I have been on vacation for two weeks to see my family in California. It is always delightful to visit them and usually I am pretty busy most of the time. But the last seven days of my trip, I am babysitting my nine-year-old granddaughter, Avalon, in Oakland. Other than the weekend, which was full with a soccer game, school carnival, and visiting friends, the rest of the days have been quite unique for me. Since Avalon is in school all day, I have hours of time just to myself. Oh my goodness, what a wonderful experience! I must admit, I am a doer, probably somewhat compulsive, however I am learning to slow down and I find that at 70 years old, my body needs more of this, still it feels very luxurious.
What I would like to share about in this newsletter is the book that I brought to read on my trip, it is the Sri Mad Devi Bhagavatam. This is a very long book, over 13,000 pages long. We read it primarily at Navratri time and I have read through it a couple of times over the last 25 years. I also have a copy of a condensed version of it, which is only slightly over 500 pages. It is called "Devi, The Devi Bhagavatam Retold", by Ramesh Menon. This copy not only fit in my suitcase a lot easier, it also reads like a novel, I find it hard to put it down.
As I read, I am transported to a different reality, one that I touch a fair amount during Navratri when my focus is primarily on the Divine Mother. And actually, one that I live in at the Ashram much more than when I am in a big city environment as I am now. Seeing people going so fast to make money and seemingly quite consumed by "Maha Maya" becomes a little mind boggling at times and I even sometimes begin to question my belief system. This first quote from the Devi, helps me with the above confusion.
It comes at the end of a wonderful story where Narada, the great wandering sage, asks Vishnu to show him Maya. Vishnu takes him to a magical lake where Narada is transformed into a beautiful woman, Saubhagya Sundari, and completely forgets his former life. She marries a king and they have many sons and grandsons and live a happy life. But then a neighboring enemy starts a war with them and most of her family are killed in the war, her husband, the king, narrowly escapes. As she goes to the battlefield, grief grips her and she begins wailing and screaming. Just then, Vishnu appears as a wise Brahman and he leads her to a sacred lake saying" Go and bathe now, just think, you have lived a million lives before this one. In each one, you had sons and daughters and grandsons. Tell me, for which of them will you grieve? All this world is an illusion, dear lady, more than you know. Embodied souls inherit suffering, anguish, and little else. Enter the water it will bless you with peace."
When she enters the lake, she is once again transformed, this time back to Narada. Vishnu began to laugh heartily and Narada said to him, "Maya is powerful indeed. But Lord, how did I lose my memory so entirely, when my soul was my own all the time? For, how else could I remember every moment of Saubhagya Sundari's life as I do?
Vishnu said, "There are more dreams and lives in your body than you realise, Narada. They all exist together, for the mind is a miraculous thing and it is much more than any man realises. The mind itself is Maya. Narada, when you sleep, do you rememer what you dream? Yet, while you are asleep all that happens in your dreams is real enough, isn't it? All lives are dreams of one kind or another. They are all the work of Maya, and Maya is inscrutable, even to me."
There are also several stories about the time that we are presently in called the Kali Yuga, the age of darkness. It is a time when humankind is in its most diminished form, when arrogance, wealth, and viciousness are prized as virtues and gentleness and truth are seen as signs of weakness. When asked how do men find mukti in this fearful time? How do they find peace of mind? Veda Vyasa, the composer of the Devi Bhagavatam replies, "There is no peace to be found in the Kali yuga, but the wise say that moksha is easier to have in the Kali yuga than in any other yuga. And the only way to mukti in the age of evil is through bhakti (devotion). Men and women have grown so petty, and their hearts are filled with such evil that worship is the only path to salvation. Indeed, no one in the Kali yuga can find mukti for himself, but only by God's intervention. It is told that the Gods are easily pleased in this sinister yuga, in which even the smallest lamp of devotion shines so brightly in the night of the spirit that engulfs the world"
The stories go on and on about devotion to the Divine Mother and how She is always there for Her children. I am so grateful that we have the Divine Mother, Haidakhandeswari, as our main deity in our temple at the Ashram. Time and time again when I seek Her intervention, She is there for me. When I read this last quote that I will share, it struck such a resonant note in my soul.
