2018 Annual Update
From the Ashram President
We are in the home stretch of constructing Hanuman’s new home, the new temple for Hanuman and Maharaj-ji at the Taos Neem Karoli Baba Ashram. This beautiful new mandir is the culmination of thirty years of dedication, wishful thinking, prayers and plans, architects and permits, and builders.
Now nearing the end of construction, we are again plunged into uncertainty and tested by running out of funds so close to the finish line.
What to do? What is all this about? Is this just Maharaj-ji’s līla, His dance?
We’re in our same fundraising dilemma, because our Mother in India, Siddhi Ma, who died last December and whose samadhi was just dedicated at Kainchi, told us not to ask people for money. She said you can let people know the need but don’t ask. If you ask people for money, the next time they see you all they will think about is being asked for money. Not about love or devotion.
All of this is Maharaj-ji’s teaching about Hanuman. He has given us Hanuman as a great model for our service and devotion, seva and bhakti. There is a deep association between Maharaj-ji and Hanuman. All of Maharaj-ji’s ashrams are built around Hanuman temples. There are devotees who actually experienced Maharaj-ji and Hanuman as one and the same.
Ram Dass and Rameshwar das in deep discussion about Hanuman-ji
I keep returning to Ramakrishna’s quote about Hanuman from the Ramayana. Rām says to Hanuman, “Who are you, monkey?” Hanuman replies, “When I don’t know who I am, I serve you. When I know who I am I am you.”
Hanuman embodies selfless service and devotion to God so much that he becomes One. He’s a monkey who becomes the great hero of the Ramayana because he knows the real power is Rām, is God. Rām is love.
May we all become like Hanuman. That is what this is about.
Love and blessings,
END OF A SAGA
Our beloved Mother, Param Pujyaniya Siddhi Ma left for Her journey to a faraway distance, a place which has no name or destination. It is the original source called “The Primordial.”
She shed her physical form in the morning of 28th December, 2017 at 4:30 AM, at Her abode in Nanital, called “Tirtham’. At the time of Her demise, Sushri Jaya Prasad and her domestic help were present. As per the Indian calculation, a new day is counted after sunrise; therefore, it was concluded that Her date of death was to be taken as 27th December 2017.
Pujyaniya Siddhi Ma’s mortal remains were brought to Rishikesh Ashram in the late evening of 28th December 2017 for devotee’s darshan. She was cremated in the afternoon of 29th December 2017 on the bed of the pious Ganges River at Haridwar, in the presence of Her loving devotees who had come from all over the country to pay their last respects.
Post Maharaj-ji (Nirvana year 1973), Pujyaniya Ma had quietly taken the charge of furthering the work of her Guru. She had taken the organization to great heights, far beyond expectations and groomed, trained and inspired generations of devotees at various levels to keep the God’s work going.
– Rabboo Joshi
Honoring Sri Pujyaniya Siddhi Ma
On Dec. 28, we will honor Sri Siddhi Ma with a Mahasamadhi Bhandara. Bhajans, kirtan and Sundarakhand chanting will follow morning Aarti. Bhandara prasad will be served at 1:08 p.m.followed by more kirtan and Ma bhajans
Guru Datt Sharma
Guru Datt Sharma was a close devotee of Maharj-ji.
In the summer of 1998, Baba’s two tireless devotees, JR and Radha, brought Guru Datt to visit the Taos Ashram. It was a magical time for everyone as Guru Datt-ji like a flower emanating the sweet nectar of Maharaj-ji attracted all of the devotee bees around him.
Hanuman Das shares some impressions from that time:
“I remember that not long before Guru Datt’s visit, Siddhi Ma had told me that we should do the whole aarti in Taos instead of just singing Jaya Jagdeesh Hare. She suggested that if the full prayers to Devi and Shiva were too much for the Taos devotees to learn, then we could omit them, but that we should be sure to include the prayers to Hanuman and the Vinaya Chaleesa. I started singing the longer prayers but no one knew them and it wasn’t really catching on. When Guru Datt came, he put the prayers in the current order and helped everyone learn to sing them.”
