The year 2017 marks the completion of 100 glorious years of Yogoda Satsanga Society of India (YSS), since our Gurudeva Paramahansa Yogananda founded YSS in 1917 in a small hamlet at Dihika with an Ashram-school comprising of seven boys. Mumbai Kendra felt blessed to host the inaugural program of YSS 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 outside the Kendra premises. In a city where space is perpetually at a premium, by Gurudeva's divine grace a sprawling venue of 30,000 square feet was available at the Bharatiya Krida Mandir to conduct the program. The venue was a mere four minute walk away from the Dhyana Mandir at Wadala.
The tireless efforts, meticulous planning and sincere dedication of the Mumbai devotees turned the venue Bharatiya Krida Mandir - an open air sports complex into a temporary mini Ranchi Ashram, complete with a huge meditation pandal, booths for reception, accommodation, transport, publication sales, and a large dining area. Enough resting areas were also provided in the college building adjoining the venue for devotees to relax in between the classes. Mumbai devotees sincerely appreciated the exhilarating effect of this spaciousness - a special blessing from Gurudeva in this centenary year.
About 1100 devotees registered for Janmotsav. Approximately 200 outstation devotees came from all over the country, and about 200 devotees volunteered their services. Swami Shraddanandaji, Swami Amaranandaji, Swami Ishwaranandaji, Swami Sadanandaji and Brahmachari Nischalanandaji joyously conducted the four day celebrations.
Guruji's vibrations of love and divine joy permeated the atmosphere from the very beginning. At the pre-Janmotsav public satsanga on January 4, Swami Shraddanandaji set the tone by speaking on ‘Finding Love, Peace, and Joy’ to a large audience comprising of both devotees and public. Several interested Truth-seekers enrolled for Yogoda Satsanga Lessons.
On the morning of our beloved Gurudeva's birthday January 5, during the opening satsanga, Swami Shraddanandaji emphasized the importance of developing attunement with the Guru and quoted extensively from Sister Gyanamata. After listening to Guruji's voice in the CD, "Awake in the Cosmic Dream" the birthday cake was cut by the monastics, and was partaken as prasad by all.
This event was followed by a press brief at the Kendra. Swamiji Shraddanandaji’s interview was later published in the DNA newspaper with the title "Kriya Yoga in the modern day world.”
In the evening, a special event on the occasion of YSS Centennial Celebrations was held from 6 pm to 8 pm. 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 an audience of about 1000 people. This event was also covered by Doordarshan and News18 channels.
Apart from the morning and evening group meditations, the schedule for January 6th and 7th included meditation technique review classes (simultaneously in Hindi and English), a question and answer session by Swami Shraddhanandaji, and spiritual discourses in the evening in Hindi by Swami Ishwaranandaji on the topics ‘Qualities of a Devotee’ and ‘Guru-Disciple Relationship’. On the morning of January 7th, the Avirbhav special 6-hour long meditation was enthusiastically attended by over 600 devotees. Swami Amaranandaji conducted several soulful bhajan sessions throughout the four-day event. YSS sannyasis also personally counselled devotees between the classes, and guided them in applying Guruji’s “How-to-Live” teachings in their lives.
The sacred Kriya Diksha ceremony was held on January 8th where 89 devotees took initiation into Kriya Yoga and about 650 Kriyabans attended. The Janmotsav celebrations culminated with the closing satsanga in the evening. Swami Ishwaranandaji expressed his deep appreciation about the whole programme, and also shared his personal remembrances and the lessons learnt while working with our late beloved Sanghamataji, Sri Sri Daya Mataji. Quoting from Guruji’s poem “When Will He Come?” Swami Shraddhanandaji 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 program, devotees reluctantly returned to their homes with a renewed determination and zeal to deepen their own daily meditations.