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Back to India – Arrival at Bangalore

Wednesday, December 28th, 2016

A gorgeous sunrise awaited us the morning of our arrival at Sadguru Tapovana, the centre of WTT Bangalore. The flight to India had been smooth, the group started slowly gathered during the journey –  I met the first friend, from Mallorca, at Zurich airport, two others, from Colombia and Mallorca, at Doha, and five friends, from Germany, at Bangalore airport. The other members of our travel group to the Nilagiris, from Argentina and Spain, already were in Bangalore. We arrived just in time for the morning meditation – I enjoyed sitting there in the hall – and then fell asleep.

The Bangalore group members gave us a very warm welcome. We had nice rooms which now are above the lecture hall. A little later, Mr. Joshi, the spiritual head and the “master-mind” behind the Tapovana project gave us a little tour: Tapovana consisted until recently of 28 houses, now more houses had been built for around 180 permanent members, the householders mainly IT people but also a few bankers – and all together 37 children. They conduct joint activities for the children introducing them into spirituality. We saw the rooms where Master KPK (Sri Kumar) and his wife live during their visits to Tapovana – with a pyramidal roof and another, the consultation room with a glass top where you can see the moon during full moon meditations. Above the lecture hall they have a huge spiritual library with books in English, Telugu and Kannada. There, they also conduct homoeo classes. On the other side of the building, there is a fully soundproof room where they do registration of mantras and other songs with Sri Kumar – they recently did 12 hours registration which will be published next year.

In front of all the guest rooms there were little brass plates with the Sanskrit name of one of the seven rays and a short description of their quality. From the roof of the building you have a beautiful view around. And there is a water tank on which sat an eagle who was observing us for a while before it went up into the sky, circled a few times around some nearby trees and disappeared. Eagles are regarded as messengers of incarnations of sublime beings.

Near the hall there is a huge Audumbara tree (ficus racemosa), which carries the energy of Lord Dattatreya. And below it there is a “Mount Kailash” with a statue of Lord Shiva. And along the Tapovana road there are many trees like Peepal (ficus religiosa), mango trees and others.

Below, they have now placed panels with wisdom sayings and modern loud-speakers for transmission of lectures or spiritual music.

Next morning after breakfast we set out to our journey to the Nilagiris. Purushotama and Venkatesh, two very friendly members of the Tapovana group, joint our group of 13 westerners – we are the first group going there except those who had come for the inauguration and the Tapovana members who had worked for setting up the “Master Mountain Retreat Centre” (MMR). Before leaving Mr. Joshi presented to each one of us a beautiful brown woollen shawl produced in the Nilagiris and with the words “Agastya Rishi Bhagavan” around an image of the mountain, the goal of our journey. At this place in a natural reserve in the Nilagiris, the Blue Mountains, there is in the subtle spheres the ashram of Rishi Agastya, the eldest of the Masters of the Spiritual Hierarchy on earth – an energetic power place.

Island Experiences

Thursday, October 27th, 2016

Last week my wife and I were in Mallorca for 6 days, an island in the Mediterranean. It was our first visit. When thinking back, some subtle symbolisms came to my mind.

An island has something to do with the illusion of separate existence, feeling cut off from the rest of the world but nevertheless related to it. We came by plane, and there were plenty of planes landing – like thoughts about a greater world coming from out of vast space into the garden of our small mind.

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After landing we took an “earth vehicle”, a small car for the time of our stay. Don’t we land in such small cars when we take birth? And don’t we need to keep the inner link to the greater soul not to get lost? Our navigation device was this link to the greater world via satellite and it helped us to orient in the new environment.

We had a small apartment directly at the port where the big cruise liners stop for a day or two. There was a beautiful sight over the harbour, the city and the surrounding mountains. The cruise ships appeared and disappeared in front of the house – and with them the groups of travelling souls. A closer look showed that on the ships there were lots of tiny cells with a table and 2, 3 chairs on the balcony – isn’t that island consciousness, even on a moving boat?

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Walking along the yacht harbour with all the many empty ships already in hibernation, I thought, how much money and material lies waiting there in the water for short times of  satisfying the dreams of their owners… Issa, our friend from Mallorca, later told us that the ships are often just used for 1-2 weeks a year. Some owners seemed to awaken from their dreams – there were several ships with “for sale” signs, “bargain price”.

