“A single flower blooms and throughout the world it’s spring.” And here, at Sri Badrika Ashram, spring arrives early, year after year, when Swamiji’s devotees gather to celebrate His birthday on 30th November. Flowers bloom in everyone’s hearts, as an inexplicable warmth engulfs the loving atmosphere at the ashram, despite the bitter cold outside.
After a long hiatus due to the pandemic, deprived from getting a glimpse of their beloved Om Swami, devotees visiting the Divine abode from across the world, as well as residents, greeted each other with contagious smiles. After the morning Aarti, with Sri Hari looking as glorious as ever in His lustrous and elegant vastra (attire), the excitement of Swamiji’s birthday celebration built up throughout the day. When would 6:30 PM arrive? What would the evening celebrations look like? Would Swamiji sing? What would He speak about?
Eager questions ran through the devotees’ minds, as everyone awaited His appearance. And just like the full moon peeks out from the clouds, Swamiji appeared, in His ochre robe with a beautiful smile and a glow that illuminated the hearts of His dear devotees.
He was welcomed into the temple, beautifully decorated with flowers and colourful rangolis, to a resounding chorus – ‘Happy Birthday’ – accompanied by the guitar. As He made His resplendent way to the front, the atmosphere bubbled over with joy, devotion and vibrance. Swamiji sat down to devotees’ rendition of love that arose from the deepest corner of their hearts, thunderous claps, whistles, cheers and yells of, ‘We love you, Swamiji!’ – much like a rockstar 🙂 Once He settled down, Swamiji stated that if, every day, we could lead our lives with the same amount of energy that had erupted in the temple as He walked in, it would indeed be a beautiful life: A celebration of life!
Answering the first question of the evening, Swamiji expounded on Mother Divine and one of Her names – Matrika Varna Roopini. Giving the reference of Maheswara Mahakalpa Mahatandava Sakshini, He explained that She was the lone witness to the Mahatandava and became one with the Matrukas as they emerged from Mahadev’s damru (drum) – and hence the name. When asked if She was the only resident of the Chintamani Griha (palace of the Mother), Swamiji shared that Lord Shiva, being Her other half, is always present wherever She is.
When asked about His most memorable birthday to date, with His usual humour, Swamiji shared that He has never been a fan of birthdays, but His most memorable one would have to be His first, as without that one, the others wouldn’t exist!
The official launch of The Rainmaker also took place on this special occasion, when Swamiji spoke about the importance of this beautiful book and all the others written by Sadhvi Vrinda Om:
“She is doing a great service to the world and, most importantly, to future generations by writing these books, as they are being written while I am still in my body. I can verify the truth behind these stories. It is very different from instances whereby stories are written by people after saints have long left their bodies, and unfortunately, those stories cannot be proven, and validated.”
Talking to an audience listening with rapt attention, Swamiji posed for photos with those who contributed to this incredible book, including Sadhvi Vrinda Om, Swami Vedananda Om, Swami Vidyananda Om and Vanika Om. He also presented a gift and thanked a villager who selflessly offered his land to be used by the ashram for parking purposes during the CM’s visit when the Meditation Hall was inaugurated earlier in November.
As is always the case with Him, Swamiji’s boundless love and compassion leaves those around Him in awe, and He did it yet again this year. Due to His time-consuming, ongoing Sanatan Dharma project, Swamiji shared that He had given up playing the piano for the past two years. Yet, upon the loving request of the devotees and much to their ecstasy, He sat down at the piano captivating everyone with His virtuosity.
Hearts erupted with joy as He started off with the Shiv Tandav Stotra, followed by a flawless instrumental rendition of Khoto Kharo, and was later joined by the audience in singing the ‘Jai Ambe Hare’ kirtan with utmost devotional sentiment. As the temple cheered at this incredible surprise, Swamiji made way for two devotees who sang beautifully for Him along with a fantastic piano rendition of ‘Aaoge jab tum’ by a young devotee.
“You haven’t lost but won.” Swamiji’s matter-of-fact, gentle statement to one of the devotees whose song emoted about losing to love, filled the atmosphere with renewed emotion and bhaav (devotional sentiment). These beautiful words are ones most of us can relate to when it comes to our beloved Guru.
The evening drew to a close when Swamiji, at the insistence of Raghu Swami, wore two garlands at once, just like His Divine counterpart, Sri Hari.
Before returning to His cottage for the night, Swamiji, looking ethereal, posed for photos with His disciples, Sannyasis, Sushrees and Bramacharis present. Joking that His cheeks hurt from smiling so much, He left everyone present that evening, soaked in the bliss and love of His presence and darshan.
Such is the power of Bhagwan, for no other celebration could sow seeds of transformation like the birth of the benevolent Lord.