Ahymsin Newsletter: Yoga is Samadhi

A Tribute to Swami Veda

by Bhola Shanker Dabral and Joanne Sullivan

The Shodashi Bhandara (Great Feast) and Shraddhanjali Samaroha (Memorial Service) of Swami Veda Bharati

The 29th of July, 2015 was an important day--important in many ways. People from all over the world gathered to remember their beloved one, the one who is not physically there but lives in the deep chambers of their hearts forever. Traditionally, on the 16th  day after a sannyasin leaves the physical body, there is a gathering to honor and remember that divine soul/person. It is also an opportunity for the departed to offer food to many people in the way s/he might like to do were s/he physically present. In Swamiji’s case, he always wanted to feed sadhus and the poor.

The memorial service began at 10 a.m. in a large tent in front of the main building. This was preceded by a 6:30 a.m. pooja, as well as the ashram’s 7:30-8:30 a.m. daily meditation and, of considerable importance, the completion of 5 days of 125,000 silent Gayatri offerings by 12 priests and the silent recitations of numerous others. The final fire offering of the mantra recitation into the sacrificial fire is called a purnahuti. After the purnahuti, there was a ceremony of aarti and ashirwada (blessings). Later, many people gathered for the memorial service to Swami Veda which was followed by a bhandara, a great feast, for over 4,000 people in another large tent by the dining hall. Besides this, nearly 3,000 poor people ---beggars, wandering sadhus, homeless people, etc., were also fed at Triveni Ghat in Rishikesh.

During the Memorial Service, there were offerings of music and poetry. One of Swamiji’s initiates, Mrs. Jaya Bhagat of Noida, gave a reading of Tagore’s Gitanjali, Verse 63 accompanied by a quite soulful violin played by Shivananda of Rishikesh. It is a poem that Swami Veda liked very much. First it was said in its original Bengali and then in English translation. Here is the English translation of Gitanjali, Verse 63:

Thou hast made me known to friends whom I knew not. Thou hast given me seats in homes not my own. Thou hast brought the distant near and made a brother of the stranger.

I am uneasy at heart when I have to leave my accustomed shelter; I forget that there abides the old in the new, and that there also thou abidest.

Through birth and death, in this world or in others, wherever thou leadest me it is thou, the same, the one companion of my endless life who ever linkest my heart with bonds of joy to the unfamiliar.

When one knows thee, then alien there is none, then no door is shut. Oh, grant me my prayer that I may never lose the bliss of the touch of the one in the play of the many.

(from The Complete Works of Rabindranath Tagore at Tagore Web)

There was also a Vedic chant by ashram priests. In addition, Shruti Pushkarana sang a bhajan (divine song) ---Prabhuji --so beautifully, which always brought a smile to Swami Veda whenever she sang it for him.

Loosely, it means: 

Oh Lord, oh my beloved one!!  Never leave me! Lord, be so kind as to just rest in my heart forever. Without you, this world has no meaning.

Its more literal translation is:

Oh Master, show some compassion on me,
Please come and dwell in my heart.
Because without you, it is painfully lonely,
Fill this empty pot with the nectar of love.

I do not know any Tantra, Mantra or ritualistic
worship. I know and believe only in you.
I have been searching for you all over all the world,
please come and hold my hand now.

[from http://www.lyricsmania.com/prabhujee_english_lyrics_ravi_shanker.html ]

Here is a transliteration of the Hindi:
Prabhujee Dayaa Karo,
Maname Aana Baso.
Tuma Bina Laage soonaa,
Khaali Ghatame Prema Bharo.

Tantra Mantra Poojaa Nahi Jaanu,
Mai To Kevala Tumako Hi Maanu.
Sare Jaga Me Dhundaa Tumako,
Aba To Aakara Baahan Dharo.

