Daily Life in Puliyankulam Ashram

MY EXPERIENCE, BY HAMSAA, ARGENTINA

(The Shree Poobala Krishna Ashram in Sri Lanka is one of several branch Ashrams that Swamiji ran in Sri Lanka before he settled in India in 1984. For years during the Sri Lankan civil war the Ashram was not functioning, but after the war ended, spiritual activities there resumed on a small scale. Thinking of this as a sacred place in Swamiji’s birth country where Swamiji lived, gave sacred service to humanity, had lingodbhava and performed many miracles and leelas, Swamiji’s devotees in Sri Lanka often go to this branch Ashram and their support makes it possible to maintain the spiritual services provided there for Swamiji’s devotees and children from the neighbourhood. Foreign devotees, too, visit the Ashram. After a stay there, Hamsaa writes about her experience observing the very simple devotional life of its residents.)

Since a few months now, the Mataji who runs the Ashram has an own small bedroom to sleep in, but before this she slept in the temple, not far from her beloved Krishna.

She wakes up every day at 2:30 a.m., has a cold shower in the open air, puts on her sari and opens the temple door. With great reverence, she then proceeds to greet the statues of Swamiji and Ganesha and sings a sweet canticle to Krishna, in order to wake him up before opening the door of the mulastanam. She greets Krishna with deep devotion. She puts on vibhuti, takes off his garlands, sweeps the little place and makes the preparations to bathe one of the three statues for the 5 a.m. puja. She bathes Ganesha’s statue on two days during the week, Swamiji’s statue on two days, and Krishna’s statue on the three other days.

Once she is finished with the activities of the temple, which include daily beautiful short pujas to the stone statue of Ganesha and to Swamiji in the meditation room, she changes clothes and has tea and a few biscuits, and goes out to pick flowers, tulasi (a herb special to Lord Krishna), and the grass leaves that Ganesha likes so much. After that she happily sets about working in the garden, a true oasis of all kinds of flowers and fruit trees. And if you should happen to praise this great work she has done and continues to do – considering that they only settled here permanently in 2010, after the end of the civil war in Sri Lanka – she will only answer “Swamiji’s miracle.”

Around 9:30, after having picked the vegetables from the garden or having brought them from her mother’s shop, Mataji begins to cook breakfast. She sits herself down on the floor and, with legs outstretched, patiently peels and chops the vegetables and cooks them on a wood-burning stove or, more recently, on a portable gas cooker.

At 12 noon she offers prasadam to the three deities in the temple. Sometimes she will rest for no more than an hour before offering the prasadam to Krishna, which is also her lunch. Then it’s back to work again. She returns to the garden, this time to pick tamarinds and lemons, and waters the plants and trees with a remarkably long hose. By 3 p.m. she is back in the temple where she washes all the utensils that had been used earlier, she cleans and sweeps and makes everything ready for the evening puja.

With these chores done, she then goes back to the kitchen where she makes prasadam for her beloved Krishna. She again has a shower and at about 5:20 she goes to the temple to arrange everything for the 6 p.m. puja. At 7 p.m. she offers the last arati to Krishna, inviting him to rest, and then closes the mulastanam. She then again sits herself on the floor with outstretched legs, but this time to make beautiful garlands for the following day. Around 8:30 p.m. she sweeps the temple one last time and closes it for the night. Finally she has a little dinner and goes to her room for a good night’s sleep on her sleeping mat on the floor.

This is how this extraordinary woman spends her days, offering every action, every thought and every breath to her beloved Krishna who, for her, is Swamiji. “Everything is Swamiji!” This is her satsang; this is her immense teaching which she gives through her example.

Jai Prema Shanti

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