Glimpses of the Yatra

Preparing a program for Swami Niranjan is always a great undertaking. Everything has to be planned, organized and put in place. Of course, there are times of tension, time pressure, stress and doubts. 'Will we be ready, will everything be alright, will there be enough people to fill the pandal?

These questions arise among the hustle and bustle of meetings, teaching, propagating and promoting. These thoughts remain until the last moment. When Swamiji arrived, everything changed. He was like the sun that appears and dispels the clouds. It seemed that even the planets found their places and settled again with harmony and balance in the sky. This is beautifully described in the Ramacharitamanas (Balakanda, doha 255, chau 4):

Rabi mamdala dhekata laghu laga,
Udaya tasu tibhuvana tama bhaga.

The orb of the sun is so small to look at,
but the moment it rises the darkness of all the three worlds disappears.

Protection on four sides

The pandal for the program in Tundi Khel was in the heart of Kathmandu, and it was protected from all sides. To the east of the pandal is the Bhadrakali temple, of the benevolent, kind Kali Ma who watches over the proceedings. Behind the temple stands the Simha Darbar, the parliament building, strong and determined like a lion.

To the west rises the Bhimsen Stambha, a nine-storey tall pillar. It was built by Bhimsen Thapa, the first prime minister of Nepal who served for thirty-two years under three kings. From there the whole area could be surveyed. Originally it was dedicated to the Queen Lalita Tripurasundari. The National Sports Stadium, known as Dasharatha Rangashala, is to the south of the pandal, and to the north the royal palace, Narayana Hiti, is situated. Narayana is the temple of Vishnu and 'hiti' means a tap or water source, and the palace was built near that water source. Behind the palace the majestic mountain range of the Himalayas rises high into the sky.

Honouring the eternal

On the first day, as per our parampara, Swami Niranjan lit the deepak in front of the pictures of Swami Sivananda and Sri Swami Satyananda, and the mountains looked over his shoulders, witness to the pooja. This was followed by a welcome pooja for Swamiji by the pancha kanyas who according to Nepalese tradition represent Ahilya, Mandodari, Tara, Kunti and Draupadi, the five wives of Rishi Gautam, Ravana, the demon King of Lanka, King Bali, Pandu and the five Pandavas, respectively.

After the pooja, Swamiji turned around and in front of him he beheld a breathtaking view: a sea of people framed by the magnificent snowcapped mountains.

Little Star

The pandal was draped in white and blue and looked like a lotus flower. The name of the pandal manager was 'Little Star'. His mother attended the program to see Swamiji and told me that she was happy at what had happened to her son. Brought up in a traditional Buddhist family, he was a non-believer and took no interest in anything spiritual or religious. He believed in nothing, and all attempts of the family to instill some sense of faith in him had failed.

For the whole duration of the program Little Star had to spend his time in the pandal as it was part of his job. Witnessing the yatra and being in the presence of Swamiji, he experienced a turn of heart and took mantra diksha on the last day. The mother said she never thought this would happen to her son.

Conqueror of hearts

Many times in Rikhia, Sri Swami Satyananda said that he was not a conqueror of lands, but that all over the world he had conquered people's hearts. Therefore, as an emperor of hearts he could conduct the Rajasooya Yajna.

At that time I did understand but I did not experience what he meant. How could one conquer people's hearts? Being present at Swami Niranjan's Yoga Yatra in Kathmandu, I finally experienced what Sri Swami Satyananda must have done. Every day more and more people attended the program. On the last day, half of the participants had to be accommodated outside of the pandal. When it started raining, Swamiji immediately invited everyone inside and even on to the stage. People were sitting around Swamiji beaming with joy and pride. It was quite a sight!

In Nepal, people came in great numbers and full of hope. They were inspired, grateful and open to Swamiji who became the conqueror of their hearts.

—Swami Alakhshakti, Ganga Darshan