Stepping out of the Ashram for five weeks, as I often do in January, and traveling to Florida, Georgia, and California is quite a contrast from living in the quiet mountains of Crestone, Colorado. Going to busy airports, sitting in traffic jams, shopping in crowded stores, and watching people hustle and bustle here and there, helps me understand why people come to the Ashram so often, saying it is a basteon of peace in a harried world. Even in people's homes I see how cluttered they often are, as if to cover the fear of simplicity, of emptiness, of just being quiet.
Gathering people around Him, Shri Haidakhan Babaji in both of His latest forms seemed to have a quiet magnetism that attracted people. Sometimes hundreds would gather around Him, often in silence. I remember editing the book by Giridhari Lal Misra (Shastriji's brother) "From Age to Age - Stories of Haidakhan Baba". There was story after story of the healings, teachings, and visions, that people had sitting with Babaji usually in silence. I particularly was drawn to this quote from the first chapter of the book:
"Merely by observing His (Haidakhan Baba's) external features and demeanor, common men recognized Him as a model religious preceptor, a yogi of yogis, with all the accomplishments of yoga, and a great propagator of the Vedas. Exerting no effort whatsoever, His silent presence was potent enough to evoke an endless stream of pure and beneficient thoughts in His followers.
"During the period of Babaji's presence on earth, it was possible to see that if a sad person, having sought shelter with His Holiness, produced a slight sign of sorrow on Shri Babaji's face, the whole gathering would experience the combined agony of everyone's heartbreak. This state of sorrow would last only for a short time, such intense grief can not be endured for long. Likewise, an indication of joy on the face of His Holiness would spark involuntary exhilaration among the assembled spectators. This is the greatness of yogic achievements."
I remember standing next to Babaji in 1982. It was August and very hot as we were visiting Almora. I was fanning Babaji and he was quietly sitting there as the crowd was chanting around Him. I could feel His silence inside of my soul, as if He were filling me for the many years that I would not see Him after that day. For I was to leave the next day for Delhi and fly back to America, not setting my eyes on this beautiful manifestation of my Lord again. It was in this silent majesty that I perhaps learned the most about the eternal presence of peace and love.
Some years later, in 1993, Premanand traveled to Haidakhan for the first time. He tells about when he went to the sacred Gautama Ganga River and sat next to Gaur Hari, not knowing who he was. All of a sudden, he said, he nearly fell over, feeling overwhelmed by Gaur Hari's energy. He was just sitting there saying not a word or doing anything. Of course he has been pujari everyday since 1976 or so taking care of 15 murtis each morning.
I begin to understand this attraction to peace and silence. I find myself speaking much less at the dinner table at the Ashram or sitting with the folks on tour. I relish the moments of deep silence when truth seems to explode on its own.
In Truth, Love, and Immense Gratitude
Ceremonies and Schedule
There is no full-moon this month but will be one on Thursday, March 1. The new-moon will be on Thursday, February 15 (the morning after our all-night chanting for Shivaratri). All fire ceremonies begin at 10am 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, unsalted 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, morning aarati at 7am, and the small fire ceremony is at 8:00am. We do not have the small fire ceremony when we have our large fire ceremony on new and full moons and during Navratri. The Maha Lakshmi Shop is open every day from 10am until 5pm. We love to see you.
If you would like to participate by sponsoring a fire ceremony or a bhandara (feast) we would be happy 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
(Click here to go to our donate link to sponsor a fire or bhandara.)
Fire Ceremony in Carlsbad, CA - Sunday, February 4 at 10am
I look forward to joining Nirmal and Indira Sharma in their new home in Carlsbad, California for a fire ceremony, puja, chanting, and a meal tomorrow, Sunday, February 4 at 10am.
Several old devotees will be gathering there that morning, so it should be a great reunion. We hope you can join us and share some blessed time together.
It is not too late but please call Nirmal and Indira at 508-847-9135 for directions and so that Indira will know how much food to prepare.
