Sastang Pranam Swamiji. Let me continue from where I left in Part-1.

At about 4 PM we arrived at the Ashram Gate and the sign board which caught my attention was “Rs 500 fine for honking unnecessarily” rather than “Stop” signifying ‘Silence has its own importance’. We were greeted by the smiling face of the very beautiful and softspoken Kirtee Om ji. (Fun fact: She is Odia, and so are we! So, Odia-Odia, bahut Badhiya 😊). She guided us to the Front Office where the kind counterpart of Kirtee ji, Basudev Om ji was present greeting us with a smile. The couple had booked L-8 room for us and my goodness, what a room it was! I will come back to the room speciality shortly.

The check-in process was hassle free. And when I asked Basudev ji for the room key, he just smiled shyly and asked me did I really require one? To my surprize, most of the rooms occupied did not have key! If anyone insisted for the same, it was provided to them with a caution money deposit in case of an event of the visitor leaving the Ashram with the key and the lock needed to be broken. And are keys required where gods themselves roam? We met Madhavi ji co-incidentally as she was visiting to the dispensary near the front office at the same time!

At the entry point, the front office and dispensary were on the right side and on the left side was a nice coffee shop managed by (can anybody guess?). There is a battery-operated vehicle to carry the luggage as well as visitors. The vehicle operator was kind enough to load our luggage and us and drove us to our room. We reached the room which was a very nice one. At the entry, there was a kitchen platform with sink opposite to which was the washroom. The washroom was perfectly up to date with all modern arrangements and accessories with Italian and Hindware fittings, even better than we have at our homes!

This followed a big room with queen size bed and all bed-side accessories fitted with a Split AC. This just reminded me Swamiji’s plight for a normal accommodation at Naga Baba’s Ashram, how he struggled to make arrangements to sleep, how he requested Naga Baba to permit him to use a bed to sleep as due to Asthma problem he had to suffer a lot and was unable to sleep on the floor / ground. But he was denied the same. And in his Ashram, he has made all provisions for a more than comfortable stay for the visitors. Absolutely no words.

The balcony view was awesome as the beautiful Giri Ganga river was visible from the balcony. The burble of the flowing water was mesmerizing. We were told that there was a path beside the Gosala from the Ashram to access the river. The view was so majestic that it was creating the impression of a mother (the mountain) carrying its baby (the river) on its lap and nurturing the baby. In the midnight silence, the burble of Giri Ganga was magical. Even more significant was the direct clear view of Swamiji’s abode. Yes, we could have a clear view of Swamiji’s complex where Swamiji, Vedanand Swami ji and Sadhvi Ji’s dwell. Really grateful to you Kirtee Om ji and Basudev Om ji!

We switched on the AC after entering the room as we were feeling a little hot. A little black bird was chirping sitting on the balcony railing. Another bird was just pecking at its own reflection on the glass window. It was futilely trying to beat the bird in the glass. How pathetic! It is just like the ‘Maya’ of the ‘Samsara’. We know that this is not permanent, but still hanker after the same even if we get betrayed by the ‘Maya’ again and again! We freshened up and were ready for the diner! Yes, you read it correctly. Diner time was from 5:15 PM to 6:15 PM! It was a shock for people like us who take snacks at the mentioned time and diner at around 9 PM. We were totally puzzled!

Still, we went to the dining area and had our ‘diner’. There was fine rice, ghee coated soft chapatis, chhole curry and the food was really tasty. Here also I recalled how Swamiji had trouble in preparing his food in Naga Baba’s Ashram, had to satisfy his hunger by taking dry and hard chapati made from flour adulterated with sand particles. But to his devotees, he is providing the best possible quality food with taste. What would you term this act of generosity? The dining hall is well designed with two separate entry-exit points for the Kitchen Sevaks and the visitors. Everything was so systematic that error has no place at the Ashram!

I savoured the food and then ate like Bakasura and also packed some food for night in a hot case courteously provided by Kirtee Om ji. So, if you are like us, it is always good to carry a hot case to have some reserve food at your disposal as you cannot order anything from Swiggy or Zomato 😉.

Everyone was in a hurry to finish the diner and were heading towards the temple as Swamiji’s discourse was scheduled to start from 6:30 PM. We also finished and came out. Yes, I must mention a noticeable observation. After finishing your food, you have to dispose the leftover food (if any) in the respective bins with dry and wet segregation and then you need to clean your tray. Liquid soap dispenser and scrubbers are available. You need to use them and wash your trays. No dish washers 😉 or anybody else to clean your tray.

I learnt a big lesson of humility from this act. Really, doing your own work makes you humble irrespective of your stature. No tantrums please, no one is a servant to you for cleaning your utensils after you finish up the food. And another lesson: no work is small. Even we need to respect them who clean our plates at hotels / restaurants after we eat like rakshas and make the plates / bowls really dirty and leave them to be cleaned by the hotel staff. The act of cleaning one’s own tray, carefully included by Swamiji, is really a great teaching and good enough to keep you grounded and down to earth.

After finishing our ‘diner’ we went to Shri Hari temple to have the first physical glimpse of our beloved Swamiji. The temple was jam packed with devotees. Sushree jis, Prabhuji (Brahmachari ji) in their white dress were ready. Raghu Swami ji, Sadhvi Shraddha Om ji and Vrinda Om ji in their ochre robe were eagerly waiting for the arrival of Swamiji. Bhajans and chanting were at the peak and then…

(To be continued…)

Jai Shri Hari…

PS: The featured image is a click of Giri Ganga river.

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