India Dreaming
Accounts of previous tours to India by Sundaram



Part Thirteen: At Ma’s Ashram


Leaving the abode, in this world, of Yogavatar Sri Shyama Charan Lahiri Mahasaya, we arranged for a boat to take us upstream to the Anandamayi Ma Ashram. We enjoyed being back on the river, but by this time of day it was getting quite warm! Disembarking, we ascended the steep steps of the picturesque ashram, with a beautiful panoramic view of the wide, tranquil Ganga, flowing by. Many divine lilas in the life of Ma took place in this ashram & on the balcony overlooking the river. We first meditated in the main mandir, consecrated to Ma Durga, then went upstairs to a smaller temple dedicated to the Lord Krishna in his playful form as Bala Mukunda (the child Krishna). Sri Ma was very fond of the murti of the baby Krishna which is enshrined here. There is a large photo of her on the wall holding it on her lap. Many devotees witnessed that when Ma was holding the statue, its eyes would turn upward to look at her! Such is the play of God. Although the holy mother, Sri Anandamayi Ma, travelled continuously throughout the Country, this ashram was like a homebase, especially in her later years. The atmosphere here is permeated with her blessed Presence -- just feel!


Taking the rest of the day free for shopping & relaxation, we prepared for our last morning in the holy city & a visit to the Vishwanath Temple on the campus of Banaras Hindu University (BHU), the pre-eminent university of Bharatya Mata (Mother India). The campus is quite large. In the center is the fairly new temple, which is beautifully designed & completely free from the hustle & bustle of the crowded temples in the city. On both sides of the temple are meditation pavilions. The idea is that the students come to the temple in the morning for darshan, then sit for meditation before beginning their classes for the day. When will our universities in America & elsewhere throughout the world, adopt this elevating tradition! Outside the temple, facing in toward his Lord, is a very large, beautiful, white marble Nandi, eminating the bliss (ananda) aspect of Spirit (Shiva).


After meditating for awhile in the main temple, we went upstairs to a second shrine where another lingam is installed. On the foyer in front of this shrine & overlooking the open interior below, was a small kirtan group singing over the loudspeaker system which echoed throughout the temple as well as the surrounding area. Soon Colin was leading & we were playing, enjoying the feeling of being welcomed in this "home" away from the home of our birth. Many other pilgrims sat with us, enjoying the impromptu kirtan, as Colin & the group chanted to the transcendental Spirit beyond creation.


The time had come to leave behind the City if Light, though inwardly we would continue to carry its luster. Bengal was awaiting us & all the holy places around Kolkata, such as the YSS Headquarters, Yogoda Math, the Kali Temple at Dakshineswar, the family home of Sri Sri Paramahansa Yogananda, the room of Mahendranath Gupta (Master Mahasaya), the home of Tulsi Bose, the Ashram of Sri Yukteswarji at Serampore & so much more.



Part 14: Yogoda Math & Kolkata