We would like to introduce you to the newest Swamini in the Bhakti Marga family: Swamini VishwaNireeshwariLakshmiPriya Mata.
Swamini NireeshwariLakshmiPriya Mata will be responsible for the country of Canada.
We sat down with Swamini NireeshwariLakshmiPriya Mata and asked her to share her story with us.
How did she meet Guruji?
Swamini NireeshwariLakshmiPriya Mata met Guruji in 2015, in Shree Peetha Nilaya - only one year ago.
When Phoenix (Swamini's past name) came to Shree Peetha Nilaya for the first time, she said she didn't know who Guruji was, didn't know that she needed a guru. She was coming to the ashram with more than 3 decades of walking down a spiritual path - one that had led her through Catholicism, Sikhism, Islam, and Zen Buddhism. "There were many paths, but to me, these were all like many fingers on one hand." She had prayed to God with all her heart, since she was a child, that He should let her be on her spiritual path.
One day in 2015, she went to pray, to ask God to let her be on her spiritual path. She felt like there was a shift needed, that her life was not enough about her spiritual relationship the way it had been going. She had been working in Toronto and pursuing spiritual practices as before, but it felt stagnant - something needed to change, but what, she wasn't sure.
A few days later, a friend of hers was talking with her, and brought up that she had heard about an ashram in Germany, where there was a master named, Sri Swami Vishwananda. This was the right opportunity, at the right moment.
She made the journey across the Atlantic, and almost as soon as she arrived, she was jumping into learning about all that Sri Swami Vishwananda and Bhakti Marga could share. She heard about the OM Chanting and Atma Kriya Yoga practices from the residents of the ashram, and started practising them as soon as she could.
Two days after arriving at SPN, Guruji came back from his travels. That evening, he started singing bhajans in the temple, and even though Phoenix didn't understand what bhajans were, or what the words meant, it felt right - this was the spirituality that she'd been longing for.
Swamini said, looking back on that moment, "He saw how hungry I was. I was starving for spiritual food. I devoured that food! I had been waiting for 37 years. When I got the chance, I started it right away."
The two weeks leading up to Phoenix's initiation as a swamini was a whirlwind of activity. She started the journey with the two week long Atma Kriya Yoga teacher training, which is known for being an intense process of learning both what to teach and how to teach the highest sadhana on the planet. Phoenix was enjoying the training very much, but at five days in, she was feeling overwhelmed. There was too much to do!
She went to his picture and said a prayer: that she would become the teacher that he wants, that she would surrender whatever happens to him, that she would walk his path. "I offered everything to him, and I said, 'I just want to please you!' I offered everything back to him, so he could deliver the message."
The next day, the AKY teacher-trainees each gave practice speeches. After Phoenix's presentation, people were impressed. One teacher trainer said to her, "Phoenix, you were the queen of the room."
Swamini spoke of her 'walk' with Guruji as being a similar pattern: she acts on her desire for God, for spirituality - showing up to do the work with a heart full of enthusiasm. She prays, and surrenders the work to God and Guru before it ever begins, that it's clear to herself that she walks in with no expectations. Then, the work is done, through grace - and it's often done with greater impact than anyone imagined it would be.
At the end of the AKY teacher training is a three-day initiation to become an Atma Kriya Yoga teacher. The day after the AKY Teacher Training ended was Shivaratri, and there was still much more to train. In those few days, Phoenix had long training sessions with many of the swamis: in puja practices, in the topics taught by the Bhakti Marga Academy, and more.
When Shivaratri came around, Phoenix had been told by the Shree Peetha Nilaya swamis that she was going to be initiated as a swamini, and had brought a suitcase of orange clothes for the initiation, according to their instructions. However, in her habit of keeping no expectations, even during Shivaratri, until the last moment, she kept the suitcase of orange robes locked in a room - not even wanting to look at them until Guruji initiated her, in case she would create an attitude of expectancy.
And the initiation did happen.
Two swaminis were with her to perform the ritual abishekam during the heavy snowfall of Shivaratri's celebrations. Before they began, Guruji appeared and instructed them to, "Hurry up, do it fast. I don't want her cold" before going back to the Shivaratri prayers.
When asked about how she'll spread Guruji's mission in Canada, Swamini NireeshwariLakshmiPriya Mata said, "I'm not concerned about how I'm going to do Canada. He's going to do it for me. I just call him in to do the job. The path is not my path. God is calling us on his path. Offer everything. It's not about running around. It's not about working for a paycheck. It's like Krishna told Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita, 'Offer everything to Me.' You'll see what happens."
After Shivaratri, Swamini NireeshwariLakshmiPriya Mata flew back to Canada and to Connecticut in the USA, to join Guruji in the beginning of his trip to the States, to initiate two temples. She said that on the flight back, everyone was coming forward to speak with her, to ask her about who she was, why she was dressed in orange robes, and to ask about the special quality that she was radiating. "People are very attracted to Guruji's light in me."
"When people ask how I am now, I tell them I'm blissfully full. I'm not happy - happiness comes from the outside. It can go up and down, so I'm not happy. I'm blissful. And I'm not half. Not a quarter. I'm full of this bliss. That's why I tell them I'm blissfully full."
Ram Navami is coming up shortly! For more information follow the link: http://www.bhaktimarga.org/events/event/ram-navami