The US – joy and unity in diversity
Written by Lata Ganesh
After having spent about a month and a half with Mohanji, travelling hundreds of miles, meeting several hundreds of people, and taking thousands of pictures and videos, I realize that it is quite impossible to capture every moment of Mohanji’s visit to USA (although every moment was very special) and share it with you through this blog. I have therefore highlighted some key events which will hopefully give you an idea of the depth of the experience that we had.
It was with much exhilaration and eagerness that we awaited Mohanji’s arrival at the Airport on the beautiful evening of September 4, 2014. It had been over a year since Mohanji’s first visit to the USA in 2013.
Biba, Mila and Sumit had arrived a week earlier and were almost settled in – adjusting to the change in time zone and environment.
Waves of joy engulfed me when I saw Mohanji. It seemed as though He had never left us! Yeah, his hair was shorter and he had lost some weight, but the striking sharpness and the aura of purity and love had only intensified.
Viji and Ashok Sagar were hosting Mohanji and his family for the first part of the trip.
We welcomed our Master with a Gurupuja filled with devotion and love. We had worked on putting together a pretty intense schedule this time.
Welcoming smiles – Anu, Lata and Viji
In addition to a lot of travel, we had also arranged talks and Q&A sessions at a variety of locations so that people from diverse groups could get to meet with Mohanji and interact with Him.
Meditation and Satsang at Viji’s home
Homa at Hanuman Temple
Fire is considered sacred in many spiritual traditions and a homa or a sacred fire ritual is believed to ward off evil influences and negativities. One of the first events was the homa performed by Mohanji at The Hanuman Temple of Northern America, a beautiful Hindu temple where Shirdi Sai Baba and Hanumanji are worshipped.
As Mohanji kindled and consecrated the fire on the morning of September 6th and started the homa ritual among chanting of various mantras, the fire leaped high and mighty.
It was a very powerful ritual and all those who were present and offered their past life karma and bad influences into the fire in the form of a dry coconut, felt a sense of liberation and peace.
There are a variety of homa that are generally conducted in religious occasions, but this unique ritual conducted by Mohanji is highly charged with spiritual energy and bestows a sense of peace and purity.
Our friend, Ramu Arumugam with the able help of dear Raj and others in the team, put together this event and we are grateful to Baba who offered his home on this occasion to mark the beginning of Mohanji’s month long stay in the USA.
Unitarian Church of Cedar Lane Maryland and Fairfax Virginia
The Unitarian Universalists congregation of Fairfax, Virginia, and Cedar Lane, Maryland, are a liberal religious community committed to individual freedom of belief and spiritual nourishment with a goal of promoting world community with peace, liberty and justice for all. Mohanji was invited to address the congregation at both these Churches where his simple but succinct replies to questions were received with great enthusiasm.
Mohanji’s message “Let the wave of awareness unite the world beyond caste, creed, races, religions and differences. Let love unite the world..”, resonated very well with the group that met him in both these places. Coincidentally (or not) the very first church in which Paramahamsa Yogananda conducted a talk after arriving to the US was in the Unitarian Church.
Visit to Paramahamsa Yoganandaji’s Ashram
Paramahamsa Yogananda, a preeminent spiritual master of modern times, has profoundly impacted millions of spiritual seekers around the world. We were all very excited to be the Self-Realization Fellowship’s International Headquarters at Mt. Washington in Los Angeles, with Mohanji.
Though many of us have read books by the Paramahamsa, especially the Autobiography of the Yogi, we were quite spellbound upon reaching the Ashram, known as the Mother Center. The silence, orderliness and serenity of the ashram grounds is truly remarkable.
The monks at the Ashram cordially welcomed Mohanji and were in discussion with him about their Master and their unreserved service to Him and his teachings.
After spending a couple of hours at the Ashram and the meditation hall, Brahmachari Shekar walked out with Mohanji to show us the favorite meditation site, the Temple of Leaves where Sri Yogananda often gave classes under the tress.
