April 1, 1997—what a blessed day in Australia!
The sevites who had worked diligently night and day during Gurumayi’s tour to Australia and New Zealand had gathered around Gurumayi for one more darshan before the final, final conclusion. In that moment, Australia received the precious gift of prasad from Gurumayi: Gurumayi promised there would be a Chanting Tour in Australia.
As you know, it’s happening! And I’ve heard that many of those same sevites are offering seva for the Siddha Yoga Chanting Tour: Australia 2014—Satyam Shivam Sundaram. The power of darshan. The power of the Guru’s intention. The power of the devotees’ love. The power of Siddha Yoga chanting. The power of Siddha Yoga meditation. The power of the Siddha Yoga path. We are blessed. We live in the realm of eternal grace.
Sunday, March 16, 2014, was the auspicious celebration of Holi Purnima––the day when the gopis played with colors with Lord Krishna. On this day we—Siddha Yogis around the
world—also bathed in God’s colors as we dedicated the recitation of Shri Guru Gita for the Chanting Tour.
In Shree Muktananda Ashram the recitation took place in the Bhagavan Nityananda Temple, in the presence of Gurumayi Chidvilasananda. The Temple was magnificently decorated with blue hydrangeas and orange roses and calla lilies, matching the colors of the Chanting Tour. Blue represented the phenomenal oceans surrounding Australia and the opal, the many-colored gemstone native to Australia. Orange evoked Uluru, the wondrous rock formation in the heart of Australia, which is considered sacred and which Gurumayi visited during the tour in 1997. A gorgeous opal pendant rested over Bhagavan Nityananda’s majestic heart, illumining his face. A photo of this blue opal forms the background of the artwork for the Chanting Tour, as seen in the banner on the Siddha Yoga path website.
Our eagerness to recite Shri Guru Gita for the Chanting Tour was so great that everyone arrived and took their seats in the Temple very early. This preparedness contained a reward: we were all able to have Gurumayi’s darshan, as Gurumayi entered the Temple and received Bade Baba’s darshan.
Gurumayi pranamed to Bade Baba, then offered five fragrant gardenias at Bade Baba’s padukas. These gardenias had been grown in Shree Muktananda Ashram and had just bloomed that morning.
After Gurumayi took her seat in the Temple, Madhava Rubiralta, the SYDA Foundation Live Events Department Head, noticed a shaft of light streaming from the skylight and thought that it might soon fall on Gurumayi’s eyes.
Madhava approached Gurumayi’s chair and asked Gurumayi if he could make an adjustment to the sunlight, so that it wouldn’t fall on Gurumayi’s face. Gurumayi was quite amused and asked him, “Why would you want to shield God's light?” Gurumayi said that if God’s light wants to stream in, then Gurumayi would not block it. And besides, Gurumayi added, wasn't that just a bit beyond his ability anyway?
Madhava smiled but remained quite firm that, most definitely, he could put something over the skylight so that the sunlight would not bother Gurumayi. Gurumayi thanked him for his consideration, and she also remained firm in her statement that she would not want to block God’s light from streaming in.
Very sweetly, Gurumayi leaned to her right, looked up at the sun and, with a gentle wave of her hand, thanked the sunlight. We all watched this interaction with great joy, as Gurumayi was laughing and Madhava was smiling, yet speaking with such sincerity and conviction. This was the most delightful interaction! As the disciple came forward to offer his best, the Guru understood his intent and at the same time was steadfast in acknowledging the heavenly light.
It seemed to me that Madhava understood Gurumayi’s wish, and he returned to his seat, knowing that he was present to serve Gurumayi. After a few seconds, Gurumayi said to Madhava, “Actually, the warmth of the sun feels very good.” When Gurumayi said this, we all experienced the warmth of the Guru’s love and Bade Baba’s divine energy.
The host for the satsang was Vimala Houk, a sevite in the Taruna Poshana Department. This is the department that oversees teaching and learning events for children, young adults, and families. Vimala welcomed everyone to the satsang, commenting on how the crisp morning air shimmered with birdsong and the promise of new beginnings.
Vimala explained the significance of reciting Shri Guru Gita for the Chanting Tour: “Shri Guru Gita is the supremely sacred text of the Siddha Yoga path. The power of this king of mantras is so great that through the recitation of Shri Guru Gita, we fulfill the four goals of life: righteousness, prosperity, pleasure, and liberation. When we dedicate our recitation of Shri Guru Gita to the Chanting Tour, we invoke the full potency of this mantra in blessing.”
