By Subhasree Thottungal, UK
During Mohanji’s recent UK trip in August, He visited the Skanda Vale Ashram in Wales from the 14th to the 18th. The primary event that happened during this time was the Prana Pratishtha (consecration) of Lord Dattatrya’s idol and Nagaraja’s idol in the ashram temple.
Skanda Vale Ashram in Wales is a place very close to Mohanji’s heart and every time Mohanji visits the UK, He makes it a point to visit the ashram.
The backdrop to this event was Mohanji’s visit in May 2016 when Lord Garuda’s idol was consecrated in the Sri Ranganatha Temple in Skanda Vale. The installation of Lord Garuda was suggested by Mohanji as he said that where Lord Vishnu resides, Garuda must also be present, as Garuda is Lord Vishnu’s Vahana (vehicle). This idol appears majestic with the face expressing the power of Garuda and the body expressing the strength of Hanuman. You can read more about the Garuda Prana Pratishtha ceremony in Skanda Vale, in this page. Mohanji also suggested at the time that Lord Nagaraja should be present at the entrance of Shri Ranganatha temple for protection of the temple.
In September 2017, Mohanji made another trip to the UK, exclusively for spending time with the Skanda Vale community. During that trip he made a suggestion to the Swamis that it would be beneficial to the ashram if Lord Dattatreya was to be installed in Skanda Vale in an open area, exposed to the elements and sheltered by a fig tree.
The Skanda Vale community took up this suggestion wholeheartedly. Without delay the sculptor was commissioned to make the idols of both Lord Dattatreya and Lord Nagaraja (which was pending from the previous visit) and they started the construction of the area where Lord Dattatreya’s idol was to be placed and the Fig tree planted. The Skanda Vale community planned for the consecration of the two idols to take place during Mohanji’s UK visit to Skanda vale in August 2018.
A fig tree which was grown by one of the first Swamis to be ordained in Skanda Vale was selected to provide shade for Lord Dattatreya.
When the Lord wants to come and reside in a place, everything falls into place. It was a divine plan that Lord Dattatreya had to reside in Skanda Vale!
The beautifully carved idols arrived on time from India perfectly preserved and without any transport and customs issues. The dates for the Prana Pratishtha and the exact schedule for the ceremonies were finalised. Special priests were called to carry out the elaborate Prana Pratishtha ceremony over two days. This was a special week in Skanda Vale with the annual Subramanium Festival also taking place at the same time. The festivities were taken to even greater heights with the additional preparations for Lord Dattatreya and Lord Nagaraja’s Prana Pratishtha in Mohanji’s presence.
After reaching Skanda Vale late in the evening of 14th Aug, straight after the London retreat, Mohanji was ready for the rituals to commence the next day.
15th Aug was the day when the initial purification process through Homam and other rituals happened.
Although the previous week had been dry and sunny, the weather reverted to type in Skanda Vale and it was raining heavily on the first day of the installation! The place where the Homam was taking place was very exposed, however the Skanda Vale community and Mohanji seemed completely unaffected by the rain and the wind, such was their joy and excitement!
Idols were brought near the designated place and Mohanji then carried out the ritual of opening the eyes, symbolising birth.
It was yet another miracle that 15th Aug was ‘Naga Panchami’, the most auspicious day when the Naga Devtas are worshiped! On this very day, the commencement of the Prana Pratishtha ceremony occurred starting with the purification rites, positioning and placement of the Nagaraja idol and opening of the eyes. This seemed like a divinely inspired perfect plan.
There were three specially blessed lingams that were to be placed under the Dattatreya idol. Unfortunately these had been left in London! Anxious calls were made to various devotees in London to see who could bring the lingams to Skanda Vale within the next six hours! This became a miraculous event for Mr & Mrs Thakkar who had wished to visit Skanda Vale for this inauguration but left it too late to make the arrangements. While sadly contemplating their fate they got the call to bring the lingams from London! They were divinely summoned by the lord to bring the Lingam stones just in time for the ceremony while also getting the golden opportunity to participate in the ceremony of Lord Dattatreya’s Prana Pratishtha.
