To be given the opportunity to participate this year at Sita Kalyanam through karma yoga, rather than as a passive spectator as per previous years, was an extra blessing. Upon arrival we immediately entered into and experienced the extraordinary energy field that surrounds Paramahamsaji. Again, time and space lost all their usual known contexts. Being on the go for between 18 and 21 hours per day for several days in a row felt completely appropriate and after three or four hours rest, one awoke feeling instantly fresh, bright and ready for action again. There was no irritability or tiredness, not even a yawn, just a continuous surge of well being, energy and joy. The body felt light, clear and dynamic. The mind was able to remain focused almost effortlessly on whatever task was at hand. It felt like being attached to a spiritual generator, that regulated everything within everybody to ensure that all the necessary jobs were done in a smooth, oiled, harmonious manner. What a gift to all those present.
Attending the blissful predawn kirtan and chanting at Harla Jhori temple, which appears to have been adopted by Paramahamsaji, questions arose. Where exactly were we? What century was this? The atmosphere bore no resemblance to the high tech 20th century one had been brought up to believe was the only existence! No microphones or loud speakers here, just the gentle hiss of the hurricane lamps to provide a little light for the many devotees. Walking briskly back to breakfast across the fields as the sun rose and the sky changed colours was a glorious way to begin the day.
Observing some of the background running of such an event made it seem all the more miraculous. Swami Niranjan and Swami Satsangi appearing to be in several places at one time, in accordance with the needs of the moment. The constant influx of guests arriving from all over India and the world. With only a few short hours notice, the kitchen workers would be informed of several hundred new arrivals each day, and even when the numbers rose to 2,000 they never ran out of food. The care over such small details, barely discernible to the multitudes, such as the fact that every single one of the puris (and there were thousands) was given a loving manual stroke with pure golden butter before being put in the serving dishes, is just one of the reasons why the prasad always tasted so sumptuously sweet.
Jumping onto the back of the prasad distribution truck at a moment's notice for a morning was a life changing experience. Singing Rama kirtan, surrounded by hundreds of small children. An old man staggering, almost to his knees, with the weight of the blanketed bundle he received for his family. Finally, putting prasad of sweets into some of the smallest hands I'd ever seen, the heart felt like it might burst at any moment.
Long lists of donated items were brought from Prasad Kutir to be inputted into the computer each day, ranging from jewellery, cows, clothes, bicycles, kitchenware etc. However, there was one donation that touched my heart deeply. It had been given by a poor local village man, dressed in rags, who had specified it was for the brides. It consisted of a single bundle of neem sticks (to clean teeth) with a rather rusty tongue scraper attached to it. The feeling it conveyed caused me to weep upon seeing it. This humble offering seemed more beautiful than any amount of pearls or gold. On mentioning this to a student at dinner he related the story of a spiritual master who decided to build a huge temple. It required many hours of labour and lakhs of rupees to complete this project and all the disciples and devotees contributed most generously. One day a lame beggar came and quietly put half a paise into the donation box. When the temple was finally completed and the grand opening ceremony was held, out of all the generous donors, it was to the beggar that the master devoted the temple. The parallel is evident.
Whilst occasionally running across the compound, there was a vague background awareness of the actual program: superb singing, divine dancing, Ramayana chanting, Swami Niranjan's song, the purifying tantric yajna, the marriage, drums, music, chanting, fire, flowers, a wonderful, sparkling elaborate affair. The delightful, radical yet reverent play that Paramahamsaji promotes between sacred religions of the world, the merging of cultures and nations. This time it was the Jains, Muslims, Shaivaites, Tantrics, Hindus and Christians. The message is crystal clear. At the end of the day no matter what outfits we choose to wear, we are simply who we are. No matter which path we choose to tread, ultimately all routes lead to the same universal place of union.
A short while assisting with crowd control on the final wedding day, greeting the thousands of people, surging through in superbly organized shifts past the straining gate. Their faces, especially those of the women and children, filled with such excitement at being able to witness, to be part of, such a special spectacle. The village widows all dressed in dazzling saris, their eyes full of laughter. Sundar hai! You look beautiful! Yes, they knew it!
No lengthy satsangs from Paramahamsaji this year, though his generosity and joyful omnipresence was felt more strongly than ever as everyone shared the entire electric and exuberant experience in their different capacities. Who or what is it all for? The villagers, the guests, the disciples and devotees, the devas, the gurus, the Divine? All boundaries seemed to merge as hearts opened spontaneously; consciousness shifted, whether up, down or sideways is hard to say, but a tangible change was felt. We took our leave immersed in inspiration and filled with immense gratitude, wonder and love.