Its July already! Satguru Rama Mata is back in the Midwest visiting her daughter, and Satyabhama and I were on the road to Pensacola, Florida and the Kashi Atlanta Ashram for programs in June. The Penzones in Florida hosted a wonderful program. We had the program at their beachside home and stayed closeby. Then it was on to Kashi Atlanta, which is such a cool organization. They help the poor, teach yoga and are very devoted to their guru Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati. Then I went on to Charleston, NC, for a rocking program there while Satyabhama spun off to Tampa, Florida, to her daughter's and her son's families and the grandsons, Rob & Laurie's Max & Michael (4 & 3) and Alisa and Sergio's 15-month old grandbaby, named Angel. I joined them all later.
As always, we offered prayers on your behalf at the 1,000 Names of Lakshmi Puja and the 1,000 Names of Ganesha Puja. You are never far from our minds and hearts as we travel and teach people about the power of mantra for changing their lives.
May the Light of Truth shine in all the needed places in your lives, bringing joy and blessings for all you do.
One of the highlights of the days in Pune was a Prosperity Puja conducted by Maheshwara and Jagadamba from L.A. Although it was an unscheduled and optional event, the room was packed. An Indian resident who had emailed ahead to meet with me joined us for the puja and was astounded by the skill of two Westerners doing the ancient ritual. After Pune, it was time to head for the Himalayas.
The early morning train from Delhi to Hardwar was a different kind of experience. First Class included hot tea (as much as you wanted) and white toast. There were other tidbits of food if you were interested. Leigh Zaimes and I talked about our lives and the world as we chugged through interesting countryside and endless villages until we finally arrived at the railway station where we transferred to buses for the 45-minute ride to Rishikesh. There we stayed in a very nice hotel on the banks of the Ganges. That night we had our first fire ceremony. All the details were arranged by Colonel Ahuja (Indian Army, Retired.)
Col. Ahuja had met us in Delhi and now accompanied us in the Himalayas and returned with us to Delhi at the end of the trip. He is a resourceful and interesting man who was one of the first in the mountaineering division of the Indian Army and trained brigades in the skills needed for protecting the north of the country near Pakistan. He had several narrow escapes from harm, and he credits Shirdi Sai Baba with saving him. He wears a ring with Shirdi Sai Baba's picture on it.
In 2007, Col. Ahuja stopped by the Himalayan camp he manages at Auli (along with several others,) where we were staying and performing our fire ceremonies. He attended one and said the Indian equivalent of "Holy Cow, I should have been here yesterday!" He vowed that the next time we came to India he would travel with us. Happily, he did, and we were the lucky recipients of his expertise.
Before we went to his camp at Auli, two days journey up into the mountains to about 9800 feet, we went to the Divine Life Society headquarters founded by the great Swami Sivananda. His disciples Swami Satchidananda and Swami Vishnu Devananda were among the vanguard bringing Hatha Yoga to many cities in the US and Canada in the 1970s. We went to their aarti on the bank of the Ganges our first evening in Rishikesh. It was beautiful to light the offerings of candles and flowers and float them down the river. We also washed our feet in the Ganges, but Katie Wilson (Ganga Ma) and Marie Babineau and Brian Cumming just dove in and paddled around. They had to be good swimmers because the current was strong.
The next morning, we visited the Divine Life Society ashram. The oldest swami there gave us a short talk about Swami Shivananda and his mission, then the head swami of the ashram gave us a wonderful talk about Swami Sivananda and life there at the ashram. Having missed the swim the evening before, Marc Bennett (Mahavir) went swimming in the heat of the day. We also spent some time in Swami Sivananda's quarters, where he took his mahasamadhi. His energy left in those rooms was strong and wonderful, and many of us wanted to stay much longer there. Then we went across the street and upstairs to a temple room where the Maha Mantra (Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, etc) has been chanted night and day in two-hour shifts since 1947. We added our chanting to the energy there. Then there was SHOPPING in Rishikesh. Did I mention that there was SHOPPING?
Just outside Rishikesh we made an unscheduled stop at Brahma Rishi Vashishta's cave. We parked the bus and walked down 60-70 steps to where the cave was, Miraculously, the Colonel had arranged hot tea and cool drinks for us. How did he do that? Must be that phone call he made as we were leaving Rishikesh. The energy there was extraordinary. We could have stayed there all day and meditated. The resident swami even came out to give us his darshan. We heard later that he doesn't come out very often. While I was waiting to go into the cave (we went inside in shifts because it was small) I was told that Arundhati's cave (the sage's wife) was just 20 yards around the bend but hard to get to. I offered a prayer of salutation to her. Within five seconds a magnificent butterfly flew just above my head, seemingly materializing out of nowhere.
From Rishikesh we rode the narrow roads up into the mountains to stay overnight at the Monal Resort. We have stayed there before and like it very much--clean, cool and beautiful. And good food. The next day's journey led us to our Himalayan camp.
The camp at Auli is composed of deluxe tents on concrete slabs with private bathrooms and Indian showers at the rear of each carpeted tent. The attendants brought very hot water in buckets for showers every morning. The same Kashmiri cook was there from our two previous trips, so we knew the food would be first rate, as good as many hotels. But there was more VIP accommodation with the colonel traveling with us.
