This year is of special significance to all Kriyabans as it marks the completion of 150 years of the revival of Kriya Yoga in the modern age. As all who have read Autobiography of a Yogi will recall, the sacred journey of Kriya Yoga began in 1861 in a Himalayan cave near Ranikhet where Sri Sri Mahavatar Babaji imparted this sacred science to Sri Sri Lahiri Mahasaya; and it was on that occasion that Babaji permitted Lahiri Mahasaya to give Kriya Yoga to all truth-seekers who humbly ask for it. The next important event in this saga occurred in Prayag at the KumbhaMela of 1894, when the Mahavatar met our Paramguru, Sri Sri Swami Sri YukteswarGiri. During that meeting he informed Swami Sri Yukteswarji that he would be sending to him a disciple for training to disseminate Kriya Yoga in the West. Years later, when our beloved Guru, Sri Sri Paramahansa Yogananda, was receiving training from Swami Sri Yukteswarji at the Serampore Ashram, his Guru told him one day, “My son, you are the disciple that, years ago, Babaji promised to send me.” At the behest of his guru, our Gurudeva established Yogoda Satsanga Society of India/Self-Realization Fellowship (YSS/SRF) as the vehicle for spreading this technique to all lands, with the sole intention of helping God-seekers everywhere to have direct personal communion with God. He played the role of Father-Mother for the organization, imparting wisdom through his teachings, and nurturing his disciples with his divine love.
Today, YSS serves devotees in six countries in the Indian sub-continent through four Ashrams and 189 centres; and SRF serves the spiritual needs of thousands of devotees spread across 56 countries through more than 500 centres. This consistent growth of YSS/SRF is a living proof not only of the power of Kriya Yoga, the airplane route to God-realization, but also of the unceasing blessings of the Great Ones who are behind this special dispensation. Our Guru has said that Babaji has promised to guide and guard all sincere Kriya Yogis as they strive towards their Divine Goal.
To mark this milestone in the journey of Kriya Yoga, YSS plans to undertake several activities such as: organizing more monastic tours, Kriya Yoga initiations, charitable activities, participating in book fairs and religious melas all over the country, etc. These programmes started on Guru Purnima, July 15, 2011, and will continue till Lahiri Mahasaya’s birthday next year, September 30, 2012.
As though by divine design, the Hindi translation of Gurudeva’s Lessons has become available from this very year, and they are sure to carry our Guru’s message far and wide in his own motherland. There could not have been a better offering that we could have made at the feet of our Gurus during this special year.
As always, service to the needy through various charitable activities remained a major activity of YSS in the preceding year. Through our educational institutions, scholarships, relief works during natural calamities, and free medical services, every year YSS fulfils the ideal of “serving mankind as one’s larger Self.”
Knowing that all of you who have supported Gurudeva’s organization in various ways, would want to partake of the joy of serving him, we are sharing through this newsletter, highlights of the various activities that took place in the year just gone by.
We are grateful to all of you who have expressed your love and dedication to Gurudeva through your support to his work. The Guru himself is acting through all of you and carrying forward this worldwide work. As we move forward, hand in hand, let us remember the prediction Mahavatar Babaji made to Gurudeva when he blessed him with his majestic presence in 1920, “Kriya Yoga, the scientific technique of God-realization, will ultimately spread in all lands, and aid in harmonizing the nations through man’s personal, transcendental perception of the Infinite Father.” Every act of service that we perform, and every positive thought that we think, will be another step towards establishing such a world — a world united in the brotherhood of mankind under the Fatherhood of God.
In divine friendship,
YOGODA SATSANGA SOCIETY OF INDIA
New Retreat Facility in Sriperumbudur
A new retreat facility was inaugurated on Guru Purnima, July 25, 2010 at Sriperumbudur on a spacious 17-acre land in Mannur Village, near Chennai, Tamil Nadu. The retreat has five rooms with attached bath, a Dhyana Mandir, a kitchen-cum-dining hall, a reception-cum-book room, and two dormitory-halls for ladies and gents. This retreat is open to all devotees who would like to spend a few days in silence and seclusion.
New Dhyana Mandir at Patna
A new apartment in the upcoming residential locality of Ashiana Nagar will now serve as the Dhyana Mandir for the devotees in Patna. This prime property was donated by Sri R. R. Prasad, and was inaugurated on Guru Purnima, July 25, 2010.
The construction of the proposed administration block in Ranchi has been delayed due to various reasons. Meanwhile, YSS has taken up two major projects in Ranchi.
