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Holy Pilgrimage - Hindu temples in USA  

Bhavani Charitable Trust, Collegeville, PA

A Hindu Shrine In Collegeville, PA

Bhavani Charitable Trust
460 Wartman Road
Collegeville, PA 19426

Welcome to the Bhavani Charitable Trust, home of the Bhavani Mandir and Hanuman Mandir.

Puja and Aarti are currently conducted Saturday afternoon at 4PM All are welcome and visitors are expected!
Browse through this site to learn about Bhavani Charitable Trust, interesting stories, newsletters, Servies, Dr. Pidara and much more.

A Brief History Of The Shrines

   These shrines represent a dream of Dr. Pidara's from his  childhood growing up in the small town of Raya, District Mathura, U.P. India,  between  1939 and 1946; There is a small Mahadeva temple behind the houses of eight  landowners of that town; He used to spend lot of his time alone in and around  that shrine and also in the Gopali temple;  Later, the family moved to the city of Mathura;  Swatantra Kumar Pidara finally moved to the USA in 1968; In; 1977 March,  he began to perform pujas, kathas and sanskaras to help the Hindu community.;  No charge was made for these services, but any contributions were kept  separately and dedicated towards his dream. He was guided and  encouraged in this endeavor by Swami Nisreyasananda of Ramakrishna Mission from  South Africa and Rhodesia. This continued until Swami's death in 1991. Swami actually visited the site on Oct.20, 1990. In 1982, Dr. Pidara  looked for a small piece of land for the future shrine, and  found 3.2 acres of; land near  Collegeville.  Tom Scheetz, the building inspector, and Mr. Arthur King, the chairman of the Zoning Board gave him  proper guidance and helped when needed. Urged by Shri K.C.Tewari, a  devotee of Baba Neem Karoli and his own childhood mathematics teacher, Dr.  Pidara  purchased the land for $12000 from Mr. Charles Fridy in May 1984. The money  had been received without solicitations from 300 pujas between the years 1976-1984.The first contribution actually came from a Jewish coworker Laurie Levy  who took Dr. Pidara to the land in those early days. The Trust acquired the  non-profit corporation status in July 1982 in the state of Pennsylvania with the  help of Arnold and Janet Falk. Two Armenian ladies Ruth and Esther gave $3000  for the Trust. Zoning variance was received in April 1983. Attorney Roger Ashodian with the help from IRS agent Sylvia Pratt obtained the 501C (3) exempt  status in 1984. Montgomery County granted the tax-exempt status in Nov.  1997. In  March 2000, the Trust was granted the Church status by the IRS. Mr. Faquir C.  Mittal, Jyoti Ratnaparakhi, B.R.Shukla, Ira Mishra, Anil Wali, Jaipal Rathi and  Anant Shah ably served the Trust as the officers and the members of  the Trust during their years of active participation.
 The first puja on the open site took place on 18August 1984. The next puja took place on 21s1 Oct. 1984. In March 5, 1985, it was decided to hold a puja  every month from May to Oct.    Hinduism classes were held at the house of Viswanath Pillai for three years. The first Newsletter was printed on 3rd  June 1982 and since that day about 4 or 5 Newsletters were published every year  containing material on religion, morals, ethics, history, myths, songs,  ceremonies and cultural outlooks of the Hindus. On July 31, 1987 a well known  saint and swami, Shri Swanandashrama Ji of Bolpur visited the site and  conducted a puja. On 23rd March 1993 at the behest of Shri  K.C.Tewariji, Avinash and Maiini Mude took the 10 inches  tall image of Durga in snow and conducted the installation puja. On account of  severe snow and absence of the octagonal shrine, the image was brought back and  the worship was carried out every day till its final installation. The image  was inaugurated after the Devi's installation on Akshaya Tritiya day on 25th  April 1993. Two littlegirls, Richa Mishra and Hanna Mude performed  the puja under the guidance of the  priest Dr. Pidara. About 59 people attended the bhandam. Dr. Pidara had  already carved the Hanuman image  during this period, which was installed and inaugurated on Vijayadashami day on  24th October 1993. (The Hanumanji Murti was carved by hand in  clay by Dr. Pidara, and then later cast in Bronze.) Lakshmi and Vishu Pillai, Savita and Girish  Hatwal, Manorama and Dinesh Tewari, Kamana and santosh Katiyar, Alka Arun  Agrawal, Ranjana & Indresh Shrivastava, Lakshmi  Parth Khattri, Chandani ;  Shashi Dani, Ira Om Prakash Mishra and Borkar and Mukhopadhyaya families offered lots of ahutis in the  havan. In July 1999, the Hanuman shrine was built with Kalyan Som as the architect and Ron Rinker as the  builder and they dida good job. Swami Sathyananda Sarswathi of  Ram Das Ashram, Trivindram conducted a puja and blessed everybody's efforts on 2nd  September 2000.  About six to eight pujas are carried out every year marking 25th  April as the Inauguration day, Guru Purnima in honour of Swami Paramananda  Maharaj of Rewari, Anant Chaturdashi day in honour of Baba Neem Karoli Maharaj,  Vijayadashami day in honour of Shirdi Sain, Deepavali, and the 23rd  November as the birthday of Sathyasain Maharaj.The plans have always been for developing  the place into a University and a hermitage. During all these years, lots of  people have been served by way of grants for their education and relief in their  hard times. Dr. Pidara told the Zoning Board that the money will not be raised  by usual tactics and will come selflessly by people seeking prayers, or through  ceremonies without any solicitation, or trustees selflessly helping people in  their sickness etc.
At present, here are the officers of the Trust:
S.K.Pidara                    Collegeville,PA      President and the Priest
Mahesh Gaitonde         Collegeville, PA     Vice President
Sunil Mehta                  Durham, NC         Treasurer
Santosh Katiyar            Laffyette Hill,PA    Secretary
Faquir C. Mittal             Audubon, PA        nonvoting Life Member
Jyoti Rantaparakhi                                   nonvoting Life Member    
Bhanushanker Shukla   Allentown, PA       nonvoting Life Member
Dr. Dinesh Tewari                                    Trustee
Mrs. Sweta Bhadra                                  Trustee

