Ananda Family News

Friday, December 4, 2009

News from Ananda Gurgaon

[The following comes to us by email from Keshava and Daya in Gurgaon. Click on the photos to enlarge them.]

Dear friends,

Greetings from Ananda India! We just celebrated our six year anniversary! It's hard to believe it's already been six years since Swami Kriyananda and a few helpers came to Gurgaon to start Ananda's work in India. Here are some details of a report on "Accomplishments in 2009" that was presented at the celebration.

[Photo: Ananda Gurgaon Sixth Anniversary potluck dinner celebration.]

The most dramatic development this year is how, just one year ago, our staff divided in two, with Swamiji and half the group moving to Pune to develop the new Kriya Yoga Community on 30 acres of land.  In the next 2-3 months the first buildings are getting occupied, and gardens and orchards have been planted. Swamiji expects to move to his new house there in January or February.

Almost as dramatic has been the transformation of our outreach and of our teaching staff in the Delhi area. Shivani and Jayadev from Ananda Assisi offered meditation teacher training and yoga teacher training courses for first time in India this year—starting with 3-day intensives, and continuing with monthly workshops and lots of in-the-field experience. 12 new meditation teachers and 11 yoga teachers are continuing this training. The majority of our teachers are now Indian, teaching also in Hindi.

[Photo: Pankaj teaching Learn to Meditate in Hindi in Delhi.]

Under the inspiration of Dhyana, many more classes, and many new classes are taking place, similar in variety to what our US colonies offer. There is a dynamic music sangha, led by Dharmini, and a healing prayer sangha. Our first Spiritual Renewal Weekend was a great experience, and we'll repeat it next year.

Our main ashram building in Gurgaon used to be known as just a place where several Western teachers lived. In the last year it has been transformed into a dynamic spiritual center with public activities every day.  Most of the ashram residents are Indian. The Westerners in Gurgaon are presently Dhyana, Pat Kirby, Cecilia, Haridas and Roma, Keshava and Daya, Dharmaraj and Dharmini, and Priya McDivitt.

[Photo: Newly painted Ananda Gurgaon Ashram-House.]

There is also much more involvement and commitment by Sangha members, Kriyabans, and disciples—both here and in other cities. Ever more volunteers serve many hours every week. More people are supporting the work financially, through donations and tithing. Half of our choir is Indian. Several families and Sangha teachers have moved to live closer to the Gurgaon ashram, and can now take part fully in activities here.

[Photo: Manjunath and Krishna in the choir.]

About 1000 people learned to meditate with Ananda Sangha this year, at 5 locations around Delhi—as well as Lucknow, Kolkata, Bangalore, Pune, and Mumbai.

We've had 9 Kriya Initiations with 100 new Kriyabans this year.

Ananda Sangha Publications, managed by Sangeeta, has published 9 new book titles this year, to make a total of 37 new titles in the last 6 years.  Though only a small fraction of India's population reads English books, sales of Sangha books have gone very well, including a total of 16,000 copies sold of Autobiography of a Yogi, and 10,000 copies of The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita.

New developments with outreach and support include Dharmini completely re-designing our website (coming soon), benefitting from the new Ananda Worldwide website which has become very popular. We've also started using Facebook and other ways to keep more in touch. Support to our now 1400 members is also given through monthly Sangha letters, Kriyaban letters, and—in the works—an on-line course in meditation.

We also have new centers. We have a number of meditation groups in peoples' homes. But a center is a public location used just for spiritual programs. Such centers started this year in Mumbai and Bangalore. Our center in Noida, a Delhi suburb, now 5 years old, moved to a larger and more central location this week. Several members are helping to locate such a center also for Delhi. (Please pray!)

100 people went on Ananda Pilgrimages so far this year, to Maharashtra, Ananda California, Ladakh, and Babaji's Cave. Coming up are trips to Kolkata in December, including Kriya Initiation at Master’s house; Rishikesh in February; Ladakh in April; and both Gangotri (source of the Ganges) and Babaji's cave in October (that trip is also suitable for Westerners).

[Photo: Babaji cave pilgrims in October.]

Our Dihika Living Wisdom School has manifested this year. The schedule for opening has been a more gradual one, due to construction delays. But that time has been needed in other areas, including integrating the Education for Life curriculum with Indian legal requirements and culture. Of the staff of 5 teachers, 2 are EFL trained, and 3 are being trained with Usha's online classes.  The new building's offices, reception area and 2 classrooms are finished and being used; and the staff is marketing and preparing for the start of the school year in March.

This has been the most successful year ever for our businesses, now run largely by Indians. These include: 

The Wishing Tree, book & gift shop and point of outreach at Gurgaon's Metropolitan Mall. Vijay Sachdeva devotes more than full time to this.

Harmony at Work, which presents these teachings as seminars in corporations. This is the main focus for Dharmaraj and Haridas.

[Photo: Dharmaraj teaching a Harmony at Work Corporate Workshop.]

Yogananda's Flower Essences, for self-healing, based on the spiritual qualities of foods.  Shallu Magotra, who also manages our accounting, took over this business from Claudio and Anjali (Deborah) who recently moved back to Ananda Assisi to serve there.

Anjali Khadi, run by Cecilia and her husband, Vivek, employs many village women making products marketed in Europe, including clothes of handloom organic cotton and silk, and cushions and shawls of 'ahimsa' silk (the silkworm doesn't get killed!). In India there is now a huge migration from villages to cities for employment. In a small way, Anjali Khadi gives people viable employment in their own villages.

On Master's birthday, January 5, 2010, several of us here will have the great blessing of taking vows with Swamiji, and joining the new renunciate order. We would be eternally grateful for your prayers and well wishes.

[Photo: Mr. Bij, who took Kriya Initiation with Swamiji in 1959, cuts Ananda's sixth anniversary cake.]

All of us here wish you a very joyful and inspiring holiday season.

In divine friendship,
Keshava (and Daya)


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