Over the past several years, the Yoga Festivals in Italy have grown in size and importance.
Ananda has been involved from the beginning, cooperating with the organizers and making presentations of Ananda Yoga and meditation at both the Milan and Rome venues.
The Rome Festival is held in the large park of Villa Pamphilli, an area of 2 square kilometers of meadows, lakes, flower gardens and stately trees developed by a 17th century noble family and now the property of the city and people of Rome.
In an outdoor exhibition area, Italy’s yoga and Ayurveda centers and schools are represented, including The Ananda Yoga Academy of Europe. Over 5000 people attended.
This year Swami Kriyananda’s visit to Italy coincided with the Rome Festival, and he was invited to give a talk in the main tent on Saturday. This was a unique event in that all of the other presentations are yoga practices of various kinds. This was the only inspirational talks.
The sides of this large tent were open to permit the over-flow crowd to stand outside. Inside there were about 500 people crammed in, with another 300-500 standing all around the tent. The event organizers said that there has never been such a talk at the Festivals, with such a large audience.
The event started with two musical pieces played on keyboard, flute, viola and guitar. The choir sang four songs, joined by Swamiji who sang “Pace (Peace).” The music attracted everyone, and the exhibition area and other venues emptied out as people came to attend the talk.
Swamiji spoke movingly about Yogananda and his Autobiography, which has just been published in the original 1946 version in Italian.
Most of the people present had been touched by that book, and Swamiji told the story of how he was attracted by it to become Yogananda’s disciple. He remarked that had he read a later, edited version of the book, he doesn’t know if he would have been so inspired, since he was not interested in organizations or institutions. He talked about the book’s vibrational power, how it transforms one’s consciousness and life.
He urged people to always think of themselves as potential saints, sons of God, and never as sinners, never identified with their human mistakes. He also urged the audience to not be limited by their own capacities, but to let God into their consciousness and lives and take them to higher awareness and achievements.
Earlier that morning Swamiji remarked, “I think this is a very important day.”
His presence at the Yoga Festival and his talk have launched more than the Italian translation of the Autobiography: they have stimulated a new respect for Yogananda and a renewed interest in Ananda.
Thanks to our publicist’s efforts, many important people and journalists were present at the talk, and there were numerous interviews before, many articles were published, and others will be published. One well-known professor and author has just released a book about three influential spiritual leaders, including Swami Kriyananda.
Inauguration of a second Ananda center in Rome
The following day Swamiji inaugurated the new Ananda yoga and meditation center in Rome.
A shop on the ground floor sells Inner Life products (Ananda’s mail-catalogue and retail business in Europe), and the lower floor includes a large yoga hall, a meditation room/class room, changing rooms, bathrooms and an outdoor garden.
About 100 people crammed into the yoga hall, many standing or sitting on the stairs and in the hallways. The musicians and choir performed, and Swamiji continued with some of Saturday’s themes, including more stories about Yogananda, then answering many questions.
His presence and blessings were deeply felt and Yogananda’s power was infused into the center.
With Swamiji’s presence during this visit, a new era has begun.