Delhi, Hastinapur, Rishikesh & Amritsar Dharmayatra - January 2016


As 73 pilgrims from India and abroad joined Param Pujya Bhaishree on this 8 day Dharmayatra to Delhi, Meerut, Hastinapur, Rishikesh and Amritsar, get a glimpse into their inspirational journey in the article below.

Day 1

Delhi, the capital, at once old and new from which is ruled an ancient land. The thriving, seething metropolis has seen much change as rulers come and go, each leaving a mark on the landscape, culture, and spirituality of the area.

Onto this constantly changing plane, today stepped the very embodiment of stillness and constancy, our beloved Param Pujya Bhaishree. He is enthroned in the heart of true seekers and his command in the form of Agnas uplifts many souls.

The morning brought with it a visit from Ben Shri Ratna Prabhu of the Shrimad Rajchandra Mission Delhi. Bhaishree had first encountered her in 2001 during the celebration of Param Krupalu Dev's Deha Vilay centennial.


She reminded us all that pilgrimage has two aspects. One is focused on the sites which mark great events or the striving of saints, with the purpose of inspiring and motivating the seeker. This is known as the stationary (Sthavar) Tirtha

The dimension of pilgrimage is the Jangam Tirtha, a living breathing epitome of spirituality and Truth. Ben Shri felicitated the pilgrims for being with such a powerful epitome in the form of Param Pujya Bhaishree. His very presence sanctified and his words enlighten.

Ben Shri reminded us of the the true meaning of Bhakti in that it is not merely affection. True Bhakti has to be free of expectation. It is selfless and with pure motive.

Param Pujya Bhaishree spoke with immense satisfaction at the efforts by the mission in Delhi to increase awareness and devotion to Shrimad Rajchandra in this Hindi - speaking region. He recollected the work of the centennial celebrations and his keen desire from then on that this region recognise Shrimad. 


He praised the deep study of Shrimad which Ben Shri and her followers had undertaken and was pleased that such souls were spreading awareness. 

Bhaishree spoke of the true message of Shrimad Rajchandra which is the true message of Bhagwan Mahavir. When contemplating suffering and pain, the only solution is Self-Realisation. This can be achieved by embarking on an inward journey, turning awareness itself inwardly (antarmukhta).  

Spreading awareness of this true meaning so that the great Hindi - speaking region of India becomes aware of Shrimad Rajchandra and his clarification of the message of Lord Mahavir.


Param Pujya Bhaishree visited Akshardham the beautiful and enchanting religious and culture centre inspired by Yogiji Maharaj and completed by Pramukh Swami Maharaj. 

Beautiful grounds and architecture welcomed the pilgrims. Bhaishree was welcomed with much love and respect. He was garlanded.

The site has tremendous exhibitions and presentations on the life of Swami Narayan from his devout and spiritually focused childhood to the point of His Samadhi. Sculpture, film and exhibitions narrate the life and also impart insights. A boat ride takes the pilgrim on a journey to explore some oft-forgotten contributions to society from Vedic culture, often many centuries before their "discovery" in Western Culture.

In some scenes in a film, on his great pilgrimage around India as a child, he asked explained that iron sinks while wood floats. He asks what iron must do to float. The answer is that it must associate itself with wood. He then declared that this is the powers of Satsamagam: entering into association with Truth, with a living True Guru. He purifies and liberates.

After tremendous light and water show, a visit was made to the temple. It is the work of thousands selfless devotees. It demonstrates much artistry and devotion in its painting and sculpture, depicting the many original devotees, the striving of Lord Swami Narayan himself and then also showing the spiritual lineage that followed him.

At Akshardham, the pilgrim enjoys a celebration of our ancient culture which is the context for the great spiritual achievements of the saints. At this place we celebrate the impact an elevated soul can have on the spiritual welfare of the world. We remind ourselves of the power of Satsang and the blessing which is the presence in our lives of a living True Guru. 

Closing the day, Param Pujya Bhaishree reminded all of the value of time and timeliness.

Day 2


In 1656 the emperor Shah Jahan invited members of the Jain community to build a mandir. This mandir is the oldest Jain temple in Delhi and is popularly known as the Lal Mandir.

It is said that Shah Jehan sponsored one of the consecrated idols. Lord Parshvanath is the main idol. There are a number of colourfully decorated temple halls with a number of ancient murtis.

Param Pujya Bhaishree led the pilgrims through this temple where the idols were praised with stutis led by Brahmnisht Vikrambhai's bhakti - filled voice. 

The Lal Mandir is located opposite the great Red Fort in the famous Chandni Chowk area. The rulers who fortified themselves behind its walls are now long gone. In stark contrast, the message and order of the one enthroned in the temple still shelters and liberates countless souls.


The memorial to Gandhiji at Raj Ghat is simple and elegant. Made of black marble, it is the site of Mahatma Gandhi's cremation. It has an eternal flame and is uncovered, open to the sky.

Bhaishree, contemplating with stillness and quiet determination, led the group around the monument, a time to reflect on the great virtues represented by the great soul celebrated. The circumambulation of this simply moving monument was enhanced by the recital of Raghupati Raghav and Vaishnav Jan, two songs reminding us of unity in faith and deep spiritual values.

This brief visit was a celebration of the eternal flame of Ahimsa. For us the name Raj reminds us of Shrimad Rajchandra who provided in many ways the steps (ghat) for Gandhiji's immersion in the river of spirituality.


Indira Gandhi was attending the great Abhishek of Bahubali at Sravan Belgola and observed that the south had a world famous Jain monument. She wanted one in Delhi.

She agreed to have land granted anywhere in Delhi and the community chose a location near Qutb Minar. The hill where this monument stands is said to have at one time been the location of a Jain temple to Lord Parshvanath.

So Ahinsa Sthal was established in 1980. The magnificent granite idol of Lord Mahavir weighs 30 tonnes and is over 13th feet high, seated in Lotus position, installed on a lotus pedestal of 2 feet and 8 inches.

