H.H. Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji Maharaj (Muniji)
International Yoga Festival 2007
   

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The annual International Yoga Festival, organized jointly by the Uttarakhand Tourism and Parmarth Niketan Ashram in Rishikesh, took place from March 1- 7. It was officially inaugurated in a huge ceremony performed by the hands of the Honorable Governor of Uttarakhand, H.E. Shri Sudarshan Agarwal. The concluding ceremony was graced by the presence of numerous spiritual leaders from Rishikesh and Haridwar.

This years' festival included more than 350 delegates from 38 countries across the world, including Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Romania, Kazakhstan, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, UK and USA and many more.

During the one week festival, the participants imbibed the nectar of: Kundalini Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, Meditation, pranayama, kriya yoga, yoga nidra, nada yoga, reiki and more.

The participants were blessed also with the presence, satsang and divine words of revered saints and spiritual masters, including H.H. Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, H.H. Pujya Sri Shankaracharyaji, Bhanpura Peeth, Swami Divyanand Teerthji, H.H. Pujya Swami Hans Dasji, H.H. Pujya Sri Sri Ravi Shankarji and Shaktiananda Ma.

Yoga is not merely for our bodies, Pujya Swamiji explained to the hundreds of participants, but rather yoga is for our bodies, minds, hearts and souls. click here to read Pujya Swamiji's full, enlightening article on the 8 Limbs of Yoga and how they apply to our lives whether we consider ourselves yoga students or not.

Inauguration - March 2, 2007

   
   
Pujya Swamiji welcomes His Excellency;              His Excellency bows to Pujya Swamiji

 

The Yoga Festival was officially inaugurated on the 2nd March by the hands of the Honorable Governor of Uttarakhand, Shri Sudarshan Agarwal. It began with a beautiful demonstration of yoga by the divine rishikumars of the Parmarth's gurukul.

   
   
The Rishikumars demonstrate yoga at the inauguration

 

Pujya Swamiji chants prayers on the banks of Ganga at the Inauguration

 

 

 

His Excellency the Honorable Governor delivers his address

 

 

 

   
The lighting of the inaugural lamp;              the Honorable Governor garlands Gurmukh
 

 

Pujya Swamiji leads the divine Ganga Aarti being performed by His Excellency, the Honorable Governor with the Respected Tourism Secretary, Dr. Sandhu and the respected yogacharyas

   
   
The Honorable Guests and Yogacharyas perform Ganga Aarti

 


Programs & Classes:

During the one week festival, the participants imbibed the nectar of:

Kundalini Yoga
Iyengar Yoga
Meditation
Pranayama
Yoga Nidra
Anusara Yoga
Nada yoga
Reiki
Shinto Yoga

The participants were blessed with the presence, satsang and divine words of revered saints and spiritual masters, including H.H. Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, H.H. Pujya Sri Shankaracharyaji, Bhanpura Peeth, Swami Divyanand Teerthji,  and H.H. Pujya Sri Sri Ravi Shankarji.

Pujya Swamiji gives a discourse on Yoga in the Bhagavad Gita

 

Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji gave a beautiful talk on Yoga and the Bhagavad Gita in which He spoke about the messages of the Gita and how they pertain to our daily lives, particularly in terms of the practice of Yoga. Pujya Swamiji also gave question-answer satsangs where participants opened up and asked so many deep questions, about life, philosophy, yoga, marriage and so many other subjects. Each answer was filled with understanding, insight and a great depth of wisdom.

Pujya Sri Shankaracharyaji gave inspiring talks on the connection between science, spirituality and yoga. He spoke of the revelations of the ancient seers and emphasized the importance of spirituality and yoga in our lives. He also gave   profound and deep question-answer sessions in which the audience was free to ask any question in their minds. It was truly an eye-opening, enlightening experience for all.

   
   
 

Pujya Swamiji welcomes Pujya Sri Shankarachrayaji; participants gather to listen

Pujya Sri Sri Ravi Shankarji came also and gave his blessings and darshan at the aarti.



The yogacharyas and speakers included Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa from Hollywood, USA, Shri Birjoo Mehta from Mumbai, special guest renowned Vedantist Dr. David Frawley (Pt. Vamadeva Shastri) from USA,  Sadhvi Abha Saraswati from Rishikesh, Dr. Mrityunjay Athreya from Delhi, India, Karin O'Bannon from USA, Sadhvi Bhagwati Saraswati from Rishikesh, Rohini Khatri from Hyderabad, Brahmachari Vishwa Pal Jayantji, from Kotdwar India, Desiree Rumbaugh from USA, Hikaru Hashimoto from Japan, Bhavini Kalan from South Africa,  Kate Towsey from South Africa, Shaktiananda Ma from Argentina, and more. Further, Mrs. Geeta Athreya taught the beautiful art of Indian vegetarian cooking!.

