Newsletter May 2011
Rikhia Update – Opening of the Kanya Kitchen
By Sannyasin Amrita Bindu
“Feed man and God will be fed.” – Sri Swami Satyananda Saraswati
Sri Swami Satyananda Saraswati's philosophy is simple. “The entire Rikhia community is my ashram. Each household is my household. Their pains and pleasures are my own. Their poverty is my poverty and their happiness is my happiness.”
In October 2010, the Annapoorna Kshetram Kanya Kitchen was officially opened, fulfilling the sankalpa of Swami Satyananda to feed the 2,000-4,000 children in the area surrounding Rikhia on a daily basis. This event took place during Diwali, the festival of lights, which is celebrated by lighting many small candles to illuminate and dispel the darkness. This is also the time when Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity, is invoked to bring auspiciousness and abundance to everyone's life.
The day before the opening, a special ceremony was performed by Swami Niranjanji and Swami Satsangiji to bless the facilities. Colouring their hands with yellow, each placed their handprints on either side of the main entrances to the building and painted a swastika symbol to symbolize creation and auspiciousness, as well as sprinkling blessings throughout the buildings. The Swamis also blessed each of the eight mud-brick stoves and ovens, and Swami Niranjan lit the first fire. Swami Niranjan and Swami Muktidharma blessed the cooks and karma yogis by placing the tilak on each forehead between the eyebrows, a very special honour.
In the evening, all the residents and guests of the ashram, including the Prana Vidya course participants, were invited to a special seva, to begin chopping vegetables and preparing the inaugural feast to be served to the children the following day. After working late into the evening everyone was invited back again bright and early the next morning, some starting as early as 4:00 a.m. While many people were resistant to the combination of the late night and early start, once everyone came together a great atmosphere was created and even the people who felt tired started enjoying themselves. As the significance of the event sank in, that Swami Satyananda’s sankalpa was finally being realized, the spirit of selfless service took over and transformed the task of chopping vegetables into a joyful task in a busy, but somehow relaxed and positive atmosphere.
At 9:30 a.m. the official ceremony began at the main ashram property, with the entire ashram community walking in procession to the site of the Kanya Kitchen, led by Swami Niranjan and Swami Satsangi singing kirtans all the way. Once there, a special Lakshmi pooja (ritual) was performed by specially trained pandits (priests), some of the same pandits who later came back for the annual Sat Chandi and Yoga Poornima festivals. Following the pooja, the feasting began and over 1,000 children were served. They couldn’t all be fed at the same time, and the waiting groups of children outside created a restless but happy energy, complemented by the din of controlled chaos inside the building, and much mischief afterwards at the hand-washing stations!
Once all the children had been fed, all the guests and residents of the ashram together partook of the wonderful feast. There were ten different items to savour and enjoy, including vegetables, rice, bread, flavourful chutneys and sauces, as well as the obligatory Indian sweets topped off with a special treat on the way out – ice cream! Finally, those who still had energy, boosted by the sugar and festive atmosphere, helped to clean up before walking back to the main ashram.
Chakra Sadhana, 20-29 October 2010, Rikhia Peeth
Fifty people ranging from 1 to 73 years old from 11 different countries were in the Chakra Sadhana group led by Swamis Muktidharma and Karma Karuna. The daily rhythm consisted of morning Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha (APMB) classes, satsangs, chakra practices, Yoga Nidra and other meditations focused on chakra themes. Swami Muktidharma’s lectures made the chakras accessible with practical applications for daily life. Of particular note were the powerful poojas that took place in Swami Satyananda’s tapobhumi, including the initiation of 18 people during the Devi Pooja – all of which left us in awe.
The energetic kirtans, and the giving to the pensioners delighted everyone. The group loved the videos about Sri Swamiji, the exquisite traditional dances by the kanyas, and definitely the Michael Jackson dance! To top it off, Swami Satsangi gave the group satsang and eloquently answered our many questions. In thanks, the group prepared a meal filled with love for the ashram. The experience will be etched in our hearts forever.
Prana Vidya, 1-7 November 2010, Rikhia Peeth
After Chakra Sadhana, Swami Muktidharma guided a Prana Vidya course with assistance from Swami Karma Karuna. Forty people attended, from India and all over the world. Subtle morning APMB classes with prana focus and Prana Vidya techniques were shared, as well as inspiring satsangs from Swami Muktidharma. However, the participants received much more than just Prana Vidya practices. The Prana Vidya group were extremely fortunate to attend the official inauguration of the Annapoorna Kshetram Kanya Kitchen presided over by Swami Satsangiji and Swami Niranjanji with attendance of Acharyas (leaders in the tradition) from around India. The Prana Vidya students also had the opportunity to participate in a special seva, helping with the meal preparations, and serving the first meal to the over 1000 children from the local area. It was a tremendous honour for everyone to take part in this incredible event, the fulfillment of the sankalpa of Swami Satyananda and an enormous display of giving. During the evening program the whole ashram was magically lit up for Diwali, the festival of lights, and the energy of Akhara Darshan was most powerful. The event culminated in a powerful and enlightening satsang led by Swami Satsangi who brought the key points of Prana Vidya together and left everyone speechless… the group left overflowing with prana in many forms!
Ajapa Dharana, 10-16 November, Ganga Darshan
The Ajapa Dharana course was held in Ganga Darshan, Munger, guided by Swami Muktidharma with assistance from Swami Karma Karuna. The group of 32 people participated in a balanced program of APMB, Yoga Nidra, meditation theory, karma yoga and Ajapa Dharana practices over the week. The refined chanting of the sannyasins, the regular rhythm and discipline of Ganga Darshan, and the inspiring presence of Swami Niranjan deepened the practices. Swami Niranjananandaji gave intimate satsangs on Ajapa Dharana, underlining the importance of this practice. He answered our many questions, spicing his words with depth, stories and humour! Laughter warmed our hearts and inspiration increased our thirst for growth. Special moments also included kirtan with Swamiji, a trip to Paduka Darshan his new ashram, and a Guru Pooja in the Akhara. The grand finale was the initiation of 17 participants into Mantra Diksha, Jignasu, and Karma Sannyasa. We left abundant with food for transformation and very heavy bags of prasad!
These three enriching and transformational courses, Chakra Sadhana, Prana Vidya, and Ajapa Dharana, will again be offered in October 2011, in Rikhia and in Munger, the heart of Satyananda Yoga, India.
Please visit the website for dates and package details.
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World Yoga Convention 2013
The year 2013 will be a landmark year, for it will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Bihar School of Yoga and the vision of yoga which was propagated by Swami Satyananda. To commemorate the achievements of the last fifty years, during which the seeds have been planted for man’s spiritual evolution, a World Yoga Convention will be held in Munger, India. This noble event will be held under the leadership of Swami Niranjanananda, the spiritual successor of Sri Swami Satyananda, from 7th–12th September 2013.
We invite you to join us in creating the success of this event by helping in any way you can. Feel free to contact the convention committee at Bihar School of Yoga, Ganga Darshan, Munger for any enquiries and suggestions, and most important of all, do come to receive the blessings that the work of dharma bestows on all it touches.
For more information, please visit the WYC pages.
3-Year Sannyasa Training Course
A three-year Sannyasa Training Course will commence in 2012, under the guidance of Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati for modern aspirants who wish to dedicate themselves totally to the awakening of their spiritual potential. For more information click here.