[From http://www.lyricsmania.com/prabhujee_lyrics_ravi_shanker.html ]

Swami Ritavan Bharati, the new spiritual head at Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama, spoke twice, offering himself fully in friendship and service to the divine guru, the guru lineage, and to the friends and students of Swami Veda. He said of Swami Veda that such visionaries, such saints are brought to us for a short time to imbue our sadhana with sankalpa and that they bring the guru’s grace. With full devotion and commitment he said “…I bow at your lotus feet.”

Swami Ritavan also spoke of people coming to SRSG for the solace and peace that reverberates in every blade of grass. He said that the science of yoga is reflected in the truth that yoga is samadhi. He asked us to remember your breath and your mantra. He also expressed appreciation for the support he was getting from the kalyana mitra.

Swamis, mahants, mahamandaleshwaras, dignitaries and others also spoke of Swami Veda Bharati. The reflections of just a few of them are contained in this article.

Padma Shri Ram Bahadur Rai, one of Swamiji’s initiates, has authored many books and is a well known, prolific writer.  He said that Swami Veda Bharati was an exponent of the Vedas and that he was a modern Rishi. He also said that his knowledge of the Vedas and the meditative traditions of the world made him a unique master of modern times. 

Mahamandaleshwara Swami Satyamitrananda Giri has retired from being a Shankaracharya. The Indian government awarded him the Padma Bushan Award, a prestigious civilian award of India. He shared some memories from when he was a young Shankaracharya and spoke of his first meeting with Swami Veda, then a young pandit. He told the audience that a Shankaracharya always keeps a danda, a ceremonial stick that is an emblem of monastic life. He further explained that the danda is to be carried by a brahmachari who follows the traditions of Vedic scriptures. When he asked “Who will carry my danda?” a young man with a spark in his eyes spoke up.

“I will carry your danda!” The young man spoke with such authority and determination, that he caught the attention of the Shankarkaracharya, who then engaged him in Sanskrit conversation.  Swami Satyamitrananda Giri was quite impressed with this young man’s knowledge of the scriptures. That man was Pandit Usharbudh Arya (later Swami Veda Bharati). From that day on, his association with Swamiji held strong. They were very good friends from their youth into their later years, and they would often visit together.

He also said that the masters leave their bodies, but they are ever present in the hearts of the disciples, that although they may not be physically present, they continue to guide their students.

Swami Amritswaroopananda Saraswati delivered the message of Swami  Divyananda Saraswati, who is head of Rishikesh’s Kailash Ashram, a  Sanskrit, Yoga and Vedanta Ashram founded in 1880. He said that Swami Veda was a profound authority on the Vedas and Yoga Sutras and that such people are born only once in a lifetime. He added that we all have to follow the teachings he has given.

Vaidya Balkrishan, a close associate of Swami Ram Dev and an ayurveda expert, also spoke about Swamiji. He said that Swamiji was one of the rare saints of India who were fully occupied with the knowledge of Vedic scripture as well as being an accomplished yogi in the path of enlightenment.

Swami Devatmananda from the ashram of Mata Amritananda in Kerala said that Swamiji was full of compassion, kindness and love. He spread the spiritual love and compassion to everyone who came to him without any discrimination and that is the real path of yogis and saints.

Chaadar-Vidhi was the offering of shawls and flower garlands to Swami Ritavan to recognize him as the ashrama pramukha, the spiritual head of the ashram. The memorial service ended as many sadhus and seekers heartily greeted Swami Ritavan in this way to welcome him as the new ashrama pramukha appointed by Swami Veda Bharati.

600 to 700 faculty, students and staff came from Swami Rama Himalayan University. They were a strong and loving presence, and many assisted with myriad tasks throughout the day.

There was also much cooperative planning and work on the part of SRSG residents and staff. Before July 29th, all ashram personnel, residents and friends gathered for a meeting in which every detail was carefully coordinated from set up to getting the food to the sadhus and poor people in Triveni Ghat. We divided into task teams. Many guests also pitched in. Team leaders responsible for specific tasks of that day came forward to lead our large extended ashram family in making this an auspicious occasion.

Pictures by Jay Prakash Bahuguna





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