Response to Silence Day - February 9, 2013
What a day! It is Chinese New Year Day. It is a sacred Jewish day.
Sharing Steve Siegel's response to Silent Day, the invitation to share one day of silence, Mauni Amavasya, each year:
"I find it very interesting that the annual day for silence corresponds to the new moon that inaugurates the Hebrew month of Adar. Although there is no specific reference to silence, in Jewish tradition, in relation to this new moon that I am aware of, a little digging shows it to be a most auspicious time for the practice.
The name Adar is connected to the Hebrew word Adir meaning empowerment and strength. The word Adar can also be broken into A/Dar–the first Hebrew letter 'alef' representing the oneness of God, and the Hebrew word 'dar' meaning dwells. The letter 'alef' has no sound of its own. It is the pregnant silence just before a sound. So one could interpret the beginning of the month of Adar as a time to be strengthened by dwelling in silence with God or when God dwells in silence with us.
Adar is the happiest, most joyous month of the Hebrew calendar. In fact, its motto is 'When Adar comes, joy is increased.' May we all be empowered and strengthened by the joy of silence and the presence of the One at this special time.
A Special Message from Swami Veda, February 6, 2013
Some time back I wrote a blog/article in which I briefly described the NYEPI day, the annual silence day of Bali island in Indonesia.
I did not mention, did not remember, that there is also an annual silence day in the traditions of India. It is called Mauni Amavasya. Mauni means ‘of or for silence’, and amavasya means ‘no-moon day.’
It occurs on the no-moon day of the Maagha month in the Hindu calendar when sun and moon are both supposed to enter the sign of Capricorn (makara rashi).
It is held in the tradition as the day when Manu, the Archetypal Man first appeared on earth; he wedded Shata-roopa (She of a Hundred Beautiful Forms) and generated humankind.
This year it falls on 10th February by the western calendar.
It is also part of the grand kumbh mela and thirty million people are expected to take the holy immersion on that day at the sangam (meeting place of three holy rivers) in Allahabad).
Whether you accept the story or Manu or not, we do need to institute a day of silence every year.
On the other hand, if you prefer to be true to some western tradition you may research if there was a day sacred to Harpokrates, the Greek god of silence whose statues have been found as far away as the Gandhara country (present day Afghanistan). Harpokrates was derived from the Egyptian god Harpa-khruti, the child Horus, representing the daily new born sun, the source of light.
Of course, there is an amplitude of Christian saints who have taught silence and there are numerous monasteries of various orders dedicated to silence.
As I enter the five-year vow silence, I would like many of my friends to set aside at least one day to share the silence with me just as you have shared the full moon day for an hour each month for more than a decade now.
So, please note:
2013 the day of mauni amavasya is now on 10th February.
2014 the day will be on 30th January.
If you plan from now, you can arrange your worldly affairs in such a way that they do not interfere with your one-day vow of silence.
On that day, no driving (except for emergencies), no TV, no conversation, just self-observation, contemplation, japa and learning (1) to give love in silence while (2) learning to love silence.
May I ask all our swamis, initiators, spiritual advisers, teachers, centre leaders to kindly popularize this concept and take this year to prepare the people to undertake this one-day vow of silence.
Swami Veda Bharati
The Yoga Youth and Children’s Retreat
by Joanne Sullivan
There is a river. Sometimes you see it, sometimes you don’t. The long line of Gurus is that river, the Light that ties us all to one another. Swami Nityamuktananda spoke of this light in one of the noon-time classes for adults. It goes beyond all religio-cultural, racial and linguistic lines. In the boundlessness of the Guru, there is no room for smallness. Here in Rishikesh, a strange and beautiful “lila” (cosmic play) of the Guru’s love played out: the Children’s Retreat of 2011. The future of the lineage, the linking to the Guru Presence is alive here. Families learned yoga together in this vast global family, a many-petaled flower that kept opening, opening in this small enclosure whose roots are beyond. Here in a bowl of stillness contained by the surrounding foothills, in the throb of many colors, smells, sounds, languages and cultures that make up India, children of many lands came. Those who could not come were in some way here too, in the great space of the Guru’s heart that invites us all in. In the shawl of the Guru’s love, we learned. Here are a few glimpses.
