Yoga Vidya's 25th Anniversary

Yoga Vidya has many wonderful friends in the world, who come here regularly to teach, inspire, perform rituals and of course for their own spiritual practice. Read about their special relationship with Yoga Vidya and their congratulations for Yoga Vidya´s 25th Anniversary.

Sri N.V. Karthikeyan

Sukadev and Yoga seem to have some intrinsic relationship.  Sukadev started the “Yoga Center Am Zoo” in 1992 together with Swami  Jnaneshwari (Eva Maria Mataji) on Hanauer Landstrasse, Frankfurt, at a ventage point where tram lines meet from three directions.  In 1993,  Sukadev’s friend Helmut Weber (Shambu)  from Munich drove  me to Frankfurt , to the Yoga Am Zoo Center, where we stayed on 4th and 5th May, participated in the morning Satsangas and did Paduka Puja. During my next visit to the center in 1994, we stayed there for 4 days from 13th to 16th May, attended the morning Satsangas and did  Paduka Puja  on 15th May. I again visited the Center a second time, on return from  Abisko in Sweden, where I had been with Helmut Weber for a week’s retreat.  During this stay of one day on 19th June, Sukadev requested me to suggest a name for  the Ashram/Organisation he was planning to start.  The adventure spirit of Sukadev was not satisfied with a mere Yoga Center but wished to have an Ashram to do more intense service to people, where yoga students can stay for some days and attend seminars, etc. And so he started looking for a suitable site for the Ashram.  When he asked to suggest a name for his would-be Ashram, spontaneously the mystic name ‘Yoga-Vidya’  flashed in  my mind and I suggested it.  Initially, he did not seem to be much impressed with that name.  Hence I suggested a few other names also, like ‘Yoga Niketan’, etc.  I call ‘Yoga-Vidya’ a mystic name because it is a mysterious combination of two  powerful words from the sacred scripture  The Bhagavad Gita.  In the Gita, at the end of each Chapter, there is a colophon: “Iti Srimad-Bhagavad Gitasu Upanishadsu Brahma-Vidyayam Yoga-Shastre ………………………………”.  Letters and words have immense power in them and when they are combined in a particular manner, they create a special energy or power, which may be positive or otherwise depending on the way they are combined.   That is why there is so much power in the Mantras which were revealed to great Rishis and Yogis. So, the combination of the word ‘Yoga’ from Yoga-Shastra and ‘Vidya’ from Brahma-Vidya became YOGA-VIDYA, the mystic name.

 From 1994 onwards  I started travelling twice a year  -  once in summer and another in winter.  So, I visited the Frankfurt Yoga Center again just for a  day, on 29th Nov., did a Paduka Puja and left for London on the next day.  During my visit in May 1995, I stayed at the Yoga Center for 3 days. The intrinsic power in the word ‘Yoga-Vidya’ had worked in his mind and Sukadev had chosen that name and so in the Paduka Puja done at the Center on 3rd May,  Sukadev asked for special prayers for the success of the Yoga-Vidya organization  he intends to  start  and we had a very touching Puja.  Though no suitable site has not yet been found, perhaps he had  the Organisation registered, as a prelude to it.  During the winter tour of 1995, I stayed in the Yoga Center for 2 days only  -  on 22nd and 23 Nov and did a grand Paduka Puja .  There was, however, no talk about Yoga-Vidya, perhaps no site was still found.
I  stayed in  the Frankfurt Yoga Center for 3 days in June 1996.  In the meantime Sukadev had seen many sites and has zeroed in on two sites. On 12th June, he wanted to take me and show  the two sites he had in view for final selection, of which Westerwald was one. He said that relatively the Westerwald property was smaller but in good condition, not needing much nenovation and so less finance, compared to the other site which was much bigger but requiring a lot of nenovation, time and finance.  Though I very much wished  to see the sites, we could not go as I had severe problem in my left foot ankle and could not walk. Later, Sukadev selected the Westerwald site, which was a right decision.

