Introduction to Anukampā
Gurumayi's birthday wish was to celebrate her birthday with all the Siddha Yogis and new seekers around the world. For this initiative, Gurumayi chose the word Anukampā. Gurumayi shared that she loves this Sanskrit word, which means benevolence, grace, and compassion. Anukampā also refers to the compassionate vibrations of the heart.
Gurumayi gave inspiration for the themes of each video chapter in Birthday Bliss—Anukampā, and gave the Sanskrit titles that represent the Siddha Yoga teachings and practices.
In each chapter of Birthday Bliss—Anukampā, graceful and beautiful movements are expressed. Gurumayi's wish was for the images and videos to portray the continuous rhythm, the natural dance that is inherent throughout the universe.
In 2013 Gurumayi gave "Shiva-Shakti Movement" as the title for all the exercise sessions—such as hatha yoga, tai chi, creative dance, and so on—held by the SYDA Foundation Hatha Yoga Department in Shree Muktananda Ashram and as part of Siddha Yoga teaching and learning events sponsored by the SYDA Foundation. Shiva-Shakti Movement refers to a physical expression of the awakened divine energy that moves within the body. It invokes the boundless, creative power of Shakti and the ever-present stillness of Shiva.
The purpose of Shiva-Shakti Movement is to increase one's awareness of the natural impulse of the body to move freely in space, while still being grounded and connected to the earth. It also develops one's spatial awareness in relation to the world around them.
In Shiva-Shakti Movement, Siddha Yogis develop the awareness that each part of the body is connected. All parts must be aligned and working together in harmony, to bring about the optimal experience of living. As Siddha Yogis offer seva and go about their daily lives, they discover that the movements of their physical body need not be mechanical or constricted. As living beings, they are able to enjoy freedom in every action. In Shiva-Shakti Movement, Siddha Yogis come to realize that every movement, every gesture, is a beautiful expression of Shakti.
Chapter 1: Āvāhana—Invocation
The mantras of the Invocation are from Shri Guru Gita, verse 67.
Dance filmed at Rexhame Beach in Marshfield, Massachusetts
Chapter 2: Shrī Ganesha Vandanā—Adoration of Lord Ganesha
Prayer to Lord Ganesha
Author and Reader: Maitreya Larios
The introductory dance is in the style of bharatanatyam. One of the oldest documented classical dance forms in the world, bharatanatyam dates back to 1500 BC in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Bharatanatyam was originally performed in temples as a form of worship. Each movement conveys part of a prayer or story.
Click here to read more about Lord Ganesha.
Chapter 3: Sevārpana—Offering of Seva
- Jason Lester
- Nikki Costello
- Shane Butler
- Dominique Jacques
- Ryan Thompson
- Jaime Castaneda
- Luisa Viviani-Ganin
- Raymundo Rubiralta
- Johann Zurner
- Luella Strattner
Music: Nacho Re Mero Mana, a devotional song written by the fifteenth-century poet-saint Kabir. Gurumayi composed music for this bhajan in 1998, for the Siddha Yoga Winter Retreat in Santa Clara, California. The music in this chapter is an instrumental version of Gurumayi's composition.
Teaching by Gurumayi Chidvilasananda from her book Enthusiasm (South Fallsburg, NY: SYDA Foundation, 1997), pg. 162
Chapter 4: Abhivādana—Welcome
Chapter 5: Shrī Guru Namana—Salutations to Shri Guru
Gurumayi begins the celebration of her birthday with Shrī Guru Namana, "Salutations to Shri Guru." On the Siddha Yoga path, Shrī Guru Namana is a daily practice. When namana is offered on auspicious occasions and before new undertakings, its significance is even greater and more profound. In the practice of namana, the hands are brought together in namaskar, prayers are recited mentally or aloud, and offerings of flowers and other auspicious items are made. The spiritual bhāva (attitude) and offering of salutations express devotion, respect, and gratitude for the Guru’s abiding grace. When heartfelt namana is offered, it invokes the blessings of Shri Guru.
Chapter 6: Shrī Guru Stuti—Glorification of Shri Guru
Chanting is one of the core practices on the Siddha Yoga path. Om Bhagavān Muktānanda Bhagavān, the Siddha Yoga namasankirtana chanted in Shrī Guru Stuti, is in praise of Swami Muktananda, Gurumayi's Guru.
Om Bhagavān Muktānanda Bhagavān means:
Salutations to Muktananda,
who embodies the qualities of the Divine.
The Sanskrit word bhaga
refers to six divine qualities:
- Aishvarya: divine power, sovereignty, and divinity
- Dharma: righteousness, duty, and virtue
- Yashas: glory and splendor
- Shrī: beauty, radiance, auspiciousness, majesty, and abundance
- Jnāna: knowledge
- Vairāgya: detachment, dispassion, and freedom from worldly desires
Bhagavān denotes one who embodies these six inner qualities and bestows them upon others.
