30 Aug 2015

Gayatri Yagna

This year's Gayatri Yagna was a wonderful 24 hours full of beautiful prayers. The event began early in the morning, with Sri Swami Vishwananda speaking about the Gayatri mantra itself - not about its origin, as he'd spoken of in previous years, but of its use: how to chant the mantra properly, and how it benefits the spiritual seeker.

Swamiji then started the yagna, and throughout the day and night, devotees from around the world circled around the holy fire to pray and offer grains while chanting the Gayatri mantra:

OM Bhur Bhuva Svaha

Tat Savitur Vareniyam

Bhargo Devasya


Dhiyo Yo Nah Prachodayat

At the end of the yagna, many devotees offered a coconut to the yagna kund in front of the altar, symbolizing the surrender of our mind and its negativity to the Divine, so that we can realize who we truly are through the Grace of God.

The next time Shree Peetha Nilaya puts on the 24-hour Gayatri Yagna, you should definitely do your best to go!

It is said in scripture that the Gayatri Mantra is the Mother of all mantras. All other mantras lie within the Gayatri Mantra. Guruji noted that in the Gita, Krishna said, “Among all the mantras I am the Gayatri Mantra.” The four Vedas reside within the mantra itself. It is incredibly powerful--with the ability to give the full knowledge and wisdom--the embodiment of the Four Vedas, purify and liberate a soul.

‘‘यद्यथाग्रिर्देवानां ब्राह्ह्यद्धमणो मनुष्याणाम्।
वसन्तऋतूनामियं गायत्री चास्ति छन्दसाम्।’’ 
-गोपथ ब्राह्मण

‘‘yadyathāgrirdēvānāṁ brāhhyad'dhamaṇō manuṣyāṇām.
Vasanta'r̥tūnāmiyaṁ gāyatrī cāsti chandasām.’’
- Gōpatha Brāhmaṇa

Gayatri is Mother of Vedas. It is destroyer of sins. There is no other Mantra more sacred and purifying than Gayatri Mantra on this earth as well as in the heaven.

The opportunity at Shree Peetha Nilaya’s 24-hour yagna is special. A whole 24-hours' worth of chanting can be extremely tough, but here, at the ashram, it could not be more fun! The facilities are comfortable when you need to rest and relax before going back to the intensity of the celebration. The atmosphere of the ashram is unique itself, giving the proper uplifting energy to sustain the residents and guests. Once you begin to recognize the gift and power of the Gayatri Mantra, combine its effect with the energy of the ashram, the deities, and the presence of a spiritual master, one can see how incredible an event like this really is.

Sri Swami Vishwananda came to the yagna fire several times throughout the event.

Waking early the first day, puja began at 6AM to pray for the grace of the lineage, and to thank it. The yagna was lit around 8 AM. Rotating in and out, residents and guests all took turns offering a mixture of grains - hawan samaghri - into the fire. The collective effort allowed for this kind of event to take place. Musicians rotated in and out, and swamis and rishis alternated leading the yagna. Guests were able to freely move in and out of the event tent.

Everyone had the opportunity to offer alongside Guruji.

Some of the people stayed for impressive amounts of time! One person said “Oh man, since 9PM to 8AM I was at the fire! The energy was incredible. Everyone was on the same vibration. I could really feel the vibrations of these sacred names. The freedom we can feel when we do Kirtana Bhakti is amazing. The mind turns off and you just feel breathing and chanting. We should do it more often—chanting 24 hours straight!”

The festivities went from around 6AM to 9AM the following morning.

Another person remarked how “even chanting is made fun because we can chant to a melody and to a rhythm. It’s easy to fall asleep with twenty-four hours of chanting. But in this way, it’s made fun, with karatals, mridanga--many instruments, and nice melodies.”

The music was a wonderful addition to the chanting!

It is important to stress how these events at SPN can be life changing. So often, participants have experiences with the divine in ways they could never predict.

“What was unique to me is that we were able to sit at the kund for lengthy times. Rather than for a specific count, during the 24 hours we had the freedom to stay and go deeply into the chanting and offering. Most yagnas celebrations don’t necessarily offer this. I experienced this for the first time. ‘Oh we will not do the normal way’ Guruji said regarding the offering circle. ‘Sit as long as you want, a few minutes, one hour, whatever. Just change to what you feel.’ This provided a freedom of dialogue with Gayatri Ma. You could develop a relationship with her. There were no conflicts with the changing times.

“People were aware, patient, and tolerant of each other. We needed the patience to wait to offer and to complete the 24 hours. This was something special between us that lingered on. A tolerance and patience was left behind because of the celebration. No one was telling us when to change. This was unique in this yagna. Some stayed around the kund for a few minutes, some for much longer than a half hour. I witnessed harmonious interaction between us.”

The party was still rocking, even late into night.

A devotee had some very sweet words about the celebration.

“Each and every time you say the Gayatri mantra, it was like saying thank you to Guruji. Each repetition was like saying I love you to guruji. It’s a grace just to know the gayatri mantra. She was allowing us to get to know her better. The sangha was so special. Everytime we got tired, someone came to cheer you up and brought energy to sustain the chanting. It’s like a metaphor for our spiritual path.

“We need the unity Guruji speaks of. Together we just do it. The Love, for me, was what it was all about. If you love it, you just do it, no matter what. This is how the yagna was like for me. It’s also beautiful, the difference between chanting here and in the real world. Here, Sri Swami Vishwananda makes it more powerful and deeper. His and her (Gayatri Devi’s) blessing are very present. For us, it was a gift because I could feel like Guruji was asking Gayatri Ma to 'come and bless them.'

"Each and every time he would just close his eyes, he just had a smile, he knew Gayatri Ma was there, looking at us and showering her blessings on us. It’s all about Guru Kripa. That we could sit, participate, to just say the mantra. It’s all Guru’s Grace, it’s all Him doing it.”

There was a beautiful ending to the yagna. Guruji then led a sweet puja and arati. He blessed us, sprinkling all with holy water from Kalash Puja, and gave everyone Prasad water offered to Thakur. Curiously, the water from Thakur was scarce, but seemed to continually manifest, serving over 200 people out of a small dish.

Sri Swami Vishwananda dresses Gayatri, as She is manifest as the holy fire.

Guruji gives water to over 200 people of a small dish.

 “I know that I will be protected forever. The special Gayatri meditation which we did along with Him at the completion of the yagna has had a permanent effect on me. Every morning I awake with the sensation of the energy of Gayatri around His Lotus Feet.”

The long event was a chance to test one’s willpower and discipline. Inspiring each other to enrich the experience, everyone helped to elevate the energy. It was this collective sensation, this state--unity--which helped push personal limits in this 24 hour endeavor. Testing their will, strength, and endurance furthered people on their spiritual path. It built beautiful relationships with Gayatri and aligned more with Gayatri’s divine vibration. It developed one’s own abilities and deepened awareness into the Self.

Thank you Gayatri Devi! Thank you Guruji! Jai Gurudev!