At the beginning of 2014 Gurumayi gave the guidance that this year will include the recitation and study of Gayatri mantras, which are powerful prayers from the Indian scriptures. Gurumayi said that these mantras have the energy to bring about the experience of Gurumayi’s Message for this year.
For this satsang Gurumayi had selected seven Gayatri mantras for us to recite, honoring these deities: Lord Ganesha, Goddess Sarasvati, Goddess Lakshmi, Lord Hanuman, Lord Krishna, Lord Agni, and Lord Jala.
After this profound recitation, Swami Dharmananda, Department Head for Siddha Yoga Meditation Teachers, read Gurumayi’s moving intention for the Chanting Tour in Australia, and asked us all to hold this intention in our awareness as we recited the sacred text Shri Guru Gita.
Here are some of the beautiful experiences participants shared with me after the satsang about the recitation of Shri Guru Gita:
“Reciting Shri Guru Gita, aligned with Gurumayi’s all-inclusive intention, I truly felt the power of those blessings flowing forth from my heart. I knew I was an instrument for Gurumayi’s shakti.”
“The sounds of the sacred Sanskrit syllables seemed to fill the air with as much light and warmth as the sun. Just as the light streamed in from above, the sounds of the recitation and the intention they conveyed felt like they were flowing out from the Temple and bringing light and warmth to Australia and the entire world.”
“The sound of our voices echoing in alignment with the Guru’s intention was like divine destiny being fulfilled…”
We concluded the recitation of Shri Guru Gita by standing to sing Sadguru ki Arati. Gurumayi had invited Belinda Wilson, an SYDA Foundation staff member from Sydney, Australia, to wave the arati lamp. During the Arati, Gurumayi kept giving direction to the drummer, saying “Energy, energy!” and “Wake up! Give your energy.”
After the Arati, we all took our seats. Gurumayi spoke the title of the Chanting Tour, and we all joined in.
Satyam Shivam Sundaram.
Satyam Shivam Sundaram.
Satyam Shivam Sundaram.
Gurumayi said, “True. Auspicious. Beautiful. A beautiful recitation.”
After this, Gurumayi spoke about how she had requested the Project Manager for this recitation of Shri Guru Gita to have roses to give as prasad to everyone after the recitation. Gurumayi said, “I don’t see those roses here in the Temple.” The Project Manager, Terry Fleming, who is also Australian, stood up and shared with Gurumayi that the roses were outside, to be given to people after the satsang as they leave from darshan.
Gurumayi said, “How can the roses be prasad if they are outside the Temple? Something only becomes prasad after it has been offered to the Guru.” Gurumayi asked the Siddha Yoga Swamis to explain what prasad is. Swami Ishwarananda, Swami Vasudevananda, and Swami Shantananda each spoke about the meaning of prasad.
Gurumayi added, “Prasad uplifts you. Chanting is mahaprasad.” Then Gurumayi said that in order to give the Project Manager time to offer the roses to Bade Baba, there would be a ten-minute pause. After the pause we would return to chant the theme namasankirtana of the Siddha Yoga Chanting Tour in Australia, Jaya Jaya Shiva Shambho, and in this way, invoke Bade Baba’s blessings for the tour.
When we returned after the pause, Gurumayi invited Ishan Brodeur, SYDA Foundation staff member from Montreal, Canada, who had been participating in the recitation, to come forward. Gurumayi handed Ishan a small, white card from her side table and invited him to read it to everyone. Ishan took the microphone and read, “Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu Jayanti. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was born on Holi Purnima in the year 1486. Today, Sunday, March 16, 2014, marks the 528th anniversary of his birth.”
At Gurumayi’s invitation, Swami Ishwarananda explained to everyone that Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was a fifteenth-century saint who had traveled throughout India, teaching everyone to chant the divine Name as a direct way to realize God. This great being was revolutionary in that he made accessible to the common people the scriptural teachings that had been monopolized by the scholars and spiritual elite. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu took the blessed vibrations—the mahaprasad—of the divine Name to the whole world. It is such an extraordinary synchronicity that on his birthday, on this Holi day, we are dedicating this recitation to the Chanting Tour. Swamiji added that this is just what Gurumayi is doing now, in the twenty-first century—taking the practice of chanting the divine Name to the whole world, so that the whole world can wake up. All of us in the Temple couldn’t have agreed more with Swamiji. This moment was so propitious. It felt as if we were creating history!