Bhagwan Mahavir silently makes a call to the faithful of the dharma of Ahinsa.


Param Pujya Bhaishree and the group were warmly welcome at the Ashram of Acharya Roopchandji Maharaj.

Bhaishree had first met him in New York during Shrimad Rajchandra's centennial celebrations.

So Inspired by Shrimad Rajchandra was Roopchandji Maharaj that on his very first reading of Shri Atma Siddhi Shastra, he learned the great poetic scripture by heart.

Roopchandji Maharaj explained the activities of the Ashram including both spiritual and Humanitarian. Some members of the school they run performed some beautiful bhakti. 

Roopchandji Maharaj began his address with some words from the Acharang Sutra stating that very few souls know where they have come from. The Agam states that it is known from our own recollection, from a Gnani purush or from the recollection of another. 

Recognising that Param Pujya Bhaishree's lineage had begun with Shrimad Rajchandra himself, Roopchandji Maharaj stated that Shrimad had known from his Jati Smaran Gnan, the first category in Acharang Sutra.

Roopchandji stated his own great respect for Shrimad and talked despairingly of the sectarianism so rife in religion: how atma (soul) takes second place to differences in outer garb and sometimes even third when looking at sects. He cited Shrimads compassionate cancellation of a forward diamond contract as true spirituality and he spoke of the influence on Gandhi.

Roopchandji Maharaj spoke humorously and powerfully, his language sparkling with many Shayari that he had himself composed, naturally flowing from his tongue.

He praised Bhaishree for his humility and straightforwardness. Roopchandji Maharaj recognised Param Pujya Bhaishree as a saint whose inner thoughts and outer actions were in harmony. Roopchandji had invited leaders from a variety of organisations from Jain faith tradition and even the head of the global Brahmnin association to attend Bhaishree's swadhyay.  This was part of his contribution to increase awareness of Shrimad Rajchandra in North India.

Param Pujya Bhaishree humbly addressed this praise by giving all credit to his True Guru Param Pujya Bapuji. He stated that he feels himself to be the dust at the holy feet of his Gurudev. 

Bhaishree recollected the first time he met Roopchandji. It was by phone. Bhaishree phoned him to invite him to the centennial celebrations in New York and Bhaishree said that Roopchandji's answer had created a song bond. He said: "I had been waiting keenly for your invitation."  

Praising Roopchandji, Bhaishree then briefly described some events in Shrimad's life. Impressed by Shrimad's performance of Shatavdhan at the age of 19, some astrologers looked into his kundli to reveal him to be a great soul. This in turn Inspired Shrimad to study astrology.  He mastered the art. At the age of 23 Shrimad turned all his considerable abilities away from outward activities. In his search of self realisation Shrimad realised that he faced an obstacle in the form of a missing link. It was at this point that Shrimad met Saubhagbhai and very soon Shrimad attained Samyag Darshan. Shrimad resolved to ensure that Saubhagbhai also attained this great state.

Shrimd has stated that the truth is not at all far from us. Bhaishree asked how we are to attain it. Is it to be found at pilgrimage sites for example? Bhaishree stated that we are all pure souls and that our true nature lies within. 

However the path to turn inward, the true dharma of become antarmukh is known by very few. Bhaishree then meaningfully explored Kaivalya Beej Shun (Yam Niyam) which esoterically alludes to this inner path. Bhaishree was compassionately drawing the attention of all ready to hear of the existence of this magnificent path.

To close the event, a group of girls from their gurukul described the life of Mahavir Swami in poetic form with various animated actions. The audience was very moved by their performance and Roopchandji suggested that they would create a similar performance for Shrimad Rajchandra's life so that more people in North India become aware of Shrimad.

The atmosphere for this visit was one of love and mutual appreciation.  Param Pujya Bhaishree said that Roopchandji had "bathed us in love." 


The Trilokteerth Dham temple at Badagaon is unique in its size and structure. Its 17 storeys are 217 feet high with a 100 feet beneath of strong foundations. There will be over 3,000 inspiring idols through the temple. At the top, in Siddha Shila, there is a 31 foot tall idol of Lord Adinath made of a mixture of eight metals (Ashta dhatu). This will be covered with gold polish to which Bhaishree has made a contribution.

Inspired by Digambar Acharya Sanmati Sagar Ji, the temple will show the three worlds (tri lok) in the form of the traditional Jain representation of the universe. The aim is to inspire good conduct and spirituality by showing the pleasurable fruits of good conduct on the higher floors and the pain resulting from bad conduct on the lower floors. 

Bhaishree led us to the very top of the temple where we devotedly viewed Lord Adinath and sang his praises. The True Guru determinedly took us to our goal.


The day gave a sense of some of the interaction that our faith has had with the rulers and leaders of our nation.

At the Lal Mandir we enjoyed the gift of an emperor. At the Raj Ghat we remembered the great soul, the Mahatma, who led a peaceful liberation of the nation, and we Shrimad Rajchandra's spiritual impact. At the Ahinsa Sthal enjoyed the result of an interaction between a prime minister and the Jain community.

In all cases history has been bequeathed a monument and society some of its driving and ennobling values.

The sun set on the pilgrims as they reveled in these values and contemplated the structure of the universe.

Day 3

Vallabh Smarak is a large and imposing temple. Its interior is beautiful and simple. At the top is a chaumukhi (with idols facing all four directions) temple hall dedicated to four different Jinas at which the group did Darshan. At the bottom of the temple is a museum to Jain art and culture.
However the unique thing about this temple is the vast and spacious circular and domed main hall. In it presides the marble image of the monk Vijay Vallabh Suri Maharaj Saheb. It is a demonstration in stone of the devotion in the heart of the sponsor of the complex. It is an edifice built of love.

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The Jatra entered the lush fertile land of Haryana on its way to the Rishi Chaitanya Ashram headed by the world famous Anandmurti Gurumaa.

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Many seekers are aware of her satsangs on YouTube, her bhajans and her general popularity, so there was a natural excitement.

