Thursday, July 28, 2016

An Intuitive Painting Course of Divine Inspiration

A group from the Czech Republic has planned for a long time to participate in an Intuitive Painting course. Right after the Just Love Festival and Gurupurnima celebration, the energy was very special and strong, which supported the creative process of painting. The participants planned and painted their painting with lots of joy, every day - even on the last of three days - until late at night. In the
relaxed atmosphere of the Atelier, they  created beautiful images of Radha Krishna, Shiva, Rama, Lakshmi and other gods/goddesses as well.

As Guruji has said, this kind of spiritual art work is a Sadhana, which supports our spiritual path as it helps to develop the intuitive power within us. (Enjoy these pictures!)

Friday, February 19, 2016

A "Spiritual Vacation" at Shree Peetha Nilaya

Hrdambuje karnika madhya samsthe
simhā sane samsthita divyamurtim

Dhyā yed gurum candra kalā prakā sam

cit pustakā bhī stavaram dadhā nam

Meditate on the Divine form of the Guru who is seated on the throne in the centre of the heart lotus, who shines like the Moon, who bestows the desired boon and throws open the book of Consciousness.

Sri Guru Gita. Sri Swami Vishwananda.

In the middle of January at Shree Peetha Nilaya, there took place a five-day retreat for residents that one could call a "Spiritual vacation". And today we can share with you our little experience. 

It was a mix of an Atma Kriya Yoga retreat and a silent retreat. It showed to us all the beauty of daily practice, the importance of personal Sadhana, and how it is important to be self-disciplined in our everyday life as focus on our service. And finding a balance between Seva and Sadhana is an important point.

This retreat was our SEVA for 5 days, we did not perform our "normal" Seva. It was a total immersion into the retreat. The course was blessed by Guruji and it was truly a gift from him to us all.

Each day started with Surya Namaskar, AKY asanas and AKY group practice. We performed all the techniques, it was really the full program!

Then breakfast in silence. We had tried to be in silence for each meal.

Then at 10:00 we went for a japa walk. It is very important during japa walk to keep a very slow pace and for the whole group to try and go at the same pace. Constantly we chant the mantra "Om Namo Narayanaya", syllable by syllable matched to our steps Om-Namo-Naraya-naya. In this way you can feel the beauty and power of the Divine name, hear a single breath, feel all the beauty of silence, every minute of life.....

...what I felt during japa walks, it's was still 3 moments only. I was walking and I could hear – for some moments everybody was in same step (at the same pace) and it was really this strong feeling of the community. I could really see the steps shining with light. Because every time when you are walking unconsciously you are actually hurting Mother Earth. And very often I was thinking I should walk on my hands. To not insult Mother Earth by stepping with my dirty feet . And this is actually the opposite when you walk and do a mantra , you are actually giving her Love, giving light, doing the opposite." Swami Vishwakeshavananda

...To see how beautiful is the Divine Mother Nature. During the retreat, the weather was wonderful, and there came a real winter in all her beauty.

In one japa walk we visited our cows, it was a sweet moment.

After the japa walk we would have a class. And during the first class Rishi Tulsidasananda explained how to properly meditate. The first lesson is: "Don't move." It is necessary to keep silence, not only physical but also mental. Respect each other's space. Practicing in a group, in silence and without the slightest movements is more powerful. The slogan "don't move" had became the unofficial slogan of the whole retreat! One thinks they understand what 'don't move' means, until, you really do this meditation! Don't move, and of course, always remember that each breath is the breath of the Lord!

During the classes, the teachershared information with great focus and talked about the AKY techniques, about mudras, and each class was accompanied by group meditation under the guidance of Rishi Tulsidasananda.

After lunch we brought our books to the Bhajan cafe to read in silence, which had been transformed into a cozy living room, always with a burning fireplace. All of us brought Guruji's books to read. Someone read the Guru Gita, and some read the Just Love books, and many studied Guruji's commentary on the Bhagavad Gita. It was a great time, when we all came together to drink the Nectar from our Divine Master's books!

