December

Shodashi: 6th–22nd December 2009

Paramahamsa Satyananda attained Mahasamadhi on 5th December 2009 at midnight. Following this auspicious event, an intense Shodashi, sixteen-day anushthana, was conducted at Rikhiapeeth. This was a fitting tribute to the exemplary life and teachings of the great yogi Paramahamsa Satyananda, whose grace and inspiration has transformed the lives of millions of people around the world.

Early in the morning of 6th December, akhanda Mahamrityunjaya mantra commenced in the pooja area. Mrityunjaya Mahadev is the ishta devata of Swami Satyananda, so Mahamrityunjaya mantra was the best way to honour his life. From this day, the sacred akhanda Mahamrityunjaya mantra will continue in Rikhiapeeth twenty-four hours a day for the peace, health and prosperity of all.

As the news of Swami Satyananda’s Mahasamadhi spread, devotees, aspirants, sannyasins and householders from all over India and all parts of the world came to Rikhiapeeth to offer their prayers and devotion to Sri Swamiji. On the afternoon of 6th December, thousands of people were blessed with a final darshan of Sri Swamiji in Ganesh Kutir. This was followed by abhisheka of Sri Swamiji which was performed by Swami Niranjan and Swami Satsangi at the panchagni vedi. Sri Swamiji looked radiant, peaceful, calm and serene. Even in that moment when he had left his body he looked so regal like an emperor, graceful and beautiful. Bhu Samadhi was conducted in Parna Kutir, which continues to remain open daily from 8.00–10.00am for one and all to have Samadhi darshan.

The Shodashi anushthana united people from all corners of the world from all castes, religions and creeds with one purpose, to honour the life of Sri Swamiji. All those present were touched by the power of this extraordinary anushthana and felt the presence and blessings of Sri Swamiji stronger than ever before. It is said that when a great yogi such as Paramahamsa Satyananda abandons the gross body, they become ever powerful and their spiritual potential is magnified, as they are not confined by the limitations of the body. Swami Satyananda is now free from the shackles of the gross body and his divine body is omnipotent and omnipresent enabling us all to connect with the all-pervading Guru Shakti.

During this sacred Shodashi, each and every person experienced not grief and loss, but total bliss, peace, contentment and fulfillment. This was Sri Swamiji’s gift to us and proof that in his final moments of life and beyond, he experienced complete moksha and what we felt was his gift to us and a mere glimpse of the total cosmic union and ananda that he experienced.

The Shodashi brought to life the central teachings expounded by Swami Satyananda ‘Give, give and give’. Yajna Prasad was distributed daily to hundreds of needy families from surrounding panchayats. Throughout Shodashi, well over seven thousand families received Prasad of much-needed basic necessities including blankets, clothes, cooking utensils and grains. Daily bhoj was also conducted for several thousand people, including the kanyas and batuks, and villagers of Rikhia Panchayat. On 8th December, Swami Niranjan and Swami Satsangi washed the feet of all the kanyas and batuks and the thousands of residents, guests and villagers who were invited for bhoj and Prasad. This tradition was maintained throughout the entire Shodashi by selected sannyasins who washed the feet of each and every person who came for bhoj.

Powerful mantras were chanted throughout the Shodashi by the kanyas of Rikhia in the pooja area. The mantras that were chanted each day added to the glow of our beloved Paramahamsaji’s divine and luminous body. The daily havans, kirtans and prayers created a highly charged energy field in which it was possible to connect with the atman of Sri Swamiji.

Throughout the anushthana, the kanyas confidently led hours of chanting daily, including chanting Hanuman Chalisa 108 times in one day, the next day chanting Sundarkand of Ramacharitamanas nine times and the day after that chanting the entire Saundarya Lahari three times. The kanyas also chanted the entire Bhagavad Gita on Ekadashi and Uttarkand from Ramacharitamanas, which is the chapter of transcendental knowledge and especially related to sannyasins. Daily havans were also conducted including Vishnu Sahasra Namavali, Shiva Sahasra Namavali and Lalita Sahasranam.

Each afternoon, following the daily chanting, Rudrabhisheka was performed by the kanyas and batuks of Rikhia. Thereafter, all present were guided for a candle-lit Samadhi darshan. The sacred pooja area where Sri Swamiji had performed panchagni, among other rigorous sadhanas, was lit with 1,008 candles each evening throughout Shodashi as a tribute to Swami Satyananda and the atmosphere was transcendental as the whole area glowed with sparkling lights.

