That stellar Sunday…

A Report by Akshay Mootheeram

Swami Shivanandaji, a direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna, once observed: “If you want to achieve anything substantial in spiritual life, visit Belur Math, stay here and do spiritual practices. It is for this purpose alone that Swamiji dedicated his life and founded this Math.”

The spiritual current that flows in Belur Math is carried to all its branches, affiliates, sister-centres and therefore undoubtedly visiting any of them is indeed a pilgrimage.

A bus full of devotees from Ladysmith sub-centre decided to undertake a pilgrimage to three centres in Durban and I am glad to present a Report, penned – nay! composed in a Word Processor as the modern youth are wont to – by Akshay Mootheeram who is a youth member of the Sub-Centre there. Images courtesy: ‘Yushavia

Aum Namo Narayanaya!
It was Sunday the 31st of January 2010.

captivating scenery of crimson sunrise...Image courtesy: Rishie, PMB

At approximately 05:30, as the crimson sun raised its beautiful head only to reveal but a peak of sunlight amidst the darkness of the early morning, our bus filled with 76 devout and enthusiastic men, women and children alike, from the Ladysmith Sub-Centre set out on an prayerful pilgrimage to Durban.

Pilgrimage to Durban?

Yes, it was certainly a pilgrimage to Durban where we were to visit the Headquarters of the Ramakrishna Centre of South Africa in Glen Anil, the Phoenix Sub-Centre as well as the Sri Sarada Devi Ashram in Asherville.

Although many of the devotees of Ladysmith Sub-centre had visited these Ashramas at some or other time, it was truly special to travel in unison, as a group with the same frame of mind and moreover, in the greater sense, as a family.

Of course, belonging to an organization of this stature, one can expect only but the best in terms of service, safety and comfort, without any compromise. Therefore, a program was planned for the bus which commenced with the Opening Prayers, which was to be followed by the chanting of the Hanuman Chalisa and other kirtans. Although many of the devotees were still dreary from the early morning, everyone joined together in the melodious singing of these kirtans. The atmosphere thus created was serene and calming, soothing the minds of the devotees who were focusing on the great events that were about to unfold.

hastening towards the holy temple...

At approximately 08:30 we arrived at Headquarters. The sight of the majestic Ashram was overwhelming. After being warmly received by the devotees at Headquarters we proceeded to the shrine to offer our pranams to Master, Mother and Swami Vivekananda. We were then briefed in the day’s proceedings and subsequently moved to the Swami Nischalananda Hall where we were served a light, yet refreshing, breakfast. Our Revered President Maharaj, His Holiness, Sri Swami Vimokshanandaji Maharaj, addressed us, both welcoming and blessing all the Devotees. In his short address (because of his prior appointment at Chatsworth Sub-centre), he pointed out the utter usefulness of studying Ramakrishna-Vivekananda literature everyday. He added that by such studies, the ever-lasting ideas that the Holy Trio gave out for the world, would slowly sink into our mind and would be conducive for our spiritual sadhana.

Brother Ramesh Ishwarlall, who is the Chairperson of the Centre, then took us all on a grandeur tour of the premises. For many devotees, this was their first exposure to Centre’s Ashram grounds, facilities and buildings. We then reassembled in the shrine to enjoy a blessed satsang and meet His Holiness, Sri Swami Brahmarupanandaji Maharaj who blessed us all. He is a senior monk, South Africa-born, had come from India on a visit. Sadly however, we departed at 09:10 feeling the brief stay, instead of satisfying only kindled our thirst for spending more time. We left for the Phoenix Sub-Centre to meet with His Holiness, Sri Swami Saradaprabhanandaji Maharaj.

Swami Saradaprabhanandaji speaking to devotees...