Then Gurumayi asked Ishan, who was standing by the Temple door near Gurumayi’s chair, to tell everyone what he would be doing now. Ishan shared, “I will follow my heart. I’m leaving on a jet plane to Australia.”
Everyone in the Temple cheered and applauded. It seemed as if the entire Temple took off for Australia, with Bade Baba and Gurumayi. I had the palpable experience that we are all one people, one world, one heart, one path.
Ishan added, “The heart is a muscle that knows no boundaries. My heart is filled with my Guru’s love, and I’m taking this love with me to offer music seva for the Chanting Tour in Australia, 2014. I’m also taking all of the love that the staff members have showered upon me.”
Gurumayi then invited the sevites in the Temple to participate in the tradition of giving blessings at the launch of something new, when someone is about to travel, or when starting a significant initiative.
Gurumayi explained that Ishan will remember these words of blessing and hold them close to his heart as he travels in Australia. Gurumayi reminded us all that many full moons ago, on Gurupurnima in 2005, here in the Temple, Ishan had given us his "sutra". She asked Ishan to repeat his sutra.
In his deep, resonant voice and endearing French Canadian accent, Ishan spoke the words he had shared on that Gurupurnima day: “Every day is a good day. And today is a GOOOOD day!” And just as on that Gurupurnima, Ishan’s impeccable delivery elicited the same thunderous laughter throughout the same Temple.
Gurumayi shared that she remembers Ishan’s sutra all the time, and uses it whenever someone needs to be uplifted. Gurumayi said to us, “So now offer your blessings in words for Ishan, so that he can write them down and keep thinking about them throughout the Chanting Tour in Australia.”
Sevites in the Temple gave the following blessings to Ishan for his trip to Australia:
Swami Dharmananda: May you be a vehicle for the Guru’s love, the Guru’s grace, the Guru’s blessings—to touch all the people you come in contact with throughout the tour.
Swami Vasudevananda: May the spirit that you bring to the tour demonstrate to everybody that everything is possible through the Guru’s grace.
Rajmani Sinclair: May your love and enthusiasm for Siddha Yoga music infuse the whole ensemble and the entire Chanting Tour.
Aira Mohlmann: May you travel safely, and may you stay healthy, so that all these blessings actually can come true.
Swami Akhandananda: Ishan, may you experience the truth, the auspiciousness, and the supreme beauty of offering seva in service to Gurumayi’s Chanting Tour to Australia. May you be a role model as your joy in seva spreads to everyone you meet.
Asa Siegel: Ishan, may you bring forth all of the training that you have received from Gurumayi and in the SYDA Foundation as a Siddha Yoga musician, and share it with the music ensemble in Australia.
After Ishan received these blessings, Gurumayi invited Swami Apoorvananda to approach Bade Baba and ask for Bade Baba’s permission to take some flowers and fruit which had been offered to him, to give to Ishan as prasad. Swamiji followed Gurumayi’s direction, and Ishan held out a shawl provided by his wife, Shridevi, who was standing next to him. He received the prasad in the folds of the shawl, then reverently wrapped the cloth around the prasad.
As Ishan and Shridevi were bowing before Bade Baba’s padukas, Gurumayi asked the ensemble to begin chanting Jaya Jaya Shiva Shambho. This was the most sweet, sweet moment—observing the exchange of the disciples’ love and the Gurus’ blessings, and the vibrations of the chant uniting with Ishan’s intention to participate in the Chanting Tour.
As the chant continued, Ishan came before Gurumayi to receive her blessings, and bowed his head. When he lifted his head, Gurumayi picked up the silver cup of water from her side table and, with a huge smile, sprinkled copious amounts of water on Ishan’s head, face, and shoulders. The pure droplets on Ishan’s face scintillated as he smiled lovingly. Ishan kept saying, “Thank you, Gurumayi, thank you. Thank you very much. I love you.” Still holding Bade Baba’s prasad, Ishan gently rose. He joined Shridevi, and as we all waved farewell and continued chanting, they left the Temple.
I felt that this momentous interaction was about all of us—about what can happen to each one of us when we step forward to follow the dictates of our heart to serve the Guru. It’s the reason why we have taken birth on this earth. The Siddha Yoga Chanting Tour: Australia 2014 had begun––from the steps of Bade Baba’s Temple, to the satsang halls in Australia, all the way into the hearts of the mad lovers of God in Australia and throughout the world.
