Vajreshwari: the Mother of Tansa Valley

Vajreshwari Temple, the oldest in the Tansa Valley, honours the Goddess Parvati. It sits on a steep hill about one and a half kilometres from the village of Ganeshpuri near Mandagni Mountain. Images of the three goddesses, Renuka Devi,  Kalika Devi and Vajreshwari Devi, the main deity, are worshipped.

Legend says that Vajreshwari is a holy village. The Goddess Parvati slew a demon near there and the great warrior, Parashurama performed a fire ceremony at Mandagni Mountain when it was an alive volcano. It is also said that Lord Ram stayed near there when he was in exile. This is easy to believe when you have tasted the nectar and shakti of Ganeshpuri and Vajreshwari. When Baba Muktananda was doing his sadhana with Bhagavan he stayed in a hut behind the temple for many years. 

I remember on my first visit to Ganeshpuri I could feel the ancient history. India is a country with thousands of years of civilisation that has penetrated the atmosphere. It feels ancient. Gurus, sages and saints have been born, lived and died in their devotion and wisdom for centuries. I don’t know of another country like India. And strangely enough She either embraces a visitor or spits them out. I was fortunate to have been embraced by Her and have received many blessings and teachings.

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Swami Chitinanda

What follows is a share from Swami Chitinanda, a great devotee of the divine Mother, who visited the temple last year for the first time. From Tasmania, she runs meditation courses and she has published two books–one on her spiritual journey called Many Blessings and the other on meditation called Sacred Space. You can find her and her books at swamichitinanda.com

I arrived by car at the back of the Vajreshwari temple. On the way I was seated in the front. I was feeling an unusual vibration of energy. I looked across at the driver and did a double-take. His face had become Bhagavan Nityananda’s who was now at the wheel of the car.

We walked into the temple and I began to tremble. I said to the person next to me, ‘Could you get behind me and give me a push please? I am too nervous to enter.’

She pushed me forward into the temple hall. When we all sat down and began to chant I felt vibrations of energy coming through the floor. As they increased I began to rock quite forcibly. I started to weep and could not control my sobbing, so I hid under my silk scarf with my head bowed. My partner asked if I was okay, but I couldn’t stop the shaking, nor control whatever was happening. The inner heat was like a sauna.

The mother energy felt like a primal force both comforting and incredibly powerful. It was all consuming. I prayed to the Goddess to hold me and accept me.

We got up to enter the inner temple where the deities stand. I was surrounded by Indian women. The priest gave me a bindi, a red dot at my third eye. It must have somehow smeared because as we came out Guruji subtly remarked on my red face.

What an extraordinary energy the temple has–power, Shakti, and primal Goddess life force. Did Ganeshpuri change me? Yes, it rearranged my DNA, I think.

A Tribute to Swami Girijananda

A Tribute to Swami Girijananda

Swami Girijananda, (Girija Moran) passed away in her home in Arcata, California in the early morning of October 31.. She was an extraordinary spiritual teacher and yogini. She taught me a lot when I was studying with her and Swamiji during the 70s in the Ann Arbor ashram. She was beautiful, compassionate and wise. She could do everything. She is much loved and will be sorely missed. Swamiji wrote this the day of her samadhi.

My beloved Girija took samadhi early this morning.

Girija and I met on a blind date in July 1968. We got married in December of that year. I got a job teaching at Indiana University and we moved to Chicago. Soon our lives took a spiritual turn.

We met Ram Dass in February 1970 and decided to go to India to find a Guru. We went overland and met great beings and yogis. We studied with Hari Dass Baba and Sri Goenka.

Ram Dass introduced us to Swami Muktananda, Baba. Baba was the real deal and more. We lived in his ashram in India for three years. Baba remarried us and called us Girija and Shankar.

We went on his Second World Tour and after awhile he sent us out to start the first Siddha Yoga Ashram in the West in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He invited us to take sannyas. Now we were Girijananda and Shankarananda.We were together in Ann Arbor for four years.

In 1978 our ways parted when Baba sent me to Los Angeles and then Australia. I missed her terribly but Baba told me to let her go, and told her that it was the right thing.Girija went on to run ashrams in several places.

After Baba’s death she studied Tibetan Buddhism for a number of years. Later she spent two years in our Mount Eliza (Australia) ashram and then went to Northern California to begin her teaching work. She was a great teacher.Soon she gathered a community of beautiful people around her. I feel for them. I know the grief of losing one’s spiritual teacher.

Girija is irreplaceable.She was a great soul, totally focused on her spiritual path. She was genuine, loving and very smart. Her teachings reflected her journey—Tonglen and compassion from Buddhism; Shakti and devotion from Baba.

She was strong minded and fearless. She faced death without flinching. In 1973 I thought I saw some bad aspects coming in my astrological chart. I thought they meant that Girija would die. I had a breakdown and had to be saved by Baba telling me to do the mantra. On the feared day no one died.

Now forty-five years later it has happened. I feel my own sadness but I know that Girija is joyful. She is with Baba and Bhagavan Nityananda in some higher realm.What a great soul! What a strong mind! What a true human being! She was a fierce, uncompromising Goddess.

I will always love her.