This December I had the honoured experience of once again partaking in the Pranashakty Jothi Body of Light Advanced Retreat. This year it was an ashram-styled retreat held in the countryside at the Rutu Gandh Resort, 25 km outside of Pune, India, where we practiced and shared energy for 4+ consecutive days. Participants came from all over the globe: United States, Canada, Australia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Russia, Dubai, Malaysia and India.
The retreat concluded with a special yatra (pilgrimage) to Shirdi Mandhir, the temple of Sai Shirdi Baba, where a special global event was revealed to the world… on December 6th and 7th Baba’s nectar of Love flowed from his heart to every aspirant who sat and received the special grace Diksha of Prema (unconditional love). This was a free service.
Rutu Gandh Resort
On December 2nd, in the evening, the retreat participants arrived at Rutu Gandh Resort. I was especially delighted to see so many of my Pranashakty brothers and sisters from last year. My spiritual family was together on the physical plane again. Many had changed… grown more radiant in the Light (Jothi) from dedication, devotion and practice.
The owners and workers of Rutu Gandh were very accommodating and respectful of all our timings for meals and special requirements for our practices. It was a beautiful and intimate place with a large circular meeting room/temple, outdoor courtyard, swimming pool, and outdoor patio with buffet-style seating and dining.
On the evening of December 2nd, the organizers and Masters gave a short introductory session on details of our stay in Rutu Gandh and on the specific style and organization of the retreat. Since we would be receiving Kundalini Shaktipat the following day, we were asked to observe mouna (silence), a spiritual practice that conserves “vak shakti” (energy of words).
This beautiful practice turns one’s energies entirely towards spiritual progress and reduces the mind’s chattering. When observing silence in a high vibration energy field (which Rutu Gandh definitely was once the Masters and all the Jothi Swaroopees entered the premises!), one becomes sensitive to many subtle and beautiful experiences manifesting inwardly and outwardly.
This practice of mouna was especially important for those receiving Kundalini Shaktipat in the Advanced Retreat for the first time, as it assists the progress of the Kundalini and the full manifestation of Jothi in one’s system. Full Jothi manifestation can only take place after the Kundalini has passed through the throat chakra.
The next day was particularly special for me as it was my birthday (Dec. 2 in Canada/Dec. 3 in India). We began the morning of December 3rd in devotion to Lord Ganesha through a Ganapathy Homa. Priests came to Rutu Gandh, specially prepared the area, and conducted the participative ritual ceremony.
There were 35 Ganesh statues prepared for the ceremony to give to participants who would like to purchase them as a donation to Pranashakty. After the Homa, we prayed, chanted and offered milk to the Ganesh idols to drink. These statues were imbued with Ganesh’s energy (He embodied the statues for us), so that we blessed and grateful recipients are now able to devote ourselves to him as an energetic, live and active being in our own homes all over the globe. My Ganesh glows with an inner light, and I feel Him dance with me every time I give him bhakti (devotion).
During this ceremony, I felt the energy so strongly from Ganesh that I almost could not stand on my feet. I swayed but was in no fear of falling. He came to me, dancing, and I wrapped my arms around His thick neck. He carried me around like his small child. He cradled me and caressed me and danced while holding me with innocent, childlike abandon. I felt complete and utter love and surrender.
Another participant described his vision of Ganesh to me as a role reversal from mine… Ganesh appeared as his own child and asked to be taken to the Acharaya’s home as he would very much like to reside there, and so this Acharaya obliged him happily.
The second monumental event of this very special day was the reception of Kundalini Shaktipat, a tremendous energetic awakening, from the Masters. This took most the rest of the day, as each individual was given a powerful, individualized Shaktipat in which an intense energy was transferred in a special ritual. It was indeed a beautiful experience. I was honoured with being the first to receive this powerful energy from the Masters – perhaps because of my birthday – and it was an immense gift.
I received Kundalini Shaktipat at the Advanced Retreat last year as well, but this experience was very different. Last year I experienced piercing needles of energy through my third eye and forehead, then an intense bliss mixed with happiness akin to pain; heightened senses including auditory, and major emotional and mental shifts and changes as a cleansing process ensued.
This year was utter bliss, a year of practice coming to fruition. During the ritual, energetic fire pierced my lower back and raced up my spine. I still have a mark, like a Mongolian spot, to remind me. Some carried their marks on their 3rd eye. Afterwards, each cell of my body cried out in happiness and an all-encompassing love took hold of me and reached out to everyone in the room.