As we were walking behind them, half a dozen white doves flew over our heads. This was an unusual occurrence, as brother Shekar mentioned that during his several years of stay at the ashram he had never seen doves flying over the skies. It was indeed a blessed moment and a great honor that we were fortunate to be conferred the Shaktipat by Mohanji under the same tree where once Sri Yogananda had taught his disciples.
We also visited the Forest Lawn Memorial Park where Sri Yogananda’s body rests and the Lake Shrine Temple where undoubtedly, the Paramahamsa’s promise to humanity “Come into the silence of solitude, and the vibration there will talk to you through the voice of God”, is felt.
911 Unity Walk, Washington DC
The Embassy Row in Washington DC has a number of houses of worship and on the event of 9/11 Unity Walk, in a striking display of unity and hospitality, they open their doors and welcome people of all faiths to learn about each other, embrace each other and have some good food and fun!
Our friend, Andra Baylus, one of the coordinators of this event, had kindly expressed her wishes for Mohanji to be part of this annual event. This is what Andra said about her experience with Mohanji:
“The blessings of the Divine abound when one has the good fortune of coming into contact with the Spiritual Master Mohanji. One can know by the unusual array of coincidences that one was meant to come into the purview of such a Spiritual Being whose mission is to raise consciousness in order to help humanity become spiritually liberated. Before we met, I participated in the Power of Purity Meditation which facilitated my becoming lighter and actually free of any residual negativity I was carrying.
Having been exposed for many years to the teachings of the Spiritual Master, Meher Baba, I could recognize the same consciousness in Mohanji, in the loving way in which he expressed himself, enjoying the opportunity of answering any and all questions to help guide us more carefully along our spiritual paths.
It was a great blessing to have Mohanji with us during the Unity Walk in Washington DC, when we walked along together – simply walking and talking about the importance of bringing people of different religions together, which was the purpose of the Walk. I admired Mohanji for he was offered to be a Faith Guide that day and promptly declined to wear a sash representing any one particular religion, for he said that he followed the Religion of Love.
Overall, my time with Mohanji was very precious. I wanted so much to continue being with him and in his aura of acceptance and unconditional love. Perhaps that is why every night since he left the area, I have gone to bed quietly listening to a YouTube Playlist to his words of wisdom, lovingly explaining every aspect of the human condition with words that touch my heart and lift me into higher realms of Being, encouraging me to be better than I am, to love everyone in my life more and to use my life purposefully. Mohanji is part of me and has helped connect me to a higher vision of the Divine potential within all of us. He has given us all hope of a better more purified life which bears fruit and will bless the world. I am eternally grateful for Mohanji coming into my life….”
Biba was deeply touched by the Unity Walk. She said: “While participating in the Unity Walk, at one point I simply got mesmerized by the beauty of humanity. It was so much more than just a gathering of people from different religious/spiritual groups all walking for Peace. It was a truly grand event which left a very deep impression on me. I instantly felt the inner pull to introspect more. It was exactly 10 years ago that I completed my MA in Peace Studies at Notre Dame, and this was my first trip to USA since then. Unity Walk made me feel and realize my inner calling – it was a true ‘A-ha!’ moment. My life experiences, my studies, my passion for Yoga, suddenly it all made so much sense. I feel so grateful for this experience! It was also a great honor to conduct two Yoga classes in the World Bank where sincere practitioners choose to spend their lunch break practicing Yoga before returning to their respective job posts. In California, we witnessed true spiritual seekers, a plethora of Organic and Vegan shops and restaurants, Yoga studios at every corner, street art, music and joy.
Mohanji and Mila immersed in the street art
America’s unique diversity and colorful flavor was thrilling.”
Yogaville, founded by Swami Satchidananda, is a beautiful ashram on the banks of the James River.
Nestled in the woods of Buckingham County in the commonwealth of Virginia, amidst a community which is diverse and vibrant, fostering the spiritual practice of yoga, Yogaville was an ideal location for the week long retreat with Mohanji. Quiet and serene, we were able to experience the calmness of the mind in the presence and guidance of a loving Master.
