Swami Veda Bharati, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Pandit Dabral (in white) at the Kumbha Mela.
1. The foundation stone of the Swami Rama Sadhaka Village was laid in early February through the hands of Swami Hariharanandaji.
2. The construction of the Sadhaka Village (Attachment #1:Inauguration ceremonies- Feb.6-15th 2002. Attachment #2 description of the Sadhaka Village. Attachment #3 Accounts Statement.)
3. The Volume 2 of SVB's Commentary on the Yoga-sutras has been published and is now available. Please inquire from your local Center, The Meditation Center, or Rishikesh Ashram. Publisher's USA price is $45. A limited number of copies are available at $35 plus postage.
4. (a) The year 2001 began with the Kumbh mela. All participants and friends have already heard of the successful event.
(b) From over 40 hours of video there are three videotapes now available, please inquire from Atem Ramsundarsingh at firstname.lastname@example.org
5. Immediately following the kumbh mela, the teaching of the part one of the second chapter of the Yoga-sutras of Patanjali was held at the Rishikesh Ashram. Dr Anne Glazier and Dr Stoma Parker assisted Swamiji by preparing students for indepth study of the Sutras
6. The Adhyatma Yoga retreat and teacher training was held at the Ashram in March 2001 with Dr Anne Glazier, Margo Balog and Pandit Ananta in addition to Swami Veda's lectures .
7. Following the Adhyatma Yoga Retreat a ten day silence retreat was held at the Ashram.
8. Travels began in April with lectures given in London, a European Yoga seminar in Holland assisted by Dr. Anne Glazier, Atem Ramasundarsingh, Komol Bisseswar, and Pandit Ananta. And lectures in Toronto organized by Chander Khanna.
9. Then New York where a half-day dialogue was held with leaders of various religions at the Manhattan H.Q. of Ruder Finn at the invitation of Baba Jain, the Secretary general of the World Peace Summit of Leaders in Religion and Spirituality of the United Nations. The purpose of the dialogue was to demonstrate how the various religions may unite one single experience of meditation.
10. In May a weekend retreat was held in New Jersey at the Himalayan Yoga Meditation Centre directed by Shri Mahesh Mangalik.
11. Other lectures and teachings were held in Indianapolis and, of course, Minneapolis.
12. (a) Himalayan Yoga Meditations Teachers Reteat was held in July in Milwaukee. The major teaching was done by Pandit Dabral, Pandit Ananta, Anne Glazier, Ashutosh Sharma, Savitri Jugdeo and Margo Balog. Other leading teachers, such as Ginger Cunes and Dr. Kathy McKeehan made valuable contributions. The presence of a senior teacher of the calibre of Nina Johnson was an added inspiration, and the visit by Brunette Eason was indeed a special blessing.
(b) Examinations for the teacher trainees conducted and it was decided to have a continuation refresher next year.
(c) Immediately following the teachers retreat, the first families retreat, rather modest in size, was held at the same location.
13. The Curacao Centre received Swamiji with Henk Soeterboek volunteering as program director to help Rinia Pinto and Erwin Jamaloodin. A visit to Trinidad after two decades helped to supplement the beautiful spirit there supported by Alexander Benjamin and Subash Jahorie and Pandit Dabral's past visits. There also the prime minister of the country was given the meditation experience by Swamiji.
14. Meditation teaching was introduced in Costa Rica and Venezuela; Savitri Jugdeo, Mayanne Krech and Silvia Barrata travelled with SVB facilitating the programs at all steps. Meditations were conducted in Spanish.
(a) In Costa Rica, also, a successful visit was made to the United Nations Peace University.
(b) The visit to Venezuela was made at the invitation of the Venzuelan ambassador to India, with the help of Mora Singh and Shri Virendra Singh (formerly India's ambassador to Venezuela) and the program was sponsored by Atheneo, the official culture centre of the city of Caracas. The public lecture, press conference, appearance on national TV and meditation seminar were all very successful.
15. Teachings were conducted in Regina, Saskatoon, Calgary and SanFrancisco. The lecture organized by Sherri Baptiste, and the one at the prestigious Commonwealth Club were especially successful.
16. The travel continued on to Taiwan where Pandit Dabral joined SVB. The program consisted mainly of silence sessions, and a total of 108 initations for which the people were thoroughly prepared by Ma Tapasya Bharati.