The Ashram is simply but beautifully landscaped and in harmony with the greenery surrounding it. There is a great pervading sense of peace, silence and orderliness. Mumukshus waited patiently listening to recordings of Bhajans in anticipation of her arrival. Tea and biscuits were served in the dining hall and then, soon after returning the hall, Param Pujya Bhaishree arrived and soon so did Anamdmurti Gurumaa.
This was the first meeting between our beloved still and composed Bhaishree and the famous Gurumaa. Param Pujya Bhaishree spoke a little about the Ashram and Gurumaa stated that where the direction (disha) was right, the developmental state of Mumukshus (dasha) would progress.  Her speech throughout the visit was often punctuated by silences, smiles and meaningful glances into the audience.

Bhaishree asked Gurumaa to speak to the eager pilgrims. She asked if there were any questions and Brahmnisht Vikrambhai asked how best to maintain concentration. Gurumaa asked whether we ever needed to be reminded to remain focused on a movie, a cricket match or on our child as it played. She humorously explained that we have no need to remember the things for which we yearn. In the world of spirituality, we have yet to develop that yearning and yet to develop absorption in spiritual subjects.
All too often, instead of selfless bhakti (devotion), the world of religion is likened to trading where any observance, be it prayer, austerity or any other practice, is conditional, with a worldly ulterior motive, as if we are trading with God. Often we use our so-called learning to justify obsessions and failures. Gurumaa gave the example of someone who might display aggressive behaviour and excuse it as a "passing wave" or small "deviation," all the while claiming that the soul is pure and not engaged in worldly affairs. It is hard to change our tendencies and inclinations. For example, if someone plays a song while we are meditating, we could either behave with aggression (“Doesn’t that so and so know that I am trying to meditate here!”) or become attracted to the melody {“How beautiful and moving this music is”). The tendency wins and the absorption in meditation is lost.  She said it would be wonderful if we could invent a gadget to change the mindset. It would win a Nobel prize and it is a “noble” endeavour.
She spoke of the great lengths which Tulsidas had gone to see his bride and then she turned around and said of his infatuation, would it not be great if his love of Ram was as great. Detachment (Vairagya) is needed. Once this is developed, life is as smooth as the gliding of the clouds. At that time, we would feel grace (Krupa). After all, we are Atma ourselves and we do not need to be made by someone else for this to be manifest, it must “simply” be realised. At the moment, because we have not realised this, we live in folly (Agnan) and this makes us stupid. Moreover, because of this folly, our education does not make us fearless. We all fear death. Indeed, many strive to live in the Western world because emergency services are better. Gurumaa pointedly stated that simply because we have “911” services does not eliminate death. Death is inevitable, but because we do not come with an expiry date, we are reckless with time. We postpone spiritual striving for worldly pleasure.
Gurumaa pointed out that recent undersea investigations have shown that Dvarka existed 32,000 years ago, and it is still here, albeit different. The world and opportunities for enjoyment and indulgence will always remain.  It is the opportunity for freedom which will not last. We must strive and work on this path. The Guru is an essential catalyst but we ourselves must strive.
Param Pujya Bhaishree had listened intently and then spoke briefly about Raj Saubhag Ashram and introduced Brahmnishts Vikrambhai and Minalben. Gurumaa did not accept a request to sing for us, but encouraged Vikrambhai to. He sang “Guyatam Gnan,” taking heed of Gurumaa’s words about the Guru and striving.
Param Pujya Bhaishree brought Gurumaa’s attention to the Mantra “Sahajatma Svarup Paramguru.”
After this audience with Gurumaa, Param Pujya Bhaishree dined with her and she took them on a personal tour of the Ashram and sat with him for at least an hour thereafter, having a frank and open conversation. The pilgrims enjoyed lunch in the dining hall and it was interesting that after lunch all seekers are expected to clean and rinse their own plate and utensils. This showed the humility of members of the Rishi Chaitanya Ashram. After this, there was a tour of the Ashram and a well-appreciated visit to the shop to buy books and CDs.
It was a great privilege to have had so much time with such a popular religious leader and she had certainly given Param Bujya Bhaishree much of her time. The atmosphere of the Ashram, its discipline, cleanliness and the poignancy of Gurumaa’s remarks had given pilgrims much to consider.
Earlier on the jatra Param Pujya Bhaishree had met Ben Shri Ratna Prabhu.  She is the daughter of Pannaben. In this family the mothers have shared their love of Shrimad Rajchandra and thus their understanding and devotion to Bhagwan Mahavir. The next visit on the Jatra was to visit Pannaben's Mahavideha Kshetram Dharma Tirtha in Delhi. Pannaben and her husband came personally to welcome Bhaishree upon his arrival, which she had been clearly been anticipating eagerly.

Pannaben has had devotion to Shrimad Rajchandra since her early childhood and has been striving to increase awareness of Shrimad in Northern India for many years.

Br. Vikrambhai spoke admiringly of Pannaben's quest for Samyak Darshan. The depth of Swadhyays is indicated by the fact they have spent over three years considering and contemplating letter 833 of Shrimad Rajchandra's Vachanamrut.

When Pannaben was requested to speak, she humbly requested that Bhaishree speak as she and all present had been longing to hear his words.
Bhaishree explained letter 47 in his swadhyay. Written to Khimji Devji, in the letter, Shrimad compassionately addressed Khimjibhai’s quest. He draws his attention to removing the seven knots (granthi) of mohaniya karma in order to attain Samyak Darshan. Even though the soul has come close to overcoming these knots, an infinite number of times, it has not yet done so. Bhaishree then moving spoke of the spiritual journey of Param Pujya Bapuji, his guru, in this context. Bapuji had become familiar with Shrimad’s writing early in his life, and set out to satisfy himself that there was a complete correspondence and agreement between Shrimad’s words and the teaching of Lord Mahavir.  Satisfied, his quest took him to seek a gnani (self-realised) guru.  He was so fortunate to find three self-realised souls in Sayla itself, where he was resident. Bapuji had attended a cremation. While bathing after the cremation, Bapuji offered to help an elder, Kalidasbhai, a self-realised soul, to dry his loincloth. Kalidasbhai, recognising Bapuji’s potential, at once took the opportunity.  Meaningfully, he dashed his loincloth on the banks of the local lake and recited verses form Atma Sidhi Shastra focusing on the centrality of Mohaniya Karma and the means to overcoming it.  Bapuji was at once captivated and he became close this group of gnanis and on 14th January 1937 was bestowed with the esoteric Beej Gnan (knowledge of the seed of Liberation) and he was able to realise himself in 3-4 days.  Bapuji’s worthiness had been recognised and his True Guru developed him so as to attain this goal.

