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Bhagavan Nityananda's Punyatithi

In Honor of Bhagavan Nityananda’s Punyatithi

The Happiness at Our Core by Swami Akhandananda

Bhagavan Nityananda’s Solar Punyatithi marks the anniversary of the day—August 8, 1961—when he left his physical form and merged with all-pervasive Consciousness. The Punyatithi is a sacred time to practice remembrance of Bhagavan Nityananda, to reflect on his teachings, to invoke his presence within our hearts, and to honor him.

Bhagavan Nityananda—or Bade Baba, “elder Baba,” as he was fondly called—was Baba Muktananda’s Guru. He was renowned throughout India as a great saint, one who bestowed shaktipat initiation and awakened seekers to their own divinity. Thousands of people traveled to the tiny village of Ganeshpuri, in the state of Maharashtra, India, to receive Bade Baba’s blessings. In his presence they experienced profound contentment.

Continually immersed in the bliss of the Self, Bade Baba embodied the teachings of the scriptures. Baba Muktananda describes how his Guru often taught silently, through a gesture or a look. Occasionally Bade Baba would speak. And when he did, his speech resonated with the power of his state; his words conveyed the knowledge of the Truth.

One of Bade Baba’s teachings was

All happiness you desire is within you.
It is there in its entirety, in its full manifestation.

In this teaching Bade Baba directs us to turn within. First he tells us, “All happiness you desire is within you.” All happiness is within us for a simple reason: it is our true nature. Happiness is the essence of our own Self. We do not require any object, person, or experience outside of us to experience bliss. We do not need to think, “I will be happy when such-and-such desire is fulfilled.” True happiness is present in every moment.

Furthermore, Bade Baba teaches that this happiness “is there in its entirety, in its full manifestation.” This is because the bliss of the Self is complete, full, and perfect—wanting for nothing.

So, how can we put Bade Baba’s teaching into practice? How can we experience the happiness that is always within us—and then sustain that experience?

One method is to focus our attention on a great being such as Bade Baba. We concentrate our awareness and the energy of our senses on an image, a prayer, or anything else that evokes their presence for us. Then we direct our awareness within. Bringing our attention to our heart, we go beyond the senses to experience the essence of that great being we are focusing on. In doing so, we have their darshan, and we perceive the blissful Consciousness that is our own Self.

We can have darshan of Bade Baba in many ways. We can gaze upon an image or murti of him. We can meditate on his form. We can recognize Bade Baba’s presence in nature—in animals, in trees, in the elements. This is a practice that Gurumayi guides us through in her poem A Temple Without Form. Wherever and whenever we have Bade Baba’s darshan, our hearts, like mirrors, reflect the bliss that Bade Baba embodies, and we perceive this bliss within ourselves.

Another way to practice Bade Baba’s teaching is by paying more attention to the moments when we experience happiness throughout the day. This is a classic dharana, or centering technique, described in the Vijnana Bhairava. This Shaivite scripture explains that moments of delight can be a doorway or portal into the unchanging, everlasting bliss of the Self.

These moments could arise when we greet a friend, when we inhale a sweet fragrance, when we rest in the stillness after meditation, or when we join our voices in chanting the divine name. They could come up when we see a beautiful sunset or the smile of a child.

In such moments, we can shift our focus from what is prompting our delight to the delight itself, and we can make the subtle effort to notice how this happiness is actually arising from within. When we do this, the moment of happiness expands. We tap into the infinite bliss of the Self.

As we engage in this practice over time, our experience of happiness grows and grows—until we recognize bliss as the nectarean substratum of our lives. We come to know the truth of Bade Baba’s teaching that complete happiness is already within us, and we learn to access that joy at any time, in any situation.

On the occasion of Bhagavan Nityananda’s Punyatithi, I invite you to take to heart Bade Baba’s teaching about the happiness within. Bade Baba is ever-present as the bliss of the Self. When we honor him, when we remember his divine presence, when we perceive the truth of his words, we recognize the complete and splendid happiness within ourselves.

