Monthly Archives: March 2015

The Next Steps – by Swami Nirmalananda

Birth.  Death.  Infinity. 

The Next Steps logoThese compelling words riveted my attention in the prologue to a weekly television show when I was 10 years old. I now realize that they held the promise of my future as a teacher focused on the infinity part of the equation. Yet the Ashram itself goes through the same life cycle it names, having been birthed in 2009 and now in its sixth year of service.

The moment of birth is a compelling moment but then the real work begins. I was trained in the continuing support needed by a growing organism, first by my children, then by my Guru and now by the yogis and teachers that I serve. Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram needs the same kind of support, including a financial lifeline that keeps it alive. You provide that lifeline.

We’re shifting gears just parents who watch their child begin school.  We’re no longer changing diapers, now managing the many tasks needed in a busy day, as the Ashram moves into “Vishnu mode.” Our February yaj~na (fire ceremony) in Ganeshpuri was dedicated to Vishnu the nurturing force and sustaining power of the Divine.

What does it take to keep an Ashram going?  The phones and emails need to be answered, the programs housed and taught, and yogis informed, enrolled and inspired to do more yoga.  There are articles and E-Letters to be written, new courses to be designed and presented, free programs to offer (both in-person and on the phone). Meals must be served and cleaned up from, plus the cleaning that comes from having a lot of traffic moving through every room we occupy. I cannot do all of these things, I confess, along with shoveling the snow or mowing the lawn. Funding this Divine work means you are taking care – not only of the teacher – but also of everyone who comes to study here. Their upliftment uplifts the whole world.

The Next Steps is our focus for our spring fundraising campaign.  We need your support. Yet you are likely to find that the Ashram’s next steps synchronize perfectly with your own.  Especially, your monthly donations provide a steady stream of funding that makes us able to plan for your future.  Please offer a one-time donation or pledge a monthly gift in any of these donation categories;

  • Swami Support – supporting me personally & my work in the world
  • Free Programs – supporting free programs (in-person, telephone & online services)
  • Next Generation – training teachers (for poses as well as meditation)
  • Mother Ship – supporting our home base (buildings, computers & other infrastructure)

It is a profound privilege to share the bhasma (sacred ash) from our Vishnu yaj~na as a thank you gift to yogis who increase their monthly donation or begin a new one. As an alternative, you may choose the japa (mantra repetition) recording I made last year for your thank you.

Donate at or call us at 610.644.7555. Every gift, of any size and frequency, makes a difference. Thank you.

OM svaroopa svasvabhava.h namo nama.h

Comings & Goings

Kevin Maloney

Kevin Maloney

Welcome to Kevin Maloney, our new Business Manager, who joins us at the beginning of April. He brings over 20 years of management experience with him and looks forward to applying it to a spiritual organization, especially with his deep meditation practice already well established. Kevin writes,

It is with deep appreciation and gratitude that I come to fill the role as Business Manager at Svaroopa. I feel my past experience, on a business level and on a personal level, have laid the groundwork well for my coming on board. Knowing I will be committing my time to helping an organization with the ideals that encompass Svaroopa is a great motivator. I look forward to meeting the challenges and rewards that lie ahead, and doing so in partnership with a great team.

Jayaa Julia Djaic

Jayaa Julia Djaic

Congratulations to Jayaa (Julia) Djaic, our newest Teacher Trainer! Based in Brisbane, Jayaa has been supporting Janaki with the Foundations course for several years, and put her pedal to the metal in the last year to intern both in the USA and in Australia. It’s a pleasure to announce her as a Foundations Teacher Trainer. She says,

I am grateful for the opportunity to serve both Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram and the Australian Svaroopa® yoga community. I am looking forward to expanding the reach of Svaroopa® yoga starting with Melbourne later this year, as we continue to attract more Foundations graduates and hopefully bring Level 1 to Australia again in 2016. It is an honor to present the teachings in this way, I look forward to being a part of igniting the fire within for up and coming teachers, as my teachers have done for me.

