Ganeshpuri/Nimboli, India: Home to Swami Muktananda Paramahamsa and Bhagawan Nityananda and now the site of the Fire Mountain Retreat
Sounds of Ganeshpuri as Described by a Devotee
I have the most amazing sound track as background to my life. Ganeshpuri is a small village full of sounds, but since I’m on the second floor, up in the trees, and since there is usually a breeze blowing in from the Arabian Sea 20 kilometers away, the sounds get softened and mixed. And the mix is very rich: children’s voices, pujas and bhajans from the temple, crows, dogs, parrots, cows, goats, locusts, shopkeepers calling customers, a beggar with a small pair of cymbals chanting for rupees, or at night a man drunk on toddy singing his heart out, and melting all the sounds is the wind in the coconut palms, and the swishing broom of a woman sweeping the temple plaza below. Very rarely a scooter or auto rickshaw goes by, passing with about the same frequency as the clattering bullock carts. Far in the distance there is usually a static filled Hindi film song from a cheap radio, and always bells, bells ringing from the many small temples and shrines surrounding the main temple, ringing as people pass through for darshan: the viewing of the divine. And if I sit in the right state of mind these sounds sometimes soften and reorder themselves into a harmonious musical chord vibrating over octaves and octaves into infinity.
Ganeshpuri is the home of Muktananda’s guru, Bhagwan Nityananda. The temple in the town square is called a Mahasamadhi Temple because it contains the remains of Nityananda who died in 1960. Because of this great holy man many pilgrims come to pay homage to him and many festivals happen here as well. Some groups come and perform a saptah, which is seven days of continuous chanting. So for a solid week “Shree Ram, Jai Ram, Jai Jai Ram” can be heard throughout the village. These chants take the form of “call and response”, with a leader who sets the melody and the rhythm, and a chorus that echoes it. The variations are endless, sometimes slow, and at other times fast, frantic, and pagan, with awesome displays of drumming by the tribal boys on their homemade drums. In the afternoons groups of school children may take over the saptah hall and shriek “Shree Ram, Jai Ram, Jai Jai Ram” at the top of their lungs. Evenings shift into the realm of bhakti: devotion, and the sound of the heart-melting mantra can be heard, full of the sweetest aching, a yearning for God that lurks deep in the Indian soul.
Groups come from all over India to this place to perform their spiritual rituals. And they come here because in their perception, the bones of Nityananda still produce a vortex of spiritual energy. For these people there is no doubt that spiritual power exists in this place, and so thousands of them will come for a festival.