Holy Pilgrimage - Hindu temples in USA
Sri Siva Vishnu Temple, Lanham, Maryland
Sri Siva Vishnu Temple (SSVT) is a Hindu temple located in Lanham, Maryland, about 12 miles (19 km) from Washington D.C. It is one of the largest temples in the United States. The actual temple construction began in 1988 and the last deity consecration took place in 2002.
LocationThe Temple is located on Cipriano Road one mile away from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. There are two churches located on the same road. The Murugan Temple of North America is located in the vicinity.
DeitiesDeities represented in the temple include Andal, Ayyappa, Durga, Ganesha, Karthikeya, Krishna, Lakshmi, Navagrahas, Parvathi, Rama, Sarasvati, Siva, Sudarshana, Venkateshwara and Vishnu
i The Temple hosts a number of cultural events by local talent and well-known artists from India. Cultural Events include :
- Carnatic amd Hindustani music, vocal and intrumental
- Classical Dances from all
Bharatanatayam, Odissi, Kuchipidi, Kathakali, etc.
- Plays (Dramas in Different Languages)
Cultural Passes that are valid for all Temple sponsored (excluding fund-raising events) one year from the date of issue are available for a discount from the normal charges
Bhajans and Lecture Series: The Temple organizes periodical Bhajans by renowned artists, lectures and discourses on Hindu Scriptures and philosophy and seminars of interest on religion for devotees of all ages. Such programs may be conducted under the auspices of the Cultural, Religious or Education committees .Details of these events are posted on the Temple bulletin boards, Temple newsletter and the Temple webpage.
Gift Shop: Gift Shop: Audio tapes and CDs of musical performances in the Temple are available. Other items that are available include the Temple calendar, pictures of all Temple deities (in wallet and postcard sizes), "Commonly Recited Prayers in SSVT", religious and philosophical books in various languages and articles used for worship. Siva V
9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m., 5:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
9:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m.
The Temple is open on all Important Holidays
Weekly Puja Schedule
Temple Opening & Suprabhaatam
9:00 a.m. Mon-Fri
6:30 p.m. Daily
9:30 a.m. Daily
6905 Cipriano Road, Lanham MD-20706
Phone: (301) 552 3335 Fax: (301) 552 1204
Phone: (301) 552 3335 Fax: (301) 552 1204
Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, New Jersey (Weehawken)
The Swaminarayan Mandir in Weehawken, New Jersey is the first Swaminarayan temple in the United States. It is the national headquarters of the ISSO and comes under the NarNarayan Dev Gadi of the Swaminarayan Sampraday. Today there are four Swaminarayan temples in New Jersey alone.
History of ISSO in New JerseyThe first Dev Mandir in the United States was set up in the basement of a house of a devotee in New Jersey in 1981. The Dev Mandir existed here until 1986.
History of this temple
The procession with the idols began at Colonial Park, West New York and New Jersey on the Blvd East Road, overseeing the bank of Hudson River. With extraordinary floats and the Weehawken Mayor Mr. Richard F. Turner as Guest of Honor and assemblyman Mr. Octovio Alfonso in presence the procession began towards the temple
- 4 Lousia
Tel: 201 865 3987
Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, New Jersey (Colonia)
The Swaminarayan Mandir, New Jersey (Colonia) is a Swaminarayan temple that comes under ISSO (Nar Narayan Dev Gadi of the Swaminarayan Sampraday) in the USA. It was officially inaugurated by Acharya Maharajshree Koshalendraprasad Pande on the 4th of September 2005
HistoryThis temple replaced Temple Ohev Shalom, once a Jewish place of worship which was closed due to a dwindling population of Jews in the area. Originally slated to become a residential complex after the closure of the Jewish temple, the temple administration came to an agreement with the builder to build this temple with the support of the town residents.
The four walls of the main interior room and the concrete slab of the floor are the only things that remained unchanged; everything else was refurbished to make way for the new temple, which was completed through a combination of volunteers and paid workers. The dome above the temple was constructed by the builder who created it from a photograph. When the temple opened, there was a week of ceremonies, involving recital of scriptures. This culminated with the inauguration on the 4th of September, 2005, which was witnessed by people from around the world.
