India - Inauguration of our ashram in Vrindavan
We left Jaipur early in the morning. At 9.30 am we had to be at Delhi Airport to pick up our luggage. We arrived perfectly on time and even had time for a roadside breakfast and a chai. Once at the airport our first challenge: we had to call the service desk to tell them to bring out the luggage as we were not allowed to enter the airport without a ticket. So we went to different service desks outside the airport to ask if someone could make a call for us (we even offered them to pay for the call). But they all gave us the same answer: during work they are not allowed to make phone calls and they do not have a phone for that. Finally we ended up on one end of the airport where we could enter a seperate parte with desks to buy tickets of all major airlines. And here we were successful. We could talk to the service desk, then go to the other end of the airport and wait. We waited the 5 indian minutes they told us to wait (which were about 20 "real" minutes) - and then, you cannot imagine the relieve when both our backpacks appeared! Happily we received the luggage and then even discovered an ATM which gave out cash. The queue was not to long, but unfortunately only debit cards (which we do not have) and local indian cards were working. So no cash for us.
We have read a lot of comments also here on travelblog that the cash situation is not so bad in India. Believe us, we have been to India before and what we as low budget travellers encountered at that time was terrible. Maybe the situation has improved in the meantime. And yes, it is one possibility to book everything online (accomodation, traintickets, and so on). But booking online makes it more expensive. Walk in guests in India always get discounts and much nicer rooms! By booking transport tickets online, you loose flexibility (and this is not our way of travelling, esp. not in India). And the queues were mainly terribly long. There sometimes were riots. We have heard of murders (luckily haven't seen anything like this) and injuries of people waiting for ATMs. The presence of police and security stuff was immense and necessary. In areas away from the tourist route it was simply impossible to get cash - just for a very high commission from private "dealers". In Goa it was easier, that is true. Even there, lots of shops are already closing down because people do not spend cash on buying things .However, we met many backpackers who gave up and left the country because the situation was not bearable. One couple was in Mumbai without cash for 2 weeks! We met them in Jaipur where they celebrated the 2000 Rupees each they got cash for the first time! So, all travellers who now have no or few problems: you are lucky! Enjoy it!
Back to our trip. After receiving the luggage, we got notice that our friends (all devotees of our spiritual master Paramahamsa Sri Swamin Vishwananda) had already landed. So we were waiting for them to get out of the airport. It took them 3 hours from landing to passing the passport control and getting cash at the money exchange to coming out. We patiently waited and were all very happy to meet! With them we could share the bus to our next destination Vrindavan. So, the rest of the blog will rather be a bit spiritual - but this is part of our life in the meantime. We know that a lot of people might think "they are crazy" - we don't care. We love it this way - we have had the other life before, it led us into big troubles and health problems. This now leads us to happiness, to a long lasting happiness and not the short term happiness of the materialistic society.
We all were extremely excited to arrive there. Paramahamsa Vishwananda was inaugurating the new Bhakti Marga Shram and Temple, the Sri Giridhar Dham. And we had his grace to join him for this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Vrindavan is the holiest place on earth. And we were allowed to join our guru there for the inauguration of the temple. Our minds simply cannot understand or caputer what this means. It is just a huge gift. Around 2.000 people came together from all over the world to this event. But let me tell you a bit more about what we did and how the days were like.
The day we arrived we all settled down in our rooms, got organized (especially as we just got our luggage after 4 days) and then had a satsang with the spiritual head of Paramahamsa Vishwananda in Switzerland, Swamini VishwaKishori Ma. She has the blessing of our master to guide us in Switzerland and gathered together the whole swiss group (about 25 people). At a satsang, a spiritual person is answering questions and telling stories about spiritual topics. After, we walked around the area of the ISCON Temple in Vrindavan and enjoyed some chai tea, of course. Even walking around Vrindavan, the holy city of Krishna, is considered to be a blessing and burning karma. The next day the swiss group walked part of the parikrama of Vrindavan (parikrama is a walk around a holy place), we visited Kaliya Ghat and the famous Bhanke Bihari Temple. We were all wearing our thilak (this is a sign on your forehead which shows the lineage in hinduism to which you belong), so really everyone recognised us as devotees of Paramahamsa Vishwananda or, if not, asked us and gave us the possibility to talk about our master. That was a very nice experience as the people mainly were really interested and open. For the afternoon we spontanously got an invitation of our master to do Hari Naam together. So we went to the new Bhakti Marga Temple. The Temple is beautiful. Paramahamsa Vishwananda welcomed us and all together we did a procession in the streets of Vrindavan. We were singing, walking and dancing - it was wonderful. People on the side of the streets were watching us. Our joy and happiness was infectuous and many locals joined in or had at least big smiles on their faces. In the evening we even could join in for puja, abishekam and aarti in the temple. This was not on the programm and most of the participants had not even arrived. It was like a special blessing for the about 300 people who were already there.
The next 3 days were simply filled with different ceremonies for the inauguration of the temple. As only few people could be inside the temple, there was a constant change so that everyone got time to be inside. Paramahamsa Vishwananda was doing the ceremonies, welcoming guests and blessing us all the days! It was amazing. Our narrow mind can only understand a fracture of what was happening there. We can observe what happened on the outside. But we all could feel that something very special was happening as well inside of us and in the atmosphere. We, both have no idea what this is, but it was wonderful and we could feel that it was special. We got so many blessings! It was heart opening, making you happy and light. We lost our hearts in Vrindavan.....
And what happened "on the outside"? 300 saddhus from Vrindavan were invited on the first day. They got prasad personally from our master. Different holy people and saints came to pay their respect to our Gurudev. There was a big yagya (fire ceremony) and a Maha-Abishekam. The main deities are Krishan and Yamuna Maharani. In fact, the Sri Giridhar Temple of Paramahamsa Vishwananda is the first temple in the world having Yamuna as the main deity. Every night in a big tent next to the ashram there was bhajan singing and dancing with Paramahamsa Vishwananda. On the last day of the inauguration, Sri Binod Biharidas, a saint who is living in Barsane (the birthplace of Radha) came to visit the Temple and our master. This was the most touching moment we have every experienced. Sri Binod Biharidas has never left Barsane so far. It was the first time he left his place. And he visited Paramahamsa Vishwananda. I, Nina, was inside the temple when he came in. Our master even offered him his seat (normally, the guru seat is only for the guru). For me, it was nearly impossible to breathe. I just had tears in my eyes. No more details on this.
We both are so thankful that we could be part of such an event in such a place with Paramahamsa Vishwananda. It is unbelievable! After he left Vrindavan in the morning, we had some private time left in Vrindavan before we drove back to Delhi to catch our flight to our next destination. We needed some quiet time to be able to comprehend at least a little bit what had happened in the 6 days in Vrindavan.
If you have questions about Paramahamsa Vishwananda (any kind of questions), feel free to contact us at any time. You can also send us a private message.
By the way: we did not make any pictures during the ceremonies as we wanted to fully absorb it without distraction. So, mainly, the pictures are from Bhakti Marga, the organisation of Paramahamsa Vishwananda.