Swami Satyananda inspired the development of Rikhiapeeth as a place where people could gather from all around the globe, irrespective of religion, caste and creed, to imbibe the spiritual vibrations which flow in abundance at this blessed place.
Sincere aspirants from around the globe took advantage of this unique opportunity to attend the residential Prana Vidya Course, from 1st to 7th November, in the spiritually charged atmosphere of Rikhiapeeth. This comprehensive course is designed for those wanting to deepen their yogic practices and to experience the subtle influences of prana and the chakras. It gave participants the unique opportunity to explore yogic techniques for the subtle control of energy by utilizing breathing practices and visualizations.
Prana vidya is one of the most effective practices to release the great cosmic power or kundalini shakti, which is the latent power that lies within each and every one of us. It is concerned with both the expansion of consciousness and the awakening of prana, which eventually leads to meditation and perfect union.
The benefits of prana vidya are felt on three levels _ physical, psychological and spiritual. Prana vidya opens up awareness of the vast stores of energy within the human body and teaches how to consciously manipulate these stores for the improvement of personal health and that of others; it also serves as a preventative to disease. People suffering from tension, emotional conflict, worry, anxiety, indecisiveness and other problems associated with disturbances of the mind greatly benefit from the practice of prana vidya.
Swami Satyasangananda devoted much of her time to give regular satsang, which revealed the wonderful teachings of Swami Satyananda in a clear and insightful way, bringing illumination and clarity to all.
The auspicious occasion of Diwali is traditionally known as the `festival of lights', and the lights were most certainly shining brightly in Rikhiapeeth this year with the much anticipated inauguration of the Annapoorna Kshetram Kanya Kitchen conducted on 5th November. On this important day, the sankalpa and vision of Swami Satyananda was fulfilled in way that surpassed all expectations and was a befitting tribute to the great spiritual luminary who continues to inspire our lives.
Swami Niranjanananda and Swami Satyasangananda presided over the event, and the magnificent result was a credit to the tireless efforts of Swami Satyasangananda and her dedicated team of sannyasins, who through hard work, grit and determination achieved the impossible, which is to transform an abandoned factory shed that looked liked a dark dungeon into a bright new banquet hall, the perfect setting for a kanya kitchen. This mammoth undertaking was accomplished through the good offices of the Steel Authority of India (SAIL), Bokaro, who came forward to join in this auspicious work.
Swami Satyananda's profound empathy towards the needs of his first neighbours, the villagers of Rikhia panchayat, led him to take the sankalpa to establish Annapoorna Kshetram Kanya Kitchen, an all-weather dining facility that could provide the 2,000 kanya and batuks with at least one nutritious and balanced meal daily. This sankalpa was not taken as an act of charity, but rather as an aradhana or worship of God in human form, based upon the highest vedantic teachings of atmabhava, a teaching that he embodied and perfected in his life.
The day before the inauguration, the open air langar, with extensive gas cooking facilities and huge ovens, was blessed by both Swami Niranjanananda and Swami Satyasangananda. Invoking the blessings of all the basic elements, lighting the first fire and installing murtis of Lord Ganesha and Goddess Lakshmi as the presiding deities, ensured that the grand opening would be the huge success it was. A special program of prayers, havan and kirtan dedicated to Swami Satyananda was also conducted at the Samadhi Sthal in the evening, and the kanyas and batuks received their beautiful Diwali prasad of a stunning new outfit which they wore for the Lakshmi Pooja.
It was no coincidence that this year Diwali fell on the 5th, the exact date of Sri Swamiji's Maha Samadhi, and our beloved Gurudev Swami Satyananda's presence was felt even stronger than ever. In the early morning, a special worship was conducted at the Samadhi Sthal during which the sannyasins chanted the Sri Vishnu Sahasranam Stotram. This chanting has been conducted as a daily anushthana since 1st November as an offering to Sri Swamiji.
Following the Guru Pooja, Lakshmi and Ganesha Pooja was conducted in Annapoorna Kanya Kitchen by the learned pandits from Varanasi, invoking their blessings for the fulfillment of Sri Swamiji's sankalpa. After elaborate rituals and worship, the kanyas and batuks, along with the old age pensioners of Rikhia panchayat, enjoyed their first feast. The enormous dining area came alive as they sat down to enjoy an abundance of delicious and hearty food, a befitting offering for the kanyas whom Sri Swamiji worshipped as embodiment of the Divine Mother.
In the evening Rikhiapeeth was beautifully decorated for Diwali with thousands of flickering lights covering the entire campus to welcome Goddess Lakshmi. Guests and devotees were treated to a magical candle-lit Sarovar Darshan, which included Tulsi Kutir, the sacred place where Swami Satyananda attained Maha Samadhi. A perfect end to a perfect day!
Swami Satyananda received the mandate from his guru, Swami Sivananda, `serve, love and give' and this sadhana he established, lived and perfected at Rikhiapeeth. The activities conducted by Sivananda Math are all a part of fulfilling and realizing this mandate, and the Annapoorna Kanya Kitchen is an integral part. There was a time when Rikhia was desolate. There was no food, no electricity, no clothing, and certainly no fun or festivity. This year's Diwali was yet another testimony to the fact that all this has changed due to the magnificent strength and inspiration of Swami Satyananda, whose inspired vision continues to become a reality at Rikhiapeeth, day by day.