The temple is the first and only Swaminarayan temple outside India to have the twin form of Nar Narayan as central deities. It is also one of the first in the USA to have domes (or shikhars). The image of Nar Narayan is a replica of that installed by Swaminarayan at the world's first Swaminarayan temple in Ahmedabad. It was the eighth Swaminarayan temple to be built in the USA. There are twenty temples in the USA as of 2009.
Gufa Shiv Bhagat- Baba Balak Nath Temple, Queens, New York City
Gufa Shiv Bhagat- Baba Balak Nath Temple is a Hindu temple located in the Jamaica neighborhood Queens in New York City, and is devoted to the Hindu deity. This temple opens everyday from 7:00 am to 8:30 pm.
Baba Balak Nath
Other DepictionsThe origin does have a confirmation also in:Sidh Baba in Jana Srutis: Innumberable Jana Srutis sing praises to the divinity of Baba Balak Nath:
His birth references among 84 proven & exacted Chaurasi Siddhas:We narrate the Lord Shiva’s Gospel of Immortality[Amar Katha] as the Ballads of devotion[Jana Srutis] in this context. Amar Katha is a Puranic[puranas] story about the origin of Baba. As told, a parrot nestling incidentally heard the Amar Katha Srimad Bhagavatam, The Gospel of Immortality, being narraated by "Lord Shiva" to "Parvati". Lord Shiva’s Trident ‘Trishul’ followed parrot nestling. Parrot nestling hid in the stomach of the wife of Rishi (Sage) Vyasa and requested a promise of forgivness from Lord Shiva for coming out. The promise was that when parrot nestling would come out in human form, it along with all the children born at that time might become eternal. Lord Shiva agreed for that and an extraordinary beautiful lad came out and vowed before Lord Shiva for blessing. This lad famed as ‘Sukdev Muni’, later on. Baba Balak Nath was one of the nine ‘Nathas’ and eighty four ‘Sidhas’ born at that time Emanation of Lord Shankra in ‘Dvapara Yuga’: According to ‘Lok Srutis’ Baba Ji reincarnates in every Time Frame that is termed as Yuga in Hindu Religious structure of time. He was known as ‘Skanda’ in ‘Sat Yuga’, ‘Kaul’ in ‘Treta Yuga’ and ‘Mahakaul’ and ‘Dvapra Yuga’. ‘Mahakaul’ of ‘Dvapra Yuga’, while visiting ‘Kailasha Parvata’, met an old woman on the way. The old lady asked of his mission and destination. After listening to him she advised ‘Mahakaul’ to meditate on the bank of ‘Mansarovar’ and request ‘Mother Parvati’ (who would come there for bathing on special occasions), help him in reaching ‘Lord Shiva’. ‘Mahakaul’ acted as told and became successful in his mission of reaching ‘Lord Shiva’. On seeing ‘Balayogi Mahakaul’, ‘Lord Shiva’ became very happy and blessed Baba to be the ‘Sidha symbol’ of worshipping for devotees in ‘Kaliyuga’ and his childlike image to remain forever.
The Birth, the Education & the Boon of Lord Shiva to Baba Balak NathBaba Balak Nath is believed to be a Re-incarnation of Lord Kartikeya son of Lord Shiva & Goddess Parvati, born Sat-Yuga (Time Frame in Hindu Scriptures) to annihilate demon Tarkasur. Dear to Goddess Ganga & came on the Earthly Abode as the son of a Pandit (Name Prefix for Brahmins) Vishnu and Lakshmi, in Kathiawad Junagadh, Gujarat. The childless couple was granted a baby-boy as a Boon by Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati for the meditation & medicated prayers performed by the couple, at Girnar. The boy was named ‘Dev’. Dev later on became completely devoted to ‘Bhagvad devotion’. He got his formal education in Kashi here he mastered & recited Vedas. Back in Junagadh, He meditated on Lord Shiva. On a matter of marriage proposal, He left home to attain eternity & ‘Parma Sidhi’. Under the guidance of Guru Dattatreya, he learnt the attained mastership in concept of ‘Sidhas’. On attaining the ‘Sidha’, Dev became popularly known as BABA BALAK NATH.
