In Step with the Heavenly Beat

An Account of Gurumayi’s Birthday Celebration

Shree Muktananda Ashram
June 23 – 24, 2015

Part XIV

June 2015: The celebration of Shri Gurumayi’s Birthday.

Each step of this celebration could be described in so many ways––incredible, maravillosa, wunderschön, eccezionale, delightful, milagroso, magnifique, profound, bhaktipurna.

Each step has unveiled a divine teaching. Each step has opened a new door to the Truth. Each step has brought us deeper into our hearts. Each step has made manifest our connection with all of existence. Each step has expanded our knowledge of oneness. Each step has led us to the experience of eternity within our own being. Each step has showered blessings on the world.

Each step has revealed the monumental significance of Gurumayi’s presence on this earth.

Each step has been in step with the heavenly beat.

For the last two years, one of the sevas I have offered in Shree Muktananda Ashram is to tend to the fire in front of the much-loved statue of Shiva Nataraja in Anugraha. Immediately following the Celebration Satsang in the Temple, I went to tend the fire. As I began to add wood, I could see Gurumayi walking on the garden pathway from the Temple toward Shiva Nataraja. From a distance, I saw her turn and go over to one of the large glass windows of the Anugraha building. I could see a group of children and young adults standing on the other side of the window in the breezeway. They were talking excitedly with one another, and had huge smiles on their faces.
Later, one of the young adults shared with me that as they were walking through the hallway from the Temple, they saw Gurumayi walking outside. They stopped and waved to her. Seeing them, Gurumayi approached the window and put her hand up against the glass. The young people did the same on the other side of the window. Gurumayi said to them: “Wow! I can feel it! It’s amazing how you can really feel it!” This young adult told me that Gurumayi’s words confirmed for her that the power of the love and the connection between Guru and disciple is real and tangible.

Very soon Gurumayi approached the fire and said to me, “I came here because I saw you putting logs into the fire.”

Gurumayi watched as I added more logs to the fire. The flames crackled and danced as if they were reaching toward that heart-shaped cloud, keeping in step with the heavenly beat. Gurumayi noticed that there was a heart shape on one of the logs as well! It was astonishing to observe how, at each moment of this celebration of Gurumayi’s Birthday, nature had constantly been a glorious, playful, and endlessly creative participant.

We culminated the celebration of Gurumayi’s Birthday with a fire ritual—performing divine worship of Shiva Nataraja. Fire rituals have been a central aspect of worship in the Indian tradition since ancient times. Fire is worshiped as a manifestation of God. Its light both purifies and illumines our hearts. The flames of the sacred fire are considered to be the carrier of prayers and offerings from the earth to the gods and goddesses in the heavenly realms.

As Gurumayi was offering her salutations to Shiva Nataraja, one of the Siddha Yoga musicians began softly chanting “Om Gurumayi” to the melody of Om Bhagavan: "Om Gurumayi, Om Gurumayi, Om Gurumayi, Jaya Jaya Gurumayi"! As musicians joined in with their instruments, we all added our voices. Soon we were clapping and swaying with joy, in step with the heavenly beat.

Chanting our beloved Shri Guru’s name was pure bliss—I never wanted to stop! I was so grateful to the Siddha Yoga musicians who had begun this spontaneous chant Om Gurumayi!

As one participant was placing a garland on the foot of Shiva Nataraja, Gurumayi began making offerings to the fire. These offerings included ghee, rice, saffron, and sesame seeds. In the Indian tradition, the offering of ghee brings about inner and outer radiance, as well as vigor and good health. Offering rice calls forth abundance and spiritual wealth. Saffron purifies the environment and evokes divinity. And the offering of sesame seeds dissolves inner limitations.

There was a moment when Gurumayi offered ghee with a long wooden ladle. We watched transfixed as the golden stream entered the fire and the flames rose up to meet the stream. In this golden moment, I experienced a perfect stillness within.

Gurumayi completed the puja by ringing a bell. She smiled at us so lovingly and said, “Well done, well done.” As she walked back toward the entrance to Anugraha, we all exclaimed: “Jaya Gurumayi! Gurumayi ki Jay!” When Gurumayi reached the door, she turned and waved to us as we continued to exclaim “Gurumayi ki Jay!”

As I waved farewell to Gurumayi, I experienced how this entire celebration had been an unceasing stream of blissful worship. Each practice, each ritual, each offering flowed from one to the next so naturally and gracefully, like a divinely choreographed dance. We had moved as one in step with the heavenly beat.

Reflecting now on Gurumayi’s Birthday Celebration 2015, I recall a verse from the Shivastotravali that Gurumayi quotes in her book Enthusiasm.1 The Shivastotravali is a devotional song to Shiva by the sage Utpaladeva.2 The sage says:

Utpaladeva says
Utpaladeva says

Click here to read the Epilogue

1 Gurumayi Chidvilasananda, Enthusiasm (South Fallsburg, NY: SYDA Foundation, 1997), p. 15.
2 English translation from Constantina Rhodes Bailly, Meditations on Shiva: The Shivastrotravali of Utpaladeva (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1995).

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