Monthly Archives: March 2013

Sacred Ash. Posted on March 29, 2013 by Swamiji

By Swami Nirmalananda

The power of the mantras and the offerings burned in the fire are concentrated into the ash, which is why I brought it home from our yaj~na in Ganeshpuri. This is why the Ashram is sending it as a gift to new Monthly Donors as well as those who increase their monthly gift. It’s about outside and inside.

On the outside, the Vedic fire ceremony or yajña (pronounced yaj-nya or yag-ya) produces the ash. But the fire is more than a simple fire; it does something on the inside. My Baba introduced me to yajña in Ganeshpuri. I sat, completely riveted, for hours every day. The priests chanted the ancient mantras while feeding the flames, which leapt high in the air. I attended many more in my years of study, some of the yajñas lasting several days.

At night, when the Vedic chanting was done, I walked around the fire for hours, repeating mantra silently. The fire burned outside and inside, burning away everything that kept me from God. That is its purpose. That is yoga’s purpose.
The ash is called bhasma (bas-ma) or vibhuti (vib-hoo-ti). Yogis have been using it for millennia. You may have already indulged in the three traditional “Siva stripes across your forehead, as I’ve been sharing this practice on retreats for over ten years.

Simpler, a small dot between your eyebrows supercharges the energy center located inside there. It is often marked with a red dot to honor  the Guru, whose inner seat is there. Using the ash leaves a grey dot, almost like injecting the mantras from the fire into this profound inner center. One of the names for this location is Prayag, where your three spinal currents merge into one that goes all the way up; it is like the three rivers merging at the site of the Kumbha Mela.

Outside and inside…

marble-box1We have only a few days remaining in our fundraising campaign, Making a Difference. Please consider making a difference by pledging your monthly contribution – and allow us to make a difference by sending you a gift of ash, in one of the marble boxes I brought back from the Taj Mahal. Thank you for your support – and for your practices.

Click here to offer your donation, in any amount, as a single donation or monthly gift. If it would be easier, email enroll@svaroopavidya.org or phone 610.644.7555. Thank you!

Monthly Donors – please accept our loving thank you for your continuing support. Click here to add to your monthly dakshina or to make any other change. Thank you.

OM svaroopa svasvabhavah namo nama.h

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Before India – After India. Posted on March 25, 2013 by Swamiji

BLESSINGS FOR ELMIRA
By Antaraj~na (Deborah) Mandel

“Next time you see Swamiji would you please ask her how I can die and leave my body? I am ready to go and I can’t,” asked Elmira, who at 102 was still fully functioning mentally, but deteriorating in her physical body. She was done with her body. A spiritual being of the highest degree, she was ready to go and be with God. She was done with her earthly existence. I had been sharing my experiences with her about Svaroopa yoga and Swamiji, and she loved hearing about it. I agreed to ask the question of Swamiji, so I emailed her, and within twenty minutes I received back the most beautiful letter for me to give to Elmira. While I can’t remember the details of the letter, Elmira memorized it.

In general, Swamiji told her that she was already God and to be with herself in this knowing while she remained alive. She shared words that Muktananda had taught her. It changed Elmira’s life. She stopped wishing to die, and to accept each moment for the gift that it was. She shared the letter with everyone. She wrote Swami, and at some point Swami said that she kept the letter out on her desk, it was so special. She sent me home with a mala bead for Elmira and a mantra. Elmira insisted on putting it right on, much to the dismay of her nurse who had to undo all her breathing apparatus.

Ntyananda-Murti-in-the-Samadi-Mandir-Temple-1-300x289Elmira was looking forward to hearing all about India, but she died on the day I came to India with Swami. During the morning ceremony in Nityananda’s temple, she told me she had died. How incredible that I was able to say goodbye to her in Nityananda’s Temple. What a gift for me to say goodbye to her there.

Then we came to the Kumbha Mela and went by boat to the Sangham, the holy site where the three rivers converge. I had a puja done to bless Elmira. The puja took place on a boat with a Brahmin priest, who had us repeat mantras and gave us coconuts and flowers. After the mantras were finished, we released the coconuts and flowers into Ganga with our own prayers. Mine were blessings for Elmira. I feel her presence here every day. Good bye and hello. It is not an end. Only a change.

When Swamiji had sent me the letter for Elmira, at the end she wrote a note to me, “She’s ready to hear this, are you?” Those words stayed with me. After these three weeks I can finally feel that I am ready. The changes inside are profound. I am one with the Guru, I am the Guru. I receive grace from my Guru. I receive all I need from my Guru. I just have to stay open to hear it. It is all inside. It does not come from the outside. I don’t need my asana to have it; I don’t need my OM necklace to hear it; I just need to be in me. That will be my challenge when I leave India. Staying open. I hope I am up for the challenge and trust that I will do my best, just like Elmira, who, at 102 was ready to hear and live by what Swamiji had to say to her.

