India Dreaming
Accounts of previous tours to India by Sundaram



Part Fifteen: On The Hoogli


The portion of the Ganga which flows through West Bengal & Kolkata is called the Hugli. Crossing the Vivekananda Bridge by bus, we pass a large billboard with a huge picture of Lahiri Mahasaya seated in lotus posture on it. How refreshing! In Bengali script is written, "Yogi for the householder." We are told that there is sort of a "Lahiri Mahasaya phenomenon" happening in India right now, as more and more people become aware of the life of the great Yogavatar.


Across the river we arrive at the spacious (70 acre plus) Belur Math, headquarters of the Ramakrishna Order, & take a brief tour. Many, many swamis of the order reside here. Here, also, is found the samadhi shrines of Swami Vivekananda & of Sri Ramakrishna, himself. Going down to the dock we board our boat for the approximately 2-hour ride up the river to Serampore (Sri Rampur) & the ashram of Swami Sri Yukeswarji. The Hugli is very wide here & the current easy. Crossing back under the bridge we get an excellent view of the Kali Temple with its twelve Shiva mandirs lining the top of the ghat. The striking pinkish dome of Sarada Math, the headquarters for the Ramakrishna Order of nuns, next comes into view, followed by our own Yogoda Math Ashram with its landmark red-roofed Sri Daya Mata Mandir, sitting right next to the river.


Continuing upstream about 14 kms. we pass many strikingly beautiful temples & ashram complexes, small villages & bathing ghats, singing kirtan on the bow of the boat & watching life on the river. Off in the distance & on the far side, a temple comes into view that looks like a replica of the famous Kali Temple, although on a slightly smaller scale. After passing it we know we are approaching our destination. Soon Serampore College, alma mater of our own Gurudeva, comes into view on the left, then Rai Ghat & the tree at the location where Mahavatar Babaji fulfilled his promise by visiting Sri Yukteswarji after he had completed writing The Holy Science. We dock & disembark close by, walking immediately over to the Rai Ghat.


A few are bathing in the river, while others, including many children, have gathered on the steps. As we walk down the ghat steps to touch the river where or Guru & Paramguru often bathed, a morning worshipper is coming out of the water. He goes to the small Radha Krishna mandir near the tree where he worships, then pours water over the numerous Shiva lingams which have been placed around the trunk of the tree. We can almost "see" Babaji & his divine band hiding "just behind the sunlight!"


Gathering everyone together, we walk down Rai Ghat Lane to the site of the great guru's ashram. First, we enter the grounds of the Swami Sri Yukteswar Smriti Mandir (memorial temple), built on a portion of the ashram property. Upon entering the gates we are greeted by a beautiful flower garden sitting just in front of the mandir, secluded from the lane by a perimeter wall. Once inside, we light incense & settle into meditation for quite some time.


As has been the case on our last few trips, we are able to secure permission from the current occupants to tour the house that had once been Swami Sri Yukteswarji's ashram. Climbing the steep & narrow concrete steps, we arrive at the balcony which is pictured in some of the SRF publications where Paramahansaji is seated amongst a group of disciples, with Sri Yukteswar standing behind him. At the end of this narrow balcony is a door leading into what was, at the time, the great master's bedroom. Some pieces of furniture & artifacts are still present here from his lifetime.



Part 16: Ananda Lok & The Kali Temple