|New York, NY|
BABA’S NAME — BEFORE THE PUBLIC AND IN THE HEARTS OF KRIYAVANS
In New York City Baba’s life mission and work were visible for the public as never before — June 22-25, 2006, when the NYC Kriya Yoga Center program concluded Sunday, in association with the Rubin Museum of Art by offering a special event, A Dialogue, entitled “Path of the Yogis,” featuring Paramahamsa Prajnanananda and Swami Samarpanananda. The theater of the museum, dedicated to the spiritual art of the Himalayas, was packed.
The New York press –- Time Out New York, Indian Express and India Abroad (local and international editions) –- wrote articles on the NYC Kriya Yoga Center’s program celebrating Paramahamsa Hariharananda’s centennial. New York Spirit, Time Out New York, Little India, Indian Express, and WQXR online carried listings and advertisements. India Abroad and Indian Express are carrying post-event articles. A tribute to Baba and a review of the program will appear in the first issue of New York Yoga Magazine (August - September).
Responding to outreach lectures on Thursday and Friday evenings and the New Life Expo in May — on Saturday morning 26 spiritual seekers came for initiation. Around 150 center and out-of-town kriyavans witnessed the proceedings and fire ceremony, were inspired by the centennial documentary on Baba’s life, and the exhibition of photographs which is to travel to other US cities for their centennial programs, and were elated by meditation and classes led throughout the program by Paramahamsa Prajnanananda, Swami Samarpanananda, Yogacharya Don Abrams, and Yogacharya John Williams.
Friday morning, 28 Kriyavans gathered at 6:00 am for the program’s first opportunity to meditate with Swami Samarpanananda. It was a wonderful moment following Prajnananandaji’s Thursday evening public talk.
Later Friday, Joelle Hann of Time Out New York and Joseph George of India Abroad and Lalit Jha of Indian Express interviewed Prajnananandaji and Samarpananandaji with many Kriyavans attending the press conferences. The flavor of the discourse is as follows. To Hann’s query about Patanjali’s references to meditation techniques, Prajnananandaji indicated that the four references from the Yoga Sutras were describing the Kriya Yoga techniques. To George’s query about how the teaching of Kriya Yoga differs from other yogas, Prajnananandaji pointed out that Kriya Yoga captures the essences of several traditions of yoga and fuses them in a simple, easy-to-do method that suits practically every individual. To Jha who sought reasons Kriya Yoga is becoming increasingly popular in the West, particularly in the US, Prajnananandaji explained that Kriya Yoga is a spiritual discipline and “It is becoming popular because it is easy to practice. It gives instant results. It can be practiced by anyone and by people of any age group. We give examples from all major religions.”
Sunday afternoon after being graciously welcomed by Tim McHenry, the Rubin Museum’s Director of Programming, Prajnananandaji lovingly acknowledged the values and beauty of the museum in bringing the sacred art of the Himalayas to the community and offering this venue to talk on the past and present Himalayan yogis and practices.
Beginning with a melodic chant and a song — written by a lady poet and saint, extolling the bestowed “spiritual treasure of my master, my teacher,” Prajnananandaji paid tribute to all yogis of the Himalayas, the Kriya lineage and especially to our Gurudev, Paramahamsa Hariharananda, as “a great yogi in the path of Kriya Yoga. Baba transformed, changed my life and dedicated his life for humanity…He showered his divinity and infinite compassion on me…distributing the treasure of truth of spirit, of spirituality, of love, of unbroken traditional spiritual practices until today, of the Himalayas [which are] attracting the yogis of today…Once India and the island of Australia erupted from mainland Asia about 600,000 years ago forming the Himalayas, which are still growing mountains today. Who knows tomorrow? [They are the] resting place of millions of yogis.”
“As a school boy with 1600 miles to go to the Himalayas, ‘divine madness’ came to me. [‘Divine Madness’ is the title of the museum’s current exhibition on Himalayan saints.]…Destiny brought me back [two dozen times] from that day until today to this place to loose myself completely with. My master Paramahamsa Hariharananda counseled, “Don’t think the Himalayas are outside; they are inside this human body. The universe in its miniature form is the human body. Each human brain is the Himalayas.” ‘Hima’ means cold, ice; ‘laya’ means abode, home. Himalayas means home of coolness. Breath, talk, manifest that within me, within you. You can find it here [brain]. In our talk and life — if we can manifest that love, that coolness — there is no need to go there [ Himalayas]. It’s here [brain].”
Prajnananandaji stated, “First meaning of yoga: Outlook is yoga. Change your outlook; change your life. Same world; each outlook makes it different. Second meaning of yoga: discipline. Two types of discipline: military (If not coming from within, but from other.) and self-discipline (Disciplined life is planned life.) How will you spend your life? Lahiri Baba advised to keep a goal and try to accomplish it. Life will be beautiful. Yoga is universal. Yoga is not body exercise. Yoga is psychology that’s several thousand years old. It makes the mind healthy and gives all-round development. Every moment union is taking place within me, within you. Through this union you will have harmony. Yoga is balanced life. If not balanced relationships, food, and so on, you cannot be yogi.”
During the two-hour discourse followed by questions, Prajnananandaji enlisted Swami Samarpanananda’s commentary which reflected their long standing and loving relationship. With humor, loyalty and devotion Samarpananandaji acknowledged Paramahamsa Hariharananda’s successor and long-time young friend. Initially Samarpananandaji waved his long white beard, saying “I am the yogi of yesterday. He is the yogi of today.”
In the future we hope to have a full transcript available and a video released jointly with the Rubin Museum of Art for all to enjoy.
Sunday evening many shared a special dinner prepared in the Brooklyn home of an Indian devotee who welcomed Prajnananandaji in the traditional Indian manner by blowing the conch and washing the guru’s feet.
The program’s success stemmed from the loving and devoted work done for months as well as during the program by many kriyavans who generously served others in Baba’s spirit so those attending the program could experience all events without interruption. Even some visitors lovingly offered seva. Our gratitude and appreciation are extended to each of them, as well as to Swami Samarpanananda whose insightful discourse and meditation opened our hearts in welcoming him to New York, Baba’s favorite city. To Prajnananandaji, we can only say, “Until we are blessed to be in your presence again, thank you for such a wonderful program from our depths — perhaps our heights is more appropriate — following the example of the body’s Himalayan summit.