Jai Ram Ransom
by Ganga Ram
The day before Jai Ram Ransom died of a heart attack on the 10th of February in Chaing Mai, Thailand we had spoken on the phone for about an hour. That wasn’t unusual, we always had lots to talk about. You see Jai Ram (JR) was a devotee with a passion for truth and love. His devotion for life was expansive: Neem Karoli Baba, his late wife Radha, technology and food! Although the list is longer, his affection and enthusiasm for life was apparent to all who knew him.
JR had an uncanny way to bring almost any conversation around to Maharajji. It was as if JR wanted Maharajji near, to witness the events of our lives. That devotion spilled over to those around who could appreciate the joy of speaking about Him. All Abides in Love was JR’s way of putting that devotion in writing. Sure he had his fixed opinions about his guru (we all do) and wasn’t afraid to share them.
JR was incessantly late – he was even late for his own funeral! It was almost a month after he was cremated that we were able to consign his ashes to Jamuna Ji in Vrindavan where we had previously immersed Radha’s remains.
As the funeral party approached Pani Ghat a blustery wind swept across the Parikrama Marg; it began to subside as we performed the puja and became quiet once Jai Ram’s ashes were floating in the river. Finally, a most unusual rain began to pour. Obviously Hanumān-ji and Maharaj-ji were in attendance.
Jai Ram’s presence was also felt and his request was fulfilled according to his instructions by the near and dear.
by Tara Danon
Devi will be remembered for the devotion she showed and shared at the Hanuman Temple in Taos.
For many years she organized and performed the Ma Puja on the nine nights of Navaratri, with a special emphasis on how beautifully she treated the Kumaris.
Her creativity came through with fabulous and unforgettable cake creations made to honor Hanuman on Jayanthi, His birthday.
She lovingly made rose petal malas that were collected from the temple room each year and she offered them to the puja dukan.
She was an amazing sevak and contributed so much to our community.
JAI MA! She is definitely with Baba now!
Paul Ramana Das Silbey
by Marilena Silbey
May 30,1938 – October 27, 2016 Somewhere in the early 70’s, Paul Silbey became Ramana Das, having received his name from Baba through Ma Jaya aka Joya. Along with many of Baba’s devotees, Ramana Das was an Incarnation of Hanuman! He was a true servant of the Divine, especially serving the Goddess in her many forms. He was present for the partial uncrating celebration for Hanuman-ji and returned to the Taos Temple on many occasions over the years. He lived by the motto, “Love, Surrender, Service and Devotion”.
When asked about the meaning of Ramana Das, he would reply, “Manifestor of Delight!”
Ram Giri Braun
by Durga Sanchez
Born in Germany in February of 1951, Ram Giri inherited the aftermath of WW II and the Holocaust, making him seek effective ways to end his suffering. In 1972, he met his guru Maharaj-ji Neem Karoli Baba, who showed him that enlightenment was his true nature, and the nature of all beings. Profoundly inspired by this liberating love, Ram Giri spent the next 40 years learning from great masters and developing HeartSourcing®, a contemporary way to enlightenment through the power of the heart, described in his book “HeartSourcing: Finding Our Way to Love and Liberation.” Ram Giri held a Ph.D. in Transpersonal Psychology. He was a spiritual teacher, yogi, and psychologist.
Ram Giri made his transition on June 26th at 1:08 a.m. in the arms of his beloved Durga. He will be forever loved and remembered.
A Poem By Ram Giri Braun
This yearning for you
Brings tears to my eyes again and again.
You who live in all beings, I offer my heart to you.
I offer my heart to you.
In your sacred presence all my fear melts away,
All my troubles dissolve.
Let your loving gaze fall on me
So I can serve you in all beings, everywhere,
And bow to your feet again and again.
You are my mother and father, lover and friend.
I am here, outside your door, waiting for you.