Three years ago, Lela Pierce accepted Swami Veda’s invitation to bring together the Guru’s children, grand and great-grand-children to Rishikesh in order to preserve the wisdom of the lineage for future generations and strengthen the ties in the Guru family worldwide. Nalini Behari joined her as co-coordinator a year back. Carolyn Hodges and many others mentored the process. In some cases, three generations answered the call. There were structured classes in the foundations of the tradition, like yamas and niyamas, asanas, relaxation and meditation, diaphragmatic breathing and nadi shodhanam. There were also numerous specialty classes such as dance, Sanskrit, Ayurveda, puppetry, mask-making, drawing and kirtan. At noon every day there were classes for adults. In addition there was an entire day spent at Himalayan Institute Hospital Trust with art activities planned by the Rural Development Institute and guided tours of the hospital city, the last great known mission of H.H. Swami Rama. Other outings included ancient temples, Vashishta Cave, a walk to Sadhana Mandir, walks along Ma Ganga, and a jungle safari ride. By and large, everything went on schedule, as planned and with abundant blessings.
Su-baala Upanishad, The Upanishad of the Beautiful Child
“baalyena tishthaased baala-sva-bhaavah:
Seek to remain in childhood with child nature through the whole of life.”
—The Su-baala Upanishad
We all received a laminated bookmark from Swamiji of this excerpt from the Su-baala Upanishad, with Devanagari script on one side and Roman script on the other on traditional Florentine stationery. It was a blessing and a prayer that blanketed the retreat.
The Impossible Put to Shame
The impossible has once again been put to shame. There is no impossible. Take the family who found a way to make the big journey to India, using 1/3 of last year’s earnings to do so. Or the children of an African prince/diplomat who managed to abscond the parents away from pressing affairs of state.
The children are easy at play and seem to grasp one another’s deep languages, spoken and unspoken. Families help one another and even those without children join in to help. Early on, Swami Veda asks all the adults to think of all the children here as their own. It is a remarkable family.
Age, culture and language don’t seem to matter. How is it that children who do not speak the same native tongue play together like they have known each other forever?
How does a 6-year-old who has never left these Himalayan foothills speak Italian to his little Guru brother from Florence, Italy, after the first day?! “Vai, Vai!” (Go, go!) he cries in the flurry and excitement of a game of hide-and-seek. In team-choosing, all are asked to answer yes or no but this Indian fellow replies “Si.”
“Yes or no?” says the adult.
“Si,” he insists. He is an arrow in free flight. The target? No linguistic or artificial boundaries. Bull’s eye. No great philosophical ponderings, just pure fun straight from the heart.
One child is shy. The next you see, he is a driving force in an international, multi-aged soccer game. Another boy lost his father last year. He arrives withdrawn, tentative perhaps, with his big heart reflecting in big sunken eyes. Next, one sees him playing, then walking arm in arm with other children. Karuna (Compassion) incarnates--- has found a friend.
An Italian woman in her twenties often played with the 7- and 8-year-olds from different countries with so much ease and so much love she could have been one of them.
There was so much genuine friendship and fun in the crisp winter sun, with children of all ages playing together as if they never wanted it to end. Some parents reported that they hadn’t seen their children so happy and free before and that they wanted to stay. Between sessions and often after meals, spontaneous play would erupt over the hillsides. One little toddler fearlessly ran after the soccer ball in the middle of a soccer game of some big boys. Alongside the playing field, toddlers and a few older children sat idyllically playing in a hill of sand, enjoying the feel and flow of the sand.
Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama and Her vast extended family from every human-inhabited continent, filled to overflowing with that presence the last days of 2011. The children of our lineage brought their parents by the sheer force of love. What, Who, is that love?
Play Beyond Language
An impromptu game of copycat mime took place on the patio in front of the Meditation Hall. The players were a 7-year-old Italian boy and an American college student. Their gestures and synchrony were sensitive and playful. It was almost a fun ballet, deftly executed with few words. One observer casually watched from a nearby bench and later commented that their play led her into a deep meditation, eyes shut.
And where does the play take place? They went bounding with joy and friendship in the bowers of dripping flowers, in the overflowing gardens of Sadhaka Grama by the Little Kali River, not far from Ma Ganga. Swami Veda frequently appeared out of the blue, sometimes with prasad for his children and grandchildren. I wanted to give a piece to a friend who could not come, but the human reach is not so big.
I privately nicknamed the field by the dining hall that spills out to every nook and cranny of the whole grounds “Kurukshetra.” In the Bhagavad Gita, Kurukshetra, the Field of Righteousness, is the place of a great historic battle. It is said that it also takes place at two other levels, the cosmic battle between the gods and the demons, and in the individual spiritual realm---the choices at each juncture of every human life, no matter the age or ethnicity. Our Kurukshetra during the Children’s Retreat sparkled with children of all ages laughing and playing in the sand pile, soccer, hide-and-seek, cricket, four-square and other games I didn’t recognize in languages like Hungarian, Italian, French, Japanese, Dutch, Korean, Hindi, Sanskrit, Spanish, Gujrati, Garhwali, Marathi, Oriya, Kannad, Moré, German, English and Irish, to name a few.
