This year is the 125th birth year of our blessed Gurudeva, Sri Sri Paramahansa Yogananda. Janmotsav celebrations in the honour of Guruji were held across YSS NCR between January 5 and 21, 2018.
YSS NOIDA ASHRAM (January 5, 2018)
The morning of January 5, 2018 began with a special meditation at YSS Noida Ashram attended by nearly 250 devotees. Thereafter, prabhat feri was conducted till 9 am with nearly the same number of devotees around the Ashram campus. With the monastics leading from the front, the entourage with Guruji’s palanquin made its way along the inside boundary of the Noida Ashram. Having received an opportunity to carry the beautifully decorated palki left each devotee uplifted by the experience on the cold winter morning with fervor and enthusiasm, singing bhajans praising the spiritual master.
The entourage included volunteer devotees singing chants while seated on an e-rickshaw adorned with floral decorations, as the melodious devotional hymns poured out of the loudspeakers.
Following this, devotees were served breakfast and preparations were started for the next event of the big day – the Narayan Seva. In the afternoon, the service of food to all passers-by and mostly underprivileged persons was begun with in a large tent erected for this purpose outside the gate of the Ashram.
The heavy flow of people to the Langar counters required special arrangements for both the food dispensing as well as the traffic management on the adjacent road. Earlier, pamphlets had been distributed in the nearby areas for spreading awareness about the Narayan Seva. The menu of halwa, puri and sabzi was served to the people – who were accommodated on floor mats and chairs, and provided with drinking water as well. Several enthusiastic devotees served as volunteers to make this event a success – with nearly 1500 persons being served as part of this Janmotsav Narayan Seva.
The evening saw the arrival of devotees with their families and friends from across YSS NCR – Gurgaon, Delhi, Faridabad, Sahibabad and even as far as Karnal, Meerut, and so on. The main Janmotsav function was conducted in the Auditorium by YSS Monastic In-charge Swami Lalitanandaji, with an attendance of 800 persons – including devotees and other guests in the pandal.
Swami Lalitanandaji’s Janmotsava Satsanga
125 years ago on this blessed day of 5th January, 1893, an avatar Paramahansa Yogananda descended - who changed and is changing the lives of millions on this earth. In order to commemorate our Gurudev’s 125th birth anniversary, devotees had gathered at Noida ashram to celebrate it in a really grand manner. The entire premises of Noida ashram was decorated with flowers and glittering lights. The essence of the flowers spread all over and the bright colours made the whole surroundings divine. Creative rangolis made out of colorful flower petals looked breathtakingly beautiful.
Swamiji initiated the program exactly at 5 pm with Brahmanandam, opening prayer and chanting. At 5.20 pm, Swamiji announced that the next 40 minutes will be a period of silent meditation. The devotees quickly got absorbed in the meditation as everything was so conducive.
YSS/SRF President, Swami Chidananda Giri ji had sent a special Janmotsava letter on this occasion, which Swamiji read out and also expounded it in Hindi as well.
The letter reflected the divine love of Swami Chidanandaji for all devotees in India. He said that his trip to India two months back was fresh in his mind. He was humble and kind to mention that the glowing faces of the devotees in India had made an indelible impression in his heart and mind.
He urged us all to experience the transformation of our own consciousness, which happens when we practice the teachings of our Guruji. We will be able to feel the love and blessings of Guruji flowing through the techniques which he has given us.
Touching upon how the Centenary Celebrations in India has shown the speed with which the work of Guruji is spreading in India and the whole world, he told us to take with us three things from the celebrations of last year as well as the next few remaining months:
The joy of the fellowship felt during the celebrations
A renewed and unshakable faith in Guruji’s unconditional love
A renewed determination to do more and better in our sadhana.
He closed the letter by saying that the best gift we can offer to Guruji is our resolve to follow his teachings to the best of our ability.
After reading this letter, Swami Lalitanandaji also read out and explained the letter of Guruji to his disciple which shows the tremendous and unconditional love of Guruji for his disciples:
'You must never lose courage. Divine Mother sent me to pilot you out of the clouds of your mind. Everybody’s difficulty is different and he or she has to win that test of karma of Divine Mother. Overcome all by constantly inward calling on God with utmost devotion in words, thoughts, action, and obedience to guru.
Your troubles I do not mind. I will never give up my job about you. It is better to conquer one evil and not live with it forever. Never for a moment identify yourself with momentary flashes of error.
