July 1 � July 23, nearly 200 yatris from 13 countries
traveled on a sacred, historic yatra to Kailash Mansarovar.
With the blessings, guidance and inspiration of His
Holiness Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji,
the yatra was a divine success.
Yatra was graced by the presence of the following
The yatra was blessed by His Holiness Sri
Shankaracharyaji Swami Jayendra Saraswatiji Maharaj
and Sri Shankaracharyaji Swami Vijayendra Saraswatiji
Maharaj, Kanchi Kaam Koti and the following revered
||H.H. Sant Shri
||H.H. Dr. Pranav
saints were all planning to join the yatra in its
original date of June 2003; however, due to various
prior and unbreakable commitments (including Guru
Purnima) they were unable to be physically present
when the yatra shifted dates from June to July due to
the closure of Tibet in June due to SARS.
their blessings and love were with us every step of
the way, and H.H. Swami Gurusharananandji Maharaj flew
to Kathmandu for one day to officially
"see-off" the Yatra and give his blessings
in person. H.H. Acharya Shrikant Vyasji also
joined us for the official "See-Off"in
Kathmandu, although his original plans had been to
join us for the entire yatra.
||Government officials came from Taklakote
to offer respect and thanks to Pujya Swamiji for
bringing the Ashram and Clinic into existence.
They drove for 6 hours (several hundred kilometers)
from Taklakote just to pay their respects to Pujya
was not an ordinary yatra to Kailash and Mansarovar,
however. It was truly a �Vishwa Maitri Yatra� [World
The yatris inaugurated the Parmarth Mansarovar
Ashram and Clinic on the banks of Lake Mansarovar.
This ashram (tourist rest house) and clinic, the first
ever to be built in the holy land of Mansarovar, were
built by India Heritage Research Foundation, under
the guidance and blessings of Pujya Swami Chidanandji,
Founder and Chairman.
OPENING OF ASHRAM AND CLINIC
official inauguration was attended by all of the local
school children, revered lamas, local authorities,
and village people, who performed special local songs
and dances for the occasion. The village women danced,
the village men danced, the school children sang and
danced, and the lamas performed a special sacred chant.
Then, the young rishikumars from Parmarth�s
gurukul sang and danced along with the local Tibetan
village children � the purity of love serving as their
bridge across cultures, nationalities, languages and
Opening Ceremony of the Parmarth Mansarovar
Ashram: (right) Nalini and Kamalini perform
a special dance to Shiva. (below) Pujya Swamiji
honors the local lamas. (below right): the official
plaque is unveiled
the time for the official �opening of the ribbon�
drew near, the local officials and villagers set off
a loud display of fireworks, and an orchestra of different
musical instruments mingling with the sound of the
conch shell, filled the joyous air.
There are 40 children in
the local school. All of them came from over
25 km away for the occasion. We distributed
notebooks, pencils and biscuits to the children.
on the final day in Mansarovar, Pujya Swamiji met
with the local village heads, farmers and doctor to
ascertain what other help is necessary in the region.
To each of their requests, Pujya Swamiji responded
�done,� and assured the people that their needs would
local people, who were filled with natural wariness
and trepidation at the beginning of the yatris� visit,
shed tears of sadness as the yatra departed. Local
villagers had come one evening, laden with 2 heavy
cans of yak milk as a special, ceremonial offering
to Pujya Swamiji. �Lama, milk. Lama, milk. Lama, milk,�
they said, as they placed the offering at his feet
and did dandavat Sashtaang pranam, before quietly
OF THE PROJECT
June, 1998 when H.H. Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, H.H. Swami Gurusharananandji Maharaj and H.H.
Sant Shri Rameshbhai Oza (Pujya Bhaishri) went on
yatra to the sacred land of Mansarovar and Mt. Kailash,
in Tibet, they saw the desperateness of the local
situation. There were no medical facilities for
hundreds of kilometers. People frequently suffered and
even died from basic, treatable ailments, due to lack
of medical attention. There was no indoor place to
stay - all had to camp in tents.
