It’s hard to imagine that we’ve been in Italy for nearly a month and that our time here is drawing to a close. The visit has been so filled with rich, uplifting sharing with our friends, as well as many public satsangs for community members and guests.
Indra and Benedetta’s wedding was beautiful and joyous, with his father live-streaming it via iPad to his sister in California. Sahaja from Assisi translated into Italian a lot of the ceremony for her family, who don’t speak English. Afterwards Benedetta’s father came to us with tears in his eyes, thanking us for giving his daughter such a beautiful ceremony.
In the last week of our stay, a few days before we left Assisi, a small group of us went to visit a rose garden at the foot of Mt. Subasio. Standing amidst the hundreds of varieties of roses, we could look up at the beautiful Basilica di San Francesco built from the rose-colored limestone of Mt. Subasio. The sight is timeless, eternal, filled with the blessings of the humble lover of God, St. Francis.
From there we went to San Damiano and meditated in the little chapel where Christ first spoke to St. Francis, and he began his mission. Being there is so uplifting, filling the heart with devotion, and reminding you that whatever God asks is your path to find Him.
On the evening of Friday, Sept. 11, we had the celebration for Swamiji’s spiritual anniversary in the Assisi Temple, and it was filled with devotion to him. Swamiji played a more familial role in Assisi than he did in America—most people thought of him as their spiritual father—and the love felt for him is very strong.
We celebrated the event on Friday night, because on Saturday morning, Sept. 12, we drove to Rome, along with a 50-seater bus filled with community members, to take part in a yoga festival there. The festival took place in a big, beautiful park, which was filled with booths, pavilions, and groups of people being led in yoga postures and meditation outside under the trees.
Our event took place in a large open-sided tent which filled up with over 300 enthusiastic people. The Assisi choir began by singing three songs, and then the program was introduced by Narya, Nandini, and a wonderful young man, Paolo Massini, who has been part of the government for the city of Rome, and who often introduced Swamiji. We gave a discourse on “The Teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda for Happiness” for about an hour, then answered a few questions and ended with a book launch and signing for the Italian version of Touch of Light, Un tocco di Luce. Everything went beautifully, with about 50 people coming up to chat and have their books signed.
Sunday night we had the opportunity with a small group to have dinner with the Indian ambassador to Rome, Vasant Gupta, and his family. They are all wonderful people, and he is a philosopher at heart, who reads the Bhagavad Gita in Sanskrit every day. He’s also written several books of commentaries on the Gita and Ramayana. We had a very good connection with him, and hope to stay in touch when he retires from service in March and moves with his family to Gurgaon.
Now (Tuesday) we are having a few days of relaxation with our friends in Ostia, a suburb of Rome on the coast. Our room looks right out on the sea and is refreshing and lovely. Ostia was the major port for Rome, where military and commercial ships could bring in supplies. Today we visited Ostia Antica, the ruins of the ancient city—it was fascinating, with thermal baths and amphitheaters still well preserved.
On Thursday, Sept. 17, we fly out to India where more adventures are awaiting. We’ve both remained well and are still going strong after a pretty strenuous schedule. Your loving support and prayers are certainly felt. Our prayers are with you, and also with all the fire victims in California now.
May God and Guru bless you.
In Their love,
Jyotish and Devi
See the full Ananda Italy Fall 2015 album on Facebook here.