KYI recently sponsored a trip to India to reconnect with the Lineage of Swami Kripalu and see all the wonderful sights, hear all of the sounds, and have all the experiences that only India can offer. With Daylight Savings Time in effect, India is 9.5 hours ahead of the East Coast, making jetlag a very real concern. But all of the tour participants acclimated quickly.
With frequent naps and even more frequent stops for a chai, all things are possible.
After an overnight stay in Delhi, we were off to Vrindavan, childhood home of Krishna, on the banks of the sacred Yamuna River. Accommodations were graciously provided by longtime friend of the Lineage, Babaji Satyanarayana Dasa at his Ashram: Jiva. No trip to Vrindavan would be complete without visiting one of its oldest temples Madan Mohan Mandir, and taking a sunset boat ride on the Yamuna.
You can’t come all the way to India and not see the Taj Mahal. One of the benefits of having friends in the country, is their ability to hire quality tour guides. We were fortunate enough to have such a local guide for our visits to the Red Fort, and the Taj Mahal. The line was long for pictures on the famous “Diana bench” so we improvised.
The last time I visited Summit Station was on Guru Purnima in 1981. That day Bapuji stepped away from being a public spiritual leader. It was a sad day, but last Sunday (June 4) wasn’t. I returned with Hari Sharana and other disciples to celebrate Bapuji’s arrival at Summit Station some 40 years earlier. What would we find there?
Just as Shiva destroys and rebuilds, the property has been transformed once again. Giridhar stated that the original property was a mountain resort. In 1975 hard working, early disciples transformed it into the Kripalu Ashram at Summit Station. It was there Bapuji first came to live in the summer of 1977, and there also he delivered his farewell address in September 1981. Over the years, the property has been transformed again into the VRAJ Hindu temple dedicated to the worship of Krishna.
Some of the ashram buildings remain, others are gone. Still standing is the old ashram building that contained the kitchen, dormitory rooms, offices, and the satsang room. Adjacent to this building is a magnificent new temple that can be seen from the road like a spiritual beacon. Some 100,000 visitors per year come to the facility to worship, socialize, and learn the path of “Bliss through Love-Devotion.”
The old satsang room has been repurposed as a dining hall. On Sunday, it was filled to capacity so we ate outdoors where the swimming pool used to be.
This was a good vantage point to see some of the other changes that the new owners have brought about. Gone is the barn where many disciples spent cold nights in sleeping bags because there were no more dorm rooms. Also gone was the health center that introduced so many people to new ways of eating and living. But in their place are new buildings for religious education and housing.
Fortunately, two important residences are still extant and in use. The house where Bapuji first lived is now called Guru Kutir (Cottage of the Guru). How appropriate it is that the temple’s spiritual director, Ananda Baba, lives there now. And how fortunate were we to receive his blessing following the devotion service.
Also standing is the former Desai residence where Amrit, Mataji and their children lived in half of the building.
It was an auspicious day and the dozen or so of us that made the trip are very glad that we did. We enjoyed the hospitality of our hosts, the blessings of Bapuji, and the warm memories from the past.