There was no language or age gap as far as I could tell. All the children seemed to instantly want to play together irrespective of ethnicity, religion or race. It was really something to see.
Walking among us
“I will tell you a secret. You may believe me or not. The Guru Parampara has been walking among you, unseen, watching you.”
- Swami Veda Bharati at the Closing Ceremony of the children’s retreat
Swami Veda had said that “the Master was roaming around invisible, watching over all.”
Pondering this over lunch one day, a father said “Well, I’m sure there are energies here, but I don’t know that I believe there are unseen beings walking amongst us.” Being a scientist, he doubted that this was possible. The next night, he was reading a bedtime story to his children. They were almost asleep when suddenly one, then the other, sat bolt upright, looking toward the kitchen.
“What are you looking at,” the father asked.
“Oh, the man in red in the kitchen,” said the little fellow. The other said the same. The father looked but saw no one in the kitchen though he could feel someone behind him.
When asked later what the man in red looked like and what he was doing in the kitchen, the boy said “he had gray hair and he was singing to me.”
“What was he singing?” asked the mother later.
“I don’t know. I couldn’t understand,” said the boy.
“Did he look happy?”
“Oh, yes,” replied the boy. “Very happy.”
The following day, Mrs. Dixit, head of our glorious gardens, gave the mother some small photos of Swami Rama---wearing red. The mother had not noticed his photo earlier and had thought that he would be in orange. She left the photos on the table. Later, one of the boys exclaimed “Oh, that’s the man who was in the kitchen!”
During the children’s retreat, every room and cottage was full so there was overflow to Sadhana Mandir, the Mother ashram up the road. One 12 or 13-year-old was meditating in the meditation hall there and later told his mother that during the meditation, his brother sat on his left and a man in maroon robes with a brown shawl sat at his right. No one else saw him.
The Benediction of the children
Swami Veda called the children upstairs to the Initiation Room in small groups for the Guru’s blessings. The younger children were called in small groups, each with a parent. One by one, each child came up. He sanctified each child with droplets of water touched to mouth, nose, cheeks, eyes, ears, and shoulders. Later, he sprinkled rose petals on the child’s crown. Wrapped in the divine circle of his meditation shawl, the child sat close to him or on his lap. He held the child very close for a time and whispered Om, the first mantra, into the child’s right ear. He held him or her in a deep chamberless chamber. One by one, you could see a change in the child, an inward pulling as if drawn into a great stillness; often the child’s whole demeanor changed; sometimes the spine went very straight. It was as if they had entered an invisible cave.
Looking across the room, I felt great affection. Then, “not that---this” enfolded me as if redirecting to the heart chakra where a gentle warmth was briefly lit. “Go there instead,” it said.
After the children left with their parents, Swamiji explained to a small group of initiators and this observer how he initiates small children and teaches them to meditate. I didn’t catch every word nor did I fully grasp the full meaning but this is some of what he said:
“It is a mantra-less initiation….There is no technique to mantra-less initiation. It is only understanding the meaning of objectless love, love without an object.”
He also said that the two become one.
This reminds me of a silent conversation I had with Swami Rama in 1971. I had just heard him talk and was now back home by myself. This is how it went.
“I’m not so sure I want a guru, not sure I like the idea of someone pasting their ideas on me. “
“Have you ever been in love?” came his silent reply.
“Yes.”Then two circles appeared before my mind’s eye, slightly overlapping. I understood that the locus of intersection, where the two are partially united, is love. Then the two circles slowly started to move together.
“When the two become one, this is perfect love.” In the space between the physical and the nonphysical, hovered one circle, no sign of two separate circles. I understood what he was trying to tell me, that when a student becomes a disciple who finally surrenders to the Light—not to a person—the master and disciple are one.
In the initiation of the small child, for a brief moment, the two are one. This kind of blessing is imparted in many cities and countries around the world. Swamiji has said that this 30-second meditation with small children is one of his greatest satisfactions. “If we populate the next generation with children who know compassion, love and the art of caring for others,” he said, “we will have given the world a great gift.”
When asked, some parents felt that the most important part of the retreat was Swami Veda’s blessings. Older children were blessed in small groups; some of them had been blessed by the initiation of the small child at an early age.
Scientific Enquiry by the Meditation Research Institute
Dr. Stoma Parker taught basic relaxation and meditation to a group of children which also served as a brief 2-session pilot study conducted by our on-site lab, the Meditation Research Institute. Two main areas were examined: Would children show less anxiety and better attention after meditation? The data has not yet been analyzed. H.H. Swami Rama devoted much time to bringing yoga into the awareness of the scientific community.
