Pujya Sri Swamiji in Israel - 2018

  • 30 Apr 2018 - 05 May 2018
  • Jerusalem, Israel

Pujya Sri Swamiji in Israel - 2018

 

Between May 1 and May 5, 2018, Sri Swamiji came to Israel. During this visit, Sri Swamiji visited and saw the many important religious sites for the three main monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) in Jerusalem. Sri Swamiji also visited the famous Dead Sea, and learned about the marvel of life-changing Israeli innovation.

 

One of the highlights of this trip was when Sri Swamiji visited the Western Wall, the only remains of the Second Temple of Jerusalem. Each year, thousands (if not millions) of tourists and religious Jewish people visit this holy site, writing their prayers on small pieces of paper and fervently placing them in the cracks of the stone walls. During the visit, Sri Swamiji placed his palm on the wall and meditated – perhaps thinking of and blessing the millions who had visited this place in past. The Western Wall as well as the pious Jewish people who can be seen there each day ,are emblematic of the spiritual phenomenon that is Jerusalem.

 

May 1: Mount of Olives, Last Supper & Church of the Holy Sepulchre

 

On the first day of the Israel tour, Sri Swamiji visited Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives, a place of significance for all three main monotheistic religions. In Jewish history, the mountain was attributed special religious significance and became an integral part of religious services due to its proximity to the Temple Mount, one of the most sacred Jewish sites. Meanwhile, many Christians believe that this mountain is where Jesus came after his resurrection. Muslims believe that seven arches will connect the Mount of Olives to the nearby Al Aqsa mosque, the third holiest site in all of Islam located in the Old City of Jerusalem.

 

Next, Sri Swamiji visited the Room of the Last Supper. Nestled just outside the large stonewalls of the Old City of Jerusalem, the Room of the Last Supper is proclaimed to be the place where Jesus had his last meal before being crucified. Sri Swamiji commented on the strong vibrations within the room.

 

Finally, Sri Swamiji walked through the narrow, cobbled streets of the Old City (so narrow and winding that only foot traffic is allowed in most places). Seeing a few forgotten black birds within the Old City, Sri Swamiji asked that the devotees feed them some bread. “They, too, are devotees of this place,” He said. After about a 15 minute walk through these streets, Sri Swamiji arrived at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre – the place where Jesus is said to have been crucified and buried. Sri Swamiji sat and meditated on a stone outside of the Church for about 10 minutes before heading back.

 

May 2: Israeli Agriculture Tour & Dead Sea

 

More than half of the land in Israel is covered by the Negev desert, an arid, hot and almost inhabitable area. There are so many types of deserts in Israel that the Hebrew language has seven words describing different types of deserts. Yet, Israel produces more fruits and vegetables than the ~9M people within the country can consume. How can this be?


The answer lies in Israeli innovation. To learn about this agricultural innovation in Israel, Sri Swamiji visited Vidor Agricultural Center in the heat of the Arava valley. There, Sri Swamiji was amazed to wander through fields of juicy watermelons, strawberries and bitter gourds, all grown through agricultural technology that moderates the humidity, temperature, and water delivery to the plants. He marveled at how so much rich produce can be grown in such harsh conditions, and curiously listened to see which technologies can be brought to benefit India.

 

From the Vidor, Sri Swamiji headed to the Dead Sea, known in Hebrew as the Yam Ha Melah. The salt concentrations in the Dead Sea are so high that (1) nothing can live in the water, giving its name, and (2) humans float in the water due to the saltiness. Sri Swamiji, having flown over the Dead Sea countless times through his many overseas tours, was enthused to finally be able to enter this water. Upon entering, Sri Swamiji was at first cautious – but in the next second, His Holiness was expertly floating like our own Jal Narayan! Sri Swamiji commented that the key to floating successfully in the Dead Sea was to find quietness within the body.  

 

Driving away from the Dead Sea, Sri Swamiji reflected on an unintended miracle. Within a span of 30 days, he had visited both the highest and lowest point in the Earth – from the Kala Patthar Everest Base Camp at 5,643 meters above sea level to the Dead Sea at 430 meters below sea level!


May 3: Bird Park & Israeli Museum

 

During migration season, an estimated 500 million birds from 283 species migrate from Africa over Israel to Europe and Asia to nest. Every year these birds arrive in Israel, filled with exhaustion and hunger from the long and dangerous journey over the dry desert that connects Egypt to Israel. They find respite in the center of bustling Jerusalem, at the Jerusalem Bird Observatory (JBO). The JBO is notably nestled amongst Israeli’s Parliament and most important government buildings: a symbol that preservation of nature is as important as upholding the government to the Israelis.

 

Sri Swamiji freed a black cap wobbler bird during this visit. These birds arrive from Africa weighing only 10 grams. After feeding at the site for one week, they leave Jerusalem weighing 20 grams, well-prepared for the long journey to their breeding grounds in Northern Europe. Sri Swamiji was happy to see that the birds in Israel are looked after and respected.