Hindu Holidays Celebrated at the
Hanuman Mandir

We have begun a practice of reading one chapter of  Shri Sai Satcharita (in English) and one section of Miracle of Love before Puja. Please join us.  To access the temple at other times, contact Dr. Pidara at: raghuvar1939@yahoo.com or by phone 267-975-4707.

To arrange for indidual pujas at the temple or at your home, for weddings, and all other religiuous ceremonies, contact Dr. Pidara at: raghuvar1939@yahoo.com or by phone 267-975-4707.


In addition to the Weekly Puja each Saturday Dr. Pidara is available to perform a variety of religious services at the Temple or at your home.  There is never a charge for these services, though donations are always appreciated.

Services include but are not limited to:

Puja for specific deities:  Shiva, Vishnu, Rama, Krishna, Hanuman, Durga [both in summer and autumn], Lakshmi, and Sarawati
Five day worship of Deepvali
Shalakarma vidhi: Shilanyaasa, Grihapravesaha
Fire Sacrifices
Reacings of Ramacharit manas of Tulisdas
Rading of Bhagawat Purana
Reading of Durga Satashati
Reading and Conducting Satyanarayana Katha and Puja
Reading Vishushastranaama
Reading Shatrudriya

16 Samaskaras:
     Pre Birth: Garbhaadhana
     4th Month:  Pumsavana
     8th Month:  Seemantonnayana
     After Birth:  Jaatkarma
     Naming a Child:  Namakarana
     Taking the Child Out:  Nisharamana
     Feeding in 6th month:  Annapraashana
     1st or 3rd year:  Choodaakarma
     3rd or 5th year:  Karna and nasika vedhana
     5th to 9th:   Upanayana
     9th year:  Veadarambha
     Return after Education:  Smaavartana
     After education:  Vivaaha
     Retiring from householder:  Vaanaprastha
     After forest dwelling:   Sanyaasa
     After Death:  Antyeshti

To arrange for any of these or other services, contact Dr. Pidara directly at raghuvar1939@yahoo.com or by phone 267-975-4707.

Contributions for the support of the Shrine, including its charitable works can be made to:
                                    Bhavani Charitable Trust
                                    460 Wartman Road
                                    Collegeville, PA 10426

