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Radha's Life of Service Part II

October 26, 2007 by Lightwaves
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radhahead1.jpgIn a continuing series of articles, Swami Durgananda will present her research into Swami Radha’s life before and after she met her guru, Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh, India.

Click here to read Part I of the story.
In this Lightwaves account of Swami Radha’s life we start with her return to Montreal from 6 months in India with her guru, Swami Sivananda. She arrived back in Montreal on March 2nd, 1956. In her book, Radha: Diary of a Woman’s Search, she writes about her feelings in the plane. “O my God! I will be arriving in about 10 hours without any money! What will I do? How can I expect other people to look after me? How can I lecture or teach? …. Where will I go? My fear grows.”

radhamain1.jpgWhen she went to India she had left money with her roommate to pay for her part of the expenses as if she was living there. While in India she gave Swami Sivananda all that she had. She told friends the time she would be arriving and that she would need help but she did not hear back from anyone, even her roommate. No one met her, but a kind gentleman paid for her taxi fare to her apartment.

Swami Sivananda had told her she was not to work, but to allow the Lord to take care of her so she would be an inspiration to others. She was to live on faith. I can’t imagine being able to do that especially as Sivananda had no idea what life in the West was like.

I remember her telling us in the 1980’s about her experience of living on faith. A man and wife stopped in to see if she had some books on Yoga and they asked her if she wore her sari to work. When they heard about her not working but living on faith, they agreed to take on her expenses for a few months. She was stunned. Then they sent over a friend who owned a grocery store and brought enough groceries to last her and her roommate for weeks. For me this is like a miracle, but shows that Swami Radha was worthy of the test and played her part in God’s plan.

A Swami’s Calendar, 1956

In the Archives we have a record of what Swami Radha actually did upon her return. This report gives a true picture of her commitment.

A few days after arriving she registered a new school under the name of “SIVANANDA SCHOOL OF YOGA AND VEDANTA” at Quebec’s Superior Court.

On March 10, 1956 she procured the necessary permission from the provincial government to show the film she had brought with her from India: “Life and Activities in the Monastery of Sivananda-Saraswati in the Himalayas”.

radhamain4.jpgMarch to June: she taught three weekly Hatha Yoga classes and one weekly meditation evening, introducing yoga to Montreal.

March 17 &18 1956: She had two afternoon and two evening presentations of the India film. (This gave a bridge to India and was a way that people could relate to her experience.)

March 27, 1956: She met with the German Benevolent Society to lecture and to show the film at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, Montreal.

April 5, 1956: She appeared on a weekly program “Around Our Town” 7:30 pm, CBMT television station, Montreal, on a segment titled “Evening with a Swami,” explaining the meaning and purpose of her stay in India.

April 10, 1956: An invitation for a private lecture and discussion on Vedanta with a gathering of businessmen and scientists known as “The Group”. (It is quite a coincidence that I met a woman living near the Victoria Radha Centre several years ago who had known Swami Radha in those early days. Her husband was a member of “The Group.”)

April 15, 1956: At 10:30 a.m. with Shirley Brett, CBC radio commentator, for a 20-minute talk on Yoga. We have a recording of that talk and pictures of her at the studio. Remember that yoga was all but unheard of in the 1950’s, especially in eastern Canada.

April 25, 1956: Public lecture and the film from India at Victoria Hall, Montreal, where she had done her dance performances two years earlier.

June 28, 1956: Flying to Vancouver, sponsored by the Canada-India Association. Reception for press and television reporters at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Kaapor Siddoo and their daughters, Dr. J. and Dr. S. Siddoo. This connection was very important as the two doctors had attended her yoga classes and were instrumental in her eventual move to Vancouver.

radhamain2.jpg

June 30, 1956: Front page of the Vancouver Herald: Lady Swami Arrives To Teach Yoga Here.

She had come to lecture on Indian philosophy. The first lecture would be on July 9th. She made sure that all the newspapers in the area had information on this series and she put ads in the papers to inform the people of her lectures.

July 1, 1956: Duncan, BC, Sikh Temple, lecture: “Unity of Religion.”

July 6, 1956: The Province, Vancouver; Ex-dancer to Lecture on Yoga Philosophy:

“Mrs. Sylvia Hellman, a former professional dancer who renounced the world for Yoga, is here for a series of lectures on eastern philosophy. ‘Yogis do not perform tricks,’ she said. ’We have a more important mission. Through our meditation we wish to achieve unity with God and our fellow men.’”July 8, 1956: Victoria, BC, Sikh Temple. Lecture: “Yoga: a Universal System of Self-Culture in Modern Life.”