Another Narration regarding BABA in LocaleAnother narration goes as: The Child was named "Bal Shiva" by Pandit Vishnu and Lakshmi. Bal Shiva was no ordinary child and was very dear to Vishnu and Lakshmi. At an age of 5 yrs however, other parents started complaining about him and one day Lakshmi could not bear it and slapped him. After this incident, during the night Bal Shiva left the house and decided to go back to his eternal parents Lord Shiva and Parvati. While he left the house the peacock which is Lord Kartikeya’s Vahana (Celestial Mount) also wished to accompany him but was refused. Lord Shiva and Parvati could see that Their son Bal Shiva was sad and so appeared before him and gave Bal Shiva a Singhi which was none other than Lord Shiva's Dumroo (a small hand-held drum). They also blessed him with a boon to be always of 12 years of age.
Meeting Guru DattatreyaAfter leaving Junagadh, Bal Shiva went to Vrindavan. Here he meditated to please Lord Shiva., Dattatreya was visiting Vrindavan with his disciples. When he saw a divine child (Bal Shiva) meditating, he was impressed by the Child's dedication and faith he took child Shiva as his disciple. It was then Bal Shiva came to Dattatreya ashram at Girnar.
A strange episode at Dattatreya AshramIt is said that once an old woman came to Dattatreya's ashram, wailing and looking for her lost child. She requested Guru to help her locate and find her child. Moved by her pathetic condition Guru promised her to get back the child unharmed, and asked of his disciples to find the child. All the disciples Looked around for the Child, with the aid of their Divine Powers, but were unable to locate the child. Then Guru asked of Bal Shiva to go & find the child, which he duly did & found the Child soon. In fact, He killed the demon (Ghori) in a duel, who had Kidnapped the old woman's child. Guru then renamed his favorite Disciple as Balak Nath.
Balak Nath Pursued his studies under Dattatreya for 12 years while travelling various places. Thereafter, Baba Balak Nath went to Haridwar.
King Bhartrihari & Temptation of Guru GorakhnathAt Haridwar Babaji meditated to please Goddess Ganga. On being satisfied with his meditation, Goddess appeared before Baba Balak Nath to bless him. BhartriHari was also blessed by Ganga. BhartriHari on being enlightened that Baba Balak Nath was no ordinary Saint, accompanied Baba to Tijara (Rajasthan) from Haridwar.
Baba in TijaraBaba and King BhartriHari stayed at the house of a Kumhara (Potter). Satisfied and happy with the Potter's devotion, Baba blessed him with a huge amount of hidden gold, which Kumhara unearthed after Baba had left. The Kumhara realized the miracle and Babaji's blessings. After leaving Tijara, BhartriHari went to Ujjain to meet his family.
Episode of VrindavanBabaji went to Vrindavan and sat in Samadhi (disambiguation). Meditating in deep Dhyana seeking the blessings of Lord Shiva. Being in Samadhi (disambiguation) for many years together, he was covered with the Soil (forming a mound on him). At this juncture Guru Gorakhnath visited Vrindavan with his disciples. He saw a divine child in Samadhi (disambiguation) and realized that he was no ordinary child. He was incited with a deep and strong desire temptation to convert the child into his disciple, as having a disciple as this child would fetch him great fame. Babaji, during Samadhi, could sense the plans of Guru Gorakhnath. Already having Dattatreya as guru, he could not accept Gorakhnath as his Guru. He disappeared from Vrindavan and re-appeared in Delhi using his celestial powers to avoid Guru Gorakhnath. “Since Babaji is none other than Kartikeya, he has Kankaneta (a goat as a ride) which can travel at the speed of mind.” In Delhi, Baba is believed to have sat in Samadhi on the banks of river Yamuna and had his Dhoona (ever-burning Holy Fire). River Yamuna is also believed to have come to seek the blessings of Babaji.
