Sastang dandavat at your beautiful lotus feet oh dearest Swamiji. I cannot find words / expressions to express my deepest gratitude for your invaluable 5 minutes of family time for us. The way you took Samil in your laps like a divine mother, we also lack that deep affection. In this series, I am trying to document our experience of the Ashram visit to the maximum possible extent as per my ability. Please forgive me for my limited wisdom and limited bhakti for any possible mistakes.
Before I start the series, let me once again express my gratitude to the very talented and considerate os.me Editorial Team along with Medha ji for choosing my hundredth blog as Featured Post which took our total featured post count to 8. I would also like to thank the entire Sadhana App Developer Team along with the brilliant Techie Priyanka Om ji for her kind words in my ‘Sadhana App Launch’ blog.
Now let us come to the topic. As you are all aware that I went through an intense low phase in the later part of 2020 which drew me to this platform via Madhavi ji. And the rest is History. Several times in various blogs, I mentioned the utter desire to have Darshan of Swamiji. Finally, it was Madhavi ji who informed me about the event from 18th to 21st March 2022 and without wasting a minute, I booked the slot and filled up the form for a personal meeting with Swamiji.
Swamiji was kind enough to provide his precious time and Swami Vedanand ji confirmed the appointment. We were overjoyed. In due course we booked the flight tickets from Hyderabad to Chandigarh and subsequently contacted Mr. Sanju (Sanju bhai) who is a really softspoken person. Though we were delayed in contacting him, (as his 37 cars were already booked for the event!) he confirmed the availability of a Toyota Etios as we informed him that infant Samil is traveling with us. The Whatsapp update came from him informing the vehicle number and the Solan-born chauffer Dalip Verma ji.
Our journey was all set and on the morning of Friday the 18th, we started for Hyderabad Airport. After the check-in procedure, we boarded the flight. Samil’s first flight that to a duration of almost two and half hours! We were scared about how would he behave. There was a little worry on the back of our minds that was it OK to travel to the remote Ashram with a two and half month-old baby? But as it turned out, when Swamiji calls, nothing else matters. And we were not taking Samil to the Ashram, rather he was accompanying us to the divine darshan.
A hot climatic condition welcomed us at Chandigarh Airport upon our landing at 12:30 PM. Our chauffer Dalip ji was already present at the airport and upon contact, he instructed us to approach to the pickup location. Within 5 minutes he showed up with a nice smile and the chant of “Jai Shri Hari”. He was kind enough to place all our luggage in the dickie by himself. Then we started for the Ashram.
Truly speaking, we were a bit nervous as we had never visited any ashram before. We did not know the rules, how to behave, what to follow etc. Anyway, we were enjoying the swift transition of the states i.e. switching among Chandigarh, Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. The roads were really nice and picturesque. The high-altitude plants started appearing as we entered Himachal Pradesh. The nice Pine trees, birch trees were welcoming us with the cool breeze. On the way, we had our lunch at a very exotic restaurant called ‘HAVELI’ with traditional look. I would describe it as a vintage restaurant to dine and have a wonderful experience.
In the zig-zag roads, the journey was adventurous. The hills and the gorges were accompanying us like friends. Various types of birds were also visible which otherwise are seen only in Zoos. It was the day of Holi. And we passed through several educational institutes on the way. The students were drenched in colours and were enjoying Holi to the fullest. With nice, branded cars and zooming super bikes, they were hauling and coloring each other. It reminded us about our care-free college days. But we were scared to see some kids (both boys and girls) hanging precariously from moving car windows after taking Mahadev’s Prasad! And they were almost touching the roadside plants.
Anyway, we moved ahead among the breath-taking greenery and painting like scenery towards the Ashram. Buses of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh Govt. were zooming past us. The expert drivers were seamlessly negotiating with the steep and sharp curves. Sahil reminded us that the movie ‘Koi Mil Gaya’ was shoot in Himachal Pradesh! Swamiji had correctly expressed in one video that the travel is equally beautiful as the Ashram which we realized. We followed his instructions not to fall in trap of, “Ashram pahunchne ki hadbadi mein raston ka anand to liya hi nahin!” Mother Nature showed us her beautiful avatar throughout the journey may it be in the mountains or the trees with colorful leaves and flowers or the nice blue sky with chirping birds and pollution free fresh air.
Then we started the last leg of our journey after crossing the bridge on Giri Ganga river. And oh my! What a dangerous road was it. We were told that the nearby villagers made the road before Swamiji established Shri Hari. Previously Swamiji used to travel by crossing the river Giri Ganga. But when time came for arrival of Shri Hari, he was determined that Shri Hari will come to the Ashram via road and the last 10 KM road was literally carved out of stone.
A chill ran down my spine by seeing the road. At places, there was just enough space for the car to pass with rear view mirrors closed. When any vehicle came from the front, our vehicle has to go backwards to a little spacious location and both the vehicles would pass grazing each other. At one place, there were slate rocks scattered and the wheels started sliding. A thought engulfed me as if I put all my family members’ life at stake! I was frightened and chanted on Om Swami! Sorry as I could not take any photograph of the last 10 KM road to share with you. But as Swamiji had said earlier,” You need to have determination to visit the Ashram. The roads are not easy for anybody to drop by and visit the heavenly abode on the way to or from Shimla vacation!”
“Difficult Roads often lead to beautiful destinations”
After some time, we were able to see the red roofs of various buildings of the Ashram. With one turn, we were able to have a Bird’s eye view of the things and with another turn, the view would vanish as if the heavenly place was playing hide and seek with us. Finally, we reached the Ashram Gate.
(to be continued…)
Jai Shri Hari…
PS: The featured image is a photograph of the Sri Badrika Ashram taken by me.