The first day we first discovered a bit the surroundings in search of a supermarket. And yes, just some hundred metres away, there was a huge shopping centre with plenty of big and small shops of all kinds. Going down the escalators into the underground where the sun never shines we found the labyrinth of a big chain store to cater for all kinds of food wishes, a regional solar plexus centre.

Later, we set out for a tour to the very north of the island – Port de Pollença, Cap de Formentor. On the way, we decided to leave the main road and take a mountain pass via Lluc – a good decision. In many serpentines the small road climbed through rough rocky sceneries. The roads were full of sweating bicycle drivers pedalling uphill, alone or in small groups, enjoying the pain of reaching to their limits – some kind of a modern Hatha Yoga practice.

We were “car hikers”, and not the only ones, doubling these biking folks whenever there was a short straight route. We had a noon stop in Port Pollença and enjoyed observing the other tourists walking like us along the waterside promenade. And there were also tired bikers with their colourful hightech clothes resting in the grass and talking to their iPhones. An Indian restaurant convinced us most, and the food was delicious – two more times an Indian restaurant was the best place for us vegetarians.

In the afternoon we made a short excursion to the nice small port of Cala Sant Vicenç and then continued towards Cap de Formentor. The road offered fantastic sights down steep cliffs into the vastness of the sea. Perceiving the border between land, sea and space was like getting out of one’s dense material identity and opening up to the vast spheres of the greater space.

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The more we approached “land’s end” of the peninsula, the more we felt the two sides of the sea approaching and thinning down the rocky ground until at the end there was just sea and sky. It was like reaching the Sahasrara, the head centre, where we can touch the realms of higher consciousness. And like the Ajna centre, the “point of light” in our head, the lighthouse elevated its top towards the sky with a gorgeous view over the bay.

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Next day, we change the direction – from the Ajna centre to the Muladhara, the base centre at the “end of the spine”. We visited the Cuevas del Drach, the Dragon Caves near Porto Cristo on the west coast of the island. The limestone caves consist of a series of halls with a dream-world of stalactites and stalagmites and several small lakes. The biggest of them has a length of about 115 metres. The imaginations of nature have created forms out of stone like forests, vertebral columns or Shiva lingams. In the last big hall there was a huge amphitheatre where we listened – together with our batch of over 200 co-visitors – to some live classical music played on little illumined boats. Afterwards one of the boats brought us to the exit of the cave.

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The third day our friend Issa took us to the old town of Palma, the capital. In a nice vegan restaurant we met Sylvia. Then we had a walk through some old lanes of the city. From the cathedral there was a beautiful view over the harbour. The position of the city, the big water fountain in front of the cathedral and a nearby artwork made me think of the throat centre, the link between the inner and the outer world, the centre of communication and interaction. Don’t these palm trees remind of vertebral columns with a head centre at the top? In a courtyard we felt the energy of a 2000 years old olive tree, withdrawn within itself, a silent witness of bygone ages.

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Reflection selfie in a shop window with planets

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Mysterious sphinx
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Olive tree dreaming of 2000 years
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Arab garden
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The fountain – like the upsurge of the kundalini energy

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Artwork – up the spinal column towards the light in the head centre

The 4th day it was raining. My wife wanted to see one of the vulgar places of mass tourism, parties and binge drinking – so to say the “other side” of Mallorca. Our friend recommended two places and we went to Magaluf. (Wikipedia: “British tour operators have warned the Spanish Tourist Board that the image of Magaluf is affecting their efforts to market Mallorca. The night-life has been notorious for many years, and the latest image is not much to be desired with news reports of balcony deaths.) Now, the city was nearly empty with many hotels closed. The Hotel Sol Katmandu has a distasteful adventure park consisting of a ghost climbing park, a church-like house with a demon on the roof, a Nepalese bottom-up temple as a haunted house (what to say of the earthquake victims in real Kathmandu? – the upside-down house reminds of the inversion of truth happening on the lower planes of manifestation) with a mock-cemetery at the entrance and a yeti climbing up the window front of the hotel knocking against the walls… Isn’t the Magaluf ambience a mirror of the collective consciousness at the sacral centre state? We soon left the place and enjoyed lunch in nearby Santa Ponsa.