It was a great experience. I took the retreat as a chance to be in silence for some days, but after the second day my mind got crazy and loud. It was like it was shouting at me non stop. Then I started to talk again sometimes... not much, but tried to keep silence inside rather then outside and just accepted whatever is. Suddenly it changed inside an my mind got calm and silent, which seemed to grow more with each Kriya practice. It was amazing!” Amaravati.

At 17:00 we went for parikrama around the ashram. Since the new year, it has been Guruji's wish for all residents, at 17-00 every day, to do parikrama around the ashram in silence with an inner chanting of mantras, but at a fast pace.

We cannot draw a circle without a center point. The Lord is the center, source and essence of our lives. Recognizing Him as the focal point in our lives, we go about doing our daily chores. So when we do circumambulation, we accept that our actions and thoughts are always centered around God.  
At 17:30 we came together for OM Chanting. The group OM chanting was remarkably powerful, as the sound resonated deeply and the atmosphere was transformed. It's amazing to also know that when one is participating in OM Chanting, one is helping Mother Earth. If you haven't heard of OM Chanting, feel free to visit the main website for more details:  After the OM Chanting, we did our second set of AKY together to finish the night with Divine Communion. 

On the last day of the retreat, Rishi Tulsidas told us not to bring our books to the Cafe after lunch, as there was waiting for us a surpise activity. All were in anticipation, we were asking ourselves, "What is this new thing that is waiting for us?" After lunch, Tulsidas told a story about one of the dearest bhaktas to God, who performs seva and constantly thinks about God. And then Tulsidas announced to us that we could all do this as well! And so, we together we cleaned the entire ashram from top to bottom. 

It was a spirit of unity! Everything was done for Him and with Him! The main points during the Seva was to be in silence, chant a mantra, and serve with the spirit of directly serving the Lord.

"In the word Karma Yoga, the first part is karma – service – and the second part is yog. Yog is union. Through doing Karma Yoga, through doing service, you bring the union that you have inside of you, inside somebody else. Through that union, lots of karmic negativity that you have created from previous lives is being burnt. That’s why the more service you do and the more help you give, the better it is." -Sri Swami Vishwananda. Just Love 2

And on the final day of retreat, each participant shared his/her experience that they had for the last 5 days. Each of us acquired or discovered something new. And not only did we discover something for ourselves but we all became closer to each other. Moreover, we all expressed the willingness to continue to do our kriyas together and meditate more than what we have done previously. The community truly united as one family, and the retreat proved to be a great success. 

Serve, Give Thanks,
Meditate, practice Atma Kriya:
Just Love.
With Love from Shree Peetha Nilaya.

If you follow your path, you have your own sadhana. Enjoy it and love it! That’s what will bring you closer and closer to your real Self. That is what will awaken this deep longing for the Divine, because once you have tasted this sweetness of the Divine, you will want more and more. This is the drug that the Divine gives you and it’s the sweetness of His drug that you will always want." -Sri Swami Vishwananda. (Excerpt from Just Love 2: The Essence of Everything)

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Bhakti Marga presents a Resident Christmas: A Taste of Home

The Magic of Christmas is not in the presents, but in His presence.

Here comes Christmas time, the time of Christ's birth. This is the time when everybody is very joyful and there is a lot of happiness and excitement vibrating in the air. It's a very special and mystical time. When we keep the spirit of Christmas, we keep the Spirit of Christ, because in essence, the Christmas spirit is the Christ Spirit.

