One day about forty years ago, a friend of mine and my husband’s who had returned from Paris shared with us his experience of meeting the wisest and most important person he had ever met in his life. Moved by his stories, we invited this sage to Colombia. It was due to this good fortune that, in 1971, my husband and I met Sri Swami Satyananda.
Since the moment he arrived at the airport we wanted to be near him and hear everything he was telling and teaching. We were astonished by the way he explained to us the importance of both understanding and being at one with the mind. He showed us an easy way to be better human beings and to improve our personality. And the yoga techniques he taught us – surya namaskara, yoga nidra and short meditations – captivated us.
Although at that time the concept of a guru was foreign to us, we knew we wanted to follow Sri Swamiji’s teachings. When he said that he would send a teacher to Colombia if we could have a place for him to teach, I decided to dedicate my time to that objective. Soon after he sent us a teacher through whom he taught and guided us.
In 1973, the Golden Jubilee Convention to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of Sri Swamiji’s life and teachings was being celebrated in Munger. We decided to organize a group in Colombia to be part of it. At that time, India was a country both far away and full of mystery. Fortunately we had Sri Swamiji guiding our every move: he indicated to us the best way to travel from New Delhi to Munger, the train we should take, how to find it and everything we might need. He took care of all the details of the trip, and after we arrived in Munger, he was like a father welcoming his children with infinite love and care.
At the end of the convention Sri Swamiji initiated us in mantra. We had a havan for the first time and I still remember it as one of the best experiences of my life. Our group took the kriya yoga course with Sri Swamiji and when it finished my husband and I went to him and asked: “Are you our guru? Can we have a spiritual name?” He smiled and told us: “Yes, I am your guru” and gave us our spiritual names. We came back to Colombia very happy because we had a master who would illuminate our journey at every moment.
Over the course of years, Sri Swamiji came to Colombia many times. We were always traveling with him, receiving his wise teachings and astute advice. We also traveled to India to see him at the ashram. On one of these trips in 1986 we had the most beautiful time. Sri Swamiji was with us all the time; we walked around the newly constructed Ganga Darshan, he showed us the place and explained to us the organization, the distribution and the use of every building. He also reached out to us on a personal level. My husband was very ill at the time and Sri Swamiji gave him advice on what to do, which diet he should follow, the type of job he should look for and how to work in a more relaxed way. Here, too, we felt as if we were in the home of a most loving father.
My husband passed away a few days after we returned to Colombia. At that moment I realized that through our discussions and with his advice, Sri Swamiji had been preparing my husband for a peaceful death and readying me to be strong and take on the difficulties I might encounter after his death. We felt Sri Swamiji was guiding us step by step.
After some time I remembered Sri Swamiji telling my husband that a diplomatic assignment could be a good job for him. Unfortunately, he didn’t have the time to pursue this, but it gave me the idea to do it in his stead. I started to look into opportunities of taking a position in India and, to my good fortune I was nominated Ambassador to India. It was thanks to Sri Swamiji’s blessings that I found this job since I had no previous diplomatic experience.
I went to India with two of my children to begin my work and immediately upon arriving we went to see Sri Swamiji in Rikhia. This was the best part of my tenure. Just meeting him I felt secure and confident; he knew how to make us see our best qualities and capabilities, putting any potential fear I may have had to rest. He gave me a red rose when we arrived. Since that moment roses bring to me the image of my guru and the security of knowing that he is always my support.
While in India I continued to see him almost every month. Just to be near him filled me with indescribable happiness, peace and security. Sometimes I would tell him about the different economical, political and social affairs taking place in Delhi and he would tell me stories about the history of India and the ways in which it had changed since its independence. All his stories carried a special message, instructing me in my diplomatic endeavours by encouraging me to explore every issue at length, while at the same time helping me to get to know and develop my own capabilities.
One of his greatest lessons was to respect all paths of life that led to spiritual development, be they religious, philosophical or any other special practice. In one of the yajnas celebrated in Rikhia, he invited priests and leaders from different religions to whom he showed great respect, participating in their rituals and sharing with them every thing he had at the akhara.
The way in which he helped the community, educated the children and gave the women a place in society is a testament to some of his greatest work. To see him treat the children with such tenderness, love and care awakened in us those same qualities; we wanted to develop at least a little of them to be nearer to him. He was like a mother taking care of her children and teaching them how to grow strong, healthy and full of knowledge.
He led us to meet the Divine Mother and to know how to invoke her and prepare ourselves to connect with her. He gave us the most valuable thing we can have in life: the awareness of the spiritual potential we possess and the way to develop them.
Ever since I heard stories of saints in my childhood, I wanted to meet one. I can now say that I have indeed met a saint and that he is the master who is with me and will be with me forever. He is the light of my life.