In the afternoon of the 5th day we went with Issa to Valldemossa, a place of outstanding beauty in the Western mountains which has attracted artists and many other prominent guests. And of course streams of tourists. There were not many at the moment. Surrounded by mountains, it was something like the heart centre of the island. We strolled through the lanes and admired the old houses. Outside one of the churches, in front of a statue of the patron saint of Mallorca, Catalina Thomas, we sat down for evening meditation – a charming place with a sublime atmosphere. Nearly all houses had little ceramic plates at the entrance depicting St. Catalina with a sentence asking the saint to pray for them – why don’t they pray themselves?

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Statue of St. Catalina – our place of meditation
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Friday the time of our stay in Mallorca was already over. At noon time we arrived at the airport. Two hours later we were back in the air. Soon the island disappeared in the clouds leaving just little holes to look down – there was again the road we had taken three days ago, and there the coast town we had visited… Two hours later the plane flew a circle over Berne and descended gracefully to the little airport from where we had departed a few days before.

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Over the Alps

Trip to the Group Living in Barcelona

Monday, July 11th, 2016

The magic of the group living with Master Kumar in Barcelona already started with the booking: My friend Robert had invited me to stay with him before and after the seminar but then told me, “I have so much to do on Thursday that you better just arrive on Friday, the day where the group living starts, then we can go together to the hotel.” So I thought I will also leave again Monday after the seminar. While booking the flights from Geneva to Barcelona with Easyjet, I chose these two dates and then selected cheap flights. When I printed out the tickets I was shocked to see that I had booked from Thursday to Tuesday – they had offered other flight dates which I had not noticed. Robert told me not to worry and to come already on Thursday and stay in his flat.

What a surprise that two days later I came to know that Sri Kumar would be arriving only a little later to Barcelona airport – and that Robert had cancelled his other duties on Thursday. And it turned out that Monday afternoon there would be a group meeting with Sri Kumar at the home of Miquel and Rosa where I could also participate.

It was a joyful meeting at the airport on Thursday noontime. Many Spanish group members had come to the arrival. And when Sri Kumar and the accompanying members arrived all where thrilled.

Friday afternoon we went to the La Mola hotel & conference centre outside Barcelona, surrounded by the Natural Park of Sant Llorenç del Munt i l’Obac. About 200 members had come for the group living. The preparations to set up the hall and the stage went on with high speed, and just a short moment before Sri Kumar entered everything looked very nice.

The seminar started after the evening prayer. The topic was “The Divine Laws”. The Master started with the following words:

“Every group life is homecoming for the aspirants. The aspirants are those who are building the bridge between the personality and the soul. The soul cannot function without the personality but it can also withdraw into its home, the Sanctum Sanctorum and to recollect that it is not personality…

An aspirant is one who should think every moment, at all times that he is the soul, that he has a personality. Personality is the vehicle. He continues to be, the vehicle has a terminable duration. Each life he has different personalities, sometimes it can be male or female, another time it can be a doctor… each time it is another role. The purpose of the role is to gain the experience. That way he derives joy…

There is the state of body called happiness, at the state of soul it is happiness, at the state of spirit it is bliss. The aspirants should very firmly hold that they are the soul and that they have a personality for a journey. Through the personality we relate to the world. Without personality there is no relating to the world. Without we just remain souls in alignment with the super-soul. A soul emerges from the universal soul; to experience the beauty of the creation it needs a personality. The soul interacts with the world with the help of a personality. It conducts with the help of a personality. The rules of the interaction are the divine laws. Following the laws he can enjoy the game.

With the football game, he should know the rules of the game. According to the rules of the game he has to play the game. If he does not he is shown a green card, a yellow card and a red card. Creation has happened according to certain laws and the players in creation are called the beings. The beings should know the rules of the game to derive the best joy, experience and even bliss from that play. There is no play, there is no field, there is no way to experience. The divine whose rays we are would like that we enjoy the creation. The children play and enjoy. The parents inform the children the rules of the game. Insofar the children play the game according to the rules would win the game and enjoy it. Likewise in creation, there are the laws and that is the theme for us. It is to relate to this divine order.”