It comes at the end of another tale of Divine intervention when a king is receiving a Divine son after his long tapasya. Veda Vyasa says, "The wise say the bhakta never knows to what lengths God will go to please him. The devotee seldom realizes that it is the One he worships who puts some of his desires into his heart." And so it is and I am humbled.
In deep deep gratitude and love to you all,
Om Namah Shivaya
Ceremonies and Schedule
The full-moon fire ceremony this month is on Tuesday, November 12 and the new-moon fire ceremony will be on Tuesday, November 26. 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. 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 daily small fire ceremony is at 6:20am. We do not have the small fire ceremony when we have our large fire ceremony on new and full moons. The Maha Lakshmi Shop is open every day from 9am 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.)
Diwalli - Festival of Lights - Sunday, October 27
That special event of the year when we celebrate the light that enlivens our lives, will be celebrated on Sunday, October 27. We begin with the new-moon fire ceremony at which, we will bless our checkbooks. This is because in many parts of India, it is the beginning of a new year and the accounts are all blessed at this time. The ceremony is followed by chanting and a meal. The rest of the day we decorate the pathways, temple, and earthship with candles and luminarios. We begin aarti this evening at 5pm and at 6pm we share songs, poems, readings, chants, and dances of peace and light. At 7:30 our wonderful Indian families from around the valley and beyond will serve an amazing Indian feast to culminate this celebration of light. We hope you can join us.
The Next Long-Time Resident Hermitage Continues to Grow!
The next phase of the hermitage is underway. We have a crew consisting primarily of karma yogis and Bill, who many of you have met in our kitchen. Turns out he has also built four houses earlier in his career. They are all under the able guidance of Jacob Pesqueira, a local friend of the Ashram who is building his own home in Crestone. He and his family have been coming to the Ashram for many years. It feels very family-like and harmonious. Since it is the beginning of winter, we are not sure how much will get done but for sure it will be framed and closed in before the snow flies.
We can still use your support of this project. Please donate as you are able so that we can build the whole hermitage this year. Click here to go to our donate link You can pay with a credit card or paypal, or you can send a check to HUA at P.O. Box 9, Crestone, CO 81131. Thank you again.
Ashram YouTube Channel is Available to All: just click here
I was just watching some of these videos and was so touched again by the stories and mystery of Shri Babaji. Apparently others are too as there have been thousands of views and are now 862 subscribers. We also receive many comments, here are some of them. You can find them yourselves anytime on YouTube under Ramloti Wood.
"These videos are so important in my life... and Babaji should be known by all humanity, through these experiences"
"I love these stories. thank you for sharing and posting them"
"Inspiring and deeply touched"
"Wow what a wonderful raconteur!!! And what sublime blessings to be so close to the divine immortal master, teacher, Guru in eternity!!! Bhole BabBaji Ki Jai"
"This made me cry, she is transmitting so much love. Thank you"
"Amazing stories. I am hooked all day to your videos. BHOLE BABA KI JAI! Thank YOU!"
"I am Tara from Serbia, Belgrade and I live in Haidakhan last one and half years. Thank you for the inspiring video interviews you made with Babaji devitees. It meant to me sooo much and touched my heart. Bhole Baba Ki Jai"
"This is incredible ,Ii don't know how I came to find these stories but I enjoy them very much."
Consideration about the Needs of the Ashram
(We place this again because still people are not respecting the schedule)
The Ashram has been growing rapidly. It is a wonderful thing that so many people want to come and drink in the divine nectar of Shri Babaji and the Divine Mother‘s love and care. Those of us that care for the Ashram are grateful that so many people wish to come here. We also see that it is important that everybody participate in supporting the Ashram by abiding by the timings and rules of the Ashram so that the beautiful space, that is always welcoming and clean for each of you, can be well maintained.
