image in the above art work is the stone door frame in the
In mid-January 2001, His Holiness Sri Swamiji undertook an extraordinary visit to the Land of the ancient Maya civilization in the Republic of Mexico. Arriving on the evening of the 11th of January, after a 40 hour journey from Mysore, Sri Swamiji rested for one day in Mexico City and proceeded on the 13th of January to the famous Sun temple in Chichen Itza, in the Yucatan peninsula.
Itza was a powerful and prosperous city in the 11th century. It was
a site of pilgrimage for many Mayans. Chichen Itza is renowned throughout
the archeological world for the Mayan treasures constructed during the
height of Mayan civilization. On Sunday, the 14th of January, Sri Swamiji
visited the important Sun Temple El Castillo most revered by the Mayan
devotees of the God Kukulcan. The site of Chichen Itza has dozens of
ruins of Mayan temples and other buildings.
The pyramid, a lime stone structure is well preserved, though etched by time and some deterioration due to the use of "chewing gum wood" as supports for the beams, which over the centuries has decayed. The huge hand chiseled lime slabs were placed on top of each other without any joining materials, and over the centuries water has seeped in to melt the stones. The Mayan civilization. was advanced in the fields of Astronomy predicting the occurrence of eclipses up to 2050 AD. The shrine on the top of the pyramid has four entrances (doors).
Only the steps on north and west are permitted to climbers, and we were breathless as Sri Swamiji bounded up the western steps to reach the top platform. Going around in Pradakshina (circumnabulation), Sri Swamiji spent much time in intense prayer and meditation. Sri Swamiji peered through the hole in the stone frame on the southern side. Our guide "Raphael de Jesus El Castillo," explained how the ancient Mayans used temple features and sun shadows to locate and identify celestial and heavenly bodies, as well as how they interpreted time.
The panoramic view from the top is exhilarating and beautiful. The serenity of the temple and its determined order, overpowers the mundane thoughts and silences the monkey mind. When asked how He felt to be there, Sri Swamiji replied simply: "Old Memories and Old thoughts". After some time, Sri Swamiji descended the pyramid on the northern side and came to a place called the Venus platform. Here He offered the "Ellu" (Kannada language term for a specialty sweet prepared for Sankranti festival) to the steps on northern side.
Later, Sri Swamiji was taken to other important Temples and sacred relics on the site.Important was the "Xtoloc" temple and a Cenote (deep underground open well). Sri Swamiji located several large and ancient stone tablets with the letter X carved on them. It was also the Sankalp of Sri Swamiji to visit a place, which had a name starting with the letter X.
Exactly at 1 PM, Sri Swamiji performed Sri Chakra Puja and witnessed Surya Homa, Maha Ganapati Homa and Navagraha Homa. After offering Purnahuti, Sri Swamiji in a brief message conveyed Blessings to the devotees. Sri Swamiji said "I have come here as one of my previous incarnations was here. It was my Sankalp to visit this place for a long time and the same has been fulfilled today. Blessings to those who have put in efforts for this wonderful visit. I must also visit Machu Picchu in Peru, which was the place of my first birth on this earth. Today is a very unique, special and Blessed day."
Hearing about Sri Swamiji's arrival, a news paper correspondent, Tomas Burgos Cen, representing "Diario Yucatan", a daily newspaper from the Yucatan province had come and witnessed the happenings. In the afternoon of 14th January, Sri Swamiji visited another place starting with X, a tiny village called "Xcalacoop". Thereafter Sri Swamiji visited a handicrafts center nearby to look at the craft shop with traditional Mayan weaving and carvings.
On 15th January 2001, Sri Swamiji walked around the Mayaland early in the morning, (His place of stay in Chichen Itza). The lush green surroundings and cleanliness impressed Sri Swamiji. This was conveyed to the wonderful manager, Mr. Luis Maldanado who greatly appreciated receiving this compliment from none other than Sri Swamiji.