1 Swami Muktananda, Bhagawan Nityananda: His Life and Mission (Ganeshpuri, India: Gurudev Siddha Peeth, 1981), p. 29.
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About Swami Akhandananda

Swami Akhandananda Copyright SYDA Foundation

Swami Akhandananda began practicing the Siddha Yoga teachings in 1974, when he was a teenager. Two years later he made the commitment to offer seva full-time—first in the Siddha Yoga Ashram in Oakland, California, and later in Gurudev Siddha Peeth and Shree Muktananda Ashram. In 1982, he took monastic vows to become a Siddha Yoga Swami.

An experienced Siddha Yoga meditation teacher, Swami Akhandananda inspires students with his dedication to Siddha Yoga study and contemplation, and his great love for the Siddha Yoga practices, especially chanting. Swami ji has taught extensively in Siddha Yoga Shaktipat Intensives, satsangs, courses and retreats around the world.

Reading this exposition reminded me of a recent dream. In the dream I felt light, love, and energy in my body, and I heard the words “eternal bliss." I became lucid in the dream and thought to myself how familiar that sounded, like the name Nityananda.
I am grateful to remember this dream that revealed such beauty of the inner Self for me to understand and experience.

St Lazare, Canada

This text arrived at exactly the right time for me. I am going through a difficulty in my life which is making it more challenging than usual to experience the bliss of the Self. Yet when I hold Bade Baba’s words, “All happiness you desire is within you,” I know this to be true.
I know this because I have experienced it before and I recall those moments of connection with divine Consciousness—those moments totally free from the comings and goings in my outer world. As I remember Bade Baba and his compassionate generosity, I hold close that conviction, “All happiness you desire is within you.” And I feel peace, faith, and love. That is his darshan.
I continue to follow these feelings as they take me to a longer lasting experience of joy, the joy that is fully satisfied and free. Right now, just knowing that it is there brings me to the experience of happiness.

Connecticut, United States

The description of the dharana from the Vijnana Bhairava matched an experience I had while meditating. I was repeating the mantra Hamsa when I suddenly recognized that my heart was flooded with love and contentment. I felt so lighthearted and free. I just rested in that peaceful bliss, knowing I was one with that state. Then I noticed that my contentment spawned enthusiasm—at first generalized, and then enthusiasm for greater compassion in relationships and for activity, as needed.
I used this technique a few days later when I found myself agonizing over a decision. Remembering the peace of contentment, I recognized that I could move from identifying with my anxiety to that state of enthusiasm instead. I was soon able to decide with ease. The activity that followed was filled with enthusiasm, comfort, a sense of rightness, as well as harmonious interaction with others.
I am so grateful for this clear explanation of how to connect with our natural state of bliss. I am immensely grateful for Gurumayi's guidance and infinite love. So many blessings.

California, United States

This text is such a beautiful reminder of our inner Truth. As I go through some life challenges at this time, I keep being surprised by wonderful bouts of sheer delight. "Where is this coming from?" I ask myself. This is my answer: from meditation, from the power of the Siddha Yoga practices, from my Guru's blessings, and from deep within my own heart.  
I am so happy and so grateful. I am so comfortable in my own being. I love my Guru so much.  

Utah, United States

Last night, several times throughout the night, I awoke from sleep with a feeling of delicious happiness and well-being. At one point I thought, shall I get up and dance in the dark at the foot of my bed? I could have, but it is winter here in Australia so I snuggled down in the covers and continued to dance and sway in the sweet inner happiness!

Then I awoke this morning to read Swami Akhandananda's exposition on Bade Baba's teaching about the inner happiness. And I began to reflect with gratitude and humility on how this year, my mind's capacity to stay present with the inner happiness has grown stronger. I attribute this to grace and the study of Gurumayi's Message. 