Pre-conference chanting with Swami Krishnananda
Families had begun to arrive at SRSG just before the start of the retreat when Swami Krishnananda arrived as if by Light Chariot to lead us in exultant kirtan. Swami Veda came. Swami Krishnananda is from Kerala and sings with tremendous shakti and devotion. I looked around the room, electric with the pulse and throb of singing the divine name. In the driving rhythms, some looked like they were exploding with joy. Some, like Bhagavandev’s ashram boys from Orissa, looked enveloped in stitha prajna, steady wisdom. I am unable to describe the wonder I felt at seeing so many different kinds of people in our family together in one place.
Six yellow-clad children, a Presence, a seed of fire
Bhagabandev’s young but very focused Orissa ashramites led us in daily fire offerings. Seekers of all ages sat around the big yajnashala (fire pit) by the main building, not far from Swami Veda’s window. Every day, it began in the dark of a brisk winter morning. Before it was over, the dawn lifted in the surrounding foothills and in us as well. Later I spoke with some of the boys and their teacher and wished that I might one day go to their ashram to experience the simplicity, devotion, and discipline that seemed to exude from these little fellows. One day, I saw them playing soccer and asked what language they were speaking. “Sanskrit,” they replied with polite affection. Bhagabandev had mentioned that they are only allowed to speak Sanskrit or English in their ashram. Last summer, during the heavy Orissa floods, I watched the online reports of flooding and learned that the bridge to the village where they get their supplies had burst in the floods. For at least three days they had no electricity, no cooking gas, and could not cook food. They live close to nature in the jungles of Orissa. “They never kill scorpions which are plentiful where we live,” Bhagabandev once told me. “They sometimes catch them, remove the stingers and set them free.”
Spontaneous bursts of song
Three ladies start to sing a Gregorian chant outside the dining hall after Christmas Eve dinner. A passerby joins in, completely swept off her feet. “Dona nobis pachem.” Grant us peace! The song makes its way uphill, one of its singers opening her heart to the high heavens. A door opens and someone says “Thank you. You’ve just given me my Christmas present. I mean it.”
Learning from one another
One little boy’s ball is snatched away in a game of soccer. He goes up and punches the ball-snatcher in the face; the recipient cries but does not strike back. He walks away. Soon enough an apology is offered and the boy who has been hit puts his hand out in expectation of a handshake, but instead receives big hugs and apologies. They are off running and playing together like old chums. They play together every day until departure and become good friends. Lovely how they remind each other of who they really are. If only adults could be as malleable as children! This calls to mind a 1971 interlude in Dr. Arya’s attic with His Holiness Swami Rama. Someone asked Swami Rama how to deal with the anger of another.
“Anger,” he said,” is temporary insanity.” He filled the room with the power and mystery that he was. “When someone expresses anger, do not see it. Look past it to the true person you know that one to be. In this way, it will pass more quickly and you will help that person—and also yourself.”
Satsangs with Swami Veda
Swamiji gave several memorable talks, which are worth hearing or reading in print form. One is the Story of Shukadeva, the child saint who was the son of the rishi Vyasa and who faced death at every turn during his sojourn in the palace of King Janaka-Videha. Janaka means father. He was like a father to his whole kingdom. Videha means someone who has no body. “You have a body but you are not the body. This body is like a house,” said Swamiji. “When you show someone your house, do you say ‘that’s me’? And so, my dear children, you are not a body. It is like a house to you.”
Swamiji also told the story of Manu and the Great Flood, a story told in many cultures, and spoke of its historicity. Another time, he talked about the importance of good dietary habits with sattvic foods and not too much fat (avoid heart disease), not too much salt (avoid high blood pressure) and not too much sugar (avoid diabetes.) He was often present in the early evening meditations and in evening events, as well as his spontaneous appearances during the day. Once again, he laughed in Sanskrit through the vowels of the Sanskrit alphabet. Many of the oldsters remembered his hilarious, spontaneous laughing in Sanskrit when he was a young man. He seems to be getting younger with each year. One of his students said to him last year “Swamiji, you are the only teenaged septuagenarian I know!” He replied “Yes, and soon to be Octo-plus!” It was a rare treat to see him each and every time. We are all so grateful that he could be with us and even more grateful when he takes rest.
Ammaji (Mrs. Lalita Arya) and Stomy Persaud, the 2nd Arya daughter, of KHEL Charities, which educates poor children in Dehradun at Lakshmi Devi Academy and supports three leper colonies, brought their students and staff for a day. The children participated in special classes throughout the day and treated us all to a special evening of colorful, traditional dance and song. Ammaji and Dr. Usharbudh Arya started this charity at the request of H.H. Swami Rama 26 years ago.
