Sarayu river and ghats in Ayodhya
This was a trip that everyone who accompanied me will remember in terms of its agonies and ecstasies. It was 16th February. We started after breakfast from Allahabad. Our first dip (Shahi Snan) at Maha Kumbh Mela was on 15th early morning, before 4AM.
On 16th, as we started for Ayodhya in a bus, the sky became dark as well as foggy and visibility became very poor. The driver was finding it difficult to drive. It was raining heavily. We almost decided to abandon our trip. Mohanji, as always was sitting at the first seat, just near the front door. Suddenly, we heard a thunder and lightning, almost simultaneously towards the left of us. Thunder and lightning together means danger is extremely near us. Mohanji also looked at that side. There was an old Hanuman temple towards our left and the thunder happened just above it. Immediately, Mohanji called Sumit and asked him and all else to chant Hanuman Chalisa. He himself started chanting. The whole bus chanted Hanuman Chalisa. Afterwards, We also chanted Hare Rama, Hare Krishna. Phaneedhar’s mother who was sitting at the adjacent seat to Mohanji, had visions of many saints and deities in Mohanji while he sang the chalisa. Sumit saw the way Hanumanji was pulling our bus out. I saw Hanumanji’s grace clearing things in our journey. The vision was succinct and divine. (I hope readers will remember the appearance of Hanumanji at Mohanji’s abode in Muscat when we were recording Hanuman Chalisa in Mohanji’s voice. Kindly refer to blog Lord Hanuman – A Great Miracle http://mohansuniverse.wordpress.com/2011/02/13/lord-hanuman-%E2%80%93-a-great-miracle/).
With chanting of Hanuman Chalisa, soon, miraculously, the sky started clearing. We continued the journey. The darkness and fogdisappeared and the sky became clear, even though it was raining. Rain subsided to drizzle afterwards. We reached Ayodhya. We walked towards an old Hanuman temple. On the way, even though it was raining and the road was really dirty with the gutter spilling onto the road, we enjoyed the serenity of river Sarayu and also the old buildings that bordered it. Mohanji seemed so familiar with the place and was laughing and cracking jokes. We took many pictures too.
Deeply immersed in Hanuman Chalisa… with Mohanji
We reached the Hanuman Mandir and we were greeted by the old priest, a sincere devotee of Lord Hanuman. We assembled for the arathi at the Hanuman temple. This Hanuman idol appeared by itself and is said to be very powerful. They say, the saint who established this temple had meditated in Chitrakut Parvat.
There was another family apart from our group, sitting at the opposite side of us as we waited for the curtain to be lifted and arathi to begin. This family had organized the pooja. We sat for about 15 minutes and the curtain was lifted. Suddenly, two ladies who were sitting at the opposite side of Mohanji rushed towards Mohanji, pushed him to one side and stood at the entrance. In a way, that family stood in a circle at the entrance and obscured our view. Mohanji means subtlety. We know how well connected he is with Hanumanji. He stood on one side, even though he cannot see the arathi. Once the family had the flame as much as they wanted, Sumit took it from them and handed it over to Mohanji. Mohanji quickly performed the arathi and handed over to others. He was visibly not happy because the wicks had gone black and it is not auspicious to perform arathi with dying wicks.
In front of Hanumat Mandir in Ayodhya
Our path is not of insensitivity and violence. Mohanji is very much subtle and vulnerable. He is beyond the need for demonstrating any kind of bhakti to any god as he is deeply immersed in perpetual bhakti. Yet, it is important that we need to be aware about his subtlety, operating level and protect him from such gross insensitiveness. Mohanji even mentioned about this once or twice. “Why do people push, shout and scream at each other, fight with each other while in queue for the worship of their chosen God? God is Love. God is peace. Which God will be happy to see such devotees? Only through silence can you hear the footsteps of God”. We experienced a worse situation at Vindhyachal temple too. Entering into temple was tough due to rush. Everyone was pushing and shouting. There were fights in the queue. People would not even consider children. Standing in the queue and also after entering into the temple was so suffocating. We could barely stand on one foot and could hardly breathe! Protecting little Swasti and also Mohanji was a task. The priests even tried to extort Rs11000/- from Mohanji by trying to push him to commit to some special poojas. We literally ran away from those – excuse my expression – vultures. If you want peace, do not visit such temples that are so crowded. They were even creating artificial stampedes and commotion to extract money. Those who pay high are given preference!
