Nirvana Tirtha
A day of generations and a living legacy
December 30, 2008

Sometimes grace blesses us with a glimpse of what we know deeply, but don’t often have a chance to witness, or to fathom, right before our very eyes. Nirvana tirtha was a such an opportunity. A day where one could see the most distant past, foresee far into the future, and know that you are not separate from it but a living part of it… all at once. The process of evolving, ascending, and transcending becoming evident; knowing and feeling that you are finally with your family.

This lineage is a living, breathing entity. It cannot be extinguished nor can it be overcome because it is in a perpetual state of emergence. It is a re-convergence of energies that honor, protect, support, and serve the path of love.

Swami Kripalu achieved Nirvana in December of 1981. And although often associated with Buddhism, the word nirvana is originally Sanskrit and from the path of Sanatan Dharma. Nir + Vana… to be free of the stuff… to extinguish. It is the ultimate freedom. Going home.

The anniversary of Swami Kripalu’s transcendence is celebrated as a joyful holiday in Malav. Being present during this celebration brings unique insights into our lineage and the cycle of love upon which it is based. It is a unique opportunity to experience love as a foundation that crosses multiple generations.

The day began with devoted followers filling the Kripalu Samadhi Mandir for Aarti in his honor and was presided over by our beloved Bapuji, Swami Shri Ashutosh Muni, and Prajna Ma. The devotion and love these people radiated still brings tears of joy to my eyes. The shrine of our grandfather guru Swami Kripalu was adorned with fragrant flowers, incense infused the air, powerful music permeated every atom of our being. And although two hours were required to permit all to pranam and offer their devotion, time seemed to stand still.

By mid morning, the festivities continued around a huge colorful tent constructed for the occasion on the ashram grounds. In the distance was the sound of countless firecrackers exploding and a huge cloud of smoke arose at the gate to the grounds. Long before the procession arrived you could feel the rising energy in the gathering crowd. There was an air of expectation and escalating joy, which was audible, visible, and palpable. In the distance a wave of people moved slowly along the drive… and then you saw Dadaji, our own Bhagawan Lakulish, rising head and shoulders above this flowing crowd, smiling, radiant, joyful, exuberant, and glowing, because he could see the vision unfolding.

As the crowd drew closer his form became more clear. A carved statue of the head of Lord Lakulish, shaded by an umbrella and being reverently born on a man’s head towards the center of the tent. Dadaji was positioned on stage and lovingly adorned and cared for by our Bapuji (and Swami Kripalu) who offered pranams then took their place on stage.

To experience the living reality of Lord Lakulish, Swami Kripalu and our Bapuji present all in the same place at the same time was like heavenly magic. Bapuji explained that this is how the lineage goes on. It is like the mango seed which when planted and nurtured, allows the next generation to continue the lineage, with succeeding generations standing on the shoulders of those who went before.

Over 5000 people gathered to listen to the address given in Gujarati by our Bapuji. Knowing that our Bapuji does not relish public attention or speaking, we watched him deliver his loving address to all those present with grace. And although Bapuji spoke mainly in Gujarati, it was abundantly evident that what was conveyed was not information; what he shared was knowledge. This knowledge of love and joy transcended all boundaries of language, whether Gujarati or English.

All who were in attendance enjoyed a wholesome and flavorful meal that was prepared with loving kindness. It was served family-style, as family meals should be.

There were some special moments that illustrated the message of the day. The first was when those of us from other countries sang a bhajan, Gurusevaa, written by Swami Kripalu in Gujarati and then in English for the entire ensemble. Looking out over the audience one could see the love and connection in their eyes even though we clearly did not pronounce every word properly. And when we sang in English, the effect was the same. Even though they did not know the words, they knew the meaning. Knowledge (love) was exchanged. Chanting the bhajan was simultaneously a unifying experience and an intensely intimate and personal experience. Another moment was during a five minute conversation I had with a local man. He spoke in fluent Gujarati while I spoke in fluent English. The fact that neither of us understood the other’s language was completely beside the point. The understanding that we shared was complete joy.

The recurring theme that echoed through the entire day was how the love and selfless devotion Swami Kripalu had spread throughout his life had been the natural outgrowth of the love and teachings he had received from Dadaji who in turn passed that love (spiritual wealth?) on to our Bapuji. Our Bapuji models this for us. He embodies our entire ancestry and lovingly nurtures its progeny. As our grandfathers before us have provided a foundation for successive generations it is our loving duty to become the next rung on the ladder so that our children may stand tall on our shoulders.

Following the path of our Bapuji…

Jim Tegeler (Purushottama)
Jahnvi Formisano