"...the birth of Christ, is actually very mystical because Christ renews his birth every year, whenever we celebrate it, inside the heart of man. We have to understand the mystery which is hidden behind the birth of Christ. …..He didn’t come to be served; He came to serve. This is very important to understand. That as much as we desire God, as much as we long for God, God actually longs for each one to return back to his original state, which is Divine. This living unity with the Divine, the living and realising this Unity with God, that is what Christ has come for and to show to us. He has shown that through humility one perceives the Divine. One realises what lies inside. One realises real Love and joy. Christ is alway s with you, every second , every moment – whether you think of Him or not ! He’s there. Any time you can hold His hand.“-Sri Swami Vishwananda. Just Love 3.

There is no better time than now, this very Christmas season, for all of us to reflect, to dedicate ourselves and to act upon the principles taught by Jesus Christ. It is His example which stirs within us more kindness and love, more respect and concern for others. We can express our love towards one another and towards God by giving ourselves completely to service.  

As you know, in our home Shree Peetha Nilaya, there is a tradition – every year a Christmas lunch is prepared by devotees from different countries. But this year we have departed a little bit from tradition and it was decided that the Christmas lunch will be prepared not by guests, but by the community members. It gives us a chance to express our love to all of you! “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (St.John 13:34/35) And the law that Jesus left us with is nothing else but the law of Love.

And now we wish to give you a little behind-the-scenes of how our community cooking all happened. First, there were organised teams from each seva department in the center. Then, each team began to develop and plan a dish, and soon enough, the cooking began....

The first who came was the Guests Service Team (including Reception, Event team, and Childcare). They named their team MAMMA MIA! Decoding - If one more person rings that bell....The girls who keep this place running smoothly for all of us, couldn't be happy to do only one thing, they wanted to give us more- so they made "Panzerotti" and "Tiramisu“ (pronounced "tih-rah-mee-SOO").

After "MAMMA MIA" was the Audio Team and the IT team. They named their team EVERYBODY HEARS YOU. Decoding - aka Don't ask Us to Turn Up your Microphone.... They presented "Apple pie“ - Tender apple slices and sweet cinnamon baked into crust, topped with vanilla ice cream.

The next were Nuns. Their team was named THE NINJAS. Decoding - Sometimes known as THE NUNS when they're not having to do Ninja stuff..... They presented - crispy golden brown filled dough, with a thick middle layer of crushed walnuts and topped with syrup and pistachios. Its Sweet dream "Baklava“.

The girls from the Housekeeping, THE QUEENS OF CLEAN. Decoding - What!?! We only mop the lobby a thousand times a day!
Lots of mayo, mustard and pickles: how "potato salad“ is meant to taste! That dish was prepared for Christmas lunch.

The following departments STC and co./Friends of BM/HR/Finance were merged into one team to prepare a dish. The team named "THE REAL 'GET THINGS DONE' GROUP“ , but *shhh* don't tell them. They prepared "Sweet Nuss Cake“, homemade bread filled with sugar and nuts braided and baked, economically made, of course.

The Spiritual Services named THE BEGINNERS . Why? We don't know, you can try to ask them …. Artistic Presentation of the dish: A Chicoree Sailing Ship with a Hungarian Dip and a Beetroot Dip/ strong meeretich taste. Simply delicious!

And yes, of course we can not do without the musician team. They are represented in minority , (only two people) and we named them WHERE IS THE DRUMMER??!?!!!?
To have rythym is a very important thing, but now it is fine without a drummer, because Mira and Aradhaka have learned the art of playing the mridanga with their feet, while their hands are busy at the harmonium! Presenting to you, a "Balkan Sweet,“ chocolate covered balls with marzipan and a surprise inside.

The next team - THE PILLARS OF LIGHTOur Rishiji's.
Well, it happened like this, Rishi Tulsidasananda began to search for his dish on google.....when he found it, he called his compadre Rishi Pramod who was cutting some logs, and over the roar of the chainsaw Rishi Pramod said, "Yeah, that sounds like a great idea!“
Ladies and Gentleman, we present to you the "Sloppy Joe!“

And the big, BIG Communications Team - HE WHO TALKETH ALWAYTH WINNETH. Please never call during working hours; we might be able to help you some other time- if you filled out the request form.
Ever-creative, ever-resourceful, they came up with two nice dishes: Polenta Rounds with rucola and Mushrooms, and Baked Corn with Cheese.