“Draagheeyaamsam anu-pashyeta panthaam: Let one see a long way ahead on the path.”
---The Rig Veda
Swami Veda met with the mostly teens and twenty-somethings to ask them to create a cohesive group that would take on the next leadership in the perpetuation of the lineage. They met several times afterwards on their own to plan and discuss how to keep in touch and how to do this. They elected leaders, talked about the next retreat, and discussed which topics might be of interest to the older youths.
Swami Veda repeated what he has said so many times before. “In 65 years of spiritual service in different organisations, I have passed through several generations. In some families, I am into my 5th generation. In each generation of leaders I have ensured that the next generation of leaders gets trained and successively takes over.”
Swami Veda says that the whole idea of the current effort to create the Future Leaders groups is twofold:
- As soon as they are ready, they will take over the leadership of AHYMSIN
- 50 years from now, these leaders and spiritual guides will host a similar gathering to prepare future leaders, who, in turn, will guide others in the meditation teachings and spiritual work of Swami Rama. The passing of the torch will continue for generations to come.
Jyoti Srivastava is an accomplished classical Indian “Odissa” dancer. Swami Veda pointed out that every gesture, every turn of the ankle or wrist, every mudra of face, hands, feet and eyes constitute a whole language all its own, a many-faceted dictionary of sorts. To illustrate this, he called her over to him at the beginning of her performance and asked her to give an impromptu demonstration of The Lord’s Prayer in dance. In her masterful performance of The Gita Govinda by Jaideva, she rendered the 10 avatars (divine incarnations) and the demons each conquered. Swamiji said that the entire epic poem of the The Gita Govinda was recited here in the grammar of dance. An empty stage was filled with a hundred characters in myriad settings. She brought to life a complex system of dance which is thousands of years old.
Llyn Evans, Master Storyteller
Llyn Evans, a master storyteller, originally from Wales, returned to SRSG from the West of England to enchant us with stories. Her words are studded with simple but evocative word choices that seem to create worlds. Her timing and subtle changes in voice complement her natural, intentional gestures and draw you in. Every story Llyn told enfolded the listeners softly into her flowing shawl.
Sabina Cesaroni and Alessandra Palma, Dance and Mime
Sabina Cesaroni and Alessandra Palma danced and did mime on several occasions. Children will long remember the big red nose that Sabina sported as she clowned about on stage with Alessandra, making all of us laugh. In contrast, there was also a performance that combined modern with Tandava dance in the powerful Dance of Shiva. In still another performance, they interacted mysteriously and sensitively, moving in and out of video images behind them, while creating silhouettes of their doubles on a great screen. This was a collaboration with Isaac Sullivan who made the video. The three spent several hours looking at how to put it all together, and with the excellent help of Shailendra Bisseswar on sound and backdrop, a cohesive work of art emerged.
In talking with Sabina later, she spoke of dance as learning how to hold space to contain the elements in your muscles and bones. “You learn how to hold space,” she said, “and how to drop space. You learn how to drop everything because you are not dancing. You are danced.”
Reading Picture books by the Shankaracharya
Several children came up to me one day and said “read me a story, oh, please do.” So I went home and fetched a few choice children’s books. We sat on the steps by the Shankaracharya statue and read picture books from the Panchatantra with Hindi in Devanagari script on one side of the page and English on the other. We also read about the lives of Mahavira, the 24th Tirthankar of Jainism, and the Buddha. This involved children from several continents who spoke French, Marathi, Hindi, high British English, American English and more.
Suddenly, they all went streaming after a boy from Mumbai who had taken his sister’s earring. After returning with the snatched earring, they all returned to finish the stories. When the boy came back, morality was gently, firmly served. I saw one very strong, little African girl ask him with probing eyes, “Why did you take her earring?” The boy hung his head down, which I think is a form of apology all over India - simply acknowledging one’s error in humility.
Scheduled Programs for Children
There were so many programs for children. Yoga for six different age groups. Arts and Crafts Yoga. Kirtan and Bhajan. Music and Brain Gym. Puppetry with Ioulia of Greece and Celeste and Ian of Minnesota. Mime, Dancing and Movement with Sabina Cesaroni and Francesca Palma of Florence, Italy. Ayurveda with Dr. Letizia Vercellotti and her daughter Ayana, also of Florence. Art and Body/Mind with Jessica Groff of Minnesota (Stephan and Carolyn Hodges’ daughter). Classical Indian Vocal Music with Shivananda of Rishikesh. I am unable to do justice to most of the programs.
