There’s a lot of wonderful news to share with you since our last letter. We’ve rarely had a more intense, exciting, demanding, and expansive time in our lives!
After we finished the first “Living the Gita” course Sept. 20–22, we began a week of various meetings with Ananda leaders here. The highlight of these was a two-day Center Leaders Retreat held at Panchsheel Park, our beautiful ashram in Delhi where Daya and Keshava live.
Gathered together for these two days (Sept. 25 & 26) were the leaders from Noida, West Delhi, Gurgaon, Kolkata, Pune, Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai, Panchsheel, the Ananda Monastery, the Paramhansa Yogananda Trust in Brindaban, as well as Jaya, Dhyana, and the two of us. We meditated together in the morning, had breakfast, and then met for several hours before and after lunch. Each area shared how they are (among other things) reaching new people, expanding their existing centers, looking for larger facilities, teaching in more regional languages, and hiring more staff members to help on all levels.
Jayeeta, the director of the Brindaban work, showed a new video about their service there. This beautiful film was created by Madhureeta, the woman who was in charge of distribution of The Answer in the US, and left everyone deeply moved at the selflessness and compassion expressed in all that’s happening there. You can watch it here:
On Thursday, Sept. 26, Pia Singh joined us for the morning and shared the new developments in conceptualizing and designing the land that we envision using for the Yogananda Institute. (Krishnadas and Mantradevi arrived in Delhi just as we were having breakfast that day. They were there a few days in advance of the others for their Himalayan pilgrimage, so they joined us as well.)
After lunch, we all visited and walked the new land, located in a beautiful and central part of the Greater Kailash district of Delhi. It has three contiguous parts totaling around seventeen acres.
First is the existing temple site. This is seven acres and is set on the highest hill in the area. Imagine an area similar to The Expanding Light up on a hillside. It is here that we will build the Institute with its buildings and, even more wonderful, a Temple of Light similar to our new temple but considerably larger.
Connected to this is an existing park of nine acres. This is flat area at the base of the temple hill, a little like the Village green that sits at the base of the Expanding Light hillside, but longer and a little narrower. This park is owned by the government of Delhi, but we have “adopted” it, meaning that Ananda Sangha India can design and use it as we like so long as it remains open to the public as a park. It is considered part of the green belt for the city, much as Swamiji’s original “Delhi Project” was.
Finally, there is another two-acre site with an old, abandoned club called the South Delhi Club. We will demolish the buildings and build new structures. We have planning approvals to build nearly 200,000 square feet in total.
It is an amazing, almost unprecedented property for a spiritual work in the very heart of a high-density urban area. Other religious works have large sites, but always on the outskirts of the city. There is nothing quite like it for comparison. Imagine a seventeen-acre site in the middle of New York City.
We are already starting the conceptual designs, and Panduranga will fly over in a couple of weeks to consult with the lead Indian architect on the project. (His name is Ambrish, and he’s a Kriyaban.)
In our spare time (joke) we are working hard developing the other courses besides “Living the Gita” that will be taught there, as well as many activities that are needed to make it the spiritual home for millions of people. Master and Swamiji are really dreaming big on this one.
The next day following the Center Leaders gathering, Sept. 27, we began the second three-day “Living the Gita” course with thirty brand-new people. We made some refinements from the previous weekend, and this program felt even more powerful than the first.
Remember, all these attendees are new to Ananda, and already nine of the last batch want to start on the track for Kriya, many want a follow-up course going deeper into meditation and Energization, and five came in person to a satsang we gave in Gurgaon yesterday. People from both weekends are continuing to contact us saying that their lives are being changed by what they learned in “Living the Gita.”
We’ll be meeting with all the support staff and co-developers next week to make even more refinements to improve what was strong and perhaps eliminate what was weak in the course. Everyone feels that Master and Swamiji have given us a dynamic new vehicle to reach new people, and we want to make it as effective as possible.
There’s more that we could share, but this letter is long enough for now.
Thank you for your loving thoughts and prayers. We deeply appreciate them.
With joy in Master and Swamiji,
Jyotish and Devi
*And here are links to shorter interviews with some of the mothers: https://www.facebook.com/jyotishanddevi/videos/651209658739359/
Download and print this letter as a PDF here.