Mohanji with a Saint during lunch at Hanumanji temple in Ayodhya
After the arathi at the Hanumanji temple, the kind priest invited all of us to share some divine offerings. Everything was called Prasad; puri prasad, pani (water) Prasad…. We had the most sumptuous food ever at the temple. It was delivered with deep love and respect. Many other elderly saints and some sadhus were prostrating at the feet of Mohanji. It was nice to see that natural recognition of people of Mohanji which I have been witnessing since last 4 months.
Prasad at Hanuman mandir, Ayodhya… Swamiji himself served so lovingly with prayers
Hanumanji Darshan at Ayodhya
After the food, when we came out, we saw Mohanji looking intently at an old man sitting with his back towards the sanctum sanctorum of the Hanumanji temple. Showing back to sanctum Sanctorum is very rare and considered to be disrespect under any circumstances. Mohanji was quietly communing with this man, who was sulking and looking down, and asked Sumit to go and touch his feet and give some dakshina. He also asked Sumit to take some pictures. (I must mention here that, even though most of us sport our camera, we often miss the most important opportunities for picture due to our insensitiveness. It is also very important to keep watching Mohanji’s subtle changes and act accordingly. He never warns anyone. He cannot, as it is always spontaneous. He radiates and responds purely according to the need of the hour or circumstances. As he always says “One must develop “eyes” to see”. But, this time, all of us clicked. Some pictures just did not appear at all, which we latter realized. But, many came. And we realized that this unassuming man, who quietly blessed all of us, with a distinct sadness on His face, was none other than Hanumanji himself. If you look closely, you will know. This is the second time that we are seeing Him up and close. And this is the first time that we could photograph him! The first time we saw him was at Pashupatinath temple at Kathmandu. We shall narrate that in the upcoming book “Kailas with Mohanji”. Palak, later communicates, “When I looked into Hanumanji’s eyes, that nano second gaze was so powerful and satisfying that he looked directly at my soul and not me. I became the soul and I just knew that was my Father. It is still with me”. Everyone was overwhelmed seeing him. The way Hanumanji was sitting was exceptional sight. He was sitting with head slightly down and hands humbly folded. His face had serenity but a strange quietness. When I saw him, the first thought in my mind was vision from Mahabharata epics… oh.. he is the one who sat on the road, spreading his tail across the road to block the road of Bheem. Bheem was going to pick up celestial flowers for Draupadi. Hanumanji was there to challenge Bheem’s ego of his strength.
Hanumanji- a true Bhakta!
Mohanji mentioned “Look at Him. He is sad. If Hanumanji is not happy, that means there is some problem with Ram. He is a true bhakta. Ram and his affairs always come first in his agenda. He always cares and protects Ram. Have you thought, what is Ramayana without Hanuman? A perfect bhakta who dissolved his doership and ego into his devotion and nullified himself in his dasboadh.(the awareness of being a servant of Lord)” We felt his sadness too. But, little did we realize at that time that we would indeed face that reality that caused Hanumanji’s sadness, head on, in the most possible rude manner, which any devotee can imagine!!
