The 2nd of April, 2024 featured a glorious display of sunshine as strands of rays intertwined with the red hues of Maa’s vastra. Her face lit up ever so lovingly, full cheeks welcoming with spiritual splendour the ashram visitors who thronged in hundreds to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Sri Hari’s consecration on the 4th of April, 2024.

The lawns were abuzz with excitement as every part of the ashram abounded with quiet activity. For many, the day commenced with their ears blissfully ringing, as Swami Raghavananda blew the conch for Bhagwan’s Aarti. Each note spun into one’s being like a heady fragrance as all swung to the tunes, losing themselves amongst the words of love for the Supreme. The meditation session by Sadhvi Vrinda Om, the one with an eternal smile etched on her peaceful countenance, followed the trance of the Aarti.

After an hour of spine-straightening divine rapture, the residents made their way to the dining hall, chewing mindfully upon the warm, nutritious preparations as they fuelled themselves for a fulfilling day.

At 11 AM, devotees settled softly onto the library cushions, some choosing to curl into chairs perhaps feeling in the comfort, the warmth of Her lap. They listened to Sadhvi Vrinda Om, rapt and awed at the workings of the divine. Each enunciated word from Sadhviji’s steady, gentle pace evoked deep gratitude from the hearts of devotees for their presence in Vaikuntha.

The Lalita Sahasranama began at 4:30 PM as eager feet scrambled their way uphill or downhill towards the temple, most having extricated themselves joyfully from the satsang they found in their walks to the gushing Giri or amongst the nets of shade woven by the ashram trees. The devotees sat in the temple, some eyes shut and others stunned open by Maa’s beauty, each name echoing within them, soothing their restless souls.

At 6 PM the temple was packed with many hues as devotees sat in a hushed wait for their guru to grace them with His presence. As soon as the clock struck 6:30, Swamiji, the very epitome of discipline and punctuality, pressed his pink lotus feet into the brushed velvet. His eyes brimmed with love and acceptance as He scanned the longing hearts – one subtle, momentary glance from Him enough to cleanse the direst of sins.

Each face in the hall was decked with an ear-to-ear grin as they chorused their answers to Swamiji’s loving questions about one’s food and well-being. The question-answers then began. The evening was characterized by the discourse spanning across a variety of different themes. Many a gem shared by Swamiji were as always, mantras enough to live life entirely and contently by.

“Every fear we face changes something within us,” said Swamiji, answering the question of a 15-year-old boy about the fear of being alone. “It helps us grow. It helps us evolve. It helps us get to the next level.”

Having been merciless with His mercy and wisdom, the discourse was followed by the Aarti and getting Sri Hari ready for bed, accompanied by melodies and bhajans sung to put Him to sleep, tying the ribbon onto the absolute package of divinity that the first day of the event was. “Pitambara vayajayanti mala, meghavaran bhuja, nayan vishala,” sang all, in awe of the lord’s beauty on his birthday eve.

The joy of the jaykara melted into the bliss of Sadhviji’s meditation session – contentment drawn across everyone’s face by Sadhviji’s enchanting voice leading us into Bhagwan’s mystical lands, where one is liberated from all labels.

The countenance of the devotees on the 3rd of April, 2024 was not unlike Bhagwan’s jyoti – lit up in anticipation of the celebration of Sri Hari’s consecration the following day. At 11, the library floors gently reverberated with Sadhvi Vrinda Om’s sweet tellings and retellings of the scriptures. All devotees were caught in rapture, their eyes holding the spark of who they truly were – the lord’s children, listening to His tales.

The evening set in with the densely sweet anticipating silence that marked the wait for Swamiji to grace the temple with his immense presence. Devotees cocked their heads, eyes wide and sparkling, faces blooming, as He stepped onto the plush carpet. He left on all hearts a footprint of unadulterated love. Breaths were held back and pranams spoken in a flurry of emotion, all eager to offer salutations to the lord.

The evening discourse proceeded with the usual Guru-disciple question-answer session. Curious hands were raised in the audience; seeking eyes fixated upon His magnificence. “How to overcome anxiety? Assuming it’s not clinical, one of the ways to decrease it is to strengthen your mind,” said Swamiji to the child who asked the question.

The divine syllables of the Vishnu Sahasranama at 6 AM on the 4th of April, 2024 posed a joyous call from Bhagwan as he featured a million-dollar birthday boy smile. Dressed in hues of dark orange, one could see how the reddened marigolds of the ashram must take from his form and colour.

At 6 PM, the blessed air within the temple walls quivered with the quietest of murmurs. All were anticipating the almighty setting foot into the gathering of the raincloud-hued birthday boy of Badrika Ashram, clad in black to match the lord.

The temple was utterly packed. Ladies trod gently across the low threshold with coy grace, appearing as flowers in Bhagwan’s garden that bloomed in all its glory, singing tales of His consecration.

And then, all breaths hitched, as the back doors opened, signifying the arrival of their source. A bustle followed as rushed alterations were made to one’s appearance and posture in the manner best thought to greet the guru.

And He entered. He entered.

How else could one possibly describe in human literal terms the frantic joy and pranams as he walked down the carpet, his feet pressing into the velvet slowly as a rising tide- accepting with careful consideration every single pranam, verbal or mental, given to him. He walked, gently, commanding, greeting his lord and adjusting himself onto his asana. All eyes bowed to his majesty and each heart fluttered with devotion for the master.

The evening began with a thunderous applause for the 10th consecration anniversary of Sri Hari.

“In 10 years, he’s never asked for anything,” said Swamiji, about Bhagwan. “He’s never made an appeal. And in 10 years, he’s never repeated a vastra.”
“We almost always need an anchor, something more superior. It never ceases to amaze me, his glory, how in simple things, he seems to shine through.”
“It’s entirely His medium. He chooses His medium. In a split second, the kings become beggars, and beggars become kings.”

The evening did not, however, proceed with the usual questions and answers. Instead, Swamiji gave his thoughts on various topics, starting with his announcement of establishing the Vedic Sadhana Foundation in the USA.

The second announcement was a phenomenal one. Swamiji unveiled the Sadhana tab. “For more than 2 years, we’ve been working on this – 25 people, 3 continents to make this.” Said Swamiji, glowing. “I had a vision. I thought, you know, when I created the Sadhana App, the idea was and still is that more and more people can experience the beauty of Vedic rituals and rejoice in the mental worship.”

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Having explained why He felt the tab was necessary as a modern temple, he further went on to talk about the manufacturing of the device and the different roles played by each member of the VSF team in making His vision a reality.

He then explained the four pillars of the foundation – Sadhana, Sangeet, Satsang, and Swadhyaya.

“The idea is that you have a device that is distraction-free, and something you can treat as a virtual temple,” said Swamiji.

Swamiji then beckoned Vikram Shastri, COO of VSF to share a few words on the monumental occasion. He took the opportunity to thank the team, calling it a massive team effort, with all the challenges faced in creating the state-of-the-art Sadhana Tablet.

The festive announcements were followed by a mesmerising performance of utmost devotion by Gandhali Om and Abhinav Om, who captivated all and made all eyes aglow with tears pure as their heart’s untamed joy on Bhagwan’s birthday.

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