On the 16th of August, the Prana Pratishtha puja and elaborate rituals continued for the whole day. The Maha Abhishek (bathing the idol with various sacred ingredients and finally dressing up the idol with new clothes and garlands) was a grand ceremony happening amidst mantra chanting and bhajans, filling the air with beautiful vibrations and a divine energy. After the inauguration, one of the priests who was especially invited to perform the ceremony told us that while he was performing the inauguration, he glanced at Mohanji and saw Lord Dattatreya instead!
The idol looked radiantly beautiful, shining after the Abhishek and adorned with clothes, garlands etc.
The idol didn’t look like just a stone idol. Lord Dattatreya appeared like an exceptionally handsome prince. The effulgent Lord looked stunning with striking smiles on the three faces; Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva on the sides and Lord Vishnu in the center.
After the Abhishek, Mohanji carried out the actual Prana Pratishtha; putting the life force in the statue through the heart centre.
Followed by this, Mohanji then did the naming ceremony, whispering the name in the ear of the idol.
Then began the Maha Arati. The atmosphere became electrified. We could feel the idol being alive.
Finally, Lord Dattatreya had come home to serene Skandavale amidst the beautiful greenery and the purest form of nature.
Mohanji shared the story and significance of Lord Dattatreya and the impact the Lord will have in Skanda Vale.
You can read the transcription of Mohanji’s talk on this link.
The Prana Pratishtha of Nagaraja was also majestic and was an incredible ceremony.
You can read the transcription of Mohanji’s talk on this link.
After the busy two days packed with the beautiful ceremonies, Mohanji spent the next couple of days in satsang with the Skanda Vale community and devotees.
As before, Mohanji did not hesitate to give His unconditional love to the hard-working, extremely sincere and disciplined community members through a series of casual satsangs.
Whenever the community members visited Mohanji at the beautiful cottage very kindly and lovingly provided by Skanda Vale, he made sure that they all received utmost love and care and that delicious food cooked by Mohanji’s team was served to them all.
It felt like home with relatives visiting! We were one big family. The feelings of love and joy were prominent in the Skanda Vale family and Mohanji family.
Incidentally, not just humans but even the animals felt the same joy and warmth too! Such as the four highlanders, who graze in a huge field just outside the cottage where Mohanji was residing. The love between Mohanji and the highlanders was beautiful. Especially ‘Hari’ who had been repeatedly saved by the grace of the divine.
Even Valli the elephant was brought by the Swamis to meet Mohanji! Mohanji and everyone else in the cottage at that time jumped for joy to see Valli. Mohanji rushed outside in just his vest and without his slippers! The excitement was mutual! Stroking her trunk, feeding her some food, getting her blessing and observing the silent communion between Mohanji and Valli was a beautiful experience that everyone cherished.
These moments are priceless. They cannot be planned, demanded or comprehended! When you are with Mohanji, anything and everything is possible. All you need is a heart full of love and eyes to recognise grace.
This trip of Mohanji to Skanda Vale was an extra ordinary trip for many reasons. Bringing Lord Dattatreya to Skanda Vale is of high significance as it reaffirmed the continuation of the tradition.
Mohanji’s visit to Skanda Vale was indeed a very special visit that the Skanda Vale community and Mohanji UK family will cherish forever. The fragrance of sincerity, dedication, devotion, discipline, compassion and above all unconditional love filled the air and made us all feel truly blessed.
With deep gratitude to Mohanji and the Skanda Vale community.
-Mohanji UK Family.
In Devotees’ words:
We asked some of the devotees who travelled to Skanda Vale with Mohanji about the significance of this visit.
Here are few of the expressions in their words:
I first visited Skanda Vale as a young teenager in 1976 when my father brought our family there all the way from London. At that time the place was very different to what it is today! Throughout the years my family and I have visited countless times and had the enormous privilege to meet with Guru Subramanium, both at Skanda Vale and in Switzerland at the seminars held in Fideris and Kiental. Skanda Vale is a very special place for myself, my wife and our two children who were both blessed by Guru Subramanium on their first visits to Skanda vale when only a few months old. Guru Subramanium left a huge hole in our lives when he left his body in 2007.