During Holi Purnima, Lord Shiva is also worshipped; therefore, by chanting Jaya Jaya Shiva Shambho, we were honoring both the celebration of this day and the Chanting Tour. As the chant reached a crescendo, this intention of Gurumayi’s was tangibly felt and seen: “May the joyous streams of sounds bring everyone to their feet, dancing in celebration of God’s love arising in their hearts.”
After this delicious namasankirtana, Gurumayi spoke about the importance of articulating and sharing intentions and blessings:
You must learn how to give. Generosity is not just about giving somebody money. Generosity is a profound virtue. And you can be generous with honest words of blessings. There’s nothing to be shy about when it comes to giving blessings, honest blessings.
It was important for Ishan to receive these honest blessings, since he will be the staff member from Shree Muktananda Ashram representing Gurumayi and the SYDA Foundation. That needs to be in the forefront of his awareness—who he is representing. He’s not going for himself, even though he may have thought that in the beginning. So be generous.
Everyone should learn how to articulate an intention, and how to give blessings. Words have shakti. Words have power.
One of the staff members and her wonderful Bengal cat, Leo, wrote an intention for the Chanting Tour that they offered to me. I was greatly inspired by that, and loved reading the intention. I thought, “That’s beautiful.” This staff member used to teach others how to articulate an intention from the Siddha Yoga perspective. So I thought, “How wonderful that she’s still got the knack for it.” She and Leo had the presence of mind to offer that to me. I always like to be inspired. Every time a person feels inspiration, wonderful and healthy cells are created in that person’s being. Every time you feel inspired, you also inspire someone else or they feel inspired by you. You create an uplifting synergy in the world.
This is why people—maybe not all people—some people like to be around children, because children have a way of inspiring you, which does something to your being.
So inspiration is good. Understand that you can give blessings. And remember, when blessings are given in Bade Baba’s Temple, they multiply a thousand times––just as when you repeat one Om Namah Shivaya during Mahashivaratri, it is multiplied a thousand times.
When you show your beautiful self, your good self to me, you’re actually inspiring me. I feel inspired.
Gurumayi spoke about some of the sevites in the Temple who had been smiling and smiling away at her throughout the chant. However, when these same sevites see Gurumayi at other times in the Ashram, when Gurumayi is walking down the hallways, or stopping in the lobbies, or walking on the Ashram grounds, these sevites hide behind pillars, or turn in another direction, or make strange facial expressions. Gurumayi receives no greetings from them, nor any acknowledgment that they are pleased to see Gurumayi.
So I thought it was dishonest that only here during the chant were they being nice.
When you see me around the Ashram, I expect you to be considerate, sweet, courteous, loving, your beautiful self. Show me your beautiful self. Show me your good self. Don’t try to tell me you feel unworthy. I couldn’t care less about your unworthiness. I care about you. Don’t try to give lots of excuses and alibis. You’ve been following the Siddha Yoga path for God knows how many lifetimes. Understand where you are. Learn how to articulate intentions and blessings in words.
Let me tell you that you all look beautiful.
My request to you is: Always show me your beautiful self, your good self. Even if you’re afraid, don’t worry about it. I want you to know I don’t care about your fear. I want to see you allowing your nice self to shine forth. The Indian scriptures say that whatever you hide from the Guru turns into a monster and eats you up. So be honest with yourself, and don’t worry if you’re tired or scared or feeling unworthy or stupid or spacey. Understand—these are all different colors of life. And when you show these qualities that you are afraid to face to the Guru, the Guru’s light actually burns them away.
So instead of “facing the music,” you can live life. Instead of “facing the music,” you can make music and be with music.
I was very moved by this teaching from Gurumayi––to show our beautiful selves to Gurumayi. I honestly feel as if this year, this time, this moment is our time, God’s Time. It’s the time to step into our authentic selves and let go of old stories and limited ways of looking at ourselves. We have Gurumayi’s invitation to step into who we really are—our great Self. That’s what this Chanting Tour is all about––all of us around the world stepping up, stepping into our own hearts and honoring the gift of shaktipat, the inner awakening from the Guru.
Gurumayi’s teachings always have a transforming effect on me, and I speak for everyone else in the Temple who may have felt this too: it was as if we were receiving the fruit of a thousand Shaktipat Intensives! We experienced the power of Gurumayi’s words purifying our being. It wasn’t that we would go do sadhana later; even as Gurumayi was speaking, sadhana was taking place. This is why satsang is so valued on the Siddha Yoga path.
