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Closer to spirituality for devotees worldwide

Have you ever wondered how life would be if we restrict ourselves from all the worldly bonds and values, at least for a very few days? Leave aside your flashy garments and clad yourself in pale yellow clothes, wear flat rubber slippers instead of our smart shoes, commit yourself to divinity and one may get closer to eternal happiness. Worshipping Lord Shiva, the creator of the world, the Mahasivarathri ceremony is just round the corner. Thus it is time for us to compare this worldly happiness to that which emerges with spirituality.

Devotees listening to Swami Premananda

Departing from the materialistic bonds, which are mere desires, attachments and habits, one may find it easy to trace the true values of life. Many people from around the world and all walks of life are attracted to a miraculous Ashram in Fathima Nagar in Trichi, India to find the path to be closer to spirituality. And amazingly many such seekers were foreigners mainly from Western countries such as France, Britain, Poland, Denmark, Netherlands, Germany and Asian countries such as Japan. Many devotees were from India and Sri Lanka. Experiencing a remote life amidst this diversity and many controversies in this Swami Premananda Ashram in Trichi in India, itself was miraculous.

Blessings and happiness

"Dedicate at least some of your energy to the noble task of developing devotion (bhakthi) and giving selfless service (seva) and charity (dana) to others. Slowly you will get peace of mind," Swami Premananda teaches his devotees. Clad in simple yellow robes Swami Premananda sits in front of all his devotees talks cheerfully and discusses with them always with a pleasant smile. For the devotees his presence itself brings blessings and happiness to their troubled hearts.

His aim, as he always stresses, is to make a Buddhist a good Buddhist, a Hindu a good Hindu, a Christian or a Catholic to be a wonderful follower of his or her religion. To be a better person one must follow the teachings of a great master, sincerely and devotedly.

The Ashram, now grown into a fullyfledged 700 acres of land has a hospital, an orphanage caring for about 1,500 children and many kutis to accommodate devotees. Many workers dedicatedly care for the trees, plants, shrubs and the lawns with utmost devotion. The devotees take great care not to harm the plants and some even extend their charity to care for the plants protecting them from the harsh sun rays.

Almost all the trees and plants were donated by devotees from around the world either as seeds or plants.

Thus, even in this typical South Indian climate flowers bloom in hundreds and trees preserve their lush green. The desired beauty of the human heart is truly depicted in the environment. This land was turned into a paradise over hundreds of thorny shrubs.

Swami Premananda during the ‘lingothpawam’

In this Ashram, Mahasivarathri is a highly spiritual day for the devotees. The concept and worship of Lord Shiva is ageless and has no beginning, according to the Sanathana Dharma. According to Hinduism, the idea of worshipping Lord Shiva has been understood by living beings since time immemorial. The Sanatana Dharma teaches that Lord Shiva exists in all beings in a very subtle way. The symbol of Lord Shiva is the Lingam. This is believed as a simple, meaningful and a sacred shape symbolising Lord Shiva, both by Sivities and Vishnavites.

Spiritual forces

The key ceremony of the Ashram in Mahasivarathri is the Lingothpawam, where Swami Premananda produces these Lingams that are formed in his body followed by a miraculous pouring of holy ash (vibhuthi) from his entire body. At times the 'Vibhuthi' would weigh up to 10 to 12 kilograms. "Lingams form in my body for nine months of the year and emerge from my mouth at Shivarathri time.

It is these Lingams that I am giving to the Sri Premananda Centres set-up worldwide," explained Swamiji during his interactive sessions with the devotees. They strongly believe that these Lingams are packed tight with potential energy and releases energy if the devotees observe certain rituals and say the designated mantras in their presence.

As Swami Premananda explains these Lingams have a power not only to draw out the negative force that creates mental tensions, problems and sicknesses but also infuse spiritual energy into the heart and mind. "The sensitive devotee may feel this action but mostly this very beneficial action goes undetected because of its subtle, inner workings. The spiritual forces of the Lingams act and react with the karmas (effects of the past actions), Sanskaras (state of mind) and sankalpas (tendencies and attachment) of the aspirants," Swamiji said.

At this holy moment, irrespective of the colour of their skin, the language they speak, devotees hail Lord Shiva with similar belief and devotion - Om namah Shivaya, Worship the graceful name of Lord Shiva.

There in the Ashram all have one goal. That is to bring inner peace and tranquillity developing spirituality within their souls; to understand and get closer to the great power and intelligence beyond us that activates all. Above all, to enjoy a divine beauty of a life free from trouble with God's grace.

Some of the lingams

For all of these devotees the genuine service to this great power is selfless service. "I need nothing for myself," Swamiji said. "Give the needy children the meals they need, clothes to wear, a place to sleep, education, practical, cultural and spiritual training. By helping them you are helping me and making me happy," he said. Through that receive God's grace.

Thus at the Ashram, one could only see a great unity among diversity. One may agree or disagree with certain concepts and rituals, and some may even agree to disagree. Yet there is one fact remains unchanged - the more we keep away from worldly desires peace and harmony roots deeper in our hearts. Peace and harmony is preserved within the Ashram.

Devotees return home carrying the eternal happiness of the Ashram in their purified hearts.

We thank Ms. Thalatha Perera, Sri Lankan Coordinator of the Sri Premananda Centre for the support.

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