Bhaishree shared this story to direct true seekers to the path to Moksh as Shrimad had explained and lived it. Bhaishree went on to explain how Dharma itself is not easily recognised. He explained Shrimad’s poem, Yam Niyam or Kaivalya Beej Shun? (“What is the seed of enlightenment?”), again to draw attention to the esoteric nature of the path which the True Guru reveals and bestows on a True Seeker. Bhaishree had shown great compassion for the souls at the Mahavideha Kshetram Dharma Tirtha.
Pannaben agreed to speak briefly and she introduced us to the several nuns who also spent time at this centre in study, for almost six months of the year and one who often led the swadhyays. Pannaben also introduced Deepikaben whom she called her great support and who had great devotion towards Shrimad and expressed great reverence for Bhaishree.  Pannaben echoed the point that the essence of dharma is within, regardless of our outer action. The outward actions are needed, but the true meaning of dharma is within. While the outer actions can be performed by the celestial beings, they yearn for human life so they can progress inwardly on the esoteric path to turn inwards. We were left with three key concepts by the nun – Virag (detachment), Kashay ka Tyag (Abandonment of the Passions), and Gune ke prati Anurag (Fondness for Virtues).

After concluding in the swadhyay hall, Bhaishree and the pilgrims went to the wonderful Jinalay temple on the site and enjoyed Darshan.

Uplifted and moved in so many different ways, seekers, pilgrims on this journey, eagerly awaited the spiritual treasures to come.

Day 4


The pilgrims left from Delhi and headed to another even more ancient capital. Hastinapur holds a unique place in the history of Indian culture.  So many of the scenes of the Mahabharat are set in this ancient capital. A great many Kalyanaks of various Tirthankars have taken place here, as well as the births of many Chakravartis. Hastinapur was also the capital and birthplace  of Bharat Chakravarti, son of Lord Rishabdev. No ancient monument remains to mark the illustrious history of this location, but Jains of recent history have much to commemorate the glorious past. The town is often described as the Jain Kashi.

The pilgrimage started with climbing up a small hillock gazing upon the large imposing gateway to the Digambar Jain Prachin Bada (ancient great) Mandir.  The temple was initially built and consecrated in the early 19th Century.  In front of the central temple stand a large Maanav Stambh welcoming seekers.  The central spire (Shikar) of this temple is very broad and imposing.  The temple complex has a number of wonderful sculptures and idols and many of the idols are very ancient, such as one of Lord Arahnath and one of Lord Shantinath.

Surrounding the central courtyard in which the main temple stands are a number of rooms housing pratimajis.  The first one encountered contains a very large Parshvanath in black stone.  Another room has murtis of precious stones, and crystal.  We all followed Bhaishree into a wonderful reconstruction of Nandishvar Deep, a continent where the celestial beings come to celebrate and worship.  Vikrambhai melodiously accompanied Bhaishree’s footsteps in the circumambulation of this wonderful triumph of sculpture and colour.  The Jatra was also a celebration in this way.  Slightly away from the central courtyard is a glass structure housing a very tall idol of Shantinath in standing posture, popularly known as Bade Baba.  Param Pujya Bhaishree placed a ceremonial umbrella in front of the idol.  From this glass building could be seen the many spires surrounding the main temple, each pointing upwards, inviting pilgrims to continue on their own elevating journey blessed by Bhaishree’s grace.

Bidding farewell to the Bade Baba, the pilgrims re-entered the central courtyard and visited the Trimurti temple behind the central temple.  In this temple of three main idols (trimurti) stands an ancient 5 foot 11 inches idol of Lord Shantinath dating from the early 13th century (1231); to its right is the central Lord Parshvanath in black.  To the right of this is a bright white seven foot tall Bhagwan Mahavir in white stone.  Leaving this temple, Bhaishree visited another marvel in sculpture, depicting the Samavsaran (divine assembly and podium) of Mallinath Bhagwan, around which Bhaishree led the circumambulation.  Finally, the group entered the main Bada Prachin temple.  The central pratimaji (idol) is one of Lord Shantinath, originally consecrated in the late 15th century. 

The ancient idols and the great artistry witnessed inspires a sense of the continuity of truth and the power of devotion.


An afternoon walk to the dharmashala gave an indication of the rural nature of this one-time royal capital.  Hastinapur town has a large population of monkeys.  To humans they seem mischievous and yet, like all souls, they are striving to feed themselves in the pursuit of happiness.  As in any spiritual journey much mischief awaits the traveller who is not vigilant.

Bhaishree led Puja at the Shantinath Shwetamber mandir, following by Aarti and Mangal Divo.  After such wonderful darshan of so many idols, pilgrims were keen to offer their personal worship in the form of seva-puja at the temple.  The chaitya vandan had much devotional energy.

After this refreshing act of worship, the tour visited a location steeped in devotion and history.  A short journey led through forest to a clearing where is built a temple to what could be considered to be the first act of devotional charitable giving of this era.  Lord Rishabdev was the first ascetic of this era and he had been fasting for over 11 months when he entered the city of Hastinapur whose king was Shreyans.  In worldly terms, the king was the grandson of Lord Rishabdev.  Shreyans Kumar was transfixed at the vision of this noble ascetic and recalled from past births aspects of service to the monkhood.  He offered sugar-cane juice and Lord Rishabdev consumed this and thus broke his fast on the third day of the bright half of the month of Vaishakh (વૈશાખ સુદ ૩).  This date is commemorated to this day as Akha Trij or Akshya Tritiya and is a day when many break their fast, especially the austerity of Varshi Tap.