New Residential and Dormitory Facilities for Sevaks and Devotees
A new six-storied building adjacent to the Ranchi Ashram is under construction and is expected to be ready for occupation by mid 2012. This building having a floor space of about 23,000 sq. ft. will be used mainly to accommodate the increasing number of sevaks at the Ashram. At least two of the floors will have large dormitories for devotees’ accommodation during Sharad Sangams and other large functions. Estimated cost for this project is around ` 5 crore.
Renovation of Guest House at Ranchi Ashram
The present 3-storied guest house in Ranchi Ashram was originally built to serve as a school and a hostel. Today, the building is used to accommodate devotees visiting the Ashram. Renovation of the building has been undertaken to make the stay of devotees more comfortable. The renovation work includes construction of attached bathrooms for most of the rooms on the ground and first floors, repair and renovation of the staircases, new Kota stone flooring for the corridors, and new tile flooring and wall painting for all rooms. The project cost is ` 15 lakhs.
West Bengal Renovation of Anandalok at Serampore
During his college days, Gurudeva often stayed at his uncle Sarada Ghosh’s home, close to Swami Sri Yukteswarji’s Ashram in Serampore. The property was later acquired by YSS, and the room where Guruji stayed was named Anandalok. The entire property had been in need of repairs. Moreover, being a heritage building associated with the life of our Gurudeva, extra care was needed to preserve and restore the building’s original design while performing the necessary repairs. The work is now in progress, and YSS plans to set up a photo-display and museum dedicated to Swami Sri Yukteswarji on these premises in the near future. A retreat facility, with accommodation and meals for visiting devotees, is also being included as part of the renovation project. Devotees will be able to stay at the sacred place and meditate in the room sanctified by the presence of our Guru. Estimated project cost is ` 11 lakhs.
Daya Mata Drinking Water Project at Yogoda Satsanga Palpara Mahavidyalaya
Yogoda Satsanga Palpara Mahavidyalaya has been graded by National Assessment & Accreditation Council (NAAC) in 2008 in B Grade, which is laudable for a college in an interior village of West Bengal catering to economically backward rural students. To the infrastructure that this college already enjoys, has been added a facility for providing cool and clean drinking water to students and staff of the college in keeping with stipulations of the NAAC. This drinking water project was inaugurated by Swami Shantananda on July 1, 2011, and was dedicated to the memory of Sri Sri Daya Mata.
Yogoda Satsanga Dhyana Mandir at Palpara
Palpara in East Medinipur has gained fame owing to several educational institutions run by YSS — from the primary level right up to M.Ed. course. This place carries the hallowed memories of Sri Sri Daya Mata who had gone into samadhi during kirtan sung with great fervour on the grounds of Yogoda Satsanga Mahavidyalaya. Work is under way to build a Dhyana Mandir at the site of the present Yogoda Satsanga Sakha Kendra.
Accreditation for M. Ed Course at Yogoda Satsanga Palpara Mahavidyalaya
Yogoda Satsanga Palpara Mahavidyalaya is soon launching the M.Ed. course, currently offered only by a handful of universities in the state of West Bengal. The college has taken special care to meet the additional infrastructural needs for this new course. On July 1, 2011, Swami Shantananda inaugurated the building for the M.Ed. course, in the presence of the Registrar of Vidyasagar University, Dr. RanjitDhar.
Yogoda Satsanga Dhyana Mandir at Ismalichak
Swami Sri Yukteswarji used to visit Ismalichak in East Medinipur District of West Bengal once every year in the final years of his life. A thatched house where Swami Sri Yukteswarji used to stay is a proud possession of this village. Every year a colourful procession, followed by cultural programmes and Dharma Sabha, is attended by thousands of villagers. YSS devotees living in and around the village and surrounding areas have been requesting for a Dhyana Mandir, so that regular group meditations could be conducted. Plans have been drawn up to construct a Mandir at the holy site where Sri Yukteswarji used to stay.
Our beloved Gurudeva’s birthday on January 5, 2011 was celebrated with great enthusiasm and devotion by centres all over India. The programmes included several spiritual and service activities,
usually spreading over two days or more.
In Ranchi, the commemoration began with a six-hour long meditation on January 2, 2011. On January 3, 2011 food was served to the inmates of two leprosy colonies, and blankets were distributed to the needy in rural areas. On January 5, 2011, 8,000 visitors to the Ranchi Ashram were served mahaprasad.
Swami Krishnananda, and Brahmacharis Achyutananda and Nishthananda conducted the programmes from Jan 2 – 5, 2011, in which 340 devotees participated.