One of my favourite temples at Skanda vale is the magnificent Sri Ranganatha temple. This is a temple of Lord Vishnu who is reclining on a serpent surrounded by water. The temple is unique in Skanda Vale in that it is an outdoor temple exposed to the elements. In the early years of visiting Skanda Vale, the area where the Sri Ranganatha temple is situated now used to be a field. I remember our Sai group from London singing bhajans in this field near the borderline with the trees. In 1997, during a puja in one of the other temples, a vision of the future Sri Ranganatha temple was revealed to Guru Subramanium. After miraculously locating the murti, the construction of the temple commenced soon after.
We used to travel regularly to Skanda vale during the construction of the temple and would stay for a few days in order to help in any small way with the building work. I remember that sometimes Guru Subramanium would come down while we were working and give us a piece of chocolate infused with divine vibrations to energise us! Slowly the temple took shape. Finally the time came for the inauguration of the temple on 30th October 1999 (Guru’s birthday). We had the wonderful opportunity to anoint the idol with oil just before the flood of water was released to create the pond which currently surrounds the idol.
When I first met Mohanji in 2011, on his first trip to the UK, I had a very strong desire to take him to Skanda Vale. At the time it was not possible and it was not until July 2015 that I was finally blessed to be able to take Mohanji and Devi to Skanda Vale. Mohanji instantly felt a strong connection with Skanda Vale and the monsatic community and was in immense admiration of the sankalpa of Guru Subramanium, who was able to create and sustain a place of this spiritual stature.
When Mohanji first visited the Sri Ranganatha temple in 2015 he said that Lord Garuda should be present wherever Lord Vishnu resides. He also suggested that Lord Nagaraja should be present at the entrance of the Vishnu temple for protection. Both of these promises have now been fulfilled! On a later trip to Skanda Vale Mohanji suggested that Lord Dattareya should also have a presence at Skanda Vale as wherever Lord Dattareya is, beings of a higher frequency also visit and the community will benefit from their high vibrational energies. This promise has also now been fulfilled.
The addition of Lord Nagaraja to protect the temple, Lord Garuda as Lord Vishnu’s vehicle and Lord Dattatreya in my view has served to enhance the beauty and spiritual vibrations of the Sri Ranganatha temple. I feel truly privileged to have been invited by Mohanji to play a small part in helping to get the idols to Skanda Vale. I also feel privileged to be present at this inauguration and to witness the Prana Pratishtha performed by Mohanji. All of these events are the icing on the cake for the wonderful association we have been blessed to have with Mohanji, Skanda Vale and the Sri Ranganatha temple over the years.
In addition to this, I feel that Mohanji’s trip was an opportunity for him to offer his loving support, encouragement and endorsement to the amazing work of the Skanda Vale Swamis, monks, sisters and community members which is all a testament to the grace and sankalpa of Guru Subramanium.
Well, Mohanji’s visit to Skanda Vale was a bouquet with many exotic flowers:
1. Bringing Lord Datta to Skanda Vale wasn’t a simple thing. From creation to consecration, the smooth execution proved, this is nothing but a divine plan. It can’t be ignored as an ordinary event.
2. Skanda Vale Swamis chose Him to do all the rituals as the “Karta”, means a lot too. It showed the unity and the love between Mohanji and Skandavale family.
3. The sincerity and dedication with which He performed every activity taught us a lot. Being present on time for every single ritual, complete involvement, no reaction to any physical discomfort (be it getting wet in the rain or eyes constantly watering due to thick smoke or pain from walking barefoot on the stone chips while carrying a heavy pot with water on the head or even the hot oil spilling on the hand during Arati), nothing seemed to have troubled Him. That showed His ekagrata – focus and concentration. During the rituals, the mantra chanting, the detail in which Mohanji was carrying out the instructions from the priest, showed the devotion factor too. Even with all the attention and success, there was not even a drop of ego or ownership. If we just observe Him, we see the living example of a Raja Yogi, who has gone beyond the physical existence and has attained the perpetual bliss (samadhi) state. He showed us what it is to accept (accepting all situations), what it is not to have ownership and what it is not to have ego. In the incident of the evil eye being found during one of the rituals of purification, He let the priest lead, decide and do as per his custom. Allowing the priests to do everything as per their way, He gave them immense respect. At any moment in those two days, Mohanji never displayed any ego, doer-ship or showed off His knowledge. Basically, Mohanji lived His teachings. Just by observing Him, we learn this.
