This Guru Puja weekend was historic, as the first
international Guru Puja in the U.S.A. It was also
historic in how the Sahaja Yogis understood the
significance of the event. There was a collective
maturity and inner silence. The 950 yogis who attended
also celebrated -- in embraces, sincere conversations,
singing and dance -- the atmosphere of deep affection
and love that is Sahaja Yoga. A story appeared on
Sunday in the daily New Jersey newspaper, The Record,
and summed up the event with the headline, "Hundreds
fill weekend with devotion, bliss."
The weekend began for most of us with the arrival on
Friday. The registration process, acquiring a room and
a set of meal coupons, allowed each of us the chance
to enter a state of patient witnessing as our own
organizational needs intersected with the availability
of rooms at the hotel. As we found in Los Angeles and
New York in recent years, a good hotel room assignment
promised new faces and the establishment of new
friendships, and we were not disappointed.
Appreciating each other, working on each other, and
preparing for puja together, we were part of the
vishuddhi of the Virata.
Overall the level of comfort, service and food
provided by the Sheraton Meadowlands Hotel was
superb--with our physical needs so well taken care of,
we could fully concentrate on our spiritual state.
Conveniently located midway between a major airport
and where Shri Mataji was staying, the hotel afforded
us trees and expanses of green grass for meditating.
Meals could be taken indoors or outside. While it was
hot outside, there were breezes and shady areas to
make each meal a very enjoyable picnic.
On Friday and Saturday we had to meet in a large tent
erected in the parking lot of the hotel, as the large
ballroom wouldn't be available until Sunday. As it
turned out, the party using the ballroom on Saturday
evening used it for a full-blown Indian wedding, and
parts of the hotel had wonderful statues of Shri
Ganesha and decorative columns which added to the
The highlight of the Friday evening entertainment
program was a singing presentation by the small
children of the Canajoharie school. Their enthusiasm
and innocence showed the promise for the future of
Sahaja Yoga in the U.S.A. Other activities over the
weekend included a game of soccer, collective
shoebeating, splashing in the hotel pool, and head
oiling and massaging.
Saturday night's entertainment program began with
everyone settling into their places while beautiful
hammer dulcimer music filled the air. One yogi wanted
to know what wonderful tape was being played, and then
discovered it was a live performance coming from the
front of the tent.
Throughout the evening we saw and
heard the amazing talent, evolving and expanding year
by year, of young performers presenting music and
classical Indian dance pieces. We enjoyed flute,
guitar, kawali, Turkish drumming, and classical Indian
vocals. When the ten Turkish drummers combined their
intoxicating beat with traditional Sahaja bhajans on
harmonium, some of us could not stop ourselves from
jumping up and dancing. Theatre of Eternal Values
presented some improvisational comedy.
The Yuva Shakti on the Realize America tour showed
slides and talked about their experiences heading down
the east coast of the U.S.A. (Their website is
realizeamerica.com.). A theatrical presentation showed
various incarnations and adi gurus teaching Mahatma
Gandhi that his dream of world unity requires the
intervention of the deities, but first and foremost it
requires the advent of the Adi Shakti as Her Holiness
Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi.
The highlight of the evening was an anthem to Shri
Mataji--a video presentation by the Italians which was
so moving and overflowing with love that afterwards
yogis could only embrace each other and let the
inexpressible joy flow as tears. Archival footage
showed our dear Holy Mother of twenty or more years
ago, personally adjusting brides' and grooms' garlands
at a wedding in India, cooking, playing the harmonium,
singing, greeting and kissing small children,
laughing--manifesting the most adorable, magnetic, and
motherly personality ever seen in history. There was
footage showing Her tireless work of raising the
kundalinis of thousands of people, in villages and in
halls. As the camera panned back slowly, one could not
see the end of the sea of seekers, all with one hand
over the top of the head, feeling the cool breeze of
the Holy Spirit for the first time. The video
expressed for all of us our profound love and
gratitude to Shri Mataji.
All of the events of the weekend opened our hearts and
enabled us to feel more than ever Shri Mataji's love.
Everything was preparing us for puja. Only at
Sahastrara, in silent bliss, could we do Her puja. The
time for puja was set for 7:00 p.m. Sunday evening.
Soon after 7 we started singing bhajans, and the puja
had begun. Each of us was celebrating, in a hotel
ballroom with 950 yogis, our personal and intimate
connection with Shri Mataji. And then it was time to
stand, with full respect and devotion, while Shri
Mataji entered the ballroom. Twenty-one children were
requested to come up on stage and offer Ganesha puja.
Then several married ladies decorated the Goddess.
Aarti was powerful, as if we were announcing to the
world, "She is here! The Guru of all the Gurus is
here, with all Her power and majesty!"
After we offered our collective pranam, the
international and national gifts were brought on
stage, one by one, and Shri Mataji stayed throughout
the entire ceremony. After all the gifts had been
offered, Arneau took the microphone to announce the
news that, just two days earlier, the Shri Mataji
Nirmala Devi Sahaja Yoga Foundation had been
officially registered as a nonprofit organization in
the United States. Operating as the World Council for
the Advancement of Sahaja Yoga, this new foundation
will protect and preserve Shri Mataji's teachings, and
support national collectives around the world in
spreading Her divine message.
We realized we were
witnessing history--the first time a major world
religion has been formally and legally brought into
being with the direct guidance of the incarnation!
With the generous support of Shri Mataji and Her
family, the new foundation will have a solid footing.
At this point there was no doubt that we had to stand
and offer our Holy Mother a standing ovation. Then the
clapping died down and we stood in silence. The large
curtain was drawn across the front of the stage and
Her time with us in physical form had come to an end.
Individually we thanked Shri Mataji and prayed that we
had absorbed all of the vibrations. After some time of
meditation, prasad and commemorative gifts were
distributed. And then we found a magnetic force kept
us in the puja hall. Even if we went out of the
ballroom, we found ourselves drawn back into the hall.
Digital cameras were handed back and forth as many
yogis shared miracle photos their camera had captured.
(Shri Mataji had said before the puja that many
miracle photos would be taken.) Our hearts filled with
exuberance and love, the ballroom then erupted in
vigorous song and dance, while some of us sat in
silent reverence in front of Her chair on the stage.
Shri Mataji mentioned to Manoj while returning to Her house after the puja that "Vibrations were very good" and "many miracle photos would be seen". At this puja, we not only felt our individual
connection to Shri Mataji at Sahasrara; we
experienced the effortless, joyous state of being
connected to Her in the collectivity of Sahaja Yoga.
In this new state of being, we knew we weren't doing
anything--She was doing everything.
Jai Shri Mataji