Sri Hari Has Arrived! (Part 2)
Doors behind which Sri Hari stood hidden from us.
I had seen the temple built from scratch and visited it a number of times before. But this time there was a different feel to my experience there. It was a feeling of reverence, a feeling of being in the presence of the Divine, a feeling that the place was sacred. It felt like it had been finally claimed by the true owner. No, Prabhu had not revealed Himself to us yet but His presence could be sensed. I felt excited and humbled. My eyes kept turning to the doors that hid Sri Hari from us. Every time it would open a bit for one of the Swamiji’s to come out I would strain my eyes to get a peek though failed each time.
For the first two days all the Swamiji’s would do the morning and evening Arti (prayers) from behind the Kewat (doors enclosing the Deity) and we followed from outside. Swamiji shared with us that the Ashram temple Arti had been written by Him. Before the Arti we heard the divine Vishnu Sahasranam (thousand names of the Divine Father) in the mornings and Lalita Sahasrnaam (thousand names of the Divine Mother) in the evenings. This was the routine that would be followed at the temple henceforth.
The ever so quiet Ashram had come to life as if. It was like a festival being celebrated by every being in and around it and rightfully so. The Lord had arrived.
Stories of valour and bhakti (reverence), of the incarnations of the Divine from the much revered Purana (ancient book) the Bhagwat Purana were going to be recited by a well known orator over the next seven days along with a Puja (ritual of praying) that was conducted first thing in the morning. This started on the 2nd April after Swamiji greeted and honoured the orator. We all sat around him like little kids looking forward to a ride into the times that were. The puja area had been beautifully decorated with coloured rice arranged into sacred patterns by the Pandits (ritwiks).
So the routine was set. Every morning we would get up to the bhajans (hyms) and prayers from the Puja at the temple. And after a warm bath and hot breakfast we would rush to the temple for the katha (story recitation) to begin. Some of the disciplined early risers would reach the temple for the morning Arti. The evenings were of our dear Swamiji, His insightful discourses and soul stirring kirtan(singing and dancing in the name of the Divine). The air was full of divinity and we all were enchanted and enwrapped in it.
It was Sri Hari’s welcome and so how could it be an ordinary affair? We had amongst us, the devotees, some world famous Kathak and Bharat natyam (Indian dance forms) dancers who on this occasion got the pious opportunity of performing at the temple in the presence of our dear Swamiji and the Lord.
Something very strange happened on the first day of the performance. Just before the evening Arti the electricity went off. And so Swamiji performed the evening Arti and prayers in darkness with just the diya (oil lamp) lighting the Garbh Griha (the place where the deity is installed). He later shared with us that the soft light from the diya enhanced the beauty of the deity and it was a deeply divine experience where Maa, the divine mother showed Her presence. That was not it. Sheetal and Gandhali, the startling kthak dancers from Pune performed right after the evening prayers. They performed on a Lord Shiva stuti and on a Guru Vandana. The growing darkness in the temple hall and the silence filled with only the soft music from their phone and that from their payals further enhanced their mesmerising performance. For some it could have been a coincidence but for me it was a divine act that as soon as they finished their jaw-dropping performance the bulbs and lamps in the temple lit up. Swamiji explained that if Maa came in the darkness then how could a performance on Her consort Lord Shiva happen in full light? It was a Divine Intervention.
The next day we had Ganeshji a very senior Bharatnatyam dancer perform the Dashavataras of the Lord and the divine love between Lord Krishna and Radha. I had seen this lovely performance before but to my surprise the love portrayed in it once again left me with tears in my eyes.
Swamiji and Vidya Swamiji’s bhajans and Kirtan would be like divine wine that shot up our adrenaline and filled our pores with ecstasy. We would part for the prasadam (meal) feeling light headed and drained out and looking forward to another miraculous day.
Many Pranams in the Lotus Feet of my Prabhu.
Your humbled child…
This post was originally published on Swamiji’s fan club website which no longer exists, to know more about that, refer to my intro part of the archives series here.
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