This year Mahashivratri was on the 24th Feb (2017). The Vedanta Camp concluded the same day – in the afternoon. We had three special Shiv-Puja’s in our Gangeshwar Mahadev Mandir. The first one was by Swamini Amitanandaji, whose Sanyas Deeksha Day was on this day. The day was also the Sanyas Deeksha Day of P. Swamini Poornanandaji, who did the Guru Paduka Puja.
The evening Puja was done by Sh & Smt Manojbhai of Bharuch. After the puja Bhagvan Gangeshwar Mahadev was decorated as described in the shloka – Karpoorgauram – fully white. The jhanki was beautiful. Then we had the Aarti and lots of devotees came for darshan, did Aarti and partook prasad. Thereafter there was the special program of Shiv-Sahasranama Archana. It was a great program.
The day concluded with the final puja at midnight.
On 3rd Feb was the Narmada Jayanti. Every year on the Saptami Tithi in the Shukla Paksh of the month of Magha, is the Narmada Jayanti. This day is also called as the Ratha Saptami day. On this day is suppose to be the Jayanti of Surya devata, and is as auspicious as the Surya Grahan. At Vedanta Ashram, the inmates celebrated the occasion with great devotion.
A special altar of Narmadaji was made inside the Hari-Kuti on the Mandir Terrace, and was decorated appropriately. All the inmates sang bhajans, chanted Narmada Stotram and then had a small feast on the occasion.
The feast was organized on the Terrace Garden, and was simple – Idli & Sambhar, the lovely South Indian dishes. It was made by Swamini Poornanandaji. It was a pious & lovely evening.
On 18th Dec, Sunday, the Ashramites & devotees of Ashram organized a big annual program – the Salil Sandhya to commemorate the birthday of Poojya Guruji. In this Sh Salil Datey, a well-known local artist, presents an hour long Flute Rendition Program. He was accompanied by his three friends, on Tabla, Synthesizer and Drums. This was the fourth year of this program in a row. He organized special mike system for the program.
Later there was a grand bhandara, hosted by Kusumakar family. Chetan Kusumakar, s/o Subhash Kusumakar has just got married sometime back.
It was overall a very nice program.
Diwali was celebrated at Vedanta Ashram in a pious & eco-friendly way.
On 10th Oct was the 29th Sanyas Deeksha Day of Poojya Guruji Swami Atmanandaji. A day before this was the Durga-Ashtami, on which day we do shringar of the Mataji’s statue inside the giant Shiv-Linga on the terrace, and do her puja. We clubbed both these programs together and decided to celebrate on Ashtami, which was also Sunday.
Lovely shringar was done of Mataji and then lots of devotees & ashramites got together to do prayers & bhajans. Later we did aarti of Mataji and everyone got her darshan. Being Navratri there was phalhari prasad for everyone.
On 10th Oct Poojya Guruji did the Paduka Pujan of Padukas which were given to him by his Gurudev Swami Chinmayanandaji.
On 11th Oct the Dasshera day, which is also the Sthapana Diwas of Ashram, we first did the Puja of the giant Shiv-Linga on the terrace. This is done once a year by some youngster. This year also this was done by Angad Kapoor. Later we did Vahan & Instruments puja.
Later in the evening a Cultural Program was organized. After some Bhajans, a Jokes Program was presented by Sh Manohar Agarwal. Later there was prasad for all.
On 25th Aug 2016 was the Sri Krishna Janmashtami. The Vedanta Camp had just concluded, and campers along with Ashramites decorated a beautiful altar of Bhagwan Krishna on the stage of the Sankaracharya Sabhagruh on 2nd floor of Vedanta Ashram. There was the jhoola of Bhagwan in the center and two scenes of Gokul and Raas Leela on sides.
The programs began in the evening with the chanting of Chapter Four of Bhagwad Gita, which as briefly explained also by Poojya Guruji.
Some lovely bhajans followed and at 10 PM started the Vishnu Sahasranama Archana. Around twenty altars (deepak) were prepared and on each 2-4 devotees sat. Poojya Guruji started the chanting of names and all the Ashram Swamiji’s took turns to chant the names. It took more than 90 minutes to complete the elaborate ritual which everyone thoroughly enjoyed.
Later there was a Flute Recital program, presented by Sh Sabhajit Yadav from Lucknow, and thhen the Purusha Sooktam chanting. Later with the song Darshan Do Ghanshyam, sung by P. Guruji everyone welcomed the birth of Bhagwan, and the Maha Aarti was performed.