I very much enjoyed the exchanges with the group members. Besides the cordial talks with friends some new perspectives of collaboration developed; I for example met a member from Portugal who decided to help translating books of the WTT into Portuguese.

Sunday morning there was a fire ritual in the court of the hotel. While the dawn was coming up, the flames were rising high and the blessings of the ritual spread into the surroundings. At the end of the ceremony a short drizzle came down as a benediction from heaven.

The seminar was very quickly over again. Towards the end Sri Kumar saw the Spanish groups for short meetings in the upper floor of the hotel. Then at the end, before departure, a group picture with the remaining members in front of the hotel.

Monday afternoon we arrived a bit early at the home of Rosa and Miquel. Rosa had got a friend to prepare a “Master CVV doll” sitting in a triangular construction, with a smile on his face… Slowly the court filled and then Sri Kumar arrived. We sat together for evening prayer and afterwards a short discourse about Sri Krishna – the Master had installed a Krishna statue in the garden in 2010 and visited the home each year after the seminars.

Next morning Robert brought me very early to the airport where I had to wait until the afternoon. The time flew by very fast, I used it sitting outside the airport on a bench, mailing and proof-reading. And when I flew again back over the Mediterranean and the Alps, I felt the memories of the intense gatherings like a bright inner sunshine.

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An Afternoon Walk in Lauterbrunnen – Falling Light and Deep Precipices

Thursday, May 12th, 2016

Last Sunday there was radiant sunshine. Around noon time my wife proposed that we should go for an excursion to Lauterbrunnen at the feet of Mount Jungfrau. It’s about 80 km from our home. Already on the highway there was a fantastic view of the Alps. And it got more impressive the more we approached. Lauterbrunnen is famous for a number of high waterfalls, especially the Staubbachfall (literal translation: dust brook falls; nearly 300 m descent). We parked our car directly near the falls – and it was breathtaking. The falls looked like falling light – the spray was radiant white and came down like falling angels.

I was surprised that there were not more tourists but it still was not yet main season – just some Indians, Japanese and Europeans were hiking or biking. We chose a road along the valley forbidden for cars. The air was filled with the sounds of the falls or the bells of cows. Some old sheds stood on the meadows behind which the towering walls of the mountains rose on either side of the valley. Through a side valley one could look up to Mount Jungfrau, the other mountains were hidden behind the promontories. We crossed a river and went to the Trümmelbach falls – a river coming down from the Jungfrau in a steep gorge with a number of waterfalls inside the mountain. We went up half way with a cog railway inside the mountain. And then the road led through kind of a canyon where sometimes the daylight fell down from above. We only had shirts – inside it was quite cold and water was dripping down.

When we came out again the sun already started hiding behind the mountain and the shadows in the valley were fast growing. Cows were grazing near the road and calmly observing the joggers or grazing. Back to Lauterbrunnen we found a camping restaurant where lots of English tourists were staying in the hostel – and finally got our “evening lunch” – pizza and pasta.

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Like clouds falling into the valley – or angels descending?

An Inner Pilgrimage to my Kuruvapuram

Friday, May 6th, 2016

I sometimes took you with me on my journeys with my travel blogposts. I haven’t blogged much the last time for I was often away on an inner pilgrimage. No, it was not a kind of daydreaming or being “lost in space”. The pilgrimage led me through “virtual reality” though not with multiplayer gaming nor with data glasses – this latest fad of virtual reality, very en vogue at the moment, keeps the people stuck in sensual planes of an insipid taste, like amplified with artificial flavour enhancers.

I was carried away by the German translation of the Sripada Srivallabha Charitamrutam which I finished 2-3 weeks ago. I told you about it before, when I came into contact with this book about the life of Sripada Srivallabha (1320-1350), the first Avatar of Lord Dattatreya in Kali Yuga, in autumn 2014.

I will tell you more about this experience later, when the book will be published in German – it was a long and profound inner journey, a most profound pilgrimage, a kind of excavation. It was like walking through some archaeological site doing diggings through deep layers of time and of unknown worlds. To begin with, I had to fuse three English translations of the Telugu publication into a text-base for the German version, and a friend is working with it on the Spanish translation.

