A Talk on the Life and Legacy of Gurumayi Chidvilasananda

By Meera Laube Szapiro
Shree Muktananda Ashram
June 1, 2017

Sadgurunath Maharaj ki Jay!

June 1st! The dawn of Birthday Bliss!

It is my great good fortune to welcome each and every one of you to this astounding, astonishing, amazing Birthday Bliss satsang!

Amchya Gurumayi, Amcha satsang.

In the Marathi language, this means “Our Gurumayi, our satsang.”

My name is Meera Laube-Szapiro. I have offered seva in the SYDA Foundation since 1999 in many different capacities, and I am delighted to be the host for this Birthday Bliss satsang.

Mother Nature displays her own particular genius, her own striking creativity, in honoring the birth of a great being. Haven’t you found this to be the case time and again?

Last night, as we culminated our celebration of Baba Muktananda’s Birthday and prepared to cross the threshold into Birthday Bliss, Nature put on a phenomenal show in Shree Muktananda Ashram.

The sky above the Ashram was ensconced by clouds. Big, white, billowing clouds, drifting slowly and purposefully across a great blue canvas. As the sun was setting, it illumined the clouds from behind so that they shone pink and gold. The moon was out too, half-full and gleaming.

That’s not all, though. If you stepped outside at just the right time, you might have seen a rainbow. It was gorgeous—a shaft of color emerging from the clouds, soft and hazy against the evening sky.

Then, as evening turned to night, dark blue Krishna clouds rolled over Shree Muktananda Ashram; lightning flashed, thunder clapped, the heavens opened. And this morning the sunrise was bright and clear, unfettered by clouds as the sun took its place in the vast, crystal-blue sky.

What a way to usher us in to Birthday Bliss! Nature always knows.

On the Siddha Yoga path, anyone’s birthday is an opportunity to celebrate their goodness, sweetness, contributions, worth, and so much more.

So just imagine celebrating the birthday of our Guru, Gurumayi Chidvilasananda. Yes! Take a moment. Imagine what this means for you.

This year, three Siddha Yogis who have been practicing the Siddha Yoga teachings since they were quite young, who were offering seva as soon as they knew how to walk and talk, had a brilliant idea for how to launch Birthday Bliss and continue this celebration throughout the month of June.

Garima Borwankar, from El Sobrante in California; Vani Agrawal, from Ranchos Penasquitos in California; and Lilavati Stewart, from South Yarra in Australia conveyed to the SYDA Foundation Live Events Department their wish to share stories of receiving teachings directly from Gurumayi.

When the staff members in the Live Events Department received this suggestion, they understood the great possibilities it contained. Sharing stories contributes to Gurumayi’s legacy and, simultaneously, gives tangible form to our love for Gurumayi. Moreover, when these Siddha Yogis share their life-transforming stories of Gurumayi, it will inspire and encourage everyone else to do the same.

The Live Events team also thought it would be wonderful for everyone in Shree Muktananda Ashram to delve into their memories for stories, prepare these stories for sharing, and contribute them to this offering, which will become a Shakti Punja treasure for generations to come.

Therefore, the Live Events Department created a series of satsangs to be held in Shree Muktananda Ashram throughout June 2017, for the purpose of sharing these stories. The title of this series is

Redolence, Remembrance, Recognition
The Life and Legacy of Gurumayi Chidvilasananda

In these satsangs, we will hear and share our wonderful stories of receiving teachings directly from Gurumayi. Many of these stories will be shared with the global sangham on the Siddha Yoga path website. This will support Siddha Yogis and new seekers around the world as well to write and share their stories of Gurumayi.

These words—redolence, remembrance, recognition—describe the experience of sharing stories of Gurumayi.

Redolence means a sweet and pleasant fragrance. A fragrance can evoke a past experience instantaneously, with subtleties of feeling and motivation, even before the memory has taken shape in your mind’s eye. A fragrance can be very significant in evoking and calling up our deepest memories.
And the word fragrance is especially significant to us this year because of… Gurumayi’s Message for 2017!

Gurumayi’s Message for 2017 is

Breathe in deeply the fragrance of the Heart.
Revel in the light of the Supreme Self.
Breathe out gently the benevolent power of the Heart.