July 9, 1956: The Vancouver Sun: Woman Yogi Here to Spread Call to Freedom

.The article says her training in India has led her to spread the message of Yoga which can even point the way to “freedom from those habit-masters, cigarettes and alcohol”.

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July 10, 1956: The Vancouver Sun: Woman Yogi Draws Big Crowd Here:

“It was standing room only when a visiting woman yogi expounded the theory of reincarnation in Vancouver Monday night. Some 550 people, 100 of them standing, jammed into the Columbian Hall to hear Swami Sivananda Radha describe the Hindu system of asceticism and philosophic meditation.” (I remember Swami Radha telling us about this lecture and how they had to move everyone into a larger hall. Because of the response her future lectures were held in the larger Sikh Temple.)

July 10, 1956: Lecture to private group in West Vancouver titled: “Foundation of Group Study”.

July 11, 1956: Sikh Temple, Vancouver. Lecture: “Yoga and Vedanta in Modern World”.

July 12, 1956: Vancouver Sikh Temple: Hatha Yoga Class.

July 13, 1956: Interview with Jack Webster, radio reporter of CJOR radio station, 8 pm. Subject: “Yoga and Modern Life”.

Private invitation to Dr. Pandia’s house to instruct young Indian boys on the principles of the Divine Life. I think this would have been something close to Swami Radha’s heart as she always wanted to help the young people.

July 14, 1956: Dunsmuir Auditorium, Vancouver, lecture: “Guru and Disciple”; coloured slides of the activities of the Forest University in the Himalayas.

July 15, 1956: Dunsmuir Auditorium, Vancouver. Lecture: “Spiritual Diary for Effective Living”. Coloured slides: “Yoga”. And: “Indian Dancing”. (It is not clear if she actually performed some Indian dance. If that was so, the audience really got their money’s worth!)

July 16, 1956: Flying from Vancouver to Toronto, meeting the representatives of the new Sivananda School of Yoga and Vedanta group there. And two days later a meeting of the new Toronto group, showing coloured slides and giving personal instructions on Yoga. Notice this is the 9th day in a row that she had a presentation.

July 20, 1956: Returning to Montreal into seclusion to organize expanding school activities for new fellow-students throughout the country.

August 20, 1956: Invited to Ottawa, personal request of Mr. & Mrs. N. Galatzine and Mrs. M. Massey. Coloured slides shown to group of invited guests. Two radio broadcasts to be presented through the CBO radio station, Ottawa, by the well-known Maude Ferguson, title-names: “Unity of Religion” and “Yoga as a Universal System” on the 27th and 29th of August respectively.

August 24, 1956: Return to Montreal to resume activities of organizing the School. She appeared to be tireless and I am sure she was given the energy she needed because she was doing what Swami Sivananda asked of her.

In 1958 Swami Radha returned to India and stopped in Hong Kong to give presentations. This time will be covered in our next account from the archives.

By Swami Durgananda

Click here to read Part I of the story.


4 Comments »

  1. It was so wonderfull to be able to read these stories about Swami Radha’s early life while I am down here in Guyana. It reminded me of sitting in the atrium at the Ashram and reading through the newspaper clippings from that time. Reading them again on the web really helps me to maintain my connection to Swami Radha’s work. The stories show how Swami Radha walked through every single door that opened for her in her quest to follow Swami Sivanada’s request to share his work in the west.

    Comment by Nicolette Smith — October 26, 2007 @ 7:38 pm

  2. Fascinating to read about Swami Radha’s presence in 1956 in Montréal…and the realization that I was ten years old at that time, living somewhere close by to her in Montréal.
    As I see this image of her teaching yoga, dancing, speaking, serving in my neighbourhood and I, a child-in-waiting, later becoming a student of her Teachings…I feel this shiver of recognition and unknown earlier closeness to her.

    Comment by Patricia Hurdle — October 27, 2007 @ 8:30 am

  3. I’m grateful that Swami Radha left a journal describing her activities. It gives me a great appreciation for her gift of selfless service, commitment, the nuts and bolts underlying her “living on faith”. I then take her example and ponder it, wondering how I, too, can align my life on this yogic path.

    Comment by Deborah Rose — October 27, 2007 @ 1:41 pm

  4. Thank you Swami Durgananda. Her story is inspiring!

    Comment by Mark — October 27, 2007 @ 5:08 pm

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