India Dreaming
Accounts of previous tours to India by Sundaram



Part Fourteen: Yogoda Math & Kolkata


We arrived in Kolkata at night & the bus drive to the Yogoda Math Ashram at Dakshineswar took quite some time since this was the eve of Lakshmi Puja, another prominent holy festival day, & it was hard to get through the streets. This was especially true since most of the streets en route to the ashram are narrow & our bus was relatively large! In all the shops were beautiful statues of Goddess Lakshmi. Just as most families in the States may purchase a Christmas tree at Christmas time, everyone must have their own Lakshmi for Lakshmi Puja! This festival falls shortly after Durga Puja, which is also celebrated on a grand scale in Bengal, & a few weeks before Diwali, the “Festival of Lights," which is celebrated in Bengal as Kali Puja, the biggest holy day of the year.
This is festival season in India. The streets are crowded & there is a joyous
mood among the people.


The atmosphere inside of Yogoda Math, as with all of Gurudeva's ashrams, is tranquil, peaceful & full of beauty. Yogoda Math is the headquarters of Yogoda Satsanga Society of India, although much of the administrative work is also carried on from Ranchi. Swami Shantananda is in charge here, along with Swami Shuddhanandaji. Brahmachari Acyutananda, whom we had met at Dwarahat & who had been the musical director for the children's performances, had just been transferred here. Swami Shantanandaji was already in Ranchi, getting ready for Sarad Sangam, the "Fall Gathering," equivalent to our Convocation here in the States. The other monastics would also soon be leaving for Ranchi, & we would be joining them there after an excursion to the holy city of Puri, home of the famous Jaganath Temple & the ashram of our dear Paramgurudev, Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri Maharaj.


Our trip into the city of Kolkata, itself, included a luncheon with Bishwanath Ghosh (Gurudeva's brother, Bishnu's son) & his family at their yoga school. They were most gracious & hospitable, & the food was amazing. We then went to Guruji's family home at 4 Garpar Rd., where we were met by Harekrishna Ghosh, the son of Sananda. He is frail yet very saintly, & we always enjoy the time we are able to spend with him. Harekrishna had just celebrated his 85th. birthday. For the first time we were able to meditate in the room where Gurudev was meditating the day that Babaji came to the house to bless him before he left for America. Of course, we always enjoy meditating in the attic room where Guruji said he had first found God in this life.


Very near the Master's house is the home of Tulsi Bose, now deceased, & his family. Tulsi was a close boyhood friend of Paramahansaji & the house is a veritable museum of photos & artifacts from Guruji's time. The family is very friendly & obviously enjoys sharing their home & shrine with visiting devotees. In their puja room there is a trishula (trident) that is said to have been passed down from Babaji to Lahiri to Sri Yukteswarji to our Guru. When Paramahansaji left for America he left that trishula in the hands of Tulsi, & it is still there. Sri Yukteswar often visited this house as well.


While in the city we were also able to stop by the Mother House of Mother Theresa, where she lived & where her body is now enshrined. It brought back memories of the times when she used to meet with us there when she was alive. She seemed to like the SRF devotees but then, she loved everyone as Gods children. Now there is a life-like statue of her at the back of the communion hall kneeling in her typical prayer position. What a great soul she was.


Our final stop was at 50 Amherst St., which, at one time, had been the residence of Gurudeva's family. Later it became a school under the direction of Sri Mahendranath Gupta ("M" or Master Mahasaya, as Paramahansaji called him in his Autobiography). Mahendranath Gupta was a highly advanced householder disciple of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa, & author of The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, the definitive book on that great master's life. A small & ill kept shrine is open on the top floor, dedicated to this great soul. Meditating there was lovely. We couldn't help wondering, though, why a nice shrine had not been established in honor of this divine saint, whose efforts at recording the words of his master has spread Sri Ramakrishna's legacy throughout the world.



Part 15: On The Hoogli