A group of Swami Ambikananda’s most committed devotees, now in their third generation, have been living at Eithin-y-Gaer on the Welsh Marches since 1976. It’s an old farm house with a hanging wood above and rough pasture below, set on a steep hillside across the valley from Corndon Hill, a remote and wonderful place. In this spectacular setting Corndon resembles a vast landform sculpture of the Neolithic earth mother, a geophysical goddess who has witnessed so many unforgettable, amazing kirtans celebrated at Eithin-y-Gaer while Swamiji was on earthplane. Last Saturday, 30 August, the devotees came together there at the invitation of Sarasvati, who wished us to share her birthday celebration with singing the names of God, dancing, chanting, reading scriptures, eating and drinking, laughing and chatting, worshipping and meditating, and having an all-round good spiritual time.
Sri Ramakrishna’s birthday kirtan, Feb 22, 2014
This kirtan took place at the house of Mahayogini and Rohan, who provided delicious food and drink, and immaculate service. The beautiful shrine featured a life-size photograph of Sri Ramakrishna in samadhi, and many people felt his tangible presence. Songs and bhajans were offered by Tryambaka, Mahayogini, Sanjana, Gayatri, Shiva Shakti, Marian, Sri Lakshmi and others, and the atmosphere was both convivial and devoted. Satchitananda provided a tape of an address that Swamiji gave many years ago, probably in the early seventies, stressing the need for change! There were many of the younger generation present, the youngest being Leonard, the very recently arrived son of Bala Krishna and Jade. A notable guest was Parvati Young from Taos, New Mexico, who had been told of our group by Sambhu.
On Saturday 2 November the birthday of our guru, Swami Ambikananda, was celebrated at Glen Lodge with music, dancing, singing, chanting, eating, drinking and just plain enjoying. In a word it was great. Organized by Shiva Shakti and Satchitananda, the theme of the kirtan was the Guru, so it began with verses from Guru Gita and Mahayogini’s song to the Guru (see previous blog). The atmosphere was easy-going and affectionate, and the continuously flowing music was conducive to meditation as well as to singing and dancing. A lovely kirtan. Thanks especially to Shiva Shakti, Satchitananda, Gayatri, Sarasvati as well as everyone else who made such a great contribution.
On June 22nd, the summer solstice, there was a kirtan of the Universal Independent Ashram at the Narayans’ house in Lincolnshire, hosted by Mahalakshmi and Sri Lakshmi, with some assistance from Jai Narayan. Continue reading
The shrine room here, where Swami Ambikananda left his body 16 years ago, still carries such a powerful vibration. You could feel it strongly at the monthly retreat hosted by Satchitananda last Saturday. And Glen Lodge is a treasure trove of ashram material – there are DVDs of 20 years’ worth of kirtans plus hundreds of books annotated by Swamiji, notes, pamphlets, relics, images etc. Continue reading
Ever since its foundation in February 1969, devotees of the Universal Independent Ashram have commemorated with particularly joyful kirtans the birthday of our Guru Dev Sri Ramakrishna. This one, given by Mahayogini at her house on February 16, was no exception. Continue reading
To celebrate Swamiji’s anniversary, devotees gathered at the house of Mahayogini and Rohan on November 3rd for kirtan singing, reading, chanting, socializing, drinking tea and eating prasad. On this occasion, reversing the usual order, Yogini had prepared a sumptuous prasad before the kirtan itself rather than afterwards. Then the devotees listened to and participated in numerous songs and chants, some led by Tryambaka (who introduced a new bhajan from Ammachi, having just received her darshan at Alexandra Palace), others by Gayatri, Yogini and Sanjana. Beautiful music was also provided by Hari Om, Sri Lakshmi and many others. Altogether a memorable kirtan. Continue reading
For the summer gathering devotees made a bold decision to convert the shed at Glen Lodge into a kirtan hall. The creative energy of Shiva Shakti, combined with the talents of Sarasvati, Madonna, Satchitananda and Gayatri, transformed this severely functional structure, an unadorned space where Swamiji had worked and stored his tools, into a ‘Bollywood palace’, softly candle-lit and opulently decorated with hangings and drapes of many colours. A long table flanked with comfortable chairs and covered with cloths ran almost the whole length of the carpeted floor, and at the end was a shrine where images of Swami Ambikananda, Sri Ramakrishna and Sarada Devi watched benignly over the proceedings.
Mahayogini’s house was the scene of a lovely kirtan last Saturday celebrating the birthday of Sri Ramakrishna, the Guru Dev of the Universal Independent Asram. While he was still in the body Swami Ambikananda always ensured that these birthday kirtans were particularly joyful occasions, and they continue to be a key event for all the devotees. Saturday was no exception – the music was lovely, the food fantastic, the hospitality unstinting, and the general vibe entirely delightful. Continue reading
Swami Ambikananda liked his devotees to renew their spiritual lives at the start of each year. On 1 January 1996 he visited our house in Lincolnshire, accompanied by Satchitananda. Nearly twelve months had passed since his near fatal heart attack, and he now sounded stronger as he spoke about the recent kirtan at Atmananda’s house in Newbury: ‘Kirtan is not a joke,’ he told us. ‘God comes down and watches…’. Continue reading