Happy Birthday, Revered Swamiji.
November 30, each year is a reminder to be in gratitude. Swamiji’s birthday was celebrated gracefully amid great excitement on November 30, 2019. It was also his 40th. Each year, devotees celebrate this day to express their feelings of love, affection, and devotion towards their living Guru.
The countdown leading up to this festive day was power packed with many beautiful moments brimming with laughter and warmth. On the afternoon of 28th Nov, the temple was packed with devotees and villagers as Swamiji handed over sewing machines and certificates to the women trained at the Ashram stitching centre. He furthermore announced pension schemes for the elderly women of the village of Dudham and scholarships for the girl child in every family. The Ashram also pledged to repair the local school, build sanitation facilities and provide computers and training. The villagers expressed their gratitude and love for Swamiji, endearingly.
There were unforgettable experiences that filled everyone’s hearts with great joy and awe. The same evening saw Swamiji and Swami Vidyananda Om perform glorious bhajans together, synchronised in perfect harmony, making everyone come alive with their devotion.
The celebrations were very much the way our Swamiji is – graceful and simple, yet lively and full of laughter and wisdom. On the 30th morning, he was greeted with the birthday song, loud cheers and great applause. To be led into singing the Divine Sri Hari Aarti by Swamiji, especially on this day, was a sheer moment of grace, leaving everyone with an inexplicable, magical feeling.
It was on this blessed occasion that Swamiji announced the launch of the very first issue of the Sri Badrika Ashram quarterly newsletter- “Vaikuntha – the latest from Sri Hari’s abode”. The goal of this newsletter is to bring devotees closer together as a spiritual family and to keep them apprised of and connected with the latest news and announcements of Ashram related events and activities.
One of the most exciting parts of the day was when Swamiji’s mother, lovingly referred to as ‘Matarani’ and sister Vinny didi, graced the library with their presence and recounted fascinating, candid stories from Swamiji’s childhood. This was during the emotionally moving book reading session, led by Sushree Nishtha Om, who read out the very special chapter on Swamiji’s birth from His memoir.
Regular visitors to the Ashram are aware of Swamiji’s encouragement of talent and creativity. On this auspicious occasion, devotees came together to present him with the best of their musical renditions. Soul stirring performances set the mood of celebration throughout the event. There were stellar Hindustani Shastriya Sangeet artists who offered their eulogies to Mother Divine and Lord Narayana. Memorable performances followed, with devotees singing to Sri Hari and Swamiji, expressing love and devotion in their own styles.
The highlight was hearing Swamiji sing hymns in his deep divine voice. It seemed to everyone that he was serenading Sri Hari who appeared visibly enthralled. When prompted by him to join in the chorus of ‘The Shiva Panchakshara Stotra’, devotees sang along, with many falling into a blissful trance. He aptly named this beautiful contemporary version the “Waltz of Shiva”, for he said, the Lord’s whole existence is a cosmic dance.
Swamiji spoke about the significance of music in life, how it is the deepest knowledge of the soul. That sangeet is a ‘Sadhana’ in itself like Bhakti, where the musician becomes the music in deep absorption.
He went on to say that the essence of his existence is a life filled with love and is also the core message he wants to share with those who follow him – ‘to try their best to live a life filled with love and kindness, towards self and others., Swamiji expressed his gratitude to all devotees for showering him with love and smilingly said that ‘every day of his life feels like a birthday to him – a celebration of life every single day!’
In Swamiji’s words –
“When your existence benefits others, even one person, you have reason to celebrate. Whatever be the occasion, my preferred method of celebration is to be of some help; some use to those who need it.”