The long-awaited re-construction of Poornashram, the Holy Abode of Baba Gangadhara Paramahamsa, Poojya Swamiji’s beloved Gurudev, commenced on 18 January 2023. Ma Gurupriyaji travelled to Dakshinkhanda, carrying an aṣṭakoṇa-śilā (specially made Octagonal RCC block with OM inscribed on it) prepared as per Swamiji’s saṅkalpa, which was placed in the foundation of Poornashram.
Letter to devotees by Poojya Swamiji on this holy occasion:
Foundation Stone Laying for Poornashram
7 January 2023
Dear and blessed devotees and seekers:
Harih Om Tat Sat. We are going to lay the foundation stone for Poornashram – a very holy event as well as occasion for all of you to take part.
Remember the unusual and unheard-of spiritual ascetic life Baba led, remaining in Poornashram at Dakshinkhanda. It is very rare to find one of Baba’s exclusive, ascetic-niṣṭha. It is a rare instance of how an ascetic Sage can lead such a unique life, given to plunging in solitude and the austerity of ‘mind-dissolution’ aimed at supreme spiritual wisdom of Oneness and Oneness alone!
Whatever we try to build as a holy abode for seekers to visit and get inspired from, must be done in a manner befitting a Paramahamsa’s life and exclusive tapasyā. Baba’s life was one of exclusive Brahma-niṣṭhā, to the extent I was able to see, know and be familiar with. I have led my own life in the same lines, except that I am a moving University, spreading the great message of spiritual wisdom.
I wish all of you understand the spirit and purpose of our humble endeavour and conduct the foundation stone-laying event in as much austere and ascetic manner as possible.
Tapasyā is the last word and asset of human life. Jñāna-tapasyā involves the mind and intelligence alone for its pursuit. Every moment the mind gets purified and the intelligence gets illumined. Guru-bhakti and Hari-bhajan are the only factors to help and facilitate jñāna-tapasyā, as Śrīmad Bhāgavatam emphasizes everywhere in its content and message.
Remember and refresh yourselves accordingly at every step of what we propose to do from now on, in the sacred abode of Poornashram.
I am sending Ma to conduct this Holy function in an austere and ascetic manner, and to lay the sanctified foundation stone, the specially cast octagonal RCC block with OM inscribed on it, designed and blessed by me. Ma is being accompanied by Brahmacharinis Nandita Swaroopa and Pranati Swaroopa, whose presence and participation will, I believe, inspire all of you in moulding your lives with spiritual wisdom and enrichment.
My love and ashirvaad to you all. Nutan Swamiji also sends you his loving good wishes.
Poornashram Comes Alive
[After returning from the 3rd pilgrimage to Dakshinkhanda, hearing about the feelings of the devotees who travelled with her, Ma asked them to write about their experiences of the Pilgrimage. Excerpts from their sharing are below.]
Saṅkalpa-śakti of the Guru
(Somenath Banerjee, Jamshedpur)
Ma, you have asked me to write my experience regarding Dakshinkhanda Pilgrimage for foundation stone laying of Poornashram. I am trying to recapture all that happened chronologically along with my own feelings and emotions.
When some months back I came to the Ashram in Kerala and had the blessed opportunity to serve Poojya Swamiji closely, I had felt how this task of re-building Poornashram was greatly sacred and noble in the mind of Poojya Swamiji.
Sacred task of re-building Poornashram
Through this reconstruction of Poojya Swamiji’s Gurudev’s abode, Poojya Swamiji relives the time he spent with his Guru in Dakshinkhanda. Not only that, Poojya Swamiji strongly yearns to bring in spiritual growth in the life of the villagers there. Understanding how my Gurudev feels about Dakshinkhanda residents and Poornashram, I resolved to start this holy work without delay.
The day I was coming back from Ashram, our Guru-bhai, Lakshminarayanan Da embraced me and shedding tears told me, “Somenath Da, please try to start the rebuilding of Poornashram as soon as possible and also see to it that the work is completed soon, because Poojya Swamiji is very eager to go to Dakshinkhanda.” These words of Lakshminarayanan Da also were imprinted in my heart. I always think, “Oh, will we not be able to give fulfillment and happiness to our Gurudev by completing this holy work? O Gurudev, please bless me and give me the power to complete the rebuilding of Poornashram according to your wishes.”
Guru’s name – remover of obstacles
With Gurudev’s blessings, I started going to Dakshinkhanda from Jamshedpur several times. So many difficulties were there from time to time, but all of them got solved by just taking Gurudev’s name. There were many matters which I did not know how to solve, but later they got solved automatically just by taking Guru’s name.
