There is more than one path to the top of the mountain.
This past weekend I had the opportunity to visit the Devi Mandir, the Temple of the Divine Mother, hidden deep in the wooded hills near Napa, California. This is holy ground. The Gurus here are Shree Maa and Swami Satyananda. Their practice is Bhakti, devotion to God. Theirs is a practice of love, joy, and selfless service.
When I visited, on Saturday evening devotees gathered and Shree Maa and Swami Satyananda led everyone in singing devotional songs. There was a feeling of fun, of enjoyment in the room. A smile broke out on my lips and in my heart.
Then, on Sunday morning, beginning at 5:30 AM, Shree Maa, once again, sang prayers and songs to God, joined by her devotees. At 9:30 AM they began recitation of the Chandi Path, the Durga Saptashati - the 700 Verses to the Divine Mother - which takes hours to complete. Reciting the Chandi Path is one of their main practices. In this temple, there is nearly constant devotional practice, whether in the form of song, prayer, chanting mantras, meditation, cooking for people or doing household duties.
Swami Satyananda is an accomplished practitioner, scholar and teacher. He’s authored dozens of books, and is ebullient and funny. Shree Maa combines a child-like joy with deep internal quiet and a luminous presence. Swami Satyananda and Shree Maa have been honored guests at Swami Veda’s Ashram in India many times.
Later this year, I am planning on leading a pilgrimage to the Devi Mandir for people who would like to visit this holy place. Please contact me if you’re interested.
For more information about the Devi Mandir, see www.ShreeMaa.org.