17. The visit to Singapore was primarily for the purpose of attending the International Yoga Conference, and a few initiations for which the people were prepared thoroughly through the teaching of Wong Yoong Khiang. Thereafter, a visit was made to Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia and over twenty-five initiations were given mainly to the students of Shilpa who has been expanding her work in this way.
18. A visit to Sabah state of Malaysia (in Borneo) is always a pleasant occasion. The usual weekend retreat was held under the Mount Kinabalu, the highest mountain in SE Asia. The atmosphere was that of silence. Unfortunately Ma Tapasya Bharati was not able to come due to the unusual flooding in Taiwan but teachings were conducted by Dr. Ganasan, Yoong and Pandit Ananta. SVB's contribution was the usual in-depth silence, meditation and related teachings.
19. SVB arrived in Delhi in the last week of September. Immediately paid the annual visit to the Punjab, near Chandigarh, the capital, where a large following of Shri Sant Waryam Singhji (a great friend of our Swami Rama) (all followers of the Sikh faith) meets at this time of the year.SVB, as in previous years, addressed the gathering of two hundred thousand in the Punjabi language. Unfortunately, to everyone's grief, Santji left his body about a month after.
20. A one-night visit was made to the Rishikesh Ashram and the Sadhaka-Grama was visited briefly.
21. Varivasya Trust, formed to help SVB's work from Delhi organized a number of appearances in and near` Delhi. The presentation through the Vikram Sarabhai Foundation held at the prestigious Habitat Centre, titled "What can Meditation contribute to Improved Social order" was especially well received. A half-day seminar in the nearby city of Ghaziabad organized by the All India Manufacturers Association attracted a number of high level industrialists and doors to developing extensive teachings in the industrial society were opened.
22. Annual Swami Rama Commemoration Seminar was organized by the Himalayan International Institute of Yoga Science and Philosophy (Kanpur and Delhi) and by the Himalayan Institute Hospital Trust at the prestigious India International Centre in Delhi. SVB's presentations centred around the meditation path taught by H.H.Swami Rama.
23. SVB flew out to Germany on 7th October night to participate in thetwentieth anniversary of the Himalayan Institute of Germany, founded and directed by Wolfgang Bischoff. It was a celebration of his twenty years of teaching in which he has trained hundreds of successful yoga teachers, in addition to expanding the teaching into other parts of Europe. SVB spoke daily, only guiding one-hour in-depth meditations which were more an entry into silence. Quite a few very high level teachers had travelled to participate, including Ma Tapasya, Pandit Dabral, Atem Ramasundarsingh, Dr Kostopoulos, Ingo Beardi, Ashu Sharma, Idris Ouedraogo and others.
24. (a) After 1995, this was now the first SVB visit to Spain. It was organized through the efforts of Deepak Vohra, a high level Indian diplomat serving at the Indian embassy in Madrid. Earlier in the year he had brought to Rishikesh Ashram a group of professors from the University of Valladolid, the oldest university in Spain. This resulted in the University organizing a month long celebration of the history of Indo-Spanish culture relations. SVB was invited to the University as part of the said celebration. Anne Glazier and Ashutosh and Andrea Sharma accompanied SVB and conducted the meditation seminar. SVB also held a public dialogue with leading Christian theologians.
(b) The program in Madrid consisted of
(i) one-day meditation seminar by Anne and Ashutosh with a meditation presentation by SVB,
(ii) public lecture for mixed audiences held at the local Hindu Temple, and
(iii) a nostalgic lecture visit to the School for Self-ralization directed by Jocelyn Laffite Kline, a Swami Rama disciple, who has been teaching for the past seven years.
(c) The Spanish Yoga Teachers Association has been publishing from time to time articles by or about SVB. A number of yoga teachers attended the SVB presentations. Plans are afoot to develop more extensive teaching in Spain, whether in Madrid, Valladolid or Barcelona.
(d) In all of this a central role is played by Encarnacion Plaza who has been doing SVB's work in Spain single-handedly. She has also printed Spanish translations of six of SVB's booklets, which were extensively used. She has plans to continue printing more translations and is working on organizing next year's visit.
25. After a short stay at a undisclosed location SVB returned to India
26. Returned to the Ashram in the beginning of November. Participated in the Annual mahasamadhi commemoration at the Hospital.
27. November 22-26 SVB paid a visit to Mumbai (original and current name of Bombay) : initiations, meditations and two public lectures.
