Greetings from India! We hope that you are well. Our time here thus far has been immensely inspiring and enjoyable on all levels. If we could characterize our experience in a few words: it feels like coming home.
It’s really helpful having our own rooms in the ashram in Gurgaon. These include a sitting room/office overlooking the beautiful front garden with Master’s shrine, a large, quiet bedroom with big windows also opening out to the garden, roomy closets, ironing area, and a bathroom where everything works. There are also air-conditioners and air purifiers in each room, so . . . we couldn’t be more comfortable.
The day after we arrived, we went on a big shopping expedition to many different stores. In several hours we purchased a number of items we needed for our rooms, including an elliptical trainer that many of you contributed to for Jyotish’s birthday.
Things in India seem to have changed for the better with regard to getting things done. During previous visits, we found that moving from point A to point B seemed to be impossibly slow and without any connecting dots. Now, seemingly miraculously, you move into the unknown with a shopping list and intentions to accomplish certain things, and it really all happens.
It’s very meaningful to the India devotees when we say that we live here for part of the year. This seems to convey to them that we are committed to being here, and subtly they accept us more deeply as part of the family. Though we’ve only been here a little over two weeks, we’ve had satsangs and loving connections with many members of our spiritual family in Gurgaon, Delhi, and Kolkata. In the weeks ahead, this will also include Noida, Pune Retreat and city center, and Mumbai. (We won’t be visited Bangalore or Chennai on this trip, but will spend time with the leaders and go there in the spring of 2015.)
We can see how important it was that we visited India regularly while Swamiji was still in the body. We have many friendships with devotees throughout India that have developed over the years and that we’re now renewing and deepening.
The ashrams in Gurgaon and Delhi are wonderful—large, expansive, sattwic, beautifully decorated—and certainly gifts from Master. A group of Americans coming on the Indian pilgrimage are arriving on Sunday, and will no doubt send lots of photos. The ashrams are called Guru Prem (the Guru’s love) Gurgaon and Guru Prem Delhi.
On the wall bordering the front garden facing the street of the Gurgaon ashram, there is a plaque saying “Guru Prem” along with photos of Master and Swamiji. The guard told us this morning that when the other guards or neighbors pass, they often will stop and pronam to the images. In Gurgaon, the longtime ashram residents are Dhyana and Brahmacharis Devendra and Amit.
Last weekend we had the wonderful blessing of visiting Kolkata with Cecilia, Vivek, and Vibha (a dear friend from Delhi). Perhaps you’ve seen some of the photos on Facebook, but it also felt so much like a homecoming. Swamiji has said that Rome and Kolkata are his two favorite cities in the world. When I heard this at first it surprised me, but then I understood that beneath the noise, crowded conditions, and chaos, each of them has a living presence that bathes and uplifts the spirit.
While there we had the blessing of visiting Hassi Mukherjee at her home, where Master spent many years with his boyhood friend, Tulsi Bose (her father). She is getting on in years, but the inspiration of being with her, and the sparkle in her eyes, doesn’t dim.
We also visited the Missionaries of Charity Convent founded by Mother Teresa, and meditated at her tomb. It was deeply inspiring being there—one could feel the power of her devotion and service. While there we met an older nun who had been the second one to join Mother Teresa’s order and was her personal physician. Though frail from a stroke, she still was spiritually vibrant. She shared with us one of Mother Teresa’s guidelines to the nuns: “The heart is for love, the mind is for thinking of God, and the hands are for service with humility.”
The highlight of our time in Kolkata, however, was the Kriya Initiation on Sunday evening at 4 Gurpar Road, Master’s boyhood home. We were last there in February 2013 with Swamiji during his last visit there in this lifetime, so we very much felt his presence with us. As we meditated in Master’s little attic room to prepare for the initiation, again we felt like we were at home—as though Master was lovingly opening our hearts and minds to feel him more deeply and familiarly within. It was a true gift.
There were about 30 people at the ceremony, held in the room where Master and his father used to sleep. Afterwards we were all hosted by Master’s relatives, Somnath and Sarita Ghosh, and their daughter and son-in-law, who served us a delicious Bengali dinner. We’ve invited Somnath and Sarita to come to Ananda Village for the dedication of Swamiji’s Moksha Mandir, and they happily accepted.
This letter has gotten longer than we expected, but there was a lot to share. We’ll continue to write as the weeks go by, and keep in touch.
May Master’s blessings be with you always,
Jyotish and Devi