On New Year’s Day at Ganga Darshan, the sannyasins and the Bal Yoga Mitra Mandal children began the year 2011 with the chanting of Hanuman Chalisa 108 times in the presence of Swami Niranjanananda and Swami Satyasangananda. The chanting lasted seven hours, and the day concluded with Akhara Darshan for all.
As part of the tradition of Ganga Darshan, on the 5th day of every month, the sadhana of Rudrabhishek is conducted at Shivapeeth in the Akhara and on the 6th of every month, the abhisheka of Sri Yantra is conducted.
Swamiji started this tradition on 5th January, 2011. It was on 5th December 2009 that Sri Swamiji took maha samadhi and on 6th December he was given bhu-samadhi in Rikhiapeeth. Upon completion of the first year from the date of maha samadhi, Swamiji announced that the abhisheka conducted on the 5th and 6th of every month will become a sadhana of Ganga Darshan, dedicated to Sri Swamiji, who ignited the flame of inspiration within us all. This tradition shall continue to be maintained by the administrators of Ganga Darshan in times to come.
Akhara in itself is a very special place, which, although being in Ganga Darshan, is a separate and restricted area. At the Akhara, Swamiji has created peethas, shrines, for Devi, for Shiva and for Guru. It is a place of worship and sadhana. Only twice a month the gates open for aspirants and guests who have the opportunity to witness and participate in this auspicious and sacred event in the grounds of Akhara.
The residents of the ashram live a very simple life, and the guests or visitors are also obliged to live that life. The simplicity of life is a type of penance. Therefore, as far as I have seen, ashrams have just one objective in mind: to keep alive an atmosphere that will accelerate the pace of evolution in spiritual life.
Therefore, you should try to become a part of the ashram, get into the swing and work hard physically with dedicated responsibility, with creative intelligence, with all the skills, techniques and knowledge you have at hand as a businessman, teacher, carpenter or agriculturist, or even as an unskilled labourer. You should work in the same spirit as if you were working for your institution or home, and as if the people in the ashram were your kith and kin. When your time expires, just close the file and leave. Then apply the same attitude to your family, work, money and profession. That is the message of the ashram.
From 2nd to 6th January, seven hundred-fifty guests from all over the world participated in an Ashram Life Yoga Satsang Week. Along with participation in Swami Niranjan’s satsangs, the program included daily morning asana and pranayama classes, yoga nidra, karma yoga and evening chanting and kirtan.
On the auspicious day of Basant Panchami, 19th January 1964, I thank all my disciples, devotees and admirers for their kind help and co-operation accorded to me during my parivrajaka life, enabling me in the propagation of spiritual and yogic knowledge from door to door and place to place all over India.
On this very date, in memory of my Paramguru, His Holiness Sri Swami Sivananda Saraswati who attained maha samadhi on 14th July 1963, an akhanda deepak will be kept burning for all times to come, as a token of my deep regard and gratitude to Swami Sivananda, from whom I learned the practical side of yoga.
I am sure you will all continue your kind help and support for the wide spread of the ancient practice of yoga all over the world in a modern and scientific way.
On 8th February, Basant Panchami (fifth day of spring) was celebrated at Ganga Darshan. Basant Panchami is the day Swami Satyananda founded the Bihar School of Yoga in 1963 as part of the mission given to him by his guru, Swami Sivananda, with the purpose of propagating yogic vidya, knowledge, yogic vijnana, science, and yogic sanskriti, culture.
In the morning Swami Niranjan initiated four hundred aspirants into mantra, one hundred-ninety into jignasu sannyasa and ninety-three into karma sannyasa. In the afternoon speeches were given by Swami Niranjan, Swami Shankarananda and Swami Suryaprakash, and guest speakers, Swami Vidyamba Saraswati from Sri Lalita Mahila Samajam, Tamil Nadu, and Abdullah Bukhari, the Imam of Jama Mosque, Munger.
The main duty of the guru is to help remove the darkness of avidya, ignorance, by guiding the evolution of the spiritual aspirant. In order to do this, the guru teaches all kinds of sadhana on the physical, psychic and spiritual planes, and helps the disciple to follow the correct path. The duty of the disciple is to serve and obey the guru and to learn from his teachings, gain from his knowledge and so become self-purified.