At this auspicious location is a small temple atwhich can be found a marker of where Lord Rishabdev had stood.  Bhaishree led the pilgrims in worship at this site.  Nearby was a depiction in sculpture of this first act of devotional giving where Shreyans Kumar pours his pure sugar cane juice into the palms of Lord Rishabdev.  How momentous for seekers that they were at this wonderful location with the very source of their own spiritual nourishment, Param Pujya Bhaishree, whose Word of nectar can quench the thirst of any seeker.


Hastinapur has over the years been bestowed with a great number of temples and monuments to the dharma.  Included in this is a temple build in the shape of a lotus flower, a temple in the form of the universe, the Kailash Temple built to resemble Mount Sumeru, and a temple housing a wonderful depiction of Jambudveep, which we currently inhabit.


Closing the day, Bhaishree led the pilgrims to the magnificent Ashtapad Tirtha.  This temple, consecrated in 2009, is a representation of the lustrous temple which Chakravarti Bharat had built at Ashtapad, where Lord Rishabdev attained Nirvan.  The circular, eight-tiered building towers over the visitor as it imposes its majesty, giving an invitation to the treasures within.  On the outer walls are a number of alcoves, each containing a worshipful murti.  The main hall is circular, following the walls of the main building and has a single central pillar around which preside four idols.  As Bhaishree led the circumambulation within this hall and then climbing up to the top of the building, Vikrambhai’s voice provided extra impetus.  The main hall has tremendous acoustics so that this already powerful devotional voice reverberates even more with its gentle force.  All pilgrims who attempted to reach the roof-top Jinalay succeeded and had Darshan of the idols with great elation.

The conception and beauty of this temple structure was certainly magnificent and any worshiper would experience great elevation.  How wonderful for those who had visited the elevated plateau of Tibet on the Mansarovar Jatra to recollect the beauty of nature, the sanctity of the place of striving and the inspiring compassionate wisdom of Param Pujya Bhaishree who regularly leads seekers on pilgrimages.  With Param Pujya Bhaishree, there is a journey to the hallowed sites of ancient striving by great souls, and continuous inspiration for the seekers’ inner pilgrimage.

Day 5


After Darshan at the Shantinath Temple, the pilgrimage headed north, moving along the banks of the sacred Ganga river.  The flat plains were left behind for the more hilly but more lush terrain of the foothills.  The elevating journey continued.

While originally not in the plan, Bhaishree requested a visit to the Sivanand Ashram (Divine Life Society) at Rishikesh.  Param Pujya Bapuji’s immense interest and deep study of the writings of the great Swami Sivanand Sarasvati have been imbibed by Param Pujya Bhaishree.  Bapuji used to lead the study of “10 Upanishads” and “Thought Power.”  In fact Param Pujya Bhaishree led a series of shibirs on Thought Power in recent years.

In addition to this spiritual impact, the Raj Saubhag Ashram’s humanitarian activities have had a close working relationship, particular in the field of eye care, with the Shivanand Mission in Virnagar, whose eye hospital is one of the largest in Gujarat.  Param Pujya Bapuji had a lasting mutual affection for Dr. Shivanand Adhvaryu, also affectionately known as Bapuji.  Dr. Shivanand Adhvaryu had been inspired to establish these activities by Swami Sivanand Saraswati himself and later took Sanyas, as Swami Yagnavalkya, under Swami Chidanand Saraswati, the successor to Sivanandji.

In addition to this wonderful connection with the Raj Saubhag Ashram, both spiritual and humanitarian, the great Swami Sivanand has had a great impact on the world at large both directly and through the many saints who have moved on to form many institutions of their own and these have contributed to the wider appreciation of Indian spiritual culture worldwide.

On the shores of the sacred Ganga, from this saint and his institutions have flowed strong currents of compassion and wisdom.  The ashram is a place of peace, nestled on steep forested slopes near the river.  People from various nations and backgrounds visit and even reside there in their quest for the Ultimate.  Swami Shivanandji’s motto “Be Good, Do Good” has sanctified this centre.

It is only natural that seekers were looking forward to visiting the Ashram and paying respects at the Samadhi of the great saint.  With Bhaishree’s grace, when the group reached Sivanandji’s Samadhi, the pilgrims were blessed with an audience with Swami Vimalanandji Maharaj, the current President of the Divine Life Society.

Param Pujya Bhaishree sat next to the Swami and Br. Vikrambhai introduced him and the Ashram.  Swami Vimalandaji fondly remembered Bapuji, meaning Swami Yagnavalkyaji and his noble work and was pleased to hear of the connection.  When hearing about Raj Saubhag Ashram’s history, the Swamiji readily recognised Shrimad Rajchandra’s impact of Mahatma Gandhi, and mentioned the chapter on Shrimad in the autobiography.

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Br. Vikrambhai dedicated the song “Shivoham” to the great Swamis of this Ashram and his voice enhanced the already loving devotional atmosphere.  Swamiji then, in turn, sang a song in English for the seekers, beginning with the words “Be Good, Do Good…”  Despite his great age of 83, and despite his poor health, Swami Vimalandji was the picture of joy and the epitome of surrender.  He even shared the insight, that not a single event occurs unless it is in the “Divine Plan.”

Monks and sages are often described as possessing a childlike innocence.  Swami Vimalandji, with great learning and with the great responsibility as President, radiated love, humility and this childlike innocence.  The half hour spent at the feet of Param Pujya Bhaishree and Vimalanandji at the location of Swami Sivanand Sarasvati’s Samadhi we moving and inspiring, at once magical and uplifting.

Param Pujya Bhaishree’s resolve to visit Rishikesh was certainly fruitful.  Connecting with this heritage and immersing themselves in the lover and sanctity of the Ashram, seekers increased their own spiritual resolve and found great inspiration for their own inner journey.


