I am writing this in Cisternino, Italy at the oldest ashram of Shri Babaji in the west. I am here with several hundred other Babaji devotees celebrating Guru Purnima, the full moon in July when you honor your Guru. This international gathering for Guru Purnima has been going on in Europe for the last 12 years, generally moving between the four largest ashrams there; Italy, Holland, Germany, and Switzerland. I am grateful that I have been able to attend many of these celebrations keeping the Babaji connections alive and vibrant and always meeting many new devotees as well.
This year, as an executive member of the Jai HO! Group, which was formed last year in Switzerland, I arrived a few days before the festivities to meet together and to help out as needed at the Ashram. Jai HO! which means “Victory to Haidakhandi Outreach!” is a group of devotees from around the world that meet on a Google hangout every two weeks to discuss what is going on at the various Ashrams and Centers of Shri Babaji around the world. We attempt to share ideas to help and support these places as well as other initiatives and projects to share Babaji’s love and service. It is a dynamic group and it is great to have Alok Banergee, the chair of the Indian Haidakhan Samaji, and Sanjeev from India to join us during these days in Italy with their feedback and ideas.
The American Haidakhan Samaj helped the Ashram purchase a new camcorder to facilitate the recording of devotees’ stories for all to savor. I have the new camcorder with me and I am recording interviews with different devotees from around the world that were with Shri Babaji in physical form. I look forward to getting them on YouTube when I get back to Crestone so that each of you can share in the wonder of Shri Babaji as I am doing as I am recording all of the stories.
Ferd, from Canada was in Crestone with his wife, Betty for our Annual Samaj meeting, and he brought a new 24-minute compilation of Babaji stories that he has entitled, “Babaji, Incredible Humour.” There is a little bit of crossover of stories from the last DVD he made of “Mahavatar Babaji” but this one is divinely funny. Click here to view it.
Finally, I am so touched by all of the people who have gathered here from around the world to celebrate our love for our Guru, Shri Babaji despite busy schedules. The work that has been put in particularly by all the Italians to make this huge Ashram ready and sparkling for this festival is commendable. The founder of the Ashram, Janki Rani, who is now 91 years old, was able to join us for some satsang and one of the fire ceremonies. She is a strong and devoted woman who was at Shri Babaji’s feet when I first arrived in India, so our ties go back many years. Our Lord, Babaji, keeps us all tethered to Him and once we have come close to Him, it is difficult, nearly impossible to ever stray too far away. I am once again grateful to be part of this wonderful family.
In truth and love,
Ceremonies and Schedule
The new-moon fire ceremony this month is on Friday, August 14 and the full-moon fire ceremony will be on Saturday, August 29. 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
Kirya Yoga & the Divine Mother by Swami Atmavidyanada - Saturday, August 22
Swami Atmavidyanada from the Kriya Yoga Institute in Homestead, Florida will be speaking on Kriya Yoga and the Divine Mother on August 22 at 3pm at the Asrham. All are invited. For those wishing to attend from out of town, please know that we are totally booked that weekend as all of the Kriya Yogis will be staying at the Ashram. If you call the Ashram at 719-256-4108, we will give you names and phone numbers of local B&B’s or other accommodations. Jai MA!
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!
Huge Bazaar of Ashram Silks and Other Items in Downtown Crestone in early September
As noted in last months newsletter, the Ashram has been gifted an amazing amount of heavy silk saris, duvet covers, pillow shams, table cloths, drapes, and 75 bolts of raw silk fabric. There is not adequate room in the Maha Lakshmi Shop to properly display all of this, so we are working on a downtown venue and aiming for Saturday, September 5 for the big bazaar. Stay tuned and if you want to come up to the Shop and purchase things early, you are welcome. A phone call ahead at 719-256-4108 letting us know what you are interested in will help us have the inventory out for you. Everything will be priced to sale, some as low as 10% of its value!
Fall Navratri - The Divine Mother Festival – October 13 – 21
It is not too early to make your plans for Fall Navratri, the nine magical days that we set aside spring and fall to honor and thank our beautiful Divine Mother. Since the festival begins on a Tuesday and ends the following Wednesday, October 21, there is only one weekend and the dorm is already nearly booked for that Saturday night. So call at 719-256-4108 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or to reserve a room now. Haidakhandeswari Mata Ki Jai!
Movie Manor Ashram Extravaganza – Saturday, November 7 – Sunday, November 8
Parties are already booking rooms for the big event! Those that attended last year are bringing more families to share in the bliss of a whole weekend of bhajans, aarati, pujas, fire ceremony, satsang, sumptuous Indian food, and a classical Indian movie viewed in the privacy of your room on the large drive-in movie screen. The donation for a room for your whole family and afternoon chai, snacks, extravagant dinner, movie, and brunch the next morning is only $151. Every cent raised goes to support the Ashram as the owners of the Movie Manor have generously provided the rooms, cleaning, food, and movie to the Ashram. It is an amazing weekend and we hope you can share it with us. Please call us at 719-256-4108 or email us at email@example.com with any questions or to reserve a room now. You will be so happy that you did.
Karma Yoga at the Ashram
New paint, new drapes, new assans, new furnishings for Shri Babaji’s room, expanded and redirected havan kund, new blinds, and lots of cleaning, cooking, and baking in preparation for our Annual American Samaj meeting and Family Week. True to Shri Babaji’s style, we kept having the perfect karma yogis show up for all of the projects. It was a wildly busy and wonderfully joyful month of July! So much gratitude to all who helped with their loving spirits! Bhole Baba Ki Jai!
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!
A Huge Fourth of July!
