Namaste to everyone in the Siddha Yoga Universal Hall.
Welcome to all of you participating in this live video stream from the Bhagavan Nityananda Temple.
Interestingly, over these last few weeks we have all technically been staying apart from one another. However, by Gurumayi’s grace we have been more together than ever before. The love I have been feeling in my heart has been extraordinary. Every satsang has felt like a Shaktipat Intensive.
This morning in Shree Muktananda Ashram, the golden sun was rising as you were receiving darshan of Gurumayi’s Message Artwork for 2020, as you were relishing the images of the spring blossoms that are filling the Ashram with their beauty and fragrance, and as you were imbibing the energy emanating from Bade Baba’s radiant form.
As most of you who have participated in these satsangs in the Universal Hall know, Gurumayi has given the title for these satsangs, “Be in the Temple.” And I’m sure that you all would agree: these satsangs and the teachings that Gurumayi has given in them have been a healing balm for the world.
Nature certainly seems to be concurring and responding in kind. For example, this past Monday—the day after Gurumayi gave her talk for Easter Sunday titled “Employing the Virtues”—a massive rainbow arched over the skies in many parts of New York State.
The rainbow, which was visible for just a few moments, appeared in the skies at the exact time in the evening that New York City residents stepped out on their balconies to give their daily cheers and applause for the frontline workers in this pandemic. This rainbow also appeared over the grounds of Shree Muktananda Ashram. Rohini Menon, the Managing Director for the “Be in the Temple” satsangs, happened to be out and about when this exquisite natural wonder took place.
Without missing a beat, Rohini took a panoramic photograph of the rainbow. You can find her photo in the April Images of Nature on the Siddha Yoga path website. Hers is the one where you see the full arc of the rainbow over the Ashram grounds and buildings.
Today’s “Be in the Temple” satsang is focused on the bhajans and abhangas of the great poet-saints of India. And it’s perfect timing since today is also World Voice Day. This is a day that celebrates the voice as a crucial channel for human expression and communication—including in the form of music and poetry.
The great poet-saints of India used their voices as a way to praise God and invoke God’s presence. You may recall how Gurumayi taught about the poet-saints in Sweet Surprise 2018 when she gave the Message: Satsang. Isn’t it beautiful that two years later we remain drenched in the color of satsang?
This year, too, during Sweet Surprise 2020 when Gurumayi gave her Message—Ᾱtmā kī Prashānti, Peacefulness of the Self—she spoke about the tradition of singing bhajans in India. Gurumayi so beautifully expounded upon the poet-saints’ purpose in creating these songs—how through these songs, they made the experience of the Divine accessible to all. How fortunate are we that four months later, we continue to be soaked in the hue of bhajan?
Since the inception of the Ashram Daily Schedule, the singing of bhajans and abhangas has been an integral facet of living and offering seva in Gurudev Siddha Peeth. And now today everyone in the Siddha Yoga Universal Hall is invited to listen to the teachings, wisdom, and experiences of the poet-saints in the form of these exquisite devotional songs. Gurumayi has taught that the teachings of these saints are beacons of light in a student’s sadhana, guiding them toward liberation.
Back in 1993 Gurumayi asked that I and some of the other Swamis travel with Siddha Yogis who were videographers to the samadhi shrines of the great saints of Maharashtra. We went to receive darshan and to make videos about the lives of these saints for a Siddha Yoga Shaktipat Intensive titled “Valley of the Siddhas.”
I remember traveling to the village of Dehu, where Tukaram Maharaj lived. We stood in the temple where Tukaram Maharaj had offered his pranams and hiked up the steep hill that he would climb every day to chant God’s name and sing his abhangas. Looking around, I remember thinking, “I am singing God’s name right where Tukaram sang God’s name.” It looked like an ordinary hill, but through his devotion Tukaram had made it a holy place of pilgrimage.