Now further downstream, the late afternoon and early evening were spent at the holy town of Haridwar, again at the river’s edge.  Haridwar is one of the points on which Amrit (the nectar of immortality) is said to have fallen and sanctified the location.  It is the point where the Ganga river first leaves the foothills and enters the plains of India.  Pilgrims often immerse themselves in the sacred river to ritually purify themselves.

Param Pujya Bhaishree participated in worship and Aarti that evening and seekers looked on.   At one point Bhaishree was purposefully holding a ceremonial vessel and pouring forth a continuous stream of water into the river below.  With great ceremony and pomp the priests, had lit great lamps with many individual flames and the light of this instrument of worship shone into the darkness on both banks of the river.

The location and the rituals are all steeped in esoteric meaning.  Those who have been initiated by the grace of Param Pujya Bhaishree or Param Pujya Bapuji cannot help but be inspired and elevated.  Param Pujya Saubhagbhai has been likened to Kind Bhagirath whose devotion invoked the descending of the Ganga.  Param Krupaly Dev is part of a continuous stream of enlightened wisdom for seekers and the Ashram’s lineage traces itself back to his living presence.  Those who strive at meditation, strive to imbibe and purify themselves in the nectar of immortality, striving to maintain a continuous flow.  The light of Bhaishree’s wisdom is the lamp illuminating our dark night and we immerse ourselves in the continuous flow of his loving compassion.

Day 6

Confluence of Scale, Seva and, most of all, Sadhana on the shores of the Beas

The train had left Haridwar the night before, and the pilgrims were still reminiscing of the inspiring love of Rishikesh and the symbolism of Haridwar.  Overnight, seekers had left the plain of the Ganga and were now in the land of the five rivers, Punjab.

The morning mist was heavy and it meant that the sun itself seemed to be a disc of white.  The train stopped at Beas for a short time and the pilgrims were met by volunteers, sevaks.  At Beas is found Dera Baba Jaimal Singh (“Dera”), the home of Radha Soami Satsang Beas, named after the centre’s founder.  Radha Soami means “lord of the soul.”  The faith tradition began in Agra in the 1850s, where Shri Shiv Dayal Sharma had a small number of followers.  One of his key followers was Baba Jaimal Singh who followed his Guru’s instruction to establish the path in Punjab.  Radha Soami Satsang Beas was thus founded in 1891.  There is also an institution in Dayalbagh, Agra, whose lineage also began around the same time, in 1878.  Param Pujya Bapuji had visited Dayalbagh.  Today’s visit would be the first engagement of Shree Raj Saubhag Ashram with Beas.

Soon after being treated to a simple, nourishing breakfast by volunteers, Param Pujya Bhaishree and the seekers entered into a large lecture hall, in which Bhakti was being sung.  Members of the Dera were entering and seated in neat, orderly rows in absolute silence.  At 10am precisely, the lecture began.  As the current spiritual head, Baba Gurinder Singh, who is normally resident there, was away in Mumbai, the lecture was given by Shri J Sethi, the current administrative head.  The swadhyay was comprehensive and concise.  It was uplifting and at the same time focused and disciplined.  It was so packed full of meaning, that it would be difficult to do it justice.  The lecture started with an exploration of the various activities conducted as religion, and then emphasised the necessity, the imperative, of any quest turning inwards, અંતર્મુખ, and doing so under the instruction of a living guru.  The subject of sadhana, of spiritual striving, and meditational focus were discussed.  Towards the end, giving reference to many saints, Sethiji stated how each and every one of them had recommended the same path.  The swadhyay ended promptly at 10.45.  Param Pujya Bhaishree, seated in the audience, had attentively heard the swadhyay and was constantly in agreement with the points being shared.  The whole swadhyay seemed to cover thoroughly the path to self-realisation, to be digested and implemented throughout life.

After the lecture, volunteers gave the pilgrims a tour of the campus by coach.  The Dera is vast and the tour included the catering complex, seen by foot and a drive past the dormitories and other residential buildings.  Dera houses 7,000 residents.  Special weekends are designated for the lectures of the current living guru, Baba Gurinder Singhji, which often have an attendance of up to 500,000.  Lectures are given in .  Mostly run by volunteers, the centre is well organised, peaceful, quiet and efficient.  The scale and cleanliness of were very impressive.  The langar complex can feed up to 50,000 people in a single sitting, sometimes catering for over 300,000 people.  The langar system provides a free meal to all visitors.  Tea is made with very large tea-bags and is actually piped to certain locations where langar is served.

Along the journey could be seen a beautiful old building from the early days of the Dera and it used to be the place where seekers were initiated and instructed in meditation.  The building soon became a place at which seekers gave reverence, prostated themselves and began to perform acts of worship.  The spiritual head at the time warned against this ritualism, admonishing followers, and told them that the building would be torn down if such practices continued.  This is because, at Beas, there are no rituals, ceremonies, hierarchies or mandatory contributions, nor are there compulsory gatherings. Members need not give up their cultural identity or religious preference to follow this path.

The volunteers were humble and actively carrying on their various designated duties.  As the tour passed, pilgrims were greeted warmly and respectfully with namaskars.  The volunteers who gave the tour had also dedicated themselves to spiritual striving.  In fact, their spiritual practices, we were told, are deeply personal, and volunteers do not even know or ask each other whether or not they are initiated.   By performing the meditation practice according to the teacher's instructions, according to the beliefs at Beas, individuals can realize the presence of God within themselves. It is a solitary practice that is done in the quiet of one's own home. Members commit themselves to a way of life that supports spiritual growth while carrying out their responsibilities to family, friends and society.   To build on the primary spiritual practice of meditation, members are lacto-vegetarian, abstain from alcohol and recreational drugs, and are expected to lead a life of high moral values.

Param Pujya Bhaishree met with Sethiji briefly.  Sethiji also came onto each of the coaches and met with the pilgrims.  He humbly apologised for the delay in meeting us.  Sethiji had been asked if his lecture recordings could be given and heard.  He humbly stated that it was his seva to lecture and that it was no different from the seva of others the tour had seen in the kitchens or driving around.  He said that he could not go outside of his instruction and if he did, his pride would become manifest.

