Thursday, October 29 – Day 11 of the Yatra

We reached Chokahalli Ashram, about 40 miles from Bangalore in the morning before breakfast. We had a short satsang with Brahmachari Shaunak Chaitanya where he discussed the history and activities of the Ashram.
The children from Chinmaya Vidyalaya were there, and it was fun watching their participation with loud “Jai” and “Hari OMs”. The school is English medium after 5th grade. There were also the students of the priest training school who captivated us with their Vedic chants.
As the name of the place itself suggests, one experiences the exquisite beauty of Mother Nature here. The literal meaning of ‘Chokka’ is that which is beautiful, neat and tidy. The quiet and serene surroundings of Chokkahalli, 7 km from Kolar, appealed to Swami Brahmananda, who chose this location for Sandeepany Karnataka in 1984. In 1993, during Pujya Gurudev’s visit to Bangalore for a Geeta Jnana Yajna, Sri Shadakshari undertook the responsibility of building a big temple for Sri Omkareshwara.
The Kumbhabhishekam took place in November 1994. A Rudra Homa was performed according to tradition, followed by a Sahasra Kumbhabhishekam with nearly 3500 people participating.
The temple has an engraving of Lord Shiva in Kailash. An idol of Lord Ganapati occupies the position below Sri Omkareshwara. Two bulls stand guard at the entrance of the temple. The crown of the temple is adorned with the carvings of Sri Dakshinamurthy, Lord Ganesha and Lord Kartikeya. On top of the temple is a huge Shiva Linga.
Pujya Swami Tejomayananda consecrated Chinmaya Ganapati in February 1998. A Sahasra Kalashabhisheka was organized on a specially erected ramp, and Chinmaya Ganapati took a grand, holy bath, enough to drench his gigantic form.
Chinmaya Ganapati has its own charm, since the colossal form of the Lord, measuring nearly 45 feet from the ground, captivates every heart that visits the place.
After a splendid breakfast, we took off for Thirupathi. We received a warm welcome at Hotel Bliss, owned by Mr. Rajashekhar, who has been long associated with Chinmaya Mission and was a CHYK along with Swami Mitrananda. As soon as we had quick lunch and freshen up, we were off to Chinmayaranyam.
The Chinmayaranyam ashram at Ellayapalle in Andhra Pradesh, upon its inception, was proclaimed by Swami Chinmayananda as a new kind of ashram, where the poor and needy would be served with love and affection. True to its motto, “Receive the light of knowledge. Bring out the heat of action,” Chinmayaranyam has done tremendous work for the upliftment of the rural poor in that region.
The project was spearheaded by Swamini Saradapriyananda (who attained mahasamadhi on April 17 2000), one of Swami Chinmayananda’s foremost direct disciples. As the driving force behind Chinmayaranyam and its activities, she conquered one and all with her selfless, tireless service and unconditional love.
Amma, as she was lovingly called, had received a piece of barren land in a burial ground donated by the villagers for establishing an ashram in a remote village in the drought prone Cuddapah district of Andhra Pradesh. Gurudev’s first visit to this place on 8th February 1982 was to conduct the Bhoomi puja.
The village had two wells, of which one was dry and the second was down to its last few drops of water. Against this background Swamiji was visualizing a forest around the ashram, which to many appeared to be a dream. Pointing out with his walking stick to two banyan trees, standing on either side of the land, Swamiji said, “Dig along the line that connects the two trees. Water is sure to come.” Water gushed forth from the well when it was dug.
Chinmayaranyam has now been transformed into a beautiful, green ashram. In recognition of this work the government granted the ashram a hillock adjoining it for development and reforestation which is being carried out successfully.
We visited the Hari Har school, which serves the economically disadvantaged children from the nearby villages where there were over 500 children. During our visit there, Guruji performed a Bhoomi Poooja for expansion of the school. There is also an associated orphanage which houses 45 children.
Our Yatris, inspired by the wonderful work and beautiful children, immediately donated Rs 30,000 collectively for the ashram and orphanage.
We were enthralled in the evening we were treated to a play by Brahmacharis and children about Swami Tapovanji’s life. It was amazing to see the children’s performance. They depicted Chippukutti’s birth to His Samadhi with beautiful background multimedia presentations. Mitranandaji was so moved by this and he invited them to Chennai for a encore performance.
We had dinner at the Ashram and returned to Hotel Bliss for a quick nap, as the next day, we had to take off at 2:00 am for Venkitachelapathy Darshan.

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