The English texts were like a rough road with many terms and concepts I first could not decipher. A good Indian guide now living in Africa showed up and gave me keys to an understanding. I wrote heaps of footnotes now enhancing the translation. And now, towards the end, I worked out a big register of the many persons, adding short comments, a kind of Who’s Who of the book – you might get lost in the more than hundred persons you come across, not to mention the many divine beings. And to complicate the matter, some persons have several names and of course changing names in successive incarnations. For me it was like finding a diamond when I discovered the name of a then future incarnation which was not given in the book by his now well-known name (Lahiri Mahasaya) but given by his native name.

This unearthing was part of the pilgrimage though not the essence. The essence was an incredible inner touch and guidance which did not end with the translating and typing. It influences my feeling of life, my meditations, my way of thinking. Kuruvapuram, the name I mention in the title of this blogpost, is the name of the place where Sripada lived the second part of his life. I haven’t been there yet but for me it is like I know it. Is it present, is is past where I am? Is it in creative imagination? I don’t think so.

Being fascinated by a book is different from encountering a more profound reality with the help of a book. You find Kuruvapuram on the map. A friend even visited it; he had profound inner experiences there and shared his photos with me. It is a very magnetic, brilliant place in the inner, though in the outer there is not much of it visible. But the physical place is just an anchor in time and space for a sublime dimension. My pilgrimage led me there and profoundly touched me.

In the “Charitamrutam” it says that living in Kashi (Benares) or Pithikapuram (Pithapuram, the place where Sripada was born) is different from living there in the subtle, golden Kashi or Pithikapuram. It is where you are living with your heart, not with the body. The outer might even distract you from the inner, like a veil. As already the Little Prince from Saint Exupéry said, “One sees clearly only with the heart. What is essential is invisible to the eyes.”

It is more than just seeing, it is being there in the be-ness. And this pilgrimage does not end with the book, also the book is just a cipher pointing to the inner place of the pilgrimage. And many might see the veils of the place hinted by the book but will never enter.

Thank you, Robert, for the photos.

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View towards the island of Kuruvapuram in the Krishna River

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Statue of Lord Dattatreya

 

The Last Day in India and the Journey back to Switzerland

Saturday, January 23rd, 2016

Tuesday was the last day of our journey to India. Still tired from the previous day, I woke up, had a short look at the alarm clock, went into the bathroom for the morning wash. When I came out and switched the light on to tell Franz that the bathroom is now free I noticed that it was just 03:10 am – in my confusion I did not notice that the alarm clock was lying topside down and I had mistaken the time… So I went to bed again.

In the morning meditation I felt still a bit drowsy. Before and after breakfast I answered e-mails and tried to pin down the blogpost of two days ago so that the memories don’t fade away too quickly. Selecting photos, formatting, colour adjustments – and then I tried to upload. The internet connection was again very slow. I safeguarded the text in word and decided to publish it when I’m back in Switzerland.

Around 10 am we left the hotel with an auto-rickshaw: “To Sri Ramakrishna Mission”. The rickshaw driver repeated, Ramakrishna.I sat besides the driver on his bench, holding myself tight not to fall out, the other four were in the backside. Indian traffic around. When the driver turned into the first road I told the others, But that is not the right direction…. they replied, he probably knows a side-road. I was sceptical. We ended up in front of the Rajarani temple, where the driver stopped. Miquel explained to him that this is not the right place and explained to him again. He spoke with some other person and then started. A few minutes later we arrived at the Ramakrishna Mission – of course with disputes over the fare. But Miquel remained firm: It is not our fault…

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We spend some time in the serene ambiance of the Mission before we called another rickshaw: “To the Mukteswar Temple”. The driver said yes, and started. Again I remarked, That is not the right direction… He stopped in front of the Lingaraj temple to let us out. Miquel explained that foreigners are not allowed there, that we had already been there and repeated “Mukteswar Temple” – a very well known place in Bhubaneswar. We started again. Beggars along the road… I saw a blind man sitting at the street-side steering into the sun and asking for alms, one of many (next to the Mukteswar temple there was a beggar holding his one hand and talking to his mobile with the other). We stopped in front of the temple – and again Miquel cut short the discussions about the fare.

