Since time immemorial the Kumbha Mela has been held near Allahabad in India, where the three great rivers - Ganga, Yamuna and the underground Saraswati converge. This is the largest spiritual festival in the world and occurs once every twelve years at a time which is astrologically and astronomically determined to be most favourable and auspicious for the transfer of spiritual knowledge and understanding from the rishis and yogis to the millions of pilgrims who gather to take ritual ablution in the waters.

The concept of spiritual festivals and gatherings is as old as mankind. Every tradition and culture is familiar with it. This concept is based on the fact that there are certain times in which spiritual understanding and evolution can be enhanced dramatically if one is in the right place, or the right state of mind, to participate. At these special intersections of space and time there is a degree of accessibility to spiritual truth which is not normally available, and which is greatly beneficial to the aspiring soul. Some festivals occur every year and punctuate the calendar, while others come around less frequently, according to the cycles and revolutions of the planetary bodies and constellations. For example, in Peru there will shortly occur a Sun festival which was highly auspicious in the lives of the ancient cultures of South America and which has not recurred for over 1,000 years. It is on the same principle that the knowledge and understanding of yoga is carried to the world through the medium of yoga conventions.

Yoga conventions are never haphazard affairs, organised randomly. Great and detailed preparation is necessary, over months and years - not only on the mundane level, but also on the cosmic level. There are certain times when cosmic energy is more readily available and is in greater supply than others. The ebb and flow of this energy is closely related to planetary cycles, lunar influences, seasonal changes and other natural variations, and it is only with considerable knowledge and awareness that the site and time of a convention can be selected. Then there is a projection of consciousness by the guru, by the sages, the yogis and the aspirants until ultimately a successful convention comes to fruition. Guru and disciple alike open up to the cosmic energies and the convention becomes a reality.

Convention time is a period of distillation and transfer of the high knowledge from the yogis who realise and preserve it into the fertile minds and hearts of the seekers. It is a time of initiation into higher awareness when spiritual understanding and energy flows through to those who are open to receive it. It occurs in the same way that ink is drawn into a blotter or water is absorbed into dry, parched soil.

The sustenance, spiritual food, is there for the taking during the convention, if you want it. This is the sublime opportunity, for guru has opened himself fully to that cosmic flow over the days of the convention. Then, as the cosmic influences wane, the energy, the guru's knowledge and power become less accessible to all and sundry and the opportunity has passed once again. After the convention there follows a time of sustained practice, application of the knowledge gamed, a time of consolidation and assimilation. This is how spiritual growth occurs. The convention is the means of distribution of spiritual knowledge to those who seek happiness, fulfilment and understanding of life.

Yoga conventions generate a great deal of energy and power in the community in which they are conducted. The sattvic state of mind, characterised by spiritual aspiration, develops in the individual and collective consciousness of the community which hosts the convention and the pilgrims and seekers who travel from far and wide to participate. The convention is a time of joy, laughter and enhanced evolution, a collective experience of yoga. Good friends meet again, new friendships are formed and consciousness generally awakens to the greater and higher possibilities of life. It is a spiritual recharge when our capacity to give and receive knowledge and love flowers and receives nourishment. For a person who is sick, or in a rut, or who feels trapped in personal limitations and problems, the convention is a time of change, of reorganisation and reconstitution of values, purpose and goals in living. Just by exposure to the elevated vibration of the convention, by participation in the practical classes and satsangs, one's whole understanding and appreciation of life can change dramatically. It is just a matter of remaining open and receptive to the amazing spiritual energy which is generated.

For the sadhak who is practising yoga in his daily life the yoga convention provides the opportunity to receive proper instruction and guidance in the practices, to discuss with the guru any problems encountered in sadhana. Simultaneously, the guru can make any adjustments to the sadhana, as may be necessary. There are definite stages in spiritual life and with earnest practice one progresses through them towards the goal. At each stage there are special problems and difficulties, often of a subtle nature, which vary from individual to individual and require delicate and profound guidance from a guru or an advanced teacher who knows the problems and pitfalls of each stage from personal experience. This guidance is made available at the convention as well.

Swami Satyananda Saraswati and his disciples will be conducting a number of conventions and programs in India and abroad over the coming months. Don't miss the opportunity to partake of the priceless knowledge and inspiration which will be available then. Select a convention which you can attend and make your preparations now. Be prepared to travel a great distance if necessary, for it will definitely be most worthwhile.