Remembrance—through remembering teachings we have received from Gurumayi, not only do we connect with Gurumayi in our hearts, but we preserve this memory for others to partake of and learn from. It becomes living memory, and part of Gurumayi’s living legacy.
Recognition—as we take in the stories that others share, they awaken in us a recognition of our own stories of being touched by Gurumayi’s grace. They affirm for us our own experiences in sadhana. We have an a-ha! moment. With this recognition, an inner alchemy is set into motion.

Redolence, Remembrance, Recognition
The Life and Legacy of Gurumayi Chidvilasananda

Now, let me share with you some of the facets of Gurumayi’s life and legacy.


It was on June 24, at the foot of a mountain near the seaside city of Mangalore, in South India, that our beloved Gurumayi took birth. What sweet fragrance the air must have carried that day; what colors must have painted the sky! In the epic poems of India, the gods are often shown honoring the birth of a great being by showering down flower petals from the heavens. The same image arises in my mind when I think of Gurumayi coming to this earth.

Gurumayi is a jagadguru—a living Master for the whole world. Since 1982, Gurumayi has been the Guru of the Siddha Yoga path. For thirty-five years Gurumayi has been bestowing shaktipat diksha, imparting her wisdom, and teaching meditation to seekers of all ages, from countries and cultures around the world, and from myriad walks of life.


Over the course of three decades, Gurumayi has traveled on Teaching Visits throughout the world. Gurumayi has visited 168 cities in sixteen countries, bringing the Siddha Yoga path to people right where they live. Beautiful, pristine satsang halls were created in conference spaces, in hotels, and outdoors. In a literal, physical sense, the satsangs and Shaktipat Intensives with Gurumayi—in which thousands of people were doing the Siddha Yoga practices—brought sacredness to these spaces.

With the advancement of technology, through the Siddha Yoga path website, seekers are given a glimpse of Gurumayi’s divine work in this world. Through the website new seekers receive direction about how to practice the Siddha Yoga teachings, and seasoned Siddha Yogis strengthen their connection to Gurumayi’s grace and blessings.


In addition to the Siddha Yoga path website, Gurumayi’s teachings are recorded in the immense collection of her published talks and writings. Gurumayi’s wisdom has been made available by the SYDA Foundation and Gurudev Siddha Peeth in twenty books and hundreds of magazine articles. In these published works, through her unique grasp of human nature, Gurumayi builds a bridge for us to a Truth which would have otherwise remained unknowable. And in her poetry, Gurumayi has the inspired ability to transcend the mind and articulate the heart’s deepest longing.

Gurumayi’s compendium of astonishing, heart-opening writings has touched people of all ages and will continue to do so far into the future.


We are privileged not only to receive Gurumayi’s written word but also to hear the sound of her voice, the brilliance of her musical composition. Gurumayi has created over 150 compositions, including Siddha Yoga namasankirtana, bhajan, hymns, and arati. Gurumayi imbues each of her musical creations with her intention for the chanter or listener to experience within their own being the vibration of the primordial sound. Gurumayi has made Siddha Yoga music a central practice for every person walking the Siddha Yoga path, regardless of their musical skill or knowledge. She has awakened the song of their hearts.


Gurumayi has given the most loving, careful, and particular attention to children, and she has created countless means for them to connect with the sanctity of their hearts. A classic image we see is of Gurumayi sitting with a child, asking them questions, guiding them to uncover innate wisdom and virtues that they may rely on their entire lives.

In 1998, Gurumayi initiated the Golden Tales, a series of plays enacted by the children and young adults participating in the Siddha Yoga Family Retreats in Shree Muktananda Ashram. Through these plays, the young people learned about the lives of deities and saints. They were empowered to give their best in the offering of seva and to experience its nectarean fruit. To this day, Siddha Yogis share how acting in the Golden Tales was a milestone in their upbringing, and watching the Golden Tales was a memory they will never forget.


