Government of India Honours YSS by Releasing a Commemorative Postage Stamp
For a YSS devotee, March 7 is associated with several sacred events that are close to his heart. Sixty-five years ago, on this very day in 1952, Paramahansa Yogananda had entered Mahasamadhi, speaking of God and his beloved India. In 1977, the Government of India had honoured Guruji by releasing a commemorative stamp on this day, thus formally recognizing his tremendous contributions to the spiritual wealth of the world. And this year on March 7, the Prime Minister of India, Sri Narendra Modi, paid a fitting tribute to the organization founded by the Premavatar by releasing a commemorative stamp in honour of Yogoda Satsanga Society of India at a special ceremony held at Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi. Over 1,800 YSS devotees attended the programme. Several monks from YSS including the Board of Directors participated in this historic event.
The Prime Minister was cordially greeted by Swamis Vishwananda and Smaranananda at the entrance and escorted to the hall. The programme began with the Prime Minister, Sri Narendra Modi, along with the YSS Board of Directors, lighting the lamp. Swami Vishwananda welcomed the Prime Minister by presenting him with a bouquet of flowers, and Swami Smaranananda presented a shawl to the esteemed guest as a mark of honour.
Swami Smaranananda began his address by quoting a shloka from the Bhagavad Gita which states that in every yuga, avatars come to protect virtue and destroy evil. However, Swamiji added that there are some avatars whose mission is to help devotees annihilate the demons of maya within; and that our beloved Gurudeva was one such avatar who came to guide deluded humanity towards divine wisdom. Swamiji explained the significance and enormous contribution made by the organization founded by Paramahansaji. He quoted Guruji’s words, “When I am no longer in the body, this organization will be my body.” Enumerating the tremendous impact of Guruji’s organization, Swamiji said, “Yogoda Satsanga Society of India, being his lengthened shadow, continues to spread his message of love, joy, wisdom, and service. Through the Yogoda Satsanga/Self-Realization teachings millions have understood the real meaning of religion and more importantly the most effective practice of religion. Yoga meditation is available to all truth seekers at their doorstep.”
Swami Vishwananda conveyed the blessings of our beloved Sanghamata and President, Sri Sri Mrinalini Mata, and read out her message on this momentous occasion. In her message she wrote:
On this special occasion of the release of the commemorative stamp honouring 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.
Swami Vishwananda reads out Sanghamata and President, Sri Sri Mrinalini Mata’s message for the occasion.
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 honour 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 behavioural 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 Honourable 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.
A thunderous round of applause rent the air as the Prime Minister, Sri Narendra Modi, stood up to address the gathering. In his speech, he highlighted the importance of March 7, that on this very day sixty-five years ago a great soul broke free from the limitations of a mortal body, and became an object of veneration for the ages.
Sri Modi drew the attention of the audience to the power and popularity of the book, Autobiography of a Yogi, which is available now in so many languages that 95% of the world population can read it in their own language. He said that all those who read it want to share it with others, just as people don’t eat all the prasad that they receive in a temple, but feel great joy in sharing it with others. This was because the life and message of Yoganandaji is as sacred and holy as the prasad received from a temple, observed the Prime Minister.
Paying homage to Guruji’s deep love and devotion for, and service to, his motherland, the Prime Minister quoted from Guruji’s poem, My India. He spoke with great clarity about subtle nuances of yoga philosophy while sharing his interpretation of Guruji’s poem Samadhi and other writings. Applauding the commendable work done by Yogoda Satsanga Society, the Prime Minister said that it was due to Yoganandaji’s spirit of selfless, non-attached service that the organization has not just crossed a century but continues to thrive and throb with the vibrant presence of its Founder. Using the analogy of a family and how it works, the Prime Minister said that YSS has successfully kept alive the purity of Guruji’s teachings, allowing “neither dilution nor diversion” from the main objective.
Reciting a few lines from a poem by the great saint Kabir, the Prime Minister expressed his reverence and appreciation for Paramahansa Yoganandaji. He said that yogis are immortal; they never vanish or disappear but remain forever with us. He concluded by saying that he felt blessed to experience such a one whose spirit is ever living. The Prime Minister ended his speech by bowing to the great tradition started by Guruji, to all saints, and to all truth seekers.
The straight-from-the-heart speech by the Prime Minister got a standing ovation. A framed copy of the Hindi translation of Guruji’s poem, My India was presented to the Prime Minister. It was truly a divine coincidence that the honourable Prime Minister had just recited lines from that very same poem in his address.
The Prime Minister, Sri Narendra Modi, releases the commemorative postage stamp and displays the stamp album. Also seen are the YSS Board Members, (left to right) Swamis Shraddhananda, Suddhananda, Smaranananda, Vishwananda, and Nityananda and Sri Kamal Nain Bakshi.
The event was widely covered by the press in print, TV, and online media channels. The first-day cover of the commemorative stamp was made available as a memento on donation basis. It was indeed an event befitting the Centenary of YSS, and shall long remain in the memory of all those who attended the function. We thank all the volunteers who worked night and day, with immense devotion and dedication, to bring it to a successful conclusion.