We celebrated the naming of 16 new Pranashakty Acharayas in private Nama Diksha ceremonies for each new Acharaya. This is an incredible experience and honour and links the Disciple to the Master in a way that is deep and timeless.
I experienced this ceremony last year, and it was incredibly sweet and beautiful. Although I could barely pronounce my given name at first, nor did I immediately know the meaning of the Tamil word, when I heard it spoken by the Masters, it was like an arrow piercing directly into the real core of myself – powerful and true.
The new Acharayas also experienced receiving the Ananda Siddhi (Bliss energy – Form of Bliss – Bliss and Love combined) transmission from the Source so that they may be further able to spread this powerful healing energy throughout the world in their home towns and elsewhere through Pranashakty Healing with Bliss and Jothi Body of Light Level One workshops.
Kaya Kalpa, Jothi, Arokia Deham & Suddha Deham…
During the retreat, many meditations and activations were given to us in order to help us towards the manifestation of Kaya Kalpa, Kundalini, a Jothi-filled luminous body, Arokia Deham (disease-free body) and Suddha Deham (triple golden body). Each experience was unique, powerful and beautiful. We practiced Yoga Nidra and Sarva Shakti Sadhana multiple times daily to help the energy flow through and manifest in our systems. The more joy we brought to the movement and dancing, the further the energy was rooted in us.
One morning, while in a Jothi Expansion meditation, the group of over 80 Jothi Swaroopees chanted “Arut Perum Jothi…” and were blessed with Swamiji (Swami Ramalingam) manifesting His presence to us. I felt a surge of light come in through my crown as He stood over me with his palms over my crown—flowing the Jothi into my entire system.
I was filled up entirely with joy, peace and bliss. He came to me 2 times during this meditation, both times infusing my physical and energetic bodies with Jothi, and therefore, with love and light. I made a pledge to Swamiji that day, full of love, faith, and deliverance.
One of the greatest moments at Rutu Gandh occurred during the Mahalakshmi Puja (performed by) and Diksha (given to) all the Pranashakty Acharayas. We bathed and dressed in our most colourful and beautiful attire, and met at the ceremony space. The puja was being beautifully prepared with flowers, incense, candles, water, Mangala Shakti oil, and intricate designs in Sindur (vermillion) and Panchabarner Guri (powders of different colours) – all topped by a gorgeous image of The Mother Goddess Lakshmi.
We chanted, prostrated and prayed to The Mother with devotion and single-mindedness and were blessed with receiving Her Diksha for Health, Wealth, Prosperity and Beauty. We were given the ability to pass this Diksha onto others to bless their lives with Lakshmi’s grace. During the ceremony, Lakshmi manifested in Purna Swaroopam (complete form), something most do not see in their lifetimes. One participant said he had been waiting 30 years to see Lakshmi in this full form. Swamiji and Lord Ganesha also manifested and joined the energetic celebration.
I felt the presence of The Mother so strongly it brought me to tears. I felt full devotion and love towards Her and by Her divine grace; I have been performing puja and prayer to her daily since. Another Acharaya described feeling a plethora of powerful energy… energy heaped upon energy. He felt more open and relaxed than ever before, saying that there was not even a little space for doubt in his mind.
The space became like a temple and Pranasiddhar Manimaran, Sadguru of Pranashakty, asked us to protect the place till next morning so that others may also come and pray to the Goddess. During the puja, the water in a vessel placed before the image of Lakshmi was infused with energy that was flowing directly from the Goddess.
On the next day, we were given that water to drink and it integrated the powerful Lakshmi energy into everyone’s body. The day following the puja we were also delightfully able to pass this powerful Mahalakshmi Health, Wealth, Prosperity and Beauty diksha on to the rest of the retreat participants. I have passed this on to two more persons at my home and each has experienced this beautiful and powerful energy for herself.
The Place of Shirdi, and the Saint Sai Shirdi Baba
“Shri Sai Baba is revered as one of the greatest saints ever seen in India, endowed with unprecedented powers, and is worshipped as a God incarnate. (SAI meaning Sakshaat Ishwar) – GOD THE ABSOLUTE. The mysterious Fakir first made His appearance in Shirdi as a youth and remained there throughout His long life. He transformed the lives of those who met Him and continuously is doing so even after His Samadhi in 1918 for those whose hearts are touched by his love and who pray and call Him at any emergency in life for his blessings.” – SHRI SAIBABA SANSTHAN TRUST, SHIRDI
The Masters, along with 80 students, travelled to Shirdi – the place where Baba spent most of His life, and transmitted his Prema (unconditional love) energy to the world as we bowed under the feet of Baba. Participants from all over the world joined us in celebrating love, and received the highest form of love possible to receive – they opened their hearts and received the grace of Prema and Sai Shirdi Baba’s message of unconditional love.