On Guru Poornima the spiritual powers and grace of not only my guru, but all gurus descend to this earthly plane in order to inspire the spiritually hungry souls and pilgrims towards the spiritual life.
Guru Poornima is your rebirth day – be ready.
Empty yourself so you can be filled with music.
Bathe in nectar and await the rising sun.
As darkness disappears, shake your body and mind.
Let your old samskaras drop away.
Tune in with me on the spiritual plane
And begin to live a beautiful new life.
Paduka Darshan, previously known as Ananda Bhavan, was the first sadhana place of Swami Satyananda in Munger and this year hosted the first Guru Poornima in Munger since Sri Swamiji’s Maha Samadhi. It was also the first program hosted by Sannyasa Peeth. Three large stages for guru, havan and chanting run along the riverside of the Ganga with a background of stained-glass yantras filtering the vast expanse of sky beyond, providing a visually striking setting for a highly charged, auspicious event.
The program started each morning with the chanting of Durgasahasranamavali by the sannyasins and havan conducted by Swami Niranjan. This was the first time Swamiji’s year-long anushthana, usually held in the private, secluded grounds of the Akhara and attended only by ashram residents, students and guests on rare occasions, was opened up to the public on such a large scale.
Mid-afternoon, worship of Devi continued with the sacred Durga Sahasrarchan pooja performed by Swami Niranjan with chanting of mantras by the children of Bal Yoga Mitra Mandal (Children’s Yoga Fellowship). Throughout this special pooja, prasad was distributed each day to all participants.
In the constant presence of Swami Niranjan, all aspects of the event were conducted by the children of Bal Yoga Mitra Mandal, including crowd control, seating, announcements and stories, pooja, havan, chanting, and singing kirtans and bhajans.
Over five thousand people participated in the program each day from overseas, India and locally from Munger.
During the program, meals were served at Shiva Shakambhari, the new kitchen on the Yoga Vidya premises adjacent to Ganga Darshan. Three pandals had been erected to serve as outside kitchen and dining areas.
On 15th July the Guru Poornima celebration took place with Guru Paduka Pooja performed by Swami Niranjan, Swami Dharmashakti (Ammaji) and four Bal Yoga Mitra Mandal girls. After the pooja, Swamiji dedicated the upcoming Sannyasa Peeth at Paduka Darshan to Paramguru Swami Satyananda. More than five thousand people paid their respect to the gurus in a five-hour parikrama, receiving the divine grace, blessings and inspiration which pervaded the cosmos on that auspicious day, intensified through the potency of the sacred worships, havan, chanting, kirtan and satsang.
Initiations took place as the sannyasins chanted Sundarkand and Saundarya Lahari. Swami Niranjan gave six children naamkaran, one child vidyarambha, and initiated three hundred aspirants into mantra, one hundred eighty-five into jignasu sannyasa and sixty-four into karma sannyasa.
In his final Guru Poornima message, Swamiji outlined the aims and objectives of Sannyasa Peeth and announced that, just as Sat Chandi Mahayajna is an annual feature of Rikhiapeeth and Basant Panchami of Ganga Darshan, a Lakshmi Narayana Yajna, conducted from 8th to 12th September, will become the annual feature of Sannyasa Peeth.
From 15th to 21st December, three hundred eighty guests from all over India and one hundred eighty-five guests from twenty-eight countries participated in the activities of the week. Acharyas from around the world gave the morning APMB class and the yoga nidra session in the afternoon. On the last day, everyone was invited to have darshan of Ma Ganga at Sannyasa Peeth.
On 25th December, a havan was conducted by the children of BYMM with chanting of the Ishu-namavali, the 101 names of Jesus. The students of the 4-months Yogic Studies Course presented a stirring Christmas play. With song and dance, the story of Christmas was enacted to the delight of guests, BYMM children and residents. Swamiji spoke on the significance of this special night.
A havan to the chanting of the Vishnusahasranamavali was conducted in the grounds of the Akhara. It was followed by buoyant and joyful kirtan. The singing and dancing went on far into the night.
Swamiji said that one should thank the old year for having given many opportunities for growth and welcome the new year with the attitude of recognizing and utilizing its opportunities for further spiritual development.