The year 2017 holds a special place in the heart of every Yogoda devotee as it marks the completion of 100 glorious years of Yogoda Satsanga Society of India (YSS). The journey of YSS began with Gurudeva, Sri Sri Paramahansa Yogananda, founding an ashram school with just seven boys in 1917 in a small hamlet in Dihika. The much anticipated Janmotsav celebrations were especially significant this year as they also marked the commencement and acted as a curtain-raiser to the Centenary Celebrations of YSS.
The 124th Avirbhav Anniversary Divas of beloved Gurudeva was celebrated at all our Ashrams, Dhyana Kendras and Mandalis throughout the country with love, devotion, and heartfelt gratitude to the Premavatar. This year a special four-day Janmotsav function was organized simultaneously at Mumbai and Hyderabad.
The Janmotsav function included special long meditation, Prabhat Feri, commemorative service, charitable activities, bhandara, and Narayan Seva.
A special Guru Puja was conducted at Shiva Mandir followed by havan and bhandara. Devotees with their friends and family members from far and near joyously participated in this celebration. A total of 12,000 people, including devotees, partook of the bhandara prasad. On January 2, meals were served to the residents of Nirmala and Indira Leprosy Colonies in Ranchi.
The function included the review of YSS meditation techniques in three languages (English, Bengali, and Hindi), talks on Gurudeva’s teachings, and Kriya Yoga diksha.
As part of centenary celebrations, a public talk was organized on January 5 at YSS Dakshineswar Ashram. Srimat Kinkar Samananda Maharaj, the General Secretary of Akhil Bharat Jaiguru Sampraday and Pravrajika Amalaprana Mata, the General Secretary of Sri Sarada Math, were the guests of honour. In their talks, both the guests dwelt on the guru-disciple relationship stressing on the quality of surrender. Around 2,000 people participated in this public event.
The Janmotsav function was also celebrated at Garpar Kendra, Serampore, Telary, and Dihika. Several charitable activities like medical camps at Telary and Dakshineswar, school books distribution, and distribution of blankets, were carried out.
January 5, 2017, saw the ashram grounds filled with enthusiastic devotees of all ages unmindful of the cold, joyously taking part in Guruji’s Avirbhav celebrations. The celebrations commenced with a Prabhat Feri. The procession made a parikrama of the ashram grounds singing melodious bhajans and carrying a picture of beloved Gurudeva seated on a floral palanquin. About 2,000 people turned up to take prasad at the Narayan Seva.
The main event was held in the auditorium in the evening. The Chief Guest for the occasion of the centenary programme was the Secretary of the Ramakrishna Mission, Delhi, Swami Shantatmananda. The evening programme began with a brief meditation followed by bhajan. Sri Kamal N. Bakshi, a former Ambassador of India and a YSS Board Member, welcomed Swami Shantatmananda on behalf of YSS and read out the message sent on this occasion by our beloved Sanghamata and President, Sri Sri Mrinalini Mata. Sri Mrinalini Mataji conveyed her heartiest congratulations and blessings to YSS.
Swami Shantatmananda’s address reflected the reverence and high regard he had for Gurudeva, Sri Sri Paramahansa Yogananda. Swamiji said that the consciousness of rare great souls like Paramahansa Yogananda doesn’t touch the earth; they belong to higher realms and endeavour to take everyone to that state. He emphasized the importance of following the guru given sadhana with shraddha without which no progress is possible. Swamiji was presented with a shawl, a picture of Yogeshwar Krishna, and a copy of Gurudeva’s interpretation of the Bhagavad Gita: God Talks With Arjuna—The Bhagavad Gita.
During his address, Swami Ishwarananda pointed out that the story of the growth of YSS is a “love story”—the love of God and Gurus for the devotees and the devotees’ loving service to Them in return. He said that Guruji being an incarnation of love, the organization established by him is nothing but a manifestation of that divine love.
About 1,100 devotees attended the programme. The devotees left happy and contented—joy was visibly writ large on their faces; Guruji had tangibly touched each one of them with his unconditional love and boundless joy.
Yogoda Satsanga Dhyana Kendra—Mumbai hosted the inaugural programme of Centenary Celebrations by conducting Gurudeva’s Janmotsav celebrations from January 5–8, 2017. This was also the first time the Kendra organized such a large event. In a city where space is perpetually at a premium, by Gurudeva’s divine grace a sprawling venue of 30,000 sq. ft. was available at the Bharatiya Krida Mandir to conduct the programme. The venue was a mere four-minute walk from the Dhyana Mandir at Wadala.
Approximately 1,100 devotees registered for Janmotsav with about 200 outstation devotees joining in from all parts of the country. Nearly 200 devotees volunteered their services. Swamis Shraddhananda, Amarananda, Ishwarananda, and Sadananda, and Brahmachari Nischalananda conducted the four-day celebrations.
At the public satsanga on January 4, Swami Shraddhananda set the tone by speaking on Finding Love, Peace, and Joy to a large audience comprising of both devotees and the public. Many interested truth-seekers enrolled for Yogoda Satsanga Lessons.
On January 5, in his opening satsanga, Swami Shraddhananda emphasized the importance of developing attunement with the Guru. This event was followed by a press brief at the Kendra. Swami Shraddhananda’s interview was published in the DNA newspaper with the title Kriya Yoga In the Modern Day World.