Shivaratri and Maha Samadhi
Wednesday, February 14
The great festival of Lord Shiva is quickly approaching. It is said to be the night that the Shiva energy is most present on the earth. It is extra special for us this year as both Shivaratri and Shri Babaji's Maha Samadhi fall on the same day, February 14. We will begin with a paduka puja at 6pm that evening, followed by aarati. At 7pm we will have the first of our four Lingam pujas. We will continue with a Lingam puja at 10pm, 1am, and 3am, completing the chanting at about 3:30am. We will have the fire ceremony the next morning at 10am followed by an Indian feast. Please join us for all or any of the special sacred night of Lord Shiva. If you would like to reserve a room in the dormitory, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Spring Navratri - The Divine Mother Festival
Sunday, March 18 - Monday, March 26
The beautiful Divine Mother festival (Spring Navratri) is early this year. We will celebrate it from Sunday, March 18 through Monday, March 26. Each day we will have fire ceremonies, special pujas to the Divine Mother of the day, discourses from the Sri Mad Devi Bhagavatam, bhandaras, aaratis and chanting. We will honor our children on Sunday, March 25.
Since we have two weekends this Navratri, there should be plenty of room in the dormitory. Email us at email@example.com to reserve a room. We hope you can join us for all or any part of the celebration. Jai Ma!
Tenth Annual Spring On-line Fundraiser Auction Around the Corner - April 20 - 29
Over the last ten years the Ashram has completed several building projects, upgraded systems, and been able to keep everything running at the Ashram in excellent condition with the funds raised through our annual on-line fundraising auction. It has become a major part of the Ashram operating budget. Some of you have donated items, bid on items, and spread the world about the auction over the years. We deeply appreciate this and hope that you could do this again. We would also ask that even more of you would become involved. Whether it is donating items from your shop, business, meals at your restaurant, nights at your hotel, gently used household items, jewelry, or electronics; every item brings in funds to help run Shri Babaji's and the Divine Mother's Ashram.
You can view the auction now and get an idea of what others have donated by clicking here. You can even put your donations up yourself by using the button on the left that says donate. Another way to support the auction is by becoming a sponsor. They basically underwrite the cost of running the auction so that all the funds raised go directly to the Ashram. There are instructions to become a sponsor as well on the site or just call us at 719-256-4108 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We ask each of you to support us in this endeavor as you are able.
Here are two sacred Babaji items already donated:
Family week grew organically eighteen years ago out of Samaj Board members bringing their children and grandchildren to the Annual meeting here at the Ashram. These children have now grown and headed off to college and beyond. Our next generation of "family weekers" have also grown and are mostly in high school now. It felt like the time to take a step back and consider serving our younger generation in other ways. The Ashram Board of Directors has decided to not have family week this summer but to redirect our energy to working more with the local schools in the valley inviting them to attend fire ceremonies, participate in our Bal Gokulam (children's) programs, and to bring their classes to the Ashram to learn about our tradition. It has been a memorable 18 years, and we so appreciate all of the families that have attended over the years.
Of course we will continue to welcome families at the Ashram and perhaps families can organize to come together if they like. There will also be a workshop apart from the Ashram on the Real Love principals that were presented the last couple of years during Family Week. It will be held on May 26, 27, and 28 at the Crestone Charter School. For more information go to www.Reallovefest.com
Karma Yoga at the Ashram
I have been gone most of January so I do not have as many photos as usual. But the karma yoga goes on both at the Ashram keeping everything going, doing puja, singing aarati, having fire ceremonies and bhandaras. On the tour, similar karma yoga is going on preparing food, pujas, aaratis, fire ceremony, and clean up. Babaji told us to take the lesson of karma yoga where ever we go and this is certainly what has been going on all month on the tour. It is beautiful to see the generosity in Shri Babaji's family all over the country.
We are always grateful for all of the folks that come and help us with all the jobs that are necessary to make this place run smoothly and receive our hundreds of visitors. We really could not get everything done without you, you are all one of the reasons this Ashram is what it is. Thank you.
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 by scrolling down (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. We are so deeply grateful for your support, love, and prayers. Bhole Baba Ki Jai!!
Treasure Island, Florida Events More Powerful than Ever!
This year all of the pujas, aaratis, fire ceremonies, and satsangs seemed more powerful than ever. The sacred Makar Sankrant plunge in the Gulf of Mexico was pleasantly sunny. It was a very special time to be together in prayer, celebration, and love. People joined us from California, Colorado, Washington, and different parts of Florida. It is always amazing to see how people are drawn to be with Babaji.