Arriving punctually is particularly important for those who wish to come and utilize the beautiful five bedroom dormitory that we provide for overnight visitors that wish to participate in the Ashram schedule. We require that you be here by 4 PM. The reason for this is that from 4pm until 5pm we are happy to bring people to their rooms and orientate them to our solar way of living here at the Ashram that is quite different from most peoples' lives. We are also located in a beautiful wilderness area where there are bears, deer, mice, and lots of other wildlife. It’s important that we inform you about bringing all the food in from your car into the earthship so no bears break into your car smelling the food. We also need to alert you to bring in your luggage quickly during daylight hours, and to keep the front door shut so that evening animals don’t come into the dorm (or other buildings for that matter). This also gives you time to take your shower, dress appropriately, and be prepared for the evening aarati and chanting, which begins at 6pm.
In the past many people have disregarded or asked for exceptions to this request to be here by 4pm making it impossible for us to take our evening bath and prepare properly for the evening aarati and ceremonies. We are now letting everyone know that arriving after 4:30pm for an overnight stay will no longer be tolerated at the Ashram. This is for everyone's sake so that we can continue to provide the beautiful temple services taking care of the Divine Mother and Baba's home, while not be distracted by late arrivals or those unprepared for the evening services. Most everyone has Google Maps or some other device that can give you a pretty accurate estimate of time for driving to the Ashram allowing for traffic and construction. Therefore if you happen to be past 4:30 we ask you to get a hotel and come in the evening or the next morning for the services. There are many Air B&B's in Crestone. We appreciate your understanding on this matter.
Karma Yoga at the Ashram
Besides all of the copious amount of sewing done for Navratri, the other big projects this month were continuation of the building of the hermitage, repairing the drain on the faucet in the front of the temple, and deep cleaning in all of the buildings. Thank you to all who are helping with this as well as with the cooking, cleaning the temple, washing dishes, stocking the Shop, working in the garden, serving food, orchestrating fire ceremonies, and all the many delicious bhandaras.
We even had new families who were gracious enough to carry the new 2020 calendars to the Ashram so they would arrive before Navratri. (The magnificent calendar was printed by karma yogi, Satya Kothiyal, who also cooks non-stop during Navratri making the most savory foods. The photography was done earlier this summer by karma yogi, JD Marston. )
We really could not get everything done without you. You are all one of the reasons this Ashram is what it is. Thank you deeply from our hearts. Here are a few of the hundreds of photos we have taken.
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 donate by clicking here and scrolling down (you can even set up a monthly tithe). We deeply appreciate all of you that do tithe monthly to the Ashram. 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
The Teyunas Mamos and Zaga Come to the Ashram and Perform Pagamento
Teyuna mamos and zagas, spiritual leaders of the Arhuaco, Kankuamo, Kogi and Wiwa people of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta region of Colombia have become increasingly concerned about the health of the planet. They’ve lived in the Sierra for eons and rarely ventured from the home they consider The Heart of the World, but feel it’s critical for them to do so now. They were at different places in eastern United States purifying rivers in August and in early September they also came to Crestone for one week. Due greatly to the Divine Mother energy so prevalent at the Ashram, the Ashram was their first place for them to visit in Crestone.
We did not publicize the event as we wanted to keep it small, we just let word of mouth gather about 30 of us in the temple where we received the mamos and zaga. They went directly to the Divine Mother and sat there in silence for many minutes. Sometimes they would just gaze at Mother for a long time. When there were some words spoken, it was explained to us, through an interpreter, that they were praying and asking the Divine Mother and Babaji and all of the energies of this place for guidance. They first were asking permission to be there and when that was granted, they were asking which offering to make on the land and to the water. They said they also felt the energy of the Native Americans that used to come to this land and were asking their permission as well.