The Swamis' team was - "DID YOU KNOW 'SWAMI' ALSO MEANS LORD?“ (this is only for information...)
There was a lot of ideas, some talk of raw food from one of them, but at the end, they decided to go with what they know works, 'Bhagy, Guruji has guided us to entrust you with picking a dish, we know you won't fail us- and if you do........' (Note: This is Bhagy, please like this dish of Stuffed Tofu Turkey with a sauce, 'cause I realllllllly don't want to find out what will happen if you don't...)

Also The Sadhanas team - 'GET THINGS DONE'. Decoding - They have assured us, it is the quality of the work not the quantity. A "Greek Salad“ with feta, cucumbers, tomatoes, and herbs, this team is always teaching and keeping us healthy.

And the mysterious Garden team and the Cows - GLORY TO KAMADHENU and SUSHILA and SURABHIand the other 105 cows soon to come
They declared the soup. That classic beetroot soup "Borscht“ with sour cream from Kamadhenu—famous for keeping generations of gardeners hale, hardy, and healthy!
In the stated time this team does not appear. But soup was prepared. By whom? it's a secret, and it wasn't the cows......

The Construction and Architects department were - THE WORKING MEN(and LADIES)
Here's the thing: We've done the real work. We didn't cook, that's for lightweights. Your dishes? You thought they were done, actually we built them up, decorated them and now you can call them finished. Your welcome.

And Last but certainly not Least..... THE KITCHEN
Serving to you a whole bowl full of Loooooove!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
...What did you say? You didn't like it?!? Let me remind you of when we stopped to cook a few weeks ago, it was NOT a strike, but WE ARE NOT AFRAID TO STRIKE AGAIN! OKAY?????
So, you do like it? That's what I thought- best to keep momma happy :)

We wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!
Love is all you need!

Friday, October 30, 2015

The "Churning" of Divine Nectar (Bee-hind the scenes at Shree Peetha Nilaya's honey headquarters!)

The bee is little among such as fly; but her fruit is the chief of sweet things.
(11:3, The Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach)

Bees are the only insects in the world that produces food suitable for humans. Honey, is a delicious and nutritious supplement to our diet, but how does the nectar of a flower transform into honey? Here at Shree Peetha Nilaya, we have a small apiary that produces rich honeycombs consisting of a savory-sweet taste. Today we will show you the entire process we perform to create the perfect honey.

The beginning of honey production starts with the nectar found in nature. Honey is created from the nectar found in melliferous plants, such as flowers, trees and shrubs. During the spring, the first honey plants awaken and bloom, and the bees get busy with work. For this purpose, we plant a lot of flowers that have this source of nectar.

The bee itself has to search for the flower and nectar sources, retrieve the honey, and then fly back to the hive to drop off the package.

The processing of the nectar into honey consists of the evaporation of water excess, decomposition of sugar (sucrose) into simple sugars (glucose and fructose), giving the honey an acid reaction. And when honey is "ripe", i.e. the amount of moisture it has becomes less than 21%, bees seal the cells with honey by wax caps. Such honey is called ripe, and it is ready for use.

After this step is when we come in.

Carefully, we take out the frames with honey from the hive. But not all the frames can be taken away at first. Normally, if a third or more honeycombs are sealed, then the honey is ready. That’s why some of the frames are brought back into the hives for finishing.

We guide the bees back into the hive with a brush, and put the full frames into a special box. We replace the previous full frames with empty ones, since the season of honey collection continues and the bees stay active with their work.

Then, we move to a special room where the honey is pumped from the honeycombs. This is done with the usage of honey extractors and a special centrifuge, where we place the frames to be rotated.

