At our Family meeting last week an Indian gentleman that is a frequent visitor to the Ashram brought up the fact that he came here so often because he loved being with our Divine Mother Murti and feeling Her love and compassion. He then went on to say that he also felt that love in me and that he saw me as his second mother, a couple of others in the group chimed in the affirmative. So our practice at the meetings is always to take in these positive statements and not mitigate or brush them off. Feeling a little embarrassed, I took a deep breath and sat with his statement for a moment. What came to me was a deep knowingness that if this was their truth, then I knew how these qualities had developed in me.
For years I have told people that I believe one of the profound benefits of doing puja is that we awaken within ourselves the qualities of the deities that we are propitiating. For instance, a student or artist will often do puja to Mother Saraswati asking Her to enliven within them Her qualities of precision, creativity, and intelligence. I remember the story in the Mahabharata, when Eklavya who was not of noble birth wanted to study archery with the royal Pandavas and Kuravas under the great archer, Guru Dronacharya. The young boy was not allowed to do this but he was not about to be put off, his determination knew no bounds. Near his house under a tree, Eklavya installed a clay murti of Dronacharya that he worshiped as his Guru! Daily, morning and evening, this devotee put flowers, scented oil, and other offerings at the feet of this image in front of whom he practiced his archery. The talented young Eklavya soon acquired the hightest knowledge in archery. He attributed his success to his Guru Dronacharya who he propitiated daily.
I cannot tell you how many years I have been waking up before 4am to bathe and dress our magnificent Haidakhandeswari Mother Murti, the personification of compassion, love, and graciousness. I am generally in rapture when I do this, probably a very open state for Her to awaken some of those qualities within me. So if these are some of the qualities that this gentleman was referring to in me, then I know exactly where they came from and it speaks to the depth of the practice our beloved Babaji gave to us. I also see in many devotees now, this ripening and maturing and opening to the Divine flow of grace of our beloved Shri Babaji.
Perhaps this is best reflected in the level of maturity and responsibility in our Babaji family, which in my opinion, has been growing exponentially in the last couple of years. I think after Shri Muniraji, whom we looked to for so much guidance, inspiration, and direction, left his body three years ago we were forced to come together and work as a team of devotees to bring Shri Babaji's teachings into practical application. Last year at the Guru Purnima celebration in Schiebenalp, Switzerland, we formed a group called Jai HO (short for "Victory to Haidakhandi Outreach"). A core group of us, who represent devotees from around the world, have been meeting faithfully on a Google Hangout every two weeks for the last year. We discuss pertinent issues about our Babaji organization, this has focused quite a bit initally in supporting and stregenthing our centers and ashrams around the world. We have reached out to various ones with communication support, conflict resolution guidance, formation information, and financial support. We are also involved in updating Haidakhandi publications, encouraging gatherings of devotees and tours, and supporting the yearly Guru Purnima celebration that has been travelling to different ashrams in Europe for the last 12 years. Click here to see the Jai HO brochure.
I have also seen that under the able and devoted leadership of Alok Banergee, whom Shri Muniraj appointed before his death as Chair of the Indian Samaj, many forward steps have been taken by the Indian Samaj. Surrounded by a team of hard-working and dedicated devotees, the Charitable Hosipital has made great strides in serving thousands in the rural Kumoan area, the Samaj office in Haldwani is running smoothly and effeciently, and the ashrams in India are being renovated and growing. Somehow I think Shri Babaji and Muniraji are smiling at the teamwork that is going on.
Bhole Baba Ki Jai!
In Truth, Simplicity, and Love,
Ceremonies and Schedule
The next new-moon fire ceremony is on Wednesday, July 15 and the full-moon on Friday, July 31, which is Guru Purnima Day. The fire ceremonies begin at 10am and are followed by a meal. Please arrive ten minutes early, freshly bathed, in a long skirt or pants with shoulders covered, and having fasted from grains, cereals, meat, eggs, garlic and onions. Fruit, yogurt, nuts, veggies and tea or coffee are fine to eat before. Also, if you have a dietary need for something more hearty before our meal at 11:30 or so, please partake.
Our evening aarati is at 6pm and morning aarati is at 7am, with a paduka puja in Shri Babaji’s kutir at 6:30am. We also have a small daily havan, fire ceremony, at 8am each morning that we do not have the large fire ceremony. Lunch is served at about 12:30pm, and we invite you to join us. (Call if you are a group or have special dietary needs.) The Maha Lakshmi Shop is open every day from 10am until 5pm.