Meeting Mata Ratno in ShahTalaiIt is said a Vidhyapati (Scholar Teacher) once deeply meditated on Lord Shiva. On being pleased Lord Shiva left Kailash and served in the Vidhyapati's house. Also, Mata Parvati, longing to see her son Balak Nath, stepped, as Luhari (Ironsmith) Ratno, on the land of Shahtalai On the other hand, Baba also wished to meet his Mother and decided to come to Shahtalai. It is a popular legend in Shahtalai that on reaching the village, Baba took rest under a tree, where a snake sheltered him from the scorching sun.This miracle was witnessed by all the villagers of Shahtalai. Chanting Alakh Niranjan, Baba reached the House of Mata Ratno. He was pleased to reunite with his Mother, in form of Mata (Mother) Ratno. He requested her for a job at her place. She asked Babaji to take care of her cows. Thereafter, Babaji got the Name “Gopalak” (The Caretaker of the Cows) and is believed to be very dear to the cows
The Miracles at ShahtalaiThere is also the description of the miracle that in Shahtalai, Baba bought rains to help the farmers in the dry season. In fact the King of Bilaspur also sought the blessings of the Bal Shiva Yogi after he heard about Baba. It is a popular folklore, wherever the Bala Yogi walked a cloud went along sheltering him. The King of Bilaspur was amazed to see the clouds rendering service to Baba. People in Shah-talai became devotees of the Bal Yogi. Mata Ratno was very happy to have her son in service. Whenever she sees Babaji in meditation, she used to bring Roti (Chapati) and Lassi (made from churning curd and water) for him.
The Duel between Baba & Guru Gorakhnath againGuru Gorakhnath came with 125,000 disciples and stayed with the king of Bilaspur Bilaspur, Himachal Pradesh. The king Apprised him of the Divine Magical Powers of Bal Shiva Yogi with clouds rendering him service. Gorakh nath envisioned that this divine yogi is the same Balaknath, who escaped from him at Vrindavan. He decided to test the powers of the Bal Shiva Yogi. Baba welcomed Guru Gorakh nath and his disciples. Gorakhnath asked Baba to fetch water from Mountain of Dhaulagiri, and gave a vessel to Baba. Baba accepted his request and through his powers filled the Vessel with the Water. Baba discovered some magical power in the vessel that was trying to dissuade him, but by Shiva's grace, Baba saved himself from temptation. On being ordered to serve milk to all his Devotees, Baba called on cow Sundari (Divine Cow), & gave them a fill of Appetite. Gorakhnath and his disciples were amazed. Gorakhnath was still not convinced and to prove his superiority over Baba. He took tested Baba & tossed his deer skin high in the air. The deer skin went up high, sped away higher and disappeared. He then asked Baba to bring down the deer skin for him. Baba tossed his Chimta up and it tore the deer skin, Guru Gorakhnath tossed-up, in two halves. Now Babaji asked Guru Gorakh nath to get the Chimta back, Guru Gorakhnath desperately failed to get the Chimta back.
He ordered a forceful inquisition of Baba Balak Nath. when the followeres of Gorakhnath tore Baba's earlobe to put-on the ear-ring. Milk is said to have sprinkled out instead of blood. This miracle scared Guru Gorakhnath’s disciples. At the same time, Babaji escaped their grasp and hid in a secret cave, to avoid Guru Gorakhnath. It is believed that Bhaironnath and Bhartriharinath were also disciples of Guru Gorakhnath and after this incident they paid salutations to Baba. All the disciples abandoned Guru Gorakhnath and he soon realized the eternal truths about Baba. He bowed to Baba and left with Bhaironnath. BhartriHari remained with Baba. Baba gave Bhartrihari a divine fruit and asked him to give it to one he loved the most. Bhartrihari left for Ujjain with this divine fruit. Baba then went back to Shah-Talai and met Mata Ratno.
Babaji takes a Leave from Mother RatnoBaba came back to Shah-talai and meditated again deep on Lord Shiva. Meanwhile, the cows he used to take care, were left unattended for sometime. One day the cows ravaged fields of the village and villagers complained to Ratno demanding the compensation. Ratno came with the villagers to tree where Baba was meditating and asked for money in lieu of the food ( (Indian Flour Cake)Roti and Lassi (mix of Churned Curd & water)), she had given him for 12 years, as compoensation for the damage to the villagers. But that was again a miracle which the villagers witnessed, that fields were in unharmed state, which they were, before being ravaged by the cows.
It is said that after this, Baba dug his ForkChimta at the base of the tree, under which he used to meditate. The Chapattis served by Mata Ratno for 12 years came out. With another hit of Chimta (Fork), He bought out Lassi. After this Baba straddled his Vahana (Celestial Ride) Peacock and left for Dhaulagiri.