The humility of the General Secretary Sethiji, administrative head, whose powerful swadhyay had been so inspiring, and the humility and discipline seen in all members and volunteers was truly something to contemplate.  While the scale and administrative excellence were impressive, the lasting impact is surely that of the swadhyay content and the spirituality of the place.  The combination of scale, seva and, most of all, sadhana are rare indeed in this world.

Gazing into the Pool of Nectar and Focusing on the Word

The first place visited in Amritsar was the Jallianwala Bagh, the park and open public space in the middle of the town.  The Jallianwala Bagh is a 6-acre site which is surrounded by walls apart from a few entrances.  This place is the site of a terrible historical event.  In 1913 CE, on 13th April, on the day of Vaisakhi, a festival to mark harvest time, and also the anniversary of the establishment of the Khalsa, many had gathered to protest peacefully against injustices by the British Imperial Government.  On the minds of the British was the fear of revolt and insurrection.  Into this park, the infamous General Dyer ordered tsoldiers from the British Indian army to open fire on this peaceful gathering.  1,650 shots were fired at 15-20,000 protesters, pilgrims, merchants and farmers.  Over 1,500 innocent people were killed and many more injured.  This includes children too.  The site is now a memorial to the cruelty and injustice of that day and the institutions which imposed it.  Some walls bear the bullet holes of the gunshots.  Rabindranth Tagore surrendered his knighthood in protest and both Asquith and Churchill denounced it.  The event marks a turning point in history.



The Jallianwala Bagh is close to the Harmandir Sahib, commonly known as Amritsar’s Golden Temple, the holiest of all Gurdwaras.  The Golden Temple’s construction and management are both the result of tremendous dedication, devotion and service.  It was now the early evening, and the pilgrims entered an open space , a square full of peace in the midst of the hustle and bustle of this modern Indian city. They handed their shoes to volunteers, covered their heads and headed barefoot towards the gates of the Golden Temple complex.  Before the gates there is a small pool into which one must step to ritually cleanse the feet.  Then one enters through the gates and this is the first glimpse of the holiest temple of the Sikh tradition.

The sun was beginning to set and the various changing colours of the sky were reflected in the tank, the tank of nectar which gives the city its name.  The changing colours added great beauty to the wonderful scene of a wide open square surrounding the tank in which stands the Golden Temple.  The wonderful gold shone forth as the pilgrims took the steps down into the central square.  The cool of the evening added to the peaceful, spiritual atmosphere.   The regular Sikh evening prayers were broadcast and the square was full of their gentle sound.

A volunteer guard offered to guide the group and shared some of the history and important points about this sacred place.  The third Sikh Guru, Guru Amar Das, had order Guru Ram Das, the fourth Guru, to excavate a tank to contain Amrit, the nectar of immortality.  This was done in 1578 CE and this pool of the nectar of immortality became known as Amritsar.  Guru Ram Das declared that this would be the home of God and that anyone bathing themselves in it would benefit greatly.  The temple was conceived by Guru Arjan Singh, as a centre for all Sikhs to worship.  Its design contains a great many ideas related to Sikhism.   The square surrounding the tank of Amritsar has four gateways symbolising openness to all faiths.  To eternal the square any pilgrim was walk down a series of steps to indicate humility.  The foundation stone itself was laid by Sufi Saint Mian Mir, marking the unifying and open - hearted ideas driving Sikhism. 

Our living true Guru Bhaishree then led his mumukshus into the very heart of this sacred site, the Harmandir (Temple of God) Sahib.   A small covered walkway takes pilgrims into the temple in the midst of the pool.  While waiting, the sacred prayers, the words of the Gurus and saints are heard and imbibed.  They can also be read with translation on overhead screens.  The object of veneration is the Guru Granth Sahib.  It contains the poems and revelations of the Sikh Gurus themselves and those of Hindu and Muslim saints.  It was first installed here by Guru Arjan Singh and then updated by Guru Gobind Singh.  At this point the sacred text was nominated as the successor to the 10th Guru.  Bhaishree paid his respects to this revered scripture and led the pilgrims to the very roof of the temple, open to the sky.  Bathed in the gentle evening light, surrounded by the sound of prayer, Bhaishree and his disciples sat in meditation.

The Gurudwara is the gateway to the Guru and the gateway to God.  The whole complex was built at the site of the Pool of the Nectar of Immortality.  Gazing down into this pool of nectar, a seeker beholds a golden vision of the object of worship.

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Just near the Golden Temple compound is a small temple to Lord Parshvanath.  Bhaishree led the mumukshus to have darshan there.

Enchanted and uplifted by the sanctity of the temple complex, and seeing Jineshvar, pilgrims ended the day with immense satisfaction and inspiration.  Graced by the presence in our lives of a living True Guru, we feel untold gratitude for Bhaishree who leads us to find Truth in whatever form it takes.

Day 7

Peace and the Border

In the local villages around Amritsar, there are a few Jain temples, build by local families.  The number of Jains now living in the vicinity is very small, but the temples are still active and maintained.  The pilgrims visited the local villages of Patti and Jeera.  Patti has a wonderful temple dedicated to Manmohan Lord Parsvanath.  Sitting at the feet of the Jinas and engaging in their worship, enabled the pilgrims to start the day with an image in mind of the apostles of peace.

The evening was spent at Wagha, the border town on the Grand Trunk Road between Lahore and Amritsar on either side of Punjab.  This the site of a daily routine where the gates are opened by both the Pakistani and Indian sides, and the flags are lowered.  Soldiers shake hands.

Over the years, this ceremony has developed into something more dramatic.  Soldiers from both sides take on aggressive postures and stances towards their “enemies” on the other side.  This is accompanied by cheers and boos of the crowds on either side.  The whole atmosphere is supposed to be fun and full of nationalistic pride at a sensitive location.

