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Mahashivaratri, 2024

A Sharing about Mahashivaratri in Ganeshpuri, 2024

Description of video: Here seen is Kailas Nivas bedecked in honor of…This was taken on the way back to my flat after the abishek on March 9th. Not sure what that knocking sound is, but the lovely sounds of the ongoing three-day chanting saptah can be heard…

Mahashivaratri, 2024

This year, at the end of the Mahashivaratri three-day chant in Ganeshpuri, we were given the opportunity to enter the enclosed area around the murti in the Bhagavan Nityananda Samadhi Shrine for darshan. This is very special and I understand this only happens around three times a year.

I had been up until around 3am that morning attending an abhishek at the Bhimeshwar Shiva Temple adjacent to the Samadhi Shrine, a beautiful and powerful experience. Upon arriving back at my flat, I decided to let myself sleep without setting an alarm. I have found that it’s false economy to not give oneself the rest that is naturally needed. It just seems wiser and better all around.

Surprisingly, I naturally woke up around 7:30am, clocking in decidedly less sleep than usual, and saw that since I felt fine, I would proceed and get ready to go back to the town. I knew that with this timing I might have missed the puja taking place at the end of the saptah. But I made peace with that and found, upon arrival, that was the case.

I entered the samadhi shrine and quite a few people were there. Also, a visiting band toward the back was playing complete with an horn section! It was really quite festive!

I proceeded to the front for darshan of the padukas and then went outside to look for a friend. (We had made plans to meet that morning.)

We met up out toward the front of the samadhi shrine and were standing there chatting for a moment. Suddenly, a large group of people appeared around the corner chanting as they walked toward the Mandir (shrine). It was a gorgeous sight. A palanquin was held aloft and singing filled the air. My friend recognized that we’re from a specific town and customarily came on Mahashivaratri.

Standing there with him, I spontaneously decided to join the group. I entered the flow and together walked around toward the back of the shrine, stopping in a couple of places. Then we entered the shrine filling in the space right in front of the murti, though not the innermost area.

We stood there together and continued chanting. I had had the habit of chanting up front in the evening, from 7:30-8pm before the evening arati, with a few folks. It had become a beloved practice. And here was being offered this opportunity once again.

The Brahmin priests were in the enclosed area around the murti and, at a certain point, we started to all chant the arati together; the waving of a flame on a tray to the murti. It’s just so beautiful. I have never tired of watching the Brahmin priests offer this sacramental flame, this act of devotion, when I attended the arati. It’s such a gorgeous sight.

The flame was then presented to each person and kum kum (the red vermillion powder) was applied to the third eye area by the Brahmin priest.

It came to me during all this that I hadn’t planned any of this, in terms of timing. I had arrived ostensibly late for the morning’s events. But yet I had been in the right place and time to join the group of folks chanting and bearing the palaquin. And here I found myself…

It also occurred to me that this was a gift from Bhagavan Nityananda, that he had commandeered all this, that he had made this possible, that he had wanted this for me. This realization, this insight, happened often when in India…Things would happen in the most magical, marvelous way…Pure grace.

Upon recognizing this gift on that morning, my eyes filled with tears. A deep gratitude arose…

It was then indicated to those of us standing there that we could enter the innermost area where the murti is situated, for darshan. A line formed; well, something of a line! 😄 It was more a convergence toward the opening indicated. Lines are a funny thing in India, I found. They are a lot less rigid and folks good natured-ly would assume a position as they could. It’s all quite friendly and understood. It’s quite lovely.

As I moved (or was moved, you could say!) toward the opening, I became aware of a Brahmin priest who I had met previously at a yagna (fire ceremony) chanting behind me. The general chanting had stopped.

He was chanting Shree Guru Gita.

I joined him as I had chanted this for years and thus knew it.

I marveled at this. As I approached Bhagavan Nityananda, this chant exalting the guru was happening. Again, it felt like holy perfection. And it was…

I emerged from the darshan of the murti and stood there in that front area for a while. And then walked outside where prasad awaited.

The magical and powerful experience of Mahashivaratri in the sacred land of Ganeshpuri…

To that Nityananda I bow.

Annie Kiyonaga

March 17, 2024

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