Pujya Swamiji vowed that -- by the grace of God � He
would do something for the local people and for all
the pilgrims who travel there.
and a half years were spent in discussions with the
Chinese government, to get permission for the project.
Finally, in November, 2000,
the permission was officially granted to build
an ashram and a hospital in the sacred land. Further,
this will be the spring board for other much-needed
humanitarian projects in the area, including schools,
vocational training programs, etc.
December 14, 2000, Pujya Swamiji flew to Kathmandu,
Nepal where a special banquet was thrown in His honor
by the Ambassador from China to Nepal. All of the top,
concerned Chinese/Tibetan government officials flew
from Lhasa to Kathmandu for the final contract-signing
ceremony. On December 15, the official contract was signed, stating (in
part), �Under the vision, inspiration and leadership
of His Holiness Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati,
India Heritage Research Foundation has agreed to
provide the Bureau of Foreign Affairs and Tourism of
Ngari Prefecture of Tibet Autonomous Region, Peoples
Republic of China, with a clinic and Tourist Rest
House (ashram) in the holy area of Lake Mansarovar and
contract states that for all future projects in the
region (including schools, hospitals, rest houses,
sanitation programs), the government of Tibet/China
will give first priority to IHRF to sponsor the
The project is
truly the grace of God and will be a divine gift to
the holy land, to all the Tibetans who live there, and
to all the pious pilgrims who cross oceans and
continents in order to have a glimpse of the abode of
PROJECTS IN THE HOLY LAND
The current dining hall is being used for satsang,
but it could barely hold the 200 yatris on our
trip. Therefore, Pujya Swamiji decided that a
which can also serve as a dormitory, is
The details were planned and permission granted to
build a large satsang hall/dormitory on the land just
adjacent to the ashram, directly on the banks of Lake
Mansarovar. Pilgrims will have the divine darshan
of Kailash through the windows as they sit and listen
to satsang or stay in the dormitory.
local people and Village Chief expressed their great
gratitude for this divine ashram and clinic. The Clinic
is open to not only yatris, but also to the local
people. We brought a great deal of medicine and supplies
along with us, and also selected the particular machines
(including an oxygen machine) which will be provided.
all of the profits which are earned from donations
from yatris go directly to the local 450 families
who live in the Mansarovar region. This year (the
first year for which the ashram was open) the profits
went to improve sanitation and health for the local
people and they also donated to the local school.
The ashram is being managed by the Village Chief,
so he is the one most aware of what the village's
satsang hall/meditation hall and dormitory,
the Ashram will be even of more benefit to yatris
and the local people.
The local farmers and Village Chief said they
to carry water from the lake to their fields and
houses. Pujya Swamiji has agreed to provide both
Adoption of local school.
There is one school with 40 children studying
in the entire area. Pujya Swamiji has said we
will adopt the school in cooperation with the
Village Chief and sponsor it.
Special, authorized soil samples were also
taken which will be given to special scientists in
Delhi and Rishikesh who will analyze what can be grown
in the fertile soil. Currently the people subsist
mainly on yak meat which is occasionally supplemented
by potatoes or a special kind of wheat. However, the
farmers are not sure how best to grow these things
nor do they know what else can be cultivated. Pujya
Swamiji assured them that we will help them cultivate
Ashrams in Saga and Prayang.
Pujya Swamiji initiated the bhoomi puja (ground breaking
ceremonies) for ashrams (tourist rest houses) and
other charitable projects in
along the way to Mansarovar, and has also received
permission to build at
Dirapuk (4909 meters)
Zuthul Puk (5650 meters)
along the sacred Kailash parikrama route. Further,
discussions are underway for an ashram in Taklakote,
which is where those entering via helicopter first
reach Tibet, and it is also the location where the
Indian yatra, entering via Uttranchal, enters Tibet.
sacred Brahmaputra river in Saga, the site of
the next Ashram
His aim is not only to provide much-needed facilities
for the pious yatris, but also to build a bridge of
friendship, trust and assistance between India and
in Lhasa, on July 6, the birthday of His Holiness
the Dalai Lama, the yatris had a special meditation
in the main hall of the Potala Palace, where the Dalai
Lama had lived. They also sponsored tea, snacks and
dakshina for over 800 lamas at the Drepung Monastery.