28. Varanasi visit November 26-December 2 was most exciting.
(a) SVB spoke at the world famous Banaras Hindu University for two days. A Meditaiton seminar was conducted by Yumi Ito, Anne Glazier and Bhola Shankar Dabral. After SVB's lecture on the Bhagavad-Gita the scholars thanking SVB said, among other things; "in the scholarly world there has been a feeling that all the research that could have been undertaken on the Gita has been accomplished and there is nothing more to research. But Swamiji has shown us today so many avenues and areas of the Bhagavadgita on which research is yet to be conducted".
(b) The participants of the kumbh mela would recall their visit to Mahabodhi Society at Sarnath where the Buddha had given his first teaching to his initial five disciples and from where he had sent the first batch of 60 monks exhorting them : "bahu-jana-hitaya bahu-jna-sukhaya, for the benefit of the many, for the comfort of the many, monks, wander!"
On 30th November SVB was chief speaker at the 70th annual celebration of the Society with the monks and delegates from various Buddhist countries,present. He chose to give part of his presentation in Pali, the language in which the Buddha had taught. Thanking SVB, Dr. Rewat Mahathero, the general secretary of the Mahabodhi society, said : "It is a shame that no one speaks Pali, the language in which the Buddha taught. Today Swamiji has spoken in Pali, and 26 centuries after the Buddha's initial teaching, at the very spot where the Buddha spoke. This is indeed a historical event." Next day SVB was the honoured guest at the function for the distribution of prizes for the various schools run by the Society.
(c) On 30th evening also was the celebration of the full moon of the Karttika month, an especially holy day set for taking sacred immersions in the Ganga. The city of Varanasi celebrates it as Deva-deepavali. Dr. Karan Singh ( who, along with other kings of India, gave up he throne of the State of Kashmir to join the democratic Republic of India, and is known as the philosopher-king) was the chief guest and SVB presided over the function. An elaborate puja to Mother Ganga was given through SVB leading the participants. Seventy-eight ghats were lit up with more than a million deepaks (open flame clay-oil-wick lamps), a most impressive site as one travelled by boat along the ghats under the exceptionally complete full moon over the river, and the deepaks also floating in the flower-filled little green leaf boats all over the bosom of the river.
29. On Dec 2 SVB flew to Delhi and the same night to an undisclosed location for one day's rest. On the 5th, he flew from Frankfurt to Accra,the capital of Ghana on the Gulf of Guinea. Idriss had undertaken an 18 hour bus journey from Burkina Faso just to come and greet SVB at Accra airport. Sonia drove all the way from Benin also for the same purpose. First he visited the local Hindu temple and was delighted to see that more than one-third of the participants in the worship and song were Ghanaian Africans. Next day he moved to stay at the Hindu Monastery founded and directed by Swami Ghanananda. SVB had met Swami Ghanananda's guru Swami Krishnananda in Mauritius in 1969. Swami Krishnananda initiated Swami Ghanananda into the life of a Swami. An African Swami is rare; SVB knows none other. Swami Ghanananda was born in a family tradition of priests of the indigenous religions of Africa. He is learned in the philosophical traditions of India, and he is most humble; loving; ever-giving. He has written five books, and counts among his followers people of very high calibre in Ghana, yet his humility is astounding. Furthermore, he has real joy; he is, like our Swami Hariharanandaji, a laughing Swami. The chanting in the temple by sixty of Swami Ghanananda's disciples was incredible. Put together all the vigour of African dance rhythm and all the devotion of the bhakti tradition&endash;well,you have never heard such enchanting sound. The detailed news of these encounters will be found on www.bindu.org in a week or two.
30. On 8th December Sonia drove SVB from Accra to Lome, the capital of the Republic of Togo on the Gulf of Guinea. The party stayed at the home of a local businessman named Tony, A Lebanese, absolutely devoted to the teachings of Swami Ghanananda. Again sixty Togolaise people at the temple singing with the same power that had been witnessed in Accra the day before.
