An inspiring Bhagavata Katha was conducted in Rikhiapeeth for the spiritual upliftment of all from 1st to 8th September, as the sacred Bhagavata Katha grants bliss and moksha to saints, knowledge to scholars, and showers blessings upon householders. This grand event culminated on 8th September with a havan for Swami Sivananda’s Janmotsava.
The inspiring katha was conducted by renowned Pujya Sri Girishananda Maharaj, who eloquently glorified the life of Sri Krishna. The inspiring stories were cherished by one and all, young and old, rich and poor. The Bhagavata Katha was a unique opportunity for all in attendance, especially the local villagers of Rikhia and the kanyas and batuks, to hear the inspiring stories of Sri Krishna and to learn many new things. Throughout the Bhagavata Katha, all fortunate to attend were uplifted, inspired and experienced the bliss and joy of devotion to Lord Krishna.
Each day prior to the katha, the kanyas or batuks performed a dance, of various styles, Bharatnatyam, Odissi or modern. In the ashram the kanyas and batuks have perfected English, computers, chanting of the Vedas, Bhagavad Gita, Ramayana, kirtans, and now dance. This is the true definition of expansion of mind. The dances performed by the kanyas and batuks were a true tribute to the sankalpa of Swami Satyananda that is being fulfilled at Rikhiapeeth, to work towards the upliftment of those who are the most neglected of our society.
On 8th September, a havan was conducted to conclude the Bhagavata Katha and shower blessings upon all fortunate to attend, as this sacred pooja was conducted on the auspicious day of our Paramguru Swami Sivanandaji’s Janmotsava. The spirit of Swami Sivananda is very alive in Rikhiapeeth as it is a place where his mandate of ‘serve, love, give’ is practised and lived.
All were blessed by the darshan of Swami Satyananda on 8th September. Having the darshan of Sadguru during this anushthana meant that our prayers throughout the Bhagavata Katha anushthana had been accepted.
It was on this day, the 12th of September, in 1947, that Swami Satyananda received initiation from Swami Sivananda into the Dashnami order of sannyasa, on the banks of the Ganga.
This auspicious day was celebrated in Rikhiapeeth with Rudrabhisheka, havan, prayers and kirtans conducted by the kanyas and batuks. The sacred worship was dedicated to Swami Satyananda to thank him for the joy and inspiration he brings into our lives and to renew dedication, faith and love for him.
Swami Satyananda does not call this Sannyasa Divas; he calls it Samarpan Divas, a day when he had surrendered. This is a day of great significance for spiritual aspirants around the globe, as on this day we can all rededicate ourselves to guru and surrender in our own way.
This was a very special day for Rikhiapeeth. Why? Because twenty years ago on this very day, exactly at midday, Swami Satyananda set foot in this remote village of Rikhia for the first time. Swami Satyananda came here to live in seclusion and to lead the life of a paramahamsa. Here he performed the most difficult tapasya of panchagni and ashtottar-shat-laksh mantra purashcharana.
Since coming to Rikhia Panchayat in 1989, Swami Satyananda made every household his household, this is described as atmabhava in Vedanta. He has said: “The entire panchayat is my ashram. Every house here is my house. Their pains and pleasures are my own. Their poverty is my poverty.” This vedantic philosophy teaches that you have to see yourself in everyone and you have to see everyone in yourself.
When Swami Satyananda came to Rikhia it was a very desolate place, with no roads, no electricity, no houses, no food, no health care, no clean water and no clothes. It was one of the poorest panchayats in India’s poorest state. Now twenty years have passed and we are all witness to the spectacular transformation of Rikhia, which is now a dynamic and vibrant panchayat blessed with peace, prosperity, plenty and health.
The 23rd of September was honoured with prayers and kirtans dedicated to guru and the showing of a special film presentation of satsangs by Swami Satyananda followed by rare footage of him performing panchagni sadhana in Rikhiapeeth. All present were then blessed to have darshan of the vedi where Swami Satyananda performed panchagni sadhana.
From 19th to 27th September, the nine-day anushthana of Ashwin Navaratri was observed in Rikhiapeeth. During Navaratri, which literally means ‘nine nights’ devotees gather at Rikhiapeeth to partake in the sacred anushthana which includes worship of Sri Rama with the Navaan Parayan of Ramacharitamanas and worship of the Divine Mother.
As a special feature of this anushthana, the kanyas for the first time led the participants through the chanting of Durga Saptashati. This path has the power to invoke the grace and blessings of the Divine Mother who removes all our difficulties: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Despite this being their first recitation of Durga Saptashati, the kanyas demonstrated themselves to be faultless in the pronunciation and rhythm of this challenging text.
Diksha by Swami Niranjanananda and Swami Satyasangananda was conducted on 26th September. Hundreds of aspirants received mantra, jignasu and karma sannyasa initiation.
On the final evening of the Navaratri anushthana, the kanyas of Rikhia performed a classical temple dance from Orissa, which would originally be performed as part of the daily ritual, as an offering to God. The kanyas and batuks then performed havan by chanting the Lalita Sahasra Namavali, the 1,000 names of Devi.
Ashwin Navaratri anushthana at Rikhiapeeth was full of bliss, joy, happiness and devotion. By performing this anushthana in the tapobhoomi of Swami Satyananda, in the presence of the devis and devatas, prayers can be heard and all fortunate to attend surely received the grace and blessings of God and Guru.