The Glorification of the Sun

An Account of the Celebration Satsang for Makara Sankranti
with Gurumayi Chidvilasananda

Shree Muktananda Ashram
January 14, 2015

By Gauri Maurer
Part X

The Sanskrit word satsang literally means “being in the company of the Truth.” Being in this satsang, I had so many moments of realization; I was able to perceive so many facets of the Truth. Once again, I gained the understanding that I can experience the Truth in different forms and shapes, in different people and activities, and most definitely through the Siddha Yoga practices. Gurumayi spoke the Truth—both the Truth of the Self and the truth of how to live our lives with the knowledge of dharma.

As I stood up to address the satsang participants for what I thought would be the conclusion of the satsang, I looked around Shri Nilaya and felt that the gratitude I was experiencing in my heart was mirrored in everyone present. Gurumayi’s words had taken us on a journey of transformation—a journey of transcending our small selves and understanding the dharma of our lives. I know I wasn’t the same person who had stood up three hours earlier to welcome everyone and open the satsang.

As I looked around, I could also see a visible transformation in everyone else. The glow in their eyes was brighter, the smiles on their faces were more genuine, their posture seemed anchored in their core strength, and their spirits seemed even more buoyant. I felt I was seeing the fruit of everyone’s self-effort to embrace Gurumayi’s guidance with our good intellects and great hearts. The love in the room was palpable!

I collected myself, brought myself down to earth, and with a grateful heart joyfully concluded the satsang. I invited everyone for lunch in Annapurna Dining Hall, where the celebration of Makara Sankranti continued with a delicious bhandara, or feast. As the hall monitors invited the participants to leave from the back of the hall, row by row, Gurumayi invited the ensemble to chant Narayana, glorifying Lord Vishnu. Narayana is a name for the Sun. I was touched by how Gurumayi had ensured that not one element of the satsang schedule, including this planned namasankirtana, was overlooked. As the beautiful melody of the chant began, the satsang participants respectfully offered their pranams, gathered their belongings, and left Shri Nilaya as directed by the hall monitors.

Quite a few participants were still in Shri Nilaya while the chant was continuing, so Gurumayi invited five of the young men to dance to the beat of the chant. I found it quite liberating to watch how they came forward without hesitation and let the sweetness of the chant move their beings. The power of chanting is so nectarean. It untangles the knots of inhibitions and limitations; it unleashes our natural expression of joy, generosity, and kindness. Just as the light of the sun removes darkness and melts ice, so does the power of chanting dispel ignorance and moisten the heart. Through the practice of chanting we are able to know and express the Truth of our own divine Self.

The energy of the chant grew more and more vibrant, the tempo increased, and the sweet sounds of the mantras permeated the entire Ashram–including the lunch bhandara. Gurumayi signaled the ensemble to sing, in a call-and-response manner, “Govinda Hare!” and “Gopala Hare!” in the melody of the chant Narayana. As they chanted, the flute played the melody of “Govinda Hare!” The bassoon responded with “Gopala Hare!”

Just when I thought the chant had reached its crescendo, Gurumayi took it even higher! She invited three ensemble members Viju Kulkarni, Pallavi Rathod, and Rajmani Sinclair—to take turns improvising phrases in Prabha Raga, the raga of the chant, as the rest of the ensemble continued to sing and play “Govinda Hare! Gopala Hare!” Their mellifluous alap, or melodic improvisation, added another layer to the interplay of sounds, voices, instruments, the Shiva-Shakti movement of the dancers, and the rays of the sun darting between the clouds. I wondered, “Was the universe singing and dancing with us?”

After a few minutes, all the musical sounds merged into silence—except for the drum. Sumant Martinez, the drummer, continued with an exciting solo. It reminded me of that extraordinary story Gurumayi told in A Sweet Surprise satsang 2015.

Then came the ecstatic moment when the voices of Gurumayi and the ensemble rose out of the sweet silence with a resounding “Narayana, Narayana…!” I experienced my heart blazing like the rays of the sun as the chanting reached a final crescendo and concluded with three jubilant proclamations,

Sadgurunath Maharaj ki Jay!
Sadgurunath Maharaj ki Jay!
Sadgurunath Maharaj ki Jay!

 

Gurumayi stood up from her chair, looked at us with so much love and said, “Thank you, thank you all.”

With overflowing hearts we all replied, “Thank you, Gurumayi! Shubh Makara Sankranti!”

Gurumayi said “Shubh, Shubh, Shubh,” and waved as she walked across the front of the hall and out of Shri Nilaya.

I watched Gurumayi’s robes disappear through the door, then sat down in my chair and took a few moments to contemplate the phrase Gurumayi had given us in this celebration satsang in honor of Makara Sankranti: “SYDA Foundation sevite par excellence.”

The sun may rise and set in the sky, but for me the Guru’s teachings continually arise, and in their light our limitations set. Gurumayi’s love guides every step we take. The path of dharma that we have embraced is clear and bright, benevolent and merciful, fruitful and rewarding.

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About Gauri Maurer

Gauri Maurer was introduced to the Siddha Yoga path in 1988, when she was born; her family has been practicing the Siddha Yoga teachings since 1975. Gauri is currently on staff at Shree Muktananda Ashram, offering seva as content coordinator for the SYDA Foundation Content Department. She also serves as a vocalist and was previously the music production coordinator for the Siddha Yoga Music Department. Before coming on staff, Gauri was a choreographer, director, and performance artist in Chicago and New York City. She holds a bachelor’s degree in studio art from Colorado College.

About Sumant Martinez

 

About Viju Kulkarni

Viju Kulkarni is trained in Indian classical music as a harmonium player and vocalist, and has offered seva as a Siddha Yoga musician for over forty years. Viju has been following the Siddha Yoga path since 1971 and has served on staff in Gurudev Siddha Peeth and Shree Muktananda Ashram since 1973. Viju is from Dharwar, Karnataka, India, and lives in Shree Muktananda Ashram, in South Fallsburg, New York.

About Pallavi Rathod

Dr. Pallavi Rathod began attending Siddha Yoga satsangs in 1982, the year she was born. Her grandfather led a Siddha Yoga meditation center at their house in New Delhi. Pallavi later served on staff in Gurudev Siddha Peeth for more than twelve years. She offered seva in the Music, Taruna Poshana, Publications, and Translation departments. Currently, Pallavi offers seva from home as a Hindi-language reviewer and translator for the SYDA Foundation. She lives in Thane, India with her husband, Abhijeet. She holds a PhD in Hindi language and literature.

About Rajmani Sinclair

 

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