Chapter 7: Shrī Guru Archanā—Worship of Shri Guru
Chapter 8: Kalārpana—Offering of Art
- Praise Chandrali, age 7
- Chaitanya, age 10
- Liam, age 9
- Aidan Sunil, age 9
- Byron, age 7
- Lorea Prema, age 6
- Ainoa Sarikha, age 9
- Jasmine, age 9
- Kesari, age 7
- Clara Priya, age 11
- Sophia Sindhu, age 7
Teaching by Gurumayi Chidvilasananda from her book Sadhana of the Heart (South Fallsburg, NY: SYDA Foundation, 2006), pg. 92
Reader: Ainoa Sarikha, age 9
Chapter 9: Ānandarasa—Elixir of Bliss
Filmed in the courtyard in front of Atma Nidhi in Shree Muktananda Ashram.
Chapter 10: Naivedya—Offering of Food
"A Song of Jubilation—Happy Birthday, Beloved," composed and sung for Gurumayi's Birthday in 2000 by Ann Hampton Callaway and Walker Jones. Since that time, this joyful song has become a part of the yearly celebration of Gurumayi's Birthday.
These traditional Vedic mantras have been set to music especially for this Siddha Yoga naivedya, the offering of the exquisite and delicious birthday cake to Gurumayi on behalf of the global Siddha Yoga sangham.
Chapter 11: Shrī Gurumayi Āshīrvāda—Shri Gurumayi's Blessings
Poem: “Travel Deep Inside,” by Gurumayi Chidvilasananda
Birthday Bliss—Anukampa. © 2014 SYDA Foundation®
Flutist: Stefan Ragnar Hoskuldsson
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 Johann Zurner
Johann Zurner has been a professional stage actor for ten years, performing in theaters throughout Germany.
He has been following the Siddha Yoga path since 2003 and currently serves on staff in the SYDA Foundation. Johann is from Landshut, Germany, and studied acting at the University of Performing Arts in Stuttgart. He lives at Shree Muktananda Ashram in South Fallsburg, New York.
About Julian Elfer
Julian Elfer is a professional actor and a founding member of a theater company in Manhattan. He privately coaches Shakespearian actors and is a teaching artist in the New York City public school system. Julian has been practicing the Siddha Yoga teachings since 1995 and offers seva as a visiting sevite in the SYDA Foundation. He previously served on staff in the PRASAD Project.
Julian studied acting at the London Academy of Music and Art and at the Schreiber Studios in New York City. He is originally from Ascot, England, and lives in Manhattan with his wife, Susan.
About Harriette Cole
Harriette Cole began following the Siddha Yoga path in 1990. Since 1993 she has offered seva in the SYDA Foundation as a speaker and host in Siddha Yoga teaching and learning events, including Shaktipat Intensives.
Professionally, Harriette is an author, motivational speaker, and leadership coach. She lives in New York City with her husband, George, and daughter, Carrie Madhavi.
About Swami Ishwarananda
Swami Ishwarananda has been following the Siddha Yoga path for almost forty years. He received shaktipat initiation in 1972 while living and teaching English in Japan. Shortly afterwards, Swamiji began his Siddha Yoga practice, and in 1980 he took monastic vows to become a Siddha Yoga Swami. Swamiji has served Gurumayi as a Siddha Yoga meditation teacher, traveling extensively throughout the world to teach in Siddha Yoga courses, Sadhana Retreats, and Shaktipat Intensives.
About Joel Kushnick
Joel Kushnick is a professional musician who has studied jazz and classical guitar with well-known guitarists Ted Dunbar and Sal Salvador, as well as the sitar with renowned sitar player Daisy Paradis. He has studied both instruments for a total of 19 years.
Joel began following the Siddha Yoga path in 1995. He served on staff in the SYDA Foundation from 1998 – 2007. While on staff he participated in two Premotsava Music Retreats, as well as the Music Study Sessions in 2004. Joel currently lives in Vermont with his wife Rajashri.
About Ami Bansal
Ami Bansal is a Sanskrit research scholar with a master’s degree in Sanskrit from the University of Mumbai.
She serves as a Siddha Yoga meditation teacher and a trainer of Siddha Yoga meditation teachers for Pilgrimage to the Heart retreats in Gurudev Siddha Peeth.
Ami has been following the Siddha Yoga path since 1976 and offering full-time seva in the SYDA Foundation since 1992, in both Gurudev Siddha Peeth and Shree Muktananda Ashram. Ami lives in Mumbai with her husband, Ruchir.
About Stefan Ragnar Hoskuldsson
Stefan Ragnar Hoskuldsson is the principal flutist at the Metropolitan Opera. He studied at the Reykjavik School of Music and the Royal College of Music in Manchester, UK, under renowned flutists Bernhard Wilkinson and Peter Lloyd.