Tequesta and Delray Beach, Florida Events Wonderfully Delightful!
The following weekend, we gathered at two places on the other side of Florida and each function had its own specialness. At the home of Tom and Elaine Heroux's in Tequesta, the devotion, sincerity, and love was distinctly apparent. Sharing food together at the end of the event set the stage for lovely satsang and sharing. These gatherings are quite important in the lives of many people.
Ever since Dutch Pujari, Premanand, and I taught Sal and Sarena Morello in Delray Beach, how to perform a simple fire ceremony sixteen years ago, they have been performing one each month in their lovely backyard. Each year we join them in January and it is always a special event that is attended by many, this year about 50. Their living room turns into a great temple and kirtan hall, the singing and dancing is blissful, the fire ceremony surrounded by the beauty of Floridian nature is breathtaking, and the splendid potluck lunch accented by Sal's sumptuous Italian cooking is satiating. We love all of these Florida events.
Fire Ceremony in Georgia
Since this was on a workday, only a few people could attend. But a lovely havan kund was built, the offerings were made, the soft aroma from the fire throughout the day reminded us all of the prayers that had been offered. We knew that each participant, the home of Kelly and Pam, and all the surrounding area had received a blessing. The aarti, which we sang after the fire, was deep and peaceful. I am always grateful for any opportunity to participate in these sacred ceremonies.
Kamalaya Blesses Shri Babaji's New Room
Last month I wrote about the Ashram here in Crestone sending a pair of Shri Babaji's Padukas (sandals) to Kharku and Jamuna in Thailand for the new kutir that they were building in Kamalaya for Babaji. This was inaugurated in January and here are a few photos of the new sacred space. We are grateful to be part of this wonderful event.
Visitors at the Ashram
Right from the start of 2018 we have had many visitors. New Years weekend was more like a 3-day weekend in summer than in the deep of winter. The weather has remained very mild and the roads very accessible due to very little snow which allows for so many visitors, both new and return. We so appreciate all of you who come to pray and sing in the temple. Here are two random notes we received from a first-time visitor and a second-time visitor.
"We dropped in without announcement as we were exploring the Crestone area. As I have Indian heritage, I found a peaceful moment at this place, and was able to give my traveling companion a Puja blessing. Jonathan and Theo were very open and hospitable, and the brief visit was an absolutely blissful moment. The energy was good, welcoming, and comforting. Thanks, Shanti, and Namaste!"
"I ended up absorbing the singing and meal after the fire ceremony and fell into complete bliss. It was my second time coming to a fire ceremony and I felt loved by everyone!" Amber from Crestone
Calendar of Events for 2018
February 4 - Fire Ceremony and puja in Carlsbad, CA
February 14 - Babaji's Mahasamadhi and also chanting for Maha Shivaratri
February 15 - Maha Shivaratri fire ceremony at 10am followed by a feast
March 18 - 26 - Spring Navratri
July 27 - Guru Purnima
August 17 - 19 - American Haidakhan Samaj Haidakhandi Reunion Weekend. For more information go to www.Babajisamajus.com
October 9 - 17 - Fall Navratri
November 7 - Diwali
Maha Lakshmi Shop Report
We just received word that our wonderful producers of our hand-decorated deity candles, Luminant Productions, is going out of business. We have placed a very large last order and wanted to alert those of you who treasure these beautiful pieces of art. They even made candles of Shri Babaji and our own Divine Mother. You can purchase them on our website by clicking here. They sale for $14 and $18 and once burned down, can be filled with sand or rice and used for an incense burner or votive candle holder.
We have many wonderful items on our website, including the book about Old Haidakhan Baba shown above, which you can view by clicking here. There are also many one-of-a-kind items in our shop which are not on the site. You are always welcome to place your order over the telephone at 719-256-4108. We are happy to answer any questions and even send photos of items. It is really nice to connect in this way. You may also email us at email@example.com. We are happy to bless an item at Baba's and Mother's feet for you. We take Visa, MasterCard or Discover.
The Shop is a major supporter of the Ashram. We deeply appreciate your patronage.
Maha Lakshmi Mata Ki Jai!