India Dreaming
Accounts of previous tours to India by Sundaram



Part Sixteen: Ananda Lok & The Kali Temple


Om Sri Sri Paramgurudev Swami Sriyukteswar Giri Maharaj Namo Namah!


After bidding farewell to the family & leaving the "ashram" we made our way back toward the ghat, stopping at Ananda Lok (literally, "the world of bliss"), the YSS Center in Serampore. This was Gurudeva's Uncle Sarada's house, at that time, & Master used to stay here often while attending Serampore College. His bedroom, just off the courtyard, is now the meditation room, & we had a very nice meditation there. The front portion of the house which faces the lane, still is occupied by Ananta's (Master's elder brother) family. During our visit in 1998, we had the good fortune of spending the afternoon with Mira, whom Master had selected to be the bride for Ananta's son, Ramakrishna Ghosh. The photo is in the house of a young Mira & Ramakrishna Ghosh sitting on the steps of the family home at 4 Garpar Rd. with Master standing behind them. Mira told us that once, around midnight, Master showed both her & her husband the light of the spiritual eye.


Now Mira has ascended to the heavenly realms, but her daughters, son-in-law & grandson still live here. Master's bed is there, along with many artifacts from his time, including a small silver murti of Divine Mother Kali which he used to worship. The family also has a number of personal letters written to them by the Master while he was in America, which they were happy to share with us.


The boat ride back down the Hugli was relaxing. The water level was deep enough in the late afternoon so that instead of going all the way back to Belur Math, the boat was able to drop us off at the precincts of the famous Kali Temple itself. Feeling like vagrants, we climbed over the perimeter wall & into the temple gardens! After a long day, we decided to wait until the next day for a "proper" visit to the temple. We strolled through the gardens, passed through the large open market adjacent to the temple grounds, & either walked or took bicycle rickshaws back to "our" Yogoda Math Ashram, missing afternoon tea but in time for evening meditation. Practicing the energization exercises as a group on the columned porch of the Ashram, with the huge sun setting over the Ganga in utter tranquility is another experience of essential India & the heart of peace.


Arising before dawn, with the sound of the minahs calling up the sun, we went to meditate in the Sri Daya Mata Mandir. Then it's off for exercises & the morning group meditation, then tea & breakfast. We walked the 3/4 mile or so to the Kali Temple, which was fairly crowded that day, but not uncomfortably so. Everyone was in a festival-like mood. Many families had come & were picnicking near the river. A snake charmer with a very large cobra was surrounded by a curious crowd of onlookers. Purchasing little baskets of offerings & red hibiscus, which are a favorite of Ma Kali, we queued up in the darshan line. It took us probably only about 1/2 an hour to arrive at the sanctuary where our offerings were snatched from our hands by the priests, given prasad & pushed on out the door! Such, once again, is so much of the temple worship in India. Fortunately, across from the main temple door, is the music hall, a large columned pavilion, where we could sit for meditation. It was right between two of the columns facing into the temple that Gurudeva meditated for 5-hours before Kali took living form before him. (See "The Heart of a Stone Image," in the Autobiography of a Yogi).


After visiting a few of the twelve Shiva mandirs & the Krishna mandir, our final destination (intentionally so), was Sri Ramakrishna's room. Here the great avatar spent most of his adult life, & here he left his mortal body behind when he merged in the Infinite. This is always a favorite place for meditation, so strong are the spiritual vibrations. During my first visit to India, in 1992, I had a marked experience of consciousness elevation at this holy place.