At this point, the honey is still closed with the wax caps. So that the honey can flow during the rotation, we melt the caps with hot air in a special fixture for releasing honey cells. And here comes the "clean" frame.

Clean frames are put into the honey extractor, which can hold up to 20 frames at a time. Push the button and the rotation starts.

Due to the centrifugal force, honey is pushed from the cells and it travels down by the walls into a special section. And then, the magic begins! The crane opens and the honey flows endlessly! Well, not endlessly, but quite a lot comes out. The honey is also simultaneously filtered through a sieve to avoid getting wax into the final product.

The final step is to place the honey into jars. Once the honey is in the jars, the only thing left to do is enjoy! At Shree Peetha Nilaya, we use our honey for both our meals, as well as our prayers. The honey is offered during rituals like yagnas, abishekams, and pujas. The honey is like a good medicine, as it has received all the healing power of nature.

If you would like to purchase the honey made here, we offer the honey in individual jars at the Bhajan cafe during holidays and Darshans.

3-month helper in the Sewing department!

The Sewing atelier is looking for a person who can come to Shree Peetha Nilaya for three months of seva. Below are some of the qualifications necessary for the job:

  • This person should have good or very good sewing skills and is capable of listening and follow directions. 
  • The person should be willing to work flexibly, urgent work is sometimes needed or longer seva days required to complete special projects. We expect a good quality of sewing. 
  • Experience of cutting and working with patterns is preferred. 
  • A good capacity to learn to sew in a new way with different kinds of materials is essential. 

We would need help in sewing:

  • Full brahmacharini uniforms tunics and skirts
  • Uniforms for nuns and to repair clothes (general and clergy clothes) 

Other additional requirements in order to perform the job properly:

  • This person should be able to walk three times a day to and from the ashram to the village where the sewing atelier is situated, in the nun's house. This is around 4 km/per day.
  • This person should be able to speak English. 

If you have sewing skills and are interested to serve Sri Swami Vishwananda, then please contact us informing of your experience with sewing, provide a photo of yourself, and a date of when you could start. Please indicate if you can commit for doing the full 3 months. A scholarship will be provided for the 3 month period which will cover all your living costs here in the center.

Please send an e-mail directly to: 

Friday, August 7, 2015

Gurupurnima (and Prasad Recipe!)

Guru Govinda dono khade, kake lagoon paay?
bali hari Guru aapno, Govinda diyo milay

Guru and Govinda (Shri Krishna, The God Himself) both are standing in front of me;
Whom should I bow to first?
(Of course Guru because) it is the grace of Guru that I have been able to meet Govinda.
- (Sant Kabir)

"Jai Guru Dev!" - Glory to the Divine teacher!

In the Aapastambgrah Sutra it is said:

"The mother and father give birth to the physical self. It is the Guru who gives true birth to the soul. Wise people call it a special birth."

A human soul, even though initiated in the spiritual path, cannot love an abstract force; and for this reason Scriptures advise us to venerate those who lead us to God and to love being in their physical presence as the Divine manifesting itself in human form. The Guru's physical body is just receptacle of the mighty Divine, and as such worthy of the utmost devotion and reverence. The Guru and God are one because the Almighty and his intermediary cannot be different.

Gurupurnima is one of the main Vedic celebrations, which every year falls on full moon day Purnima in the month of Ashadha. On this day, we express our respect and reverence to our Satguru with all our body, speech and thoughts, as well as to all spiritual teachers of mankind thank them for the knowledge they gave us.

Gurupurnima is the day of the full moon. A full moon reminds (each of us) about the fullness of life, how complete our life has become and how our love has blossomed.

It is a day to be grateful. And on this special day, we are grateful and bow down to the lotus feet of our beloved Satguru Sri Swami Vishwananda. We thank him for that he awakens the Divine love in our hearts, reveals knowledge, transforms our lives; thank for his mercy and all the blessings that we receive from him. Thank you for all that came into our lives. We take refuge in Your Divine love and peace, it is You who steals our hearts, our true SatGuru.

