Under Swamiji's guidance, the World Yoga Convention was a colourful celebration, an inspiring festival of joy. There were so many events taking place to satisfy various minds and expectations of the participants who came from all corners of the globe and every state of India.
There were some others who were busily engaged with preparations for the events. They decorated, stitched and worked late into the night.
Five sevaks were on duty fulltime in the decorations store using all five sewing machines. They chose to stay there and work without attending any of the programs at the Polo Ground. Another two people were on duty at the Polo Ground, taking responsibility for the stage set-up and attending to the needs of the speakers. There were also a few sevaks, 'mobile decorators', who prepared decorations for the evening programs and also answered urgent orders of beautification. Somehow they were always available when someone ran to the decoration store with the most varied requests – they truly kept us constantly busy.
Asanas, floor seating bolsters, were required for every event, but there were not enough ready-made in the store, so we had to improvise. When they were dirty, we quickly had to replace them and sew countless replacements. At times, we had to use bedcovers. Many towels, table mats and plate covers were prepared for the kitchen.
Something was happening every moment, with almost no pause to catch our breath. It was as if some invisible power took care of ensuring that everything was ready on time and happened in the right way. During the Convention, one more person was added to our team. When she came to the decorations store she explained that she had been warned not to come, because she would not be able to leave. She was told that whoever went to the decorations store never came back – it was like a black hole.
I believe this was actually the case! Not only were the people unable to leave, but also the four people who were accommodated in the store could not find their own bedding until the end of the Convention. Of course, there was not enough time to keep the store organized and always tidy, and some people said it looked like a tornado had hit it. Towards the end, it became difficult to find anything, and we had to start to label the shelves such as 'Car Park items', 'Cinema items' or 'Polo Ground items'. In this way, nothing would suddenly 'disappear'.
Besides the 'real' decorations, twenty karate uniforms were prepared. Even after many sleepless nights, on the last morning, when the children received their uniforms, one of the seamstresses said, "I didn't sleep last night because I was thinking that the children had already seen the costumes, how could we make it a surprise for them now?" So she asked if she could wrap them up like gifts to make it look like a real present.
This kind of thinking can only come from someone who has put all her love into the work, and of course, the children can feel this thanks to their innocence and purity. They truly were delighted!
When the team left for their respective countries, they said in parting, "What a wonderful and unforgettable experience." The Convention was an incredibly lovely, uplifting and transformative experience for the whole decorations team.
The Convention was a nuclear reactor of spiritual and yogic unfolding on many levels from the personal outward. From this transformative furnace Sri Swamiji's vision of yoga as a world culture can more fully spread through us to our families and communities, just as the effects of the previous conventions did for their participants. As a conduit for Guru's will, the energetic awareness of this next wave is all we need to take home. That connection with Guru is the only important thing. From it the upliftment of humanity through yoga will unfold with renewed vigour. We are the forerunners, the innovators. Where Guru leads us, paths are forged for others to venture. The next wave of yoga is cresting and we are surfing it.
This wave, however, did not start and end only over those five magical days in October. The Convention was the breaker. The lead up to it over the preceding months and years started in much deeper water that slowly rolled towards the beachhead. As such, being part of the lead up to the Convention was a supremely unique experience in itself. It was a pure creative process right up to the last minute. Whilst some might ask questions such as, "Why wasn't this finished months ago?" This is really missing the point. A creative process is endless. It does not matter whether it is occurring outside us or within us. The only punctuation to either is the full stop of time running out. Whether it is in event management, or in a personal evolutionary process there is always another level of refinement to be unveiled, another layer of detail to be understood, or another stone to be turned. Creativity never ends. That this principle was active in the ashram, and that the great tsunami of creativity that created the Convention and Jubilee Celebrations was able to triumphantly crash on the beach of 23 October as the Convention began, speaks volumes of the focus, vision and awareness of everyone involved.
This vision and awareness could not help but create an event with deeper philosophical connections. The two events of Convention and Jubilee Celebrations mirrored the classic Samkhya duality of purusha and prakriti. The Convention took the role of pure consciousness, of purusha; and the Jubilee Celebrations that of prakriti, of action and material manifestation in the world. Between the two a degree of experiential wholeness was uniquely possible that participants will undoubtedly be unfolding in their personal journeys through the years to come, as we translate the macro into the micro of our lives. At a very large level, being a part of the World Yoga Convention and BSY Jubilee Celebrations brings a new level of congruence and harmony between our aspects.
