Arriving in Delhi the day before the program we went to see the venue and lend a hand with preparations. It was a huge sports stadium ready for teams of muscular athletes to proudly display their skill while fighting it out for the prize. But the only team in sight was the cleaning team, mopping the floor before the stage could be built. It was an empty shell, waiting for a soul.
The back rooms were a hive of activity. Truckloads of books, tee shirts, angavastras and other prasad items were being unpacked and organized. We spent a few hours sorting tee shirt sizes and colours then left the Bharat Yatra karma yogis to work through the night.
Next morning we arrived with Swamiji for the 6.30–8.30 am yoga class. A kirtan group was singing and the floor of that great stadium was quickly being covered with yoga mats, blankets, pieces of cloth – anything that defined enough space for a body. The people of Delhi and surrounding areas had risen early, ready for an asana session to kick start their day, and no doubt curious about this visiting yoga guru from far away Bihar. It was Swamiji's first visit to Delhi in almost ten years. For those who knew him, it had been a long wait and their faces lit up as he entered. The tiredness dropped from the limbs of the karma yogis and the sports stadium became a sadhana hall. Its moving spirit had entered.
Seated on the stage, Swamiji looked out at the crowd, still streaming in, being guided to their places, carpeting the hall with people. The kirtan ended and Swamiji began. Those waiting for asanas had to keep waiting as Swamiji taught the three morning mantras and then gave a talk about sadhana, explaining that hatha yoga comes first, then raja yoga. After concluding that a non-transcendental mind cannot experience the transcendence of self-realization, it was time to begin at the beginning, with pawanmuktasana part one. Everyone took their awareness to their toes, and followed the instructions of the master, all the way up to their necks. A rest in shavasana was followed by some pranayama, and then yoga nidra.
Each morning Swamiji followed this pattern of mantras, satsang, asana, pranayama and yoga nidra, building on the previous day's teaching. A range of standing postures, including surya namaskara was taught, followed by nadi shodhana and tranquillising pranayamas. Swamiji mentioned that these pranayamas are the need, as everyone is so stimulated, especially in a metropolis the size of Delhi. In yoga nidra, he focused on sankalpa, body rotation and the breath. As the days went by, the numbers grew to capacity, with more than 1,000 people practising morning sadhana before going about their daily lives.
During mid-morning and evening sessions Swamiji answered many questions, giving him the opportunity to convey a broad picture of yoga and spiritual life. The most memorable of these was for a group of children who are attending yoga classes. With their teachers they sat at the very front, just below the stage, where Swamiji could really engage with them. They had prepared a set of questions, as interesting to the adults as to the kids: What do you do in your spare time? Did you go to school? What career would you have chosen if you hadn't been a yoga guru? When you were our age did you know you would be a famous sannyasin? The final questions were from mothers: Why is it said that the mother is the first guru? Why do mothers worry so much about their children even when they have grown up? In closing, Swamiji gave a parting message to the children: laugh every day, love every day and live properly.
Every evening Swamiji spoke for at least two hours. These satsangs went into astonishing depth as Swamiji covered a huge amount of material whilst brilliantly interpreting the traditional teachings with his genius and flare for original thinking. Every night the numbers grew, until at least 1,500 people were squeezed in.
Swamiji took them on a journey through time by tracing the origins of yoga from Shiva's teachings to Parvati, gradually climbing through the ages, elaborating on the development of the various branches of yoga by great sages, until finally arriving in the modern era with a flourish of science, synthesized yoga systems and the spread of yoga into society. He gave his recipes for yoga sabji (the correct amount of each ingredient gives it a fine flavour) and the spiritual journey, which is the movement from tamas to sattwa.
To illustrate the transit from tamas to sattwa he gave a simple example that can be practised by everyone every day: when you see the goodness in others, harshness is converted into gentleness, converting tamas into sattwa and mundane life into spiritual experience. On this journey, the chakras must be traversed. From mooladhara to vishuddhi they are concerned with worldly life, while ajna is the doorway between the world and spirit. Traveling the path, there are four levels of consciousness upon which light must be shed: the conscious mind is illumined by the sun; the sub-conscious by the moon; the unconscious by the stars; and the super conscious by atma.
Swamiji also gave satsang to several organisations elsewhere in Delhi and gave diksha to three hundred people. He taught for up to eight hours a day, meeting people in between those teaching sessions. His tireless energy for giving inspired the city of Delhi, as attendees went home laden with books, CDs and magazines, ensuring that they will continue to grow as they nurture the seeds that were sown in their hearts and minds by one who waters the happiness and harmony that lie dormant in the soil of human nature.
Swami Ahimsadhara, Australia