And so, finally, the time for the opening of the ‘Yoga-Vidya’ Ashram  had arrived. During my winter tour,  I came to the Frankfurt Center on 5th Dec 96.  On 6th evening we had a  Paduka Puja at the Center, attended by only 5 or 6 persons.  It was  specially  to invoke the grace of the Holy Master Sivananda as a preparation for the inauguration of the Yoga-Vidya Ashram in Westerwald, the next day.  It was very, very special.  And after the Puja we sent a fax to Swami Krishnanandaji  seeking his blessings for the Westerwald Ashram and got his blessings by fax early in the morning of 7th.  After the morning meditation session in the Center,   we drove ------  Sukadev, Sivkami and myself -------  to the Haus Yoga Vidya, Gut Hoffnungstal, reaching there around 10.00 am.  At 11.00 am the Inaugural function started, attended by about 50 devotees, with the usual ‘Jaya Ganesa’ Kirtan followed by a period of silent meditation and a short  talk by me invoking the grace of the Holy Master for the success of the Ashram.  We also started Akhanda Kirtan  (non-stop chanting) of ‘Om Namo Narayanaya’ Mantra from 12 noon to 7.30 pm.  At 6.00pm we had  Ganga-Puja, chanting appropriate Mantras and invoking the presence of Mother Ganga in the stream  flowing there, by pouring the holy Ganga water I had specially brought from Rishikesh and floating lighted candles in the stream  singing  the following kirtan:

Gauri Gauri Gange Rajeshwari, Gauri Gauri Gange Bhuvaneshari,
Gauri Gauri Gange Maheshwari, Gauri Gauri Ganga Mateshwari;

Gauri Gauri Gange Mahakali, Gauri Gauri Gange Mahalakshmi,
Gauri Gauri Gange Parvati, Gauri Gauri Gange Saraswati.

The majestic floating of the lighted candles in the stream was a sight to see even for the angles.

The grand and final part of the Inauguration  Ceremony commenced at 7.30 pm with a solemn and soul-elevating Satsanga.  Eva Maria Mataji lead the  melodious ‘Jaya Ganesa’ Kirtan, followed by silent meditation and then we had the  most inspiring and soul-touching Guru Paduka Puja, devoutly performed by Sukadev and Sivakami, invoking the Master’s Grace, which gladened  the hearts of the  assembled devotees. The Presence of the Master was intensely felt by everyone. It was a momentous occasion, never to forget.

Enriched thus by the Master’s grace and the power of the mystic Name,  the  Yoga-Vidya Organisation has since then been growing phenomenally, by the day,  thanks to the dynamism and organisational skill of Sukadev, and the band of dedicated seekers under his inspiration. It is no wonder that today we have three Ashrams and very many Centers spread out in Germany and  that ‘Yoga-Vidya’ has become a household name in Germany and a well-known name in the Yoga World.

Glory to Yoga-Vidya
Glory to Sivananda

Sri N.V. Karthikeyan

Chandra Cohen

Pranams  on this 25th anniversary of Yoga Vidya

Yoga Vidya is my spiritual retreat. Each summer, I leave my everyday life and enter the sanctity of Yoga Vidya satsang.  I think satsang is the heart of Yoga Vidya.  You won’t know Yoga Vidya without understanding satsang.

The term has several levels. Literally, it is “community with the divine.” The divine is anything of ultimate concern: it can be Lord Krishna or the guru or the Teachings themselves.  Community is our spiritual family. We share the divine in many ways not only with contemporary community but also with the long tradition of sages and previous practitioners.

Satsang brings unseen beneficial effects. It works even on those who don’t adhere or feel adverse to the teachings or practice.  There is a healthy spirit that attaches to any mind surrounded by others with positive attitudes. There is also a natural curiosity about meditation and other practice. Swami Vishnu used to say, satsang opens the possibility to something beyond the senses. Thus subtle impressions are planted in the psyche even without our will and when future conditions are favorable they can sprout.