At a more personal level, classic duality also manifested through the two main sevas I had been given. One was right-brain orientated, the other left brain. One seva was as part of the sound team; setting up microphones, cables, and all manner of technical apparatus. The other was photographing the Akhara pandal in a type of time-lapse sequence. The technical seva required a degree of inspiration and creativity, and the creative seva required a logical and rational reliability. As such there was an aspect of the other within each of the two parts. That which occurs around us in the world always mirrors in some way that which is ongoing within and this ping-pong match between the logical and inspired is what more often than not drives my creativity. The experience of observing this at such a physical level was a unique honour and a privilege, and then this within the large duality of the event's purusha and prakritti gave me a deep sense of purpose and inspiration. Perhaps enough to stay inspired for the next twenty years.
We have come from Mali to participate in the celebrations of the Golden Jubilee of the Bihar School of Yoga, and to express our solidarity with the mission of Sri Swami Sivananda, Sri Swami Satyananda and Sri Swami Niranjanananda, and the yogic vision that they have propagated through the Bihar School of Yoga.
I was introduced to Satyananda Yoga in France where I received training to teach yoga. Returning to Mali with a sankalpa to spread Satyananda Yoga, the first class was at a sports centre and the date was 5 December 2009 – the day Sri Swamiji attained Mahasamadhi. Since then, his blessings have poured in and the opportunities to take his teachings to my African brothers and sisters have grown and grown. Malians and foreigners, the rich and poor, street children, the elderly and people in education are all receiving the benefits of this tradition. My city of Bamako which has a similar climate to Munger has a weekly sunset session of meditation and mantra chanting. All this has brought much peace and healthy change in the lives of many and though it is a full time job with all its tests and trials, my enthusiasm never wanes.
I vow to continue to take this wonderful gift that Sri Swami Satyananda has generously offered, to everyone around me.
Turning the flame of knowledge into a fire became the focus for a large tent on the main lawn at Ganga Darshan during the World Yoga Convention.
From this space hundreds of books, CDs and DVDs were distributed to people from every part of the world and India. New releases included the Golden Collection, the Conversations Series on Hatha Yoga and Karma Yoga, Mudra Vigyan, Shiva Charitra and CDs like the Tantra collection of Sri Swami Satyananda. Established books and classics were also available.
The process was simple: Each person could take one of everything. People went through the tent selecting what they wanted. Between 1,000 and 1,400 people moved through each day between 23rd and 27th October.
A team of sevaks unpacked and refilled the displays of books, CDs and DVDs. Others ushered people along the lines of tables. On 27th October, eight of us worked on the Hindi counter refilling the tables to meet the huge demand. This was indeed a popular shop.
Many sevaks, ashram residents and guests, put everything into this event. They spent hours preparing the spaces for the hundreds of items.
The labeling team worked diligently for over a week clearly identifying, the books, where they came from, the specific spot in the Satyam Prasad pandal, and the quantity in each box.
Then there were the strong men and women on the shifting team who endured hard physical work to help the flow of prasad. Let's not forget the efforts of the decoration department who came and left early, transforming a space into an inviting, inspiring and beautiful tent of knowledge.
The biggest "thank you" goes to Swamiji for his care for detail and leadership which gave so many people focus for this grand event.
Seva for 'Satyam Yoga Prasad' is both an inside and outside story. The seva culminated in welcoming the participants with a Hari Om, a smile, and giving them a bag just before they disappeared into the pandal to choose their prasad. The snake like queue had an air of anticipation, yet patience and lightness. Some participants nearby became intrigued at being swiped and then laughed or smiled as though relieved that swiping the identification didn't hurt.
A cheer to the youths of YUVA Mitra Mandal who are very energetic but had to stay in one spot to assist when needed. Their presence kept quieter moments entertaining.
The opening of the pandal was the culmination of a great effort by many sevaks from all corners of the world, with many languages working together with a deep desire to help each other fulfil the task. We counted, boxed, labeled boxes with zest so that each box of books, CDs, DVDs would reach the appropriate spot on the counter in the pandal. Amidst the zest more trucks with new stock arrived every day to add spice to how we would work and adapt. And the temperature got higher.
I found the drive and inspiration to be part of this seva came through Swamiji's words that this prasad really was Sri Swamiji's Prasad to us – his legacy.
Although the voice became hoarse with the constant repetition of Hari Om, after a while it slipped into mantra japa with intention. It is certainly a high light of this life and a privilege to be with our worldwide family in such high spirits and be part of something so unique. The cherry of the cake was being able to repeat so many Hari Om each day before Sri Swamiji' Prasad
We have come from Serbia to participate in the celebrations of the Golden Jubilee of the Bihar School of Yoga, and to express our solidarity with the mission of Sri Swami Sivananda, Sri Swami Satyananda and Sri Swami Niranjanananda, and the yogic vision that they have propagated through the Bihar School of Yoga.
