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Radha's Life of Service XIV

October 15, 2008 by Lightwaves

Swami Durgananda’s popular and inspired series continues with accounts of Ashram life and Swami Radha’s travels in 1972.

This month I start with the 1972 Fall issue of Ascent. It tells of the visit of Swami Venkatesananda who was a close friend of Swami Radha’s during her stay in India at the Sivananda Ashram in Rishikesh. He had an Ashram in Mauritius and visited Yasodhara Ashram in the beginning of Spring ‘72, “giving talks on Yoga and the integration of spiritual values in everyday life and leading meditation and chanting. His approach was unassuming and refreshing. Much to our delight he has accepted our invitation to visit again for a longer stay…hopefully for a 3-month visit in late ‘73 and early ’74.”

News on the ongoing construction and renovations is updated: “Work on Sivananda House continues. The ground floor has been converted back to a classroom/hall after serving as the ashram print shop for a few years.”  The print shop was later moved to the ground floor of Radha House where it was located when I visited the Ashram in 1978.

“The new Guest Lodge, Saraswati House, named after the Hindu Goddess of Knowledge and Wisdom (and the Arts) is now fully operative on the upstairs floor and filled to capacity much of the time this summer. The ground floor is unfinished waiting for our resources to match the needs of its completion,”   Again the need for donations comes forward.

“We have acquired some video recording equipment to be used in growth sessions. It will enable us to televise programs and classes given at the Ashram to use in the future.”   I found some photos of Sarah Polster, who was the Ashram cook, using some video equipment with Krishnananda. This gives a larger concept of her work at the ashram. Swami Radha often encouraged women to not only use their talents but also to open up to new areas.

The Spring 1973 issue of Ascent brings information about the expansion of the bookstore and Sarah’s talents. “Ashram craftsmen are now starting to ply their trades. Sarah Polster, known to many of you for her ‘Ashram Cookbook,’ is also a very talented seamstress. She has made a number of long skirts which are very pretty and practical.”

Other items were mentioned and were offered as a way “to help us achieve our goal of economic self-sufficiency. This is essential if the spiritual work of the Ashram is to develop and grow….and we offer you goods ‘Made With Blessings and Sold With Love.”

So the Ashram bookstore became Ashram Books and Crafts.

The Winter 1972 Ascent mentions Swami Radha’s trip to Minneapolis where……”she participated in some experiments with Dr. Jose Feola and some of his associates to enquire into the nature of the effects of certain spiritual practices. The relationship of bio-feedback data to the whole field of expanding consciousness is of great interest to us here at the Ashram.”  Swami Radha was well informed about what was going on in the scientific field and read a wide range of books on new discoveries. She also had her own experiences to give her information on a personal level.

On this subject there was mention in Ascent of her traveling in early May to the Council Grove Conference in Kansas. “This is a limited invitation, a scientific gathering which brings together some of the leading figures in the spiritual fields of development, altered states of consciousness, and paranormal healing. Swami Radha reported that there was a good feeling among the participants as many exciting discoveries were shared.”

I found in Swami Radha’s correspondence over the years that her range of interests and knowledge was phenomenal. She was not only at ease with scientists, sharing her discoveries from her own personal experiences, but she responded to any person with a certain interest bringing forward ideas to discuss with them. She was well informed on many areas of study.

When she was traveling she knew she was leaving the Ashram in the protection of the Divine while she was away. She knew it was important to make contact with centers or individuals that were carrying on the teachings. I heard her say many times that she was leaving the ashram  “to wind up the clocks” in the various contacts in Canada and the U.S.

In the next Chapter of Swami Radha’s Life of Service there will be a focus on her purpose in being at the Ashram in the winters of 1972 and 1973.

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