[As always, Nutan Swamiji was hosted in the homes of devotees during his Sadhana Shibiram in USA: Anuradha and Pankaj Bhatia hosted in Virginia, Deepa and Sajeev Nair in Columbus (Ohio), Shanthi and Natarajan along with their daughter Hasini in Irvine (Orange County, Southern Califor nia), Poorna and Nilesh Kumar in East Bay Area (California).]
VIRGINIA – Anuradha Bhatia
Challenges met with High Spirits
The two long years of the pandemic perhaps had intensified the longing in our hearts to have Nutan Swamiji amidst us, to guide and uplift us. Even though the schedule was finalized a bit late, it didn’t deter anyone from plunging into action head-on and start preparing for the public programmes and setting up the house for Swamiji.
Challenges began when Pankaj, who was in Ashram to escort Swamiji in the long Transatlantic flight, fell sick with what all of us hoped to be a flu, but turned out to be Covid! Within a few hours of landing in DC, he quarantined himself in a nearby hotel to ensure Swamiji and everyone remained safe.
That was a bit of a bumpy start! However, Ram and Santhi, Bharat, Lila-ji, and others stepped up to the occasion and Ram and Santhi came to stay for a week, until Pankaj was back. Their readiness marked with cheerfulness throughout the stay, reflected their flexibility and devotion. Jñāna Yajñas bring in their fold all kinds of challenges coursing through which with the grace of Poojya Swamiji, we always grow.
Public Talks and Satsangs
The first event on September 24 and 25 at Frying Pan Community Hall was meant to be a youth programme. The virus still hovering around restricted the number of participants and there was hardly any young adult except the two MCs – Akshaya (from New Jersey) and Sampada (from California). Yet, Swamiji’s outlook reflected the spiritual principle of being in harmony with whatever comes, as he remarked: “Even if there is only one participant, I won’t be disappointed.”
Nutan Swamiji gave a clear demonstration of the topic– “Leveraging the Eternal Wisdom of Bhagavad Gita to Achieve Excellence”. Both the MCs were ebullient with good communication skills connecting the audience to Swamiji’s key messages. Participants appreciated how Swamiji guided seekers in a simple and practical manner on how to apply spiritual principles in daily life.
The 3-day public discourse series from September 30 to October 2 held at Nirankari Mission Hall was entitled “Relevance of Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita for Everybody”. Many devotees expressed that it was truly a blessing to attend such an “uplifting and liberating” programme after 3 long years. The nagging uncertainty we all experience in life was addressed as Swamiji revealed to us the “witness identity” that only witnesses all changes remaining itself unchanged.
Krishnaveni-ji and Nisha Aunty hosted Interactive Satsangs in their respective homes with a lot of devotion and enthusiasm. Nisha Aunty on several occasions had brought delicious home-cooked meals that we all loved. One day Nutan Swamiji visited the home of Harishji and Pushpaji, as Harishji was very unwell. Pushpaji was poised, injecting humour into her narratives of their daily challenges, with Harishji’s advancing Parkinson’s. Swamiji’s compassion filled every corner of their beautiful house. The feeling of festivity throughout Nutan Swamiji’s stay couldn’t be missed. Everyone felt blessed and nourished to be in the company of a Saint.
Walking the Path
Like always, devotees basked in the glory of walking satsangs infused with Nutan Swamiji’s humour. We experienced Swamiji’s light-heartedness and ease. Nutan Swamiji has shown us the path that will make our life more joyful, easy and enriching, provided we take those steps. It is up to us now, whether we are flexible and ready to learn, or remain ossified in our old ways.
OHIO – Sajeev Nair
Blessed Presence of a Knower
On October 4, 2022, Bharat Govindani and I drove from Virginia to Columbus (Ohio) in two different cars with Nutan Swamiji, Mala-ji and Miru, carrying various essential items from Virginia. During the 7-hour long journey, we were blessed with informal satsangs and close interactions with Swamiji. He shared some personal anecdotes to remind us that the process of mind purification is a life-long journey, and purity of the mind has no limits just as there is no limit to infinity.
My family and a small group of friends were present to greet Swamiji. After spending some time talking to us, Swamiji went upstairs to his room to take a bath. After some time, Swamiji came down with a big smile and said his travel fatigue was all gone, and he felt very fresh. Apparently, Swamiji had a hard time with the shower knob, and finally ended up taking a cold shower. I regretted not explaining to Swamiji the shower settings before his bath. However, Swamiji was ever cheerful, making everyone around feel relaxed and comfortable – to the point people may forget that they are with a Mahatma.
First event was a Satsang in our home entitled “Concept of Moksha in Bhagavad Gita” on October 5. Facilitated by Sri Aswathji, a well-known Vedic scholar, the hybrid event saw approximately 25 people participating physically, and over fifty through Zoom. Nutan Swamiji explained that Bhagavad Gita presents Moksha or ultimate liberation in its own unique way. It is to live desirelessly in tune with the Divine, following one’s “svakarma”.
