For many, it was a long summer. With eyes longing to behold the sight of Swamiji after the yearly hiatus, devotees made their way with great excitement to the abode of Sri Hari, Vaikuntha. This month of November would be different from the past 10 years though. There would be no birthday celebrations, yet every moment in the presence of Swamiji, is no less than a new birth for anyone who has placed the beautiful Sri Hari in their hearts. And on 4th November, those who rejoiced in His presence, as He walked gloriously into the temple, looking as Divine as ever, had an early start to their Diwali.

The discourses during that weekend were filled with wisdom, love, humour and devotion. As he began to answer a devotee’s question, Swamiji casually said “You’ve put me in a quandary” And further went on to compare his dilemma to that of a mother being asked who her favourite child was before going on to share some profound guidance as part of his answer. The gentleman had a question along the lines of the world coming to an end, requesting Swamiji to give one sadhana, one mantra and one meditation, for the progression of humanity. The devotees sat in rapt attention, paying careful attention to His answer.

  • As sadhana, He recommended the Savitur Gayatri mantra sadhana,
  • He shared that the one mantra he would tell people to chant, if He had to choose one, would be the Maha Mantra (Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare),
  • He clarified that the main reason for this choice was the need to evoke devotion and contentment within one’s heart before one is able to help others.

“To even think of doing greater good, you have to be so at ease with yourself, you’ve got to
be so comfy with yourself, you’ve got to have that deep sense of contentment.” […]

“In devotion you approach
everything in the spirit of service.”

As far as one meditation was concerned, concentrative meditation was the way to go with emphasis on the fact that,

“The hardened afflictions of the human mind are cut through with intense superior meditation.”

A combination of all three suggestions done with devotional sentiment would lead to phenomenal transformation in a dedicated individual, Swamiji stated. According to Swamiji, this question’s answer had inadvertently summed up his own sadhana and journey in general.

The audience also enjoyed listening to Him elaborate on Maya, while referring to a story from Lord Krishna’s life, when He lifted the Mount Govardhan and His young cowherd friends were under the illusion that they were helping Him by lifting the mountain with their little sticks.

“Krishna’s act, as well as the belief of His cowherd friends that they were needed, was Maya. Maya is the feeling that somehow ‘I am so in control’.”

After covering topics ranging from meditation, mantra chanting, being a recipient of Mother Divine’s energy, Swamiji closed the first event of the month. But first, they were treated to Swamiji, agreeing to a devotee’s plea and playing a short piece on the piano.

“I broke up with my piano. But it’s still there.” The delighted audience clapped vigorously as they heard Him sing a beautiful bhajan followed by its instrumental piano version.

“If I knew you would clap
so much, I would’ve played a bit more!”,

Swamiji said playfully, to which everyone
probably wished they could shout “Encore!

Shortly after, Diwali arrived, the festival of light, which devotees celebrated in the presence of the light and hope of their lives, Om Swami. The night began on a serious yet enlightening note. Diwali is never celebrated as a grand affair at the ashram, as Swamiji often says that people who come to Sri Hari’s abode, to seek His blessings, are sometimes facing difficult times, and it would not be right to hold grand celebrations.

Nevertheless, it was a joyful weekend, at the end of which, most were soaked in the devotion of the Divine Mother and pondered upon the importance of bhakti. Swamiji started the Diwali discourse by reiterating the importance of leading a meaningful life; one where we are of service to others and act selflessly, instead of living only for those whom we are related to, one way or another.

“Whatever it is that we wish
to grow in life, we must be
willing to share it or part
with it, otherwise it will not
grow.”

Later while addressing a question about what makes a devotee cry in the presence of the Divine, at shrines and temples, Swamiji elaborated that it’s a good thing.

“Purity of devotional sentiment is essential for one to cry in devotion. To awaken devotion, it’s important to stick to one form. Other than silence, it’s through tears that a devotee can speak to their deity.”

The devotional theme continued over the final November weekend where Swamiji shared that most people seek opulence and pray out of fear or for certain needs, rather than out of devotion. This message he conveyed through a rare but touching story about Lord Vishnu, Sage Narada and Maa Lakshmi, who descended to Earth to discover the same.

All in all, it was a sweet November filled with wisdom tidbits, devotional pearls and unmissable humour in the presence of Swamiji. And perhaps for seekers, devotees, and anyone on the spiritual path, with the seed of faith within them, the take-home message could well be that,

“Half of the journey is to call upon God with love and the other half is really to see the Divine in the living beings around us. Can we be established in a feeling of love towards them?”

Is there any better place to start, or continue, this journey than Vaikuntha on earth, where Sri Hari, as an idol and in flesh, resides? Perhaps not, as most of those ever present there, whether that was physically, virtually or spiritually, would agree.