Some highlights from Pujya Swamiji's talk on Yoga in the Bhagavad Gita are as follows:

  • The Bhagavad Gita is the journey from despondency to devotion. Arjun began despondent and ended devoted! Through teaching him the wisdom of yoga, Bhagwan Krishna showed Arjuna how not to be despondent. Each of us is Arjuna and we also face so many problems in our lives. The battlefield of Kurukshetra is within us, every minute and every moment. Through meditation, through yoga we can understand that these undercurrents of battle are within us and we can learn how to take care of them. 

  • As soon as Arjuna realized that he was in trouble, that he was broken and despondent, he asked Bhagwan Krishna for guidance, and guidance was given. Whenever we go to God, sincerely, with devotion and an open mind and heart, we receive the answers. The problem is that today people take pills, drinks, and so many other things to take care of their inner battles rather that asking God.

  • In the Gita, Bhagwan Krishna tells us to fight the battle.

  • There are 700 Mantras in the Gita and every mantra tells you how to become a Yogi. But there are a few mantras which give particularly powerful instructions of how to embark on the path of yoga. In the second chapter, Bhagwan Krishna explains a few crucial aspects of living yoga in every aspect of our lives. 1) How to perform karmas/actions without attachment, 2) The importance of being steadfast in yoga and balanced in failure and success. 3) That evenness of mind is yoga.

  • In our lives we must perform action. We must not be idle or dull, but we must perform that action without attachment. Usually, we become too much attached to the fruit of our labor, too partial. Lord Krishna says "when you see me in everyone, then and only then are you serving me." For people who can really see the divine in everyone, then all their actions become divine. The fruit comes but it doesn't bind them.

  • "Be Steadfast in Yoga". What does it mean to be steadfast in yoga? Yoga means union, union with the Divine. Yoga is not just about postures. Being healthy is not enough. You must also be united with the Divine. To be steadfast in yoga means that whatever we do, wherever we go, whomever we meet, we are united with Divinity. It means we are calm, peaceful, loving, nonjudgmental, caring, sharing -- all of the aspects and characteristics that we associate as Divine. When we become one with the Divine through Yoga, these aspects become our permanent nature.

  • Lord Krishna says that in order to be a yogi, we must also be balanced in success and failure. Our problem is that usually when we have success we are happy, but when we have failure we are upset, broken, and even angry with God.  A yogi is not like a light bulb that gets switched on and off depending on success or pain. A true yogi is not broken in moments of pain or failure.  It should not be the case that someone makes a phone call and you are off, or you are on! A yogi learns how to stay calm and composed in all moments, in successes and failures.

  • Yoga is not only 90 minute class, yoga is every minute.

  • We have to be very careful also of how we behave with others if we want to really be a Yogi. We have so many desires and expectations of others that when these are unfulfilled we become angry. A yogi controls all those behaviors and expectations. Otherwise our body may be performing great postures but the mind, senses, and intellect will not be in shape.

  • We must also be moderate in our lives if we want to really be a yogi. We must be moderate in how much we sleep and also in when we sleep. Do we sleep so late at night that we miss the whole morning? this is not yoga.  Also we must watch our dreams - what you dream says so much about who we are. Yogis do not have scary or fairy dreams. These dreams come from the media, not from meditation. That's why before sleep there should be meditation not media!

  • And our eating - we must be moderate in how much we eat and what we eat.

  • Live a life of Parmarth "Live a life for the welfare of all, not for self but for all"

    Click here to read Pujya Swamiji's beautiful article on the 8 limbs of yoga and how they apply to our lives, whether we consider ourselves a "yogi" or whether we are just looking to walk the path of dharma.

Kundalini yoga class

 

   
   
Iyengar yoga class


 

   
 

Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa teaches Kundalini Yoga each morning

 
   

 

 

   
   
Shri Birjoo Mehta teaches Iyengar Yoga

 

   
   
Hikaru Hashimoto leads Shinto Yoga

 

The audience sits in the satsang with Pujya Swamiji and Pujya Sri Shankaracharyaji

 

   
   

The Rishikumars put on a great song and dance show as well, much to the great delight of the participants.

 

 

Thanks so much to Divine Souls Smt. Bellaben and Shri Yogeshbhai Patel of Tampa, Florida for generously providing the costumes

 
 

 

   
   
A beautiful camp fire is organized, around which Pujya Swamiji gives satsang and darshan

 

Aarti and yagna:

Yoga means union. It is union of the breath to the body, of the mind to the muscles and of the self to the Divine. During the day, the participants received classes in asana, pranayama, meditation and so much more. However, according to Patanjali's 8 limbs of yoga, the 8th limb, the highest branch is Samadhi - divine, blissful union with God. Through the classes and the teachings we were able to teach the first 7 limbs - yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana and dhyan. However, the 8th limb of samadhi was possible only through attaining that divine union! The easiest place for that is the evening Ganga Aarti.  We gathered together each evening (as we always do at Parmarth Niketan) for the divine Ganga yagna and aarti ceremony, a time filled with prayer, with meditation, with song and with divine communion. Click here to see the beautiful Ganga Aarti personally.