We did our first evening fire ceremony, the 1,000 Names of Ganesha, and then had dinner and retired. By consensus we planned to get up at dawn for a 1,000 Names of Gayatri Fire Ceremony. I heard people muttering about at 4:30 am and got up a few minutes later. I was very pleasantly surprised to find hot tea and cookies waiting for us in the dining tent. Several people, including Mary Ann Muth set to work preparing for the ceremony. Brain Cumming and Marc Bennett also assisted in preparation of the six fire ceremonies we conducted in two days and three nights. We rolled. We did fire ceremonies with the thousand names of Dattatreya, Lakshmi, Lalita, Gayatri again, and a Sudarshana Chakra Yajna. We also did a Satya Narayana Puja. We would arise and stroll out of our tents to be surrounded by the towering peaks of the Himalayas. Although we were only at about 10,000 feet, it felt like we were on another world. It was warm during the day but quite cool at night. As we got ready for bed, attendants would put hot water bottles in our beds to keep us toasty as it got chilly. Reluctantly we left for the next exciting chapter.
The drive to Ranikhet was long but the scenery quite pleasant. The hotel was very comfortable, and we readied for the trek the next day to Babaji's cave. In the morning, we went to the Yagoda Satsang Ashram to pick up the key to Babaji's cave. There is a metal-gated fence over the opening to the cave, so you need a key to get in. We got the key and spent the next hour at the Yagoda Satsang meditating or gazing at the energetic Radha and Krishna murthis that stood waiting in a small open-air temple. Then it was back on the bus and another hour and a half ride to the beginning of the climb to Babaji's cave.
More next month . .
Om Dram Om Guru Dattaya Namaha
This mantra for Sadguru Dattatreya invokes his presence and help, freeing us from our karmic difficulties. He both completely detached and wholly compassionate for our circumstances at all times.
May His Grace be the spiritual tonic you need in these turbulent times.
|Certified Priests and Pujari|
Maheshwara and Sri Savitri Devi, Sanatana Dharma
Satsang Certified Priests, are available for pujas and fireceremonies in absentia. Please click here for further details: Pujas in absentia.
Mahavir has been certified by Sanatana Dharma Satsang as a Pujari for 7 years. He is available to do puja at your location in New York City on a donation basis. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The works of Thomas Ashley-Farrand (Namadeva Acharya) give unprecedented, detailed instruction in how to empower yourself using the techniques of the ancient sages and rishis. He and Satyabhama have been given the mission by their Gurus Sadguru Sant Keshavadas and Guru Rama Mata to bring these teachings to everyone.
To that end, he has written and recorded a number of works, and he travels to North America and the UK to teach workshops. Bi-annually, we lead a Pilgrimage Tour of India's Holy Places, visiting with the Shankaracharayas at Kanchi Math, Guru Mata at Vishwa Shanti Ashram, and doing fire ceremonies in the Himalayas, among the highlights of the trip.
We have founded a religious organization, Sanatana Dharma Satsang, which has opened a Gayatri Temple in Beaverton, Oregon. Plans are in the works to found temples with residential communities in Oregon, New Mexico, and other locations. The link to it is in the right column.
These works are offered in a spirit of service. We sincerely hope that they will further you on your path.
Prem & Shanti,
Satyabhama (Margalo Ashley-Farrand)
Saraswati Publications, LLC
Video Quick LinksIndia Video
Visit with SatGuru Mata at Vishwa Shanti Ashram and Pujas
India Video HD
NEW CD: Piercing the Knots-Granthis CD - A Mantra
& Visualization Meditation to release the Kundalini
Mantra Therapy for Prosperity CD - Help with blocks to prosperity and mantras to bring it in
Ancient Power of Sanskrit Mantra and Ceremony, Volume I & II CDs now recorded and available
Mantra, Path to Spiritual & Material Attainment - a 15-hour workshop on 14 CDs
Rama & Sita Workshop, Co-Starring Hanuman - approx. 15 CDs.
2009 Schedule of Workshops
We will be doing workshops in the following places:
July- Boston, MA; St. Louis, MO.
August - Ashland, OR; Far Horizons, Sequoia Nat'l Monument, CA; Maple Ridge, BC.
Sept - Lansing, MI; Chicago, IL; MA: Boston & Kripalu
October - Keene, NH;
CANADA: Alberta, BC - 2-3 workshops
November - CANADA: Ontario
December - Austin, TX
January - Los Angeles, CA; Puerto Rico
2009 information: http://sanskritmantra.com/schedule.shtml
Cochrane, Alberta, Canada Contact email@example.com
Las Vegas, NV
Los Angeles, CA
Jyoti Atma Chanting Group, Contact Jagadamba, Certified Mantra Instructor, at
Contact Mary Huddleston, Certified Mantra Instructor, at
The Ancient Power of Sanskrit Mantra and Ceremony Recordings
The Ancient Power of Sanskrit Mantra and Ceremony, 2nd. Ed., is now being revised to simplify pronunciation.
As promised some time ago, material to be chanted is being recorded by Namadeva
to be sold in CD sets of 7 or more CDs.
Volume I and Volume II 7-CD sets are now for sale at our online store for $65 each.
Volume III, which will be more than 7 CDs, will be ready in late 2009.