|AHYMSIN NEWSLETTER, ISSUE - April 2019|
Sangha Gathering 2019
by Michael Kissener
Starting February 25th initiates from 26 countries joined in the 2019 Sangha Gathering in SRSG. We foundourselves in a very visibly improved ashram, among many other things with a new dining hall and kitchen, newly plastered pathways and much more.*
This nine days reunion of members of our spiritual family were filled with lectures, workshops and classes, meetings, discussions and guided and silent meditation practices. The event was especially marked by a 7 day yajna with Akhaṇḍa Maṇḍala Karam and Saumyā mantra.
On the first evening Swami Ritavan introduced and initiated into a combined Saumyā – Tārā mantra as the new community practice for the next 3 years:
(See below for download links)
The handout on Saumyā mantra given to all participants states:
Here just to mention a few of the programs highlights:
Yoong Ji introduced a Q+A panel with members of the Spiritual Committee covering tradition, sangha, the mission, and guru's guidance from beyond the body. Prior to the elections of the new AHYMSIN Executive Committee (Board of Directors), Shi Hong introduced the members proposed to the board. And Sonia van Nispen brilliantly summed up the results of the discussions and work groups.
The program was framed with an array of cultural evening programs:
Starting with an introduction into the significance of Shivaratri given by Pawan Mishra Ji, the celebrations started with the puja and offerings in Sadhana Mandir and SRSG's Śiva temple, followed by the recitation of the 1000 names of Śiva (performed by Swami Vedaji !), silent meditation, and a concluding puja in the nearby Virbhadra temple.
Here are some short notes and statements of some of the kalyana mitras about what they found most important or impressive about this year's Sangha Gathering:
"What were my impressions?
What would this Sangha be like? The first big one after our beloved Swamiji dropped his body in July 2015. Watching Swami Ritavan slip seamlessly into Swami Veda’s role.
Seeing the overwhelming number of attendees, both overseas and Indians, embracing his presence.
Starting from a beautifully worded, subtle explanation of AHYMSIN by our Senior Vice Chairman, Shi Hong, we were all reassured that the organisation is in safe and wise hands, and would grow and flourish with each passing year. His unforgettable, wise words just before the elections will always ring in my ears: 'Whether you are given a title or not, remember you have no authority, only duties (and responsibilities).'
And yes, Swami Veda’s presence was all around us - but Pierre’s inspirational video clips, so lovingly put together, brought Swamiji almost physically into our midst.
Ashramites offered dedicated seva, round the clock.
Discussion groups and open sessions, practice sessions and group meditation, brought Sangha members together in many ways.
Ahymsin family members offered sacred and scintillating performances.
Inspiring and deeply moving personal stories were related by several devotees of both Swami Rama and Swami Veda; enough to convince even hardened skeptics that our Gurus are always with us - we just need to reach out and connect with them.
'I came to Rishikesh to look for a guru', I heard someone say. But myself, I came to Rishikesh to find an ashram - and I found not only an ashram, but also a guru, a continuous parampara dating back to the sages; and with that a loving world-wide Sangha that is growing healthier year by year. I feel truly blessed." (Zia)
"Our inner strength increased because of practicing and being together during sangha days. We are inspired by observing our brothers and sisters lovingly working together to organize the event and to share the knowledge of the tradition. We got inspired by the energy, that organizers put to bring forward this event and they did it so beautifully.
One thought that stayed with us: 'You progress better if you make others progress.' (Swami Veda) It motivates us to share authentically what we have learned in the Himalayan Tradition.
"We gathered together from all over the world. It felt like a reunion of family and friends even though many of us had never met. There is definitely a special connection that was strengthened during a week of spiritual practices in the meditation hall infused with the loving energy of our tradition. A week long fire ceremony beautifully cleared our minds for our new three year Saumya mantra practice, to cool and calm our minds in these tumultuous times.
We had meetings to discuss AHYMSIN going forward. It is everyone’s hope that we can improve communications between our many centers. Stoma offered the wonderful idea of Meditation Tourism. We can visit each other for retreats or just attend each other’s programs through streaming. Hopefully the new Ahymsin website will have a page to share news among Centers.
Many thanks to Swami Ritavan and the SRSG family who organized a beautiful gathering and, oh yes, provided delicious meals. (I really need the recipe for the khadi pakoda!) Please treat yourself to a SRSG retreat soon, or join us in Minneapolis for TTP and a silence retreat this summer." (Georgeann)
Sitting in group meditations and having the opportunity to meditate in SVB’s initiation room were very helpful to my practice; I loved the short pranayama practices with brief guidance by senior teachers. The morning Joints & Glands Exercise and afternoon hatha loosened the knots in my body. Ashutosh’s three hour practice refined and reinforced what to incorporate and let go of in my hatha practice. His contemplative walking session was a highlight as well, being barefoot on the grounds in the sunshine amidst the blooming flowers helped very much!
I loved the yagna and being able to participate in the ceremonies with the pandits chanting the mantras. Even when not participating, one could feel the heightening of the mantra vibrations.
I loved the cultural programs of classical dancing. The dancers were truly mesmerizing and so beautiful!
I enjoyed the smiles and faces of each of the lights embodied in this global family. It’s uplifting to think of each of us around the globe chanting the Saumya mantra contributing to a more peaceful sattvic world." (Lori)
“This Sangha gathering could be the catalyst for a 'regional Ahymsin' taking shape in Europe, as a bottom-up process based on the felt need of the sadhakas there. This would add to realising Swami Veda’s vision of Ahymsin being woven from strong communities at different levels, creating one global fabric of individual, local, regional and global threads in which all sadhakas are lovingly held." (Sonia)
Many of us could feel beauty and joy increasingly radiating from the hearts of the participants, and a feeling that our worldwide spiritual community of kalyana mitras is becoming more tangible and the sense of community is deepening.
A great thank you to all the ashram's staff, to all presenters and facilitators, and to all who graced the Sangha 2019 programs with their presence and contributions.
Let's get together again in 2022 to deepen the spirit and experience of our connectedness!
[Pictures taken by Jay Prakash Bahuguna]
You can download the two mantras for this practice here, recorded at 3 different speeds:
* You find an overview on the renovations and new constructions in SRSG in Rabindra Sahu's January 2019 newsletter article.
** Find more information about the Saumyā mantra on the AHYMSIN website with following links: