Govardhan, December 2018
Anna: Please tell us what Shiva means to you. How is an image and worshipping of Shiva came to your life?
Guruji: I was born in Bharadvaj Gotra, our family God is Shiva. Even though I have never done any formal worshipping of him in my youth. The worshipping started in my life when we had found this natural Shivalingam here near Govardhan hill. I heard an inner voice indicating It’s location and installed the Shivalingam exactly on the cremation spot of the King (Maharaja of Bharatpur) …and so the worship had begin. For the last 20 years we are doing this worship continuously. Shiva is also the first Guru of yoga, the giver of yoga. So I think it’s very natural for me to respect him by worshipping him everyday.
Anna: Guruji, then if Shiva is the first Guru of yoga, please tell your vision of Him.
Guruji: The vision (or actual seeing) was very different for me. And it was frightening. I was doing something here in the central room and suddenly Shiva had appeared. It happened probably on the 16 of june 1996. Since then everything in life is different… This cremation area is special. Cremation areas are considered to be a home of Shiva, who lives on the cremation grounds, smashans. And this is the most ancient samshan in this area as we know of.
16 thousands wife of Krishna were cremated here as well as Royal family Baratpur dynasty of Kings; 6 kings have been cremated here – and that makes this cremation area very special. That’s why I think Shiva appeared here and continues to be present here in a form of natural Shivalingam.
Anna: Guruji, what traditional Shiva scripture do you like most?
Guruji: I like all the Yoga scriptures. I love Shiva Sutras. They are my favourite texts as well as Shiva Puranas. Everybody must read Shiva Puranas.
Anna: What is your advice to the westerners who feel attraction to Shiva, the connection with Shiva, with this Deity?
Guruji: I think inclination towards Shiva is very natural because (as we understand now) Shiva maybe the male principal of the nature. And in a way every male is actually indirectly representing him. If they are feeling inclined towards worshipping Shiva - it’s very positive thing; Shiva is also embodiment of Time itself.
So if you respect time, time will support you. I think if you somehow are able to attract His attention and His blessing - everything will come to you. His graces enough to do it. Not only material things, Great knowledge will come - because He is a first Guru of all kind. If He is looking at you with great blessing and grace in His eyes - every knowledge, every wisdom will come to you.
Anna: Guruji, as you said once not to pronounce His name (without reason)
Guruji: Yes, you see simply calling out name is not enough. And in India (maybe everywhere except USA) it is not considered polite to call very senior man only by his first name. I think in India we don’t do that; also in Russia you don’t do that. Only in America they call a person by (a first) name. Shiva is so senior that it would not be respectful to call him by name. We all know his name - so you can keep remembering it; you don’t have to say it aloud.
All names are Shiva’s names, because tradition say that Jiva (soul) is Shiva. Jiva is the essence of life inside you and this essence is considered as Shiva. That’s why Jiva is immortal, being the immortal spirit. Jiva is in every being - that means Shiva is in every being. Just start to respect life, try to understand Time and a Void, and you will have everything: great knowledge, great wisdom, everything.
Anna: Guruji, can you tell more about the visit or, let’s say, the moment when you saw Shiva. What did you feel?
Guruji: I will tell you. I was invoking someone else. There is a method… by using it any God can appear and you can see it face to face. I was invoking some other God. He appeared immediately, as if he was waiting for my invocation. It was, let’s say, 11:30 - 12:00, at noon time.
The moment this Deity appeared he tried to lift me. Immediately Shiva appeared, very angry. And He just is snatched me from that particular God and just rode on him and tried to attack him with His trident. I froze, I mean, you never expect this things, you are always thinking about such great moments in romantic terms...
Shiva had a scull garland and most of the Avatar’s sculls were on this garland - except Rama, Ramachandr. And He was wearing an elephant skin around his middle. He was very slim, very tall, his head was touching the roof. And He was sweating. When He snatched me, His sweat touch me. He went to another side of the building, from where we now go every day to the temple to worship Shiva. And wherever He stepped - rudraksha trees had grown there later.
So maybe He came here to inspect the place where we finally came to (place of Shivalinga installation). Or maybe He is planning to have here something else. I was shaking for a very long time, it was a very frightening and traumathic experience. It took me many months to recover… and maybe I have not yet completely recovered from that.