4. Even after tiring continuous activities, He always made Himself available and accessible to people who wanted to speak with Him, whether he or she is a Swami, monk, nun or a devotee. There was an instance when a teenage girl suddenly appeared outside the Shakti temple, demanding to speak with Him. It was already late in the evening and it was drizzling too, but Mohanji had no hesitation. He spoke to the girl and her mother and even gave them Shaktipat. There were many instances like that. All this showed Mohanji’s unconditional love, kindness and compassion.
Mohanji’s compassion towards the animals is worth mentioning too! I have seen the glow in His face, the sparkle in His eyes, the moment He spots the deers, or the Highlanders grazing in the field or meeting Valli. On the Prana Pratishtha day, He was wet from the sacred water being poured on His head, but when He came back to the cottage, He stood still for a few minutes near the field blessing the Highlanders! I was wondering, if it was us we would first run inside to get changed! These instances may go unnoticed, but the essence is that everything that He says, shows in the way He leads His life.
5. Feeding everyone who comes home was a top priority instruction to me! Not just making food available but to serve everyone with love and purity – this is such an important message about keeping our tradition that Mohanji kept giving me all the time. The various challenges that I was facing, I understood, were just to strengthen my conviction and commitment to keep up the tradition. Not to hesitate, not to back out, but to maintain that love and purity always. Whenever I lacked in something, He was there to correct me and to prevent me from falling. That was demonstrating true fatherhood. He let me walk independently, but never let me fall. Whenever I stumbled, He held my hand.
In essence, Mohanji brought Lord Datta and Datta tradition to Skanda Vale. He demonstrated the tradition through His own living. The most amazing fact was that the divine showed approval through how smoothly everything was executed. In Mohanji’s presence, there was no scope for any failure. After all, this was all Lord Datta’s play for His homecoming!
Jai Guru Datta. Jai Mohanji.
I had gone to Skanda Vale to spend some quality time with Mohanji in a powerful place, where the energy levels are always very high. Of course, when I came to know that there were two days of rituals of Lord Datta and Nagaraja Prana Pratishtha, my joy was unexplainable. The energy during these rituals were so high, as if all the 33 crore deities had descended. The Divine showed their blessings in the form of showers which poured during the homa and pujas. While everyone was so deeply merged in the pujas, I was struggling to bear the high vibrations! It became so unbearable that I had to come inside the Ranganath temple, moving away from the open place where the homa was happening. There I suddenly saw Guru Subramanyam standing! I couldn’t first believe what I was seeing, I just kept surrendering to Mohanji and the Guru Mandala. Mohanji was doing all the rituals with so much dedication and sincerely, it felt as if Lord Datta Himself has come down. The visions, the power and the vibrations of this ritual was amazing.
After the celebrations, I also got some time to be in Mohanji’s presence at the cottage and even got the opportunity to do some seva to Him by pressing His legs. Little did I know what is going to happen to me being in a power center, after participating in such a high energy ceremony and touching Mohanji’s body which is a power house! His one glance, one touch and one Shaktipat can clean thousands of layers of karma. I was not just touching Him, but was even pressing His legs! That night, I had such deep cleansing in all levels, physical, mental and spiritual. The transformation that came was beyond my expectation.
Not only this, on the very last day, I also had the opportunity to do food seva in the form of making some South Indian snacks and selling them to the devotes to raise funds for the Skanda Vale Hospice. While I was preparing the food, we had some obstacles such as not having the right tools. However, nothing could hamper my spirit. Because I was not doing this just for selling, I was offering this to my Lord, Mohanji. So whatever effort it may take, I had no worries, no stress. With love for my beloved Krishna, Mohanji, I prepared every single item. Even though I could not go up to the cottage to offer this to Mohanji myself, some food was sent to Him and later I heard that not only He ate, He enjoyed them too. That day we had a very good collection, from an unexpected snack stall event. Skanda Vale Swamis appreciated this a lot.