Let me tell you, Ma, on many days before this holy ceremony, I was frequently driving to Dakshinkhanda to make arrangements for the holy day. I was talking to Nutan Swamiji on various matters. He was giving me instructions in detail and I was working according to them. One day Nutan Swamiji told me: “On the auspicious day of foundation stone-laying, we shall distribute some blankets to poor people around.” Nutan Swamiji expressed that he did not know how it can all be done. At that time, the situation in the Ashram was such that none of you three could come to Dakshinkhanda. But how everything happened thereafter is known to all of you.
Five to six days before the stone-laying ceremony, I was going to Jamshedpur from Dakshinkhanda. Nutan Swamiji told me: “Guru Parampara photos have to be newly printed and framed. Flexes for the program have to be made. Pandal also has to be specially made.” He reminded me of certain things which have to be carried from Jamshedpur to Dakshinkhanda. Some devotees of Jamshedpur would be going to attend the program. Arrangements for their food and stay have to be made. After the arrival of blankets, where should they be kept, where the prasada-sweet has to be ordered from…. many many other matters were also there. Nutan Swamiji discussed all these and gave me directions.
So many things to do! I felt an invisible power was giving me directions and wisdom. With the blessings of Swamiji, Nutan Swamiji and Ma, along with the cooperation of Guru-bhais, everything was done well, in time. When I think back, I myself cannot understand how in such a short time, so many things could be arranged and completed.
Then was the task of printing tokens for recipients and distributing them. Sadhu Da helped in that. There was the task of finding a purohit (priest) to do the pooja and homa, decorators for making the pandal and decorating it, videographers to record the whole program, making the pit for Śilā-nyāsa at the right place with the help of the Architect – all these had to be done in a very short time. How would it be possible, Gurudev alone knows!
Everything was beyond my capacity. Moreover, it was the marriage season also. So, many important items were difficult to arrange. Those who had helped earlier were engaged in weddings. It all became a great anxiety. However, because of the invisible Power, everything was done well.
Baba is getting His work done
I have many more feelings and emotions, but how to relate them all? In essence, what I want to say is that in the sacred land of Dakshinkhanda, nothing can be done without the wish of Parama Gurudev, Baba Gangadhara Paramahamsa Dev. It was as if he was getting His own work completed through all of us, according to His own wish. This is the most amazing fact I have noticed.
Just see Ma, even the pit in which the Śilā had to be placed, turned out to be in an exact straight line with where Guru Parampara photos were kept. This is unimaginably surprising. At the end, I offer my pranams to our Gurudev and pray that he should give us sufficient wisdom so that all of us can complete this great endeavour properly, with niṣṭhā.
Ma, is not your carrying the sacred Śilā to Dakshinkhanda also the wish of Baba? This, I feel, is something amazing. Please forgive my language. I offer pranams repeatedly at the feet of all three of you. Jai Gurudev.
(Dr Sunil and Smt Neera Nandwani)
Our journey to Dakshinkhanda started with Poojya Swamiji’s blessings over the phone, when He and Ma told us that we were to go on a pilgrimage. This impacted us deep within, evoking emotions that Swamiji was guiding us towards a very sublime journey.
From then on, every moment turned Divine, with every event becoming a lesson in sadhana. Being with Ma, we often felt this is how Sages conduct their lives and interactions.
It seemed that the Divine had energized Ma physically. Her Motherly sessions in Bengali connected all the people of Dakshinkhanda and us to her at a very Motherly and soul level. Her interactive discourse was so touching – soaked everyone’s heart with Bhakti and Divinity! She seemed to flow like the Sacred Ganga Ma carrying us towards the Lord Himself.
When the Śilā-nyāsa was being done, it felt that this very moment the Guru Parampara was being extended.
Presence of Krishna
We deeply felt then and are very sure that Krishna Himself was conducting each step of Śilā-nyāsa, and that Ma and Brahmacharini Pranati Swaroopa were, in fact, Krishna Himself doing it. Spirituality was being re-embedded in Bharat’s Punya Bhumi by Krishna Himself. We could easily feel Baba’s sagely presence in the Holy function. During Nama-sankeertana, we again felt that here was Krishna dancing in the form of Ma. She reminded us so much of Poojya Swamiji himself dancing.
Divine plan unfolding
Swamiji, we do not know how to explain this thought in us that a great Divine plan has been set in motion through You being in Narayanashrama Tapovanam, Kerala, Nutan Swamiji in Malaysia and Ma in Poornashram, Dakshinkhanda, West Bengal.
We do not think this was a mere coincidence. The fact that we stayed in an abode named Shanti Niketan and walked the streets that Tagore walked, heard soulful Baul songs, were not mere coincidences. The pilgrimage was a sublime process of a Divine plan. We wonder how this is going to unfold in the years to come.