Asia Simmons-Chulan (1)

Asia Simmons-Chulan

We’ve also welcomed Asia Simmons-Chulan in our Guest Services; she takes care of your meals and housing plans as well as your Ashram lunches, course handouts, airport shuttle, shop purchases and shipping. Darin Graybeal is our new bookkeeper, replacing Lindsay Dittbrenner. Darin operates her own business offering bookkeeping services and brings many years of experience in multiple industries. We’re grateful to have her skills supporting our students.

To Be Able to Give Back – by Swami Nirmalananda

It started about two years ago, with lots of new FaceBook friends from India. At first I didn’t know if they were residing in America or in India, but correspondence with several of them told me that they are finding me from their home in yoga’s native land. Now half of my FaceBook friends are Indian. How sweet!

I asked an Indian, “Why are they visiting SVA’s website and friending me, an American girl, who owes everything to their native land.” He said, “They have a spiritual hunger, which is not available in their Westernized lives.” How true. East and West have met and switched sides, each looking for what the other has.

I experienced this first-hand last week in Ganeshpuri. In our retreat, I gave 2 hours of teachings every day, but those satsangs were limited to retreatants alone. Yet the tradition of public satsang is very strong, so I offered two special satsangs for village residents and other visitors (as well as retreatants).

It was such an honor to be able to give back! I could offer them Nityananda’s teachings, though in a foreign language because I don’t speak Marathi. Yet they clearly got benefit from my English discourse, nodding and smiling at the right places. When they came to me for darshan, a few of them let me know that they didn’t speak English but they got something anyway. Of course! It is Nityananda’s Grace; Baba always made that clear to us. I’m merely serving that river of Grace in the best way that I can.

One couple from a nearby city (4 hours away by car) delayed their return home. They’d planned on leaving at 10 am, but satsang wasn’t until 4 pm, so they waited. Leaving satsang after 6 pm, I knew they would not arrive home until quite late, so I was concerned for their welfare and grateful for their attendance. Someone had given me a gift of Nityananda’s photo, so I pressed it into their hands. They were deeply touched and asked for a photo of me as well. I gave them each a mantra card.

So I gave them the mantra, in the sacred town of Ganeshpuri, on a mantra card printed in America, with teachings in English – when the mantra came from Nityananda. Full circle. How it touches my heart to be able to give back.nDSC_0229

Blog:  Concentrated Divinity — by Vidyadevi Stillman

The Divine is everything, is everywhere, all pervasive, yet it seems to be more concentrated here in Ganeshpuri, particularly during Shivaratri.   Sitting in Nityananda’s Maha Samadhi Shrine from 4- 6 am there was total concentration and saturation of the Divine.

It was made more tangible by the filling of my senses with the Divine.  There was the divine taste of chai still in my mouth.  Chai is definitely concentrated divinity!

camphor flame aratiThere was the divine smell of camphor as the priests waved it around Nityananda making a mystical haze.

My ears were filled with the sacred sounds of chanting from the priests inside the temple and people in the temple next door.

There were the divine sounds of the drums, cymbals, conch etc.

There was the divine touch of the cool morning breeze on my skin as it came through the side door.

I was not just getting bathed in Divinity, but getting drenched.  The outside was soaking in and drawing me deeper and deeper inside to experience my own Divinity- my own Self.

Anything is Possible.. Even the Impossible — by Kaura Grant

After only one week in Ganeshpuri India, from Calgary Canada, I wrote, “What an amazing experience so far.”

I had many opportunities to explore and experience my own spirituality, from abhishek at 4:30 each morning to honor Nityananda, contemplations and meditations, asana  practices, satsangs and just walking the streets and shops, observing the friendly people that live here and respecting their culture and beliefs.

