Vrindavan, 2017.01.07 (VT with input from Ramakrishna Dasa): Several weeks ago, Swami Vishwananda’s new ashram, Shri Giridhar Dham, opened in Sheetal Chhaya. More than two hundred devotees, mostly foreign disciples of the Swami, attended the inauguration ceremonies.
A number of sadhus and Brajwasis also blessed the occasion during parts of the festivities.
The three-day ceremony opened with an introductory greeting by Swami Vishwananda of the Bhakti Marga organization, Satyanarayan Das Babaji of the Jiva Institute, and Shri Abhishek Goswamiji of the Shri Radharaman Temple. The three distinguished holy men spoke in English on the significance of Giridhari. Babaji first sang a song for Giridhari, then Swami Vishwananda shared a story about how he came to worship his personal Giridhari deity. Goswami ji concluded with stories of Mira Bai and her devotion to Giridhari.
Headquartered outside of Frankfurt, Germany, Bhakti Marga has established activities in over 60 countries worldwide and operates temples in 17 countries. However, the new Giridhar Dham is the organization’s first temple in India.
Why Vrindavan amongst all the places in India? Two of the Bhakti Marga Swamis shed light on the selection of Vrindavan.
Swami Vishwadhānamjayanda explained, “he [Swami Vishwananda] chose Vrindavan because everything is inside of it – it is a complete place where love and a relationship with God is established.”
Swami Vishwrevatikāntananda added, “love is supreme and the entire town is immersed in that love.”
Love is the central concept for the Bhakti Marga and song was the primary devotional expression throughout the weekend’s events. On both Friday and Saturday evenings, devotees danced and sang together until midnight. In addition to dancing and participating in the kirtan, Swami Vishwananda also led kirtans, thus shaping the ecstatic mood of the evening festivities.
In addition to the blissful kirtans, the weekend included an abundance of prasad. Following the introductory greeting on Friday, hundreds of Vrindavan mahants were served prasad and given dakshina at the nearby Jiva Institute on behalf of the Bhakti Marga. And hundreds of additional sadhus and Brijwasis were similarly served prasad and given dakshina at the festival arena.
Revered personalities from all over Vraj visited Giridhar Dham throughout the weekend to offer their blessings for the temple’s inauguration. On Saturday, a yagya was performed in the main pavilion for the installation of Shri Narasingh Dev. And on Sunday, an abhishek was performed in the temple by Swami Vishvananda and Satyanarayana Das Babaji.
The main deities of Giridhar Dham are Giridhari and Yamuna Maharani. Giriraj shilas and shaligrams, in addition to murtis of Narsingh and Ramanujacharya are also present on the altar.
Swami Vishwadhānamjayanda discussed the selection of the deities by Paramahamsa Vishvananda. “He chose Giridhari because Giridhari is the uplifter of hearts. He was lifting the hearts of the people then and now. He chose Yamuna who is always serving Krishna, to demonstrate the true nature of service to God – you never expect anything, you just serve Him permanently with love and devotion.”
Giridhar Dham is now open to the public. Daily prayers are offered at 7am and 7pm.