We just returned yesterday from two remarkable weeks in Chennai, which were filled with many spiritually powerful events: the dedication of the new center; a large public talk; the first Kriya Initiation, and a retreat day at the center.
In February 2016 when we were visiting Chennai, Dharmarajan and Dharmini, the center leaders there, showed us an old building that they wanted to develop as their new center. It was more than four times as large as the existing center, but the two-story building needed a complete overhaul to make it usable. Trying to be supportive, but hardly thinking it was possible, we said, “Maybe we can dedicate this as the new center when we return in October.”
But with God and Guru’s help, that is just what happened. We arrived on Monday, October 3, and were lovingly greeted at the airport by many of the Chennai Sangha members. The public dedication of the center was scheduled for that Saturday, October 8, but when we arrived, the building was still a construction site. “How,” we thought to ourselves, “will this ever be ready by Saturday?”
Fortunately, through a friend of a friend, a gardener had been found who was also a devotee of Babaji. Just hours before we arrived, he landscaped and planted a beautiful front garden free of charge. The lovely lawn and flowering plants all greeted us and seemed to say, “Just wait and see. Everything will be done on time.”
Each day we saw little miracles happening, as electrical wiring got finished, inside and outside walls were painted, construction debris cleared away, new carpet installed, boxes of books unpacked, and a new altar set up in the temple. Through the loving dedication of the Sangha members, each task was completed beautifully. Only hours before the appointed time for the dedication, everything was finished.
The center is large and spacious, with many rooms: an entry and registration room, a counseling and choir rehearsal room, a boutique, classroom, several bathrooms, large kitchen, and a temple with seating for about seventy.
The new temple was more than packed on Saturday for the dedication. Leaders and members from all of the Ananda centers in India came to help celebrate. Sri Kaarthikeyanji cut short a trip to Australia so that he could be present and speak at the event. Afterwards everyone filled the building and outside garden, as people chatted and enjoyed a wonderful Indian meal.
The next day (yes, really) was a well-publicized talk given at a large hall, the Music Academy, with seating capacity of one thousand. Swamiji had spoken there at one of his last big public talks in India in 2013. Our topic was “Kriya Yoga: Gateway to Self-Realization.” An estimated 650 people attended, with over half of them brand new.
We began by showing the Autobiography of a Yogi video produced at Ananda Village, and a video introducing the two of us to the audience. A united choir with members from all the centers sang beautifully. The crowd was very receptive and attentive.
Afterwards, about fifty Sangha members gathered on the stage for a group photo — the same stage where Swamiji had sat alone for his talk there. It was a very moving experience, and one could certainly feel Master and Swamiji’s presence.
The next week included the first Kriya Initiation in the new temple, with about thirty-five people attending. Our last public event was a four-hour retreat day on Sunday, Oct. 16. The temple was packed to overflowing with many new people coming from the public talk. At the end of the evening a new “name plaque” was installed by the front gate with showering of rose petals and Ganga water. Above the “Joy Logo,” it read: Ananda Sangha, 9 East Road. It felt like the beginning of a very large, expansive work in Chennai.
As we were leaving, once again we were lovingly met at the airport by Chennai Sangha members. This time the eyes of our friends were filled with tears as we all remembered the remarkable two weeks we had shared together. All in all it was a divinely blessed experience.
Still ahead for us are big public talks in Mumbai and Pune, a weekend retreat in Bangalore, dedication of the new temple in Pune, and a retreat/pilgrimage in Puri. Thanks in part to your prayers, we remain healthy and happy. It is an awe-inspiring thing to watch God and Gurus spread their teachings throughout India.
With love and joy,
Jyotish and Devi
See more photos on Facebook here.