But in my view this event was a very positive thing for this place. Before it the whole area was like extreme desert. The soil was saline or acidic and only cactus and thorny bushes had been grown here; planting the garden was an utopic thought. Within 10 days from Shiva’s appearance the whole area was flooded and remained under water for more than three months. The soil changed, everything began to look better and more beautiful. I believe that His appearance has actually changed nature here. It is hard to believe that once upon a time cactus and thorns were everywhere and it was impossible to walk barefooted. Now you can go everywhere without shoes. Not a single thorn….
Such was a transformation after His appearance. Later, when I have discussed this thing with some wise and senior people and read many books, they said that only confirming evidence that Shiva actually appeared in front of you would be to find a natural Shivalingam. And after sometime since Siva’s appearance it happened, Shivalingam was found. I think it’s a big privilege for me to pay my respect to Him every day. Amazing year of 1996, 22 years ago. We stopped sitting for satsang in the central room of this house also, the room is different now - we only teach kriya yoga there.
Anna: Guruji, and with appearance of Adi Shakti is the energy of this room had changed? (an ancient murti/sculpture of Godess riding tiger was found during land works on the smashan)
Guruji: I think it had. Adi Shakti had appear here before Siva. He came because of Her. That’s what I think. Maybe the first original story of true love recorded in history is of Shiva and Sati. When She left her body Shiva was so sad that he refused to leave Her corpse. He put Her dead body on His shoulder and begin to roam. Later Her body was cut into pieces by Vishnu.
We found pieces of these parts (parts of female body made from stone were founded on the land) Such love was never seen before of after. So He is original lover. We have to accept that. By the way, it is believed that only Shiva lives on this planet, Earth, all other Gods are living somewhere in heaven dimensions or in some different places. So maybe He cares for humanity… probably.
Woman: Guruji, when the body is burned in Varanasi, does this person really finds moksha?
Guruji: There are 7 cities in India like that. Mathura is also one of them. Mathura, Vanarasi, Ujjain, Puri, Dwaraka, Kanchi (Kanchipuram) and Ayodhya
Anna: Please share the story of how you found Shivalingam and placed it here. What kind of puja and mantra do you use in Shiva temple?
Guruji: Before 1998 we were celebrating Shivaratri for a very long time in the same way: many of my students will gather and we will just do something in the day time and go to sleep in the night time, but the name of this night is a Great Night of Shiva. So in 1998 this thought came to me: If Shivaratri is Shiva’s night - let’s celebrate it properly, the whole night and conduct puja.
I called 5 pandits, priests from my home town (Gwalior) and I’ve got maybe 2 hundred disciples altogether. Back then I had a small Shivalingam so I decided to worship it whole night in this central room. Everybody was supporting it and the milk was pouring on it and so on. So it was good thing.
Then exactly at the midnight I heard a surrounding voice, it was coming from everywhere. Go to the red Samadhi (wooden temple build on the cremation spot of maharaja), and do Bhoomi puja (puja for Earth/Land). Do some ritual to clean the land here. It was a big surprise for me so I took two priests there at the midnight; it was very dangerous looking place and it was very known cremation area, smashan. Everybody was afraid … Now this building looks like a temple, back then it was looking like a nightmare.
I told them do Bhoomi puja, they were shaking with fear but performed puja, the ritual continued till morning… It was done, the whole ritual. Then in the morning I heard the same voice again: “I`m waiting for you for a very long time, send someone to have me picked” and suddenly in my vision I saw a place and immediately declared in front of everybody: “Go and search in such site and you will find natural Shivalingam”. This vision simply came to me.
So on the next day of Shivaratri and on a first day of new moon, disciples began to search for it, but nothing was found. It was discovered the next day on the semi-cross road, where 3 roads are coming together near the Govardhan hill. In one day after Shivaratri, about 11 o`clock in the morning. There was one disciple, Ravi Diwwedi, he is a judge now, he was a student then. He and another man found in soil and brought Shivalingam here. We washed and cleaned it and I measured It’s weight; it was 39 kg. Then my sister took it up in my room and it was in my room for a few months.
Then I informed the King of Bharatpur: “I`m planning to install Shivalingam exactly on the cremation spot of your ancestor. Do you have any objection? “ - even though this property already belonged to me it was a necessary curtosy to ask for permission. It`s an emotional issue for the King’s family, because this land is a cremation spot of their grand grand fathers. Next morning Bharatpur King himself came here about 6 o`clock in the morning with his son. I was surprised: “What happened, what is the reason, why he is here?” He said: “Nothing can be better (for the installation of the Sivalingam) than this place. We are honoured if you do this”.