Reveal yourself to me. Let me be what I am,
Let me be one with you.
by Neha Pant
My first clear memories of being at Kainchi Mandir are of probably when I was nine to ten years old. We used to drive to Almora to visit my grandparents and Kainchi was always a stop. For my parents it was a very thought-out midway point to stop but for me as a little girl it was a lovely, peaceful play area. I recall running down those stairs as fast as I could to the bridge to the temple just to stop and lean over to watch all the fish in the river flowing under. There was not much supervision by my parents unless I didn’t move along towards the temple after a few calls from them.
Right after taking my shoes off at the temple gate, I would stop in front of Durga’s Mandir, mesmerized with her beauty and her eyes, but what really stopped me from moving any further was the beautiful music and kirtan by three devotees who seem to always be right there each time I visited, whether it was in the summer or winter. If I close my eyes, I can still hear their drums and beautiful chanting!
Meanwhile, my parents were way ahead of me and nowhere in sight. I had to run and catch up with them. I would run and stand in the middle of the courtyard, which at that age I considered my playground. I would run up and down the stairs and when I got tired I would take a snack break with some fresh ‘chana Prasad.’ Little did I know that my snack was Maharaj-ji’s prasad. I would take a handful of it and stuff it in my mouth and run some more, then run back to get more. I have to say, that was the best ‘chana prasad’ I have ever had in my life so far.
I don’t remember very well when did my play turn into bhakti? It maybe those regular visits to Kainchi or maybe that I was getting a little old to run around stuffing my mouth with chana or maybe it was Maharaj-ji who had it all planned for me way before I even knew who I was.
The next thing I remember is that I would still stop to look at the fish under the bridge and watch the devotees play in front of Durga, but after that I walked straight in front of Baba and sat there just staring at His beautiful smile and bright eyes. He was always so happy to see me. I would just sit there in peace just Baba and me. I didn’t even know how to sing Hanuman Chalisa but honestly Baba didn’t really care if I sang or not, He was just always happy to see me and I was to see Him.
I used to spend much time in front of his takht, talking to Him about school, boyfriends and my teenage drama, too. He always listened so patiently and by the end of our conversation I was always convinced that no matter what happens, Maharaj-ji was always in my team. He was always going to be by my side no matter what.
Those hours spent in front of his takht are the best hours of my life. Even though I’m thousands of miles away from Kainchi for years now, I can still close my eyes anytime and get transported right in front of Him, and He smiles at me as though saying, “I’m so happy to see you!”
“You can leave me. I won’t leave you. Once I catch hold of you, I don’t let go.” – Maharaj-ji
By Taos Chandra Devi
I was first introduced to Maharaj-ji during a Krishna Das retreat where he told stories of Ram Dass, their time in India, the beauty of Maharaj-ji, and of Taos Hanuman-ji. The common thread of the entire weekend retreat was Krishna Das’s devotion and deep love for his Guru. I remember thinking, “Ohhhhh, Maharaj-ji is that fat guy in the blanket I have seen pictures of.” I had absolutely no idea how He would change my heart and was already lamenting the fact I did not get the opportunity to meet Him in the body. During the retreat, Krishna Das talked about his attachment to Maharaj-ji being in His body and I immediately identified since I am big on physical representation of people and times in my life, so I thought I missed the bus on this one.
The minute I left the Krishna Das retreat I was starving for more Maharaj-ji and bought all the books, read all the blogs, watched all the YouTube interviews of the Western devotees, and still could not get enough. I needed more of this Love everyone spoke of. One of my favorite quotes is from Larry Brilliant, he said “It wasn’t how much He loved us, but how much we loved everyone when we were with Him.” I wanted to feel that kind of Love for everyone, but how if I could not be near Maharaj-ji? Little did I know when Maharaj-ji said, “You can leave me, I won’t leave you. Once I catch hold of you, I don’t let go.” that He meant it!