AFTER INDIA
By Sheynapurna Peace

It’s been over 2 weeks since our return from India. It’s become apparent that some of the changes, those internal changes, have become part of who I am now – parts of my personality seem altered. It’s also clear that the freedom of our journey, during which time we were so completely cared for, was wonderful but was defined by time. There was a part of me that never wanted to return and I keep that part in India; I have many memories to access along with over 1700 photos for when memories become foggy.

I have given a lot of thought to our India experience. There is India herself: colorful, joyous, dirty, dusty, and sometimes sparkling clean. The sights, smells and sounds still resonate. Ganeshpuri, so full of Nityananda and Muktananda that grace seeps through the dust and is found in every breath.

The Himalayan Institute campus on the Sangham, with energies so ethereal and powerful they draw even the uninitiated into meditation.

DSCN0050-150x150And Varanasi. Varanasi almost defies description; it is such an area of contrasts. The steep steps of the ghats, each section with slightly different rise and fall, the cows and water buffalo, sadhus, foreigners taking photos, including a large boatload of tourists wearing medical face masks, each camera boasting a 6- to 10-inch lens.

The goats, monkeys and piles of dung on the walkways, laundry stretched out on the ghats drying in the sun. Hundreds of boats and boatmen, priests, temples and people and traffic everywhere. The silk shops and veggie sellers, souvenirs, statues, incredible smells of food from street corner stands, the paneer shop, tailors in their dark shops creating clothing or weavers creating beautiful silks. And over all is the Ganges, and the thousands of bathers coming to cleanse themselves in her sacred yet alarmingly polluted waters. All of this is spectacular, phenomenal, enticing and exciting. More important, however, is that special aspect of our journey, the glue holding all together.

Making it so much more than a mere trip to India was Swami Nirmalananda and the teachings with which we were daily graced. Each experience was looked at and questioned. Swamiji taught us to look beyond the external into the internal. What was really happening in Ganeshpuri, at Kumbha Mela? What is the meaning of all of our experiences? What did we see and what was there that we weren’t seeing? What could we feel? What did we know that we did not recognize we knew? This expansion was not what we expected and yet it profoundly affected each one of us and we were each aware of our changes.

India herself cannot make me more patient, forgiving, understanding, compassionate. India could not propel me into my now daily chanting of the entire Guru Gita or to my each morning rise to meditate at 4 AM. India did not open my eyes to what is happening inside myself, she did not cause the river of Grace flowing within me, within each of us. But a month in India or a month anywhere with Swami Nirmalananda – now that is a life changing experience.

Two of Three… Posted on March 20, 2013 by Swamiji

You have already funded two of our three goals in our 2013 campaign, Making a Difference:

● Swami Support: Goal $15,000 to provide for Swami Nirmalananda’s personal and professional support.

● Ashram Essentials: Goal $10,000 to support our ongoing programs and the facilities that are available to you.

The Ashram Board is gratified at your support, not only for your generosity but also for your heartfelt message that Swamiji’s work is important to you.

Our Capital Fund still needs your support, with $6,800 giving us a start toward our goal of $35,000. These monies are dedicated to replacing our Ashram furnaces and building the Outdoor Temple that Swamiji has designed.

GAS FURNACES: The Ashram building is heated by natural gas but the furnaces are almost 30 years old. While they are a good ecological option, they are inefficient and they heat the building very unevenly. Thus we need to use electric heaters to ward off the chill in several corners, including our Meditation Hall. We’ve made it through another winter with these furnaces, but hope to replace them in the off-season, a lower priced alternative to waiting for a crisis to occur.

OUTDOOR TEMPLE: Swami Nirmalananda would like to get outside for the sunrise! The backyard temple is designed for the morning chant and meditation, and can be used for almost three seasons. She’s designed a sacred center with eight points, corresponding with her Guru’s mystical teachings on the heart chakra, and plans to install a sacred statue from India there (in 2014?). The outer portion will be four-sided, the square of muladhara chakra, grounding the tailbone in physical reality. Our landscaping plan includes a fern garden and a water feature. A multi-year project, we hope to build the gazebo this year.