BhartriHari's realisation of the Eternal truth with the divine fruitKing Bhartrihari realized the divine and eternal truth with the divine fruit, given to him by Baba. ” No-one except the Lord Almighty was Lord of all and the Eternal Truth Thereof.” He came back to ShahTalai in search of Baba. Unable to find him there, he felt depressed and started praying for forgiveness. Babaji gave Darshan (divine appearance) to Bhartrihari and they both meditated at Dhaulagiri. It is believed that Banarsi Das was the first one to have Darshan (Divine Appearance of the Lord to the Devotee) of Baba Balak Nath. Baba gave him Vibhuti (The Sacred Ashes of the Holy Fire) from the Dhoona to remove the miseries of life. Jai Baba di.
Some Facts about Baba Balak Nath
1. Guru Gorakhnath could not win over Baba as Baba Balak Nath is none other than Kartikeya. Gorakhnath is a Navnath and was an incarnation of Hari Narayan. Dattatreya is the guru of Nath Sampradaya (Commune) and Baba Balak Nath was his disciple. Baba Balak Nath is not any of the Navnath. Baba Balak Nath is above Navanatha and all Navanatha come under him.
2. Kudnu (goat), offered at the temples of Babaji is none other than Kankaneta which can travel at the speed of mind. Varun gave it to Kartikeya, when he killed Tarakasur. The Kudnu is just offered (not killed) in Baba Balak Nath's temple.
3. Female Devotees are prohibited from entering the interiors of Baba Balak Nath temple. It is said that once Mata "Mother"Parvati, missing his son Kartikeya, took a form of cat and visited Junagarh to meet Bala Shiva. Bala Shiva played a lot with the cat. The cat left after sometime. After 1–2 days when Babaji missed Mata Parvati, he came to Kailash to meet her and saw scratches on Mata Parvati's face. Babaji enquired Mata about this, to which Mata informed that she had taken the form of cat to meet Babaji and he gave her (as a cat) the scratches through his hands. Babaji soon realized that ladies are very delicate and Baba is coarse like stone. So he prohibited women from entering his durbar. This has been mentioned by Ramakrishna Paramhansa in his book Jyoti.
4. Peacock as a Vahana was gifted to Kartikeya by Rishi (Sage) Garuna. The peacock was Rishi Garuna's son Chitravarhana.Baba Balak Nath ji is blessed by Lord Shiva that he will always remain 12 years old. That is why Baba Ji devotees remember him fom the name of Baba Balak Nath.
Sidh Baba Balak Nath Temple Trust
1. Temple has a trust namely ‘Sidh Baba Balak Nath Temple Trust’ that keeps a watch on the functioning of the temple. ‘Mela’s are organized during Holi festival. Every Sunday is considered auspicious day of Babaji and consequently attracts huge devotees on this day.Food becomes available for public at about 11 a.m. Food in ‘Langar’ can also be had in evening after the prayer.
Sri Rajarajeswari Peetam, Rush, New York
( Sri Vidya Temple Society )The Rajarajeswari Peetam in Rush, New York is a Hindu temple that practices the teachings of SriVidya. Sri Chaitanyananda Natha Saraswathi (or Aiya, as they call him) is the peetathipathy of the temple along with Gnanamba (or Amma,) his wife. Aiya is a disciple of Sri Amritananda Natha Saraswathi who is the Peetathipathy of the Devipuram temple. The temple was originally founded in Zambia, then later moved to the Aiya's home in Rush in New York state before the current, purpose-built temple was constructed
The temple and its community have been the subject of an in-depth study by Corrine Dempsey
The Sri Rajarajeswari temple located in Rochester NY is situated on 23 acres of rolling verdant grounds that are dotted with various outdoor shrines dedicated to Lord Ganesha, Lord Bhairavar and Lord Shiva in the form of the Shiva lingam. The temple has a beautiful idol of Sri Rajarajeswari installed as the main deity surrounded by other deities typical to a Saivite temple such as an exquisite Lord Nadaraja with his consort Sivakamasundari and beautifully detailed idols of the nine planets.The temple is relatively unique to North America, functioning as it does as a teaching temple where instruction in the Sanatana Dharma rituals, according to the Sri Vidya tradition, is taught freely to all those who are interested regardless of caste or creed.