Two years later, I came to New Mexico to buy an RV, and I was led me to the Taos Ashram. I remember the minute I stepped foot on the property I could hear chanting and I followed the music right into the Temple. I sat down next to Maharaj-ji’s Tukhet, stared at beautiful Hanuman-ji while listening to everyone sing the Hanuman Chalisa, and had no idea where I was but it was blissfully amazing. A full fifteen minutes later, I realized where I was and thought, “Oh my goodness, that beautiful Hanuman murti is the one Krishna Das told the stories about, this is Maharaj-ji’s Temple, I AM HERE NOW!!!” I could not believe it and decided at that moment I must come back to this amazing space.
By His grace, now I come to the Ashram every day, continuing His legacy of Love, Serve, Remember, and Tell the Truth. Maharaj-ji said that when the Guru leaves the body, the Ashram becomes the body. I feel like this Ashram is Maharaj-ji’s lap, and that we are lucky enough to sit in his spacious, warm, loving lap while serving everyone who comes here.
It is a joy and privilege to look everyone in the eye, greet them with “Ram Ram”, and serve delicious Prasad in Maharaj-ji’s name. There is truly nowhere else I would rather be.
Manager’s Report by George
Jai Guru Dev!!
Spring and summer this year were filled with Maharaj-ji’s grace and love. Spring brought a joyful Hanuman Jayanti celebration. Following 24-hours of Hanuman Chalisa chanting, Prasad was served to 1,000 people.
During the summer, as is true throughout the year, pilgrims and visitors came from all over the country – some came to visit Maharaj-ji and receive His Darshan, some came to behold our Hanuman-ji’s compassionate countanace and receive His blessings, while others were drawn by Him for the first time and found themselves wrapped in Baba’s blanket!
By His grace, the ashram is a beehive of activity. New compost bins were built; a stone wall was erected along a portion of the acequia. Renovation of the parking lot and bridge entrance continues to take place. Baba’s kitchen received some attention as well. We expanded the outdoor cooking area with two new gas stoves and a fryer. The kitchen’s grand table was sanded and refinished, and new granite countertops were installed throughout. A fresh coat of paint was put on the walls so now Baba’s kitchen shines.
With the end of summer came Maharaj-ji’s Mahasamadhi Bhandara. Falling on the auspicious day of Anant Chaturadashi, this year’s Bhandara celebration began with the Ram Lila on Friday, and 24-hour Chalisas were sung from Saturday into Sunday. More than 600 devotees received Maharaj-ji’s Mahasamadhi Bhandara prasad. Currently winter is in the air but Baba is keeping our hearts warm.
As we move into the winter months, the ashram is adding Jeff to the staff and saying thank you to Mohammed and Sean who served the ashram diligently all summer.
Thank you and Ram Ram!
2019 Ashram Festival Dates
Monday, March 4 – Tuesday, March 5
Friday, April 19
Tuesday, July 16 – Wednesday, July 17
Maharaj-ji’s Mahasamdhi Bhandara
Friday, September 13 – Saturday, September 14
Sunday, September 29 – Tuesday, October 8
Ashram and Ashram Kitchen Wish Lists:
(click item to see)
1. Gravel for outside area 2 tons = $700.00
2. Skylights for kitchen =$300.00
3. Friddle for outside cooking area = $1200.00
4. Rugs for Dharmasala =$ 200.00
5. Front driveway gate = $2500.00
6. Bells for temple room = 5 @ 50.00 each
7. Kartals for Temple $50.00
A New Home for Surabhi, Matilda and Keshav!
When we welcomed Matilda to the ashram in the fall of 2015, we never expected that it was the beginning of a new chapter of service for us. Yet since the ashram purchased the cows Matilda and Surabhi in the Fall of 2015 and Spring of 2016 respectively, our lives have been fundamentally transformed. For years, we have both deeply connected with the philosophy and practice of ahimsa, or non-violence, as advocated in the spiritual texts of India. For both of us, engaging in cow seva was a palpable experience of the loving kindness permeating the practice of ahimsa. As the cows let us into their hearts and their family, an atmosphere of deep love, generosity, care and respect from both human to cow and cow to human began to characterize the relationship. We saw both humans and cows contributing their parts to the family’s care and sustenance. We began to understand that as we were benefitting from the loving generosity of the mother cows it was our duty to care for their offspring, and we knew not long after we began caring for the cows that we were being called to care for the whole herd family. When we came to this realization, we also realized that we needed to look for more land to support a growing herd.
