The Prime Minister of India, the Honorable Sri Narendra Modi, paid tribute to the lifework of Paramahansa Yogananda during a special ceremony in New Delhi on March 7, 2017.
The occasion was the release of a postage stamp (shown at left) by the Government of India commemorating the 100th anniversary of Yogoda Satsanga Society (YSS—the name by which Paramahansa Yogananda’s work is known in India). The date was chosen to honor the anniversary of Paramahansaji’s mahasamadhi, which took place on March 7, 1952.
Yogoda Satsanga Society of India had its beginning in a small ashram and boys’ school founded by Paramahansa Yogananda in Dihika, India, in March 1917. Today YSS has some 200 meditation centers and groups throughout India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.
(Note: Please excuse the transmission error that occurs from 15:56 to 18:18 in the video.)
The Prime Minister unveiled the new stamp before an assemblage of more than 1,500 government officials and YSS members and admirers, in the spacious main hall of Vigyan Bhavan, the government’s convention center for official events. He then delivered an inspired address in Hindi, in which he characterized Paramahansaji as one of India’s greatest yogis and teachers—one whose life and work demonstrated for the world the tremendous value of India’s spirituality—and praised YSS for successfully maintaining the legacy and spirit of its founder in sharing India’s ancient heritage in the modern world.
Excerpts From the Speech by the Prime Minister
“Today on March 7th, we are gathered together to commemorate a special occasion,” the Prime Minister said. “And I pranam to Sri Sri [Mrinalini] Mataji, for I am told that she is joining us in this ceremony from Los Angeles....
“Much courage and conviction is required to be able to turn oneself within and to embark on [the] inner journey. Some systems of Yoga require outer strength and suppleness, whereas [the path of] Kriya Yoga is that which asks for an inner commitment, and, imparting that courage, it takes you on a journey of deciphering the mysteries of life....
“[Paramahansa Yogananda] would often say, ‘I do not want to die on a bed in a hospital. I want to die with my boots on and speaking of my Mother India.’ And that means, even as he left the shores of India to spread the message of its ancient teachings to the Western world, there must not have been one fraction of a second wherein he felt detached or separated from his dear motherland.... “Removing rigid dogma, he made spirituality so approachable and tangible that in these hundred years since he started it, his work has become a worldwide movement, a perennial resource of spiritual understanding....[He] built and systematized his organization in such a way that it continues to fulfill its mission to this day. And today while receiving and partaking of his realization, his soul-bliss, his work continues to forge ahead. I think this is one of his biggest contributions.”
A Message From Sri Mrinalini Mata
Seated on the stage with Prime Minister Modi during the event were YSS General Secretary Swami Smaranananda and other members of the YSS Board of Directors, including Swami Vishwananda, a member of the SRF/YSS Board of Directors who had traveled from the International Headquarters in Los Angeles to be present. Swami Smaranananda gave the program’s opening address, after which Swami Vishwananda conveyed an inspiring message from SRF/YSS’s president and sanghamata, Sri Mrinalini Mata, who was watching the live webcast from Los Angeles.
Sri Mrinalini Mata stated in her message: “India’s greatest wealth and strength—today as throughout her long history—lies in her cherishing and actively expressing the eternal spiritual truths that her seers have perceived and bequeathed to humanity....That the Government of India has chosen today to honor the lifework of one such exemplary divine personage is a profound source of hope and inspiration not only for India, but for the millions worldwide who look to her for spiritual light in these troubled times.” (The full text of her message is given below.)
Additional Coverage of the YSS Centennial
We look forward to sharing more soon about the YSS centennial, which is being celebrated this month with a program March 19–23 at YSS’s Ranchi Ashram.
Additional Photos of the Event
Swami Smaranananda speaks about the wisdom of God that Paramahansaji exemplified, and how numerous translations of his Autobiography of a Yogi have now made it readable by approximately 95% of the world’s population.
Prime Minister Modi displays to an applauding audience at the Vigyan Bhavan the postage stamp commemorating YSS’s 100th anniversary, together with the special leaflet prepared by the government to accompany the stamp.
Prime Minister Modi delivers his address, emphasizing the unique contributions Paramahansa Yogananda and his Kriya Yoga teachings have made to the understanding of India’s spirituality and its singular role in the modern world.
"Where Ganges, woods, Himalayan caves, and men dream God— I am hallowed; my body touched that sod.”
Full Text of the Message of Sri Mrinalini Mata, March 7, 2017
On this special occasion of the release of the commemorative stamp honoring the 100th anniversary of Yogoda Satsanga Society of India (YSS), I send you my soul’s greetings and divine love. It fills me with immense joy and gratitude that through this function the Government of India is paying tribute to YSS and its founder—one of India’s great saints—Sri Sri Paramahansa Yogananda. My deepest thanks extend to all who had a role in bringing this about. Although much of his time was spent in America spreading India’s universal spirituality and ancient science of yoga meditation, Paramahansa Yoganandaji’s love and concern for his motherland never diminished. His very last words before departing this world—on this very day in 1952—were a heartfelt tribute to his beloved India. India’s greatest wealth and strength—today as throughout her long history—lies in her cherishing and actively expressing the eternal spiritual truths that her seers have perceived and bequeathed to humanity. Down the ages, great souls—mahatmas, saints, sages of highest divine realization—have been motivated by their great love of Mother India to serve that loftiest and most noble cause. That the Government of India has chosen today to honor the lifework of one such exemplary divine personage is a profound source of hope and inspiration not only for India, but for the millions worldwide who look to her for spiritual light in these troubled times.
Sri Sri Paramahansa Yogananda often said, “Reform yourself and you will reform thousands.” India’s divine and universal science of yoga and meditation embodies the most effective methods of bringing about lasting positive transformations in our behavioral and thought patterns. One of the main aims and ideals of Paramahansa Yoganandaji’s society is to disseminate among all nations the knowledge of the scientific techniques of meditation taught for millennia by India’s great rishis, by which each human being—regardless of nationality, caste, or creed—can realize his or her own divinity and experience inner peace, love, and joy. When each individual has peace within, world peace will naturally follow.
I deeply appreciate Honorable Prime Minister Sri Narendra Modi’s kindness in taking time out from his busy schedule to be personally present on this special day. How fitting it is that the commemorative stamp for the YSS centenary is being released by Sri Modi, himself an ardent practitioner of yoga. The International Day of Yoga—proposed by him and subsequently adopted as a United Nations resolution within a very short time by a record number of nations—is playing an important role in spreading the universal message of the yoga science around the world. We are grateful to Sri Modi for this landmark initiative.
Paramahansa Yoganandaji predicted that an ideal world civilization will emerge by combining the spirituality of India with the material efficiency of western nations. India therefore has an important and necessary role to play in helping elevate human consciousness in its upward evolutionary cycle. It is my ardent prayer that through the practice of the unity-bestowing spiritual teachings exemplified by Sri Sri Yoganandaji and other great masters of India we may move toward an era of global peace, divine harmony, and prosperity for every member of our human family. May the light and love of God and the Great Ones bless and uplift you all,
Sri Mrinalini Mata
Sanghamata and President,
Yogoda Satsanga Society of India/Self-Realization Fellowship
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