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Radha's Life of Service XII

August 22, 2008 by Lightwaves

The series continues with an inspired account of what ashram life was like for Swami Radha in the early 70s.

Swami Radha’s story has some surprises in this issue. It starts out with her description of the previous summer in 1969 and the new house that was being built for her.  There is a letter to a friend dated Jan. 5, 1970 in which she tells about that time.

teaching outside many mansions“A very busy summer with lots of searching young people, (and me) trying to give to each some share of counsel, etc. ; then the new house—-packing and moving and working in the new house now called “Many Mansions” because activities are going on here. A seminar in Calgary, and coming home here and starting the end of same week a Yoga Teacher Course right up to Christmas….” (This was the beginning of a three-month intensive for Yoga Teachers and what is now called the Yoga Development Course.)

She continues, “I enjoy the new place immensely and feel I can work much better, less strained, with all the space around and the lovely atmosphere…. The lower floor has not been started,…but it is already a great place to live. It lent itself to a lively New Years party. Everyone came dressed up with my old dancing costumes. We filmed it and everyone said it was the most beautiful party they ever had.

“Christmas saw 30 people eating Indian style on the floor, with all our neighbors visiting in the big lounge, now called the chandelier room because of the lovely little chandeliers we bought on sale from the Simpson catalogue.”

Another letter written on February 26, 1970 tells about the furniture that she refinished. “It looks very elegant, the same old brown furniture I had, I antiqued them all in white and gold and what a transformation! The rest (meaning the carpet) is in purple; a beautiful combination for my taste.

Swami Radha and Mira“In addition to that, two weeks ago a student in Spokane gave me a miniature black female poodle named Mira, 4 months old, a real darling. She brings life into the house.

“A new society has been started recently in the U.S. just across the border in Idaho. This is very promising.”   (It became the Association for the Development of Human Potential, the ADHP, with headquarters in Spokane. Swami Radha said she wanted to have an official centre in the U.S. so that she could give donation receipts to people who were giving generous contributions to her work.)

She continues, “I was offered some land in Hawaii. I might fly there in June to see what it is like. All sorts of things are going on. Some will materialize and some will not. It is all in the Divine Plan.”

A letter she wrote in March 1970 has some surprising news in it:

“We have spring now and all the young men are out working again……. The weather is good until the end of November and we have to plan carefully for the food for the number of people that will be here for the winter….We pool money, eat together and decide as a group how things are done….Our goal, awareness, is a common one and keeps us together. I am often away on a lecture tour. For this year we closed the Ashram for visitors to finish work on buildings and grounds as we do most things ourselves and so time is always filled up with projects.”

A letter dated July 22, 1970 presents a different picture. Swami Radha writes” I came down with a bad cold, while the Ashram was brimming with people, despite the fact that we were officially closed. There were just so many ‘exceptions’, but all went well without me, classes were set up spontaneously by ashram members and will finish the end of this month. The cold gave me a chance of taking a rest.”

Swami Radha writes in a letter dated September 24, 1970. “I feel the Ashram is taking on a new form. We are building a new guest house which will allow group work for as many as twenty people. Then having our old guest quarters and some tents that are 9 by 18 feet, we can accommodate thirty people. The idea is to see this building project through. We have already cleared the land, the basements have already been dug out with our tractor, and we expect the men to arrive soon to pour the concrete.”

The Guest Lodge in the foreground and the house for the Moore family in behindA letter written to a friend on October 7, 1970 tells more about the building projects. “Turi is very busy. We have been clearing land, digging ditches, digging basements, because a family by the name of Moore is building their house here and we are trying to be of service to them to get it done by winter. So at the same time we try to prepare two basements for two buildings we hope to get up by next summer. Then of course, the Ascent and many other things.”   The arrangements with the Moore family was that they could build their house at their own expense and live there, but if they left the ashram it became the property of the ashram. This is what happened as a year after the house was finished they had some financial difficulties and had to leave. I guess that is when it became Radha House.

An important issue at this time was money to pay for these projects as explained in a letter to close friends written on November 17, 1970.  “We have so many people here at the Ashram that Krishnananda has had to leave the Ashram and take a job in Vancouver in order to pay our bills. Surveying has come down so much that there simply wasn’t enough money for us to see ourselves through the winter…..It seems to be the old story of this ashram….while we are high in spirits and harmony, we never seem to be high in finances.”

To close on a high note, there is a section in a letter written on December 29, 1970.  “Now we have a family with four children, a family with two children, and a couple with no children, and two young fellows also. We now far outnumber the original core group. However, many things get done…The building has been carried on in spite of the cold and the constant snow…. Although there is much hard work, and many hours of such work, we are all very, very happy. We feel that the step towards the new development in the ashram had been anticipated a long time ago, and is now coming closer… to be able to teach more effectively and to more people.”

It is clear that in those early days they depended on donations from interested people just as we do now as we upgrade our buildings by introducing geothermal heating and cooling and doing more insulating and sustainable projects. In the ‘70’s it was just getting the buildings up!

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