Spiritual morality has become the burden of the middle income group who are neither rich nor poor. …. the walk contineus
Ayodhya Ram Mandir
From this temple, we moved on to the Beautiful Kanak Mahal which Ram got as dowry while marrying Sita from King Janaka, guided and escorted by a young priest of the Hanuman temple, as instructed by the elderly priest. It was a lovely premise and we enjoyed our brief stay there. We were to visit the famous Ayodhya temple, Lord Ram’s birthplace. We were approaching the time of closing the temple so we rushed from Kanak Mahal to Lord Ram’s birthplace. It is under dispute because of the Babari Masjid issue. Neither Mohanji nor most of us were aware of the present sensitivities of this place. The problems of being abroad for too long perhaps! Our only intention was to step in and worship at the birth place of one of the greatest avatars of Maha Vishnu. But, once again, we were asked to remove most of the stuff that we were carrying due to security reasons and hence Dheeman, one of our team members opted out of this pilgrimage to take care of our belongings and stayed at a place for that. This was just a beginning.
Though tough, it is important to walk the Path of Purity and Surrender. Devotion and Faith will bring the GRACE… Mohanji
Our body was checked at almost 10 other locations. Everyone had to walk through closed iron fence, the same that you would see in abattoirs in foreign countries where they drive cattle to their death. Similarly, through interconnected steel fences, there was hardly sufficient space for two people to walk shoulder to shoulder, the guards forced us to walk shoulder to shoulder. They would push and shout at us. There was no separate route for males and females. They pushed us from outside the fence. I was wondering how we can rescue someone who had a heart attack or even dizziness, because the winding steel cage structure had absolutely no opening to go out. It was even covered from the roof, rather welded in. And their language was also abusive. One of our team members were told that she would be beaten up if not moved forward faster. When she asked where to move as there were people ahead of her, the guard standing outside said, “push them”. Such humiliation does not suit any place of worship. At least they should make more comfortable queuing areas, appoint more civilized guards, and respect pilgrims. At the sanctum sanctorum, also we were pushed. No chance of even a glance at it. Utter disrespect towards the pilgrims. What a rich tradition of tolerance have sheltered us always! What is happening today? Who has the right to treat the devotees in this order? Whose responsibility is that, we ourselves or the elected government? Are these administration of insensitiveness delivered by the government whom the people have elected through vote and entrusted India with? All people have the right to worship their chosen God or Guru. All people are born free. They can live free too. Nobody has the right to inflict controls, pains and fear on anyone. Nobody has the right to abuse innocent pilgrims of any religion. Pilgrims should be respected. They should be allowed the freedom of prayer. No pilgrim of any religion can be treated this way. Thought were flowing…
Mohanji said “Now you know why Hanumanji is sad! Pilgrims are ill-treated, abused and condemned. This is injustice. When adharma happens, destruction will happen. We can expect many calamities. Insensitiveness will breed anger, hatred, frustration and calamities. Man is allowed his free will. They have to correct themselves. They have to preserve dharma. They have to do it themselves. If they could not, destruction from higher order will happen. Destruction of consciousness of the lower. The lower will sink down to the lowest.”
The bliss in rains
Tremendous rains made us wet. The tears of the nature! We cried! We were waiting at the outside temple. It was almost 7pm by then. How would we walk in such heavy rains to our bus? No transport was available. But, Nandita walked far away alone to look for transport and she got it. Meanwhile Sumit fetched plastic rain covers for all of us. Thanks to their care and efforts. Later, Mohanji also visited a Hanuman temple close to the Ram’s birth place along with a couple of others. This temple was 82 steps high. There, Mohanji was honored with a garland by the priests. We came back to Allahabad, relieved to have escaped from Ayodhya. Perhaps this is the feeling that the government wanted to create in every pilgrim who visits Ayodhya. Perhaps the government does not want pilgrims to return back to Ayodhya. Mosques were constructed exactly over the spots of the birth place of Krishna and Rama, the two great avatars of the tradition of India, by Mughal rulers. This was their style of demoralising the worshippers and pushing them to convert to their faith. But, today, we are supposed to be in a more civilised and tolerant society. We are supposed be respecting the faith of everyone. Yet, what we saw at Ayodhya will wrench the heart of any pilgrim or even a person with no faith in anything at all. This is a clear demonstration of insensitiveness, ruthless contempt towards human kind – let alone pilgrims, and a clear sign of a lack of respect for human rights! Rain, water and slush welcomed us at Allahabad. Yet, we were happy to be back in our tents. We expected the torrential rains to have drenched our beds and belongings, yet it had not done much damage to our materials. This is divine grace indeed.