The Vedanta Camp prior to Janmashtami this year was organized from 20th to 25th Aug 2016 at Vedanta Ashram, Indore. It was full house, and we had campers from Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Nagpur & Mumbai. The subject matter of the discourses were Panchadasi-Chapter-3 (Panchakosha Viveka) by Poojya Guruji and Three Gunas in Gita by P. Swamini Amitanandaji. Apart from these there were Meditation session, Chanting session, (conducted by P. Swamini Samatanandaji) Daily Puja (under the supervision of P. Swamini Poornanandaji), Bhajan, Discussion and Q&A.
In the Panchadasi class, the celebrated author took us from the five layers of our personality to the infinite Self – of the nature of Satyam Gyanam Anantam. In the Gita session was discussed the qualities of every guna discussed in various chapters of Gita. In the Meditation session that which was discussed in Panchadasi was tried to be seen & internalized.
Everyday there were lovely discussions. Some topic was presented to the campers – with two different options and they had to give their views. It was very lively & enlightening.
On the Janmashtami day the last session was the Guru Dakshina & Feedback session. Everyone was called upon to share their experiences, and it was great to see everyone thoroughly enjoying the whole camp.
On 15th Aug 2016 was not only the fourth & last Savan Somvar but also the Independence Day of the country. In the morning the special Rudrabhisheka was done by Sh & Smt Asha & Krishn Rai.
Later all the Ashramites gathered on the Ashram terrace to hoist the National Flag and sing the National Anthem.
Later in the evening a special jhanki of Bhagwan Sri Gangeshwar Mahadev was made in tricolor. Poojya Guruji explained the significance of each color to everyone. The green stands for our respect for prakruti, white stands for Sattva Guna, meaning purity, and the orange color stands for knowledge & tyaga.
4th Savan Somvar
Every Monday in the month of Savan Bhagwan Sri Gangeshwar Mahadev is decorated in a special way, and so also on 8th Aug, the third Savan Somvar Bhagwan as decorated as Neelkantha – the one who saved the world by drinking the poison which came out of Samudra Manthan. He was seen holding a cup full of the terrible Halahal poison in his hand, his neck had become blue for life an in the background were the stars and planets.
After the main Aarti everyone gathered in the hall behind the mandir for a special presentation by the Balvihar children depicting the Samudra Manthan. Under the guidance of Ashram Mahatmas the children had worked hard and prepared the skit in just two days. Before the drama children chanted some shlokas and sang bhajans and then welcomed all Mahatmas & guest. They offered flowers to Poojya Guruji and Swamini Amitanandaji whose birthday was also on this day. Poojya Swaminiji first did the puja of Poojya Guruji.
As the curtain was raised we could see Bhagwan Shankar and Mata Parvati sitting in the back ground, while the devatas and asuras dressed in white & black resp on the front. Mandar Parvat was in the center and the Vasuki Naag was used as the rope.
P. Swamini Samatanandaji was the comperer. She beautifully narrated the story and told its significance. Her narration was like a commentary and as she took us forward the children did lovely acting and presented the scene. Before the Amrut and the Poison the things which came out were Moon, Kalpa-Vruksha & Lakshmiji. Children had dressed up for these things. Hiding below the ocean covered in white bed-sheets, they surfaced slowly as their name was announced. Manifestation of Lakshmiji was enjoyed by all, as she came and threw flowers as blessings to all.
Lakshmiji showering her blessings to all
Vasuki Naag vomiting Halahal Poison
Shivji going to drink Poison
Finally Dhanwantariji came out with Amrut Kalash
When poison came out the devatas together went to Bhagwan Shivji and requested him to somehow save the world. Shivji finally decides to drink the poison himself, but when he was drinking Parvatiji caught hold of his neck and the poison could not go down further and that is how he came to be called Neelkatha. The churning again started and finally Dhanwantariji came out with a kalash full of Amrut, and that is where this drama ended. We know the subsequent story as to how Bhagwan Vishnu came as Mohini to distract Asuras and he gave the Amrut to devatas.
After the show, all the children got a chance to come forward and introduce themselves. Later there was the cake cutting and Falhari Bhojan for all.
Guru Poornima was on 19th July this year. This is always a big day at Ashram. Not only the Ashramites pay their respects to the entire Guru Parampara, but devotees too flock the place to get blessings from their Guru. There is puja & then a grand bhandara for all.
The day began with Poojya Guruji doing puja of Bhagwan Sankaracharya, Guru Parampara and then the Vyasa Peetha. Later one of the devotees gets a chance to represent everyone to do Pada-Pooja of Poojya Guruji. This year it was the newly initiated Brni. Sakshi Chaitanya. She did the puja under the guidance of Swamini Amitanandaji. Poojya Guruji in his short talk conveyed his blessings to all the devotees, and then everyone got a chance to express their respects personally. Everyone then partook the prasad.