We also visited Alandi and the samadhi shrine of Jnaneshvar Maharaj. When we arrived, we came upon the Varkaris, the devotees of Lord Vitthal and Jnaneshvar Maharaj. There must have been two to three hundred of them, all wearing white clothes, standing facing one another in two lines, each of them playing cymbals and singing Vitthala Vitthala. Oh, you better believe, there was so much bliss; everyone was smiling… and dancing.
Later there were quiet moments in which we read from Jnaneshvar’s great commentary on Shri Bhagavad Gita, the Jnaneshvari, under the udambara tree by his shrine, and we meditated just a few feet away from his shrine. It was so amazing, after hearing Gurumayi and Baba teach about the lives of these saints and sing their abhangas, to actually be in the very places where they had performed their sadhana. I marveled at the greatness of these mahasiddhas and at my good fortune to be in their presence.
We will now listen to the bhajans and abhangas of these great saints who extolled the Lord, who sang his name with great love. Many of you have already been introduced to the two Siddha Yoga musicians who will be singing bhajans and abhangas in today’s satsang. Their names are Shambhavi Christian and Lakshmi Wells.
Shambhavi, who used to be known as Meg Christian, was already an accomplished singer, songwriter, and guitarist when she first learned about the Siddha Yoga path in 1982. Once Shambhavi heard Siddha Yoga music, and later when she had Gurumayi’s darshan for the first time, she decided that she had found her soul music—the music of her soul. Her destiny came to fruition. She decided she wanted to serve Gurumayi, and the rest is history.
Lakshmi, who is also known as Joyce Wells, began following the Siddha Yoga path when Baba Muktananda was traveling on his Second World Tour in 1976. Lakshmi too is a professional musician and a music teacher in an elementary school in Monticello, New York. Gurumayi speaks very highly of Lakshmi. One reason for this is that from the very first moment Lakshmi began attending satsang with Baba, she wanted to play the harmonium for him. She wanted to sing, sing, sing for Baba. She wanted to chant, chant, chant for Baba.
Lakshmi was a voracious learner—she wanted to imbibe all of the Siddha Yoga music repertoire so that she could offer in service her talent and skills in music. In those days Lakshmi would follow Gurumayi around, asking Gurumayi to teach her harmonium and inquiring about when they could have the next practice session so that she would be ready to play and sing for Baba. Gurumayi said, “Anyone who knows Lakshmi knows that she is the embodiment of effervescence—she bubbles over with enthusiasm.”
Shambhavi and Lakshmi shared stories and sang stirring bhajans and abhangas in praise of God and the Guru. After they sang, Swami ji spoke again.
Hindustan, I heard that your prime minister, Narendra Modi, has requested that the lockdown be extended by three more weeks. I am hugely impressed that most of you in India have embraced this humble request from your nation’s leader.
I heard from Gurumayi that many of you have been supporting the tourists who have been stranded in India because of the lockdown and are without money and shelter. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for practicing the teaching of India: a guest is God.
Gurumayi also shared with me another wonderful story, which has been written about in the Indian newspapers. Last Saturday in Kolkata, an 82-year-old retired professor waved down the police officers from his apartment window. The officers, thinking he was in some kind of distress, went over to help. When they reached the man, they were taken aback by what he had to say. In fact, he was not in any distress. He had waved them down because he wanted to contribute money to combat the pandemic. He lived on his own, and he wanted to give what he could to help others. The police told the elderly gentleman that he could contribute to a Chief Minister’s relief fund, and he instantly wrote a check for 10,000 rupees!
As for the rest of the world: I hear that some of you are good with the lockdown policies, and others of you feel like fish out of water. I totally understand. It’s not an easy time for anybody. As Gurumayi said on Easter Sunday, “To say that people’s energy is depleted from the havoc this disease is wreaking is an understatement.”
Therefore, how fortunate we all are to have satsang. And what a divine satsang this has been.
Be in the Temple—with Bade Baba.
Be in the Temple—with Gurumayi.
Thank you, Bade Baba. Thank you, Gurumayi.