Here are just a few words about Arts and Crafts Yoga with Carol Pierce of Minnesota and Cathy Gilbertson of Hawaii. Children made origami hats, dragons, homemade streamers and masks. In discussing their approach, the teachers emphasized that the experience of art-making was paramount. It was important, said Carol Pierce, Lela’s and Dr. Surya Pierce’s mother, that adults do not impose their views on children. This reminded me of something Dr. Arya taught us long ago in a Yoga Sutras class. The states of consciousness are their own definitions, not the words we might use to try describe them. When raising my child, I tried in the early years to remember this. Rather than defining “dog” or “plate” or “book,” one respects the referent as its own definition, thereby avoiding our own errors of perception that we so often unknowingly pass on to our children. Children are innately wise if we give them the opportunities to explore safely and freely.
Fourteen year old Sakhi has a voice that is not a voice but a clear mountain stream. She sang Raga Bhairavi and Kabir, who as Swami Veda pointed out, is beloved all over India in many great traditions. On another evening, Sakhi offered us a strong performance of traditional Indian dance that was well received by everyone.
On 29th December, Swami Veda talked to all the adults and initiated four projects with volunteers stepping forward to work on each of them:
- a book about sattvic Indian food
- a book about spices and how they can be introduced into Western foods for their health benefits
- a parent teacher conference about the Spiritual Family tentatively slated for 20th -25th February, 2013, and
- a book with teachings that Swami Rama and Swami Veda have given on the upbringing of children and on how to teach meditation to children with a target release time of February 2013. Swamiji commented, “preparing an SR-SVB (and parents’ input) book regarding children’s education (in reality the adults’ education) for the same time based on svb’s statements like ‘it is not children who need spiritual education; it is the adults who need the same’.”
In a nutshell, he said: Learn the prayers of all the religions. Learn the prayers of our tradition. Make yourself, not the kids, spiritual. Children pick up from you. They sense your emotions.
Sarah Lohan and Mariella Silva have stepped forward to work on The Spiritual Family event. Antuanette Khetawat will create a blog with a chat space for parents where they can also link up to the AHYMSIN website.
There is a presence that reminds me of Ouroborus, the snake who swallows its tail, ancient icon of the unbreakable, of the infinite return. It means many things in many cultures. I mention it here to honor the love and light which has brought us together, that which was never born and never dies. There was guided morning practice for families every day. Yoga for children was divided into different age groups and taught by outstanding teachers. The foundational prayers of the Himalayan Tradition were taught to children and adults. The Himalayan Tradition is alive and well.
Note: To view more photos and read more about the Children's Retreat (December 2011 at SRSG in Rishikesh, India), you can read the January 2012 edition of the Ahymsin newsletter here.
A Message from Swami Veda
(Silence after 2013)
Dear Fellow Traveler on the Path of the Sages,
This is just to reassure you that after my 5-7 year silence begins
· The regular programmes of teaching at our Rishikesh Ashram will continue
through other advanced and experienced teachers.
· The guidance for your personal meditation will intensify.
· This little teacher’s silence will enhance your own silence and vibration.
Silence mothers the mind if you know how to be nurtured by her. Our Ashram
specializes in the science of silence ---- yes, it is a methodical science in which you are
guided when you come to practice silence at the Ashram.
We have programmes for silence lasting 3 days, ten days, 21 days, 40 days ---- and few
rare ones may graduate to 90 days as at least two dozen initiates have done so far
(writing in June 2011). Each of these fortunate ones experienced a breakthrough.
All who do the practice of silence at the Ashram --- either one of our two ashrams ----
know what a magic touch the place imparts through its vibration.
May I invite you to undertake this adventure into the depths of the Ocean of your own
Self, and come take a silence retreat. I will be there to serve you, now, and even more
so, after my 5-7 year silence begins on 10th March 2013.
I await to see you,
With a very personal affection in service of Gurudeva,
Swami Veda Bharati
(NOW SWAMI VEDA BHARATI):
A GLIMPSE OF FAMILY HISTORY.
A sanyasin (Swami) has moved beyond one family to embrace the world-family in equal love. For this reason, swamis do not normally speak of their pre-sanyasa families. They refer to their pre-sanyasa families as ‘poorvaashrama family’, the family from the previous Ashrama, the preceding station of life. I will call it their pre-history.However, some high level swamis have written autobiographies in which they have detailed the pre-histories of their physical families as context for a guidance that the readers/students/disciples may receive from such writing.Hoping that this writing may give guidance and inspiration, this swami is giving a glimpse of part of his pre-history.
The Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan, who built the Taj Mahal, had a stepmother by the name Noor Jahan (1577-1645). She was a powerful empress who wielded the true royal power in the entire empire during the reign of Shah Jahan’s father, Jahangir (1569-1627). Noor Jahan spent her childhood at a small settlement in Punjab, and later decided that the place where she grew up should be re-established as a proper township. She invited a Brahmin family to settle in the new town and help establish it.
The founder of this family branch was a yogi. After serving the empress by helping establish the township he took jivita-samadhi, a term used when a great yogi decides that s/he has completed his/her life work and it is time to leave the body. A hole is dug in the earth, the yogi sits down at the bottom in meditation, and leaves the body.
Disciples/descendants then cover up the body with more earth and a grave or mausoleum may be built. Such ‘graves’ are called ‘samadhis’.
There are hundreds like these all over India where worshipful honouring continues for generations and centuries.The samadhi of the founding father of this branch of the family is one such holy place.This yogi founded the family line from which Usharbudh Arya is descended.The sacred knowledge was passed on to the founding father’s daughter. She also followed on her father’s footsteps and took samadhi the same way. It has been a tradition in the family, established
by her command, for four centuries, that a new bride must be brought and presented to this founding matriarch at her samadhi to become a full member of the family.
The land grants given by the empress Noor Jahan sustained the family for 300+ years. How much of the yoga or Vedic knowledge was carried on through these
generations I cannot say.The family is now scattered all over the world and hold successful positions. I have met them in Nairobi, Vancouver and elsewhere.In order to respect the privacy of the diverse living lineage of this family, I do not include the place or family names.Samadhi site of daughter of founding ancestor.
350 years passed. Usharbudh Arya’s father decided to give himself to the pursuit of this knowledge and dedicated himself to raising a son who should
become a ‘rishi’.That is again a long story of much family ‘tapas’. Washing the samadhi is part of reverence.
Even though countries, cultures, circumstances, education systems have changed, the thread of spirituality continues. Accompanying are pictures of two granddaughters (actually grandnieces) meditating under the tree next to the holy samadhis. Shruti, another granddaughter, meditating at Samadhi site.
Shivani, granddaughter, meditating at Samadhi site. Who will be the yogi descendants in the family, how many generations and how many centuries from now – cannot be said. The family samskaras continue to be passed on.Would the founding father of the American branch of the family be thus blessed four centuries from now, with a yogi down that line ? Let us pray that a positive answer manifests itself.
In order to accomplish the spiritual goals for his son Usharbudh, his father Pandit Durga Das, cut himself off from all relationships and external worldly samskaras that might touch his son. The result is svb.
Dedicated to the transcendent, avoiding confinements of personal relations, Svb met one of these physical relatives for the first time in his life only 4 years ago – the only first cousin who searched and found and came to see svb at SRSG Ashram.These family members think that this svb may be the same founding father re-born. Now, 400 years have passed.One last word:
Some months before Gurudeva left his body he called over to his chamber and instructed:
“The day you sit down in Samadhi and ‘will’ it that
‘I will now leave my body’, only then you will leave your body.”
Svb now wishes to prepare for that moment, of Guru’s prediction/instruction coming true, by taking five years’ silence from 2013.
More than 400 years will have passed since this family’s founding father sat in samadhi and willed himself to leave. Only the Guru knows whether svb’s wish to follow the footsteps of his ancestor and other yogis will be blessed with success.
Now Accepting International Applications
for a 3-5 Year Study Programme at Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama
We are now accepting International Applications from those who may wish to join a 3-5 years study programme at Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama (SRSG) in Rishikesh, India.
The programme covers the methods of Dhyana Yoga (Yoga of Meditation), Basic Physical Practices needed for Dhyana Yoga, Philosophy of Swami Rama, Teachings of Swami Veda Bharati, Basic Texts of Philosophy, and Paths of Self-Purification.
The programme is suitable for persons who are interested in long term intense study while carrying out spiritual practices given by the Spiritual Director. Students commit to a 3 to 5 year of study and training at Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama (SRSG) in Rishikesh, India.
The purpose is to prepare aspirants as teachers, spiritual guides and citizens and to produce graduates who excel in both scholarship and the practical disciplines.
The e-mail for interested prospective students would be:
JAPAN and other DISASTERS
by Swami Veda Bharati
It is said repeatedly in the Puranas (the great cosmological epics of India in Sanskrit) that when the earth can bear no more the burden of human sins, she, our mother, turns on her sides and we all come tumbling down all over.
It is also stated repeatedly that when the rulers are immoral and selfish, that corrupts the entire social order. AND, the order of Nature. This is a well known tenet in the teachings of India and of such philosophers as Confucius.
So, in the ancient stories of kings and kingdoms in India, whenever a natural disaster strikes, the king enters introspection :
Kim aham paapam akaravam
Kim aham saadhu naakaravam
What transgressions of the laws of morality have I committed?
