Through the years monks from Light of the Spirit Monastery have made many pilgrimages to India, and have visited many of the holy places in the four quarters of India.
In 2003 we visited Bengal and the places associated with the lives of Sri Ramakrishna and Holy Mother Sarada Devi, and monasteries of the Ramakrishna Mission. Then we travelled to Tamil Nadu in the South and visited some of its wonderful temples, and Ramanashram in Tiruvannamalai where the great sage Ramana Maharshi lived. Next was Hardwar and Rishikesh where the Ganga (Ganges) emerges from the Himalayas.
We filmed and photographed much of our journey, so that we could recall the events of our pilgrimage. Now we share them with you.
Dakshineshwar Kali Temple
A visit to the Kali Temple of Dakshineshwar, north of Kolkata, by way of boat on the Ganga (Ganges) River, from Belur Math.
In 2003 monks from Light of the Spirit monastery were guests of the Ramakarishna Mission at its headquarters at Belur Math, founded by Swami Vivekananda and the other monastic disciples of Sri Ramakrishna. We took the long dreamed of pilgrimage from the Math to the Dakshineshwar Kali Temple made famous by Sri Ramakrishna and Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi. Hopefully this video captures a bit of that wonderful experience.
Ganga Arati at Hari-ki-Pairi
The most sacred river of India is the Ganges, which Hindus literally believe flows from heaven to earth for the purification of all whom its waters touch. To the Hindu the Ganges is divinity in the form of a river.
Originating high in the Himalayan mountain range, the Ganges emerges on the Indian plains at the holy city of Hardwar (also called Gangadwar – the Gateway of the Ganges). The Kumbha-mela is held here every twelve years.
Any bathing in the Ganges is considered supremely purifying and meritorious, but the most auspicious place in Hardwar for the sacred bath is known as the Brahma Kund (also known as Hari-ki-Pairi).
Every night at about 6:00 p.m. there is worship (arati) of the Ganga at the Brahma Kund. The arati-worship consists of an elaborate ritual of offering large lamps to the Ganges accompanied by the loud banging of ceremonial gongs, the playing of musical instruments and the singing of hymns in praise of the Ganges.
In February of 2003, we participated in the Ganges worship, which we also videotaped, as well as the shrines and religious goods shops located around the Brahma Kund.
India Temple Elephants
Elephants can be found in many of the large temples in the south of India. They can be seen in religious processions on major holy days, but more often they are found in the temple compounds, giving blessings to the pilgrims as they visit the temple. The pilgrim simply offers the elephant a banana or a rupee coin, which the elephant deftly takes with the nimble end of its trunk, and places the donation in its mouth or in its keeper’s hands, as the case may be. Then the elephant taps (or knocks) the pilgrim on the head as a blessing.
Elephants in this video include Rukmini from the Arunachaleshwar Temple in Tiruvannamalai, Andar from the Sri Rangam Temple in Trichy, and the temple elephant from the famous Krishna temple in Udupi.
India Smiles—Fun before the camera
In filming our experiences in India we discovered that bringing out a camera can reveal the potential actor in everyone. Filmed throughout India.
For more about our pilgrimages to India and the Holy Land, visit Monks’ Pilgrimages.