The yoga sessions conducted by dear Biba were charged with so much energy and everyone felt so refreshed after the practice.
Yoga Nidra – the blissful dive within after completing the morning Yoga practice
It was not easy, but the environment at Yogaville and Biba’s gentle persistence in getting into the postures helped us immensely. The other procedures done during the retreat along with keeping silence and having good satwic meal from the Yogaville kitchen helped in the release of the toxins.
Enjoying the lunch and casual chat with Bhagawan Metro from Yogaville
The most sacred happening of the Retreat was Mohanji’s initiation of the Consciousness Kriya and sublime imparting of spiritual knowledge to the small group of participants from around USA and Canada. Participants meditated at several of the sacred locations of the Ashram.
So much peace, joy and laughter.
Even though we had planned one public Satsang that was to be opened to the Yogaville Ashramites, because of the huge enthusiasm of the Ashramites and their loving request, we had a public Satsang on all days. Many Ashramites met Mohanji one- to-one to get His guidance on their spiritual journey.
This is what Biba said about the experience of Yogaville: “As someone who is totally in love with the ancient science of Yoga and hope to serve it all my life, I must say that Yogaville left me speechless. It was the first time in my life to experience a community of people of different generations, all totally dedicated to Yoga, spiritual growth and satwic (balanced) lifestyle. It was precious to see how these lovely people responded to Mohanji. Yogis and Yoginis (some of which had beautiful white hair), getting to ask the questions that were result of years of contemplation, was a treat to behold.
Our evening Satsangs were truly out of this world and exchange of energy was superb.”
Unique application of Mohanji’s eye card :-)
Overall the trip was very engaging and fascinating, be it the satsang at the Afghan Hindu Temple in New York, or the meeting with Nataraj Baba and Nandhi Tapas Yogi in LA. Many people from different walks of life got an opportunity to meet Mohanji. Some came to discuss their problems, some out of curiosity and some to quench their thirst for spiritual knowledge. It seemed that everyone took messages, lessons, blessings and peace back with them. Mohanji, true to his teachings, welcomed one and all with unconditional love and shared his knowledge with striking lucidity.
Ganesh and I thank all our friends around the country who helped organize this year’s trip, especially Viji, Anu, Kala, Juana, Sona, Reshma and Priya. One of Mohanji’s messages resonated most deeply with me: “Life is all about expressing and experiencing multiple flavors in relationships. Sharing time and nurturing relationships are the most beautiful flowers that bloom in this garden of life…”
We are all grateful to Mohanji for making this long trip all the way from India to be with us and nurture our spiritual development. We are very much honored and humbled by his love. It was also our greatest pleasure to have Biba, Mila and Sumit who made the entire experience filled with fun and joy.
Biba said: “This trip to US was a true learning experience. It was great to meet so many wonderful souls in Washington, Maryland, LA, San Francisco, Pittsburg, New York and Florida. I was especially touched by the endless love and dedication of our loving hosts who went out of their way to make us feel at home, cope with their daily work and household obligations and also endlessly coordinate Mohanji’s programs – hats off!
The only problem is that Mila was showered with gifts all the time and sure enough quickly got used to that – it took me a while to explain to her that it won’t be happening all the time. :-)
Nothing but Love and Gratitude, Biba!”
And now some more unique moments expressed through images…
Mohanji with Swami Nataraja in LA – unforgettable moments
Mohanji and Biba – Ganesha pooja
Mohanji and Nandhi Tapas yogi, LA
Satsang at Shirdi Sai temple
Shaktipat to a loving musician Ben who composed a song based on quotes from the Power of Purity book
A cross-cultural embrace – Mila and a talented young musician Njeri from Virginia who sang ‘Amazing Grace’ most beautifully
New York – at the Sai Centre and residence of Dr. Rao who got the blessing from Sathya Sai Baba to construct his murti
Ganesh – the most loving photographer!