A special event on the occasion of YSS Centennial Celebrations was held in the evening. Swami Tejomayananda Saraswati, Worldwide Head of Chinmaya Mission and recipient of the Padma Bhushan Award, was the Chief Guest, while Swami Shraddhananda Giri presided over the ceremony, which was attended by about 1,000 people.
Swami Shraddhananda formally welcomed Swami Tejomayananda and honoured him with a shawl, books of Gurudeva and a picture of Lord Krishna. Speaking on the occasion, Swami Shraddhananda lauded the contribution of Swami Tejomayananda to the welfare of humanity over the decades. He then spoke of Gurudeva’s childhood and his blossoming into a globally renowned spiritual leader. Swamiji recounted details from the life of the great Guru as enumerated inAutobiography of a Yogi.He spoke of how YSS had grown to become a large organization from humble beginnings in 1917. Swamiji also read out the inspiring message from our Sanghamata and President, Sri Sri Mrinalini Mata on this joyous occasion.
Swami Tejomayananda spoke about meditation and its benefits. He said that apart from the higher goal of finding one’s true Self, meditation also helps in combating the uncertainties of life and providing abiding peace to the devotee. He praised the role of Paramahansa Yoganandaji in spreading the light of yoga-meditation throughout the world. He recalled that he had read the Autobiography of a Yogi. in 1976. He recounted his meeting with Sri Sri Daya Mata at the Mother Center in Los Angeles along with his own Guru, Swami Sri Chinmayananda, and he had also visited the YSS Ashram at Ranchi on a few occasions. The event was covered by Doordarshan and News18 channels, and local newspapers.
The schedule for the four-day programme included twice daily group meditations, review of YSS meditation techniques (simultaneously in Hindi and English), Question and Answer Session by Swami Shraddhananda, and spiritual discourses in the evening in Hindi by Swami Ishwarananda on the topics Qualities of A Devotee and Guru-Disciple Relationship.On the morning of January 7, the Avirbhavspecial six-hour meditation was enthusiastically attended by over 600 devotees.
The sacred Kriya Yoga diksha ceremony was held on January 8. The Janmotsav celebrations culminated with the closing satsanga in the evening. Swami Ishwarananda shared his personal remembrances and the lessons he learnt while working with our erstwhile beloved Sanghamata, Sri Daya Mataji. Quoting from Guruji’s poem “When Will He Come?” Swami Shraddhananda inspired the devotees to remain steadfast in devotion and in following the Guru-given sadhana until He comes.
Throughout the celebrations, the sublime presence of the Gurus, their love, and blessings were tangibly felt and experienced by all. At the end of the programme, devotees reluctantly returned to their homes, with a renewed determination and zeal to deepen their own daily meditations.
Alongside Mumbai, YSS Centenary Celebrations and Janmotsav were also held in Hyderabad from January 5–8. The four-day function was organized at Arya Vysya Abhyudaya Sangam. The programme was attended by around 850 devotees. The programme was presided over by Swamis Smaranananda and Madhavananda, and Brahmacharis Kedarananda and Raghavananda.
The celebrations began with an inspiring satsanga by Swami Smaranananda on devotion and how to cultivate it. On the same evening, a public talk was organized to formally inaugurate the Centenary Celebrations of YSS. Swami Raghunayakananda graced the occasion on behalf of Swami Jnanadananda, Head of Ramakrishna Math, Hyderabad. Swami Smaranananda during his talk highlighted the significance of the Centenary Celebrations, and the yoga ideals as propounded by our Gurudeva, Paramahansa Yoganandaji. Swami Raghunayakananda reiterated the points made by Swami Smaranananda, explaining why it is important to focus on meditation, right activity, and behaviour for success in our spiritual life.
On the evening of January 7, a public function was organized with a special invitee, Padma Shri Dr. H. R. Nagendra, Chancellor, S-VYASA, Bengaluru. He gave an enlightening talk on Meditation for the Well-being of Body, Mind, and Soul. Using shlokas from scriptures and various allegories, Dr. Nagendra explained the futility of man’s life without the strong foothold of yoga meditation. Swami Smaranananda talked about the importance of being a yogi based on Gurudeva’s interpretation of the Bhagavad Gita. The talks not only expressed the necessity of yoga but also the urgency of it. At the end of the programme, Dr. Nagendra gave scholarships to girl students with limited economic means to pursue professional courses.
The four-day event included review classes on meditation techniques, satsangas, bhajan, and twice daily group practise of the Energization Exercises and meditation including a special six-hour Avirbhav meditation. The Janmotsav programme concluded with Kriya Yoga diksha ceremony on January 8. Around 50 new members signed up for the Yogoda Satsanga Lessons during the programme. The overwhelming response from the programme showed a deep hunger for God.
The service activities during Janmotsav included distribution of medical equipment which included mobile ventilator to Gandhi Medical College Hospital and 25 wheelchairs to Osmania General Hospital on January 2, 2017. On December 31, around 350 people were fed at the local Rama Temple in Tandur.
Janmotsav was also celebrated at all the YSS Dhyana Kendras and Mandalis throughout the country. We are happy to share with you few photo memories of this event.