Puja at the Temple Every Saturday at 4PM
from Temple’s News Letter
Savitri and Satyavan
"Once upon a time, in the kingdom of Madra, there was a king called Ashvapati.   He did not have any child, so he prayed to Devi Savitri, the very Energy of god Sun for 18 years.   One day the goddess was pleased and granted him the boon of having a daughter.   Within a short period after that the queen Malawi got pregnant and a daughter was born.   They named her Savitri in view of the prayers to Devi Savitri.   She grew up in no time, and once after her prayers visited her father in the royal court.   The father told her: "Dear daughter, so far no one has come forward to seek you in marriage and I have read in the holy books and have heard from the priests that the wise men do not consider three persons worthy of honour, and these three are: A son who does not take care of a widowed mother; a husband who does not grant a child to his wife, and a father who does not give his daughter away in marriage.   So you must go and search for a suitable person, then come and tell me and I shall you marry you off."
Savitri went in search of the boy and one day she returned.   At that time, her father was talking to sage Narada.    Seeing her of marriageable age, Narada asked the king: "How come she is not married yet." The king replied:   "Sir, ask her whom she has chosen as her would be husband."   Savitri said: "Father I have picked/selected Satyavan - the son of the blind king Dyumatsen, who has lost his kingdom and is now living in a forest."   Narada said: "King, this is no good."   The father asked the sage if there were any defects in her choice.   Narada said, "He has only one defect that he will die one year from today." Upon hearing that, the concerned father asked Savitri to pick another worthy boy.   But she said, "Father, only once a thing is broken and not twice; only once a daughter is given in marriage and not twice; and only once a thing is given as gift and you don't retract a gift and gift it away the second time.   My mind is made up to accept Satyavan as my husband and I am not going to change my heart and pick another person."  Upon that, Narada told the king, "Look, let her marry the boy. I will take care of the rest."
Soon the king went to the forest and after talking with and convincing Dyumatsen gave Savitri in marriage to Satyavan.   She gave up all her royal paraphernalia and lived as a forest woman, served her parent-in-laws and pleased her husband.   But she continued to count the days.   When only four days were left, she decided to observe a three day fast.   On the fourth day, the father-in-law said, "Daughter, now break your fast."   She said to him, "I will do so after the sun is set."   She gave gifts to the Brahmins and they blessed her to have an unending marital fortune.   Just at that time, her husband came there with an axe on his way to the forest to collect and fetch some wood for the kitchen and sacrificial fires.   She told her husband, "My lord, don't go alone today to the forest. I want to go with you. I don't feel like leaving you alone today."   Satyavan asked her to obtain permission from his father as he was blind.   The father-in-law told her, "You have never asked for anything in one year, so go and take care of your husband."   In the jungle while Satyavan was cutting the wood, because of scorching heat he came down and complained about a splitting headache.   Savitri placed the head of Satyavan on her thighs and counted the days and time.   Suddenly she noticed a divine personality and she got up and asked, "Sire, you are not an ordinary person.  Who are you?   Why have you come?"   Yama the God of Death said, "I am Yama and have come to fetch the soul of your husband."   She said, "How come, you came, instead of your messengers?" He said, "Your husband is a great soul.   My messengers could not do the job.   Now you go and cremate the body."
Savitri said, "0! The King of Moral Laws, it is the ancient law that where my husband is taken or he takes me, I must go there.   I have been prayerful, have served the elders, have loved my husband, have been committed to my husband, and by your grace and kindness I can go anywhere.   I have heard that one need to walk only one step with a good man and it leads to friendship, and because of this friendship with you now I say something to you.   Please listen.   All morality leads to liberation [moksha], and that can be observed in any of the four stages [that of a student, or a householder, or a forest-dweller, or a recluse /monk] of human life.   I want to achieve that liberation while staying as a householder.   So please don't block my path."   Yama said: "O! Beautiful girl, your words have no defect and are very logical.   So I grant you one boon but not the life of Satyavan."   She asked him to restore the eyesight and strength of her father-in-law.   Yama granted that and asked her to go back as she must be quite tired.
Savitri said: "I am not tired when I am in the company of my husband.   They say that to have the company of good people even once is the most desirable thing.   Good people become friends quickly and their company is always fruitful. That is why one must seek the company of good people and for this very reason I am in your company."   Yama said, "O! Princess, you can even enlighten the wisemen. You speak pleasing things to the heart.   Ask for one more thing except your husband."   Savitri said: "I want my father-in-law to get his lost kingdom back and he may remain fixed on moral road."   Yama said: "It is granted, but you must go back now otherwise you may have to suffer much hardship."
Savitri said: "Sir, you always lead everybody to the right path.   And you know well that the good people never cause suffering to anybody either by speech, or by action or by mind, they are always kind to all, and they give gifts to everybody.   That is their ancient custom and rule.   These people are even kind to their enemy, then how come you do not want to be kind to this helpless person like me."   Yama said, "O! Savitri, as a thirsty man is revived again after quenching thirst, so I am very much at peace.   O! Blessed faced girl, ask for anything except the life of Satyavan."   Savitri said that she wanted her father to have sons which may carry on his lineage.   Yama granted one hundred sons to her father and asked her to go back as she had traveled far.
Savitri said, "Sir, Nothing is too far for me.   My mind is racing further than that.   You are the son of God Sun and the most balanced person.   For you there is no distinction between a friend and an enemy. People don't trust themselves as much as they trust a good person.   That is why they seek friendship of a good person.   Friendship gives birth to faith and trust.   That is why they trust a good person.   With this trust in your goodness I speak to you."   Yama said, "O! Lovely girl, I never heard such words from anybody.   So I grant you another wish but not the life of Satyavan."  Savitri said, "O! The King of Morality, I want to have one hundred sons from Satyavan."   Yama granted her one hundred sons and reminded her to go back as she had come away too far.
Savitri said, "I know that among good people morality remains firm.   They never regret after giving their words.   That is why the company of good men is always fruitful.   Good people are never afraid of good people.   Because of their goodness even the sun gives us heat, earth does not shake, and past, present and future remain firm in their progression of time.   Good people never hurt a good man, and never want a return of their good deeds.   Their pleasure is always full of fulfillment.   They never dishonour anybody.   Poor man cannot give anything, rich man can give but does not honour, and bad person is never pleased.   But the good men are pleased, give gifts, and honour the recipient also.   That is why they are called the protectors."   Yama said, "Savitri, as you speak this way I am being won over by you.   So ask for anything."   Savitri said, "I don't want to have children from another man but from Satyavan, therefore you return Satyavan to me."   Yama granted her the wish and went back to his world.   Savitri returned with her husband to the hermitage and they all went back to the kingdom.   Whosoever reads or hears this tale gets all his or her desires fulfilled.   Our summarized tale ends here, and those who want to read its full version, they must look up Mahabharata v.2, pp.761-778, translated by J.A.B. Van Buitenen, published from the University of Chicago Press.

