The Nearness of God

Swami Sattwamurti (Ireland)

When our invitation to Ram Naam Aradhana came instantly I knew I would be there. The wording of the invitation was of particular personal significance and with no sense of expectation a strong quiet faith was established. This was just as well for during the early days of the month the wealth of Indian art forms and music being presented was under- standably all in Hindi, and as a westerner I felt a bit like a peripheral appendage at times. However, there was a distinct feeling of being absorbed into something, although what I could not say; a bit like a tired child coming home to be enveloped in the loving arms of a mother.

To say that the performances without exception were of a high standard would be an understatement – they were pure yoga itself, each group having that unique ingredient of intense vitality that is peculiar to the Indian people. At the top of the list must come the children and teachers of Bal Yoga Mitra Mandal, for they warmed and delighted the hearts of everyone. The two male teachers enthusiastically tossed the appropriate child onto the stage as its cue came and yanked them off again with much affection. When a spare moment would come they would helplessly hug each other with delight at how well the performance was being received, which indeed it merited for the setting, costumes and acting were superb. Swamiji called them the third generation of yogis of Munger.

How to express the meaningfulness of being almost continually in the combined presence of Paramahamsaji and Swamiji daily for a whole month? Seeing the poignant expression of Swamiji's discipleship in every gesture and interaction between them; sensing their unification to the extent that if Swamiji was absent even for a few moments one felt the lack of him.

There was the wonderful sight of Paramahamsaji's radiant body, bronze in the early morning sun doing daily walkabouts just as in the old days. One morning he came to the weaving department where I was doing karma yoga, stopped in front of me, looked with such happiness into my eyes and said, “Isn't this lovely work, you like to do it?” I heard my voice make some affirmative reply as every cell in my body seemed to inflate with prana. Never in my entire life was I so eager to get on with the weaving. In true Satyananda fashion, the next day the weaving department closed!

Being at close range to him during midday satsang, his humour, wisdom and bhakti succinctly hitting the nail on the head with every subject that came up for discussion as only a true Satyam can. One split second direct eye contact infused such a wealth of inspiration – pure grace flowing through a very great free spirit. Every gesture, word and attitude in innocence verifying that he is a living, breathing expression of all that he has ever taught us.

Sometimes during chanting from the stage a spontaneous rumbling groan of bhakti would come across Paramahamsaji's microphone and many times he joined in with chanting. For the last two evenings Swamiji led kirtan that uplifted the whole of Rikhia, and to our delight Paramahamsaji followed by leading another kirtan himself. It felt as though even those who were unable to be there were embraced in those vibrations.

A few treasured memories: Paramahamsaji stealing a glimpse as his awareness became attuned to a heart swelling with bhakti, and yet at another time when compassion was being expressed. How soft he looked.

To recall all that he said will take many magazine issues, but just a few snippets struck home forcibly. His first dharma is not to gurudom but to the quality of his own sannyasa. And again he reaffirmed that chanting of the Lord's name will be the sadhana of the two thousandth year. He described it as the easiest, quickest, safest and surest way, but also the most difficult to do with the right bhava. A group of Sikhs sitting close to him nodded in profound agreement and when they chanted it was obvious that they had managed to get it right.

The most vital, disciplined and professional performance was the Kuchipudi dancers. One could feel them imbibing the persona of the deity, and Parvati actually blushed when she refused to raise her leg as high as Shiva's. We in turn, with minds distracted in absorption of the beauty before us, also imbibed. And I understood that as surely as the early morning mist lying in the valley equally saturates every leaf, flower and blade of grass, to the literate and illiterate alike is commun- icated the understanding of the nearness of God in every event and dimension of life.