From 1st to 6th July, Swami Anandananda from Italy conducted a Nada Yoga Course at Rikhiapeeth. Participants gathered from all over India and the world, and were skilfully guided through techniques aimed at penetrating the deeper layers of the mind utilizing the medium of sound and vibration. This comprehensive course led participants through the more subtle aspects of nada yoga while giving them an opportunity to engage in seva and satsang and derive the benefits of ashram life. The course featured satsang with Swami Satyasangananda who revealed many practical applications of the ancient techniques of nada yoga and yogic science.
For thousands of years, devotees have celebrated Vyasa Poornima or Guru Poornima as a day of worship of guru on this full moon of July. On this sacred day, thousands of devotees gathered in Rikhiapeeth to invoke the radiant grace of Guru Shakti and to renew their dedication to guru.
The Yajnashala had been elaborately decorated well into the night before by the Greek devotees and was filled with fresh lilies and roses that filled the entire hall with colour and life.
Swami Satyananda had invited each and every villager of Rikhia Panchayat with an individually addressed and hand delivered invitation. Thousands of locals from all surrounding villages walked early in the morning to the ashram to offer their devotion to guru who has transformed their lives so much.
The kanyas and batuks all arrived promptly and proudly dressed in their new Spanish outfit that they had received the night before as Guru Poornima Prasad. The batuks looked smart in the trendy cargo pants and the kanyas loved the bright pink skirt that twirled as they moved!
The morning pooja began with a stunning traditional Bharatnatyam dance by the kanyas to invoke the grace and blessings of guru and Ganesha. This was a most fitting beginning to the day’s proceedings as the innocence, grace and confidence of the kanyas touched the hearts of all.
The kanyas conducted the challenging chanting with ease and confidence; they chanted the entire Saundarya Lahari followed by an extensive repertoire of prayers, kirtans and havan dedicated to guru. All present were fortunate to witness the sacred guru pooja and havan performed by the kanyas.
The unquestionable highlight of the day was darshan of Swami Satyananda. To have darshan of Sadguru on this sacred day brings immense blessing into the lives of all present. Swami Satyananda was present throughout the entire program and after satsang, guests were guided for parikrama during which they had the opportunity to offer pranaam and dakshina to Gurudev.
Swami Sivananda’s central teaching of ‘serve, love and give’ was highlighted during the Guru Poornima program as Prasad was offered to the village elders of Rikhia Panchayat along with the respected gramins. Prasad was also offered to the Santhali villagers of Pathal Garha and Sotari Letwa who have been instrumental in the development of Rikhiapeeth, as for the last nineteen years they have come daily to work in the ashram. As the Prasad was being distributed, the kanyas sang one of their favourite kirtans: Sivananda jinka nama hai, Rikhia jinka dhama hai, Ayse bhakti data ko, hamara bhi pranama hai.
In the presence of Sri Swamiji, bicycles were distributed to kanyas who had shown dedication and commitment to their studies in the hope that the bicycle would help them to continue their studies and enable them to fulfil all their dreams and ambitions for the future. Awards were also presented to deserving kanyas and batuks who had excelled in a particular area of holistic development and as encouragement for some of the smallest kanyas and batuks who showed great potential and dedication.
A special announcement and tribute was made to mark the 27th sannyasa anniversary of Swami Satyasangananda. It was on Guru Poornima in 1982 that she was initiated by Swami Satyananda in Dashnami order of sannyasa at Ganga Darshan, Munger. The kanyas anointed and garlanded her on behalf of everyone present. This was a very special moment for the batuks and kanyas of Rikhia as they had an opportunity to express their love and reverence to Swami Satyasangananda who they said “has been their driving force, inspiration, role-model, friend, philosopher, guru and guide”. After being anointed by the kanyas, Swami Satyasangananda received the blessings of her guru, Swami Satyananda, who said: “At an age when most girls prefer to enjoy life in London or America, Swami Satsangi chose a life of dedication, service and surrender. In all these years she has worked hard and has always been committed to the highest ideals of sannyasa. Now she will travel to all parts of the world spreading the light of yoga and illuminating the path of spiritual seekers.”
Soon after the Guru Poornima celebrations were over, on 11th July, Swami Satyasangananda travelled to England and Ireland to conduct a very successful international seminar. This was a very exciting event and symbolized great change and time of growth for Rikhiapeeth.
Swami Satyasangananda Saraswati, also known as Swami Satsangi, is the Peethadishwari, or acharya, of Rikhiapeeth as appointed by Swami Satyananda. He gave her the sankalpa to ensure that the three fundamental teachings of Swami Sivananda, ‘serve, love, give’, are practised and lived here in Rikhiapeeth.
Since the inception of Rikhiapeeth, Swami Satsangi has been instrumental in creating this tapobhoomi of Swami Satyananda, where he performed many long and arduous sadhanas. Rikhiapeeth, as we see it today, has been built on her ceaseless efforts and dedication. Swami Satsangi’s tireless efforts and dedication for over twenty years had given the activities of Sivananda Math such dynamic momentum and clear direction that all projects and activities could continue faultlessly despite her brief physical absence from Rikhiapeeth.
Prior to the Rikhia chapter, Swami Satsangi had travelled extensively throughout the world with her guru Swami Satyananda on his tours. During these extensive travels the ancient systems of tantra and yoga were brought to each and every corner of the world, to people of every caste, religion, creed and nationality. So, in fact, Swami Satsangi’s tour to UK was a continuation of the extensive efforts of Swami Satyananda to bring yoga to every corner of the world, in which she continues to play an instrumental role.