Satyananda Yoga came to Serbia in the 1970s and people embraced it wholeheartedly despite the communist regime and its restrictive doctrine. This well-developed system of yoga and its gradual progression with an integral approach is what we need, and through the strong guiding hands of Sri Swami Satyananda and Swami Niranjan, we have benefited immensely. As a people we have lived through many challenging situations – civil wars, occupations, communism, poverty – which have affected us in a way that does not make it easy to appreciate our inherent strength. However, Swami Satyananda understood the Serbian character and we felt accepted, appreciated and loved by him. And we loved him immediately in our own way. Bihar School of Yoga is very much present in Serbia with many teachers and many followers. It has given us so much: how to live a disciplined life, cooperate with each other, and most of all, it opened our hearts.
We have come to pay respect to the tradition that has uplifted our lives. Hari Om Tat Sat.
The Souvenir was a collection of six books: Tantra Darshan, containing Swamiji's lectures on tantra, Yoga Yatra, the account of the 2013 All-India yoga shivirs, In Appreciation of the many members of the Satyananda Yoga community who contributed to the 50 years of BSY, Supporters of the Bihar School of Yoga, Souvenir Messages & Tributes on the occasion of the 1973, 1993 and 2013 Conventions, and Experience of Yoga presenting a kaleidoscope of articles and research papers on yoga.
Our pandal was situated between Satyam Darshan, the pandal for the feature film on Sri Swami Satyananda and the Satyam Baithaki, the sitting area where Swamiji and Swami Satsangi would meet delegates. Satyam Yoga Prasad, the heaven of books, CDs and DVDs, was right in front of us.
On 23rd October it began. The delegates seemed to be in trance, a state of disbelief and happiness. They emerged from Satyam Prasad with their bags packed with beautiful books and discs, wondering how they were ever going to fit everything on the plane or train as they contemplated the extra six books of their Souvenir. The nights were cooling but it was still very hot during the midday hours. Long lines formed before us, and as Swamiji appeared for darshan, everything seemed coated in honey and we were all honey bees. The chain gang continued turning up faithfully and moving the books, thirteen overseas guests, a team of volunteers from Bariarpur and the Y2M2s were totally committed to their task and continuously stepped forward, presenting the Souvenir with sincere smiles and Hari Om.
It never stopped. The next day it was Karnataka and Delhi, the day after it was MP and Orissa. This was a 24-hour phenomenon day after day: the preparation, the programs, the parade of devotees clutching their prasad quite overcome with emotion and sometimes visibly trembling from the impact of it all. The queues were dissolving as we moved deeper into India, and there were simply floods of people by the time we got to Bihar.
We all became super charged. I was picking up heavy boxes of books effortlessly. So were the Y2M2s, so was everyone. What was happening? Energy and a spirit of giving was everywhere. That was lucky because instead of being on duty from 12.30 p.m. to 3.30 p.m. we were starting before breakfast and continuing through evening program. The Souvenir stall became a little raft that we inhabited like a family – getting to know each other as we worked as hard as we could and, through rotation of duties, gleaning experiences from the celebrations and interactions with crowds of yogis and sadhakas. There was an intense awareness that we were indeed attending the first Yoga Kumbha Mela of the century, and we were always aware of Swamiji's presence whether he was physically there or not.
We had thought the Convention was from the 23rd to the 27th, but actually many national and overseas guests were present for seven days. One of the transforming factors was that so many of the delegates were volunteer workers and the whole event, including its creation and dissolution, became a yogic sadhana of immense proportions. Swamiji had chosen Sincerity, Seriousness and Commitment as the theme of the Convention, and as the days glided past one felt a great ship was launched that was the result of his commitment to Swami Satyananda's mission of presenting yoga for the evolution of humankind.
The ashram remained open for Munger residents till the 6th November, ensuring that 'The City of Yoga' became aware of itself once more as a spiritual homeland.
As per ashram tradition, the Mahamrityunjaya havan was performed. The havan was conducted by four of Sri Swamiji's first sannyasa trainees, Swami Niranjanananda, Swami Kaivalyananda, Swami Goraknath and Rishi Nityabodhananda.
As an offering to our guru Swami Satyananda, the sannyasa trainees presented the major events of his life through song, dance, drama, kirtan, karate and percussion. The audience was guided through the journey, from the bright yellow costumes that signified Sri Swamiji as a seeker; to the geru robed swamis chanting 'Hari Om, have no home' with lively percussion that depicted the young swami leaving his guru's ashram; to a dark strong fire and karate display that signified Sri Swamiji's panchagni sadhana.
The performance ended with an offering to Sri Swamiji, as all performers brought light and candles to his photo accompanied by the heart-felt melody sung with devotion and love of 'I know I'll never find another you'.