Gurumayi then invited Swami Apoorvananda to share some news about how the preparations are going in Australia for the Chanting Tour. Swamiji offers seva as the Communications Facilitator for the Siddha Yoga Chanting Tour: Australia 2014, working with the Chanting Tour Executive Teams in Australia and the SYDA Foundation.
Swami Apoorvananda shared that Rudra Sharp, who is one of the tour co-managers, has been in Sydney and Melbourne, conducting orientations for the many sevites who are offering seva in support of the tour. He has been helping them to understand about SYDA Foundation systems, procedures, policies, guidelines, standards, protocol, and criteria, to make sure that the tour represents Gurumayi’s vision for the Chanting Tour: Australia 2014.
Swamiji added that Carlos del Cueto, the music teacher for the Chanting Tour, has begun conducting rehearsals in Melbourne, and more than forty musicians have traveled from other parts of Australia and around the world as well to take part in these rehearsals. They’re learning and practicing the principles of Siddha Yoga music so that they can represent Siddha Yoga music throughout the Chanting Tour. Madhava Rubiralta added that on the previous day, the first family orientation was held in Melbourne, in which families were invited to learn about the activities for families on the tour. It was a beautiful event, and all the children and other family members were very excited, anticipating everything that’s coming.
After hearing from Swami Apoorvananda and Madhava, Gurumayi spoke:
On the Siddha Yoga path we love to chant a lot, and I’ve always felt music is my cause. Many people have different causes, and for me music has been my cause.
I always support children learning music. I arrange for them to receive musical instruments and find good music teachers, so that music can become a part of their lives. For example, the SYDA Foundation has supported Lakshmi Wells, a Siddha Yoga musician who has been a music teacher in the local elementary school for several years. I encourage parents to support their children to take an interest in music. Even if they do not become musicians by profession, they can still study music. The world needs music.
Music is my cause, and chanting really supports that cause. Therefore, any time children sing—even a little bit—I say, “Oh my God, that’s beautiful!” And they do sound beautiful.
Music is what keeps this world afloat. Music can make you feel whatever you need to feel––it can make you soar through the heights of the universe or through the depths of your heart. Whether you’re feeling down or ecstatic, music has the power to transform your state.
Thank you all for participating in and supporting this wonderful cause.
When Gurumayi said that music is her cause, I experienced a new level of understanding about how music is a vehicle for Gurumayi’s grace. I felt infused with the inspiration to re-energize my practice of chanting. And when I looked around the Temple, I thought that everyone must be thinking the same. I looked up at Bade Baba and felt that he affirmed my commitment. I was sitting in front of Bade Baba and in front of Gurumayi and experienced that I was cradled in their grace.
This was one of the most extraordinary moments of my sadhana. I thought, “I am with my Guru, understanding on some deeper level what my Guru is doing for the world.” I felt united with Gurumayi’s sankalpa. I visualized the infinite potential that we all have, to spread Gurumayi’s light and do good in this world.
As I was reveling in Gurumayi’s prasad in the form of these teachings, I heard Gurumayi say, “Let’s be happy together.” Everyone responded with a spontaneous and enthusiastic “Yes!” Gurumayi looked so joyous hearing our response, and said, “Together, yes!” And then we all joined Gurumayi in exclaiming Satyam Shivam Sundaram. I felt so honored to be born in Gurumayi's time, to be part of her global Siddha Yoga Mission, to be able to support and contribute to this extraordinary Chanting Tour, which will touch so many beings—not only in Australia, but around the world and throughout this cosmos.
On the Siddha Yoga path, a satsang never ends: the river of grace continues to flow. With our hearts overflowing with gratitude for the Chanting Tour in Australia, we went before Bade Baba’s padukas for darshan.
We remembered what Ishan had shared––that the heart knows no boundaries. And therefore, we were able to keep assimilating Gurumayi’s teachings and the darshan of Gurumayi and Bade Baba, as gratitude continued to pulsate in our beings.
And yes, as we were leaving the Temple with very full hearts, we did receive the prasad roses—the color of Uluru. We all felt so fortunate to have had this opportunity to dedicate our recitation of Shri Guru Gita to the success of the Siddha Yoga Chanting Tour: Australia 2014, which begins this Saturday, March 22.
Sadgurunath Maharaj ki Jay!