Babaji's Tour of South India – February 2014
Shivaratri was celebrated in Adivarapupeta on February 27th this year. As always Babaji travelled over 1,000 miles (1600 kilometres) from a cold Dehradun in the North to a hot South to join the large number of devotees gathered there for this auspicious event, stopping on the way to hold programs for devotees in Hyderabad, Chennai and surrounding areas of Adivarapupeta.
On the first day of arrival in Adivarapupeta Babaji and a party of about 50 devotees who had accompanied Him, entered the Temple. Immediately stepping across the threshold one notices a change. You do not simply move from outside to inside, here the coolness of the air and the slight echo of any sounds gives the sense of Cathedral-like stillness to a Westerner. Entering one goes from a hot, busy, crowded world to being enveloped in an oasis of peace and tranquillity. As the devotees sat quietly soaking up the peaceful atmosphere Babaji stood and explained how this was the very place that His dear, beloved Guru, Shri Shivabalayogi Maharaji had sat for twelve years of Tapas, enduring all sufferings to achieve Realization. His short talk, so full of love and honor to His Guru, injected a sense of awe and wonder as we sat and contemplated such an endurance and achievement, beyond our ordinary human minds to comprehend. Around the walls of the Temple are many pictures depicting the life of Swamiji, His achievements and great Mission work travelling and inspiring many around the world to take up spiritual practice, meditate and achieve Realization ultimately.
Over the next three days Babaji and the party of devotees travelled around the local area visiting Temples, devotees' homes and a school, always Babaji took the opportunity to talk about His Guru Swamiji and how Adivarapupeta is the place where He had been born, sat of Tapas, achieved Realization and after travelling around the world for many years finally returned to give up the body. He always spoke of meditation, the mind and Consciousness and held a meditation. Immediately behind the Temple on the site of Swamiji's Tapas there is another building, the site of Swamiji's Mahasamadhi, where the physical body of Swamiji finally rests. Each day Babaji would enter both buildings and show His respects.
The Ashram complex has expanded greatly over the last twenty years to meet the needs of the several thousand devotees who come here, all so well cared for by the small band of hard-working, ever smiling people who manage the site and provide all who come here with accommodation and mass feeding. Despite the numbers present the sanctity of the special place remains preserved for all to draw inspiration.
On the day of Shivaratri the Temple is filled with people and the sound of trumpets interspersed with the chants of priests as the ancient ceremony is conducted once again, re-enacting and celebrating the wedding of Shiva and His consort Parvati. As with the homa (fire sacrifice) on the previous day, the ceremony can be understood and experienced on many levels for different people, the main purpose being that the mind becomes focussed and single-pointed, not drifting off to the past or future, fixed on one place, one time, one action. It can also be understood as the joining of Shiva as Consciousness and Parvati as Energy, as occurs at Samadhi as the mind becomes still and silent.
Outside the Ashram is surrounded on one side by a beautiful panorama of lush green rice fields with Palmyra trees. To the other side lies the village of Adivarapupeta where the local people still weave cloth in just the same way that Swamiji did all those years ago as a child, an unchanging reminder of the sites and events that the visitor can still experience. The photo shown here is one of the village streets that Swamiji would have walked many hundreds of times.
On the way to Adivarapupeta Babaji stopped at New Delhi, Hyderabad and Chennai to hold darshan, sing bhajans, meditate and talk repeatedly about Swamiji, His life and achievements. At each place the people gathered and drew strength and increased determination for their own practice. The venues change from a beautiful, purpose built Ashram building housing an inspiring life-sized statue of Swamiji sitting in a lotus flower in a stunningly designed and decorated building in Hyderabad to homes packed with devotees but always containing many pictures of Swamiji as a constant reminder of His timeless presence.
Even in the school near Adivarapupeta the young children were inspired to sit so peacefully and beautifully in meditation, a reminder to any adult who feels it is so hard, that these children, some only a few years old, are able to simply follow the teacher's instructions and sit. After the meditation the devotees sang a series of bhajans for the enjoyment of all present, young and old and then the highlight – the presentation of much needed pencils and exercises books to each child that was met with gratitude, but also of ice cream for all, which was received with even more delight and enthusiasm.
Babaji also visited a large orphanage, as He has for the past several years, blessing the large number of children, women and physically or mentally challenged who have been provided a safe and caring environment by the founder. He walked around the complex to different units and then blessed each individual after a homa ceremony in the hall, bringing smiles to their faces.
The many journeys by trains, planes and roads were long and sometimes a bit challenging for those not used to the great distances in this sub-continent, but Babaji's ever smiling presence was always there. In one such incident on the 16 hour overnight train journey from Chennai to Kakinada there was an opportunity for some devotees to sit near to Babaji and listen as He spoke about Swamiji, and also tell funny stories, teasing some of those present about their clown-like mistakes. All lovingly done, with a twinkle in His eyes. It was also a sweet, gentle reminder to keep striving to improve ourselves, no matter the situation, how important in everyday actions focus needs to be developed, concentration improved and attention to the Guru intensified. The young devotees sat with beaming, happy faces and much laughter rippled through the train carriage as they perched like a small flock of excited birds, tightly packed into lines on the bench seating.
After Shivatratri the many devotees began to disperse. Babaji also set off on the long, two day travel returning to the home of His own Tapas in Dehra Dun once more, to stay for a short while before His next tour spreading Swamiji's teachings to devotees once again.
Below are a selection of photos from the tour. Please click on the images to view them in full size.
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