Greet God and be greeted!

… Thoughts About a Dhoona —
A Hermitage With Holy Fireplace —
In the Alps …

After a decade of pilgrimage towards the sunrise followed by 12 years of meditation in a Himalayan cave my path led me – a German-born ascetic nun of an Indian Shivait-order – in the summer of 2002 to Europe once again. Since then I am wandering around here on pilgrimage.

During my time in the cave, where I lived with one of my masters and some other monks, it was my duty to look after the Dhoona – the sacred fire – and keep it burning constantly. Apart from wandering Sadhus (Sadhus are ascetic monks, nuns are called Sadhvis) also some pilgrims, tourists, and villagers came by sometimes. And all these people, however diverse they might have been, if they came for a visit or if they just lost the way and happened to arrive there by chance, they all found something by this holy fire, like they were touched by the fire without them touching it.

Of course, a cave is an impressive and powerful place, but without the sacred fire it is cold, dark, and awe inspiring. The fire of the Dhoona is worshipped as living manifestation of Divinity, and it is tended to and looked after by Sadhus. This fire does not just provide light and warmth, it is also like a doorway into another dimension. At the fire the focus rests upon the Divine as the essence of all being, instead of getting lost in relations between the „I“ and „the world“.

...In early summer 2002 I had to go to Delhi fort he extension of my residence-papers. When upon my arrival I went into a temple in Old-Delhi, a Sadhu sitting there told me that I would go on a long pilgrimage, that I would see my birthplace in Europe again. Then I should go to the Alp-mountains and light a Dhoona there. He told me that it might take some time before I could come to India again, but I was not to worry, Guru´s grace would be with me. He added that I should not be surprised if my pilgrimage would begin sooner than I could possibly expect. – Well, I got a ticket given as a present, and 24 hours later I was sitting in the plane...

Sadhus preferably find a quiet place to light a Dhoona, which they worship and meditate upon, where they live and sleep, pray and practise their various kinds of Yoga. The hermitage of a Sadhu – be it a cave, a hut, or a building of some kind – is not a private place in the European way of understanding, but a temple of the Divine where the holy fire is constantly burning, and which as a sacred space is open to any being approaching in a respectful way.

There are traditions of hermits in many cultures. Although hermits, monks, or Sadhus live outside the worldly society, it is this very non-involvement of theirs that creates a space which can offer something to the people they cannot find in their daily lives – be it a little distance from the everyday routine, a wise council from the hermit, or just an experience of the stillness by the fire …

Such traditions do not exist only in the Himalayas or in far away cultures. It is not so very long ago that also in Europe there used to be nuns and monks wandering around on pilgrimages or living their ascetic lives meditating in caves or hermitages. Their presence was well respected and appreciated by the general public.

Even though in modern Western society the emphasis is mainly on material development, progress, and security, it is, however, here that people are longing more and more also for spiritual nourishment. On my wanderings around Europe during these last five years again and again I was met with much interest from the people. Especially in the Alps people are reminded of their own tradition of wanderings nuns, monks, and hermits. They can relate to it. Traditionally people used to appreciate that somewhere on the mountain a hermit would sit by the fire to whom one could go in times of despair, and one would be able to see life in a different way again.

Also on my way now a variety of people gave me to understand that they would regard the presence of a hermit and a holy fireplace as enrichment of their lives.

On my pilgrimages through the Alps I saw many wonderful places. However, a location for a Dhoona – a constantly burning sacred fire - has to fulfil a few essential criteria.
First there are the more practical aspects:
A fire that is kept burning continuously needs enough wood to sustain it, which means that a forest with plenty of dry wood to collect should be near by. There must be sufficient water, enough for drinking, cooking, washing, bathing, etc. So there should be a good spring or a clear stream. For practical reasons the place should be neither too near nor too far away from a village. Also the Dhoona needs to be sheltered from rain and snow, as it is not a temporary arrangement. The fire is kept burning constantly day and night during all seasons of the year. Therefore a suitable building for a hermitage with a holy fireplace inside of it would be required.

It has to be considered also that a Sadhu – an ascetic – does neither work for money nor engages himself in any kind of business. A Sadhus lives from whatever offerings are given. The duty of the Sadhu is to meditate in God, to keep the fire and to assist people in the way of giving practical help, advice, and blessings. The Sadhu is not a missionary, there is no intention of converting or influencing people. A Sadhu does not earn anything, a Sadhu is engaged in service only, service to the Devine within all at all times.

Therefore me being a Sadhu, I am not going to rent or buy a place, but I am open to any proposal or offering of a suitable situation. Any kind of support or contribution helping to light a sacred Dhoona in the Alps is most welcome.

AUM NAMO NARAYAN — Greetings to the Divine within from the Divine within

Yamuna Giri,
September 2007