In terms of the theme of the Jatra, the pride one takes in India’s heritage, is heavily influenced by the spiritual heritage and culture.  Undivided India and the neighbours under her spiritual and cultural influence have a tremendous legacy of spirituality, devotion, striving and wisdom.  Within this wisdom, there is a strong emphasis on the virtues of maitri, universal friendship, ahimsa, forgiveness and humility.  The activities at Wagha contrast with that starkly, and are very popular.

Deception of the Lord

As the pilgrimage would end the next day, Param Pujya Bhaishree took the opportunity to reflect on the Jatra and to give us a swadhyay.

He told us the story of Jindas Sheth, born in poverty and skilled in archery, he was toiling as a labourer carrying ghee and cotton.  He would recite the Bhaktamar Stotra with great devotion and, as a result, he had been blessed by a celestial being, with a powerful gem and a special mantra.  One day, as he travelled, he encountered three famous thieves and he broke all but three of his arrows with great self-confidence and killed them.  When king Bhimdev of Pathan heard of this, he invited him to his court where he rose in the ranks.

A Jain layperson observed all this, but was curious about Jindas’ devotion.  He stole a camel and tied it in front of his own house in plain sight.  He was obviously soon caught and taken to Jindas who was performing a puja of the Jinas.  Jindas made a gesture with his hands for the guards to kill the “thief”.

At this point, the Jain householder spoke up.  He asked Jindas why a thief would steel a camel and then tie it in front of his own house instead of hiding it.  He then asked who was the bigger thief.  How could Jindas make a sign for killing with the same hands which are performing puja?  His mind was surely in sansar and so the puja was merely mechanical, dravya puja, and not from the heart, bhav puja.  Jindas then felt great shame and took the householder as his guru and sought guidance on the true path.

Param Pujya Bhaishree then looked deeply into the mumukshus and said, humorously, that if we wish to worship from the heart, perform bhav puja, we cannot sleep.  He said it is otherwise an attempt to deceive Bhagwan, our Lord.

Closing and Thanks

Param Pujya Bhaishree briefly reviewed the Jatra.  He stated that we had all seen and learnt a lot.

There had been a wonderful bhakti with Ratna Prabhu.

Akshar Dham was unique and full of devotional service by followers and monks.  Their devotion is so great that many leave high-salaried jobs to serve.

Bhaishree noted that Roochandji Maharaj had invited many trustees and heads of nearly all communities so as to increase their awareness of Shrimad Rajchandra.

Anandmurti Gurumaa was powerful, impactful, firm and confident.  The mission was large and the facilities were all neat and clean.  Bhaishree humorously noted that mumukshus had had to wash their own dishes.  He appreciated the meeting she had had with all mumukshus and then the time she had given to Bhaishree in a smaller meeting, to build increasing familiarity.

Pannaben’s inner feelings and striving were observed.  Bhaishree remarked on the length of time spent contemplating letter 833, and the pleasure at meeting the nuns and others.

Bhaishree expressed great pleasure at meeting with Swami Vimalanandaji at Rishikesh.  Bhaishree recalled the relationship between Bapuji and Dr. Shivanand Ardhvaryu.  Swamiji knew of his work.  Bapuji had studied the 10 Upanishads text by Swami Shivanand Sarasvati.  The whole Ashram was full of spirituality and the current saint, Vimalanandji had a great innocence, straightforwardness and humility.

Bhaishree described the lecture at Beas.  He felt as if each and every single word could be expanded upon to create a swadhyay in itself.  So much deep spirituality and truth were share in 45 minutes.  All mumukshus felt that all the Bapuji had given us was contained in this lecture.  Bhaishree noted the attitude of service with humility, that there were many many more volunteers than paid workers.  The greater the spirituality, the greater the depth of service.

Bhaishree remarked that Sethiji would not give a tape of his swadhyay because his fame might rise and this would lead to ego.  He stated that he was working within the confines of the instructions of his guru.  This brings us back to Agna and Love of the Guru.

A lot was learnt and there is a lot of food for thought throughout the piligrimage.  Bhaishree expressed gratitude to the organiser of the Yatra.

Br. Vikrambhai share a few remarks.  Akshardham was sharing vedic culture and is considered a destination of international standing.  At Trilokdham, the goal is the very top, while the rest will be a beautiful depiction of Sansar.  Beas was an awesome township, beautiful clean, neat.  He believe that the nation could learn a lot about cleanliness from Beas.  Everything at Beas was with the purpose of spirituality in mind.  Each institution visited demonstrated the values of service and the love of the divine.

Vikrambhai thanked Jaysukhbhai for his role in facilitating the visit to Akshardham because of his close relationship with Atmasvarup Swami and for meeting Gurumaa with Ilaben in order to arrange the visit to her Ashram.  Himanshubhai had made possible the visit to Beas.

The main organisers were thanked for their dedication and meticulous planning: Jitubhai, Mitesh, “Gauri”, Himanshubhai, Rakesh (whose absence was noted).  Heena Tours were thanked.

Day 8

Nourished by the Flow of Truth and the Pool of Nectar

The final day of the Jatra allowed a morning visit to the Golden Temple.  At this time, there were a great many more visitors and it was possible to see the devotion of the Sikhs directly with our own eyes.  The line to enter the Golden Temple was very long and we could see many people stepping into the Pool of Nectar, the Amritsar, to ritually purify themselves with the purpose of spiritual upliftment.

The pilgrims had seen so much of the great spirituality present in Northern India, represented and marked by the sacred sites and kept alive by the various Ashrams and institutions.  Great monuments expressing devotion and historical striving were visited.  The Jinas were worshipped as were a great many saints. In these lands of the Yamuna, Ganga and the five rivers of Punjab, the grace of Bhaishree led us to a taste or at least of a vision of the sacred stream of truth which flows through these traditions and in which true seekers can immerse themselves for liberation.  Mumukshus took with them a great many deep impressions.  Bhaishree left behind in some places a direct message to gently guide seekers to the true inner path and in so many other places, he left traces of his loving enlightened presence.