Dear Divine Atman,
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the lives of all of us—in India and around the world. The altered landscape has affected our lifestyles, our ways of working, and our priorities. In Yogoda Satsanga Society of India (YSS) we too are learning to serve Gurudeva’s devotees, and society in general, in new ways.
We are deeply touched by the great outpouring of love, prayers, and support from all of you, the dear devotees of our beloved Gurudeva. We wish to express our heartfelt gratitude for your continued support during these challenging times.
The immortal teachings of our beloved Gurudeva have no doubt helped all of us remain focused on God and strengthen our faith in His divine protection. Our revered President, Sri Sri Swami Chidananda Giri recently said: “How blessed we are that we have been given, in Paramahansa Yogananda’s YSS/SRF teachings, the spiritual tools we need to show up on the battlefield of life, as a fully equipped divine warrior.”
By Guruji’s grace, all the residents of Guruji’s ashrams—sannyasis and sevaks—are safe. Out of concern for the safety of devotees and to comply with Government regulations, we have temporarily postponed all monastic tours and retreats, and closed our ashrams, dhyana mandirs, kendras, and mandalis for devotees and the public. We had to also suspend our printing and mailing operations. However, new vistas and portals have opened up for serving Guruji’s worldwide spiritual family in innovative ways, some of which are mentioned below.
Using Digital Technology to Reach Out to the Devotees
Online Meditations: The online meditations, a timely initiative inaugurated by our revered President, have proved to be a great blessing—a spiritual anchor for many, providing them a blessed opportunity to experience the power and benefits of group meditations from the safety of their homes. YSS is currently offering thrice a week, monastic-led online meditations which include a three-hour long meditation every Sunday morning. Over 2,500 devotees attend these online meditations and the numbers are steadily increasing.
Monastic-led One-day Silent Retreat: A one-day silent retreat was conducted online on May 30, 2020, by Swami Smaranananda; around 3,500 devotees enthusiastically participated in periods of silent meditation, chanting, and inspirational talks.
Weekly Online Inspirational Satsangas: During the current difficult times—in which YSS ashrams, kendras, mandalis, and retreat centres have had to temporarily cancel their Sunday Satsangas—we have been offering weekly online inspirational satsangas on our website. By participating in these online satsangas, we hope that devotees around the world feel truly connected as part of Paramahansa Yogananda’s worldwide spiritual family, no matter the distance. Of the many messages of appreciation which we receive, we are happy to share one from a young devotee:
“I am grateful to Yogoda Satsanga Society of India for its services that have helped in creating and establishing an environment of peace and love among our family during these challenging times. The online meditations and the weekly satsangas have helped us feel more at ease, and respond to the difficult situations with optimism and cheerfulness….Although we are cautious, living a life free of fear and anxiety…would be unimaginable without the practice of YSS teachings and meditation techniques.”
Helpful Resources on YSS Website: Faced with the uncertainty of today’s situation, many are seeking understanding and direction in their lives. To provide them with much needed spiritual wisdom and counsel, we have greatly enhanced the inspirational content on our website. This includes encouragement and guidance from Guruji’s writings, a compiled list of YSS eBooks, and videos on guided meditations.
YSS English Lessons: Although we weren’t able to mail the printed Lessons, all devotees enrolled for the new English edition of the Yogoda Satsanga Lessons can continue to access them on the YSS Lessons App as per their dispatch schedule. The complimentary subscription period to the YSS Lessons App has also been extended.
YSS Hindi Lessons: Interested truth-seekers will soon be able to enrol for the Hindi Lessons online. The basic technique Lessons will also be made available in digital format to all Hindi Lessons students through the devotee portal.
YSS Center Department Reaches Out to Devotees
Monastics in Center Department reached out to the Managing Committee and volunteers of their respective centres to keep them all feeling connected as a spiritual family. Monastics encouraged them to participate in the online meditations, Worldwide Prayer Circle, and offered spiritual guidance, when needed.
Many volunteers expressed that they had free time and wished to utilize it in becoming better instruments in serving Gurudeva’s work. Therefore, the Center Department organized a series of online training workshops for several hundred Meditation Leaders to improve their meditation leading skills.
Praying for Others
Praying for others is an integral part of the Yogoda Satsanga path. In the past two months, YSS sannyasis have been praying, three times a day, sending healing vibrations to the world, and also to those who have specifically requested for prayers. You may join us in these prayers from your home, to seek divine aid for yourself and your loved ones.
Our COVID-19 Seva Activities
In this hour of need, YSS ashrams, kendras, and mandalis have undertaken a wide range of relief activities that include distributing food and other necessities to those in need; helping local communities whose livelihoods have come to a standstill; and reaching out to frontline workers such as doctors, nurses, police, and sanitation workers, by providing them with Personal Protective Equipment. Some centres also provided food and shelter to stray animals.
It is so heart-warming to see how Guruji’s family has embraced the whole of humankind as its very own, and is trying, in whatever way possible, to reach out to those who are suffering.
Update From YSS Ashrams
During the lockdown period, when the regular staff has been unable to come, sannyasis and resident sevaks have taken on additional responsibilities of maintaining the ashram grounds and facilities. The four YSS ashrams house about 150 residents, and they all help in running the kitchens and taking care of the ashrams grounds and gardens. Even though many employees of the ashram have stayed at home for the last two months because of the lockdown, YSS has continued to pay their salaries.
Your Generous Offers to Help
We understand that none are immune to the global impact of COVID-19 and that some of you may have seen a significant change in your financial resources. Our heart goes out to you. By every offering — prayer, goodwill, acts of service, and sincere following of Guruji’s spiritual path — you are contributing to YSS and our worldwide spiritual family. We at YSS ashrams feel the incessant wave of loving prayers sent by you all, and they, in turn, give us inspiration and strength to continue our service to Gurudeva’s large family.
For those with the ability and desire to help financially, we gratefully accept your generosity and welcome your support. A gift sincerely offered with love and devotion becomes, in God’s hand,
an instrument of divine love and blessing. These contributions will fund the essential day-to-day operations of YSS, paying the salaries of employees, and our efforts in dealing with this crisis. For us, continuing to spread the liberating teaching of Paramahansa Yogananda and nurturing the spiritual lives of every member of our spiritual family continues to remain the highest priority. We take this opportunity to sincerely thank all of you, who have donated liberally and lovingly during this period and seek your continued support. May God bless you all.
As the restrictions imposed by the local authorities may not permit you to physically visit our ashrams or dhyana kendras or mandalis to offer your donation, we request you to donate online.
Devotees are most welcome to call our ashrams, if they need any spiritual support or guidance.
Guruji said, “Always undoubtingly believe that God’s power is working in you, just behind your thoughts, prayers, and convictions to give infinite strength….Acknowledge His working within you in everything and you will have Him always with you.”
May you ever feel God’s presence guiding and protecting your life and those of your loved ones.
In divine friendship,
Yogoda Satsanga Society of India