#2 | Visiting the Temples of Mauritius
Following the Master | Mauritius Pilgrimage 2019
23 October 2019
The first event of the 21st of October was a visit to the oldest ISKCON temple in Mauritius, in Bon Acceuil. The main deities are beautiful Krishna and Balaram made of marble and the temple is situated in the middle of farmland run by the devotees.
Guru spoke about the Damodhara Lila, reminding everyone of Lord's sweetness and how perfect His plan is.
We had an amazing kirtan, joined with local devotees, and we got to offer arati to Krishna and Balaram.
The next stop was Shiva Sagar temple in Poste de Flacq. It has a very peculiar history, as it was built by an ex-drug dealer. When the police came to ask where the money is, he just pointed at the temple.
He built the temple as a reminder to the people that everyone can change if they sincerely want to.
After Shiva Mandir, we went for a swim on a nearby sandy beach.
In the evening, Guruji visited the hotel where the pilgrims are staying. He offered abhishekam to His Giridhari and gave a satsang.
Among other topics, Guruji spoke about the importance of keeping association with the saints.
Due to our human condition, we're not ready for Prema, Divine Love. Great saints who have that love have often very difficult lives and we're not sincere enough to go through such challenges. This love is the complete absence of one's own needs, only love for God is there.
But through the association with the saints, everything is possible. Who you associate yourself with, that you'll become.
Guruji also advised how to stay positive in the negative surrounding. He said that we should strengthen our inner light, and that will increase awareness. It is our duty to bring that light to the people, in spite of their judgement. Our surrounding resists our transformation, but we can bring the change to them by sharing what is inside of us. But first, we have to be strong in our faith and educate ourselves, so we can't be diverted.
Yesterday’s programme started at Grand Basin lake. The water in that lake is said to have the same quality as the Ganges, so the lake is known as Ganga Talao.
First, we visited a small Shiva mandir at the top of the hill, which has a Shiva lingam made of mercury (parad lingam).
Then we went down to the lake where Guruji offered abhishekam to Giridhari and the beautiful marble Lakshmi Narayan which Guruji donated in 2017. All the pilgrims got the opportunity to pour water over the deities. Water was splashing everywhere, and the overwhelming feeling of joy was present in the air. A warm breeze carried the sound of kirtan and chants over the lake, attracting many tourists who came to see what we were doing.
An interesting moment happened when Guruji, after abhishekam, put Giridhari in the lake. The fish gathered around Giridhari's feet, and it seemed as if they were kissing His Feet to take His blessings.
After abhishekam, we visited the main Shiva mandir where Guruji offered flowers and arati. The massive Shiva lingam was brought there from South India when the site was consecrated in 1866. Ever since, on the occasion of Maha Shivaratri, devotees from all over Mauritius walk from wherever they live to this temple to pray and collect water from the lake as prasadam. Guruji said that this place was selected for the temple because of the powerful Divine presence which was felt there.
After Ganga Talao, we headed to the Amma Tookay temple in Camp Diable, where a beautiful self-manifested deity of Mother Durga resides. The temple is located in a very peaceful and quiet area, surrounded by sugar cane fields. Guruji told us how She appeared:
A very pious couple who worked at the sugar cane plantation there was childless, and they used to pray to Durga Ma. She appeared in their dream one night and told them where in the field to look for Her. As they were working in the field, they came across a large object. Digging deeper, they've discovered that it is an earthen form of Mother Durga, which they then dug out and eventually the temple was built.
After a warm welcome by the temple pujaris, we sang several Ma bhajans, enjoying Her loving presence. We had lunch there, and Guruji spent a lot of time receiving devotees for private conversations.
In the evening we had satsang at the Sri Ranganath Mandir in Rose Hill.
Guruji spoke extensively about Narsin Mehta’s bhajan Vaishnava Jana To, telling us first the poet’s inspiring life story. Then Guruji sang verse by verse, explaining each passage in great detail and giving insights into the deeper meaning behind the words. He again stressed that being a Vaishnava is a matter of an inner state, not just outward appearance.
After satsang, a Mauritian dancer named Ashvini offered Guruji a kathak dance performance depicting the story of Churning of the Ocean (Samudra Manthana).
Stay tuned for more posts as we ‘Follow the Master’ on a pilgrimage to the Divine!