The feedback from participants has been this feeling of love with an overwhelming sense of peace. As I sat, helping to be a conduit for Baba’s unconditional love to reach a global population, my heart, hands and feet tingled with the strong energy of Shirdi.
A soon as we set foot on Shirdi soil, I felt the powerful energy of that place, streaming out from Baba in concentric circles – waves of peace and love. The entire place, every rock, stone, tree, and building vibrated with Baba’s love.
It grew even stronger as we waited in line with hundreds of other Devotees to take Sai Shirdi Baba’s Darshan (“vision” or “sight’: To be in the presence and to receive the blessing of a saint, an enlightened spiritual master, deity, or an image of one).
Those who have experienced Baba’s Darshan with an open, devoted heart, say that He is manifested in the statue… that Baba’s form appears over, and in, and through the statue. As I entered the room I experienced exactly this.
It was as if a holographic image, slightly transparent, but very real, was superimposed over the statue. The statue itself is pale in colour, but my first vision of Baba was colourful… He was adorned in bright red clothing. The image moved in and out of focus and then the pale colour of the statue returned, but His eyes closed for a second or two and then opened again. My mind’s though was “Did that really just happen!?” And Baba’s response was to close and open his eyes one more time for me. I did not question again, but bowed at his feet, offered my flower and prayed with a full, weeping heart.
Upon exiting the sacred temple where we took Baba’s Darshan, we exited onto a courtyard built up around the holy tree that Sai Shirdi Baba spent much of his time sitting and meditating under. It is said to contain gargantuan healing properties in its structure and leaves from the accumulated energy of Baba. We walked around the tree in circles, holding our hand up to the branches and letting its special energy course down into our hearts. We rang the bell and bowed to the tree – to the energy of Baba –each time we passed around the sacred tree.
Excitedly, my neighbor next to me reached out to grasp a leaf that had fallen to him, right in front of his vision. This was a special, magical moment, and I prayed hard to Baba and to the tree to bless me as well. Next thing I know, I am praying and staring at one small space on the concrete next to me below the tree and a neem leaf falls exactly into that spot. I knew it was for me and kept it in my palms for hours, then close to my heart, before I gave my last thanks and ingested the leaf and Baba’s energy into my system.
Udi (Sacred Ash)
The Shirdi complex is known for the fact that it houses not only a Hindu temple, but a Muslim Mosque, and they are right next to each other! This is so that all may worship and devote themselves to Sai Shirdi Baba as one. He was known for abolishing the barriers between Hindus and Muslims and would sometimes appear as a Hindu or as a Muslim in His dress, practice or manner.
After visiting the sacred neem tree, we stood in line to receive sacred ash on the tops of our heads in the Muslim tradition and then waited in line to receive small packages of Udi to take home with us to use its healing properties for ourselves and for our loved ones.
The next morning I returned with a friend, another retreat participant, to visit Sai Shirdi Baba’s Dwarkamai, or home place. This is where the sacred fire that Baba always burned (from which the Udi ash is produced) resides, and where He lived daily and saw His devotees. His devotees have not let this fire go out since His Samadhi in 1918. We were able to view the stone upon which Baba sat, and the place on the wall where He would place his hand when speaking with his devotees.
I felt the protective love of Shirdi Sai Baba on my travels all the way back home to Canada. His presence is with me still as I read His Leelas (parables and sayings) in the book Sai Satcharita every day. Studying this work brings me closer and closer to knowing His true form. The priceless, unparalleled experience of Sai Baba of Shirdi will stay with me wherever I go, across lifetimes, forever.
“If you spread your palms with devotion before Me, I am immediately with you, day and night. Though, I am here physically, still I know what you do beyond the seven seas. Go wherever you wish, over the wide world, I am with you. My abode is in your heart and I am within you. Always worship me, Who is seated in your heart as well as in the hearts of all beings. Blessed and fortunate indeed is he, who knows Me thus” – Sai Satcharita, p. 85
Sri Jothi Veeram Ma
Acharya, Pranashakty International