Ravi’s narration of Hanuman Garhi temple
Ravi from Muscat was with us. Ayodhya visit in his words, “First, a little backgrounder- The moment I learnt about the Maha Kumbh plan, I wanted to go to Ayodhya! However, the plan was to go to Vindhyachal and Varanasi, and not Ayodhya. Ayodhya was one of the 7 holy cities in India where Moksha could be attained, and the only one where I had not been to! I did a lot of research on the net to see if there was any chance of a day trip, but later, by the grace of God & our Guru, it spontaneously became part of our itinerary!
Our trip to Ayodhya was blessed by Lord Indra, the rain God, who welcomed us to Ayodhya with great fervor. We walked across the beautiful Sarayu river, lined with ancient Ghats, and made our way to Shri Hanuman Katha Mandap and the Hanumat Niwas Temple, where we had a very memorable experience. Later, after a sumptuous Prasad, we made our way to a few more temples, notable amongst them being “Kanak Bhavan” and the “Sri Ram Janm Bhoomi Temple” By the time we re-assembled at the Luv-Kush Temple after the staggered Darshan, most of us were wet in varying intensities.
There are two great temples in Ayodhya, the Ram Janma bhoomi one, which we had seen, and the Hanuman Garhi Temple, which I deeply wanted to see. But I was also aware of the time since we were already late and might reach Allahabad early next morning only, as it was. Rains were heavy too. Only one Tempo (A large auto-rickshaw) could be arranged, and we would need to wait for the same person to ferry us all in groups. After some creative Rain gear courtesy Sumit & Co, we all trooped out of the Luv-Kush Temple to make our way back to the bus waiting on the other side of the Saryu River.
As luck would have it, there were a few people left in the last batch, including Mohanji himself! We had sought shelter from the pouring rain at a sweet shop, while waiting for the Tempo to arrive. I casually asked Mohanji whether he had noticed that there were a lot of sweet shops where we were. He smiled and then nodded. I told him there were about 200 sweet shops in this one lane (I had asked a sweet-shop owner). I further asked if he noticed that the only sweet these shops seemed to stock were Laddoos! He seemed surprised and asked why- the moment I had been waiting for!!! I said it is because of the famous Hanuman Garhi Temple here” – As Prasad for Hanumanji.
The rain seemed to lighten a bit, and a group of pilgrims asked me for directions to the temple. When Mohanji asked where the Temple was, I said right in front of us- barely a few meters from where we had taken refuge, up a steep flight of 80 odd steps. Guruji, knowing my deep desire to have darshan of Hanumanji here, said with a mischievous glint in his eye “ Ho Jayegaa” in his best Hindi!!! I had the biggest smile on my face, this side of the Sarayu!
We literally ran up the flight of steps and had a most wonderful darshan of Bal Hanuman (Hanumanji as a child) with Mata Anjani. Hanumaji is believed to live here and take care of Ramkot and Ayodhya. The Priest also honored Mohanji with a Garland. A quick photograph, and we made our way back to the sweet shop. My strong desire for Hanumanji’s darshan at Hanuman Garhi was at last fulfilled. Narinder Mamaji and I then went to arrange for some tea and snacks and we all were in time for the final ferry by our friendly neighborhood Tempo-wallah to the waiting bus! We left for Allahabad at 10 pm. Shashank got warm shawls for us. Big thanks Shashank! With dinner at dhaba with hot tandoors and dal, we reached early next morning, in time for a soul-stirring Rath Saptami Snan with Mohanji at the holy Sangam at Brahma Muhurtam , but then that is another story………
We always believed in love and kindness. We believe in unity. All are one. None is higher or lower in the eyes of God and true Gurus.
