The Kanyas of Rikhia

Namo Narayana

We kanyas and batuks feel very honoured to offer this tribute today to the great yogi who lived amongst us as our beloved Swami Satyananda. On 6th December, when we heard the Bhagavad Gita being chanted early in the morning at the ashram, we knew that something very great had happened overnight.

Soon we learnt that Sri Swamiji had taken Samadhi and some of us could not hold back our tears, for that meant we would never see his radiant smile, his loving glance, his sparkling eyes again nor would we hear his kind words ever again. But then Swami Satsangi and Swami Niranjan appeared amidst us and told us that Sri Swamiji was forever in our hearts and that gave us the strength to smile again.

After all, that is how Sri Swamiji would like to see us. Strong, brave, confident and courageous. As the news spread, people started pouring into the ashram from all parts of the world. I think that day the entire world must have come to the ashram gates. We kanyas and batuks too came to bid our beloved Swamiji farewell. We attended the abhisheka of Sri Swamiji and had our final darshan amidst thousands of people. Sri Swamiji looked radiant as ever, so peaceful, calm and serene. Even in that moment when he had left his body he looked so regal like an emperor and so graceful and beautiful. We will always remember him in our hearts, for he has found a place there forever.

As the sixteen-day Shodashi Pooja began, we also joined in the ceremonies. What better tribute and honour could we offer Sri Swamiji! It is because of his grace that today we can stand before you with confidence, grace and poise and speak like this. It is because of him that we have learnt many other useful things like modern and classical dance, English, drama, chanting of Sanskrit text and computers, the list is endless. We never dreamt that we could do all this, but he had trust in us and we had faith in him, so it all happened naturally and easily. You can say that our whole lives are transformed. In fact, we kanyas and batuks truly reflect to the world the power of guru’s grace.

Before Sri Swamiji entered our lives we had nothing, we were nothing. He gave our lives meaning and awakened our innate and true potentials. He gave us self-confidence, self-worth and a goal and direction in life. He picked us kanyas up from nothing and he made us Devi – this is the true power of guru that we have witnessed in our lives.

We kanyas and batuks were all born after Sri Swamiji came to live here in Rikhia Panchayat and are indeed blessed to be adopted by Sri Swamiji. We feel proud to be his children.

Rikhia was once a remote and desolate panchayat. Our parents tell us of the times when there was no food, no clothes, and no jobs. Since Sri Swamiji came here, there has been a spectacular transformation here in Rikhia from being one of the poorest panchayats in India’s poorest state to what we see today – a dynamic and vibrant panchayat abundant in peace, plenty and prosperity. By grace of guru there is food to eat, schools to study at and a beautiful ashram to learn and grow under the peaceful influence of sannyasins, and above all, hope for a better and brighter future.

Sri Swamiji is always very close to us in our hearts and minds. But do you know this? Even for the kanyas and batuks who live here in Rikhiapeeth, the darshan of our beloved Sri Swamiji was always a rare and precious moment. On 2nd December 2009, when we were celebrating Swami Satyananda’s 87th birthday here at Rikhiapeeth, we were very lucky to have his final darshan. Do you know that on that day Sri Swamiji spoke only to us kanyas and batuks and our parents. He asked us who our father is and we kanyas and batuks replied with hearts overflowing with love, “You, You, You are our father, and you always will be.” Swamiji, how can we thank you enough for giving our lives meaning?

We are very proud to have known Swami Satyananda and feel very honoured that such a great man came to live in our unknown and remote village. And now Rikhia has become immortal because Sri Swamiji’s Samadhi sthal is established here. His whole life was dedicated to the upliftment of humanity.

His guru, Swami Sivananda himself had compared Swami Satyananda to Nachiketa when he said: “Few would have such vairagya at such a young age. Swami Satyananda is full of the Nachiketa element. Yet, any work he takes up he will complete in a perfect manner. He does the work of four people and yet never complains. He is a versatile genius, yet humble and simple.”

It is said that when great yogis such as Paramahamsa Satyananda abandon the gross body, they become ever powerful and their spiritual potential is magnified as they are not confined by the limitations of the body. Our beloved Sri Swamiji is now free from the shackles of the gross body and his divine presence pervades all creation. He is now omnipotent and omnipresent. We kanyas and batuks feel Sri Swamiji is still present amongst us to bless us all, as he lives in our hearts. We feel his presence everywhere, in the gentle breeze and in the warm sun, in the chirping of the birds and in the drifting clouds, wherever we look we see him.

Swamiji, whenever we need to feel your presence we will look up into the sky and we know that you will be there smiling down on us and showering your love and blessing upon us all. Swamiji, with your blessings there is nothing we cannot achieve and nothing we cannot overcome. Please Swamiji, shower your blessings on us forever.

We know that Sri Swami Satyananda loved Rikhia very, very much and always felt very happy when he saw us because his face always lit up with a beautiful smile. In 2007, during the sacred Sat Chandi pooja, Swami Satyananda declared that Rikhia would be known as Rikhiapeeth and appointing Swami Satyasangananda as the first Peethadishwari of Rikhiapeeth, gave her the sankalpa to ensure that the three fundamental teachings of Swami Sivananda, ‘serve, love, give’, are practiced and lived here in Rikhiapeeth. He also said, “Rikhiapeeth has a very bright future because I am its foundation.”

Today, with guru as sakshi, we kanyas and batuks, who are the very lucky children of Rikhia panchayat, make our sankalpa to fulfil all the dreams that Sri Swamiji had for us and pledge ourselves to always be worthy of guru’s grace and treasure the two flowers he has left behind for us – Swami Niranjanji and Swami Satsangi

Namo Narayana