Once again we were most warmly received not only by the devotees, but by Swamiji Himself. We all then proceeded to the shrine where a 30-minute satsang was held. The ambience in the shrine was phenomenal and left us all speechless, including Swamiji Himself. Next we assembled in the waiting rooms of the Ramakrishna Centre of South Africa Clinic where we were addressed by Sister Veena Singaram and Advocate Kessie Naidoo, who enlightened us on the activities of the Phoenix Sub-Centre focusing on the program for Youth Development, but moreover, by Swami Saradaprabhanandaji Maharaj who really inspired us all. This was followed by a DVD presentation presented on the breath-taking advancement of the IT industry in India.

The next event was one that everybody anxiously looked forward to…Lunch! Yes, lunch was served with the highest feeling of love and care, we all feasted on the delicious food which was thoroughly prepared by the devotees at Phoenix.

Finally, we concluded the program with a DVD entitled ‘Mind Your Language’ which spread waves of chuckles amongst all present, creating a light-hearted and relaxing atmosphere.

But the highlight of our Phoenix trip was the opportunity to meet with His Holiness, Sri Swami Saradaprabhanandaji Maharaj who spoke to each and every devotee individually. We then left the Ashram, with happiness and peace in our hearts, and proceeded in the early afternoon towards Asherville.

On our arrival at the Sri Sarada Devi Ashrama, yet again without fail, the warmest of welcomes was presented to us.

a group of devotees with graceful matajis at SSDA

We immediately proceeded to the shrine for a satsang which was thoroughly enjoyed by all. Promptly thereafter we were served refreshments and had the opportunity of spending a few brief moments with Her Holiness Ishtaprana Mataji and Her Holiness Divyanandaprana Mataji. As much as would have liked to stay, unfortunately the time came for us to depart.

There could have been no better way to end our pilgrimage than at Holy Mother’s Ashram. Somehow, the day now felt totally complete and fulfilled.

At 16:00, we boarded the bus and departed from Asherville with complete peace of mind, thanking within, one and all who made the memorable event a truly remarkable. A pilgrimage worth to ponder in a period yonder!

Jai Sri Thakur!


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13 thoughts on “That stellar Sunday…

  1. What a blessed day you – devotees of Ladysmith – all enjoyed in Master and Mother’s sanctuaries!
    Thank you for taking us with you via your captivating descriptions!
    After this pilgrimage with you, my mind is refreshed and heart uplifted.
    Jai Sri Thakurji!
    Brian Eriksson
    Durban, SA


    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Brian
      Yes, the description by Akshay, the youth member of Ladysmith Sub-centre, just makes you feel that you are actually traveling with the group.
      Swami Vimokshananda


  2. Adarneeya Maharajji
    Saadar Pranaam!
    As I went on reading the Report by “Akshay Mootheeram” I could sense the utmost Devotion and Reverence in each word of report.
    I also remembered my recent pilgrimage to Haridwar for Holiest Dip in Gangaa Maiyaa and that too during Holiest Day of MAHASHIVRATRI !
    Chanting of HANUMAN CHALISA was regular feature as soon as we boarded the bus for our onward journey.
    Once again my humble Pranaam.
    Posts on your Blog are literally so inspiring!
    Mumbai, India


    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Bharat
      Yes, the Report was well done! Hanuman Chalisa is quite popular among the Hindus here especially the Hindi-speaking origin. In our Centre, we chant regularly the Chalisa on many occasions. Once in a quarter, during our weekly satsangs, Chalisa is recited eleven times continuously. No other program is kept on that evening. The number of attendees is quite impressive. During my Talks, I too bring in quotes from chalisa to explain certain points which make them easily understandable. The queer thing is I never learnt Chalisa while in India. just before my posting here, how fortunate I was that the late Revered Gauravanandaji introduced Hanuman chalisa to me. After that it had become my favourite!
      I am happy to learn that you could take a dip in Gangaa maiyaa that too on Mahashivaratri and that too in Hardwar! Wonderful! How fortunate you are! Sitting in a far away place, reading such accounts makes one nostalgic indeed!
      May Sri Hanumanji bless you all is my prayer!
      Swami Vimokshananda


