THE MASTER CARRIES THE AMRIT, THE NECTAR. EVEN THOUGH YOU DON’T PERCEIVE IT WITH THE MIND, WHAT YOU RECEIVE IS CONTRIBUTING TO YOUR ADVANCEMENT. WHAT YOU RECEIVE, EVEN WITHOUT KNOWING IT, IS THE AMRIT.
Darshan with Paramahamsa Vishwananda
Seeing and being seen by the Divine
The word Darshan is derived from the Sanskrit root ‘drsh’, which means ‘sight’ or ‘having a glimpse of’ the Divine. To receive a personal blessing (Darshan) from a Realised Master is one of the greatest gifts given to mankind. The Love you feel during Darshan is not something from the outside, it is your own Divinity revealing itself to you. Parmahamsa Vishwananda’s aim is to awaken the inner Light and Love of your soul. This gives the opportunity to realise we all have the same love inside of us, to intensify that love and become one with it, then to share it with everyone around us.
THE DARSHAN EXPERIENCE
The Darshan programme includes devotional music and songs from various traditions, inspirational talks and, of course, the Darshan blessing itself. The programme opens with a short ceremony honouring the Guru. Once Paramahamsa Vishwananda arrives, he usually sings two or three bhajans, a call-and-response style of song which praises the Divine. He may or may not give a short talk. When he is ready, he will prepare himself with a few moments of silence. This is the time when people will begin to queue up, generally families with children first. Once the Darshan begins, it will continue until everyone has had a turn. Musicians will sing and devotees may tell stories throughout the entire Darshan. The event closes with arati, which is an offering of light to the Divine.
The Darshan Itself
Darshan consists of spending a few personal moments gazing into Paramahamsa Vishwananda’s eyes while he holds his hand on the top of your head. Darshan is given in silence. After receiving Darshan, he will hand you a small bundle of prasad: a blessed gift.
- A rose petal to remind you of the beauty of your soul.
- A piece of candy which represents the sweetness of life.
- A small packet of vibhuti (sacred ash) symobolizing the impermanance of the material world.
Vibhuti has healing properties, it can be kept on your altar, applied to your forehead during meditation or mixed with water and drunk.
Paramahamsa Vishwananda may or may not speak with you after he removes his hand from your head. If you have a short question for him, please ask before he moves on to the next person. You may also hand him photographs, books, prayer beads or murtis to bless. Once you return to your seat, take time to sit quietly and go inward to reflect upon your experience.
Coming Up for Darshan
Queue: When the time comes, two parallel lines will form down the centre isle. You may join the line whenever you like. The line moves slowly, so please sit along the way or kneel. Please move forward on your knees if at all possible; this is done as a sign of respect to the Master and it allows others in the back of the room to see.
Families with children: Families with young children are usually ushered to the front of the line in the beginning of the Darshan so they may receive their Darshan before other guests. It is important to all come forward as a family unit. Parents should stand side-by-side and come up close to his chair. Young children may stand on the stairs in front of Paramahamsa Vishwananda. Infants may be held by a parent or Guruji may offer to hold the child in his arms. He usually gives Darshan to two members of the family at a time.
Couples: Any time after the families, couples can come up together. Please stand side-by-side so he can easily reach you both simultaneously.
Your turn: When you get to the front of the line, you will be guided to move forward as soon as the previous person has moved out of the way. Guruji greets thousands of people in a single Darshan so please come as close as possible to Guruji’s chair, and bend down if you are tall, since this makes it easier for him to put his hand on your head. If you are too far away, someone may gently touch your back to move your forward. Please do not lean on him or touch him unless he reaches out to you.
Bowing down: If you wish to bow down to him, you may do so when the person ahead of you moves into position. If you would like to receive the blessing of touching his feet, you must ask for his permission first. You may also step to the side after you are done with your Darshan so the next person can move into position.
Eye-to-eye: Darshan is an opportunity to see and be seen by the the Divine. It is an eye-to-eye experience, so please keep your eyes open and look directly into his eyes.
During the Event
Seating: You will most likely be sitting on the floor. Usually only a few chairs are provided.
Singing: You are encouraged to sing along with the call-and-response bhajans, to clap, and even to dance if you like. Singing and clapping shifts your energy and carries you into your heart. If you do stand to clap or dance, please take others into consideration and move to the side or the back of the room so you do not block the view of those behind you. Please silence your cell phone. Darshan is not a time to talk or visit with your neighbour, so please take all conversations outside of the Darshan Hall.
Enjoy the experience: Everyone will get a turn, so there is no need to rush. The Darshan experience is not only about the time you spend directly in front of Guruji, it is also about being in the room with him, enjoying the music and allowing yourself to fully enjoy the subtle fullness of what is available to you during your time in the Darshan.
Leaving the room: You may leave the room to go to the bathroom, get some food, have a conversation, etc. Re-entry is possible as long as your coloured arm band is still allowed in the room.
How long will it last?: Depending on the crowd, Darshans can last anywhere from a few hours to all night. Remarkably, Guruji never takes a break for himself. He is always selflessly giving his full attention and presence to everyone, no matter how long it takes. The event will be divided into segments to accomodate the large crowds. When you arrive, check in at the registration table. There you will receive a coloured arm band to indicate which section you are in: first, second, third, etc.
Dress Code: Darshan is a festive occasion; colourful, modest dress is recommended. Saris and long skirts are most preferred for women. Tight trousers, shorts and spaghetti straps are not appropriate. Modest necklines and sleeves are especially preferred. Please cover your chest and shoulders with a shawl if you are not modestly dressed. For men, kurtas, nice shirts and long pants are best, while shorts and tank tops are discouraged. Everyone is asked to leave their shoes outside the room before entering. Please note, Bhakti Marga is not responsible for your personal belongings, so keep your valuables with you at all times.
Darshan is open to all and free of cost. It is Guruji’s wish that everyone has the opportunity to receive Darshan. Darshans and other free programs like festivals are made possible through the generous donations of those who have been touched by Guruji’s love.
Dakshina is a financial gift that is given to a spiritual Master in gratitude for a blessing. It is in no way required. When given in the spirit of love, without any expectation or obligation to pay, it amplifies the blessing received.
If you would like to contribute your support to Guruji’s mission, you may do so by putting your dakshina in a blue ‘Krishna Arpan’ envelope, found next to the ‘Spende’ Donation boxes in the lobby. You may hand the envelope to him directly when you go up for Darshan or deposit it into the Spende box. When you offer your dakshina, please say ‘Krishna Arpan’, which means ‘all belongs to Krishna: God’.
If your life has been enriched through your experiences with Paramahamsa Vishwananda, you believe in his teachings, or you want to support his mission, consider becoming a Friend of Bhakti Marga.