Swami Nityananda, and Brahmacharis Sadananda and Gyanananda conducted YSS techniques review, led meditations, and gave spiritual discourses that were attended by more than 400 devotees.
The birth anniversary celebrations of our Gurudeva were held from January 2 – 6, 2011. The programme included talks on The Good Fortune of Knowing a Guru by Swami Shantananda and The Universal Message of Paramahansa Yogananda by Brahmachari Nigamananda. A video show of Sri Sri Daya Mata’s memorial service was also played. An eight-hour long meditation and bhandara for 5,000 people were part of the special celebrations.
Janmotsav celebrations in Serampore, Garpar, Dihika, and Telary were conducted by Brahmacharis Nigamananda and Dhairyananda. Apart from bhajans, satsangas, and meditations, a bhandara for 1,500 people was organized in Dihika, and for 3,500 people in Telary.
In Memoriam: Sri Sri Daya Mata(1914–2010)
Our Sanghamata and President, Sri Sri Daya Mata, left her physical body on November 30, 2010
after serving for nearly 80 years in our Gurudeva’s Ashrams as a sannyasini. For fifty-five of those glorious years, she was the President of YSS/SRF. In the weeks that followed her passing, devotees throughout India commemorated her unique life of love and service through special meditations, bhajan sessions, memorial services, bhandaras, and charitable activities.
On December 5, 2010 a Sadhu Bhandara was organized in which 50 sadhus from prestigious Ashrams in Ranchi were invited. In addition to a special meal, they were honoured with gifts and offerings suitable to the occasion. On the same day, the Ashram staff in Ranchi and their families participated in a bhandara and suitable gifts were given to them in memory of Sri Sri Daya Mata. About 800 people were fed in a bhandara organized for the inmates of Nirmala Colony — a leprosy colony adopted by YSS. They were also gifted cooking utensils and carpets. A good quality Public Address System, runners for their dining area, and solar lanterns were donated to Cheshire Home in Ranchi.
About 330 devotees attended the Memorial Service for Sri Sri Daya Mata conducted by Swami Shantananda on December 5, 2010. Sannyasis of various sects and religions as well as relatives of Paramahansa Yoganandaji also joined the devotees in paying their respects to our beloved Sanghmata Sri Sri Daya Mata. In the afternoon a bhandara was held in memory of Mataji’s blessed soul.
Swami Suddhananda conducted the memorial service in Noida. Swamiji quoted Slokas from the Bhagavad Gita to remind everyone of the soul’s immortality, and also read Sri Sri Mrinalini Mata’s special message honouring the life of Sri Sri Daya Mata. He highlighted several aspects of Sri Sri Daya Mata’s multifaceted personality and the lasting contributions she made to the growth of YSS and SRF.
Sharad Sangam, Ranchi
As many as 1,800 devotees participated in the Sharad Sangam that was held in Ranchi from November 14 – 21, 2010. Dedicated volunteers and sannyasis took care of even the smallest detail with great enthusiasm and ensured that all those who attended the Sangam obtained the maximum benefit. As a result, this year too, the Sangam was an uplifting experience for the devotees as well as the sannyasis. This was evident in the letters that followed in which devotees described the wondrous and transforming experiences they had had during the event.
Sadhana Sangam, Noida
A Sadhana Sangam was organized from October 22 to 24, 2010, at the newly established YSS Noida Ashram. This was the first Sadhana Sangam held at this new Ashram. The programme covered all aspects of YSS techniques for the benefit of more than 1,100 devotees who came from various parts of India to participate.
Guru Purnima is a day when disciples honour their Guru. All over India, YSS devotees celebrated this holy day on July 15, 2011, with meditations, YSS technique review classes, bhajans, spiritual counselling, and charitable activities.
The programme in Ranchi included bhajans, bhandara for more than 2,500 visitors, and a video show on the life of our Guru. The event was followed by a special six-hour long meditation on July 17, 2011.
From July 15 – 17, 2011 Swamis Ishwarananda and Madhavananda conducted technique reviews, satsangas, personal counselling for more than 400 devotees in Hyderabad. Soon thereafter, Swami Madhavananda visited YSS centres at Guntur, Tenali, Pithapuram, Kakinada, Hubli, and Mysore offering counselling and satsangas. The devotees of Hyderabad visited a nearby school for the mentally handicapped called Anuraag, run by a devout couple. A donation of ` 15,000 along with books and snacks were offered. Also, 200 blankets were distributed among the poor in a hospital in Hyderabad.