What is the experience of worship at the shrine
(By Henry Beck)

 (A Devotee’s speak)
For those who have never been to this small shrine, a devotee Henry, wanted to share something of his personal experience so that others could consider if a visit here is something that they would like to try out.
When I visit this shrine something happens.  I have not been able to put the experience into words.  Perhaps it is not an experience that others will have, but it is my experience.  If I spend some time sitting in the shrine, I leave somewhat transformed.  Not a miracle, maybe a small adjustment at the edges of my personality, but certainly enough to make it worthwhile.
I am not a Hindu by birth, so coming here does not bring me back to childhood memories.  I was not a great devotee of either Hanuman or Bhavani, though I have come to appreciate them.   I respect Baba Neem Karoli, but I am not certain that I consider him to be my guru.   I have visited traditional temples in the USA and India and usually enjoy the experience.  If there is anything to compare to this, and there is not, it is like a small rural shrine in India.  One can have an personal experience of worship and devotion.
Each of us approaches the Mandir with our own personality and temperament.  Mine varies from day to day and week to week.  At times I feel closer to God by service, which might include doing something for the web page, taking out the trash, or placing chandan on the deity.  At other times quiet meditation on the form of God, repeating mantra, or singing bring me closer to God. Sometimes it is good to just sit and appreciate.
The smaller of the two rooms is a gazebo which has been enclosed to protect the deities from the weather.  It is dedicated to Bhavani, a form of the Mother Goddes, though there are many other pictures and images here.   No more than four persons can sit in this shrine, so one has an intimate visit.  At the center of the wall is a statue of the Mother Goddess on a Lion, below her is Sri Chakra in beautiful crystal, and below that are three brass images of Lord Ganesh.  On the floor and in alcoves on the wall and above along the ceiling are pictures and images of other saints and deities.  When I sit alone, in this small room my glance goes from deity to deity and I remember different qualities that each represent for me.  One day I may focus on a small picture of Ramakrishna, another day Hanuman, and still another day the image of Sri Nathaji.  If I allow myself sufficient time (which is not always possible, because I sometimes stop here on my way to work) I permit myself to close my eyes and feel myself held in the love of the Devi.
This is not an elaborate Mandir with marble and gold.  There are not hundreds of devotees rushing in for a swift darshan and leaving after a few moments.  There are not dozens of priests in dhoti’s waiting to take your fee to make a puja.  Except on Saturday’s when Dr. Pidara conducts a Puja, one is usually alone here in worship.  A few have a key to open the doors and others can be listed to borrow a key from a nearby location.  The buildings are very simple temporary buildings made to function until such a time as the Trust has sufficient funds to build a proper temple, but for now they are more than sufficient. 
At this point in time there are no toilets or other bathroom facilities at the shrine.  If one is coming from a distance, it is a good idea to stop at the Wawa or Mobil station at the corner of Ridge Pike and Township Line Road to use their facilities before coming to the shrine. 
It is customary to wash one’s hands and feet before entering a Temple.  That is not required here, but for those who wish to wash, plastic bottles of well water are near the door.   
In warm weather there are pots of flowers growing near the entrance and one may pluck a flower to offer to the deity of their choosing.
Usually there is some Prasad left which anyone is welcome to share in.  Devotees may bring whatever they wish to offer, and all they are asked is that they leave the temple in the clean and tidy condition that they found it.  Visitors are asked to sign a log book kept in the Hanuman shrine.