 

 

After the bird sanctuary, Sri Swamiji visited the Israel Museum to see the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Dead Sea Scrolls are ancient manuscripts that were discovered between 1947 and 1956 in eleven caves near Khirbet Qumran, on the northwestern shores of the Dead Sea. They are approximately two thousand years old, dating from the third century BCE to the first century CE. These scrolls form the cornerstone of the Jewish religion, and are even foundational for Christianity and Islam. 

 

 

May 4: Tel Aviv Innovation Center

 

The experiences in Israeli innovation continued on the fourth day in the Israeli Innovation Center. Israel is home to many well-known and unbelievable innovations – including even Israeli tech company WaterGen, which has created a machine that produces water directly from thin air. Israeli innovation is the source of many apps Sri Swamiji has used in the past to communicate with devotees, including Viber and Tango. This same spirit is also what made Israel’s greatest agricultural innovation – drip irrigation. Sri Swamiji viewed and marveled at the many innovations in the center.

 

May 5: Friends of Zion Museum   

 

On the last day of the tour, Sri Swamiji visited the Friends of Zion museum, a museum that cherishes the many people of Zion (or the biblical land of Israel) who were not Israeli. The museum was enthralled to have Sri Swamiji visiting, even playing all of the exhibits in Hindi for ease of Sri Swamiji’s listening. The museum displayed incredible modern technology that enabled a multi-sensory experience to truly feel what the Israelis experienced, starting from the great journey to the Promised Land thousands of years ago. In one emotionally-charged gallery about the Holocaust, known as Lights in Darkness, evocative animation and lights are projected onto a dark ,“shattered” wall, introducing us to enormously courageous heroes, represented as beams of light in the dark times of WWII. These heroes protected and saved the Jewish people in their darkest times. Sri Swamiji found the technology within the museum particularly enchanting and remarkable.

 

Earlier in the morning, Pujya Swamiji distributed sweets to celebrate the 52nd anniversary of starting of Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Ashrama in 1966. Later in the evening, Pujya Swamiji met the organizing devotees and remembered His first visit to Israel in 1978 with Viswanath. Pujya Swamiji also confirmed the date for Healing Music concert in Mexico city on Saturday, 17 November 2018. 

Pujya Sri Swamiji on Mount of Olives which overlooks the old city of Jerusalem, Israel
Pujya Sri Swamiji walks along the fortified wall around old town area of Jerusalem in Israel on 1st May 2018
Pujya Sri Swamiji stands in front of a temple in Jerusalem
Pujya Sri Swamiji in the building where the last supper of Jesus Christ happened
Pujya Sri Swamiji in the building where the last supper of Jesus Christ happened
Pujya Sri Swamiji in front of Holy Church of Sepulchre in Jerusalem. It is said in this holy spot that Jesus Christ was crucified, buried & resurrected.
Pujya Sri Swamiji tours the ruins of Jerusalem.
Pujya Sri Swamiji stands amidst old pillars in old town of Jerusalem.
Pujya Sri Swamiji stands in front of a wall painting that depicts the life in ancient Jerusalem.
Pujya Sri Swamiji in old town, Jerusalem.
Pujya Sri Swamiji prays at the western wall of Temple Mount in Jerusalem
Pujya Sri Swamiji prays at western wall in Jerusalem
Pujya Sri Swamiji prays at Western Wall of Temple Mount in old town, Jerusalem.
Pujya Sri Swamiji in front of Dung gate of old city, Jerusalem
Pujya Sri Swamiji visited Arava Agriculture center near Dead Sea in Israel on 2nd May 2018
Pujya Sri Swamiji checks a musk melon grown in the desert of Dead Sea at Arava agricultural farm
Pujya Sri Swamiji holds a strawberry miraculously grown in the desert region of Dead Sea in Israel
Pujya Sri Swamiji in Arava agriculture farm that grows vegetables and fruits in the desert region of Dead Sea in Israel
Pujya Sri Swamiji holds a Bitter gourd vegetable in Arava agriculture farm that grows vegetables and fruits in the desert region of Dead Sea in Israel
Danny, the agriculturist from Arava agricultural farm with Pujya Gurudeva
Pujya Sri Swamiji in Dead Sea, Israel on 2nd May 2018
Pujya Sri Swamiji in Dead Sea, Israel on 2nd May 2018
Pujya Sri Swamiji in Dead Sea, Israel on 2nd May 2018. He holds the famed Dead Sea mud in His palm.
Pujya Sri Swamiji floats in the severely saline waters of Dead Sea in Israel.
Pujya Sri Swamiji in Jerusalem Bird Observatory in the heart of Jerusalem town. Director of the facility, Ms.Ellen showed Pujya Swamiji around. 3rd May 2018
Pujya Sri Swamiji looks at a scale model of Second Temple era of Jerusalem at The Israel Museum on 3rd May 2018
Pujya Swamiji stands next to the vat that held the Dead Sea scrolls at The Israel Museum
Pujya Swamiji in Taglit Israel Innovation Center in Tel Aviv, Israel on 4 May 2018
Pujya Swamiji tastes fresh water produced from atmosphere from this water making machine at Taglit Israel Innovation Center in Tel Aviv - 4 May 2018
Pujya Swamiji visited Friends of Zion Museum in Jerusalem on 5 May 2018
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