temple gate of Simhachalam

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With Master Kumar in front of the temple entrance

After the short lecture part of the group took the bus back to Simhachalam downhill, the other part went down the stairways leading into the valley. It was such a beautiful way, through a little forest, with beggars and pilgrims along the way.

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A statue of Ganesha under a tree, alongside the stairways to the valley

After lunch on the assembly compound we passed a silent, relaxing afternoon in the nearby palm forest, where the songs of the passing crows only were interrupted by the mooing of some cows accompanied by the music coming over the fields from the Guru Puja hall.

At 6 o’clock pm we assembled in the hall for evening prayer. After a simple, but tasty dinner we assembled again at 9 p.m. in the hall for full moon meditation, while the mild light of Capricorn full moon spread over the country. We were filled with joy and very tired, when the bus drove us back to the retreat centre for a short sleep.

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