Face Of Hanumanji in the forehead of Shri Baba Neem Karauli

This picture of Baba is from the page 354 of the older edition of Rajida's book called
अलौकिक यथार्थ  in Hindi.  Funnily the latest edition has the picture but Hanuman Ji is not there.   I think the book has been translated as Divine Reality.

Step by step way to look at Hanumanji

First look at the head of Baba.
Then look at the right eye of Baba
Now move up and you see the eye brow
Now see the whitish area just above where the nose ends into the forehead
Now move to the left of that white area
Now you will see a black spot and grey area and going up to the hairs.
Now you move up from the top of that black spot and at 1.5 milimeter you see an eye with its pupil directly looking at you.
Now you can't miss the whole contour of Hanuman's face with the black arch of his mouth right above the white area above in forehead where the nose ends.
If you can spot the eye and Hanuman's nose area and the depression of the other eye area THEN YOU CAN'T MISS HANUMAN JI.

The funny part is that many can't see and then there are those who have never heard of Baba are able to see it right away, as Leena Mody in Bombay. Here at our temple at first few could not notice and when I pointed where to look at they right away saw it. 

Japo jalpah shilpam sakalam-api mudraa-virachanaa,
gatih praadakshinya-kramanam ashanaat-aahuti-vidhih;
pranaamah samveshah sukham akhilam aatmaarpana-dashaa,
saparyaa-paryaayah tava bhavatu yat me vialsitam.
(Soundarya Lahari, Verse 27, by Sri Adi Sankaracharya ji)

A free Translation

"O Mother, all my actions, may be taken in the following manner:such as my useless talks as Your name's recitation, My physical labour as Your prayerful modes, my  walks as Your circumambulations, my eating food as an offering to You also, my restfulness as my prostration to You, and all other modes of enjoyments also as my dedications to You also.

This was very dear to Swami Nishreyasanandaji of Shri Ramkrishna Order  who influenced many of us from 1977 till 1991 at the time of his death.  In many ways He is responsible for all my religious work - the selfless services for the people, conducting ceremonies etc., and creation of this temple complex.   He actually marked this verse in my copy of the book and  also verse 78.  The same configuration is attributed to verse 34 and 69 which may be beneficial to people.   He marked many of the other  verses in my book. Among the people whose lives he touched, one was late Anant Shah, husband of Mrs. Bharati Shah and father of Sapna who is now married to Bill.   He actually served as one of the secretaries of the Trust.   

Dr. Swatantra K. Pidara

Dr. Swatantra K. Pidara is the visionary who has created this shrine and organizaiton.  This page is under construction and will have his story when the page is completed.
Pidaraji lost his leg to cancer as a youth.  He lives in Philadelphia and travels to the shrine by public transportation.  Here he arrives off the 93 bus with a friend in June 2004.
Dr. Pidara can be reached by email at:
or on his cell phone at:
267 975 4707
or a message can be left on the temple answering machine at
610 489 9109


Contact Dr. Pidara at: raghuvar1939@yahoo.com
or by phone 267-975-4707.

Contributions for the support of the shrine are always welcome and can be made by sending a check to:
Bhavani Charitable Trust
460 Wartman Road
Collegeville, PA 19426
The Bhavani/Hanuman shrine is located approximately 35 miles from the center of Philadelphia near Collegeville, PA.

460 Wartman Road
Collegeville, PA 19426

610 489 9109

Public transportation is also available by the 93 bus from Norristown 

Om Tat Sat

(My humble  salutations to the great devotees ,  wikisources  and Pilgrimage tourist guide for the collection )


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