If you would like to participate by sponsoring a fire ceremony or a bhandara (feast), we would like to send you a blessed item from the fire ceremony if you request. They are:
$27 sponsorship - Copper, brass, nickel Om Namah Shivaya bracelet
$54 sponsorship - Rudraksha, Rosewood, or Tulsi Mala
$108 sponsorship - Rose Quartz Mala or a copper, silver, brass Om Haidakhandi bracelet
You can make the donation online by just clicking here or by calling 719-256-4108, or by emailing the Ashram at info@BabajiAshram.org. You may also send us a check made to HUA to: P.O. Box 9, Crestone, CO 81131. We are continually grateful for all of your support of the Ashram.
Annual American Samaj Weekend and Meeting - July 18 & 19
The Annual American Samaj weekend always brings new ideas of how to better spread Shri Babaji’s message and love around the country. With large events happening internationally this year (the Bhakti Fest in Holland to raise funds for the Shri Babaji Charitable Hospital in India, Guru Purnima in Italy, and the Charitiable Hospital expanding its facilities to serve more poor people in the rural Komaon Hill Districts, and the new Jai HO initiative), there is much to consider and to use as a spring board for more service here in America. It is also the time for our election of Board members, if you would like to serve, please let us know.
We have people coming this year from Mexico and Canada as well as folks coming from all over the States for this special time of celebration and sharing. There is still some room in the dorm so call us at 719-256-4108 or email us at email@example.com for more details or to reserve a space. To find out more about the American Haidakhan Samaj and its work, go to their new website at www.babajisamaj.us.
15th Annual Family Week at the Ashram - July 21 -24
Two days after the Annual American Samaj weekend we will begin our annual Family Camp from Tuesday, July 21 through Friday, July 24. With several of our families returning again, the dorm is already booked but we do have room still in the yurt and a couple of beautiful camping spaces on the Ashram grounds. The children’s program includes circle time, yoga, karma yoga, chanting, arts and crafts and other fun activities and runs from 10am until 1pm. This year's Children's camp will be run by Kelly Hosner and Jai Shankar, who are amazing with children, and several assistants. It is always such a special time for us all to be together, so call us at 719-256-4108 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you plan to attend. There is no charge for children to attend the camp or stay at the Ashram. The suggested donation for adults staying at the Ashram is $27 per night.
Puja - To Touch Love, Workshop with Sofia Diaz July 21 -23
The Workshop at Family Week this year will be "Puja -- To Touch Love." It is about waking up our heart centers and then feeling outside ourselves. When you recognize something good and you are willing to extend your body into it you make a human ceremony that makes existence better for all beings. There will be group processes, meditation practices, breath awareness and, of course, the celebration of each other’s company in these precious bodies
The workshops facilitated by Sofia are totally amazing and this year will be no exception. The workshop runs each day from 10am - 1pm. This is concurrent with the children’s program above, making it easy for parents to take the workshop too. It is always a true gift to give to yourself, so do not miss it. The suggested donation for the three-day workshop is $108. Some partial scholarships are available. Please call the Ashram at 719-256-4108 to register.
Paduka Puja, Chanting, and Dinner in Loveland, CO - Friday, July 24 at 6pm
Dharni and Kanaiya Naik will recieve Shri Babaji's padukas to bless their home in Loveland on Friday evening, July 24 at 6pm. Dharni, who had Shri Babaji's darshan as a young girl in Wape, Gujarat, India, invited us to come to their home when we were in Fort Collins in April. This time Ramloti will be accompanied by Lok Nath, a long-time devotee of Shri Babaji from Tacoma, WA. He lived at Haidakhan with Shri Babaji much of 1979 until 1984, he will enrich the evening with many of his stories. Jai Shankar from Washington DC, who you may know from the many tours he has done with Ramloti, will also be coming as well as Ajay and Sabina Pradhan with their great drumming and vocals. It should be a dynamite night.
The evening begins at 6pm with chanting, paduka puja, and satsang followed by dinner. Dharni asks you to RSVP by July 14 so that she can prepare for you properly. Their address is 5160 Coral Burst Cirle, Loveland, CO 80538.
Their email address is email@example.com
Paduka Puja, Aarati, Fire Ceremony, & Feast in Yorba Linda, CA - Sun. Aug. 30
It has been a while since Shri Babaji's Padukas have graced the southern California area, so Ramloti will bring them to the home of Jayshree and Chandresh Trivedi on Sunday, August 30 beginning at 10:30. We will do a paduka puja, chandan, fire ceremony, aarati, sing a few bhajans, and end with a meal together. Their address is 17352 Yorkshire Ave, Yorba Linda, CA 92886. Please give them a call and let them know you are coming and find out what you might bring for the feast. Their phone number is 714-366-1836. It is always a joy to come together like this in Shri Babaji's name. Bhole Baba Ki Jai!