But when satsang is engaged practice even for a short time, the divine, in some unmistakable way, uplifts.  First, the decision to come to Yoga Vidya is itself transcending of the worries of the world. Worries are immersed in a novel perspective - the bliss of yoga.  A special energy pervades. It’s the grace of practice; of good humor and good company; of deep thinking and attunement to God.  It’s the health of hatha yoga and vegetarian diet and eating only twice a day. Our lonely yoga at home bears fruit in the fertile soil of the ashram.

For staff members or residents, constant satsang is something much different. Daily karma yoga is like a pouch of rough stones worn on your waist – an example given by Leonard Cohen, the famous Canadian musician on time he spent in a Buddhist monastery. The continual rubbing against each other renders smooth the rough edges of the personality. It can take a while but suddenly one notices a dramatic change in self-understanding.

This anniversary of twenty years of Yoga Vidya gives us occasion to reflect on its value.

Glory to Yoga Vidya, its community, friends and well-wishers!

Chandra Cohen

Dr. Nalini Sahay

Yoga Vidya and me.
I came to Yoga Vidya in 2004 and have not stopped coming back since then.

My first experience was at Westerwald, I was there because Swami Sharadananda had invited me to give seminars on Prana Healing. She had to suddenly go to the States as her mother was taken ill. I arrived at Westerwald not knowing anyone and nobody knew me.It was an unforgettable experience as everyone at Westerwald treated me with affection and respect.I went for walks with any person who was willing to accompany me in the beautiful forests.Coming from India,New Delhi the quiet and calm of Westerwald took my breath away.
From Westerwald I came to Bad Meinberg and here I felt I had arrived to my second home.I felt the peace and tranquillity and the energy at the Chakra Pyramid Everyone befriended me and I never have been invited for so many cakes and coffee.

What amazed me was the coincidence in my coming to Yoga Vidya.I met Swami Sharadananda at the New York Ashram in 1981 and that was the year that Sukadev was at the ashram also.We did not meet there but were destined to meet in 2004.I met Swami Vishnu in India and he and Parmahamsa Satyananda were Guru Bhais.I told Swamiji that I met Swami Vishnu through Swami Sharadananda and it was interesting to learn that they were still in contact with each other.

The world is so small and connected .Yoga Vidya connects us all and when I visit Yoga Vidya I do not feel homesick as it is slice of spiritual India.
The energy and dynamism which is present here keeps us all charged and wanting to accomplish more.

I am so happy that I found Yoga Vidya and I am convinced that it is the blessings of Swami Sivananda on Sukadev and Yoga Vidya that this was possible.
I congratulate Yoga Vidya on its twentieth anniversary.
My prayers are with the Yoga Vidya family.

Dr. Nalini Sahay

Swami Saradananda

OM Loving greetings from London,

I first came to Yoga Vidya in the summer of 2003 on the invitation of my gurubhai, Sukadev. The weather was beautiful in Westerwald, and Bad Meinberg was still a dream away. In fact, it was so beautiful there that I ended up living in Westerwald for a year and a half. Since moving away, I return regularly to teach.

Life in Haus Yoga Vidya, with its intensive practice of yoga, is not like writing a thesis for a Master of Arts degree. It is a place designed to help you thoroughly regenerate your lower nature, if you are ready to give up your negative habits and behaviour, if you can let go of some of your preconceived notions, prejudices and selfish interests.
Good intentions alone are not enough, you must reinforce them with positive action. Spiritual aspiration is only the first step on your path. Without regular practice, it is difficult to change your life in a positive direction. This self-discipline does not include repression, but a gradual channelling of your lower nature.

Yoga Vidya provides a vast variety of trainings in the techniques for overcoming the inner obstacles, such as lust, anger, greed and vanity, that you may face on your spiritual path. It also provides a conducive atmosphere where you can be in the company of other spiritually-minded people and have satsang. By constant contact, you imbibe the virtues of yoga and begin to grow gradually.
Of course, some students are like petrol; they instantly react to a spark of practice. But most of us are more like wet wood; we need to make concerted effort to awaken our spirituality. My thanks to Yoga Vidya, and to Sukadev, for being there.

I’m looking forward to celebrating the 25th anniversary of Yoga Vidya – a truly auspicious occasion!

Swami Saradananda