Tomorrow begins the last nine days of Savan, the sacred month of Lord Shiva which began with Guru Purnima and will end of August 3. Today at puja, I felt inspired to make these last nine days almost like a Navratri. I felt to follow Baba's directions He gave to me at Savan in 1981, that you read about in the last newsletter: to fast, keep silence, and do the Parthiv Puja. I realized that although it is an uncertain and difficult time for many of us, it is also a gift in the moment of more silence, more time in the temple, and more time to pursue my spiritual practice, so why should I waste this time. It also helps me remember that Shri Babaji predicted these times, said that devotional practices were particularly important at this time, and it helps me keep a bigger perspective on it all.
I also know that declaring vows publicly, often strengthens the resolve and may even inspire other to do some extra practice. So here is what I am committing to:
I will fast for the next nine days taking just one meal a day.
I will fast from reading any news which has taken up more time than I would like to spend, following news that is not changing much and certainly does not make me peaceful.
I will continue doing Ashram and work business affairs but I will fast from my Zoom calls with my friends and sisters and brothers for the next nine days.
Doing Pujas and Other Practices
I will chant with the video of the Mahamrityunjaya Mantra daily available here at YouTube.
I will continue to do the panchamrit Shiva Lingam Abeshekams for the next two Monday mornings at 5:45am.
I will give a discourse daily from the Shiva Purana and post it by 1:08pm MT so all can follow.
I will do Om Namah Shivaya japa on my mala daily.
I will repeat "Om Namah Shivaya" as much as possible, particularly instead of talking.
So these are my Shiva practices for the next nine days. I queried Nirmal Sharma about the significance of Shri Babaji giving me these instructions during Savan, this is what he told me. He said that the clay lingams that we made absorbs the bad karma and throwing them in the river dissolves it. He also said that Savan is actually Shravan Maas, Shravan means listening in silence. Brahma was believed to hear divine sounds during Savan, that is why we should maintain silence as much as possible this month.
I enjoyed reading this morning from Raghuvir about his experience of Savan and Parthiv Puja, some excerpts follow:
"According to the Samvat, the Vedic calendar, this is the month of Sawan. For devotees of Lord Shiva this is an active month with many wonderful occasions for worship. In some ways it is not the easiest time as it is also the brunt of the monsoon season in India. I have had the joy of celebrating 4 seasons in a row in the early ’80’s at Herakhan Vishwa Mahadham. There would be not many people in Herakhan in that season even if Babaji was there. In particular I do recall the Partiv puja. Those who were able to free themselves from the usual duty around the ashram would huddle around the temple and roll small lingams from fresh clay & mud. A little bit of chandan & kumkum on the top and one grain of rice. Thousands were made every day while singing bhajans together at the temple. All these lingams would be placed in big brass plates and shaped in mandala’s. They were carefully counted and by the end of the morning, puja and aarti would be offered to those Linga’s. After that they would be carried down to the riverbed and dissolved back into the the elements by placing them in the river. At the end of the pujas, there was a large fire ceremony in honor of Lord Shiva."
Here are a couple of photos showing my children hiking into Haidakhn in 1981 at the beginning of monsoon season in the month of Savan, as well as a photo of the final fire ceremony at the end of the puja, that I am seated at and my boys are elsewhere helping.
I realized today is also Nag Panchami, the day we honor snakes, particularly Shesh Nag who is seated over our Shiva Lingam in the temple. Snakes have since time immemorial been seen as entities of strength and renewal. Snakes are said to have many more powers than humans, and the Hindu mythology connects them to Shiva, Vishnu, and Subramanya.
King Cobra is particularly worshipped. Many things happened in Haidakhan that I have forgotten. Contemplating on this day of snakes, I remembered that Mansingh, Shri Babaji's personal assistant, brought a cobra into the dorm one afternoon on a long stick and placed it on my children's sleeping bag, fortunately it was dead. We had no idea why he did this but perhaps this had some significance for them.
May Lord Shiva Bless you and your family on the auspicious occasion of Nag Panchami. Shubh Nag Panchami!
In deep deep gratitude and love to you all,
Ceremonies and Schedule
The full-moon fire ceremony is on Monday, August 3 and the next new-moon fire ceremony will be on Tuesday, August 18. These will both be live-streamed on Facebook (Haidakhandi Universal Ashram page) at 10am MT as the Ashram is still not open to visitors. If you do not do Facebook, the fire ceremony and chanting will be posted on YouTube on Ramloti Wood channel by 12 noon on the day of the ceremony.
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.)
A Note about Fundraising Buttons
You will normally see either a link to our GofundMe Campaign or a fundraising button on most of our posts and live-streams. Please do not think that this is to oblige anyone to give if they have already donated or are not able to do so. It is simply that different people see these posts all the time and some would like to give to the support of the Ashram and the easier it is, the more likely they are to follow through. You can think of them as donation boxes when you enter the temple or earthship. Thank you for your understanding and continued support.
GoFundMe Campaign Going a Long Way to Help Keep the Ashram Afloat During this Time of Closure.
The Ashram, Temple, and Shop here in Crestone will remain closed to all visitors until further notice as well. With the upswing in coronavirus cases around the country, it feels unwise and irresponsible to try to safely accomodate the hundreds of visitors that come here with proper safe distancing and sanitation protocol. We hope you understand and support our concern for the health of everyone involved. As most of you know, the visitors and shoppers coming to the Ashram are a major part of our revenue to pay the bills at the Ashram. Since we have been closed now for over 4 months, we have been counting on people donating through different modalities. The GoFundMe Campaign has raised over $9,000 and we are so tremendously grateful. If you are able to donate, even a small amount, it all means a great deal to us and the truth is if everyone receiving this newsletter donated $25, we would be well supported. Please click here to donate to this fund. We also deeply appreciate your prayers and caring thoughts.
Karma Yoga at the Ashram
Keeping Baba and Mother's home beautiful, clean, and maintained is a big part of our practice here. As we clean every nook and cranny, one might wonder, with no one coming these days, why is it necessary to keep things in such tip-top shape. Perhaps this speech of Shri Babaji's from March 21, 1983 explains it the best:
"Every human being should understand his duty. A real human being is he who does his work/duty equally, whether I am present or not. You have brought such artistic beauty to this hall that the atmosphere around, nature, and even the gods are pleased with you; this hall has become a home for divine beings."
More work on the sand filter for the water system.