|Reporter visits spiritual convention in BG|
|Written by BILL RYAN Sentinel Religion Editor|
|Friday, 04 October 2013 07:51|
There were 200 or more people on hand Sept. 21 for the visit of Brahmrishi Shree Kumar Swami Ji, addressed by his followers as Guruji.
The term Guruji encompasses all the aspects of teacher, preacher and mentor, said my personal translator (Guruji primarily speaks Hindi). Guruji leads one of the largest spiritual institutes (Bhagwan Shree Lakshmi Narayan Dham) in the world today, boasting hundreds of millions of followers.
The samagan (convention) transported this guest to another culture and a worldly experience right here in Wood County. Upon arrival walking toward the specially constructed tent for the convention, the license plates revealed at least three vehicles from Ontario, Canada, along with a minimum of 10 different states ranging from Texas, Florida and both Carolinas to Illinois, Michigan and New York.
Signs on the tent welcomed visitors to the convention of the “Ancient Traditional Science Secrets.”
Though preliminary activities began in early afternoon, Guruji did not make his appearance at the convention until after 7 p.m. Welcomed by ceremonial drums and eastern music, it was a pageant filled with followers dancing while he and his wife tended to the altar-like banquet table prepared for them with flowers, candles and food.
My translator advised I would be introduced by name as a guest along with my affiliation the Sentinel-Tribune. What he failed to note was that I was to be asked to go on the stage and place a lei of fresh flowers on Guruji.
Being unprepared, I likely looked out of place. Even worse, I was first and had no examples to follow. I was relieved to settle back into my chair to take notes.
Following my appearance on stage, numerous others also placed similar leis on the leader. Had I gone after others, it may not have mattered as people handled the procedure in their own way.
To my surprise, I was called back on stage and paid respect with a lei from my interpreter.
Finally, the leader began his address to the convention. Following his address, yet another surprise awaited. I heard my name mentioned by Guruji and a microphone was given to me. I was to ask the first question of the spiritual leader.
While I had prepared questions to ask him in an anticipated private setting, it was quite another matter to create a question for him in front of the convention spontaneously.
Through the interpreter, I noted his presentation made things sound simple and easy, yet we humans have difficulty following such examples and continue to live in complex and complicated ways. I thus asked, ““If it is such a simple concept, why is it so difficult for people to follow?”
It must have struck a chord with the leader as he spoke at length on the subject. Only one other question came and he answered that succinctly with one sentence.
(See related story for details of his speech and his answer to my question.)
There is no faith tradition or religion attributed to this spiritual movement. Guruji referenced the Bible, the Quran and other religious books as holy and sacred texts.
A woman sitting on the other side of my interpreter was one of the more excited followers. She frequently asked him to tell me of her joy and experiences.
It is the custom to remove one’s shoes, so all footwear was left at the entrances of the tent. After the arrival of the leader and his wife, this woman picked up the sandals of Guruji and his wife and wrapped them in her cloak. The translator explained this is a sign of respect in their culture.
Prior to the leader’s appearance, the translator said Guruji wanted me to understand some points about their practice of the Cosmic Sound Secrets. Perhaps, because of inferences in my preview story, he wanted to assure me the leader does not proclaim to perform miracles nor have any supernatural powers.
He said he came to American and Bowling Green as a way to reach out to his followers which can be found in 140 countries. His goal is for mankind to minimize if not eliminate poverty, sorrow and the things in this world that are driving people to world war.
He considers his practices to be spiritually beneficial for people and considers himself a servant of God, and tries to diminish any God-like attributes his followers might give him. He says his words and teachings are all derived from spiritual and religious books.
“He claims no supernatural powers,” the interpreter stated. However, he does boast he drew more people in England than Elton John.
The translator noting, “He is a very simple and humble man, an instrument of God. It is your own faith which brings you peace.”
Despite language barriers, the experience was one this reporter will not soon forget. Because of the pomp, the acclaim and the atmosphere in the tent, it was a spiritual experience for me.
Approaching this assignment with trepidation and concern of the unknown, I left knowing there was something spiritual occurring at the convention. I pray God’s blessings go with Guruji and his followers.
While some colleagues and others have teased me about my possible conversion, nothing could be further from the truth. My faith remains strong and nobody and nothing at the convention attempted to change that. Rather, the experience only served to open my mind to spiritual possibilities through God. As we have all heard, God works in mysterious ways.
The convention was held at the Campbell Hill Road property owned by the spiritual leader through his foundation. The site serves as the headquarters and offices for the Prabhu Kripa Lakshmi Narayan Dham (PKLND), one of the worldwide headquarters for the global institute.
|Last Updated on Monday, 07 October 2013 08:13|
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