We entered into the Kedara-Gouri temple precincts near the Mukteswar temple where we had been there before.Franz and I placed our glass bead necklaces we had received in the Yogini temple the day before at the statue of a goddess.

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Rosa wanted to talk to the owner of a handicraft shop there where she and Franz had bought some artwork a few days ago. The man, a Sai Baba devotee, was very kind, in a non-commercial way. He brought us betelnut leaves for a good digestion and then showed us the way to a nearby vegetarian restaurant. It was a very simple restaurant serving just “Thali” – plates with a selection of sauces, vegetables and rice. I had never been in such a restaurant and it was quite full. But the food was tasty. When we came out of the restaurant, our looks fell on a plate of the “Allen Homoeo Hall. German Quality Made in India.” We smiled.

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Another rickshaw brought us back to the hotel – this time without any extra excursion. But the backside of the bench I sat on had a sharp, rusty iron piece strong enough to cut my spine in case of a sudden stop. I thought of what I sometimes felt as over-regulation with traffic security in Europe…

The flight back, originally scheduled for 9 pm was re-scheduled to 9.30, then 10 and 10.30. It was a quarter to 11 when the plane took up from Bhubaneswar airport. I don’t know whether it was from the food served in the plane or from the samosas and paneer sandwich eaten near the departure gate. But when we stood in the long queues of Qatar airways for check-in, I felt an increasing acid reflux. During the flight to Doha I felt the first pangs of vomiting. At Doha airport it became worse. The inner guidance had changed in Delhi during check-in my place and given me a seat at the very last row of the plane. First I felt unhappy with it until I realised that this was my blessings – I ended up sitting alone with a free chair on both sides and the toilet was just around the corner. And the vomiting diarrhoea got very strong. In a matter of seconds the liquids were expelled up and down, together with the medicine they had given me. The stewardesses took great care of me and there was even a doctor sitting right in front of me inspecting my state: “Food poisoning”. An Indian good-bye souvenir.

I spend the flight sleeping and looking a very touching film “Pay it forward” (German: Das Glücksprinzip) about a little boy launching a goodwill movement – very inspiring. Shortly before landing I saw through the windows some fantastic snow panoramas of the Alps. The train journey to Berne then went quite well. A warm welcome of my wife, some words and then I fell into my bed to wake up half a day later.

Now, three days later, I am feeling quite well again, coming slowly back into the world I’m used to. On my arrival I found a letter from an old school friend with whom I had done bicycle tours through Germany end of the 60s/early 70s. He is now the director of Munich airport – and since 2 years I receive his Christmas letter sent to a circle of friends about what has been going on in his life. I like him, though we have not seen for a decade. He is a lot jetting around the world and living in quite different worlds. His words made me think of my path, of what I did experience the last weeks and what was the essence of it. I feel that under the multitude of impressions there is the fire of inner striving, which had been nourished by the journey. And that the gems in the fire will show up a bit clearer in the times to come.

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Sunrise over the Gulf of Bengal at Visakhapatnam, seen from the roof of the house of Sri Kumar

Temples and Caves, 64 Yoginis and Rajarani Music Festival

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

Monday morning after breakfast we saw a few temples in Bhubaneswar – “the city of 1000 temples”; I did not count but do not doubt 🙂 – and in one temple joined a small puja ritual. We also saw the famous Lingaraj Temple from the outside – again “for Hindus only”. (The name means “The King of Lingams“, the symbolic form of Lord Shiva). Here you see how they change the flags on top of the temple tower – see in the second image how the man climbs down along a rope…

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We afterwards drove through narrow streets, a long congestion at a railway crossing and various villages to the Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves, the abodes of Jain ascetics. There are about 35 caves in two hills, and on the top of one hill there is a Jain temple. They are partly natural and partly carved out from the rock.

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One cave looked like a tiger mouth, other structures resembled huge serpents. When we met in the biggest cave for a short meditation, a lady with her daughter asked us if we were meditating and presented herself to be a yoga teacher from the Bihar School of Yoga. Rosa asked her if she would like to lead the meditation. The lady several times asked if we really wanted her to do it, and we said, yes. Then she guided us through a process of visualisation and mantra exercises – a nice experience. After a coconut drink we set out to climb the second hill. On the way up there was a Hindu temple in one of the caves, where the swami performed a ritual and explained about the high age of the encarvings down there, much older than in the other caves or in the Jain sanctuary at the top.