Castlemaine, Australia

I am grateful to Swamiji for these beautiful words! I am reminded of an experience I had one day when I was making a food offering to Bade Baba’s murti. I noticed that Bade Baba seemed to be smiling at me more than usual. I was surprised, and I began watching him. Then I experienced waves of love coming from Bade Bada towards me. The experience of love became stronger and stronger.

The experience of Bade Baba’s love became so intense that I couldn’t stay standing so I lay down on my bed and let that love engulf me. The experience went on for several hours. This experience was a divine gift for me.

I bow to you, Bade Baba, with great love and immense gratitude.

Milan, Italy

As Swami Akhandananda describes ways of practicing Bade Baba’s teaching, he reminds us of Gurumayi's guidance in her poem, A Temple Without Form, to experience Bade Baba’s darshan through nature. I recently had such an experience.
Following an argument with a friend over the phone, my heart was heavy. I went out to my garden and sat in the sun, taking in the beauty of the flowers around me. Sitting in this lovely place, I was able to be with my feelings. Naturally, I started to repeat the mantra. Naturally, my heart started to expand and soften. 
The beauty of nature helped me go deeper within myself and connect to Bade Baba's unconditional love. I felt his love guiding me in a new direction. I was happy. I understood his teaching: “All happiness you desire is within you.” 
Thank you, Bade Baba, for your eternal love and blessings.

Oslo, Norway

There is a feeling I access when I meditate recalling the Guru’s teachings, a feeling of sweet surrender and expansion.
This exposition on Bade Baba’s teaching about the happiness within reminds me that the ups and downs I experience in accordance with the happenings in my outer life aren’t nearly as valuable as the grace I have been given through my Guru and her lineage. 

Connecticut, United States

Swamiji writes of shifting our focus “from what is prompting our delight to the delight itself.” I strive to practice this daily in my sadhana—to go beyond what is apparent and on the surface of events to look deeper into my heart and realize the experience of the Self is always present, always available, if I choose the path of subtle effort and correct understanding.
When I do so, I am able to see the joy within that is my true nature, underlying all things.

New Jersey, United States

I was very grateful to read "The Happiness at Our Core" for its many eloquent reminders about the different ways I can access that happiness that is my essence, all in the course of a perfectly normal day.

I was also touched to realize that these diverse pathways to that happiness—from meditating on Bade Baba's form, to discovering his presence in nature, to practicing the dharana from the Vijnana Bhairava—are all subtle exercises in guiding me toward the actual experience of "eternal bliss," which is the meaning of the name Nityananda.

So just by remembering Bade Baba’s name, I have within me the perfect reminder of this fundamental teaching about "the happiness at our core." And now I also have more portals through which to reach it. What a blessing!

Illinois, USA

Over the weekend, I had been out hiking in exquisite meadows of abundant wildflowers, even as I struggled with family challenges. As I offered myself and felt the joy of the beauty around me, I watched how this allowed me to put the challenges aside—allowed my heart to be uplifted—and I experienced a strengthening of my being.

Leaving the meadows, I struggled to maintain this experience. Now, this morning, reading this has been extremely helpful: "… we can make the subtle effort to notice how this happiness is arising from within."

Swami ji’s words have given me the means to sustain the joy that I was looking for. I can allow the happiness to arise from within me. These words have reminded me to love the Self, to know the One, and to recognize the true source of happiness.

Seattle, USA

I loved Swami ji's suggestion to remember the moments of happiness throughout the day. When I read it, I was reminded of how earlier today, on Bade Baba's Solar Punyatithi, I had taken a moment to delight in a garden of flowers. As I did so, I remembered Bade Baba's teaching, "Be calm. I am everywhere." And I felt such joy that I was having his darshan.
In reading about how remembering moments of happiness helps them to expand, I thought of that moment earlier in my day and my heart swelled. I smiled with joy and gratitude. The Guru compassionately gives us so many tools to find the infinite joy within ourselves. 

Oregon, USA