After a half hour or so, they chose two small crystals, which they had brought from their land in Columbia to offer as pagamento, literally payment to Earth Mother for supporting and sustaining all of creation. They then passed them around to all of us to add our blessings and gratitude to them. We then went up to where we take our water from at the Spanish Creek and they did ceremony planting the pagamentos in the land.
The Teyuna have been offering pagamento to The Mother since time immemorial and believe it is their only reason for being. As Teyuna mamos and zagas perform pagamento they activated segwa, divine seeds that are present and lying dormant in all beings, elements, and places on the planet. The land responds to the Teyuna as if breathing a sigh of relief. Birds sing and rain falls in the high dessert. When nature is in harmony, we as humans are able to feel that accord, and responded by relaxing and experiencing joy.
After an hour or so, we all then went back to the eairthship where we served our honored guests traditional rice and beans and fried plantain. We also had Indian chai and dal, both of which the Teyunas liked very much. They did not stay long after their work was done but quietly left leaving us with a profound respect for and connection to, the water, rocks, trees and each other and more able to see that we ourselves are nature.
Ganesh's birthday was celebrated with many loving hands washing all of our Ganesh statues that we have all around the Ashram. It was a lovely time and we all felt Lord Ganesh's blessing.
Fall Navratri (Divine Mother Festival)
Since the Navratri fell this year at the end of September/beginning of October and we are already beyond full with photos for this newsletter, I will put them all in the next newsletter.
Here are some photos of the many people who have been here and some of their quotes. We are not able to show all the visitors, there is just not room in the newsletter. Folks really want and need the love they feel from the Divine Mother and Shri Babaji and we are grateful to be the ones that maintain their lovely home.
Here are a few quotes from recent visitors.
Carmen Stevens shares how she first came to the Ashram and why she now comes with her husband and two children.
"I learned about the Haidakhandi Universal Ashram in 2010 while I was a student at Adams State University in Alamosa, CO . Every year the University’s clubs participate in the ASU Cares Day event to offer community services to different groups across the valley. The Parnaso Spanish Club signed up to assist the Ashram with their Full-Moon Fire Ceremony festivities and I along a group of 4 other students went there to serve. It was a wonderful new experience for all of us, especially me. The Ashram is a peaceful, welcoming and warm place and I immediately fell in love with the loving, and calming energy I felt there. During that particular time in my life, I was going through some personal struggles but learning about Babaji, the Divine Mother and "Living life in Truth, Simplicity, and Love" was healing. Now almost ten years later, I have continued visiting the Ashram, before I got married and even after welcoming my second daughter. My husband has also found comfort in the loving and peaceful spirit at the Ashram and I love taking him and our girls whenever there is a Full-Moon Fire Ceremony. We also enjoy sharing a meal with everyone there after the ceremony. I am grateful the ASU Spanish Club chose the Ashram for a day of service that changed my life."
Why the Gupta Family Comes to the Ashram
In India we didn’t know about Babaji – came to the United States in 1988 and both kids were born here. We came from Alabahad – it is located where Ganga and Saraswati join, it is very famous as a great pilgrimage place. When we came to Denver someone told us about the Ashram in Crestone, so we thought to come because we are religiously inclined. First time we came was around 2002 when our daugter was just 3-years old. At that time the temple was very small. We have been coming since that time. We come every year, sometimes twice a year for Navartri . The kids enjoy coming here. We love taking part in the fire ceremony, and the puja and prayers and the aartis and chalisas. It makes us feel good, beautiful and peaceful. Happy, it makes us happy – full of feelings. It’s interesting, when we go back to Denver, we feel refreshed. I started reading about Babaji’s teachings since I have been loving reading the devotional stories since my childhood. Overall, we love being at the Ashram. The people are so nice and we enjoy serving. We try to take part in all the offerings and we like how it keeps us and our kids from technology. We love everyone's love and how everyone keeps on smiling, even while working so hard. I don’t know where that energy comes from. Well, I know it comes from Mother and Babaji. We are inspired, by how people that live here are always ready to serve and work all day long. Thank you so much.