This year more than any other year, sannyasis travelled to various parts of India conducting review classes on YSS meditation techniques, meditations, spiritual counselling, Kriya Yoga diksha, and satsangas. Devotees in all parts of India appreciated this gesture very much, and said that it has helped them feel more connected to Gurudeva’s organization and aided them in their understanding of the teachings of Sri Sri Paramahansa Yogananda.
Yogoda Satsanga Lessons in Hindi
The much-awaited Hindi translation of Yogoda Satsanga Lessons was ceremoniously released in November 2010 during the Sharad Sangam at Ranchi. With this, a giant step has been taken to spread Gurudeva’s teachings in India, where Hindi is the largest spoken and written language. Since their release, there has been a steady increase in the number of Hindi Lessons subscriptions.
Hindi translation of Man’s Eternal Quest released
A Hindi translation of “Man’s Eternal Quest” was released at a public function at Noida Ashram on October 23, 2010. This book contains lectures given by our Guru Sri Sri Paramahansa Yogananda. This is another milestone in our ongoing efforts to make Gurudeva’s teachings available to Hindi speaking devotees. This year YSS spent ` 1 crore and 79 lakh on publications.
Installation of a new Computerized Eye Testing Machine at Ranchi
A new computerized eye testing machine, Tonoref-II, costing ` 8.5 lakh, was added to the Ranchi Hospital. Technically it is called Autorefractometer, Autokeratometer, Non-contact Tonometer Combination Unit. This new instrument is able to perform three tests, which previously required the use of three separate, sophisticated instruments. As a result, the time taken to check each patient has been reduced considerably, thus enabling the doctor to serve more patients within the same time.
Widows Welfare Camp at Puri
A 15-day medical camp was organized from October 30 to November 13, 2010, for helpless widows in Puri. Over 2,000 patients were treated in the camp and were offered free medicines for various diseases.
Relief Provided to the Flood-Afflicted in Tamil Nadu
Unprecedented rains in December 2010 caused extensive damage to crops, properties, and houses in several villages in Tamil Nadu. As immediate relief, YSS provided basic items for survival, which included groceries, stove, tarpaulin, clothes, bed sheet, etc. to 200 villagers. In the second phase of relief, YSS reconstructed 24 houses for those who had lost their shelter completely. YSS spent a total amount of ` 11 lakh for this cause.
Eye Camp at Lakhanpur
A Free Eye Camp was conducted by Yogoda Satsanga Sevashram Hospital at Lakhanpur, in Purulia District of West Bengal from January 9 – 14, 2011. At the base camp located on the premises of Lakhanpur Sakha Ashram, arrangements were made for serving food to the patients and their attendants. From among those who attended, 266 patients were selected for cataract surgery and Intra Ocular Lens Implantation, which was performed at Netaji Eye Hospital, Ramchandrapur, Purulia. The patients who had been operated upon were provided with spectacles and medicines.
Distribution of Solar Cookers and Lanterns
Seeing the positive response to the distribution of solar lanterns in Ranchi last year, Yogoda Satsanga Ashram at Dwarahat took up the distribution of solar lanterns and solar cookers this year.
The items were distributed to people below the poverty line, living on the outskirts of Dwarahat. The recipients were identified by the Mandal officers of the area. It is hoped that as the use of solar cookers becomes more popular and prevalent, it will reduce dependency of the local people on firewood, thus preventing deforestation. In addition, it also promotes the use of environment-friendly solar energy. Seeing their utility, YSS also distributed such solar lanterns to tribal people in Yelagiri Hills, Tamil Nadu.
Flood Relief in North Bihar
In Muzaffarpur District, normal life was severely affected because of the floods that occurred on July 5, 2011. The raging waters washed away an important bridge, causing all transportation to and from the district to come to a complete standstill. Added to that, there was severe damage to the standing paddy crop. In West Champaran, there was intense soil erosion with water levels in Rivers Bagmati and Kamala rising far above the danger mark. YSS reached out to the affected and immediately provided them with relief material including food, clothes, temporary tents, and medicines. ` 15 lakh were spent by YSS for this cause.
Kolkata Book Fair 2011
Yogoda Satsanga Society of India participated in the Kolkata Book Fair, held on the Milan Mela grounds from January 26 to February 6, 2011. With its elegant exterior and nicely decorated and spacious interior, the stall drew a steady stream of visitors all through the days of the Fair.
