MY EXPERIENCE, BY CLAUDETTE
Jai Prema Shanti! I am Claudette. I’m 36 years old, French, and have lived in Montreal, Canada, for over four years now and plan to continue living here and eventually become a Canadian citizen. In 2010 a devotee introduced me to Swami Premananda and the next year, in 2011, I had the opportunity to come to India and visit the Ashram for the first time. Having come to know Swamiji, my stay in the Ashram, and interacting with the children completely changed my life. Back at home after this incredible journey, I realized that life has meaning only when we can help others. Slowly but surely I changed my work, from that of holding a conventional position in a multinational corporation to becoming a yoga teacher. My idea was to reproduce Swamiji’s vision – spiritual, ecological and humanitarian – here in the West. After this first visit in 2011, I managed to visit the Ashram nearly every year.
My Experience with Swamiji, by Siddhananda, France
It had been three years ago since I had first visited the Ashram and now, this time, as I entered the gates, it was with a reflective nostalgia. I took my time to look all around me, wanting to take full advantage of my return here.
When you come from the West, living in the Ashram is like discovering another dimension, for it is quite literally another world. Not only is the way of life different but also the way of being, the climate, and especially the notion of time. Compared to the Western idea of time, here time seems to no longer exist; it acquires another density and sometimes a single day can seem like an eternity. I remember having had this feeling after my first week in the Ashram, it seemed to me that six months had passed! Yes, time is different here, it’s as if the Ashram is a kind of temporal vortex where time appears to have stopped but, in fact, it’s our mental perception that changes, our approach to everyday life and our attitude towards Life…
Early morning bhajans in the month of Margali – by an Ashram resident
In the Bhagavad Gita Lord Krishna tells us that, of all the months, he is Margali. Margali is a Tamil month that begins in mid-December and ends in mid-January. It is also said that to the Devas – divine beings – one of our years is for them one day, and our month of Margali is the brahma muhurtamof their day.
In 1992 I had the opportunity of being in the Ashram during that auspicious time. Back then the daily Ganesha abhishekam began at 5:30 a.m. instead of 5 a.m. as it does now. Swamiji asked us all to come together at 4:45 a.m. every day during this special month and go around the Ashram singing bhajans. Swamiji, of course, went along with us and sang too! It was so much fun. Every day he would ask a different Ashram resident to prepare a warm drink for everyone and we would end our nagarasankeertanamat their place. After having the tea, coffee, chocolate milk or other drink, we would then all go to the Ganesha abhishekam together…
By Nagulan, Sri Premananda Centre of Vlamertinge
My wife and I have been back home in Belgium for about six weeks since our stay in the Ashram during Mahashivarathri and every day my thoughts still linger there. During the day a bhajan will suddenly come to mind and I’ll begin singing.
This year Mahashivarathri and our stay in the Ashram was a wonderful experience for me. It was different from previous years and since being home, I’ve been able to keep this feeling of joy I had in the Ashram. I wondered why this could be and, according to me, there are four reasons.
By Kartik, Poland
When Swamiji went into mahasamadhi in 2011 we thought that spiritually he is still with us and his support has seemed to be even stronger since that time. However, one day, when I was doing pujas to the lingams that Swamiji gave me I realized that we still have part of his physical body alive with us: the lingams born from him during Lingodbhava. Swamiji said many times that these lingams are made out of his blood so I think my conclusion is quite correct.
The first time I was in contact with Swamiji, was indirectly through the official visit of one of Swamiji’s sannyas disciples, to the Sri Premananda Centre of Grenoble, France in 1996. I was 20 and really into youngsters’ things, my studies and not that ready for spiritual matters. My family had been into spirituality for years though and as my father’s partner, Dhanalakshmi was running the Grenoble Centre, I never really forgot about Swamiji. In 2000, after finishing my studies in Ireland and moving to the United States, the time came to find a job, take my first step into a man’s world and pay back my student loan. However, despite very good qualifications I couldn’t find a job. Months passed by and I was getting worried and sad about this situation. One day my mother told me, “Why are you taking all this so seriously? Maybe you should forget all about this job searching for a while. What would you do if you could do whatever you like?”
Seven years ago, I went to the Sri Premananda Centre in Villa Carlos Paz, Argentina. I was feeling depressed because I couldn’t find a deeper meaning to my life at that time and one of my friends had said, “Come! I will take you to a very special place that will be good for you!”
The first time I went to the Sri Premananda Centre in Villa Carlos Paz, Argentina, I attended the Centre’s regular Sunday programme and from this day onwards I really felt the necessity to come back and participate in all the activities. In the beginning, I didn’t believe in Swamiji that much. I wasn’t practising meditation either. However, in each activity that I took part in at the Centre, I felt more light and more strength, which helped to support my daily life…
By Rosa, Centre of Unity Premananda, Amelia, Italy
In attempting to define the personality of a master, we confront the question of the duality existing between his physical person and his real nature. We generally limit ourselves to the first aspect, as it is easier to illustrate a portrait with anecdotes and facts. The second aspect is more rarely mentioned as, to describe it, we would have to talk about sensations, inner experiences, ways of feeling, special moments and other subtle indications which are – though real for us – not always related to something tangible, but to something lived in the core of one’s being.
People come into our lives for different purposes. Some come to help, some come to support, some come to motivate, many come to share and enjoy life with us. Our first relationship is with our parents. As we grow older our relationships widen to siblings, spouse, friends, relatives, colleagues, children and so on. Some relationships fade away and some new relationships crop up. There are no rules or laws to govern these relationships. It is a spontaneous effect.
By An Ashram resident
In October 2008 I came to live full-time in Sri Premananda Ashram. When I arrived I asked Swamiji if I could offer service. He said it was a good idea and I was assigned a particular role. I have been carrying out that work for the last year. When I first started to serve I didn’t understand the deeper significance of what it meant to run a department. Before I started running the department I would meditate and pray to Swamiji every day and I felt close to him. However, my relationship with him was a little shallow – from my side. I wanted to feel close to God and close to my Guru but I hadn’t been ready to surrender my attachment to selfish desires, to what I wanted and to how I wanted things to be.