Grandson of Ellen Levand, Gabriel, comes to Visit Ashram
Gabriel's grandmother, Ellen Levand, was the president of the American Haidakhan Samaj in the 90’s. She passed away about 15 years ago. Gabriel says, “I was too young to understand this part of her life, but now I have a roommate who is a devotee of Maharaji. So, I’ve gotten more and more an understanding of this whole world.“ Gabriel’s roommate loves Crestone, and he told him that he needed to check it out. “So, I called my mom and she told me to come to the Ashram and mention her mother.” When he shared what he remembers about his grandmother, he said, “I remember that she would go to India a couple times a year – especially in the last five years of her life. She’d bring home little things for me, and she had statues in her house but I didn’t understand it, so it’s cool for me to see people who knew her and this side of her. “
He said his mother is very spiritual and a yoga teacher. She’s very mindful but she’s not necessarily a devotee. He went on to say “I moved to Denver a couple months ago. I’m sure I’ll come back and hike a fourteener. I’m grateful to be here and to see what it’s like and to feel the energy. I got a little emotional in the Temple thinking about my grandmother. I definitely felt the energy”… (and he got a little choked up).
Patel Family from Dallas, Texas
The Patels first heard about the Ashram from Prakash, a devotee who lives in Austin, Texas. When they found this out, they realized they had some vacation time coming up and made immediate plans to come to Crestone for a week. Being their first trip, they stayed in a local B&B but came up regularly for aarati in the morning and evening. They found themselves becoming more and more attached to the Ashram, it gave them a feeling of home, which is Gujarat, India. They felt deep peace and found the whole environment so beautiful and quiet. The people who serve here were so friendly, and they began to do karma yoga too. They said they did much service at their local temple in Dallas. By the end of their visit, they did not want to leave and they are looking forward to their next trip here.
"Thank you so much for continuing the newsletter after all these years. I really do get upliftment from it. The newsletter is a great reminder monthly that always brings me back to centre and to what is important. I'm always pleased to hear good news about the ashram. The newsletter brings hope and I'm so grateful for the ashram and all the hard work and wonderful accomplishments. I'm sure Babaji will come there someday with all of His extraordinary lessons and blessings. The West surely needs everything you have there to help people. I make a guess Babaji will appear as the Divine mother there. I'm looking so forward to when Babaji makes a public appearance.
Bhole Baba Ki Jai! Jane from Canada
Calendar of Events for 2019
New Moon Fire Ceremonies - October 27, November 26, December 25
Full Moon Fire Ceremonies - October 13, November 12, December 11
Fall Navratri - September 29 - October 7
Diwali - October 27 - 5pm aarati, 6pm - songs of peace and light, 7:30pm Indian Feast
You can see the full calendar of events at our website.
Click here for our complete 2019 Calendar
Maha Lakshmi Shop Report
A reminder that the Maha Lakshmi Shop has our spectacular 2020 calendar of our Divine Mother and it is selling in the Shop for $15. It measures 11x11" and contains the lovely images of professional photographer, JD Marston (one shown above) and the exquisite printing by Satya Kothyial's business, Alpha Graphics. Each month also has lovely quotes from the Haidakhandeswari Sapta Sati by Vishnu Dutt Shastriji. You can purchase it on line by clicking here.
The Shop continues to be busy as always and continually receiving new items. You can purchase some of them on line at our website at https://mahalakshmishop.wazala.com
Many items, however, are too unique to put on one so you are always welcome to call and order at 719-256-4108. You can ask to have photos sent of our items, it is really nice to connect in this way. You may also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are happy to bless an item at Baba's and Mother's feet for you or drop ship items to your loved ones around the country. 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!