Then some money came to me and we started to repair this temple and on 26 of June 1998 Shivalingam was instlled on exact place of King’s samadhi. Some extraordinary events happened after installation. Traditional temple opening ceremony back then was supposed to be done on every corner, and on South-West corner there was a snake statue for the worship (because cobra is supposed to be very near Shiva). When the priest was doing that suddenly snake appeared, absolutely golden in colour. We never saw it coming: it was about 10-11 inches, amazingly beautiful, liquid gold-like in colour, with red eyes, red mouth, red tongue... The priest tried to run away so I caught him and told to finish puja.
Finally priest said “now Shiva is at place” (upon compleation of the installation). When we looked to another side and the snake disappeared in a second. We still don`t know whether it was cobra or something else, this beautiful liquid gold-like thing. That was another extraordinary event: the moment I put the Shivalingam on it’s place one of my biggest dog died. Later I was told belief that if somebody will install a Shivalingam exactly on the cremation spot - he will not survive during next 24 hours. I had not know this back then – and the dog had died, yes.
And then there I was: with absolutely no experience about these temple things…. Everybody was going inside of the temple to the Shivlingam; there was no discipline, and whoever touched the Shivalingam would come back with extraordinary high fever and vomiting…
Then I heard the voice again: “Only for you I have come, go and learn how to do the puja from the old priest of Pashupatinah temple” (old Shiva temple located in Katmandu). We set the rules not to enter the altar part of temple. I went to Nepal and contacted an old priest there, he was 90+ then. After listening the story carefully he tought me how to perform the ritual. He also suggested wearing red dhoti. That`s how it happened. Now we are conducting this puja for 20 years continuously.
Natural Shivalingam had never appeared in this area before, it was the first and only time in the history of Govardhan hill. And it is a very great and extraordinary event for us.
Anna: Now with the years is the color of Shivalingam is changing?
Guruji: It is changed, the tone is different, now it is darker than before. And there is also a small natural “Om” sign formation on top; when I`m pouring milk on the Shivalingam, “Om” it`s like a groove – it appears when the milk fills it... Now the ritual is like an "addiction" for me or unique performance. I like it, but it took me quite time to get use to it, because I`ve never done it before.
Many Russian disciples who travel all over India, including Ilya, said that they have never seen this kind of puja. We use no common mantras, because most of the mantras are for the temples outside of smashan. But the samshan is supposed to be a home of Shiva also. So we just begin to sound damarus (drums), because every language came from the sound of Siva’s damaru. So whatever mantra Shiva likes - he will understand it. No problem. Simplistic approach. Now we are in 21 year of continued puja of Shiva ji.
Anna: Guruji, when Shiva appeared, what about his third eye?
Guruji: His eye was open. It was a scary experience… “There is more to this world than meets the eyes” … as Shakespeare said there are things between heaven and earth that man cannot even imagine. When it will happen in front of you - then you will be amazed.
Anna: Guruji, and about the statue of Adi Shakti - you found it much later?
Guruji: No, she appeared before, small original statue was found on 27 of January 1994. And first Shakti “body part” was found in 1994 on 1 of December. Other “body parts” were found on 4 of January `96.
First Adi Shakti (small bronze statue was found in front of the gates in 1994) appeared; Shiva (Shivalingam, found and installed in 1996) came after that.
Anna: Can you recall about Shakti’s “body parts” you found?
Guruji: Let’s keep it quiet. These are the main female parts, breast and other parts. (Natural stones, formed in the shapes of breasts and yoni were found in various places of cremation grounds)
Anna: Guruji, why it took such a long time to install the big Murti of Adi Shakti here in altar?
Guruji: Only 2 years passed since I heard the voice: “Now it`s a right time to do it”. Small original statue had been in the house, installed upstairs for a long time. I think Devi’s presence completes the house now, the feeling in the house is different. We don’t know what is going to happen next… Let’s see…
Nowdays Shri Shailendra Sharma lives in Govardhan, on the cremation ground of Royal family of Bharatpur near Manasi Ganga teertha.
His Parampara (lineage):
Shri Babaji Maharaj (Mahavatar Babaji) – Shri Shyamacharan Lahiri (Lahiri Mahasai) – Shri Tinkori Lahiri (son of L.M.) – Shri Satyacharan Lahiri (grandson of L.M.) – Shri Shailendra Sharma (recieved guru-diksha from Shri Satyacharan Lahiri in 1984)
Interview by Anna Lunegova, questions by A.Lunegova & I.Zhuravlev, trascription by Olga Yakimova, edition by Katya Mossin.