yatra was a sangam of Kailash, Sanskriti and Dharma
� Art, Culture and Religion.
of India�s most famous classical dancers, Nalini
and Kamalini and their Respected Guru Jitendra
Maharaj, performed sacred dances to
Lord Shiva at the base of Mt. Kailash and on
the banks of Lake Mansarovar, to the drumming
of world famous drummer, Shivmani.
was probably the first time in history that Indian
classical dance was performed by such accomplished
artists, as a devotional offering to
Lord Shiva, in this holy land.
at the base of Kailash, at the holy place of Ashtapath,
one of the holiest places in the Jain tradition, the
place where Adinath Sri Rishabhdevji attained enlightenment,
Pujya Roopchandra Muniji (a revered Jain saint from
Delhi) and Pujya Swamiji performed a special puja
and chanted the sacred Namokar mantra. This was probably
the first time that a Jain saint performed puja at
this holy place.
the final day in Mansarovar, a special Mansarovar
aarti was performed by the revered saints, yatris
from 13 countries and also the local people! Pujya
Swamiji has agreed to build a special ghat on the
banks of Lake Mansarovar so that regular Mansarovar
aarti can be performed, and so that yatris have a
place to sit and meditate comfortably.
return to Katmandu on the 20th July, a
special aarti was organized on the banks of the Bagmati
river at Pashupathinath Temple. Prior to leaving Katmandu
on the 3 July, Pujya Swamiji had organized the first
large-scaled aarti to ever be held at this holy location.
Then, upon the yatra�s return, more than 10,000 people
flocked to the ceremony to take part in the festivities.
Katmandu, Nepal: A large, special puja at the holy
Pashupathinath Temple was arranged, and Pujya Swamiji
initiated the first Aarti on the banks of the Bagmati
river, outside of Pashupathinath Temple. Thousands
of people came for the first aarti during which He
announced that on July 20, upon the return from Mansarovar,
another large Aarti would take place.
days were filled with visiting of local temples and
other holy sites, as well as with satsang by the revered
saints and yoga/meditation classes.
3 marked the official "Welcome Ceremony"
for which we were graced by the presence of H.H. Swami
Gurusharananandji Maharaj who flew in from Bombay
just for the occasion. Several other of the local
spiritual leaders in Nepal also graced the event with
Lhasa, Tibet: Although the weather forecast had said
"Rain for two days", the grace of God and
the blessings of our revered saints granted us two
beautifully clear days in which to visit the Potala
Palace (prior home of H.H. the Dalai Lama) and several
of the main monasteries in Lhasa. We held a special
group meditation in the main hall of Potala Palace
(where the Dalai Lama used to conduct his pujas and
talks), an unprecedented event.
at a large function on the evening of the 6 July, His
Honorable Lobsang Gyang Chun, the Vice- Governor of
Lhasa attended and expressed his pleasure and honor at
meeting Pujya Swamiji and hearing about the yatra and
projects in Mansarovar.
the morning and evenings we gathered for satsang,
pravachan, question-answer sessions and also universal
the Potala Palace (Dalai Lama's home). A special
group meditation and then group photo. (below
right): Shivmani drums with the Lama in charge
of the Palace Gong.
Prayang: In the morning before departing for Mansarovar
from Prayang, we had a special bhoomi puja for a new
ashram in this divine land which Pujya Swamiji has
re-named Prayag! "It is not the confluence of
rivers here, like in our Prayag in India, but rather
here we have the confluence of cultures, the confluence
of peoples and the confluence of hearts which have
united together in this beautiful land," He said.
as He has built an ashram and clinic in
Mansarovar, so Pujya Swamiji pledged that
we will do something for the local people
in Prayang and also for all the pilgrims
who travel through there on the way to Mansarovar.