Another Interactive Satsang was held at Prabhakar and Ramya’s home on October 7. A group of about fifty friends had assembled, and we had a wonderfully vibrant and lively session. Swamiji answered questions pertaining to scriptures, life, and sadhana. Long after the event ended Swamiji stayed on interacting with attendees, many of whom were newcomers.
“Bhagavad Gita Way of Living” (Public discourse on October 8 & 9)
In this two-day discourse series, Nutan Swamiji emphasized that the sadhana in Bhagavad Gita can be practised by anyone working in any field of activity for his/her mental expansion. He explained how Buddhi Yoga pursuit of Bhagavad Gita consists of Samatva, Asaṅgatva, Yajña Bhāva, Outliving raga-dveshas, Transcending Guṇas, and Śaraṇāgati. Swamiji’s rational exposition on the subject struck a chord with all participants.
Connecting with a Saint
All of Nutan Swamiji’s programs in Ohio were well-received. There were many opportunities for people to connect with Swamiji at a more personal level, both during private meetings and outings in Nature. My 12-year-old son Tejas felt Swamiji was one of the most comfortable adults he has been around.
As we bade farewell to Nutan Swamiji at Columbus Airport, Deepa’s and my eyes were overflowing with tears. With all the airport layovers, it would take close to ten hours for Swamiji to reach his next destination, Irvine, and he was doing this only for the well-being of others: vasanta-vat-loka-hitaṃ carantaḥ …
IRVINE – Hasini Sundaresan
Nutan Swamiji stayed over the course of 7 days and delighted us with stories, bhajans, and wise words from beginning to end.
The series of events started with a Youth Satsang on 12 October, which drew participation from college students and working young adults, between the ages of 18-28.
Throughout this conversation, we were given the floor to ask questions, share experiences and thoughts, and learn about the path into spirituality and also about Swamiji. Swamiji answered many questions on spirituality and our inner personality, focusing around what spirituality was and how to strengthen one’s mind in the face of successes and failures. We felt the warm and relatable nature of Nutan Swamiji’s words, which provided a solid foundation from which we could begin – or continue – our spiritual journey.
The next day (13 October), an Interactive Satsang took place at Sadgun Aunty and Venkat Uncle’s house, which received overwhelming response. Many regular devotees as well as newcomers participated, including some who had been following the online Global Satsangs regularly. They shared that the online programmes had helped them immensely in their daily lives, but the experience of being physically in the presence of a Spiritual Master was incomparable.
“Following Krishna’s Guidance”
(Stonegate Elementary School Auditorium; 14-16 October)
Nutan Swamiji led us through a 3-day journey where he explored meanings behind Krishna’s words to Arjuna, and lessons from Bhagavad Gita which serve as a guiding light to achieving ultimate happiness.
Just as Krishna instructed Arjuna, Nutan Swamiji urged us to keep our mind on the ultimate Truth. Swamiji clarified that the mind will be elevated when it is ready to accept what comes, when we learn to shift our focus from external situations to our own reactions to them.
Each day the number of participants grew, till we had about 70-80 people on Sunday. The first two days started with Bhajans by Smt Padma Kuttyji and her students. Third day began the program with chanting of 2 chapters of Bhagavad Gita by a group of local adults and children.
Our cultural heritage
The evening of October 17 began with a youthful celebration of Indian culture, before Nutan Swamiji’s final Satsang. Many talented youngsters performed for Swamiji on various instruments including veena, saxophone, violin, flute and tabla, and also sang Carnatic and Hindustani-style classical songs. 50-60 people attended the Satsang, listening and taking home priceless gems from Nutan Swamiji, feeling fulfilled but sad that Swamiji’s Irvine visit for this year was coming to an end.
Gift of Time
Throughout Nutan Swamiji’s stay in Irvine, many of us enjoyed some unparalleled time with him – from personal one-to-one meetings, to short nightly walks around the neighbourhood. A large group went with Swamiji to visit the Kali Mandir in Laguna beach, run by American renunciates, where Nutan Swamiji touched our hearts with his rendition of a song to the Divine Mother, about offering ourselves at Her Feet. From there the group proceeded to the beach for a picnic lunch and exploring the cool Pacific coast waters. These little natural moments and activities with Swamiji made his visit to Irvine feel even more inspiring and wholesome, in a way that brought peace to the entire area.
There is a special kind of joy that comes with being in a Saint’s presence. Nutan Swamiji’s wisdom and guidance left a lasting impact on not only adults this time, but on the youth as well. We felt immensely grateful and humbled to have Swamiji with us, and cannot wait till he comes again.
CALIFORNIA BAY AREA – Nilesh Kumar
Opening the DOOR
When I was told about Nutan Swamiji’s proposed stay with us during his visit to Bay Area, my entire being melted with an overwhelming feeling of gratitude. My mind flew back to my childhood days when Poojya Swamiji used to visit Jamshedpur in the month of February every year.