The Board works to create the Ashram infrastructure and oversee it, understanding that every penny that is spent is your money. Our team of Board members and sevites reviews every expenditure closely and assists Swamiji with ongoing management. Our many sevites team with our administrative staff to keep personnel costs low so that your donations are put to careful use, along with the tuitions from Swami Nirmalananda’s courses and retreats. In addition, the Ganeshpuri Music School continues to be supported by the Ashram.

You are Making a Difference in so many ways:

Your practices change your life, which touches so many other’s lives and helps to change the world
Your interest in the teachings and practices draws Swami Nirmalananda into teaching
Your financial support makes her able to dedicate her time to writing and teaching, as well as invite your participation from your home or when you are in Downingtown.
Click here to offer your donation, in any amount, as a single donation or monthly gift. Thank you!

Monthly Donors – please accept our loving thank you for your continuing support. Click here to add to your monthly dakshina or to make any other change. As announced in Tadaa! (page 4) new Monthly Donors and those who increase their monthly gift will receive Swamiji’s gift of a marble box from the Taj Mahal filled with sacred ash from our Ganeshpuri yaj~na (Vedic fire ceremony).

KUMBHA MELA. Posted on March 18, 2013 by Swamiji

by Sheynapurna (Sandy) Peace

The Himalayan Institute campus is so near that it brought the actual Mela to us without having to physically go. The energy of the Mela was there, strong and intense even our secluded area was calm and serene. Still, on the first day most of us walked to the Mela grounds. Not being a primary “bathing day,” the crowd estimate was only 15 million people. The Mela (fair) grounds are vast, covering about 20 square miles. Tidy areas of tents house people, cows, goats, malas (bead necklaces), art work, saris, chai and huge tents where Swamis gave talks and thousands of people chanted. Long avenues of sellers hawk their goods including include beans, rice, other grains, fresh vegetables and fruits, flowers, nuts, all sorts of spiritual accessories, fans and piles of different colors of powdered kumkum.

Signs point to the Sangham, the point where the rivers meet and where thousands or even millions make their way to take a holy dip. Holy men are everywhere, holy women, too. Sadhus give blessings, and while some want money in return, others are there to bless. Their Shakti is so profound that even I can feel it. I am humbled and near to tears. As Kamala Michelle Gross says, “Walking among the millions of people at the Mela was profoundly peaceful, yet full of sights, sounds and vibrations that are still coursing through me. It is an experience that not only lives in memory but through my entire being.”

The Himalayan Institute offered many activities. There were optional walks to temples, walks to the Mela (guided and unguided), walks to villages where cows and water buffalo live in the front yard or even in the ‘garage’, time to do asana, meditate and of course the time to do bucket laundry and take bucket baths. Time to listen to the choruses of bird song and to watch people walk the road to the Mela, the women in bright and beautiful saris, many carrying burdens easily upon their heads.

And time to eat. We were awakened daily for 5:30 am chai, prayers followed at 6:00 in the Sacred Grove, then breakfast at 8:30. As Kusuma (Karobi) Sachs shared, “Amidst all the Mela events, one thing that stood out for everyone was what we put in our bellies: the food. Luckily we did not have to worry about the safety of the food, being cooked by western standards. But we all found out something about Indian culture, true of all cultures of those less fortunate than us: eating rice, potatoes and wheat chapatis is a staple at each meal. Many Westerners balked at the offerings of both rice and potato dishes which appeared so often but, in India, potatoes are considered a vegetable. We were being fed local, fresh, organic vegetables throughout our stay. In much of India, obesity is not the problem; lack of food is, so eating 3 carbohydrates in one meal is a feast! Personally I love potatoes and was thrilled at their abundance everyday!” We enjoyed evening chai at 4:00 and dinner at 6:30. Plus we chanted the Guru Gita with Swami Nirmalananda each morning at 7:00 and had satsang with Swamiji at 4:15, with our chai. This was a marvelous opportunity to integrate our experiences, Swamiji being the greatest of teachers and attracting several of the Himalayan Institute guests as well as ourselves.

To me, one of the best times was night. Our campus has silent time from 10 pm – 8 am but it was silent only on our grounds. Upriver at the Mela came joyous continuous chanting. All night long the voices of thousands roared down the river. One night I heard chants to Hanuman, another night to Krishna and another the sounds of Om Namah Shivaya. My earplugs kept this muted but it was never quiet, except the night of the thunderstorm when all we heard was thunder and rain. The next day it all returned: the chanting, the bells, the drums, the conchs, the joyous sounds of millions of people worshipping God in song.

This is what Kumbha Mela is really about. Millions coming for blessings, for love of God. The energy of this place, the rivers, the people, have an indelible effect. I wrote in my journal, “…dropped into meditation fully conscious. Could hear every sound and yet I was also deep in the swirling mandala of All-That-Is. I am the Ganga and the molecules. My energy body vibrates deeply. I am Everything! Vibrating consciousness and yet still here.”

