April 1, 2021
At last, springtime has arrived in most of the Northern Hemisphere. Nature is blossoming, enticed by the warmth of the sun’s rays. All that lies dormant in winter months is awakened once again. The landscape is beginning to display a kaleidoscope of colors. Early this month, on April 4, the holiday of Easter will arrive, in tune with the new life I see being reborn all around me.
For the past few months, I have been residing in the Sonoran Desert in Arizona, in the southwestern region of the USA. In this corner of the world, wildflowers are emerging. The elf owls have flown up from Mexico to make a summer home here. Desert tortoises have come out of their burrows; butterfly activity is picking up. Bean trees are producing edible fruits. The saguaro cacti are getting ready to open their big white flowers. And soon the white-winged doves will be returning.
In parts of the Southern Hemisphere, the heat of summer is giving way to cooler days. Daylight is becoming shorter, while the nights are lengthening. Deciduous trees are shedding their leaves. Nature is settling and readying itself to take a hiatus, to turn inward as winter approaches.
As I look far and wide, what astounds me most is the resilience of nature and its ability to adapt to the cold of winter and the blazing heat of summer, to periods of extreme drought, followed by torrential rains. Nature expands and contracts in its myriad forms. It is never standing still; it continually revitalizes itself, ushering in new life.
Sadhana has a similar dynamic process. As we renew our aspirations, articulate our intentions, and fortify our efforts in doing the Siddha Yoga practices, we infuse our lives with vitality, with strength and inspiration. It has been my firsthand experience that by continually assessing, adjusting, and redoubling my efforts in sadhana, I can better live a life of dignity and service.
At the beginning of this year, I decided to reinvigorate my own practices. Every month I would study a hymn that is posted on the Siddha Yoga path website. All of the hymns are rapturous conversations with God, composed by those whose lives are saturated with ecstasy and gratitude.
Last month, in preparation for the April birthday of Shri Hanuman, I chose to learn and practice Shri Hanuman Chalisa. I sang this hymn many times every morning, and as I did so, its steady melodic tones took hold of me. I felt myself softening into my own strength, standing taller and breathing more fully. I also read a lovely, abridged translation of sage Valmiki’s Ramayana to become familiar with the story of Hanuman’s unwavering devotion to Lord Rama. The mighty monkey warrior, Hanuman, is the son of the wind. He is a divine force of nature who restores righteousness and dharma wherever he goes. At one point in the story, Hanuman, in service to the Lord, leaps across continents, carrying an entire mountain on his shoulder.
Every day, as I look out my window, I come face to face with the Santa Catalina Mountains, monoliths that ascend into the sky and dominate the landscape for miles around. These towering peaks take my breath away. Sometimes the sun casts hues of gold and pink upon them; at other times, the mountains look sharp and foreboding. Being in their presence, I feel my connection to the earth and all living beings.
Today, looking at these mountains and reflecting on Shri Hanuman, I think I understand what gives him the strength to carry mountains. It is his love for Lord Rama, whose sacred name reverberates in every cell of Hanuman’s body. With this thought, I close my eyes and turn inside toward the love that’s been awakened in me through the grace of my beloved Guru, Shri Gurumayi.
The following are some of the major holidays and events occurring this month that will be featured on the Siddha Yoga path website.
Holidays and Events in April
Gudhi Padva: April 12 (April 13 in India)
Gudhi Padva is celebrated as New Year’s Day in Maharashtra, as well as in other parts of India, such as Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Manipur (where it is referred to by other names, like Ugadi, Yughadi, and Cheti Chand). On Gudhi Padva, people raise gudhis, brightly decorated flags, to commemorate Lord Rama’s coronation as king of Ayodhya upon his long-awaited return from a fourteen-year exile. Gudhi Padva is also regarded as one of the three and a half most auspicious days of the year.
Earth Day: April 22
Earth Day was founded fifty-one years ago in 1970, and today more than a billion people participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world. This significant event is an opportunity for us to pause and reflect on the magnificence of the natural world that sustains us, and to honor our role in safeguarding the well-being of God’s creation.
Hanuman Jayanti: April 26 (April 27 in India)
This holiday celebrates the birth of Lord Rama’s immortal, devoted servant, Shri Hanuman. On the Siddha Yoga path website you can find a description of this holiday and a collection of images and stories about Shri Hanuman, whose unwavering devotion made him an invincible warrior, the embodiment of valor, wisdom, and strength. Shri Hanuman Chalisa, the beloved and revered hymn by the poet-saint Tulsidas that I have been studying, is traditionally recited on this day. In one of the verses, Tulsidas proclaims that all difficulties end and all sorrows are removed when one remembers and invokes the mighty hero Hanuman.
My wish for you this month is that you experience the miraculous ways in which God manifests in the natural world. In the same way that nature perpetually renews and revitalizes itself, may you breathe vitality and joy into your sadhana.