My association with Nutan Swamiji has been a very precious one for me. But, very soon I realized that it was not my Nutan Swamiji visiting our house. It was a universal Saint on his universal mission blessing another house during his stop over. Not only the doors of the house must be opened to all, but our hearts also must expand beyond the householder dimension. I suddenly realized the meaning and depth of Tagore’s song: “O re grihobashi! Khol dvaar khol. Laaglo je Dol….” (O householders! Open your door. The festival has come.)
While shifting the furniture of the house I would play this song on YouTube. We used to get filled with unparalleled joy as we converted our living room into a Satsang hall, our guest room into a Sadhana room for ascetics and the office room as a halting place for the travelling devotees. We tried our best to make it Poojya Swamiji’s Ashram. Ma messaged over WhatsApp: “… Bhāgavatam says – in the house, the very thought or remembrance of hosting a Mahatma makes the whole house purified. Your house is getting purified now itself with your devotional thoughts about Nutan Swamiji’s coming…”
On October 19, Yogesh and I received Nutan Swamiji at Oakland airport. Poorna had got some friends from the neighbourhood to do “Rangoli” at our porch. A few children had gathered as well to welcome Swamiji. Poorna and I washed Nutan Swamiji’s feet. I had been thinking of the moment for quite some time but when it happened, I felt a piercing purifying silence. Not only the house, but we were also purified.
Eternal Wisdom of India
Whether it was speaking about the highest Knowledge to the Bay Area professionals, or engaging with a 4-year-old, one could see Nutan Swamiji always candid, anchored in the deepest wisdom. Swamiji kept on demystifying beliefs around the four pillars of religion involving the concept of God, karma, rebirth, and heaven & hell with absolute confidence and clarity.
Through the public talks and Q&A on “Essentials of Hinduism” in Freemont (October 23), on “Remaining Stable through Life’s Challenges” at Castlemont School (San Jose, October 30), and during Interactive Satsangs at Shruti Patnaik’s home (October 29) as well as ours (on all the free days), Nutan Swamiji quelled misconceptions, bestowed clarity, and fanned the flames of Knowledge that India treasures since eternity.
What does the Knowledge mean?
For the length of Nutan Swamiji’s stay, we could see the living answer to Arjuna’s question: “… Sthita-dhīḥ kiṃ prabhāṣeta kiṃ-āsīta vrajeta kim?”
He walked alongside Saints while visiting the Shanti Ashrama or the Vedanta retreat at Olema. He also walked alongside a 4-year-old going door to door on the Halloween Day playing the ‘trick or treat’ game. The childlike grace or the transcendental placidity of a Knower was never lost.
Many newcomers became associated with Poojya Swamiji’s teaching during Nutan Swamiji’s visit this time, and had their lives transformed. Families with small children would come regularly and have questions answered. Troubled minds and hearts were soothed. And young, intelligent, active professionals kept coming back to deepen their understanding of life.
It has been three weeks since Swamiji left. We still have not re-arranged the house, still refer to Swamiji’s room, Satsang hall, Miru di & Mala Di’s room. Our 4-year-old is happy doing that. Nutan Swamiji wanted us to re-initiate the weekly Satsang in Bay Area; the first one is scheduled this week. For ages, Saints and householders have performed this Knowledge-Yajna together. We pray that the spiritual family of Poojya Swamiji, Ma and Nutan Swamiji continues to grow, and that we householders continue playing our part.
“Jñāna Yajñas bring in their fold all kinds of challenges coursing through which with the grace of Poojya Swamiji, we always grow.”
“Swamiji’s outlook reflected the spiritual principle of being in harmony with whatever comes, as he remarked: “Even if there is only one participant, I won’t be disappointed.””
“The feeling of festivity throughout Nutan Swamiji’s stay couldn’t be missed. Everyone felt blessed and nourished to be in the company of a Saint.”
“Nutan Swamiji has shown us the path that will make our life more joyful, easy and enriching, provided we take those steps. It is up to us now, whether we are flexible and ready to learn, or remain ossified in our old ways.”
“The process of mind purification is a life-long journey, and purity of the mind has no limits just as there is no limit to infinity.”
“There is a special kind of joy that comes with being in a Saint’s presence. Nutan Swamiji’s wisdom and guidance left a lasting impact on not only adults this time, but on the youth as well.”
“Very soon I realized that it was not my Nutan Swamiji visiting our house. It was a universal Saint on his universal mission blessing another house during his stop over. Not only the doors of the house must be opened to all, but our hearts also must expand beyond the householder dimension.”
“Ma messaged over WhatsApp: “… Bhāgavatam says – in the house, the very thought or remembrance of hosting a Mahatma makes the whole house purified. Your house is getting purified now itself with your devotional thoughts about Nutan Swamiji’s coming…””
“For ages, Saints and householders have performed this Knowledge-Yajna together. We pray that the spiritual family of Poojya Swamiji, Ma and Nutan Swamiji continues to grow, and that we householders continue playing our part.”