The Rajasooya Yajna

Rishi Vivekananda Saraswati

The yajna was such a beautiful total experience that it almost demeans it to analyze its parts. But analyze it we must if we are to grasp some of its magnitude. One aspect of the yajna that impressed one straight away was the organization behind it - there were thousands of people to be directed, seated, bedded, given the bags of prasad, and generally catered for, and, from the viewpoint of the delegates, it all went smoothly for the five days. People were amazed that all the thousands were fed with full meals three times a day without a hitch, and the food was delicious. All the delegates obviously felt the compassion and kindness that had been at the core of the yajna from the beginning, because they were considerate of each other and always courteous, despite the fact that thousands were being catered for in the enclosed spaces.

The yajna is a big family gathering, and we have the joy of meeting our relatives of the Satyananda family from all over India and the rest of the world. As well as giving us the opportunity of reminiscing over the past, we can plan our future together and enjoy the moment. We don't realize it at first, but when we join the movement started by Sri Swamiji, we do become members of a family of thousands of people worldwide dedicated to furthering his uplifting mission and joined by our mutual love and respect for him and for each other.

Of course, central to the yajna are the mantras in their various forms such as the Durga Saptashati Path, going continuously in the background at times and the foreground at others, and the kirtans, the Sri Mahishasura Mardini Stotra, and the chanting of the marriage of Rama and Sita from the Ramayana. Their effect became palpably more powerful as the yajna continued for the five days.

Every heart there was touched by the beautiful singing of the choir of girls chosen from among the kanyas, who led the kirtans and other chanting. At one point Swami Niranjan said he was sure the singing in heaven is no better, and his implication that they sing as sweetly as angels would surely be supported by everyone there.

The kanyas were a highlight of the occasion. These girls from the villages around Rikhiadham come from the lowest caste of the whole country. Their opportunities for improvement are usually non-existent, and their social group throughout the country lives on the poverty line. Sri Swamiji has adopted them, and he and Swami Satsangi have vowed to care for their welfare, training and education into the future. They were there in their colourful uniforms, hundreds of them, for the whole of the program, and their presence gave a youthful energy and an atmosphere of playfulness and childlike candidness. In addition to that, however, they were running much of the function! They were everywhere, leading the mantras, making the announcements in English as well as Hindi, guiding people to their places, leading the recipients of prasad, and generally making sure everyone was where they should be, and not where they shouldn't be. Who can protest when a beautiful five year old girl tells you that you can't go through that gate? Was it the power of the Divine Mother shining within them? If we asked people to tell us the main theme of the yajna, we would probably receive many answers. Certainly there were many important elements within the yajna - obvious and subtle. To me an important main theme was generosity. It was going on in front of our eyes the whole time. The rise in status, education and opportunity of the kanyas from the generosity of Sri Swamiji was there to see. Most of the time long lines of people were being given prasad, all of it donated as money or materials by generous people, and organized by generous workers. The lesson was there for us at every moment.

The finale of the five-day program was the marriage of two people, representing the marriage of Rama and Sita -the perfect couple - symbolizing the union of the individual consciousness with the divine consciousness. Some parts of the yajna had been leading up to this, and this colourful sacrament, with its humour and its sanctity, was a reminder to us of our ultimate destiny, as well as the spiritual basis of marriage, and the importance of the loving respect between parents as the substrata of society.

However, the yajna was more than the sum of these parts. At one level it was a colourful spectacle, at another a total positive experience, at another a subtle spiritual manifestation, and in other dimensions it was no doubt a transformation of which most of us are completely unaware. We have all been changed by this experience, and our gratitude goes out to Sri Swamiji and all those who worked so hard to make it the success it was.

But there was one more surprise in store for us. Sri Swamiji generously gave individual darshan to us all on the day after the yajna. He had been with us on the day before, and even took part in the organization of the feeding of the kanyas on the last day, but the darshan for us individually was indeed a great blessing and an unforgettable climax to the whole experience.