Glory to our Divine SatGuru Sri Swami Vishwananda who is manifestation of Divine Love!

Being close to Gurudev, we can only be bhakti itself, love God for love's sake, give everything to God. Oh God! Grant me that I could always love you. Blessed is the heart, which is filled with love to you day and night! 

When thus I lose myself in Thee, my God,
Then do I see, and know,
That all Thy universe reveals Thy beauty,
All living beings, and all lifeless things,
Exist through Thee.
This whole vast world is but the form
In which Thous showest us Thyself,
Is but the voice
In which Thyself Thou speakest unto us.
What need of words?
Come, Master, come,
And fill me wholly with Thyself.
Saint Tukaram 

On this day we offered to our beloved Gurudev all the dishes that he likes as prasadam.

And today we share with you cookies recipe - Mauritian Napolitaines. These beautiful delicacy consists of 2 berry jam sandwiched between two short crust biscuits and finally covered with colored sugar icing.

250 g white flour, sifted
175 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
Raspberry jam, aprox. 50-75 g
250 g powdered sugar (icing sugar)
50 ml water, at room temperature (can use rose water)
2 drops of red food colouring (or colour of your choice)

1. Prepare all the ingredients. 
2. Sift flour. Make sure you sift the flour well, it makes the biscuits more light and flaky.   
3. In a bowl, rub the butter in the flour and knead for 5 minutes until you obtain a soft smooth dough. 

4. Divide the dough into 2 parts. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 15-30 minutes.
Keep the second part in the refrigerator while working with the first part.

5. Roll the dough about 5 millimeters - 1cm thick in between plastic or wax paper.  For convenience, we began to use wooden sticks, which are placed on both sides, allowing you to roll the dough of the same height.

6. With cookie cutter cut the dough into rounds. This traditional form of Napolitaines. But this year we also cut the form - hearts and stars, a small quantity, for decoration.

7.  Place the rounds on baking sheets.  No need to leave much space in between the biscuits since they will not grow in diameter.  Bake in a pre-heated oven at 165°C for 10-13 minutes (The cooking time depends on the type of oven you have, so keep an eye on them while they are baking).

8.  The biscuits are ready when you notice a colour changes from yellowish to pale yellow or cream coloured.  They should not turn brown and don’t overcook them. That is the reason why the oven temperature is kept low so that it bakes evenly without taking too much colour.
By the way, your kitchen is going to smell great!  

9. Once the biscuits are done, leave them to cool on the baking tray at room temperature.  Don’t move them while they are cooling. 

10. After cooling, spread jam onto the bottom of one biscuits and stick another biscuit on top. Be careful while spooning the jam, because these biscuits are really fragile.

11. To prepare the glaze, you just need to mix together icing sugar with room temperature water until you get a nice smooth viscous glaze. If the glaze is too liquid, you just need to add more icing sugar and if it is too thick, you need to add some more liquid. Add little red colouring to make it light pink. The traditional Napolitaines are coated with a pink glaze.  And here we have moved away from tradition. Biscuits painted in different colors - blue, red, orange.

12. The sandwiched biscuits should be ready on a cooling rack with a tray underneath. Pour 1 tablespoon of pink icing on each biscuit and using teaspoon smooth icing on top and ensure that the sides are covered. Allow the icing to set completely onto the wire rack (should take around 15 minutes). Allow the glaze to harden for some hours.  Store in an airtight container. Do not store in the refrigerator since it may affect the glossiness of the glaze.

13. If you have a sweet decoration balls, you can decorate biscuits with them as per your taste! Voila!

14. Offer to the Lord.

Vishwānandam Brahmānandam
Brahmā Svarūpam Nīlavarnam
Triloka Nātham Shrī Gurudevam
Om Namo Vishwānandam