Babaji’s Smriti Divas Celebrated at Gurudeva’s Childhood Home
Many devotees gathered at Guruji’s childhood home located at 4 Garpar Road, Kolkata, to participate in the celebration of Babaji Smriti Divas. Swami Ishwarananda and Brahmachari Dhairyananda conducted the service. Words from Guruji’s Autobiography of a Yogi came alive when Swamiji read a passage from the book that narrates the meeting of Babaji and Guruji in the very same house where the celebration was taking place. At the end of the service, Swami Ishwarananda thanked Smt. and Sri Somnath Ghosh for making their home available to the devotees to commemorate the sacred day.
Babaji’s Smriti Divas, Dwarahat
Babaji Smriti Divas on July 25 is always a special event at the Dwarahat Ashram; and this year too, 120 devotees from around the country came to the Ashram for the occasion. The sacred day began with a procession of 200 devotees and students of Bala Krishna Vidyalaya, from the Ashram to Dwarahat junction, and later a drive to the Village Kukuchina. The procession continued by foot to Babaji’s cave amidst joyous bhajans, which continued in the Smriti Bhavan—a meditation hall near Babaji’s cave. Simultaneously, each of the devotees took turns to meditate in the cave. This was followed by a bhandara for 400 people including local villagers, where halwa, puri, sabzi, and papad were served. The day concluded with a commemoration service from 6 to 8 p.m. at Dwarahat Ashram conducted by Swami Nirvanananda.
Yogoda Satsanga Mahavidyalaya, Jagannathpur, Ranchi
Another floor was added to the existing structure to meet the expanding needs of vocational courses like Bachelors of Business Administration (BBA) and Bachelors of Computer Applications (BCA). In addition, a new toilet block was constructed for the use of students.
Reaching out to Professionals
Swami Shraddhananda addressed new entrants during the SMTP Programme organized by the Ranchi Chapter of the Institute of Company Secretaries of India. The 3-hour session included a talk on management of time and stress to work effectively, and also a practical, guided meditation session Students from the Ranchi Chapter of Chartered Accountants visited Ranchi Ashram as part of their training course. Swami Smaranananda gave a seminar on the topic Yoga Meditation: An Antidote to Stress, Worry, and Fear.
Education of the youth is one of the key service activities of YSS. Towards this end, every year several scholarships in the name of Sri Sri ParamahansaYogananda are disbursed to students coming from economically poor background who have secured admission in professional courses.
The following scholarships were awarded to students in Chennai who fulfilled the criteria mentioned above:
One 1st prize of ` 1,00,000, two 2nd prizes of ` 20,000 each, two 3rd prizes of ` 12,000 each, ten one time consolation prizes of ` 1,000 each were awarded at Yogoda Satsanga Dhyana Kendra, Chennai.
YSS awarded two special scholarships worth ` 1.2 lakh towards course fees, food, and lodging. One was awarded to Sri Gaurav Kumar, an engineering student of IIT Kharagpur who secured 204th rank in the entrance exam, but had financial constraints in pursuing his studies. Another one was awarded to Sri Laxmi Narayan Mishra from Bokaro to help him pursue B.Com. and Chartered Accountancy courses. His father makes a meagre income by selling clothes on the pavement.
YSS came to know of two deserving candidates through newspaper articles which described the plight of these bright students who had got selected in the prestigious IIT Entrance Examination but did not have the wherewithal to pay for the course. YSS contacted the students through the Principals of the schools they had studied in, and offered them Paramahansa Yogananda Scholarships. The two talented boys are: Sri Ajay Kumar from Bokaro, son of a vegetable vendor; and Sri Rajesh Kumar from Namkum, Ranchi, son of a bread vendor. The scholarships, worth ` 2,80,000 per student, will cover the entire four-year course fees, food, and other expenses.
Scholarships of ` 1,00,000 each were awarded to Sri Nitish Ranjan and Kum. Gunjan Priyanka from BIT Mesra, both pursuing engineering; and to Kum. Rajani Kumari from Ranchi Institute of Medical sciences, pursuing MBBS. These students stood first in the test conducted by YSS in different professional colleges.
In addition, several scholarships totalling to ` 25 lakh were awarded to boys and girls from poor families studying in various YSS schools and colleges.
Scholarship Distribution at Yogoda Satsanga Schools in West Bengal
As in previous years, this year too, special scholarships and educational aids worth ` 2,60,000 were awarded to meritorious students and to those students who showed proficiency in inculcating How-to-Live values. These students belonged to the many Yogoda Satsanga schools in Medinipur and Purulia Districts of West Bengal. The scholarships have been instituted in the name of Sri Sri Paramahansa Yogananda and Sri Sri Daya Mata.