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.
SATSANG WITH SWAMIJI
Who has realized what is within? Who has realized pure and true love? I want to make you all realize this by yourself. Who has realized? Who has understood the real truth and real love in his or her heart? You may have a good relationship with your children and relatives. If you ask them have they understood true love, they – without understanding – will reply, “Yes”. But none of you knows if you truly understand true love.
In daily life nowadays, parents talk to their children, without understanding the value of true love. You are all talking about love so much, but do you approach your children and relatives with genuine love?
Lord Buddha said,
“Don’t worship me – the world inside me will protect you. Realize the Truth.” – Swami Premananda
On the full moon day in May we celebrate the birth, enlightenment and samadhi of Lord Buddha. The prince Gautama who became the Buddha gave up all his unimaginable privilege, wealth and worldly power to dedicate himself totally to the spiritual path. He meditated with immense sincerity and concentration during seven years; at the end of this intense sadhana he gained enlightenment. He then left the forest and started to teach others how to develop themselves spiritually and reach the same, blissful stage that he had attained.
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…
Swamiji replies to your questions:
Question: Humanity is going through a time of deep crisis, many wars and genocides are being committed in many parts of our world in the name of God, or the god we call money. In developing countries, each year millions of children die of starvation. And these are only a few of the many dramatic issues facing humanity today. What is the difference between this current period of crisis and all the other terrible times of crisis that humanity faced in the past?
If you have a husband and you are on good terms with him and you don’t have suspicions about him then you will help your husband. You wash his clothes and do everything for him – and he does everything for you too. This is only possible when you have understanding between you. In a spiritual relationship it is the same. In order to surrender you must have understanding. Understanding is necessary for surrender…
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…
Swamiji, if I were to follow the spiritual path would there be a change in me? What are the benefits of following the spiritual path?
By following the spiritual path, our thoughts and aims in life would be diverted in a more beneficial direction. We would get an insight into the wrong deeds that we have committed in our lives. We would also be able to realize what is true and what is false in this world. We would have a very clear perception of life. Therefore, by following the spiritual path, the right way of living would be clearly shown to you. The spiritual path identifies the purpose of human life. Many human beings are born and go through the worldly life without realizing its purpose…
Mahadeva (the Great God), Paramatma (the one unbounded universal Self), pure bliss, pure love, the first yogi, the first guru, That which is not – Shiva is all of these, and ‘The Great Night of Shiva’, Mahashivaratri, is one of the most important spiritual observances in Hinduism, a celebration which occurs once a year on the 14th day of the Hindu month of Magha (in February-March), just before the new moon. Why on this date and why is it so significant? At this exact time the planetary influences or forces of nature are such that they offer us the opportunity to make the very best use of our natural energies to merge with the Divine, with Shiva, and to receive his grace.
The scriptures, and indeed Swamiji, encourage devotees to observe Mahashivaratri by fasting and staying awake all night while keeping our thoughts continuously on Lord Shiva, and engaging ourselves in various spiritual practices. In the Ashram those practices include meditation, abhishekams, chanting ‘Om Namah Shivaya’, singing devotional songs, as well as taking part in or watching devotional dramas, dance and musical performances.
In Sri Premananda Ashram there is a beautiful Shiva-Shakti temple which was planned by Swamiji long ago. In 1993 Swamiji said, “After this body dies and goes into mahasamadhi the divine vibration from it will help the world for the next 2, 500 years.” Swamiji started building the temple in 2008. He said he would imbue the lingam with a divine power so that all the people’s problems would be solved and therefore it would be ‘Kurai Teerkum Shiva’ – Lord Shiva who solves all your problems…