Stefan started his Siddha Yoga practice in 2004. He has been serving as a visiting sevite in Shree Muktananda Ashram since 2006. Stefan is originally from Neskaupstadur, Iceland, and he currently lives in Manhattan with his wife, Natalie.
About Maitreya Larios
Maitreya Larios is a Sanskrit scholar and a research fellow at the Heidelberg University in Germany, where he earned a PhD in classical Indology. He began practicing Siddha Yoga in 1990 and served on staff at Shree Muktananda Ashram during summers from 1996 to 1998. Maitreya lives in Heidelberg, Germany, with his wife, Anuradha, and one-year-old son, Kabir.
About Ojas Adhiya
Ojas Adhiya is a renowned tabla player trained in Indian classical music and ghazals, an Urdu style of poetry and song. At the age of five, he began studying tabla formally under the guidance of Shri Mrdangraj. That same year he was recognized by the Limca Book of Records as the "youngest tabla player of India." He has accompanied legendary Indian musicians such as santoor master Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma and flutist Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia.
Ojas began following the Siddha Yoga path in 1988. He has offered seva in Gurudev Siddha Peeth since 1991 and has also served in Shree Muktananda Ashram. He currently lives in Mumbai, India.
About Dianne McIntyre
Dianne McIntyre is a professional modern and contemporary dance choreographer and performer. From the 1970s to the present, Dianne has toured the United States and Europe with her dance company and other ensembles. She has choreographed theater productions for prominent dance companies such as the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and for film and television productions, including Oprah Winfrey's Beloved and Miss Evers' Boys, for which she earned an Emmy Award nomination.
Dianne has been honored with numerous awards for dance and choreography, including a John S. Guggenheim Fellowship, three Bessie Awards, the Helen Hayes Award for Theatre Choreography, and two honorary doctor of fine arts degrees from the State University of New York at Purchase and Cleveland State University.
She began her Siddha Yoga practice in 1985 in New York City. Dianne has offered seva dancing for Gurumayi’s birthday celebrations, Shaktipat Intensives, and Siddha Yoga satsangs.
Dianne earned a bachelor of fine arts in dance from Ohio State University. She lives in Cleveland, Ohio, where she cares for her 97-year-old mother.
About Deborah Abel
Deborah Abel is a modern dancer, choreographer, and the founder of a dance company and school of modern dance. Since 1987 she has toured the United States and India with her dance company. In 2010, she received the Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist Fellowship for her choreography. She teaches modern dance and street funk.
Deborah began following the Siddha Yoga path in 1986. She has a bachelor of arts in dance from Connecticut College and a certificate of dance from the Laban School in London. She lives in Carlisle, Massachusetts, with her husband and son.
About Hersha Bhagwan
Hersha Bhagwan is a dancer and choreographer in the classical Indian style of Bharatanatyam. She has performed at events for the Darji Cultural Society and the Gujarati Society of British Columbia. She studied Bharatanatyam at Peali Arpana Academy of Dance.
Hersha began following the Siddha Yoga path in 1985. She is currently serving on staff in Shree Muktananda Ashram.
About Sonya Gotz
Sonya Gotz has worked as a professional dancer in the styles of ballet, lyrical modern dance, and contemporary modern dance. She has danced in Carnegie Hall, as a soloist in Ernesta Corvino's Dance Circle Company, and in the production of Alice in Wonderland at Lincoln Center in New York City.
Sonya has been following the Siddha Yoga path since 1991. She has a bachelor of arts from Hofstra University. Sonya lives in Livingston, New Jersey, with her husband and three children.
About Justin Leaf
Justin Leaf is a dancer and choreographer in the styles of ballet and modern dance. He has danced with the James Sewell Ballet Company and the Minnesota Dance Theatre. In 2009, he received a McKnight Fellowship for Dancers. He is a graduate of Juilliard School, where he received a bachelor of fine arts in dance performance.
Justin began following the Siddha Yoga path in 1998 in New York City. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
About Yusef Miller
Yusef Miller has studied modern, jazz, and South African dance. In fall 2014, he will be performing in an Off-Broadway theater production.
He began following the Siddha Yoga path in 1995 and offers seva as a visiting sevite in the SYDA Foundation.
Yusef has a master of fine arts in theatre and dance from the University of California, San Diego. He lives in New York City.
About Satya Celeste Stainton
Satya Celeste Stainton is a choreographer and dancer who has studied ballet, jazz, modern dance, belly dancing, and bhangra.
Satya was introduced to the Siddha Yoga path by her parents when she was born in 1984. Since 1995 she has offered seva in the SYDA Foundation both as a staff member—from January 2007 through July 2011—and as a visiting sevite.
She earned her bachelor’s degree in dance history, performance, and choreography from Cornell University. Satya lives in New York City.