Which right acts have I neglected to perform?
Then the king undertakes acts of self-purification :
pashchaat-taapa, confession to oneself, and
praayashcnitta, repentance and expiation
If our greed had not raised the ocean levels, and had not cut down the mangrove forests, would the tsunamis not be a little less disastrous?
Some calamities like earthquakes cannot be prevented -- except by massive and collective good karma of all people through thousand year spans. But some of their side effects can still be reduced.
What is the purpose of prayer at the times of such crises? Can our prayer mitigate the effects of the disasters? Can they lessen the pain of those suffering? Not so, not immediately. But it is also well known that prayer reduces the mental anguish?
How so? Each thought we think creates waves in the universal mind. Its waves can be directed/channeled towards the target minds. If we know how to pray.
Wordless prayer is the most effective; it is a state of intense feeling in the mind that is first stilled and purified, after freeing it of all sense-inputs and emotion-uprisings. The mind thus stilled through a particular type of heart centre meditation (to be learnt from an expert) is ready to send wave of an intense feeling of wellness, comfort and solace to the target mind(s).
Thus may we pray for those who are suffering.
Sars and bird flu!! Very important for the affluent air traveler to be saved from it. So all the high-tech precautions are taken.
Are we taking the same precautions to step the epidemic of cancer? Are we doing so by reducing the artificial chemicals wherewith we wash out fruits? How we contaminate our milk (right in the udder), how we force ourselves to breathe lead-laden air? How we nurture our angers constantly and intensify them to destroy us?
Sars and Bird Flu!! 2880, that is, two thousand eight hundred and eighty, 2880 (I repeat intentionally), children die of malaria in Africa alone EVERY 24 HOURS.
Is that not a natural disaster of calamitous proportions?
Do we say a prayer for these children and their loving parents and siblings, and forego the purchase or rental of one video to buy and send a mosquito net?
Don’t buy the mosquito net in USA or Europe and send it : for the price of one in these countries, maybe ten can be made where they are needed (providing some employment too).
And, more important,
for the 600 children who will be dying in the next one hour?
And for the 14400 who will die in the next 24 hours, wrapped perhaps in a newspaper to ward off cold, lying a cardboard box, with their knees pulled deep into the belly, curled up?
Any rations-laden military helicopters to rescue them?
Build more atomic reactors in quake-prone zones like California? And, also, more massive dams in the quake-prone zones like Uttarakhand Himalayas? Shall we?
Wisdom, Wisdom, where hast thou gone?
Our hearts go out to those thousands in Japan who have been hit by the triple crisis of earthquake, tsunami and radiation. Triple sorrow for them and for those of us who care.
Let us pray for them, wherever we are, singly and in groups.
Also do not forget to do something for those 2 children who died of malaria while you read this paragraph; and those 4 children who died of starvation also while you read the same paragraph. How many pictures of those on the TV, and in the newspapers?
When you pray for the suffering of Japan, do include these other neglected disasters.
Pray also that our rulers and others who hold and wield power(s), do an introspection:
Kim aham paapam akaravam
Kim aham saadhu naakaravam
What transgressions of the universal laws and consequent ethical principles have I committed?
Which right acts have I neglected to perform?
Remember that we also hold and wield some power(s); pray for your own self-purification to ward off world disasters of an immediate aas well as far off future.
May your prayer be an action.
Swami Veda Bharati
YOGA-YOUTH and CHILDREN'S RETREAT
December 22-31, 2011
at Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama, Rishikesh
“So that the Grace and the practices and teachings of meditation in our lineage may continue into next generations and meditation may become a family-centered experience” - Swami Veda Bharati
In Service of Gurudeva, Swamiji has written, “Lela Pierce at The Meditation Center has been carrying single handedly the load of organizing our much cherished forthcoming Children’s and Youths Retreat in December 2011. 2010 is now in its grey haired autumn. It is now time to consolidate the retreat. At this time I need your help... We now need to ascertain how many people of my family are actually coming. Could you at this time give us 75%(!) of your affirmation?...
Friends have been asking what is the cost:
Here I have called my children and grand children to visit me at my/their home. How can I quote them a cost? You and they will know how to do it in such a way that the frail old grand-dad Swami is not left with an empty begging bowl. Do what you would do if you were sharing a holiday with your parents and grandparents. All I want is to hug my children and grand children.”
We have all been blessed so greatly, and there is much happiness in feeling this blessing flowing to the young ones amongst us.
Affirmation of your intent to come to the Yoga Youth and Children’s Retreat at Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama 22-31 December 2011 can be sent to the AHYMSIN Office at