Another unique feature of this temple is the opportunity for devotees to touch the idols as part of their worship as well as personally perform the abishekam usually each Saturday and on festival days.
Over the years, a number of devotees have taken advantage of the teaching component of the temple and it is not uncommon to see daily pujas being performed by the young and the old of both sexes. This feature makes this temple truly a place of worship for all. The founder and the Chief Priest of the temple is Sri Chaitanyananda Natha Saraswathi or Haran Aiya.Please visit 'Guru Lineage'. On non festival days pujas are conducted thrice daily on weekday and Sundays with a homam and abishekam performed each Saturday. The Sri Yantra puja occurs each full moon day and the prathosham is performed twice a month. The temple conducts two festivals a year with the first falling usually in May while the second coincides with Navarathitri. Other festivals celebrated by the temple are; Sivarathri, Vinayaka chathurthi, Varalakaxhmi Puja and Thiruvambavai. For more information on festivals visit 'Regular Puja Schedule'.or 'Temple Calendar' As well as being a place of worship, the temple also functions as a venue for marriage ceremonies. For further information please contact the temple. The temple also caters to those who wish to expand their knowledge of Sanatana Dharma with a series of workshops aimed at adults and interested teenagers. Parents wishing to ensure that their children gain sufficient knowledge and an appreciation of their religion as well as culture are encouraged to sign up for the monthly classes conducted by Haran Aiya in Markham, Ontario. The temple also conducts a week long residential Saivite Immersion camp every August for children between the ages of 8 and 16. Details on all of the above can be found at 'Religious Education'.
Puja & Other Services
Other Available Services
Sri Vidya Temple
6980 East River Road
6980 East River Road
- Braid or tie loose hair firmly with a hairband.
- Leave shoes on the shoe rack.
- Dress modestly keeping the
Please consider wearing the sari, half-sari or dhoti, as these are the most auspicious and traditional forms of temple attire.
DEVOTEES MUST NOT:
- Enter the temple with shoes on.
- Enter the temple with loose hair.
- Wear shorts or overly revealing shirts or tank tops.
- Wear hats or caps.
hese important guidelines help in maintaining an atmosphere of respect, purity, and traditional spiritual culture. Please don’t hesitate to ask our volunteers any questions you may have about the guidelines.
If you need a hairband, shawl, or dhoti, please ask at the bookstore, and we will be happy to assist you. Thank you for your kind cooperation in this matter.
If you need a hairband, shawl, or dhoti, please ask at the bookstore, and we will be happy to assist you. Thank you for your kind cooperation in this matter.
Guru LineageThe Guru Lineage starts off with Dakshinamurthy (a teacher form of Shiva) who gave the knowledge Balatripurasundari, who gave it Dattatreya, and the lineage continued down until it eventually branched out to Srilasri Swaprakasananda Theertha Avadhootha, who gave it to Sri Amritananda Natha Saraswathi, who on Friday, Oct. 5, 1979 gave initiation to Sri Chaitanyananda Natha Saraswathi (Aiya).
Sri Chaitanyananda Natha Saraswathi (Aiya)The ninth and last child of Sri. Sinnayya Pillai Navaratnam and Smt. Kamalambal, Sri Wijayaharan (Aiya) was born into a family of Devi upasakas. Worship of the Mother had been continuing in his father's family for more than six generations, but was abruptly halted in 1918 after the sudden demise of Sri Wijayaharan's paternal aunt. Sri Haran learnt of the tradition at the age of ten, from his father.
The young Haran wanted to revive the rich tradition of Devi worship in his family. The Devi's Blessings were with him the moment the desire to worship the Mother took form in his young heart.
After having graduated from the famous Jaffna College, Sri Haran received Shadakshara mantra dhiksha from the late Srilasri Sivasachithananda Mathaji, a paramahamsa sanyasini, the disciple of Srilasri Sivananda Saraswathi. He imbibed knowledge of the ritualistic practices under the tutelage of Sri Mataji and her disciple Srimati Selvanayaki Kalyanasundaram at the Sivananda Tapovanam in Thirukoneswaram.