This trip with Mohanji to Skanda Vale and these memories will stay in my heart forever.
I have been visiting Skanda Vale for many years. This place with its serene environment and powerful energy always makes me feel divine. Since Mohanji started visiting Skanda Vale, I feel more connected to Skanda Vale. The community, Swamis, Brothes & Sisters feel like our own family.
It was a great opportunity to be at Skanda Vale again in Mohanji’s presence. This time it was even amazing as Lord Dattatreya’s Prana Pratishtha was going to happen. In October 2016, when Mohanji participated in the Soma Skanda Temple inauguration in Switzerland, I was blessed to be there and the experience from that time is still vivid in my memory. I couldn’t miss such an opportunity again!
Knowing that bringing Lord Dattatreya to Skanda Vale was Mohanji’s suggestion, a divine plan that was being manifested through Mohanji, I felt even more fortunate to be able to be present in this occasion.
The two days long ceremony was just out of the world! The vibrations, the purity, the divinity was beyond comprehension. Mohanji was performing all the rituals and that made me feel like I was part of the family doing this ceremony, not just a spectator attending. Everything just looked so beautiful, cheerful, joyful. The air was filled with positivity. There was no stress or tiredness. All the ceremonies went on so smoothly. The Maha Abhishek and Arati was just so powerful. When the Arati was going on, I had closed my eyes and when I opened and looked at Mohanji performing the Arati, it looked as if Swayam Maha Kali was doing the Arati. Maa Kali in Skanda Vale is the most beautiful, compassionate and loving Maa Shakti. That’s exactly how I felt when I saw Mohanji doing this Arati. My head bowed with devotion.
Lord Datta looked so beautiful and alive!
I have no words to convey my gratitude to Mohanji for having given me this opportunity to be in this ceremony. This was indeed a once in a life time experience.
Not just the Prana Pratishtha ceremony, but being in Mohanji’s presence, I got a chance to be in the loving presence of the Swamis, Sisters and Brothers too. Serving food to the divine souls was a secret desire which was fulfilled unexpectedly and this made me feel very content. In Mohanji’s presence, we only experience joy. He calls me lovingly “chef”. Whatever little I do in Ahimsa, is only trying to walk on the path our Guru has shown us. I can’t hide my smiles and joy when He calls me that. Well, while with Him, we have no desire, no asking, just soaking in His unconditional love and compassion. The four days in Skandavale with Mohanji were in deed the most fulfilling experience so far.
Thank you Mohanji for all your love and keeping us with you always.
Yours “chef”, Mita.
Expressions as a Poem, By Pramod Nair
Naag Dutta Praan Prathishta
Tumre charan sparsh se
Dhanya hua skandavel
Tumre darshan maatr
Dhanya hue shishya gan
Tumne nazar se
Sabka man moh liya
Prakriti ne bhi ras barsa
Saare dev gano ne kiya ashirvad
Guruvo ke guruvar Datta khade muskura
Naag Raja bhi kar rahe intezaar
Ganesh vandana aur
Kalash pooja se samarambh hua anushtaan
Bhaktgan ke man pulkit kar
Ved mantra goonj uti
Vigrahon me abhishek ki dhara bahi
Doodh madhu trimadhur naliker or anna abhishek
Aankhonko ko madhurya kiya
Mohanji ne praan bhare
Vigrahom me jivan bhar ayi
Vastraalankrit pushpon ke har pehan
Datta or Naag dev khade muskura
Homkund me poornahuti hui
Mantron se swahakaar hui
Karpoor aur Aarathi
Gayatri ke sang hui
Bhakton ne bhajan gaye
Khushiyo ke pal cha gaye
Skandavel ki pavitrata aur badi
Har dil me yeh samaroh samaa gaya
Jai Gurudatta Jai Mohanji