Have no fear even though I am gone from your visible eyes. You will never be alone. I may not scold you then but I shall ever be with you and through Divine Mother guard you from all harm and will constantly whisper to you guidance through your loving self. So do not become discouraged and tired, but ever be interested in working for Divine Mother no matter if war, sickness, and death dance around you. That is the secret of victory over delusion and all troubles. Pick up the pieces but never give up. Be like the divine leech and suck up a lot of wisdom even though torn to bits. A smooth life is not a victorious life.
And I will give you lots of good karma so you will get through. I will not only ever forgive you, but ever lift you up no matter how many times you fall. Keep unceasingly trying to conquer. Not only will I invisibly help you, but visibly through many disciples here.
I am not building a mansion for you to give you riches which will perish, but I am making an imperishable home with all riches in my Divine Mother’s mansion.'
Such was the letter sent across by Guruji to one of his devotees, and this letter was meant for each of us. On these pious occasions, Guruji’s presence is more tangible and this heart touching letter only re-emphasized his love and concern for us every moment.
At 6.45 pm, Swamiji conducted arati and then each devotee got the opportunity to offer pushpanjali to their beloved Gurudev.
Post the pushpanjali, the devotees were ushered to the dining area for the excellent Guru Langar distributed lovingly by the devotees.
YSS DELHI KENDRA
While on January 5, 2018, the YSS Delhi Kendra conducted group meditation and devotees could meditate as well as offer pushpanjali at the feet of Gurudeva, it was the morning of the following Sunday, January 7, 2018 that was the day of the big celebration of Janmotsav.
Bright winter sunshine welcomed with warm smiles set the tone for one of the most beautiful and blessed occasions to enter the New Year – the combined celebration of the Silver Jubilee Year of the foundation of YSS Delhi Kendra along with the Janmotsava celebrations of Guruji’s 125th birthday.
A message sent by YSS/SRF President Swami Chidananda Giri congratulating all the devotees on this joyous occasion was read out by Swami Lalitanandaji. In his satsanga, Swamiji read out the contents of this Silver Jubilee letter in English and further explained it in Hindi as well.
This heart-warming message which expressed love and respect of our beloved President, as also deep gratitude for all those who were present, and also those who had left their physical forms. Swamiji shared from the letter that “the Delhi Kendra that we see today is the result of their undeterred love for Gurudeva and the constant blessing and guidance that has been showered by our Guru and our line of Gurus.”
Swami Lalitanandaji also went on to thank all the devotees, and those who were instrumental in bringing the Delhi Kendra to this level. Swamiji added that the diligent efforts of all the members present and not present have elevated the Kendra to this plane today.
Following this, Swamiji reminded each one of the real meaning of the celebrations of this special occasion – the remembrance of our Guruji. He mentioned how unconditional love is the basis of the Guru-disciple relationship. Reading out a passage from Guruji’s Autobiography of a Yogi, in which Swami Sri Yukteswarji speaks to Guruji, with a child-like innocence, about his unconditional love for him, which is reciprocated by Guruji.
The Guru Disciple relationship remains the cornerstone of YSS, and Swamiji laid great emphasis on this in his Satsanga. He explained to the devotees how we can show our love to him on the occasion of his auspicious 125th birth anniversary by deepening our love for him by loyally following his teachings.
Following the satsanga, Swamiji performed arati at the altar, which was followed by pushpanjali accompanied by melodious bhajans which uplifted the entire atmosphere.
A little later, Swami Lalitanandaji inaugurated the Photo Gallery with exhibits documenting the evolution of the YSS Delhi Kendra through the years. The photos were beautifully arranged with tags to explain the context.
The conclusion of the celebrations with feasting on an extensive spread for the Guru Langar. Volunteers served this Guru Prasad to around 550 devotees who attended the function.
YSS GURUGRAM KENDRA
The morning of January 5, 2018, saw a small yet enthusiastic entourage of around 45 devotees who participated in prabhat feri and the meditation programme to commemorate Guruji’s birth anniversary. Chanting Guruji’s bhajans, all the devotees carried the decorated palki in turns as they offered their love to Gurudeva. Breakfast was served after the programme. The evening meditation and pushpanjali was attended by 62 devotees.
On the following Sunday, January 7, 2018, YSS Gurgaon Kendra hosted the Janmotsav celebrations. Brahmachari Sheelanandaji conducted the satsanga and pushpanjali in the morning.
Brahmachariji spoke about the importance of following Guruji’s teachings, reading lessons and other YSS books, practising techniques with devotion and remembering the very purpose of each technique while practising them. He said that Divine Mother will be pleased if we love God and serve His children.
Attended by almost 200 devotees, the programme was followed by Guru Langar and Narayan Seva – in which underprivileged people were fed outside the Kendra premises.