Guru Purnima Celebrations at the Ashram
“The one by whose Grace one attains direct knowledge of the Self is known by the name of Guru,” declares the Guru Gita. Guru Purnima is celebrated each year as a tribute to the Guru, the one who dispels the darkness of ignorance. This year, devotees from around India and the world travelled to the Dehradun Ashram to pay their deepest respects to the two great Self Realized Souls, Shri Swamiji and Shri Babaji, themselves Guru and disciple.
Devotees arrived at the Ashram overlooking the majestic sight of the Shivalik ranges, adorned by lush greenery after heavy overnight rains. The humid morning air filled with anticipation of the day's ceremonies, as devotees gathered by the main Ashram stairway. A deep silence fell over the crowd as Shri Babaji descended the stairs to perform a simple puja (worship) at the Ashram temple, before proceeding to the darshan hall and the room in which He performed Tapas to offer worship to His Guru, Shri Swamiji. Babaji has taught that, even after achieving Self Realization and transcending all imagination, Yogis worship God and Guru as an example of humility and devotion. The simplicity and perfect single-pointed devotion of Babaji's worship was a sublime teaching for all those who observed with apt attention.
The sound of mantras reverberated throughout the Ashram's sacred halls, as the homam (fire ceremony) commenced. One felt immersed in the ancient culture of India, which emphasizes the role of Guru in leading the disciple to the Supreme Peace within themselves. After Babaji performed the purnahuti (final offering), devotees placed the samagri(sacred ingredients) into the fire to symbolize offering of the ego to the purifying fire of the Self.
The crowd then proceeded to the Ashram terrace, where one by one people performed pada puja (washing of feet) to Shri Babaji. This is an act of supreme reverence to the Master, through which one conveys one's willingness to adopt the spiritual teachings and methods of sadhana taught by Him. The stirring scene of water being serenely poured and flowers gently placed at the feet of Babaji was framed by the imposing Shivalik ranges. In the foreground everyone wholeheartedly participated in the singing of bhajans, creating a soothing and devotionally charged atmosphere. The scene was a reflection of the intimate and informal setting of the Ashram, a tone set by Babaji Himself through His years of service and Tapas, followed by those living in and visiting the Ashram today.
A great wave of feeling for the Guru swelled as Shri Babaji entered the darshan hall to perform two bhajans as a shradhanjali (tribute) to Shri Swamiji. He was accompanied by His assistants who worked tirelessly to coordinate the entire programme for the day. Babaji then gave a talk on the importance of the Guru on the spiritual path and the wonderful and enigmatic way in which Swamiji taught him the spiritual truths. Relating the story of Adi Shankara and the Kapaalik, Babaji emphasized that as the Guru nurtures and refines the disciple like a mother, so the disciple needs to take care of the physical body and Mission of the Guru, who has renounced all attachment to the material world. The unconditional love between Guru and disciple is the purest possible relationship, which has been the pillar of Realization in India over millenia.
In the evening, devotees sat for meditation before ending with aarati to Swamiji and Babaji and satsang with Babaji. Ultimately, Babaji taught, that the Guru cannot be limited to the physical body, but is One with the All Pervading Divine. As expounded by Lord Shiva in the Guru Gita, “Parabrahman who is capable of swallowing up ignorance is certainly the Guru”. On Guru Purnima, everyone at the Dehradun Ashram felt the presence of the Divine Guru, Shri Shivabalayogi Maharaj.