Posted in Ati Rudra Yaga 2019, India, Life, Love and Blessings

Celebrating Varanasi 2019!

Jaya Guru Datta

Shivaaya Rudraaya Namaha
Datta devotees the world over can all agree that when His Holiness says to do, you do and you do not question or protest.
Photo Credit: Avadhoota Datta Peetham
Photo Credit: Avadhoota Datta Peetham
Photo Credit: Avadhoota Datta Peetham

It is because His Holiness Param Pujya Dr Sri Sri Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji does nothing that goes against nature but He does everything with deep love and sincerity. The depth of His love and compassion extends to all of humanity and it is this understanding that has led Datta devotees from India and around the world to heed His call.

Celebrating Varanasi 2019 is the celebration of a true blessing that has brought thousands of Datta devotees together because the Divine Master has willed it to be so. Varanasi which is also called Kashi or Benares is of deep religious significance. November 2019 marks the inauguration of the Varanasi branch of Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Ashrama, Avadhoota Datta Peetham and it also marks the Ati Rudra Yaga being held at Chet Singh Maidan where over 121 pundits are present chanting mantras and doing Homa that has brought together thousands of devotees in one venue for 11 days of worship.

This is because this visit is one which gives all devotees an opportunity to search within and engage in true self discovery. It is not the dusty streets of Varanasi or the narrow alleys that might be called filthy and filled with hundreds of scooters.

It is the entire opposite- the purity of mind and action that begins with self and allows the individual to experience self and develop spiritual growth through yoga and pranayama, chanting of mantra, participation in Puja, reading holy books like Sri Datta Darshanam, doing seva, meditation and availing oneself of opportunities like taking bath in the Ganges- Holy Mother Ganga and visits to Holy Sites that are known for being sacred and also for their deep spirituality. More so it is a time to remember duty and responsibility and it is not a time to deviate from either.

Whether it feels surreal or it doesn’t, an opportunity like this doesn’t come by chance and we can all agree that it must be a blessing for anyone who can be here.

To see the sun set, anyone can tell you that it is a blessing and it is a rich orange shade of the vastrams Datta devotees wear. To see the sun rise over Mother Ganga is priceless. This river which flows from the Himalayas (the home of Lord Shiva) is a confluence of the Alaknanda, Bhagirathi and Gangotri. To be in the presence of Lord Datta Himself who is Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva is a blessing and in addition to Lord Shiva, Lord Surya and Mother Ganga who are also in the same place in one of the oldest cities in India that is the home of one of the 12 jyotirlingas (the jyotirlingam at the Kashi Vishwanath temple), Ganapati Temple (Chintamani Ganapati Temple), Khedareshwarnath Temple and Vishalakshmi Temple.

Varanasi is steeped in religious significance for Hindus and being here clearly means you are at the centre of the Universe with the Crowning Glory of the Universe. It is the place where Lord Narayan is present on every street, a place known for several Surya Narayan Temples, Kal Bhairav Temples (as Lord Kal Bhairav is the kotwal- gatekeeper of Varanasi). The vast presence of monkeys are an indication of Lord Hanuman’s presence which together with Mother Gowri’s presence (evident from the hundreds of cows that can be seen on the streets).

As His Holiness Param Pujya Dr Sri Sri Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji, our beloved Appaji has shared with us in the morning speech on November 14, 2019 for Ati Rudra Yaga Mother Goddess is present and so too are Lord Subramanya and 333 crores of deities who come to witness the Yaga.
This is beauty beyond description. This is meaning beyond description. This means keep doing, keep chanting, keep embracing and keep growing. More so this means keep praying and keep giving thanks.

Sri Guru Datta

Posted in Deepavali 2019, Divali, Life, Love and Blessings

Celebrating Deepavali 2019!

Jaya Guru Datta!

Deepavali 2019 is nothing short of a blessing. It is a first for us as this is our first trip to India and thus our first Deepavali in India as well as our first with our dear baby girl who is also celebrating her first Deepavali. In every sense it is a true celebration of life and understanding self, it is filled with priceless moments and being showered by an abundance of blessings. More so it is in every sense a day of being thankful for all blessings and a day filled with great humility and gratitude.

October 27, the most celebrated day of Deepavali, began in prayer, first with humble prostrations to our Sadguru, His Holiness Param Pujya Dr Sri Sri Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji and it continued with prayerful supplication throughout the day. We were able to join with hundreds of others to witness His Holiness Param Pujya Dr Sri Sri Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji perform Puja on the auspicious day of Deepavali 2019 and to participate in Puja. A great blessing this most certainly was!

Photo Credit: Ganesh Aps

As the day unfolded it presented so much that needed to be experienced with the heart and soul and not captured by phone or camera. It just needed to be experienced in its purest form, with energy at its purest and fullest- another step in understanding the self and the path being travelled. Energy, we can all agree comes in various forms. Energy, at its purest, is peaceful and calming. More so it is soothing and incomparable to anything else. There is no pressure, no stress, no pain, no negativity- just positivity!

