Newsletter November 2012
During June and part of July Swami Muktidharma, spent time at the ashrams in Munger and Rikhia. This was a different experience for him as usually during his visits to India he is teaching seminars and taking groups. This time he decided to go accompanied only by Anahata resident Mangalananda and Anahata regular Steve. There were two main purposes for his trip. One was to build rock gardens at Munger for Swami Niranjanananda, an activity Swami Muktidharma enjoys as it brings back fond memories from the inspiring time he spent living with Swami Satyananda when he made many rock gardens. However as often happens, plans change and Mangalananda and Steve instead built a new wood-fired bread and pizza oven for Munger!
The second reason for this visit was to participate in Guru Poornima, the celebration of the guru. Since the time he left India Swami Muktidharma hasn’t been able to spend a Guru Poornima in India, and it was important to him that he did. He describes the event at Rikhia this year as a wonderful experience in the presence of a very powerful energy under the full moon of July. It was a huge celebration with Swami Niranjan and Swami Satsangi, and there were over 2000 people (very few of whom were foreigners as it was the hot season with temperatures of nearly 50 degrees!). Swami Muktidharma says he enjoyed being there as a simple disciple sitting in a modest place, rather than being there as a teacher with the duty of a large group. Being by himself is a very rare opportunity that he doesn’t have much now with the responsibilities of teaching and so he found this a very valuable experience for his own spiritual growth.
As this newsletter is being published, Swami Karma Karuna and Swami Muktidharma are in India with longtime resident Annapoorna and Auckland Satyananda Yoga representative Vishwatma, guiding groups on our annual India Retreats, bringing with them donation items of knitting and post-it notes from the NZ community, as well as harddrives, a camera and a laminator from the USA group. Read on for a report from the Ajapa Dharana course, which this year was combined with Swami Niranjan's Satsang Series in Munger.
Ajapa Dharana/Satsang Series India Retreat Report
By Julia Winder (Shanta) - course participant
Waiting with our group at Howrah Station in Kolkata for the arrival of the Jamalpur Express train to Munger, I noticed a man on a creaking tower of scaffolding sweeping the ceiling with a broom that didn’t quite reach. Being the lone ceiling sweeper in the world’s largest train station didn’t seem to dampen his spirits though. Half a kilometre above the ground, he fearlessly stood on tiptoes, and with arms fully extended, cleared cobwebs from ornate steel girders. His fellow workers at the base of the tower then shuffled the whole framework of scaffolding a few feet to the left, and the sweeping began again. Looking at the vastness of the station and the one guy with his too short broom, I thought, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” But an hour and a half later, just as we were about to board the train, I saw there had been a surprising amount of progress in the ceiling cleaning. Little by little it was happening, slowly and steadily the work was being accomplished.
The Ajapa Dharana / Satsang Series at Munger with Anahata Yoga Retreat was a multi-faceted experience. Our group included participants from Canada, the United Kingdom, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Netherlands and Germany. The actual Ajapa Dharana course was beautifully instructed and was regularly supplemented by ashram activities including hours of mantra chanting, havans and satsangs with Swami Niranjan and the celebration of Navaratri.
My experience of Munger and the Ganga Darshan ashram seemed to reflect life’s movements between opposites, sometimes from the sublime to the rather less sublime. One moment standing on a beautiful balcony overlooking the Ganges river under a starlit sky, feeling like a princess in one of India’s timeless paintings, the next moment stumbling over the wires that supported the laundry racks while running to clean toilets for seva. Murky visualizations during ajapa dharana class were relieved by a brief sparkling moment of clarity. There was a lot of running - running up and down countless stairs, running for dinner, running for satsang, running for the market man, discovering the schedule had changed for the fourth time in half an hour. But there were also early morning walks through gorgeous gardens and fragrant air, and the sessions in Swami Niranjan’s beautiful campus for havan, where one could not help but feel the vibration and power of mantra, and the sweet joy of kirtan led by rich-voiced and musically gifted swamis. There was also the very great pleasure of hearing Swami Niranjan speak. His voice was surprisingly deep and his talks were an inspiring combination of erudition, clarification, relevance and humour. Many of us received Diksha in a surpassingly lovely ceremony at another part of the ashram.
This has been a rich experience on the path of Yoga; from watching the ceiling sweeper at Howrah Station, to listening to Swami Niranjan, (who probably does not have cobwebs in the ceiling of his mind), to imbibing the energy of this beautiful ashram. Especially appreciated is the feeling of being both challenged and taken care of, thanks to the great warmth, patience and kindness of the beautiful souls who shared these teachings with us.
We are also gearing up for next year's exciting World Yoga Convention at the Bihar School of Yoga in India where they will be celebrating their 50th anniversary and the vision of yoga which was propagated by Swami Satyananda. In October 2013, this historical event will be conducted to commemorate the achievements of Bihar School of Yoga over the last fifty years, during which the seeds have been planted for man’s spiritual evolution. It will be a gathering of spiritual leaders, scientists, doctors, educators and eminent people from all walks of life, coming together to share their knowledge and inspiration, and will be guided by Swami Niranjanananda, the spiritual successor of Swami Satyananda. The program will include lectures, discussion groups, presentations, demonstrations of practices and meetings to discuss yogic principles and techniques, and their influence on the individual and society.
There will be an Anahata group travelling to India for this momentous event, with different options including the annual courses and karma yoga. If you are interested in joining us for any part of this significant opportunity, please contact Atmabhava. Also check out the World Yoga Convention website for more information.