The participants - from every corner of the globe, from every religion and culture, from every walk of life -- all found the aarti to be a time which was so spiritually uplifting and rejuvenating. Click here to see the meaning of Aarti and Yagna

 

   
 

Participants perform Ganga Yagna and aarti on the banks of Mother Ganga, and sing divine, devotional songs, led by Pujya Swamiji

 
   

 

 


 

   
   
The yagna and aarti are beautiful and uplifting times for all

 

 

   
 

The aarti was one of the highlights of the day, as we all gathered together to pray, to sing, to meditate and to commune with the Divine.....even our youngest yogis loved the aarti!!

 
   

 

 

 

Concluding Ceremony:

The concluding ceremony of the International Yoga Festival was blessed, in addition to the presence of Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji and Mahamandaleshwar Pujya Swami Asanganandji, by the presence of Mahamandaleshwar Pujya Swami Hans Dasji, Pujya Acharya Balkrishanji and many other revered saints. It was a divine, sacred ending to a beautiful festival. The revered saints all spoke about how yoga is something that should be lived every moment of every day and affect every aspect of our lives. They spoke about how the very purpose of life is to get closer and closer to God, and how through practicing yoga -- alone, in silence, going within oneself -- one can get a taste of that divine connection.

   
   
Pujya Swamiji welcomes Pujya Swami Hansdasji and Pujya Acharya Balkrishanji


 

The concluding ceremony, graced by the presence of so many saints

   
   
Pujya Swami Hansdasji and Pujya Acharya Balkrishanji share beautiful words of wisdom

 

 

Other pictures:

Visit of Pujya Sri Sri Ravi Shankarji:
Pujya Sri Sri Ravi Shankarji came to Parmarth Niketan (he frequently comes as he travels regularly to Rishikesh for camps) and graced the participants of the International Yoga Festival with his presence and inspiring words at the aarti.

 

 

 

 

 

Pujya Swamiji welcomes Pujya Sri Sri Ravi Shankarji and applies sacred ash from the yagna at the conclusion of the purnahuti (final offering) of the Ganga Yagna

 

 

 

 

 

 

   
   
Pujya Swamiji and Pujya Sri Sri Ravi Shankarji discuss the myriad projects of IHRF

 

   
 

Pujya Sri Sri Ravi Shankarji performs the purnahuti of the yagna with Pujya Swamiji and the yoga festival participants and then joins in the divine Ganga Aarti.

 

Pujya Swamiji and Pujya Swami Pragyanandji garland Pujya Sri Sriji

 
   

 

Pujya Sri Sri Ravi Shankarji shares beautiful words with the participants

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Mealtimes:

   
   

All the participants enjoyed the sattvik vegetarian food which was a great sampling of traditional Indian dishes as well as healthy, continental cuisine.

 

Dining took place outside in the peace of the beautiful gardens, under tents to keep out the sun!

 
 

 

   
   
The beautiful dining area

 

 

 

Honoring of Yogacharyas:
Pujya Swamiji blessed all the yogacharyas with a special shawl, a sacred rudraksh mala and also a yearly diary which was provided by the Honorable Governor of Uttarakhand.

 

 

   
   
left: Dr. David Frawley; Right: Gurmukh and Gurushabd

 

 

   
   
left: Sadhvi Abhaji (Mataji);  Right: Birjoo and Trupti Mehta

 

   
   
left: Karin O'Bannon; Right: Hikaru Hashimoto

 

 

   
   
Left: Desiree Rumbaugh;  Right: Brahmachari Vishwa Pal Jayant


 

 

   
 

Pujya Swamiji also blessed all the participants with the sacred and holy rudraksh malas (prayer beads) and the diary of Uttarakhand. Each participant received this beautiful prasad and blessings from His hands.

 
   

 

   
   
Pujya Swamiji with (left) Gurmukh and Gurushabd and (right) the group from Switzerland

 

 

   
 

 Blissful yoga festival participants! Clockwise from top: Clive Mayhew and Eriko Kinoshita with Dr. Alka Patel; Julia Cavanaugh with a sister participant; Lily Bafandi and Satpuran Gealer

 
   

 

 

 

Group photo!!!

Pujya Swamiji with Hikaru Hashimoto and the group from Japan

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Contact Information

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Fax: (0135) 2440066

From abroad, dial: + (91-135) instead of (0135)

Email: parmarth@aol.com,   parmarth@parmarth.com

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