During Shodashi, Shobha Yatra was conducted from the Akhara to the enormous new Annapoorna Kshetram Kanya Kitchen. Hundreds joined this auspicious yatra which was led by the kanyas of Rikhia and Swami Niranjan and Swami Satsangi. Along the route, akhanda ‘Hare Rama Hare Krishna’ kirtan was sung and hundreds of local villagers and children joined the procession in honour of Sri Swamiji. Annapoorna Kshetram Kanya Kitchen has been developed in a disused factory which has been totally transformed into a modern and spacious dining area which will facilitate the daily feeding of over two thousand people. The Kanya Kitchen has most appropriately been named Annapoorna in praise and dedication to Ma Annapoorna, as she is the goddess of abundance and nourishes the entire creation. On arrival at the Annapoorna Kshetram Kanya Kitchen, the kanyas led the chanting of Annapoorna Stotram in praise of Goddess Annapoorna, and a huge picture of Swami Satyananda was installed along with Sri Yantra, the yantra of Rikhiapeeth.

On 21st December, in honour of Swami Satyananda the entire Ramayana was chanted in the Yajnashala. This chanting lasted for fifteen hours, starting at 8.00am and finishing at 11.00pm that night. Arati was conducted the next morning at 7.00am by Swami Niranjan and Swami Satsangi.

Sri Vidya pooja was also conducted in Tapowan on 21st and 22nd December by the yoginis of Lalita Mahila Samajam Ashram in Tamil Nadu, who had been especially invited to perform this most sacred worship. The Sri Vidya pooja is an ancient ritual during which the guru shakti was invoked within the guru mandala. The sacred Sri Vidya pooja culminated on 22nd December, on the occasion of Shodashi, the final day of the sixteen-day anushthana. On this day the learned pandits from Varanasi also performed Rudrabhisheka.

On the sacred day of Shodashi, Tapowan was packed beyond capacity with thousands of villagers of Rikhia Panchayat, kanyas and batuks, guests and devotees from all over India and around the world, who had come to offer their love and devotion to Swami Satyananda, whose life had inspired and touched the hearts of all. Many dignitaries came to offer their devotion, including Nitish Kumar, Chief Minister of Bihar.

The kanyas offered a moving tribute to Sri Swamiji which touched the hearts of all present. Throughout the tribute silence descended in Tapowan and all listened with hearts overflowing with love as the kanyas spoke with innocence and pure love of how Sri Swamiji had transformed their lives: “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.” The kanyas and batuks also made the sankalpa to treasure the two flowers Sri Swamiji has left behind – Swami Niranjan and Swami Satsangi.

Stirring tributes were also offered by Swami Satyasangananda, Swami Niranjanananda and Swami Suryaprakash which conveyed to all their commitment to uphold the sannyasa tradition and the ideals Sri Swamiji had devoted his life to.

After the tributes, pada prakshalana of sadhus and bhoj was conducted for sixteen sannyasins, during which the kanyas chanted from the 15th chapter of the Bhagavad Gita. During this bhoj, generous Prasad was also offered to over four hundred families and the kanyas and batuks received a new outfit.

After the conclusion of the anushthana in Tapowan, bhoj for all was conducted in Rikhiapeeth. On this day, nobody was stopped from entering the ashram. All those who came to the ashram gates were served a sumptuous meal of Brahma khitchari and the people kept pouring in. The young, the old, the men, the women, the children – a sea of faces was there to join in the befitting worship of Sri Swamiji.

In 2006, during the sacred Sat Chandi pooja, Swami Satyananda declared that Rikhia would be known as Rikhiapeeth and on 1st January 2007 appointed Swami Satyasangananda as its first Peethadishwari. He also said: “Rikhiapeeth has a very bright future because I am its foundation.” Rikhiapeeth has now become immortal because Sri Swamiji’s Samadhi Sthal is established here.

24th December

On this most auspicious day, the birth of the great yogi Paramahamsa Satyananda was celebrated in Rikhiapeeth. On this day, his life was honoured as a shining example of the true purpose of human existence, in which each and every thought, word and action was dedicated to uplifting humanity. He brought light, inspiration, hope and joy into our lives. His teachings are eternal, and he has showed us by his example the way to fulfil our true potentials.

On this day, we celebrated the birth and life of another great yogi, Jesus Christ, who also came to this earth to serve humanity. Jesus brought hope to all; he uplifted the poor and downtrodden and came to bring peace and love into our hearts and lives.

On this day, the kanyas encapsulated the teachings of these two great yogis by saying: “The power and the glory of these two great yogis can be found in their eternal compassion for all and everlasting message of universal peace, plenty and prosperity. Let their teachings inspire us all so that each one of us, in our own way, can practice them in our daily lives.”

