30th November is always a special and much-awaited day for all of Swamiji’s followers and devotees. A stream of joy and excitement was running through the hearts of all the residents and staff of Sri Badrika Ashram.

Adorning the entrance to the temple was a beautiful floral rangoli (patterns created on the floor using coloured rice, coloured sand, quartz powder or flower petals), replete with balloons and hearts. As dusk settled in, everyone stood with lit diyas – lamps – in their hands to welcome him. The bedecked temple looked stunningly ethereal. Coming briskly down the pathway, Swamiji, dressed in black, looked effulgent like the shining moon of Karthik Purnima (full moon day or the fifteenth lunar day, which occurs between November–December.) The whole atmosphere was charged with happiness and devotion.

Sri Hari and Swamiji complemented each other in their attire, beauty and grace. The hearts of everyone, including the virtual audience, blossomed joyously in his loving presence. 

Swamiji started off the evening’s discourse with a poem by the renowned Sufi mystic, Baba Bulleh Shah.

Behad ramzaa dasda

Mera dholan mahi…

My most cherished and mesmerizing beloved reveals many untold secrets to me…

Quoting from the poem, he said that comprehending the Divine (Bhagwan) is not easy and becomes a possibility only when one colours oneself with love for Him. Transformation happens, as we start flowing in this stream of Divine love. Swamiji clarified to an audience listening with rapt attention, that to grasp the Divine through the mind is a misconception. It is love and only love all the way. Until love enters and permeates everything we do, be it the path of devotion, karma or sadhana, we can’t attain Bhagwan. 

Once a person understands this, he easily relinquishes the material world, because there remains nothing else left to achieve. The world then becomes a playfield, where such a person performs all acts with complete detachment. However, he cautioned against shortcuts for finding the Divine, as this most often leaves people vulnerable to exploitation by others, since each of us has to walk our own path.

He further reiterated that once one surrenders to the Guru or Murshid, one only has to walk the path shown by the Guru and strive to attain the Divine. One must be clear about attaining the Divine and not the Guru. 

As always, Swamiji peppered his talk with humorous anecdotes and stories, keeping the atmosphere light hearted, while delivering such a deep and profound message.

He ended the discourse with a kirtan, albeit a beautiful and unexpected one. He lovingly insisted that everyone clap and dance to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s rendition of Bulleh Shah’s poem, Behad ramzaa dasda, mera dholna mahi.

What followed was a sublime experience. Swamiji swirled like a dervish with grace and devotional abandon. His energy was palpable and contagious, and everyone, young and old, shed their inhibitions and danced, lost in surrender. At the peak of the kirtan, in keeping with  tradition, Raghu Swami placed a floral garland around Swamiji’s neck. The sight took everyone’s breath away. As the kirtan reached its crescendo, so did the loving energy in the temple. The divine rapture on Swamiji’s face and the love radiating from his presence drenched everyone in bliss and tears of gratitude.

It was an evening to be treasured, and the beautiful moments will remain permanently etched in the hearts of everyone present, physically and virtually.

If I were to pick the most important word from the dictionary without a moment’s hesitation, I would pick love. The greatest and most sublime of all emotions is pure love. It’s profundity renders it unjust for love to be merely classified as an emotion, it is a state of being, a transcendental state at that.

The more firmly you are situated in love, the greater the bliss; such bliss that is immanent in you will start emanating from you. 

– Om Swami