Words are small compared with the 200 or so visitors we had over the Fourth of July Weekend. Here are just a few photos of the many guests that squeezed into our kitchen those days. It seemed that we just had lunch and then more folks would arrive for their lunch! What a wonderfully busy time seeing so many friends of the Ashram!
Annual American Haidakhan Samaj Meeting
It was a great weekend sharing Baba’s love and inspiration with so many people from around the world. We were fortunate to have representatives from Mexico and Canada and they have agreed to serve on the Samaj Board as well to help us keep in touch with more parts of America. We also have another new Board member from Santa Fe, New Mexico. It is exciting to see the work of Shri Babaji expanding throughout America.
15th Annual Family Week and Sofia Diaz Workshop
It was another deep and wonderful Family Week at the Ashram and the workshop conducted by Sofia Diaz was overwhelmingly profound. Here are accounts from a couple of participants.
Family Week, 2015 – by John, Boulder, Colorado
“Thank you again for a fantastic week at Babaji’s feet. Coming to Crestone for Family week is always an adventure. You don’t know what you will find out about yourself at Ashram. Most likely though you will establish a deeper bond with yourself, your family and how you conduct you daily life in general. The Ashram runs on a deep devotion, hard work, love for the ritual and the truth about who we are. The mix is important and while there is a focus on detail and form, it is at the same time infused with humor and a relaxed attitude to let everything play out naturally. It makes for a great experience for my son, because he sees the value of acknowledging the Divine in everything as a continuous flow of presence. The puja is authentic and allows him to respect tradition, a tradition that has for millennia empowered human beings to find out for themselves that they are the embodiment of God. And with that embodiment comes responsibility and a love to be true to that. And this is where a lot of value is given to the "Family Life”, because children and parents are having an opportunity to communicate differently with each other. It is an active camp and all the kids regardless of their age learn appreciation and courage. They spend a great time exploring together, while the parents explore deeper parts of their soul.”
Family Week at Haidakhandi Universal Ashram
by Lina, Boulder, CO
“Family week at HUA is incredibly healing for our family. By healing I mean it floods in love and light into all the corners and crevices of our family and blesses us. It is such a huge gift for us to be able to come each year and bathe in the divine waters of Sri Babaji and Sri Haidakhandeshwari and to be able to do that with each other. For me as a mother I used to keep my devotional heart more private from my child, but family week has allowed me to hold my child in my arms during arati at the feet of the Mother with tears streaming down my face and share that with my child.
“For our 8-year-old son, the blessings sneak in without him even knowing it. When I hear him chanting Jai Ganesha Jai Ganesha weeks after we have left the Ashram, when he refuses to take off his Om Namah Shivaya bracelet for school or soccer games. On the last day this year, I was in our dorm room while the children were gathering in the dorm living room for camp. Within a few minutes Jai Shankar had the group of 12 children all meditating with their eyes closed and in his strong loving voice he guided the children in how to meditate and find the divine silence in them selves. I eventually had to walk out of our room and as I quietly stepped through the meditating children my eyes filled with tears to see these beautiful little ones all seated with their legs crossed, eyes closed, trusting and following the beautiful dedication, devotion and joy that was coming through Jai Shankar.
“Our family is incredibly grateful to everyone who makes this possible. Our deepest thanks to Ramloti, Premanand, Jonathan, Lokh Nath, Jai Shankar, Naina, Kelly, Jessica, Sofia, Rita, Richard and to the junior counselors (Kailou, Jade and Ella). And thank you to all the devotees who donate to the ashram so that our children can come and feel the grace of the Guru in their hearts.
“Our 8-year-old son Jay Jay says, “What I love about family week is that we get to be in a real puja arati ashram and that we get to be with all these families who love the Ashram and who we didn’t meet for a whole year and that we get to make new friends. And that is special.”
Here are some more great photos!
Jessica Moves to Cincinnati, Ohio
Our beloved Jessica, who has served at the Ashram for the last three years, is moving with her new husband, Chris to Cincinnati, Ohio, where Chris’s family lives. Words are small to describe how much we will miss her and all that she had done for the Ashram. We can only send our love and prayers with her and Chris on their new life. Here is what she wrote to say good-bye.
"After 3 beautiful years of working at the Ashram, I am moving out of state and leaving the Ashram. It feels so bittersweet. I am so grateful for all the time I spent with everyone at the Ashram and just getting to be there 4-5 days a week. I was brought to the Ashram serendipitously and although I did not spend much time at aarati and ceremonies, I am forever changed from the time I spent surrounded by Mother and Babaji’s love. My life has always felt deeply spiritual although I have never sought out a practice or religion. I know that I was exactly where I was supposed to be, working and serving in the love and light of the Ashram.
“The warmth and appreciation from everyone who stayed or visited touched my heart deeply. I will miss you all. I am also so very grateful for getting to work so closely with Ramloti. She is such an amazing example of grace, patience, and love and I feel honored to know her so well. I will miss her immensely. I also feel so blessed to know Jonathan and Prem and to have experienced their love and laughter.
“Crestone held many ups and downs for me, moving on feels good, and I am very hopeful for my new path. Leaving the Ashram is far more emotional than I could have imagined. I can’t thank you all enough for being who you are. The people affiliated with this Ashram are so kind and loving and I will always hold you in my heart and I wish you all many blessings and joy. Bhole Baba Ki Jai! Until we see each other again"
Paduka Puja and Kirtan in Loveland, CO
On our way out to fly to Italy for Guru Purnima, Lok Nath and I brought Shri Babaji’s padukas to the home of Dharni and Kanalya Naik in Loveland. Over eighty people were there to share in the puja, kirtan, and wonderful feast that Dharni and friends prepared for all. These are always such magical events. We want to thank them for their warm hospitality and love.