A small group of us just returned from a glorious trip to Varanasi, Kolkata, and Serampore—all places known for their holiness, and filled with events sacred to our line of gurus. Everywhere we saw and experienced the joyful celebration of God in many things that is characteristic of life in India, a celebration not somber and serious, but filled with exuberance.

The evening we arrived in Varanasi, we visited the ashram of Ananda Moyi Ma, the great woman saint about whom Yoganandaji writes in Autobiography of a Yogi. We meditated there on the balcony overlooking the Ganges next to the room where Ma did puja to her beloved image of Krishna, and in her small bedroom. As we sat quietly, a small boy appeared and began doing cartwheels, laughing all the while. How pleased Ma must have been, I thought, to have so much joy expressed before her.

Early the next morning we visited the home of Lahiri Mahasaya, where he lived, initiated people into Kriya, and left his body. Though the building is locked, there is a large stone bench across the narrow lane on which we sat to meditate. Despite the steady stream of people walking to work, children on their way to school, and noisy motorcycles, we felt a deep inner stillness.

At a certain point, I opened my eyes to see that many of those passing by stopped at Lahiri’s door and touched it to take his blessings. A motorcycle driven by a father with his three children on their way to school also stopped, and each one took blessings. What a wonderful way to start the school day!

Our time in Kolkata was one long celebration with Yoganandaji and his disciples. Our wonderful center leaders there, Dithi and Alok, along with a team of devotees, have renovated the house of Master’s boyhood friend, Tulsi Bose. It’s quite near to Master’s family home, and it is at the Bose house that Guruji spent most of his days as a teenager.

Made holy by visits from great saints like Sri Yukteswar, Ananda Moyi Ma, and Vivekananda, and by the many holy relics from Babaji and our line of gurus, the house is beautifully kept now, with all the relics carefully placed in glass cases. Here we all chanted and meditated with the Kolkata devotees, and felt awash with joy.

yogananda 4 gurpar road childhood home yogananda teachings yogananda kriya yoga

The Ghosh family home at 4 Gurpar Road.

Next we stopped at the Ghosh family home at 4 Gurpar Road, and were lovingly hosted by Master’s great-nephew, Somnath, and his wife Sarita. After meditating in the little attic room where Yoganandaji tells us he “first found God,” we were served a delicious homemade lunch. One of our group said, “It felt like a family reunion.”

After a few more days of public events in Kolkata, we took a beautiful boat ride on the Ganges at twilight to Serampore. It is here, on the riverbank, that the banyan tree still stands where Babaji appeared to Sri Yukteswar and where Sri Yukteswar’s ashram is located. As we walked to our hotel, we stopped to pray at the holy tree.

At this time of year, it is customary to celebrate Durga Puja, a ten-day holiday in honor of Durga, the goddess of strength, determination, victory, and wisdom. As part of the festival, large images of Durga are fashioned out of clay, beautifully painted and decorated, and then immersed in the Ganges to let her dissolve back into the Infinite.

As we prayed at the banyan tree, many groups of people carrying their images of Durga released her into the river lovingly, laughingly, joyfully. What a beautiful moment it was!

So many blessings have come thus far on our trip, but the main insight I want to share with you is this: The path to God can be a celebration, a joyful release of all that we are into the infinite arms of God. Yes, we need determination to continue, but don’t forget to celebrate God’s presence every step of the way. This is what draws us closer to Him.

With joy and blessings to you,

Nayaswami Devi

Listen to Devi as she reads the blog, then expands on it, often adding special behind-the-inspiration stories and answers to common spiritual questions. Subscribe to the podcast or download the audio recording by right-clicking here. Or listen to it here (6:58):

30 Comments

  1. Thank you for the beautiful and inspiring share!!!! Brought it home to my heart. Blessings!

  2. Dear Nayaswami Devi Ji,

    Thank you for sharing your experience through this blog!
    We are so happy and blessed to have you both here.
    Very beautiful lines – celebrate God’s presence every step of the way

    Looking forward to meeting you in person soon

    Joy,
    Prem

  3. Dear Deviji,

    Bliss Bliss, mother India, the peace that passeth all understanding, that quietens your mind with contentment… the holy ganges meeting the Bay of bengal, teaching the union of true love, samarpan. Thank you Deviji for sharing, you walked me through the shores of India today. You’re all living the life of a true yogi.

  4. Beautiful trip and wise final conclusion. Thanks Dear Devi.

  5. Beautiful trip and wise final conclusion. Thanks Dear Devi. I wish you both a nice trip back home.

  6. Dear Devi, I am very grateful for your letter. The state of presence with you did not leave me while I was reading. I am very, very happy that you passed this blessing to me!

  7. How beautiful! You took us along with you, during this celebration of God! Could feel each and every place, from the way you share the wonderful moments, Ji.
    Thanks a lot!

  8. Aloha! Your story gives me the feeling of being there. Mahalo!

  9. And a wonderful, joyful letter this is, Devi, thanks! 🙏

  10. Thank you for sharing your experience, and for the beautiful insight: we keep going every day always realizing God.🙏🙏🙏⚘

  11. Ah, a letter of light richly imbued by the devotion so characteristic of India. Thanks for sharing 💜 Blessings & joy on your journey!

  12. So beautiful and inspiring to read this piece. Thank you Devi, for your gift of prose, and your example of who we need to emulate.

    God Bless us ALL!

  13. mm

    This is a lovely experience to have through your eyes. I felt I was there at times.
    Warm regards,
    shankari

  14. Deep gratitude dear soul. Thank you for the reminder of God’s Joy as is so needed in our World. Your description of your experiences were heartwarming. I think, what about going to India? Then I remember Ananda Moi Ma’s comment when asked to come to America…”I’m already there”. Thank you for bringing India and Joy to me and all your fellow gurubhais and to this World. Namaste

  15. Thank you for sharing. Yes, Ma is definitely in America! 💜🙏✨🌟

  16. Divine Mother

    You are The Only Truth pervading in SEVEN Colors of His Light.

  17. Beautifully written…what an amazing journey. Thank you for taking us to these places most of us may never visit…I feel like I know something more about them and the lovely people there. I love the reminder to stay close to God where ever in the world you may be…and in joy!

  18. Thankyou Deviji for taking us through this joyful experience. Thankyou for the beautiful insights ! Happy and Joyful Navarathri 🙏

  19. Hello Devi!
    Your trip sounds like it was amazing and full of wonder.
    Thank you for sharing your joy.
    I hope to see you in the future, my sister.
    Take Care,
    Sheila

  20. what a beautiful journey you have taken us thru in this sweet blog dearest Devi Ji. Thank you and thank you for the beautiful reminder – “a joyful release of all that we are into the infinite arms of God”. it warms the heart to read these precious words.

  21. Beautiful Deviji!
    Just like a child may we all celebrate God (for some of us maybe not with a cartwheel – hee hee)
    and remember: “The path to God can be a celebration, a joyful release of all that we are into the infinite arms of God.”
    God and Guruji’s blessing be with you always.
    ~~~Peace, Josette

  22. What a beautiful sharing of your blessed time in india. Thank you for this blessed story which went straight to my heart. Grateful grateful!
    Jai Guru! 🙏🕉️

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