Arriving in the middle of the night anywhere inevitably presents difficulties. So when the 11 devotees from Australia and New Zealand knocked on the front gate of the Yogoda Satsanga Society Ashram in Dakshineswar, Kolkata at 12:10am, the security guards, although expecting us, were sleepy eyed and slow moving.
They very politely played concierge, showing us to the spartan rooms and ensuring we understood to only drink water from the main filtered system. Helen and I checked out our share accommodation with despair, as our room had two single mattresses on wooden slates, with little else, and did not suggest comfort. Yet sleep came easily; it had been a long long plane ride and an even crazier ride through the streets of Kolkata to find the ashram.
I was up with first light, eager to walk around the grounds of this famous place. I saw it almost immediately. Steady, calmly,it flowed, under a haze so thick you could taste it, was the Ganges. I was indeed in India walking on the very ground that many saints had walked, including my beloved guru, Paramanhansa Yogananda. I went eagerly to the first meditation session.
After breakfast I did a little exploring with Helen and a woman who joined our group, named Barbara. We did a quick walk to the Kali temple, through the hot, steamy, smoggy streets of Dakshineswar.
I had to take off my shoes – and walk barefoot though the temple and surrounds. This was a challenge for me but oh what a visit.
We located the spot that Master describes in Autobiography of a Yogi, where he sat in this very temple and saw Kali come alive.
This was only the beginning of this trip……I kept reminding myself to be present in every moment, no matter how crowded, how mundane the actions seemed. This is India. This is the sacred ground on which Master walked.