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Washing the feet for one rupee before entering the compound of the temple – a boy was spraying water on our feet, and one of our group said, that’s a good business model – very cheap but if all the many visitors have to pay – and can pay – it sums up….

The Jains are completely vegetarian and they also exclude onions, potatoes, eggplants and garlic. So Miquel said at the entrance of the temple, that we also don’t eat onions and garlic – to be allowed to enter – but no photos allowed in and around the temple. There were statues of Mahavira and other Tirthankaras – omniscient teachers.

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After returning into the valley we went to the Chausathi Yogini Temple located in a small village on the countryside near a pond. It is an open circular temple with 27.4 m circumference and a wall of 2.4 m – with 64 statuettes of yoginis and Shaivaite goddesses, like Ganeshini, a female form of Ganesha:

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Of course, the Brahmin priests which arrived when we came performed a puja, and of course they wanted again rupees. Miquel, the “guardian” of the group cash, remained hard when their demands exceeded what was considered to be “normal”.

After a lunch in a vegetarian restaurant the group wanted to visit more temples in Bhubaneswar. I, however, felt an “overkill” of temple impressions and stayed out during the visit of the Mukteswar temple and other sanctuaries in the surroundings. I said I preferred to be in a meditative place and not go from one place to the other. However, I very much enjoyed when we visited the Shirdi Baba temple in Bhubaneswar – I feel deeply linked to this energy and the short meditation there recharged my system.

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The Mukteswar temple, where we had seen a beautiful dance presentation three days before.

Afterwards we went to the site of the Rajarani Temple. It was just the time for the start of the free 3 days “Rajarani Music Festival” with great performances of Indian classical music, again organised by Odisha Tourism.

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There were two concerts, one of an Odissi vocal singer, Smt Mohapatra Minati Bhanja, and one of two Hindustani vocal singers, the Wadali Brothers in Sufi tradition. The site was again marvellously decorated, though there was not the magic of the light and movements of the dance performances at the Mukteswar temple.

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The first concert was more elegiac, the musical voice of Minati accompanied by a violin, tablas, and string instruments. The second concert rose from yearning vocal patterns to ecstatic rhythms which got the entire audience clapping their hands to the sounds of the two elderly brothers and their group of singers. The sounds rose up into the night-blue sky, from where the moon in his tenth ascending phase shed down his mild light. And the fading of the battery of my camera saved me from taking more pictures of the event…

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Nandankanan Zoological Park, Rajarani Temple and Sun Temple in Konark

Thursday, January 21st, 2016

Sunday, 17 January, we went to the zoological park of Nandankanan about 18 km outside Bhuvaneswar. Our guide took us first to the bear and tiger sections – and it was impressive to see leopards, tigers – even some white ones – and bears in zoo environment quite near to their natural living conditions. At the elephants’ section our guide called one of the zookeepers to come with an elephant. He mounted one of the animals and came directly to our place – a very impressive view. Later we went on a short safari-tour to 4 sections outside the zoo where we could see some tigers, lions, bears and deers outside the zoo walls – a crash-tour without good impressions.

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After the tour to the zoo we went to the Rajarani temple in Bhuvaneswar from the 11th century, where preparations for 3 days of Music Festival were going on (we visited it on the 18th). On the walls of the temple there are so-called “erotic” carvings of women and couples – today’s advertisements are much more sexualised than these statues. Though there are no images of Gods inside the temple it is associated with Shiva due to its form.

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The archaeological sites look nice but there is no active spiritual activity going on and they seemed to me like the outer shells, where the spirit has gone away.

The same was the case with the Sun Temple in Konark, where we went in the afternoon. It is a Unesco World Heritage site – and surrounded by a huge amounts of souvenir shops waiting for some tourists to stop. After lunch in the village we had a coconut drink on the way to the temple. Before we could enter a self-styled guide had cramped to our group and followed us insistently. Rosa finally took him as her guide, and while he explained the intricacies of the architecture and the place, I kept away to align with the place and to take some photos. (I had read a bit about the temple before…) We were the only “white skins” I could remark. It was interesting to observe the Indians flocking everywhere to take selfies or group pictures with the temple – particularly on lawns with the sign “Do not enter”.