On 24th December, mass Prasad distribution was conducted in Tapowan to hundreds of villagers of surrounding panchayats. This was followed by bhoj for the kanyas and batuks, during which they were served toasted sandwiches, which they loved! This was followed by an evening satsang in Christ Kutir during which all present could offer devotion and surrender to Sri Swamiji through prayers, havan and kirtan.

During the havan dedicated to the worship of guru, Swami Satyasangananda initiated spiritual aspirants from around the world into sannyasa, karma sannyasa, jignasu and mantra.

A special feature of the program was the havan dedicated to worship of Christ and procession and pooja of Baby Jesus offered by the kanyas. As the program concluded, Prasad was distributed to all the kanyas and batuks as well as all guests and residents who received the Prasad of Rikhiapeeth which contained the abundant blessings and grace of Pujya Gurudev, Swami Satyananda.

New Year

As the New Year began, it was time to reflect on the extraordinary events of the past year and to look towards the year ahead. On New Year’s day, the kanyas gave a message for us all; their message is a true and living testimony to the success of Sivananda Math activities within Rikhia Panchayat: “We kanyas and batuks who are the very lucky children of Rikhia Panchayat, make our sankalpa to keep the presence and spirit of Sri Swamiji strong and alive here in Rikhiapeeth by holding him forever in our hearts. He had trust in us and we pray that we can fulfil all the dreams he had for us and pledge ourselves to always be worthy of guru’s grace and to treasure the two flowers he has left behind for us – Swami Niranjanji and Swami Satsangi.”

2009: Making history in Rikhiapeeth

2009 was a year full of memorable highlights; however, two events marked it as a historic year for Rikhiapeeth and Sivananda Math.

On the 5th of December 2009, Paramahamsa Satyananda, the great yogi, attained Mahasamadhi in Rikhiapeeth. This event will be etched in history, as his achievements, inspiration, message and example have transformed the lives of millions around the globe and thus his life and teachings have influenced the course of humankind. The mass awakening of consciousness and spiritual revolution that was his life mission we shall now see flourish into a global culture. Forever we shall offer our deepest thanks and devotion to him for his immense contribution to the spiritual culture that we all shall benefit from for generations to come.

The other historic event was the Sri Vidya Pooja which was conducted in Rikhiapeeth from 23rd to 25th October. During this ancient worship, the Sri Yantra was installed here in Rikhiapeeth in the presence of Paramahamsa Satyananda and the prana prathishtha was performed by yoginis from Lalita Mahila Samajam Ashram in Tamil Nadu.

The yoginis had been especially invited by Sri Swamiji to perform this sacred pooja, as he had a long association with their ashram and full confidence in their ability to perform this pooja to perfection. Swami Satyananda had on many occasions praised their attention to detail and tradition in following the prescribed rituals and offerings. Throughout the worship, residents and guests had darshan of the sacred Sri Yantra and witnessed the yoginis perform the havan and abhisheka as they chanted the sacred mantras. Throughout the entire pooja, Swami Satyasangananda was present and joined the yoginis in making offerings to the havan and worshipping the Sri Yantra.

This Sri Yantra was used as the deity for the first time during the Sat Chandi Mahayajna 2009, and it was then that the power of this awakened yantra could be fully realized. From the very first day the presence and power of the Cosmic Shakti could be felt radiating from the Sri Yantra whose blessings showered in abundance upon one and all. Swami Satyananda had said that this Sri Vidya pooja is one of the highest sadhanas, as the power of the Cosmic Shakti is invoked and worshipped in the form of the Sri Yantra. This worship provides a very systematic, scientific and psychologically formulated method of worship which creates great receptivity and awakening in the psychic world, thereby bringing abundant blessings on the material plane.

Swami Satyananda had said that the yantra of Rikhiapeeth is the Sri Yantra and since being installed, daily worship of the Sri Yantra has been performed by the kanyas of Rikhia under the guidance of the sannyasins. The Sri Yantra is now a feature of Rikhiapeeth that has the power to bestow grace and blessings on all who are blessed with its darshan.

Now that the Sri Yantra has been installed in Rikhiapeeth, the grace of the Cosmic Mother will continue to shower upon Rikhia Panchayat all year round. With her grace and blessings the sankalpa of Swami Satyananda of ‘peace, plenty and prosperity’ will continue to manifest here in Rikhia Panchayat and in the lives of all those who come to this blessed place.