As a newer Svaroopi in the group, I still have much to learn. There has been so much support within our community and each person has helped me with processing the ”process” of finding and honoring the Blissful Source within myself.

One of the things I’ve learned in Ganeshpuri is that  “anything is possible; even the impossible,” a sort of mantra I heard from our wise and hospitable tour manager, named Iqbal.

To be able to attain a sense of peace and a glimpse of enlightenment seemed impossible to me only a few years ago, but now I am learning how to access the Grace and Consciousness that is within each of us, facilitated by traditions and rituals such as the yaj~na fire ceremony, and chanting the Guru Gita.

gurudev siddha peethChanting the Guru Gita at Gurudev Siddha Peeth seemed surreal. The Ashram had such a peaceful environment; it was so beautiful to see all the people gathered together for the same purpose — reciting the sacred text to honor the One Guru, The Self — the Source, That which resides in each of us.

The lights were dimly lit, casting a glowing radiance in the hall. I took a breath and waited in silent anticipation for the chanting to begin. Within a few moments, I heard the serene melody of a flute followed by the rhythmic beat of a drum and the hum of the harmonium preparing all of us for the spiritual practice of chanting the Guru Gita.

The vibrations in my heart supported me in my own chanting, as I sensed the energy of Ganeshpuri coursing through my body, yet grounding me at the same time. I saluted the Guru—the embodiment of being, consciousness and bliss. Hearing the men and women rhythmically and melodiously chanting took me inside myself to feel and experience the love, the bliss, and Grace of the Guru within myself…inside and outside.  I feel full. I feel grateful.  I feel the power and Grace imbibed in Ganeshpuri within myself. Anything is possible….

Pauses — by Gail Hinchcliffe

Early in our retreat, Swamiji advised, “Pauses are built into life, the divine space between the two.” This pause is more conscious for me as the days pass. The pause between inhale and exhale, an opportunity to increase awareness. The pause between sides, an opportunity to reflect on the impact of a pose.

Being conscious of “pause” melted into another one from Swamiji, “Do more listening than talking.” I feel this is more than listening with ears. It’s listening with heart, listening to myself.

There are the daily walks along the road from Rosie’s, my temporary home here: to and from the temple in the morning, to and from the meditation tent for the sweetness of chanting the Guru Gita followed by yoga class, to and from the tent again in the afternoon for satsang. The same road back and forth each day, time for pause and listening.

There is a special sweetness at 4 am. It’s dark and cool. With a caressing breeze. It’s quiet with only a few indications of others starting to rise. Just a little traffic on the dusty road. A little pause before the business of the day. It’s a good time for prayer and centering intentions for the rest of the day, a chance to go a bit deeper.

Returning home from temple around 6:30 am, it is still dark. Shop keepers are sweeping their entrances, cooking fires are being kindled.

There’s more vehicle traffic. Roosters crow, crows caw. The rising sun reflects warm glows of pink and purple in the early morning smoke and dust. Tops of trees fringe the eastern sky like lace. The chanting from the temple rests easy within me and nourishes me as I use this pause to reflect and listen to the wisdom of Swamiji’s words.

On the road again just before 8 am. The sun is higher but it’s still cool. Breakfast stands are opening and wonderful aromas tempt. I see and hear more when I’m not talking or allowing myself to be distracted from the moment. Talking can cheat me out of a pause.

road in Ganeshpuri with peopleThe road after lunch is longer and hotter. No shade. Light dust and smoke float in the still, hot air. I walk even slower to conserve energy. After the afternoon recess the road has blessings of shade and the promise that soon the heat will abate.

I am filled with bubbles of joy. The pauses have been a gift to deepen my reflections and build devotion to the Guru. Listening with my heart grows greater devotion to the Guru.

There is a solid community of us back in Calgary. Ganeshpuri, however, provides a wider perspective on the rootedness of the chants and principle of the Guru in ancient times. The Grace is more solid.

Om Namah Shivaya