After the bitter experience of “extortion at Vindhyachal temple”, we skipped many intended temples on the way and arrived at Varanasi by afternoon of 18th. This reminds me of Mohanji’s words, “The deterioration of Hindu culture is obvious in our temples. Greedy priests who extort money from insecure pilgrims threatening curses on their family! Politicians manage temples and its coffers. Thus, priests control people and politicians control temples. In the past, temples ensured even and justified distribution of wealth amongst the poor and the deities were regarded as the real kings by the rulers of the land and they surrendered their wealth and kingdom to their favorite deities of the temples. Temples were respected. And so was the wealth of the temples. Today, there is no reverence. There is no devotion. Devotion does exist, in a degenerated way – as fear of retribution. Fear is used by the priests to control people. Sins are over-emphasized to extort money. Look at our grand tradition where nobody bound anybody. Our only aim was liberation from the birth-death cycle. All Gurus were guiding mankind in that path, through their own examples, where fear does not exist in any form. Reverence, gratitude and unconditional love existed. Morality has become the burden of the middle-income group who are neither rich nor poor. Law does not affect the rich. Money talks and even controls law. Politicians care nothing about the country or people’s sentiments. The rich and the poor lead their life the way they want and get away with whatever they do. But, they do scandalizes minor offences and pretend to be the watchdogs of the social order! Morality is upheld for political advantage’s sake. Otherwise, we do not care about it. People believe that morality is for the others, not for themselves. A boy who marries his sweetheart against the will of the society is punished while politicians seduce unsuspecting subjects and gets away with it. Saints are scandalized for political gains. Places of worship are demolished for political gains. Such double standards, adharma and injustice have taken deep roots in our society. Dharma, or pure duty is missing. Negative forces are running the temples of our favorite deities. Otherwise, such abuse and extortion cannot take place. Such abuse and violence cannot take place. We believe in Non-violence. We believe in brotherhood. Motherhood is missing. India never attacked any country ever. India was attacked and looted by many. We welcomed and adapted everyone, everything. We always believed in love and kindness. We believe in unity. All are one. None higher or lower in the eyes of God and true Gurus”.
“Mankind is very much in the grip of negative forces. It is important for man to see the truth. It is important to walk the path of purity and brightness. It is important to stay away from seeming negative patterns and forces. Once trapped, always trapped. It is a vicious circle. They lure you back with fear. Fear binds. Fear disables. Be fearless. No God is depended on your paltry contribution. No true guru needs your money or wealth. They need nothing from you. They never bind you. Whatever binds you even remotely is of the lower order. The “White” path of purity never binds you or suffocates you. Period.”
Love everyone. .. unconditionally .. Mohanji
How can we make a positive difference? Mohanji suggests “Have faith in goodness, kindness, compassion and all that expands our heart. Do not be disappointed with expressions of greed, enmity, hatred, jealousy, lie, treachery, cheat, cruelty, deceit and conceit. Be the change that you want to see outside of you. Lead by example. Live your highest truth. Let your life be your real message. Do not preach. Do not fight. Protect dharma. Defend the decay of dharma. Love mother earth and all its children. Change attitudes using the weapon of love”.
