Seeking Divine Company, From Home

Many years ago, I serendipitously landed next door to the YSS Meditation Centre in India’s capital. Up until that moment, I was still a newcomer on the spiritual path, and did not understand the value of group meditations. Soon, I started joining the Sunday satsangas, and entered the large family of YSS devotees. It made all the difference for this lone sadhak shuttling between work and home in a fast-paced world where she felt she did not belong.

Desperately Seeking ‘Group Med’!

I had often heard Paramahansa Yogananda quoting the words* of Christ extolling the virtue of divine company: “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Yet, I began to understand the true import of these words only after experiencing for myself the transforming influence of these Sunday satsangas. It is said that we value those things that are hard for us to get. So also, my appreciation of these group meditations increased whenever personal or professional commitments would become a hindrance to my joining the group meditations at the Delhi centre, which was far from my home.

‘Once a day, let us fix a time to meditate together – from our homes,’ this was an idea I would often find myself coaxing fellow devotees in similar situations to explore. While there were many who seemed eager to try this out, it was nevertheless a proposition we found hard to sustain because of our erratic work hours and multifarious demands on our time and energy. All too soon, our initial enthusiasm would fizzle out, like raindrops falling on a sun-baked pavement.

How fortunate are those devotees who live next door to ashrams and centres! Why am I stuck in a situation where I can’t make it to the centre on weekdays or weekends, or just reach on time with my little one?” Working from home, and bringing up my child as a single parent, many were the times that I complained and prayed thus to God and Gurudeva! I am sure many others like me, who were unable to avail of the protection of the “castle of group meditation,” must have churned the ether with their fervent prayerful demands.

An Answered Prayer

After what seemed like an eternity, the answer came, and how! Late last year Swami Chidanandaji blessed us with the Online Meditation Center (OMC)! Nearly 2000 of us, spread across different time zones in various cities and countries, joined Swamiji in a live group meditation via internet. Finally, we were able to partake of the honey of divine fellowship, even while staying at our homebound hive!

A Virtual Temple

The OMC is possibly the first virtual temple in the world, where thousands of souls are gathering in spirit to worship the one, omnipresent God every day, several times a day. Using the wonders of modern-day technology, OMC has managed to establish a two-way communication for devotees, facilitating participation in the “digital” group, just as we do when we gather physically. OMC has successfully employed digital tools to bring peace, divine joy, and the love of God to each soul-temple in the comfort of their homes.

OMC – A timely gift to all YSS/SRF devotees

As India, and other nations, swiftly moved into the ‘lockdown mode’ over the last few weeks to battle with the current pandemic, an unanticipated scenario has arisen. ‘Stuck at home’ is no longer a status shared by a few of us who worked mostly from home, rather by almost everyone now across the world! Moreover, for YSS/SRF devotees, it means that we will possibly miss out on visiting our ashrams, and temples, for many weeks to come. Perhaps the Gurus knew that the world was about to enter such a time! And so, they ensured that at least group meditation is taken care of – by the prescient launch of OMC by our President, Swami Chidanandaji.

Several times a day, as convenient to each one of us, we can literally “enter the temple of silence” with a couple of clicks on the website.

As we endeavor to help our near and dear ones, and our world family to cope with the challenging times we are going through, let us draw inspiration from the words** of our beloved Sri Daya Mata, “You don’t know how much you help one another when you meditate with other devotees. The vibration that is created supports and encourages each one.”

Could there be a better time than this for the wonders and blessings of the Online Meditation experience to be shared with the world? 

Since the lockdown and temporary closure of YSS Ashrams, Kendras and Mandalis across the country, YSS sannyasis have been leading online meditations twice a week. Devotees in India as well as from other countries of the world are also able to attend these.

Here are a few of the many testimonials that our SRF/YSS devotees from across the world have shared with us regarding their experience with Online Meditations:

  • “The mind gets stabilized much easier with the group meditation. Even if not physically together, this platform helped immensely to, in a real sense, transcend time and space. Today I was in a different timezone altogether in India. I just loved it.”
  • I love the meditations from India! It is wonderful to come together with our YSS spiritual family and share our energy and devotion. It’s early in the morning Pacific Time but if Master wakes me up I do it and I always appreciate it.”
  • Thank you so very, very much for your work, especially in these times of restricted gatherings. Even though it is early (4:40 a.m.), I try to attend the YSS monastic-led meditations. These have created a much deeper connection to YSS and I now feel I am part of SRF/YSS, not just SRF.”
  • “Greetings from Kolkata, India. I attended one meditation session. I am so so grateful to Brother Chidananda and Yogananda Seva group. I have become a YSS member two years back. I have been wanting to attend satsangas, but I have many issues (karma to burn) at home front that it becomes difficult to visit Ashram. I have prayed and cried for Guru’s guidance and help. It feels like He answered my prayers.”

Namo Namaste – I Bow to Thee

Now, with YSS sannyasis leading online meditations from YSS ashrams, those SRF devotees who have not been able to travel to India yet are also able to experience how meditation services are conducted in our beloved Gurudeva’s homeland. We often get this question from SRF members who are attending YSS meditations for the first time: “When the YSS monks lead the meditation services, they do an additional prayer/chant on the harmonium after the healing service and final prayer. Would it be possible to find out the actual words they are chanting?” As a closing thought, we wanted to share with you the words and meaning of the closing prayer used by Yogoda Satsanga students to close both individual and group meditations:

Namo Namaste
– Bhagavad Gita XI:39-40

I Bow to Thee
Rendition into English by Sri Sri Paramahansa Yogananda

To Thee praise, praise without end!
To Thee my salutations a thousandfold!
I bow to Thee in front and behind,
I bow to Thee on the left and on the right,
I bow to Thee above and beneath,
I bow to Thee enclosing me everywhere!

* (Matthew 18:20)
**Finding the Joy Within You by Sri Daya Mata