29 Nov 2014

First Bhakti Marga Thanksgiving with Sri Swami Vishwananda

During the third day of Babaji Celebrations, at Shree Peetha Nilaya (SPN) we celebrated Thanksgiving Day with Sri Swami Vishwananda for the first time. The initiative came from a group of nine American devotees who decided to come on a pilgrimage to SPN for the Babaji Day Celebrations.

Sri Swami Vishwananda arrives at the dinning hall and greets the nine American pilgrims
The American pilgrims were supported by the Kitchen team and the SPN residents born in USA and the following invitation was sent by the responsible of SPN Kitchen: “Tomorrow our guests visiting from America, would like to invite you all for a 'traditional' (vegetarian) Thanksgiving meal in the dining room at 14:00. Together we will share a meal together and give thanks for the past year that God has granted us. On behalf of the American guests, Bhagyshri”

Karan, a SPN resident born in USA helps the American guests to prepare the Thanksgiving meal

The dinning hall and tables were beautifully decorated with Thanksgiving motifs: fruits, small pumpkins, colourful fall leaves, berry stems. At the beginning of the feast, Sri Swami Vishwananda talked about gratitude, and how highly we should hold the people around us – not just during the holidays, but every day.

In the morning he had sent us a Tweet message setting up this kind of mood for the day, “Love and serve the Guru and the people as they are the direct image of Narayana Himself, as He is everywhere and in everything. There is only Him.” During Gurupurnima 2014, Sri Swami Vishwananda explained us the concept of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’, which means “the whole world as one family. It's true! The whole world is one family, because we all come from one place – that's Narayana. And each one is Narayana. That's why it is said, ‘Service to humanity is service to the Lord. Whoever serves the needy is serving Me.’ You see this in the Veda! You see this in the Bible! You see this in the Koran! You see this everywhere! The same teaching is present everywhere, emphasising that God dwells in His creation.”

Sri Swami Vishwananda blessing the Thanksgiving meal

The nine American pilgrims were invited to sit next to Sri Swami Vishwananda during the Thanksgiving meal


Sharing inspiring Experiences
Some devotees shared their wonderful experiences with Sri Swami Vishwananda, Mahavatar Babaji and Atma Kriya Yoga, while some of us were still enjoying the delicious pumpkin pie with whipped cream topped with caramel&roasted almonds sauce. It was a special time when we were literally delighting ourselves being fed both physically and spiritually.


The best highlights of the Thanksgiving feast was the overwhelming gratitude and appreciation for experiencing the beauty of how each person is divinely drawn to the presence of Sri Swami Vishwananda, to do Atma Kriya Yoga or to join the Bhakti Marga family (see testimony below). As Sri Swami Vishwananda said, “To get to know the Lord, He traces the way. He makes it happen. Because there are no coincidences. So, like that, the Satguru also appears in the life of someone when the person is ready. There can be any excuses that the Lord Himself or the Satguru Himself makes up to call the devotee. It can be through dreams. It can be through some illnesses. It can be through anything from anywhere around the world. From any corner of this world the devotee will be drawn to where one has to be. This is a complete trust that one must have - that in one's life when one is on the spiritual path and when one has found the Satguru – that God Himself is taking care of oneself.” (Speech, Gurupurnima 2014)

Testimony – The Magical Call of Mahavatar Babaji
“I met Deva (a devotee of Sri Swami Vishwananda from California) in a restaurant in Berkeley, California. And I saw that he had a pendant of Mahavatar Babaji. When I recognised Babaji on the pendant, I asked him about it. He turned the pendant around and showed me Sri Swami Vishwananda. Then I said, ‘Wow! I want to learn Kriya Yoga.’ And he said, ‘Wow! You need to go to bhaktimarga.org.’ He told me about Sri Swami Vishwananda and I just said, ‘Wow! I am so excited! This is amazing!’ So I actually went to the website and looked at Atma Kriya Yoga (AKY) teachings. It looked like somebody was coming to California to teach in a couple of weeks after I met Deva. This was in July. I called that AKY teacher in USA, Varahi, and she told me, ‘Well, the information in the website is not updated but two women that I taught last year are coming to Bellingham and they are bringing a friend to learn AKY. So you can come in a  couple of weeks.’ Then, it was just – literally after that, I got a letter in the mail from SRF saying, ‘Okay, you are ready to learn Kriya.’
This story has a perfect Divine timing. I have been a great devotee of Paramahansa Yogananda and really wanted to know more about Mahavatar Babaji: if he is still alive; who he is in contact with; I just wanted to find out if he is still active. I really wanted to learn Kriya so I got the SRF lessons for one and a half year and was just about to get Kriya, when I went to a restaurant and saw Deva. I talked over with my partner, ‘What is this? Shall I learn AKY or Kriya? I am so confused.’ He said, ‘You have to follow this magic.’ I felt that I was following the magical bread crumbs and I am still doing it. I learned AKY in Bellingham and that's when I knew that they were planning a pilgrimage to Swami Vishwananda's ashram in Germany, in November for the Babaji Celebrations. So I tought, ‘If I want to learn more about Babaji better that I go to the ashram.’ Then, later on, out of a sudden Swamiji decided to come to Bellingham. They called me saying, ‘You are not going to believe this! Swamiji is coming to Bellingham right before our trip to Germany.’ This happened just a couple of weeks ago. It has been a great blessing of opening my mind and heart. I feel like all the doors were opened and it was like ‘Bing! Bang! Boom! Here I am in Germany!’” - Jewelz, Oakland, California)

Bhakti Marga – A Growing Spiritual Family
Sri Swami Vishwananda also emphasised the importance of the spiritual family which God led us to. During his commentary on the Guru Gita he said, “In the Guru's family everybody becomes dear, which means that the Guru unites you all, from wherever you all are. This also means that all of you have been coming together for many lives.

"You may come from Russia, from France, from Italy, from Spain, from America, Latin America, Brazil. It is only through the Grace of the Master that people come together. The Guru brings everybody into one family. The Guru becomes the magnet who attracts all and holds all tightly, making one big family. This happens only through the Love of the Guru. Without the Love of the Guru where would you be? Elsewhere, no? The Guru is like the parent who unites the family together and brings all under one roof.”

After the Thanksgiving feast, Sri Swami Vishwananda sent a Tweet saying, “I was doing Thanksgiving with the devotees, reminding one of the greatest gift from God which is life. Be grateful for life and Love!”