31. On the 9th December, Sonia drove SVB to Benin (previously known as Dahomey) where she serves as the deputy to the Charge d'Affairesat the embassy of Holland. 10th December and 11th were spent meeting the priests and keepers of the indigenous spiritual traditions. The purpose of the current visit to Africa was fulfilled in bringing together the spiritual traditions of Africa with Yoga. Meetings with the
(a) director of the Voudoun (Voodoon) Training School, at Sonia's home
(b) with Daagbo (title of the highest authority in Voodoon tradition) at his traditional residence in Ouida (Weeda), the capital of the Tradition, were the impressive highlights. But wait for the details in www.bindu.org
32. On 12 December a scheduled meeting with the king of Benin was unfortunately missed because the flight time for Ouagadougou was altered by the airlines. The "First West African Yoga Conference : Bringing together the spiritual Traditions of Africa and India" under the patronage of the ministry of culture, and the ministry of foreign affairs was a grand success. More on www.bindu.org
33. On the 13th December Swamiji and Tejaswini flew from Contonu to Ouaga of Berkina Faso. After a day of rest they visited the new Center building
34. On 18th December SVB flew back to Accra and took a flight to Frankfurt on 19th evening. This is being typed during the flight. Arrived in Frankfurt on 20th morning. Three hours of rest and then the flight to Chicago and Minneapolis.
35. SVB always needs someone to travel with him. November-December 2000, Tejaswini from London travelled with him. Again she accompanied him during the April-September this year. And is now travelling with him during the current journey. Watching over SVB's health, medicine, food, rest, appointments and initiations, airline confirmations, seating for lectures, ensuring recordings, retrieving e-mails (in all sorts of countries and villages where computer plugs do not match and internet is not available, and then sending SVB's replies, and so on. It is too much work for one person. Next year there will most probably be two persons travelling.
36. Health : After the kumbh mela and the Yoga-sutras seminar, SVB went down to the lowest ebb ever. But, to the surprise of even his German doctors, began to make a slow recovery. Recently he has been seen even climbing up the steps, when he is not too tired. There is still need for exercising continued caution. In future years, he wishes to do more and more silence retreats and minimal lecturing.
All the work is being done through the grace of Gurudeva and divinity. Here a few episodes :
(1) SVB was planning his 2002 travels in the summer of 2000, as the programs are organized that much in advance. He included Costa Rica and set the dated of 27th May-5th June 2001. He was asked several times by his closest associates : Why Costa Rica ? Who do you have there? Nobody. Then why not cancel and give the dates to some place that really wants you? NO, Costa Rica will remain. Three months before the schedules departure from Rishikesh, Dowlat and Indira Budhram and daughter turn up at the Ashram. But, no, SVB did not commit himself to their encouragement. What is he waiting for ? Two weeks before he is about to leave India, a lady turns up at the Ashram. She is seated. Conversation follows; she gives some details of her experience in working with UN etc. And then : Swamiji, do you ever go to Costa Rica? SVB shows her the schedule for 2001. Well, who is organizing the trip?
No one. She tells SVB how she knows the ex-president of the country, knows he founder of the UN Peace University. She would organize everything. And, Swamiji, to what name shall I write the cheque for your airfare? This at the very first meeting. Now Elinore Detiger is one of the very close circle of friends and associates helping with further plans to bring the teachings to South America.
(2) Big things, small things. The Grace machine is on the automatic. During the drive to from Lome in Togo to Cotonou, the capital of Benin, SVB and party stop for drinking coconut. SVB mentions how in Thailand they keep the coconuts in a fridge, and there is no drink more heavenly than the thus cooled coconut. A few hours later, all arrive at Sonia's residence and sit down. A few minutes later Sonia comes out and says : Guess what, Swamiji, Few hoursago, for the first time, without ever having been told to do so, my cook had the thought of putting the coconut in the fridge for you; would you like some cool coconut now ?
(3) SVB and party have an appointment with the king of Burkina on 18th Dcember morning. During the drive to the King's mansion, SVB notices the Village Artisanal, the Artisans Village. He decides to make stopover on the way back to buy at least one piece of the local sculpture as he has cherished Benin-style sculpture for the past 45 years. But it is not possible to make the stop on the way back as it is getting late for the airport for a flight to Accra. A little disappointment. All arrive at Idriss's centre where everyone is staying. Before entering the Centre, he is introduced to the mother-in-law of the prime minister who has brought a lovely local wooden sculpture as a gift for SVB.
On a different track : SVB participates in the inauguration of the conference in Burkina. He leads a meditation in French. The Charge d'Affaires for India later comments to others and to SVB as to the effectiveness of that meditation that so relaxed him. SVB asked whether he understands French. No, not a word of French does the diplomat know, but the meditation in French brought him peace. Goes to show that it is not in words that the effectiveness of a meditation guide resides; even a garble will do just as well. So, why speak to guide meditations ? Why not just sit in silence and commune ?
So it goes with things large and small. Shall report more later.
Is there anyone who can write these reports of SVB's travels and works so that SVB does not have to do this kind of work. This time could have been spent on writing a booklet.