GANGA: The River Runs Through Me

by Jyoti Yacobi

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A river runs through me

She is the Ganga, Kundalini, the Milky Way

I am all That

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I pour my tears, my pain and sorrow

Into Her vastness

She takes me and holds me in Her lap

She carries me like a new born child

With great love and a gentle touch

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She is the bridge that carries me through the river,

The ocean of not-knowing

To the shore of the knowing of my own Self

.

She is the Life that runs through my being

She is the One and Only

She is the One I Am

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I pour my soul into Her

I lean into the flow of the sound

That emerges from beyond the mind

I am the beginning and the end

I am all that Is

I am That

I Am

India in Hindsight. Posted on March 16, 2013 by Swamiji

by Swami Nirmalananda

As I settle back into my American routines, I can see a gradual improvement in my ability to describe what happened on this India trip. Being immersed in the Grace of the holy sites we pilgrimaged to was an experience, as so many are saying, beyond words. That’s because the power of those sites is such that it propels you past the words you usually use, into the vast innermost beingness that is your own Self. What words will describe that?

An immersion into consciousness is a treasure beyond price, whether for a moment, in your own meditation or yoga practice, or whether for weeks, as we experienced in Ganeshpuri and Allahabad (the location of this year’s Kumbha Mela). The value is found in the experience of consciousness itself, but if it is a true experience, it’s not dependent on place, for consciousness is everywhere. Consciousness is everywhere, everywhen, everyone and everything. The goal is to know, and see, and be That — everywhere, everywhen and with everyone and everything.

So the value of the pilgrimage shows up in the return home. Over 43 yogis have stepped back into their lives, with the same wheres, whens, whos and whats – but the yogi is herself or himself different. Who are you now? Who are you in the same places and in the same relationships – you’re a new you, while you are the you that you have always been. All at the same time…

For now, I’ll describe it this way:

Ganeshpuri provides an immersion into the Grace of the Guru, where the gift of your own Self is being given 24/7/365. Try to avoid Grace in Ganeshpuri — you’ll fail. Bhagavan Nityananda can overpower your resistances, even though He is not embodied any more. His tangible and continuing presence in Ganeshpuri, supported and maintained by those who still serve Him, propels you into your own Self and leaves an indelible imprint on your heart.

Allahabad provides an immersion into the purity and spaciousness of pure Beingness. This is also a gift of Grace, but it’s an impersonal type of Grace — not grounded in the relationship between one who knows and one who seeks. An ethereal type of consciousness, the joining of the rivers bathes you in a pure flow of irresistible consciousness. It a time-sensitive experience, at its fullest only once every 12 years. Ephemeral, it gives you a glimpse of your own Self that leaves an indelible imprint in your mind.

Benares (Varanasi) is embodied Grace. The flow of consciousness, embodied in Ganga (Ganges River), is an external expression of the uprising flow within. Your own upliftment is made real in this Grace, the revelatory power of Kundalini outside and inside. The city of “Siva, every street corner gives you another opportunity to see and worship God. Temple bells sound as you walk by, following the cows and dogs through the ancient alleyways. Life is real in Benares, truly real — and truly holy. Benares shows you the Divine in every form passing by, and leaves an indelible imprint upon your whole being.

I was fortunate to bring a small group with me to Benares, all of us continuing on from Ganeshpuri and Allahabad. While I was there, I received the keys to my new home, a small house alongside Ganga. I’ve been trying to buy something there for more than five years, and was able to complete the purchase just one week before, with the help of my Indian family there.

Varanasi-house-150x150We gained access to the house on our last day, seeing the “before” – there’s a lot of work to do before a Westerner is comfortable in it. “After” will happen in 6-8 months, and then I’ll be able to invite you to visit me in Benares, when I am in residence there. My primary home continues to be in Downingtown, but now I’ll have a personal home when I’m in India. Finally! After 37 years of visiting India, I have a home there!

My new home does not affect any of Master Yoga’s or Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram’s activities. It is a personal residence, not financed by either organization or through anyone’s donations. How fortunate I am to be able to fulfill one of the traditional functions of a swami, to create a home in a holy place. Perhaps you can visit me there as well as in Pennsylvania. And allow Benares to imprint upon your whole being. OR simply do more japa!

No Pulling Punches… Posted on March 14, 2013 by Swamiji

If I could be with you, in person – what a delight! If I were in the room with you, and maybe a few others, I’d tell you about the gift you give me when you want to know your own Self. You allow me to serve my Baba by sharing His gift with you.