(Smt Gayathri Bala, Chennai)
New year 2023 blissfully started with the news (from Somenath Banerjee) of reconstruction of Poornashram in Dakshinkhanda. It brought in so many cherished memories of our visits to Shanti Niketan and Poornashram with Poojya Swamiji, Nutan Swamiji and Ma, and disciples and devotees of Poojya Swamiji from all over the world in 2018 and 2019.
Each and every minute was spent in satsang with Poojya Swamiji, Nutan Swamiji and Ma. It rekindled my devotion and interest, and I was waiting for more discussion on the new project. It duly happened and one fine day Nutan Swamiji messaged that “Gayathri will accompany Bala”. It gave me so much ecstasy – words have no power to express my inner feelings at that time!
Things turned even more exciting when Ma arrived in Kolkata with two Brahmacharinis —Nandita Swaroopaji and Pranati Swaroopaji. All transportation and staying arrangements were fondly and carefully done by Bala. On 17th, Ma, the two Brahmacharinis and Dr. Sunil & Neera Nandwani, Bala, Aparna, and I visited the Poornashram site and had discussions with the purohit and villagers. We were served lunch by the villagers. They were overflowing with so much of love for Poojya Swamiji and us, asking why Poojya Swamiji could not come this time, reminiscing about the last visit of Poojya Swamiji.
Finally, the Day 18th January arrived with very special, divine and blessed feelings. By 8.30 am, we reached the Poornashram site. Purohit was chanting mantras, ladies were showering flowers to receive Ma and other devotees. Ma went to the stage, prostrated before the Guru parampara photos, and lit the lamps.
As Ma handed over the stone to Br Pranatiji, it was a great emotional moment for all of us. Villagers were in blissful tears and we all were so excited! Time stopped; as if everyone could feel the touch of Brahman.
Dāna Satram, arranged after lunch, went very smoothly with Ma distributing the blankets and Nandita Swaroopaji distributing sweets. Ma was full of energy and had interactive satsang with local villagers. The event ended with Nama-sankeertana and also taking three pradakshina (circumambulation) of Poornashram, while chanting.
Words have no power to express my blessedness and gratitude towards Poojya Swamiji, Nutan Swamiji and Ma for making us also part of this divine project. Jai Guru.
New horizons of fulfillment
(Brahmacharini Nandita Swaroopa)
Jai Gurudev. It was a pleasant surprise when Ma Gurupriyaji told me I should also accompany her to Dakshinkhanda, together with Pranati Swaroopa for the foundation stone laying of Poornashram.
Param Gurudev holds a very special place in our heart. Swamiji often mentions that whatever he is, is all because of his Gurudev. I often speak to Baba going to his shrine in the Mandapam. As I heard Ma’s words, my whole body was in horripilation.
My role, I felt, was to accompany Ma in conducting the sublime whole event. It made me feel greatly blessed. At the same time, I felt a great sense of responsibility. Before leaving, I prayed for Poojya Swamiji to bless me to have presence of mind to do whatever was required every time.
Poojya Swamiji, Nutan Swamiji and Brahmacharini Namrata Swaroopa were constantly in touch with us throughout the programme. That gave a good feeling of assurance. Poojya Swamiji’s devotees and disciples from the world over were mentally participating in the programme. This gave a unique feeling of joyful oneness.
I know Bengali and hence could feel the sublimity and devotional fervour with which Dakshinkhanda men, women and children conducted themselves throughout. For them it was clear that the occasion was a great festivity. None of them knows about Baba. This adds no doubt a mood of suspense. But expectation is more. It is clear that every one assembled there wants to know what is the force and inspiration in Poojya Swamiji, in His indescribable loyalty and dedication to Baba.
They have begun to feel that human life means far more than what they have taken it to be. Now all want to be told about this deeper and greater dimension. They have openly expressed this to Ma and expect to have regular satsang with Ma and our Ashram. The transformation Dakshinkhanda villagers are undergoing seems significant and consequential.
Ma’s talks in Bengali were an amalgam of pure love and deep insight, touching and moving every one. The innocent and fervent devotion of the people of Dakshinkhanda remains etched in my heart. The interactive session with Ma inspired them to take up the spiritual path with commitment and fervour. The whole event became a new chapter in the life of Dakshinkhanda people, leading them to new horizons of knowledge and fulfillment.
For me, it was a wonderful opportunity to participate in a historic event of our Guru-parampara, also to be close to Ma seeing how Ma interacts with all, with ceaseless universal fondness. Jai Guru.
Images from Shila Sthapanam Event