Aiya emigrated to Zambia to work as an architect for the Government in Lusaka. In this small town, he met a few South Indian families and was touched by the true devotion for the divine that he found in them. The families assembled regularly for Satya Sai bhajans and Friday bhajans and the Haran family decided to commence regular Puja with the ever growing circle of devotees and so, in 1976, regular chanting of the Lalita Sahasranama was started.
It was in Lusaka that Aiya met his present Guru, Srilasri Amritananda Saraswathi (Dr.N.P.Sastry) from Andhra Pradesh. He was overwhelmed by the compassionate eyes and depth of feeling he felt when he was first introduced to Sri Amritananda. He noticed Sri Amritananda performing the dashamudras during the recitation of the Lalita Sahasranama and decided to ask him for initiation into Sri Vidya. Sri Wijayaharan was showered with the grace and the priceless mantra on the Poornima day, Friday, Oct. 5, 1979. Sri Amritananda performed an 8 hour Navavarana puja at Aiya's house and initiated Aiya and his wife Srimati Sakuntala with the mantras. Aiya was then taught the intricacies of performing the various aspects of the mahayagna called the Navavarana puja.
Aiya moved to the United States in 1980. Named the "Kanchi Peetam" initially, the Peetam now known as the Sri Rajarajeswari Peetam was established in his own house. Worship of the Devi has been continuing at the Peetam and waves of devotees started to flock to Here. In the early part of 1981, during the morning puja, Aiya experienced Poornabhishekam by the Devi Herself and was given the dhiksha name of Sri Chaitanyananda. His wife Srimati Sakuntala was named Gnanamba. In that same year, during the Navaratri celebrations on the seventh evening, the Devi left an impression of a conch in Sri Chaitanyananda's right palm. And in 1984, Sri Chaitanyananda received the call to compile a comprehensive text on the intricacies of the Navavarana puja. Having tirelessly worked on this book for an entire year, the first edition was offered to Her lotus feet during the Sharada Navaratri.
Sri Gnanamba (Amma)Amma is the eldest daughter of Sattanathar Kumarasamy and Rajammah. Born in a village Thambachettyponpeedro in Eezham, she is the eldest of nine children. She was initiated into the Shiva Panchaksharam by Shiva Sachidananda Mataji in 1963 when she was studying in Ramanathan college in Chunnakam. She married Aiya in 1970 at Kadhirgamam in Ceylon and accompanied Aiya to Zambia in 1971. Amma was initiated into Sri Vidya by Guruji on October 5, 1979. She received Purna Diksha along with Aiya and was named Gnanamba by the Devi. In her ancestry is one of the greatest Tamil luminaries - "Sadhavadhani" Kadhirvel Pillai, a person who could concentrate on one hundred different things at the same instant. He is well known for his literary works, especially his commentary on Tiruvacakam, which has no equal to date. Amma plays the supporting role of an upasaka to the hilt and she teaches by example.
Sri Chaitanyananda and Gnanamba have opened their hearts, home and the Peetam to all devotees who hail from every part of the world. Aiya's love for Tamil literature, Carnatic music and vedic incantations flows out through the unique style of worship that he has developed. The Sri Rajarajeswari Peetam has mothered more than 100 affiliated Peetams all over the world.
Sri Amritananda Natha Saraswathi (GurujiSri Amritananda Natha Saraswathi (Dr.N. Prahalada Sastry) was born in Visakhapatnam, the first child of Sri Narasimha Rao and Srimati Lakshminarasamma. Guruji, as he is fondly referred to, started his spiritual quest at a very young age. Blessed with divine experiences early in his childhood,his young mind was teeming with questions, searching for the truth. The stage was set for his spiritual inclination that was to intensify later in life.
In the course of time, his interest turned to science. He graduated from the Andhra University with a masters in Nuclear physics and received his doctorate from the University of Bombay, while working at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. Guruji spent 23 years at TIFR, involved in research. In the final years there, he was working on a defense project for the air defense. But his spiritually inclined conscience was not comfortable with the destructive nature of his research.
