30 years as Swami - 60 years in life, 1999
Thirty years ago, in February 1969, Swami Janakananda was initiated as a Swami, and sixty years ago he was born. We - friends and yoga teachers - thought that we would surprise him with a celebration. This, we did on his birthday, June 13th.
We were given permission to publish some of the texts he received.
Portrait of Swami Janakananda by the artist Ann Mari Brenckert, Stockholm, Sweden
With Great Joy, Regards and Appreciation. What a great Joy it is to have this opportunity to express the great appreciation, the love and the special regards felt for Swami Janakananda. So many years of support and guidance have been showered upon my life through his great compassion.
From the moment I came into his sphere of influence, a great care and great love was felt right at the very first moment. As I reflect back on my life, I can see that he was there for me at the times when I needed him the most. He has been a major influence on my life.
Strong memories come up as I contemplate this. For example, when an old country school at Håå in Sweden became available as a course site and work began to make it useable - I remember many incidents from that time. At one point, the floor to the shower in the main building was being installed. Since funds were in short supply for all the materials needed, Swami Janakananda directed us to take small sections of the vinyl floor covering that were leftover, and - like a jigsaw puzzle – put them together so as to be able to complete the floor. Everything was used, nothing was wasted.
The same was true with all the cardboard packing materials – instead of just burning them up or throwing them away, we had the karma yoga of tearing them into small pieces. I remember my mind wondering what in the world I was doing. For days, I stood there and tore cardboard into small pieces. Looking back, of course, one can see what a wonderful exercise it was for watching the mind, and also for utilising all materials carefully (and this was just when the movement for environmental consciousness was beginning). The cardboard came to good use for starting many fires in the egg-shaped fireplace that was being built in the main room.
And then there was the opportunity to participate in one of the first three month courses. It was tough and it was so great. What a gift it was to concentrate so totally on the practices. What a joy to have silence for an entire month. Finally, one’s own mind became silent and one could go deep within. Finally, the inner experiences came to the surface of the mind and revealed – the entire subtle body – all the chakras – energy glowing in the most beautiful vivid colours. With it came the realisation that this was real, this was true. And then a most beautiful blue sphere filling the mind’s experience – so still, so complete Supreme Peace. Tears welled up out of the eyes spontaneously. Great Joy was experienced. Later, Swami Janakananda came into the room. He looked at me. He knew. It was not until much later that I fully understood the depth of what had been revealed to me.
This is the greatest gift that a human being can receive. Swami Janakananda, by his compassion and his love, has always pointed the way towards the supreme treasure within one’s own self. This is the most valuable gift that any human being can give to another. And for that never-ending support and love, I am ever grateful and ever in debt. This support and guidance is always manifesting. ”No greater friend hath any man.”
So, it is with Great Regards, Great Respect and Great Love that this offering of salutations can be made in honour of Swami Janakananda for all the great gifts he has given. Not only to me – but to everyone that has had the good fortune to come into his company and receive what he has to give.
OM TAT SAT!
Even though I’ll probably give a speech on your sixtieth birthday, I think that 1) I might say something else and 2) it isn’t easy for anyone to remember the different speeches.
My dear friend! We’ve accompanied each other for nearly 30 years. Here, I almost start to sing “The first time I saw you…”
It was when you were translating a lecture by Swami Satyananda. At that particular time, I didn’t want to do yoga anymore, after having tried two different “yoga ladies”, which gave me a certain physical routine, but there was something missing.
I was together with a yoga teacher. Afterwards, I said to her, “if the like of the young man who was translating was around, I’d very much like to do more yoga”. Anyway, as we both remember, I turned up at your humble and very nicely set up premises in Viborggade. From the first time with you, there were a lot of things that touched something inside me; especially Antar Mauna and Yoga Nidra, but all the other exercises you taught me were so inspiring that I started to use all the little free time I had on yoga.
We also quickly started a practical co-operation, and Nordkrog, Hellerup, was acquired (it’s lucky my job was, and still is, estate agent). We were alone in this new old house, and what I remember best is the joy with which we threw ourselves at the cleaning, the sanding of the floors, and all sorts of other things.
Your creativity in the practical and artistic field really came to advantage. It became a lovely place and, very quickly, many more people arrived, and the first ashram came into being.
Well, there is and always will be a lot of go about you, so, if I remember rightly, in about two years only, that place was too small. You heard of premises on Købmagergade, in the very heart of Copenhagen, and off we went again. The contract was obtained with great trouble (strange lawyer). After about two years, you found out that the house was to be sold on an executive auction. So that really got us going. I remember that when the house was bought and taken over, we were in the aeroplane on the way to the yoga congress in Bogotà, Colombia.
Then you found the school at Håå. But when you asked for my advice about purchase etc., I couldn’t help you. There was too great a difference between the Danish and the Swedish rules. That didn’t stop us from getting going again with scrubbing, cleaning, sanding floors, painting windows etc., but now there were a lot more of us to help. Once again, we had such fun, and the outcome of this is what you, with joy, can look at today. It’s wonderful to age in years, and to call forth memories. I know that you, as I do, “observe it”, and luckily we’re still working on together. No one knows how many people one inspires, whether it is with yoga or with something else, but you have done so for countless people and you’re still going strong.
I’ll finish my little “biography” here and wish you happiness and success in the future. I’m quite sure that the two of us will always work and be together, as long as we are “visiting performers” on this earth. With the very warmest of greetings and a very, very BIG OM
Dear Swami Janakananda
One day, when the drums were conversing with each other, somebody mentioned that Swami Janakananda was about to have a birthday, and that there was to be a big party. The drums discussed the matter back and forth and decided that Táman should be the one to go, because it was known, also among humans, as “the one who speaks”. Therefore, it could both say “happy birthday” in a clear language, and whisper its secrets when the time was ripe. For the fact is with magic, they said, that both the drum and Swami Janakananda have a part in it.
many returns of the day
till the Eternal Time
comes to stay...
