Celebration on the Siddha Yoga path is synonymous with worship: worship of the Guru, worship of God, worship of that which brings meaning and texture and goodness to life. On Baba Muktananda’s Lunar Birthday this year, Gurumayi shared with me that the celebration felt like devotion enshrined. I was astonished by both the poetry and precision of this phrase. For what is worship, really, if not devotion enshrined? What is worship if not a beautiful vehicle, a coherent and hallowed structure, by which we express what’s in that tender underside of our hearts?
If we think of the worship we offer—the homage we give, the respects we pay—as shrines of devotion, then there were many such shrines to be seen in Shree Muktananda Ashram on Baba’s Lunar Birthday. In the morning, Gurumayi offered worship in Bhagavan Nityananda’s Temple. I happened to be right outside the Temple as Gurumayi was walking there. When she saw me, Gurumayi said, “Come and assist me while I offer my worship to Bhagavan Nityananda.” I didn’t hesitate to respond (“Yes, Gurumayi!”). It was a command that I was only too happy to heed.
Once we were in the Temple, Gurumayi adorned Bade Baba’s dais with orange-yellow roses—the color of flames and of the sun, she told me—and she anointed his padukas with the traditional offerings (sandalwood, rice, turmeric, kumkum, fragrant oils). The sound of the rice grains as they showered down from Gurumayi’s outstretched palms onto the padukas was practically musical; the scent of khus oil was heady, intoxicating. Then Gurumayi sang Jyota se Jyota Jagao. I lent my voice as well, and Gurumayi waved the arati lamp, lit with flames, before Bade Baba.
As Gurumayi was departing from the Temple, she looked out the window and brought my attention to the sky. It was clear blue; the clouds were soft and billowing. She pointed to a massive cloud that had formed over the Temple—it was in the shape of a perfect heart and shimmering white from the sun. Gurumayi has shared with me that many times on Siddha Yoga holidays, she sees such things—signs of nature venerating the occasion. To me, this response from nature, its acknowledgment of what we are already honoring and celebrating, is like adding fragrance to fragrance itself; augmenting beauty with yet more beauty; enhancing the loveliness of that which is so lovely to begin with.
On this day, it was fortunate that a photographer was walking down the breezeway when Gurumayi saw the heart cloud, so they could document what she had seen. Gurumayi has often said, “If I’m in the Temple holding satsang or making offerings to Bhagavan Nityananda, there should definitely be a photographer outside, since nature and the heavens always want to make their gloriousness manifest.”
Gurumayi then mentioned that it looked like rain was coming. I remember thinking, when Gurumayi said this, that the sky looked pretty blue to me! The midday sun was bright overhead. I searched for some indication of a darker sheen to the clouds, but I couldn’t find any. Still, Gurumayi had said that rain was coming, so I knew there had to be something to it.
Later that evening, in honor of Baba’s birthday, everyone in the Ashram came to Bhagavan Nityananda’s Temple for satsang—and specifically, to offer their gratitude and worship by singing the Arati. Gurumayi has always said that visiting Bhagavan Nityananda’s Temple is very special for her, since Baba had immense love for his Guru and it was in Bhagavan Nityananda’s honor that Baba had this Temple built in 1981. Visiting the Temple, therefore, is also a way of honoring Baba.
The Temple was filled with light on this birthday evening. Five arati lamps were waved to Bade Baba, each one featuring more tiers, more flames than the last. There was particular significance to singing the Arati on this day, as it was Baba who had compiled the verses of the Arati, even writing some of them, in worship of his Guru. The drums rumbled, the flames danced, a chorus of voices filled the air.
Soon after the Arati concluded, Swami Ishwarananda, who was the host for this satsang, invited everyone to receive Bhagavan Nityananda’s darshan. As he was speaking, he glanced toward the window and noted a sudden, striking change in the weather: it seemed that rain, or even perhaps a storm, would be coming soon. Everyone followed Swami ji’s gaze. Sure enough, the sky—which had been clear just moments before—was darkening. The clouds were gathering overhead.
And then, as Swami ji was taking his seat and people began coming forward for darshan, it happened. The thunder clapped. The lightning streaked through the sky. Rain poured down in thick sheets, and the wind pushed forcefully against it, making the water oscillate like waves. The trees on the Ashram grounds swayed back and forth. It was like a scene out of India’s monsoon.
For fifteen, maybe twenty minutes—the length of time it took for everyone to come forward for Bade Baba’s darshan—the rain came down like this. And then, quite simply, the rain halted; the heavens retrieved their bounty of water. The sky cleared, the sun returned, a faint petrichor wafted from the damp earth. The day’s worship had been accepted.
On the Siddha Yoga path website, you will find a record, in photographs, of some of what I have just described of Baba’s Lunar Birthday in Shree Muktananda Ashram. There is the heart-shaped cloud Gurumayi saw, and the Temple in the rain. There are flowers that Gurumayi had come across on the Ashram grounds, and Bade Baba’s padukas, which she so lovingly anointed. In each and every image, you can see it and sense it, the truth of Gurumayi’s words. Devotion is enshrined.