New Interview Posted with Gopal Hari
I can not even remember what year this was, but on one of my trips home from India I had a layover in England and was able to connect with Gopal Hari and get this wonderful interview. Many of you know at least the incredible music of Gopal Hari from his many Goma CD's that he made with his lovely wife Amika. This interview is even more special because he passed away last year of a brain tumor. We all miss his love, devotion, and great music, I am grateful to present this, which we have posted on YouTube for you. To view click here.
I am headed to Italy for Guru Purnima at the end of July where I will be surrounded by hundreds of people who have stories about being with Shri Babaji. Does anyone know of or have a small video recorder with good quality sound that could take many hours of footage for this purpose? Call or email me at the Ashram if you have some ideas at 719-256-4108. This is a rich opportunity to spread the love of Babaji.
Huge Sari Donation to Help the Ashram Upgrade their Car
We have several cars here at the Ashram, all but one have been donated over the years to us and we are deeply grateful. The challenge is that most are over 20 years old and our newest one is 13 years old and has a few too many trips to the mechanics to feel comfortable driving it great distances. So basically, Premanand did not take his vacation back east this year due to the shortage of a dependable car.
Well he and I went to see Amaji in Santa Fe which was a wonderful experience. I brought a piece of Mother's sari to Darlene and Tommy, where we were staying. When Darlene saw it she said she would like to give Mother a sari and give one to me too. So she took me out to a storage shed outside and I nearly fainted at the sight of a few hundred of the most beautiful saris I have ever seen in my 35 trips to India. She used to have a very high-end business called Streit Exotics and she would travel to India and Bangladesh and purchase saris to make all of her gorgeous original designs. She began handing me several saris, some so heavily brocaded that they weigh over five pounds. I was amazed. Later that evening she said she could give more to us to sale in our shop, since she was no longer doing her busines. In the night time, I suddenly had an idea that if we sold enough of these saris, we could raise funds to help us upgrade our car. When I told Darlene the next morning, she gave us even more to sale. Here is the display. They range from $300 for the elaborate, hand-made beaded ones displayed to $54. Call for more information and we can send photos of individual ones to you as well. Jai Maha Lakshmi Ki Jai!
Second Annual Monte Vista Movie Manor Extravaganza Weekend - Nov. 7 - 8!
We have settled on a date for this year's Extravaganza, it will be Saturday, November 7 through Sunday brunch, November 8. The events begin on Saturday afternoon with reception, chai, snacks, and check in. We then have aarti and chanting all evening followed with a sumptuous Indian feast and Indian classical movie. The wonders of this unique-in-America hotel is that you can view and hear the drive-in movie screen from the comfort of your room. In the morning there will be paduka puja, aarati, chanting, and a huge fire ceremony, all followed by a delicious Indian breakfast at about 11am. Departure at that time gives you ample time to arrive home in the late afternoon, and some people last year stopped at the Ashram on the way home for Mata’s darshan. For more information email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meet our Board Member, Peggy Thompson
“I am one of the Samaj's liasons to the Ashram Board. I do this because I believe in the importance of good ashrams/spiritual communities in general as a place to tune in and remind one of one's deeper self, especially with the harsh pull of Maya in the world these days. Haidakhandi Universal Ashram is dedicated to Shri Haidakhan Babaji (in both His Father and Mother aspects) and His program of spiritual attunement and evolution for this age and carries His energy as well. I have been a devotee of Shri Babaji for over 35 years and am very glad we have a place in the Americas where we can come in and experience this Energy and Program. Bhole Baba ki Jai! Jai Maha Maya ki Jai!.”
Karma Yoga at the Ashram
We have continued to be blessed with lots of karma yogis. The earthship kitchen, entry hall, and foyer have all been painted as well as the temple mandir, utility room, and cupola (small dome in the middle of the temple). The grounds look well-trimmed and very green, and the shop has been rearranged, thoroughly cleaned, and stocked for the busy summer. All of this on top of lots of visitors to host has kept us very busy. The dishes are always available to be washed and it is a joy to watch the young ones join in too. It has been a great summer so far. We want to thank all of you that help make these projects possible by your financial donations.