You allow me to show you the light that shines through your eyes, the spark of life that makes your heart beat, the energy that courses through your system and keeps you alive. You allow me to open you up to the greater energy, the power of upliftment, Kundalini Herself. She is your own Self. Thank you for wanting to know God. Thank you for wanting to know your own Self.

We don’t often have the luxury of being together in person. In this day and age of limited time and great distances, it’s a rare opportunity. I’ve worked hard to set up your Ashram services to narrow that distance and to be available to you at all times of day and night – our new website is part of the expansion of our services in 2013. The support of many sevites, along with paid staff and our never-tiring Board members make this possible, but it takes good old American greenbacks to make it work as well. Your donations make a difference.

82 yogis have made 163 donations to our fundraising campaign, “Make a Difference,” truly making a difference in what I can do for you. The good news is that 80% of the Ashram’s services are free. This means we rely on your donations for funding, so I’m especially thankful that so many of you have decided to help.

Fundraising-130314-with-labels3We’ve raised $27,000 of our $60,000 goal – we’re nearly halfway. Congratulations! and thank you!

Becoming a swami a few years ago meant that I could dedicate my life to service in a whole new way. Even the challenges that I’ve been leading Master Yoga through in the last six months have been part of that service. But in the Ashram is where I serve the highest purpose – your own enlightenment. I don’t hold back. I don’t pull any punches. I give you all I’ve got – because you’re ready for it.

DSC_0124-150x150I need your support to be able to do this.

Please make a donation now. Help the Ashram reach its fundraising goals for 2013, so we can maintain the high level of service we’ve been providing for you and plan to continue.

With deep love and in service, Swami Nirmalananda

India Treasures, Still Coming… Posted on March 12, 2013 by Swamiji

SO EASY! by Sarvataa Christie

Ganeshpuri, what a place! Now called home, it has hens with waddles, the roosters have, too, of course (but much larger!), the cows have horns and humps and roam free, along with the dogs and cats. And the people! Oh! The people! So friendly, lovely and gracious. The villagers either came to Ganeshpuri for Nityananda , are descendants of those, or are the indigenous jungle people for whom this land has always been home. I am surrounded by Nityananda!

Waves, smiles, namaskars, “hi”s hand to the heart and nods abound from passersby who are working, bicycling, or motorcycling (with sari-ed women riding side saddle!). The villagers love to have their photo taken and especially love to see the photo.

Rosie always greets us with a big “Welcome Home”! My first day, I missed the taxi back to Fire Mountain Ashram. I cried and cried and wanted to go home. My cries were met with a big hug and a call to a “Tuk-Tuk” (motorcycle-rickshaw). We can walk anywhere we want to or need to be, although in the afternoon you probably wouldn’t want to (too much sun)!

After discovering my papaya allergy, Moti separates it out from the other fruit. He also came back the Ashram, where I dropped my room key, found it, and brought it back to me so we could get into our room! From the conversations with the locals and the police (while registering as tourists), to the elderly lady who saved me from the heat by sending me to the park for shade, while I was waiting for Nityananda’s house to open, to the tailor who stayed up all night (this is not India time, not even close!) to make my sari for Ganesha’s Birthday Yajña the next day… and I can go on and on and on… I am taken care of.

The gracious hosts of Fire Mountain Ashram are also wonderful sevites for the Shree Nityananda Education Trust. They have many, many wonderful programs for giving back. I know that this is not the reason for coming all this way; that’s to know my Self. That is everything. But to be so taken care of, and so welcomed, and made to feel at home here, in this place, allows for a haven for “Shakti Fever” while diving deeper into the knowing of the Self.

I am Nityananda. Nityananda is me. Nityananda is Home. Nityananda is everywhere. I am home here. Home is within me wherever I go. Om namo Bhagavate Nityanandaya.

NITYANANDA, by Jyoti Yacobi

The enormous rhythmic sound of bells and drums

The glorious chant of Brahmin priests

It is that time of the morning again

To call Nityananda’s vastness and eternality

Into the beautiful golden murti

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The yogurt, milk , honey and water bathe and caress His form

At some point, there are no differences –

Whose hands are washing whom?

Who is the object of such great love and devotion?

Who is the one who adorns this form?

What is the subtle formlessness

That manifests this form?

.

Then I sense this powerful, enormous energy in my body

Infinity contained within my own form

For an instant, I doubt whether I can hold it

And then – freedom and expansion

Nothing can keep me away from you, Nityananda

Nothing can close the door to my own Self