“Greed and competition has become an integral part of our education system, our very upbringing. Trust that if we are born, we are provided for. Needs are definitely met by mother earth herself, not our greed which is unending! Yet, we do not demonstrate tolerance in life. None are tolerant to the other. We are not teaching our children the true values of Life and Unconditional God. We are not giving them experiences as to how it feels when we express unconditional love. There are no role models to look at. The word “seva” or selfless service has degenerated to the level where canvassing people for a course or program are termed as seva. There is no selflessness in it. This would only amount to one’s compulsory service towards a cult or guru that binds them. All our silver screen heroes are angry people who wage wars and destruction. Creativity is for profits. Nobody cares about conscience. Nobody teaches the children to respect one’s conscience. Nobody consciously educates their children not to lie, not to conceal a bad tendency, not to cheat or to steal; or not to hurt another through thoughts, words or action. It is time for a fundamental shift. It is time for a metamorphosis. If that does not happen, re-creation will have to happen anyways. That would need demolition before re-creation. There is no time to repair”
The magnificent arati of Maa Ganga at Banaras
If you are born a Hindu, at least once you should visit Kashi, the ultimate temple of Lord Shiva. Mohanji and the group traveled to Kashi and had the early morning darsan of the great Kashi Vishwanath. Mohanji also did abhishek of Vibhooti on the Kashi Viswanath ling. It was a great experience. We also witnessed the divine play of two monkeys appearing, waiting as still as a statue and leaving the place as soon as Mohanji left. One saint in thick matted hear, kamandalu and rudraksh appeared and gave us Shaktipat. The priests spontaneously gave Mohanji a crown of flowers, without anyone introducing Mohanji to them. Even in Kashi temple, the crowd was controlled by policemen. There were no seva volunteers or devotees performing the task. This is the sad state of all our temples.
At the banks of Ganga in Banaras
It would be inappropriate if we end our travelogue without thanking our dear hosts Dr. Jayant and Mrs Nupur Mathur. They arranged a boat ride to witness the evening Ganga Arathi where we saw the spectacle from the water. The boat took us through the bathing ghats and had a beautiful view from the river. We also had dinner onboard the boat. The next day, we visited the Sankat Mochan Hanuman temple too. A beautiful and peaceful temple indeed! The temple opened our hearts. Hanumanji temples are growing in numbers all over the world, perhaps more than Sri Rama temples. People are connecting to Hanumanji much more. Sri Rama blessed Hanumanji for his unfailing devotion and surrender. “In the kalyug, more people will worship you than me. They will reach me through you”.
In the boat at Banaras Ghats
We had lunch at Dr. and Mrs Mathur’s place and departed for New Delhi by the evening train. This train was supposed to reach New Delhi at 7.30AM, ran 5 hour late and reached at 12.30 which jeopardized Mohanji’s programs a lot. That was also the day of Bharat Bandh. Yet, he wasted no time. Took bath, changed and reached an hour late to address the students of the Sri Ram College of Commerce in Delhi University. It was a rapid fire one hour question and answer session. And straight from there, we went to the Lodhi Road Ramanashram for the evening program. It was a packed program and went on till late in the evening. We retired by midnight of 20th.
In 2010, for the Hardwar Kumbh Mela, Mohanji and Biba went alone. This time, Mohanji had 40 of us accompanying him. We witness the crowd steadily increasing around him. Yet, he ensured that everyone got what they desired for. All went back home happy and contended. A true selfless master cares nothing for himself and ensures proper attention is given to all his followers. None are abandoned. We could see a distinct difference in each one’s face from the time they came and the time they left. A distinct mark of satisfaction and fulfillment!
Hanumanji at Dhoumya Rishi temple near Datta Tapovan, Mohanji’s Ashram in Wai, Maharashtra, India
As I completed writing and editing this blog, believe me, Nilkanth from Pune sent me this picture of Hanumanji. This idol of Hanumanji is from the Dhoumya Rishi’s temple near Datta Tapovan, Mohanji’s ashram in Wai, Maharashtra, India. Dhoumya Rishi is Guru of Pandvas (Mahabharat epic) and this temple was built by Pandvas on the bank of Krishna river. Recently when Mohanji was in Ashram, Mohanji and Nilkanth visited this temple. Nilkanth had taken this photo then. It is idol made up of 5 metals (panchadhatu). The day of preparing blog was full of grace of Hanumanji. Few other incidences also happened. I bow to the Divine Grace. My humble prostrations and surrender at Mohanji’s lotus feet.
Next, I am taking you to our visit to Shani Shinganapur and then to Shirdi on Mohanji’s birth day.
Love and regards,
The Perfect Witness who silently enjoys His Creation!