Bhoomi Puja Ceremony
speeches were given on the occasion by the revered
saints and also by Shri Tarun Vijay. The speakers
effusively praised Pujya Swamiji for His service of
the dharma and His service of the poor and needy.
"What the government of India could not do, one
divine Saint has done," the speakers lauded.
Purnima Day on Mansarovar:
There had been continuous rain for more than 5 days
by the time we reached Mansarovar. Several groups
had come and left without having darshan of Kailash
or a bath in Mansarovar due to the inclement weather.
However, although it was still lightly drizzling when
we arrived on the 11th evening, by the 12th the skies
cleared and we were granted divine darshan of Kailash.
Not another drop of rain fell during our 4 full days
in the holy land.
July 13th began with a special Guru Purnima Shiv Abhishek
and havan on the banks of Lake Mansarovar. This was
followed by uplifting and divine Guru Purnima messages
by the saints, and also a special dance performed
by Nalini and Kamalini Ashtana, famous classical dancers
of India. They performed a beautiful dance tribute
to the Guru. The Puja concluded with a special puja
for the plaques of all those who had sponsored a room
in the Mansarovar ashram.
Guru Purnima Message is given by Pujya Swamiji.
(below):Purnahuti of the yagna. (below right):
special prayers for Late Shri Narendra Mohanji.
Pujya Swamiji felt that before installing the stone
plaques, a special puja should be conducted for the
donors and their families. We also said special prayers
and performed special puja for so many people across
the world who had written
and requested that puja be conducted on their behalf
or on behalf of their loved ones.
had a wonderful lunch/prasad sitting outside in the
clear sunshine right beside the waters of Lake Mansarovar.
also had a special prayer and puja in honor of
Shri Narendra Mohanji.
Shri Narendra Mohanji
was a close member of the Parmarth Family and greatly
loved and respected by all. He was the editor-in-chief
of Dainik Jagran, the most widely read newspaper in
India, and also a dedicated member of Rajya Sabha
in Parliament. His prolific and articulate writings
brought both the culture of India and also the problems
being faced by the Hindu community to light. His dedication
to the community, to the country, to the culture and
to all of humanity was peerless.
His Dainik Jagran Newspaper
is a daily �awakening� of piety, culture, tradition
and spirit of India for millions of people every day.
We were joined on the yatra by his beloved son and
daughter-in-law Sandeep and Manjari Gupta.
the afternoon was the official 'INAUGURATION -
OPENING CEREMONY" of the ashram. All the
local villagers, authorities, officials, lamas, and
children came for this special occasion which not
only opened the ashram, but also opened everyone's
hearts to the undeniable connection we all share,
regardless of boundaries of language or culture.
Puja at Ashtaputh/Tarboche. We travelled to the closest
point to Mt. Kailash called Tarboche (or Ashtaputh).
Kailash was clouded over as we set up for the special
puja. However, just as the first mantras were chanted,
the clouds parted and we were all blessed with
the darshan of Lord Shiva. Eyes filled with tears
as the puja ceased for several minutes so everyone
could absorb the darshan in silence. Then, so as to
protect us from the bright, blazing sun during our
2 hour puja, the clouds returned and we performed
the sacred Rudra Abhishek ceremony under the protection
of clouds. As Pujya Swamiji poured the final abhishek
over the Shiv Ling, again the clouds parted and Kailash
was clear, from bottom to top. For nearly 1 hour,
we received complete darshan as we sat, mesmerized
by the sublime beauty.
Rudra Abhishek puja at the base of Kailash
of Lake Mansarovar. In the glorious sunshine, we drove
the full parikrama of Lake Mansarovar, having the
clear darshan of Mt. Kailash the entire time. Finally,
at the most perfect point, with Mt. Kailash towering
above directly behind the Lake, we stopped and everyone
had a group snan (bath) as the rishikumars chanted
sacred mantras. We also performed a special abhishek
ceremony after everyone had a snan. For hours, Kailash
remained perfectly clear and its reflection shone
in the crystal clear waters of Lake Mansarovar.
the return to our ashram, we took the route via Rakshastal
and had darshan of Rakshastal as well.