A severe drought this last summer, which limited grazing land on and around the ashram, and a dawning realization that we wanted to move full-time into farming and cow seva led us to the decision to create a goshala which would be a separate but sister organization to the ashram. We were incredibly blessed several months ago to be able to purchase 20 acres of land only a mile and a half from the ashram which is perfect for the cows. And that brings us to the launch of Daya Dairy.
Daya is the Sanskrit word for compassion, mercy and kindness. Daya Dairy is a goshala, or cow sanctuary, where all of the herd members will live out their full lives on open pasture and none of the milking cows or their offspring will be killed for their meat. The goshala will continue to supply milk to the ashram so that Maharaj-ji’s kitchen will serve prasad made from milk that is cruelty-free, fresh and locally sourced.
We welcome you to join us in this new endeavor! You are invited to visit Maharaj-ji’s cow family at Daya Dairy the next time you visit the ashram. We also invite you to visit the Daya Dairy website at www.dayadairy.org to find out more about our mission and activities (and to see cute pictures of Surabhi, Matilda and the whole gang!) We are currently offering a limited number of herd shares. The herd share program allows you to buy a share of the dairy herd and receive either a gallon of fresh raw milk each week, or donate your gallon to a local family in need. You can also sponsor a cow or steer and donate for their monthly feed and other expenses. These donations offset the cost of feeding and caring for the whole herd, including the males, for the full duration of their lives.
We are profoundly grateful to Maharaj-ji for merging our lives with the lives of the cows Surabhi, Matilda and Keshav. We are also deeply grateful to the devotees of Maharaj-ji and Hanuman who have supported the cows during their time at the ashram and who continue to support them through donations for their food and for infrastructure for the new goshala.
In Loving Service,
Anandi and Jonathan
Through Maharaj-ji’s abundant grace and all of your generous support, in the two years since the construction of Hanuman’s temple began, $1,158,575 has been raised toward this sacred endeavor. The temple is nearing completion, it is completely enclosed and much of the interior work is being done. It is already feeling like a sacred space.
There is still much work left to bring it to completion. Unfortunately, work has been halted due to lack of funds. There is still a lot of interior work including the marble on Hanuman-ji’s altar, the maple hardwood and granite tiles on the floor, completion of the cabinetry, and many other details. Outside, the parking lot needs to be completed, the sidewalks poured, the flagstone lain, and a minimal amount of landscaping is still to be accomplished. In addition, the restroom facility needs all of its interior work done, bathroom fixtures installed and the tiles laid. To complete all of this it is estimated that at least $400,000 is still needed.
When this project was first proposed the estimated cost given by the builder, was $1,200,000. Unfortunately, the estimate was given three years ago and due to the rising cost of materials, and some necessary changes to the design, the cost has gone up significantly. The upside is that our beloved Lord Hanuman will have an incredibly beautiful new home that will serve all of His devotees and allow for so many more of us to take part in the all the sacred activities taking place inside the mandir.
It is still our hope that the inauguration ceremonies for moving Hanuman into His new temple will take place at Hanuman Jayanthi in April 2019. To make this happen, it will be necessary for all of the needed funds to be raised by the end of February 2019. This is a major undertaking, and by Maharaj-ji’s grace and the continued support of everyone, we are confident that it can still happen.
Under The Blanket
To participate in this sacred and joyful seva…
If you would like to donate via mail please note “Mandir Fund” on the memo portion of the check and mail to:
Neem Karoli Baba Ashram PO Box 1710 Taos, New Mexico 87571
To contribute by credit card by phone please call: 575-751-4080
If you would like to find out more about how to support the ashram’s effort with satsang gatherings, or for questions regarding contributions and gifts, please contact Annapurna Devika at 575-770-5866. Thank you for your support in completing the construction of this sacred space for all to experience His grace and unconditional love.
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