In the meantime, in 1977, Guruji visited the Balaji temple in Hydrabad. He went in and prostrated before the Lord. He felt an extreme thrill pass through his body; and Guruji had his first intitiation from Balaji, that is Balatripurasundari. This proved to be the turning point in his life. After deep thought, he decided to look into the spiritual aspects a little deeper and devote time to work for the upliftment of society. He received SriVidya Poorna Dhiksha from Sri Swaprakashananda Natha Thirtha Avadhutha of Anakapalli. And he was showered with the Grace of Devi Saraswathi and given the dhiksha name of Sri Amritananda Natha Saraswathi.
Involved in defense research at TIFR, his mind was in search of the truth within himself. It was at this juncture that he was offered a position of Professor of Physics at the University of Zambia in Zambia. Realising that this was an opportunity to take a fresh look at one's self, he accepted a two-year contract to work in Zambia. It was there that Guruji met his "spiritual son", Sri Wijayaharan and accepted him as his disciple, in SriVidya upasana.
Guruji returned to India in 1981. He resigned from TIFR and settled down in Vishakapatnam, into SriVidya upasana and worship of the Devi. He slowly started working on means to help improve the standard of living of his fellow men.
In 1983, during Devi yagna, Guruji was approached by the brothers of the Putrevu family, with a request to build a temple for the divine Mother. In addition to the 3 acres (12,000 m2) of land that they had donated, Guruji bought the adjoining 10 acres (40,000 m2) and it was registered as land for the Devi temple. Having acquired the land, Guruji was looking for divine guidance, a sign of approval to commence construction of the temple.
Guruji had visions of the Devi as a sixteen-year-old girl. With Her Blessing's, he built the Kamakhya Peetam on the hillock and a Siva temple on the peak, in 1984. Construction of the Sri Meru Nilaya in Devipuram was started in 1985. Built covering an area of 108 square feet (10.0 m2), the temple has 3 levels and stands 54 feet (16 m) tall. The temple has the idols of all the Devis described in the Devi Khadgamala stotra. The temple construction was completed in 1994 and the kumbhabhishekam celebrated with great pomp and piety. This temple is unique in allowing the devotees to perform puja to the Devi themselves, without distinction of caste or creed.
Srilasri Swaprakasananda Theertha Avadhootha (Gurugaru)Fondly known to his disciples as Gurugaru, Swami Srilasri Swaprakasananda theertha avadhootha was born in 1915 in a small village, Vidurbarthi in Andhra Pradesh. Hailing from the Dattatreya lineage, Sri Swaprakasananda had not received any formal education, yet with the Mother's Blessings, has vast knowledge of the Vedas and Sastras and is well versed in Sanskrit.
Sri Gurugaru came in contact with some of India's finest spiritual gurus during his twentieth year. He received Dhiksha from Sri Poornananda Yogi, a disciple of the Tibetan guru, Maru Maharishi. He was introduced to SriVidya upasana by Sri Kesari Kameswara Rao of the Madhvacharya sampradaya. In his 32nd year, Sri Gurugaru received Dhiksha in the mahavidyas of Sri Rajarajeswari, Vanadurga and Saptasathi Chandi. He attained Poorna dhiksha from Sri Gnanananda Saraswathi of Anakapalli.
He travelled the length and breadth of India to enhance his spiritual knowledge. By the time he was 40 years old, he had mastered the 64 tantras, from Orissa and Rajamandri. At 43, he had learnt 70 million mantras from the teachings of 18 peetams and many gurus. He spent a few years in Kasi contemplating and analysing the source of the mantras he had learnt. He was greatly aided by Sri Dakshinamurthi Paramahamsa of Lalithanagar, Vishakapatnam.
In addition to the siddhis he had already received, he became a vedic scholar at the age of 58 with the grace of Chintamani Mahavidyeswari.
By 1980, in his 65th year, Sri Gurugaru felt the urge to renounce the material world and take up sanyasi. To this end, he travelled to the Sri Bhadrakali Mahapeetam at Haridhwar's Saptarishi sarovar. Sanyasa dhiksha was showered on him by Srilasri Kalyanananda Bharathi theertha Maharaj. Years later, with his Guru's blessings, Sri Gurugaru took up the Avadhootha Ashram.
Sri Gurugaru attained Maha Samathy on Gurupoornima day year 2003.
Om Tat Sat
(My humble salutations to the great devotees , wikisources and Pilgrimage tourist guide for the collection )