The doer does...
and sees the things done,
apt with conviction
equally apt to go beyond...
that is Swami Janakananda
Dear Swami Ji
A few words for the incredible journey you undertook - under what inspiration or plan - divine or human, I don’t know. You have joined your precious life energy with the people who have carried the light of yoga through countless millenniums. Your life and work speak about the same light which existed long ago and which exists today and is helping thousands of seekers around the world.
Knowing you as a friend, a brother and co-traveller on the path of yoga for the past 23 years, it has been my distinct privilege, which I cherish very much. Thank you for your being. I look forward to many many more years of enjoying your presence and friendship, and learning from your example.
All the best for your body, mind & soul.
Roop, Tracy, Arjun and Uma Verma
Congratulations and Gratitude
Throughout life, one is blessed by encounters with others. My life has been very blessed through my contact with Swami Janakananda.
After starting yoga classes in Bergen with Bjarke, I attended the three month course at Håå in 1985. The first time I briefly saw Swami Janakananda (and at that time not knowing who he was), I was struck by that short, silent but very significant encounter. As the course progressed, it became obvious to me that he was my teacher. Wonderful things then started to happen. I would be thinking about a particular topic throughout the day and that night Swami Janakananda would arrive in the yoga room and immediately start talking about the very same topic. At first, I thought it was a series of coincidences. I soon changed my mind. On one particular day, during the silent period, thoughts about Joan of Arc had entered my mind for the first time in years. To my surprise, that evening and for the first time in the course, Swamiji made several references to St. Joan. After that incident, I felt Swami Janakananda had a direct telephone line into my mind. I would mentally ask him a question during the day and that night he would simply provide the answer.
A few years before the three month course, I had been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. For me, the physical aspects of the course were very demanding. There were many poses, which seemed to be completely beyond my capabilities. My back had also sustained some injuries in a car accident some years prior to this. As a result, I experienced a great deal of pain, particularly between the shoulder blades, when sitting in a meditation pose. In one mid morning class during the teaching of the Kriyas, I was experiencing some severe back pain. Swamiji was checking our poses and, as he passed me, he lightly touched my back, saying: “That’s good”. The pain stopped instantaneously and I have never experienced its severity again.
I left Håå at the end of the three month course in fine health, able to do all the yoga programs. Since then, I have continued to enjoy better health than most other people do.
I have been blessed because my contact with Swami Janakananda has been constant and frequent since that first three month course in 1985. Yes, he is my teacher. He is also a cherished friend. As my teacher, Swami Janakananda has allowed me the freedom to grow and develop. He has encouraged me to become a yoga teacher much to my gratitude and the gratitude of my many students in Mackay (Queensland Australia). Whenever I have sought his advice, he has provided guidance and support. But he has never given me instructions on how I should live my life. He has left those decisions to me.
His teaching has shown me how to sustain periods of harmony, energy and drive in my personal and business life. Whilst living in Scandinavia and as a direct result of the inspiration received on the 1985 three month course, I was able to secure the IKEA franchise for the state of Queensland. I am no longer in that business but whenever I drive past the 8,000 sq. metres of IKEA store on the South East Freeway in Brisbane, I look at the place and say: “That’s the store that yoga built”. And I experience gratitude.
For the last nine years, I have been operating my own training business in regional Queensland. I am committed to introducing Swami Janakananda’s teachings into the workplace using the management courses that I conduct as the vehicle. In the business sector today, many people are asking questions about purpose and meaning. Yoga provides the opportunity to discover one’s own answers to these questions.
Like all of us on this wonderful voyage through life, there have been times when life has appeared pretty tough. On one such occasion, I was sitting on the beach in front of my house, feeling very alone and experiencing intense grief. I can recall crying out a question into the dark of that night and asking for an answer. I felt very heavy as I climbed up the path from the beach and entered my home. As I walked in, the telephone rang. There was Swami Janakananda on the line from Sweden, providing me with the answer to the question which, only a few moments ago, I had just asked on the beach in Australia.
Thank you, Swami Janakananda, for being my teacher; for showing me how to access my own wisdom; for being my friend; for being there in times of need; for teaching me how to use the energy to live a full and purposeful life. May your 60th birthday celebration be a happy, joyful occasion. All of the people in Australia who have been touched by your teachings join me in congratulating you on reaching this important point of your life.
With love and gratitude
Robyn Taylor, Mackay, Queensland, Australia. 13 June 1999.
Blessed Self, Swami Janakananda Saraswati - Hari OM
On the occasion of your birthday and also the jubilee of your initiation to sannyas some 30 years ago, what better incentive for my good wishes and congratulations than some chanting from the Ramayana, expressing the joy of Sita Kalyanam, union of the soul with the Supreme?
”The sounds of singing and kettle drums and shouts of victory in heaven as well as in the city overflowed as it were, in all directions… As the king and queen gazed on the bridegroom who was the very fountain of joy, their heart was filled with rapture… And having gone through all the rites sanctioned by the Vedas and the family usage, the glorious king Janaka gave his daughter to the bridegroom and thereby earned fair renown of an unprecedented character.”
This is for you Janakananda! May your health, work and love improve and grow through many more years to come. I wish to join these words of mine to those of the French public who so much appreciated your vibrant talks on yoga and meditation. And we hope to see you again in Paris!
Swami Yogabhakti Saraswati
May I take this opportunity here to thank everybody who contacted me, visited me, written to me or thought of me, and to Swami Ma Sita who has gathered these texts and been the prime mover behind the celebration.