Devotees’ experiences

Since a very young age I knew that the primary purpose of life is to be happy. So I went out and tried to find that happiness in friends and family, in material things, by going places and taking part in activities. That search lead me to live in many different places with my family and after several years away from home we came back to live in our hometown of Cordoba, Argentina…

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The Shree Poobala Krishna Ashram in Sri Lanka is one of several branch Ashrams that Swamiji ran in Sri Lanka before he settled in India in 1984. For years during the Sri Lankan civil war the Ashram was not functioning, but after the war ended, spiritual activities there resumed on a small scale. Thinking of this as a sacred place in Swamiji’s birth country where Swamiji lived, gave sacred service to humanity, had lingodbhava and performed many miracles and leelas, Swamiji’s devotees in Sri Lanka often go to this branch Ashram and their support makes it possible to maintain the spiritual services provided there for Swamiji’s devotees and children from the neighbourhood. Foreign devotees, too, visit the Ashram. After a stay there, Hamsaa writes about her experience observing the very simple devotional life of its residents…

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In just a few words devotees from various countries and different backgrounds share what it means to have a spiritual teacher like Swamiji in their lives.

Having a guru, a true guru like Swamiji, …

… has made God and spirituality a clearer experiential reality in all aspects of my life.

… gave me the opportunity to learn something that I didn’t think I could truly learn in any other way: to be the best person I can be…

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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.

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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…

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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…

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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.

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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.

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By Madhan

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?”

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By Manimekhala

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…

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