There were some huge old banyan and neem trees near the temple. For a while I touched a banyan tree to connect to its energy – a feeling of something very stable and grounded, silently spreading into the surroundings. Again, you could feel that there are no active spiritual activities going on at the temple – a beautiful messenger of times gone by. The temple and the scaffolding around the tower shone in a golden evening light, a true sun temple.

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Next to the temple there was a Navagraha-Temple, devoted to the 9 planets, where some “ritual quickies” were going on. When none of the priests looked, I quickly deposited my flower from the Dhauli Shanti Stupa at one of the planetary spirit statues…

Afterwards we went to the sea where the glowing Sun God was shedding his red gold over the water and slowly faded into the mist, while people were enjoying the view of the ocean.

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On the way home we stopped at a small ashram on the wayside. We went in for our evening meditation – and yes, in this simple building with the images of their line of gurus you could feel the vibrant purity of continuous spiritual aspiration.

 

Visit to Dhauli, a Painting School, Puri Jagannath and the Mahasamadhi of Sri Yukteswar

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

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.

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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.

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The Priest

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.

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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.

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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.”

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Puri Jagannath temple

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“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.

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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.

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At the Mahasamadhi of Sri Yukteswar

A Series of Unexpected Blessings in Bhuvaneswar

Saturday, January 16th, 2016

Friday, 15 January early morning after a short morning meditation with Sri Kumar, a bus brought a group of us to the airport. While most of them set out to their journey home, we were a group of 5 persons who flew to Bhubaneswar, the capital of the Indian state of Odisha (Orissa), starting a small pilgrimage for 4 days.

A driver from the hotel came to pick us up but his car was too small for our luggage. So he organised some colleague and soon we were driving through the city to our hotel, our stay for the next 4 days. The breakfast was also our lunch and pre-dinner. Around four o’clock, when the temperature came down, we started our tour walking along a busy road and entered a nearby temple. They were just opening again and we got the blessing of the deities there, being decorated by the priests with red and orange colours on our forehead – it was quite difficult in the evening to wash the colours away, not only the towel became a witness of it.

After a chai at a street coffee shop – boiled with glowing coals – we took an auto rickshaw to bring us to the Sri Ramakrishna Mission. The buildings were surrounded by a beautiful old garden, where the dusk slowly took away the colours. It was quite a contrast to come into this silent, serene ambiance from the noise of the city with the continuous noise of motors and horns. We had a beautiful meditation in the prayer hall and then continued to a nearby temple area.

We came into a road fantastically decorated with beautiful cotton lanterns. And there we saw in front of the Mukteswar temple that the second day of the 3 days Music and Dance Festival was to start in a quarter of an hour at the temple compound, free entry, organised by Odisha Tourism. We were thrilled when we entered the huge compound of the Shiva-temple: Around the temple a big stage was set up. A huge lighting system stood there, cameras to air the show to All India TV – and fantastic light decorations in the trees and bushes. The air was filled with incense to chase away the mosquitoes. We got places in the VIP section not far away from the stage. And soon a huge choir (Dheeraj Mohapatra & Group) in beautiful costumes started with an invocation to Shiva, the Lord of Dance. If was followed by Odissi solo, duet and group dances – outstanding performances with sublime artists of dance and music – we were very deeply touched to be at this presentation in such an incredibly beautiful surrounding of the over thousand years old temple. The dance celebrations were at Makara Sankranti, the traditional lunar winter solstice celebrated from 14 to 16 January.

Afterwards we went to see some other smaller temples in the surroundings. And also there the trees were filled with lampions. Then we were invited to receive a beautiful free Thali dinner sitting on carpets under the trees of a temple – a family had sponsored it on the occasion of a celebration for their young son, which is being done when the child is 4 months and 4 days old.

Then we came into a craft shop where exquisite handicraft was being sold. We saw palm leaf writings, very well done statues and very subtle artwork on a kind of cloth on tamarind backing. Two friends of mine hand a long talk with the owner, a Sai Baba devotee, and finally bought two images.

When we returned to the hotel, we felt overwhelmingly blessed by the sequence of unexpected blessings we experienced during the day.

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