Then came an opportunity to see the pieces of a puzzle (if one can call it such) come together as the Divine Master provided answers that for years I have not fought to find but accepted that faith would bring answers to if indeed they exist. It was like the unravelling of a story that for years has gotten the better of so many and has also denied them their true existence.
On the auspicious occasion of Deepavali 2019 He did exactly this! He provided answers and direction. Western Doctors who have resigned one’s fate to medication and dependency on medication they prescribe are no match for His greatness and knowledge, His compassion and His commitment to humanity. Being in the right place at the right time is one thing but being exactly where the Master wants you to be is another. It is absolutely the best part of the story ever! A way forward is what is received and it is better than being stuck which has been past reality.

Then to add to an already perfectly blessed day where your day begins with you seeing the Crowning Glory of the Universe, Nada Brahma, the epitome of Truth, Knowledge and Bliss, where it continues with you understanding how blessed you are by seeing more of what makes Him great, the epitome of perfection and the Master of the Universe you get your first real taste of Kriya Yoga which echoes the need to take care of oneself. Blessing after blessing most certainly! This is how I choose to see it and it is also how I choose to describe it.
It requires no searching, no stress, no fighting! That is not my life! No energy for it!
Then to bring Oct 27, 2019 to a close we had the beautiful opportunity of having a parent who lives downstairs where we stay do a rangoli design for our baby girl. Baby Sumanasa loved it and seeing how happy the daughters of these parents were made the occasion even more special.
Mere days earlier, on Dhanteras, Oct 25, 2019 this year, the first day of 5 days of Deepavali celebrations, we were fortunate to witness His Holiness Param Pujya Dr Sri Sri Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda perform Abhishekam for Lord Venkateshara. It was a sight to behold and truly an experience to be experienced through one’s own eyes and one’s own heart.
Then today, October 28, 2019 being able to witness Appaji’s return to Ashrama was certainly a most memorable occasion.

Sri Guru Datta

Posted in Celebrate Today, Celebrating Existence, Life, Love and Blessings

Celebrating Today Every Day!

Celebrate today! Why should you do this everyday? For starters you should celebrate it today because you are alive and you are reading this! Consider too it is a new week, new month and look to each new day with hope and faith that it brings you one step closer to your goal.

Photo Credit: SGS Posts- Simple Good Sayings 29 Aug. 2019

For those who may think that there is nothing to celebrate, let us focus on what there is to celebrate- life, the ability to make decisions for ourselves, the ability to chart our individual journey, the ability to see things for what they are.

I urge you to take the time to read this post which I wrote in 2014. Here is the link: https://rachaelathomasj.com/2014/10/12/celebrating-today/

As we celebrate today let us focus primarily on now and let us focus primarily on you. What should you be happy about? Let’s see:

• You just opted to make some time for yourself.

• You didn’t get to start worrying about tomorrow

Photo Credit: SGS Posts- Simple Good Sayings 30 Aug. 2019

The truth is both are important. Firstly you should always make time for yourself as it is a key component of loving yourself. Neglecting yourself means losing out on an opportunity to have the things you need to grow and to be a better you. For example it is what you need for your peace of mind. Have you ever observed what happens to something when you neglect it? Now ask yourself this: What will happen if you neglect yourself? Let the answers you come up with be enough to encourage you to make time for you! Do the things you love, do the things you want to do but even more so, do the things you need to do.

Secondly, why worry about tomorrow when tomorrow is promised to no one? For those who can recall these are three things I always urge you to do:

  1. Always focus on what you are sure about and that will help you deal with each situation. It will in essence help all the pieces fall into place. In short, it will help you to get clarity and figure out how to move forward.

  2. Always give your best. When you give your best there is no room for self doubt. It will help you deal with past actions and it will also help you move forward.

  3. Keep your faith and your belief. Accept that you are unique and you are specially made. If you have no control over situations worrying can only serve to do negatives- you overthink, you increase your blood pressure, you make rash decisions, you may lose your ability to analyze and assess. If you believe in God and in His greatness how can you not trust Him to set your situation right? Once this is done, breathe and celebrate.

What is there to celebrate? There is a lot. Your life, your family, your friends, your experiences, your successes, your challenges, your disappointments, the people who don’t like you, the money in your pocket (no matter how little it is), the hardships you faced, the struggles you have overcome.

With some asking why you should celebrate negatives like challenges, disappointments and some of the other things I have mentioned, I will gladly explain. Challenges and disappointments make you stronger and they help to develop your drive and your determination. It fuels you to persevere and helps you assess whether it is really worth it. By that time you realize how much you want it.

Photo Credit: SGS Posts- Simple Good Sayings 28 Aug. 2019

Celebrating people who don’t like you is not something you should invest a lot of time in. What it means is that you should realize that people who don’t like you either inspire you to work harder or they are not meant to be in your life. That’s where the ‘scissors of life’ concept comes in. Cut out the unnecessary baggage and the unnecessary people.

Agreeably too we can agree that not everything can be celebrated and I maintain that no one can tell you how to feel unless they are in your shoes. Some circumstances are very different and change us forever. I would never ask you to celebrate death but I would ask you to celebrate life and celebrate each moment you share and have shared with your loved ones. Let that be your comfort and let it help you smile.

Don’t give up!

Don’t ever think you are alone because you are not!

Never limit yourself but challenge yourself!

Make every moment count!

Live without regrets!

Use these pointers everyday! Let it help you be a better you and let it help you manage the challenges each day brings.