We ask each of you to look into your hearts and see what this Ashram means to you and to please donate as you are able. You may go to our website and donate through PayPal, (you can even set up a monthly tithe). You can also send a check (made out to HUA) to P.O. Box 9, Crestone, CO 81131; or you can call us at 719-256-4108 with a credit card number. We want to thank you for your support, love, and prayers. Bhole Baba Ki Jai!
Visitors to the Ashram
Well 4th of July has come and gone, but I will cover in the next newsletter as this one is already several days later than I had been hoping for. I will just let you know there were a couple of hundred people here and it was wild and wonderful. Even before this we have been quite busy with hosting folks. It is always wonderful to meet new folks, greet long-time visitors, and extremely nice to have frequent visitors who stay for a few days at a time and can really pitch in and help with all that needs to be done at the Ashram.
This is the case for Tracy and Mecca Stoddart from Santa Fe who were here twice last month. It is a joy and huge help when they come. They have also been studying puja and fire ceremony when they come here. Their short statements about coming to the Ashram and how important it is for them to continue it at home with the ceremonies they learned here are so touching. Here is what they said followed by a couple of photos of them learning fire ceremony at the Ashram and performing it on the deck of their Santa Fe home with Mecca's friend, Maggie.
From Mecca (18 years-old) - "I come to the Ashram to re-connect with Mother and Babaji and it feels like my spiritual family there every time I come, no matter who happens to be there that week!"
Tracy - "I know when I am away from the Ashram that the energy of Mother and Babaji are living in me. Doing Paduka Puja and Fire Ceremony at my home in Santa Fe are my ways of expressing that overflowing energy of love that I feel from my connection to Mother and Babaji. The residents of the Ashram who devote their lives to service of Mother and Babaji are like family to me and I am always looking forward to coming home for a visit."
We also had Hannah here for a monthfrom Tacoma, WA. Hannah has been coming to the Ashram since she was a very little girl. Her father, Lok Nath, who lived with Shri Babaji in Haidakhan from the late 70's until 1984, has been connected to the Ashram here in Crestone since its inception. We have watched Hannah and her brother Isaac (who also spent a summer with us a few years ago) grow up, they were attendees at our first family week fifteen years ago Here are photos of Hannah with Sage Koppana in 2010 and with Sage and her little sister, Asya this summer. Oh, how our children grow, we are so grateful to be a part of their growth. Here is what Hannah wrote about her stay here.
"As I sit to write my reflection of my month spent at the Ashram, I feel a sense of peace and joy that I’ve never felt before in my life. When I first came to the Ashram, I was almost nauseous with a feeling of homesickness for God. This longing was awful because I couldn’t understand how to generate positive thoughts or actions from this desire to know more of God. So for about a week, I felt confused, lost, frustrated, and I kept trying to come up with schemes to leave the Ashram and go on a mini religious pilgrimage to find God. I wanted to find a single religious community so that I wouldn’t have to juggle the multiple paths of being at a Hindu Ashram and knowing that I still felt connected to Christianity. Something kept me at the Ashram though. And I decided that instead of trying to figure out God, I would first just set a goal of staying sane and grounded. I went on runs everyday and I played keyboard every night. I often thought of Dharmananda, the New Zealander devotee, who taught to not be too serious about religion or God. Slowly, I think in part through chanting the Hanuman Chalisa so much, I started to feel the courage to let go of my own judgments and apprehensions about religious practices. And I started to let go of my desire to find identity and comfort within a single, fixed religion or ideology. Over the next few weeks, I cried a lot, and I laughed a lot. I felt ridiculously unstable, but I also felt safe to feel this way. I had many transformative conversations with others, and I read through several books that changed my perception of God, the ego, the purpose of life, and the importance of love. I’m not sure that I’ve processed all these experiences yet, but I do know that I have come to a new sense of peace with God. I still feel the homesickness for God that I felt when I first arrived, but now I feel empowered by the homesickness. For the first time in my life, I feel grateful for the task of remembering that I am part of God. I also feel excited for the opportunity to spread love to others, so that we might all help each other remember our own sacredness. Thank you to Ramloti, Dean, Jonathan, Prem, Kailu, Jessica, and the many other people who have overwhelmed me with their love and service this past month."
We have had many more interviews from visitors at the Ashram which we have posted for you to read on this blog area under the news section. Thank you to all who come here. We are blessed by your presence. Here are more photos of some of our many visitors from last month. Sometimes it is just too busy to even photograph and too many to put in the newsletter but we love you all.