Gurumayi has also shown us the way forward at times of great tragedy or challenge in the world. Gurumayi has taught about the power of unified intention in very tangibly fostering harmony, in bringing about the upliftment of nature and our communities; she has guided the Siddha Yoga sangham in sending prayers and offering blessings.

In 2001, Gurumayi convened Satsangs in Honor of the World Community, events which focused specifically on recognizing our shared humanity and bringing the fruits of our Siddha Yoga practice to bear in how we handle the most trying times.


Gurumayi’s whole life has been dedicated to the Siddha Yoga teachings and to making it possible for people to have the genuine experience of the Truth. To this end, over the last thirty-five years, Gurumayi has given principles and guidance for the spiritual practice of seva to the trainers and teachers in the SYDA Foundation. This trove of wisdom is at the heart of the Foundation’s work and is the source of its incredible achievements.

The SYDA Foundation is the lead organization of the global Siddha Yoga mission, and its purpose is to protect, preserve, and facilitate the dissemination of the Siddha Yoga teachings. Gurumayi has taught the staff members in the Foundation to embrace this role of leadership by bringing about unity in the way that they offer seva. When those who offer seva imbibe and apply Gurumayi’s principles and guidance, their efforts have a ripple effect that spreads throughout the entire sangham.


Gurumayi’s vision for humanity has also been expressed through the charitable work of The PRASAD Project, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. PRASAD stands for Philanthropic Relief Altruistic Service And Development.

The PRASAD Project and its sister trust in India, PRASAD Chikitsa, were initiated by Gurumayi in 1992 and 1994, respectively. These organizations are a tangible form of Gurumayi’s compassion and generosity. They have improved the quality of life for thousands of people. With Gurumayi’s guidance, PRASAD continues to be one of the charitable organizations most lauded for its effectiveness.


Out of her deep respect for the knowledge contained in the ancient scriptures of India, in 1997 Gurumayi initiated the Muktabodha Indological Research Institute. Through the work of this organization, over three hundred scriptures that would have otherwise been lost to the world have been saved and preserved, and many have been made part of the public domain through Muktabodha’s digital library. Muktabodha continues its vital work day to day, creating a repository of rare and invaluable scripture that are accessible now and will be for future generations.


The magnitude of Gurumayi’s life, of Gurumayi’s legacy, is beyond words. It is beyond what can be covered in a talk, exposition, or book. It is, frankly, beyond what we can comprehend with our intellectual faculties.

Still, we have our stories. We have experiences of receiving teachings from Gurumayi, learning from Gurumayi’s words and her very way of being. Each one of these stories illustrates a facet of who Gurumayi is and how Gurumayi teaches. These stories are a doorway for future generations to experience Gurumayi’s wisdom, laughter, and compassion, through the eyes of Siddha Yogis in her presence.

In these stories we recognize the impact Gurumayi’s grace has on the lives of individual seekers, on animals and nature, and on the world at large.

Just think for a moment of how many stories of Gurumayi we have in Shri Nilaya right now. How many stories must each one of you have? How many stories would we have if we went around this hall and added up all of our individual stories? What if we then did this exercise with all the Siddha Yogis in the global sangham?

Now, envision the picture created when Siddha Yogis across the global sangham bring together all of our stories. It is a beautiful mosaic, a fluid tapestry, of Gurumayi’s life and legacy.

In many ways, Gurumayi’s legacy exists in the hearts of seekers—in the hearts that her grace, teachings, and presence have opened; in the lives she has changed irrevocably for the better.

Just consider: you are Gurumayi’s masterpiece. You hold Gurumayi’s shakti, Gurumayi’s love, and Gurumayi’s wisdom. Come from this place when you tell your stories of Gurumayi.

When you share your stories of Gurumayi with one another and with the global sangham, you keep Gurumayi’s legacy alive and preserve it for the future. You might even take it to be your auspicious responsibility to do so.

When you write your stories, you are creating art out of your experiences, which will be available for eternity. It is important not to judge if your story is good enough to share. If it has made an impact on you, if it has brought about progress and transformation in your sadhana, then yes, it’s good enough.

In this spirit of celebrating Gurumayi, of recognizing the enormity of Gurumayi’s legacy and the part you play in it, I invite you to share your stories.

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