In the afternoon, Sri Swamiji visited another cenote called "Xkeken" (another village with the alphabet X and pronounced as Ksheken). There is a wonderful underground lake deep inside a cave. Managing to climb down the slippery steps, Sri Swamiji sprinkled water on us and collected some water for those back in India and elsewhere. Returning back to the top of a cliff, Swamiji was led by reverential Mayan children to a small zoo in the back of the grounds. Observing the animals, Sri Swamiji fed some treats to the animals, a group of large mountain cats, a pig, a deer, a mongoose and some local monkeys). By then dozens of local Mayan children had surrounded Sri Swamiji and Lucia, a ten year old girl, looked up wide-eyed at Sri Swamiji and asked, ³ Are You one of the Three Kings? We have been waiting for you!² When our guide Rafael translated, Sri Swamiji smiled and gave the young girl a pendant. This triggered a horde of requests from other small boys and girls and Sri Swamiji patiently gave pendants to all. (Who knows which people wait in which part of the world for the Blessings of Sri Swamiji?). The indigenous Mayan bear similarities to Indians in look, feel, color, stature, height and antics).
Raphael mentioned that well known Mayan historians and archeologists have found similarities in life style, and worship of the Mayans and Nagas of Naga Land in India. Upon returning to Mayaland, we found Tomas Burgos Cen, the press correspondent for Diario de Yucatan, waiting for us, gripping the newspaper with the colour photo of Sri Swamiji. He humbly gave Swamiji the article he had written. Written in Spanish, it was a thorough report of the rituals of Sankranti and Swamiiji¹s visit. A color photograph of Sri Swamiji with The Dalai Lama was printed. Tomas asked to arrange a Mayan ritual in honor of Sri Swamiji.
On 16th of January, 2001, Sri Swamiji visited the pyramid once again and this time, He was led through a door which in turn led to the hidden inner temple, discovered by accident in the 1930¹s. A long narrow corridor led to a long flight which in turn led to the inner chamber where two Jaguars are placed- - one in the inner chamber and the other in the outer chamber. Like our Garbhalaya and Antaralaya. Sri Swamiji closed His eyes and meditated for a while. The Jaguars are embedded with carved jade stones. On the top of the outer shrine is a Padma (lotus) carving with a intertwined twin serpent above it. On the top is yet another lotus carving. Sri Swamiji noted that it was like the Muladhara Chakra (lower lotus), Kundalini Shakti (intertwined serpent) and Sahasrara (upper lotus). Rafael explained in detail, how the entire pyramid and its many facets represented a large and sophisticated solar calendar and there Sri Swamiji blessed Tomas with a OM pendant.
In the afternoon, Sri Swamiji visited a small village called "Quintana Roo" Here, at the end of a lonely dirt road, is another cenote seldom seen by foreigners. Though the site was exquisite and framed by large trees, there was garbage strewn about the fringe of the well. When Swamiji expressed His dismay, and explained that the site was a place of Kashyapa, Rafael made an immediate promise to bring the villagers along with him, and return to clean up the place. ³We will call the well as "Ganapati Sachchidananda Cenote,² Rafael stated.
In the evening, a group of indigenous Mayan people led by a Shaman priest known as Marcelino came to Sri Swamiji to perform a ritual seldom witnessed outside their own forest lands, where during growing season, ceremonies are done to propitiate good corn harvest. Under the luminous twilight and glowing candles, twelve cups of ground corn liquid were placed in a triangular manner and the priest chanted hymns and the juice was distributed to all for drinking. He then removed some stones from a tiny purse, gazed at them and fore told the good deeds that Sri Swamiji will perform to the human kind and Mother earth.
On 17th morning, just before departure, Raphael presented to Sri Swamiji an antique finished limestone with the letter X carved to replicate that seen in Chichen Itza. Sri Swamiji pulled out a small trinket and gave it to the astonished craftsman. He was further surprised and thrilled to find his initials on the trinket materialised by Sri Swamiji. Sri Swamiji left Chichen Itza on 17th January 2001 at 10.30 AM and returned to Mysore via Cancun, Mexico City, London (night stay where devotees performed Guru Puja as it was Thursday), Mumbai and Bangalore. Sri Swamiji arrived in Mysore Ashrama on 20th Saturday at 7 PM. Jaya Guru Datta