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Birthday Bliss

Redolence, Remembrance, Recognition

The Life and Legacy of Gurumayi Chidvilasananda

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In July 1990, when I was three years old, my family and I went to Gurudev Siddha Peeth. During the Gurupurnima celebration, I went with my mother to receive darshan. When I came before Gurumayi, I said, “I don't want to die.”
Gurumayi looked at me, and then she gave me a soft yellow and orange toy lion.
The next day, Gurumayi came to Gopal Shala, the children’s school in the Ashram. As she talked to the teachers, she held her hand on my head for some time. She directed the teachers to teach the children: “I want to live a happy life.”

Leichhardt, Australia

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One summer when I was a child I visited Gurudev Siddha Peeth with my parents and my brother. My brother had been given his name by Gurumayi, and I often wished that I too had a beautiful name given to me by her.
During darshan at a satsang for children, I was introduced to Gurumayi. When Gurumayi heard my name she smiled, looked straight into my eyes, and said, “What a beautiful name!” At that moment I felt that Gurumayi understood me and that I was hers. It was bliss.

Pune, India

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The first time I offered seva in Gurudev Siddha Peeth was in September and October of 1999. Gurumayi was in residence, and I was loving my seva in the Halls Department during the full days of satsang and darshan in the courtyard.
In the evening after dinner, I would often go up to the gardens to study and contemplate. I would sit behind the Yajna Mandap on a crescent-shaped marble bench across from the Wish Fulfilling Well. From this vantage point, I could see people coming up the walk to enjoy the gardens. One lovely evening as the sun was setting, Gurumayi appeared with a baby in her arms, the six-month-old son of one of the sevites. Gurumayi was so zestful, and the baby in her arms looked so attentive. His eyes were wide open all the time. I felt like he was absorbing everything through those observant eyes.
I had seen this baby in Gurumayi’s arms before, as they passed through Guru Chouk and the Amrit. His eyes were always alert as Gurumayi explained to him every single detail of the places through which they were walking.
On this evening, Gurumayi was taking him through the gardens. As they came toward me, I acknowledged Gurumayi’s presence by standing, lowering my head, and then taking my seat again. They passed in front of me and across toward the part of the Upper Garden known as the Valley of the Siddhas. Very reverently Gurumayi walked from one murti to the next, taking time to describe each saint in great detail.
The last murti they came to was Baba Muktananda. Gurumayi took a good length of time to speak to the baby about Baba. When she finished, she extended her right hand and very lovingly caressed Baba’s left cheek. As she did so, the little boy looked at her with his big eyes. Then he extended his little right arm and, like Gurumayi, touched Baba’s cheek.
It was such a sweet moment!
Gurumayi looked at him and joyfully exclaimed something like: “That’s my boy!”
Gurumayi bounced the baby up in the air a couple of times and then, holding him carefully, placed him close to Baba’s head. The baby joyfully bounced up and down in her arms. Soon after, Gurumayi walked back toward the Wish Fulfilling Well, chanting Om Namo Bhagavate Muktanandaya. For a time, she held the baby so that he could see into the well, and he seemed mesmerized by the lights at the bottom. Gurumayi began chanting again, and the sunset turned the sky orange, red, and pink.
I am so grateful for having witnessed such a sweet, enchanting moment. It taught me how important it is to explain everything to children, to talk to them as if they are adults. Children absorb and emulate whatever we share with them.

Verona, Italy

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When I was nine years old, in 2013, I had a chance to be in Shree Muktananda Ashram while A Sweet Surprise Satsang was being held. The children were with sevites from the Taruna Poshana Department during this time. We had a satsang and then went sledding and played some games while our parents were receiving Gurumayi’s Message.
Then, when the adult satsang concluded, the children went to Shri Nilaya, the satsang hall in Atma Nidhi. When I got there, only a few kids and families remained in the hall. They were standing close to the piano talking with Gurumayi. I was eager to share with her a piano piece I had been practicing, so I asked Gurumayi if I could play. She said “Yes.” I happily walked towards the piano. Gurumayi seemed to honor the courage of a little girl coming forth to share. When she asked the title of the piece, I replied, “Mount Kilimanjaro.” Gurumayi asked if anyone knew where Mount Kilimanjaro was located.
During the few minutes when people were searching for a response, I looked down at the black and white keys and completely blanked. I could not remember anything about the song, and I had no clue of where to place my hands to begin. So I blurted out, “Actually, I’m going to play a song called ‘Rushing River.’” Gurumayi continued to give me her full attention as I began to play this other piece that I loved. It was the sweetest experience for me: playing for my Guru and showing her my passion for music. When my pinky gently caressed the last note, a layer of silence enveloped the room as I held the sound for its full length.
And when I released the pedal, applause came from every corner of the space. Everyone was clapping, Gurumayi included. I got up and smiled, shying away from the attention. When the applause faded, Gurumayi said, “Krishna, please show her how to receive the applause.”
Krishna Werner, a world-famous, amazing pianist, happened to be in the audience when I played. He got up and nodded, “Yes, Gurumayi.” Krishna came and stood next to me and showed me how to bow.
Everyone began to clap again, and I bowed deeply, this time receiving love and praise from the Guru and all the people there. Ever since that day, whether I am performing in a recital or playing for some friends, I always bow after I play the piano, and accept the appreciation. I take a moment to receive. I will continue this practice for the rest of my life.

New York, USA

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