  3. || Sri Ramakrishna Sharanam||
    My prostrations at the lotus feet of Master, Holy Mother, Swamiji and revered Maharaj.
    Aum Namo Narayanaya
    Dearest Maharaj
    I pray by the grace of the Holy Trio you are well.
    Indeed Swami Shivanandaji is so correct in his description of Belur Math. It is such a reservoir of divinity. I pray Master allows me to revisit.
    At the same time, we are truly blessed to have the most beautiful and divine ashram facilities in South Africa where the Holy Trio have taken residence as well.
    May the Master continue to guide and inspire us!
    With love always
    Tongaat, SA


    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Yogan
      I remember when you came back after a visit to Belur Math, our global headquarters, what was your hearty response and how you were even unable to give full expression to your surging feelings. Yes, everyday, I do visit Belur Math mentally, starting from the Master’s temple and onto the old temple, then to Swamiji’s room near the Mango tree and then straight proceeding to Brahmanandaji’s temple, Mother’s temple and Swamiji’s temple and of course going to samadhi sthal of Direct Disciples and other venerated monks. Truly, holy vibrations can be experienced here in SA temples too.
      with love
      Swami Vimokshananda


  4. Dear Swamiji
    Om Namo Narayanaya
    Many of Thakurji’s devotees in South Africa are not able to visit Belur Math in India. The pilgrimage of the devotees of Ladysmith shows that spiritually fulfilling thirst is available in South Africa. The years of sadhana of the earlier sadhus and devotees have spiritually charged the atmosphere of these ashramas for our benefit. In the final experience the ultimate pilgrimage is within.
    Vinod Jogessar
    Durban, SA


    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Vinod
      I cannot but agree fully with you that the “years of sadhana of the earlier sadhus and devotees have spiritually charged the atmosphere of these ashramas for our benefit.” You have hit the nail’s head when you say that “In the final experience the ultimate pilgrimage is within.” Thats what I pracitise, sitting in far away distant land. But apart from the journey within about physical places, there is another journey to be done in the subtle world again within from Muladhara to sahasrara which is still elusive to most of the devotees. However, the former has its own utility undoubtedly.
      Swami Vimokshananda


  5. om namo narayanaya
    It was encouraging to read the post by Akshay. The pilgrimage of the Ladysmith members have reminded us that we are blessed to have our Ashramas, Revered Swamiji’s and Matajis so easily accessible in Durban. More so, the Ladysmith members have demonstrated that every visit to our Ashramas ARE pilgrimages… and the preparation even enroute to the place of pilgrimage is important.
    Swami Budhanandaji in “Meditation and its preparation” also used this preparation for pilgrimage as a paradym that we should incorporate in preparing ourselves for worship and meditation…so everyday before we pray we should spend the day, as if in journey, preparing for the time of worship.
    with my humble pranams,
    Durban, SA


    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Niriksha
      Your learned comment on the pilgrimage of the Ladysmith members is indeed noteworthy. Life itself is a journey. When the body is worn out we naturally change our bodies to new ones and again continue our journey. The internal preparation that you have mentioned is very important; otherwise we have seen cases who feel vacuum and think that they are not having any progress and feel miserable for being stranded. Its because the proper preparation is not undertaken. Thank you for throwing more light on this spiritual practice!
      with love and prayers
      Swami Vimokshananda


  6. Most Revered Swami
    Please accept my humble greetings!
    The reports are beautiful but I have noticed that you have not written any of the beautiful articles you normally write for many months now.
    The reports are nice but does not satisfy us as they are written mostly by children and youth.
    Articles like Raam’s sweet name etc were brilliant. The reports are ok.
    Durban, SA


    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Levashnee
      My thanks go to you for appreciating the Reports which were being placed in order to give vent to the inherent talents of the boys and girls. I felt I should use this blog medium as a conduit for expression of their ideas.
      Yes, its true that my own write-ups have not been appearing for some time partly because of my extreme busy schedule and partly due to getting cooked, packed meal when you dont like to take the efforts for cooking!
      I assure you, my dear reader, you will not be disappointed as I am already working on some themes which I propose to bring out in due course.
      Again thanks for encouraging words!
      with prayers
      Swami Vimokshananda


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