In Ganapatipule this year, we had a short North American seminar: a kind of "meet and greet". It was very nice, because in Ganapatipule where there are thousands of people, sometimes we do not get the chance to meet yogis from our neighboring states and countries.
During this meeting, we decided that it would be a good idea to let those who have not had the chance to go to Ganapatipule know a little about what they are missing.
India is a place like no other. I have not traveled around the world to truly make such a bold claim as this but overall I can say it is a place that is very much in my heart.
I remember my first Ganapatipule. I was sitting with some of the Indian ladies making garlands. We did not speak to each other much, but from the words we did interchange, I felt as though I had a great deal to learn from them. Apparently, it was during this moment when I realized that my heart was very closed. I have always considered myself to be a kind person, however, after seeing these yogis that impression just washed away. They had something I did not have. Their hearts were so pure and open that one could immediately come to know, even without much conversation, who they were inside. I wanted to be like that.
I am a Westerner, if you could not already make out, and I am not trying to put down the West, but the reason I am writing is to tell those who have not been as privileged as I have been to be able to visit India several times, to make every effort to go to Ganapatipule. There is something magical and pure in the land itself and that penetrates into the people, into the yogis.
I think there should be a law in the American Constitution requiring all U.S. citizens or anyone who has lived in the Western parts of the world to go to India. If Westerners come back having just imbibed one quality, it would be a gift of a lifetime.
This year, my time with the Indian yogis was again invaluable. For example, I complimented one yogini's hair clip, and she was just took it out from her hair and gifted it to me! I felt so embarrassed. I know now never to say something like that again for they may just give it to me. This is what is an open heart. Indians are very sharing, very giving. Another example is when a group of friends, 10-12 friends buy a drink or anything to eat; one person will always pay for everyone's meal.
The other aspect of Ganapatipule that must be mentioned is the overall quantity of people. Meditating with so many yogis is an experience in itself. Somehow, each year, when the chorus sings "Silent Night" it especially makes me feel like a drop in the ocean of Love. I see myself as a speck within a great many yogis surrounding me for Christmas night. The song brings shivers down my spine. It's as if the whole universe stops for the duration of that song and then resumes. You can actually feel the Silence of the night, the silence within your heart and the hearts of your brothers and sisters around you.
I hope these words will make you consider going to Ganapatipule next year or even Shivaratri and Birthday Pujas this year. Nevertheless, go to India at some point. Once you go, it will be hard for you to come back the same way again.
Jai Shri Mataji