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Radha's Life of Service XIII

September 16, 2008 by Lightwaves

The series continues with an inspired account of Swami Radha overcoming the challenges of building the Ashram and travelling to spread the teachings in the early 70s.

In the early years of the Ashram Swami Radha had many issues to deal with, not only the developing of the ashram but the traveling that was necessary to give workshops and lectures to ‘put the ashram on the map’ as she called it. This kind of schedule was very demanding on her health but she kept going with the support of the Light.

A letter written on February 28, 1971 tells of Swami Radha’s plans to travel in the spring. “I will be in England by the end of April, then carry on to Holland, Germany and the other German speaking countries and hope to find a German printing publisher. I had tried 3 or 4 years ago by mail, but that is not very successful, so will see by personal contact.” Her trip was covered in the Fall, 1971 Ascent and she did visit a number of countries and spent time in Munich with a recording company, GEMA.”

Another letter dated May 17, 1971, written to some Ashram friends by Swami Radha’s secretary who was a resident, tells of a difficult financial situation at the ashram. “”We have been placed in some unexpected and serious financial straights, and we will not be able to accommodate all the people this summer that we were planning on. We probably won’t have the new Guest Lodge ready, so we will have to place guests in tents and other accommodations around the Ashram…..We simply do not have the finances to carry through with as large a program as we had planned.”

Apparently what happened was that some donations for the Guest Lodge materials were not forth coming when they had been counted on. It was a serious situation but Swami Radha wrote to a friend. ””We have sent Swami Krishnananda to the coast to make some winter money, as there is no work here.” Krishnananda had experience as a land surveyor and he was able to get work in Vancouver.

The Fall 1971 issue of Ascent magazine tells of the continuing work on the construction of the Guest Lodge. “Because of technical and various other difficulties we were unable to complete the construction of the guest lodge, to be known as the Saraswarti House, in time for the start of the Summer Program. Nevertheless, we were still able to carry on with a slightly reduced program that was very successful in spite of limited space. We did manage to revamp our dining and catering facilities, and although we are not yet done, we have come a long way since 1962 when the cooking was done on a wood stove.”

The story continues in the Winter of 1971-72 issue of Ascent:

“Our series of Yoga weekends has come to its conclusion just before Christmas and it has been extremely encouraging to witness the positive response given to them. We are now lining up programs for the spring and summer.” (This sounds very similar to an Ashram report for 2008!)

“Swami Radha has been back in the Ashram since November after several weeks of traveling around last fall. She will be staying at the Ashram for several months as she is in charge of the Yoga Teacher Training Course now being held here until the end of March.” (She started out by teaching all the workshops in this course for the three months. Then she began bringing in other trained teachers to help out.}

Ascent continues: “Our guest lodge, Saraswati House is gradually being put into shape with several of the upstairs rooms having been completed in time for our Christmas Festival Program….The continuing progress on this building is an expression of vision, faith, selfless service and hard work on the part of the individuals at the Ashram and the people at large who believe in the validity of the ideals and work of the Ashram.

“Bringing it to a more personal level, the Ashram is people, Some of these people, like Swami Radha, teach others both within and outside the Ashram; others go outside and work to give support financially, others cook the meals and take care of the domestic needs, others build within the Ashram, and others who live outside of the ashram and visit on occasion help provide funds and moral support. It all comes together in many fascinating and diverse ways….

“What is most important is that at the base of these relationships and activities is a spiritual principle, the growth and expansion of consciousness in all modes of expression. So the building of the guest lodge is not just another construction project. It is a very special construction project because it is a means by which a number of people can experience growth in some form or another.”

Spiritual growth is what Karma Yoga is all about and ‘Selfless Service makes you Divine’ as Gurudev often said. Karma Yoga has been the core of the Ashram for the past 45 years and the Ashram continues to thrive.


  1. Loving the series Durgananda! What a blessing to work on this with you and go through the Swami Radha photo archive. Seeing pictures of her and hearing about her dedication is a true inspiration to me. I look forward to the next one already!!
    Thank you Swami Durgananda.

    Comment by Michael McCarthy — September 16, 2008 @ 6:58 pm

  2. This is one of my favorite parts of Lightwaves. I enjoy reading accounts of the beginning days and the pictures. It helps me gain a deeper understanding of what it must have been like for Swami Radha and her longtime gopis. And I have such a growing appreciation for the foundation that has been laid. Thank you, Swami Durgananda, for putting these gems together.

    Comment by Deborah — September 17, 2008 @ 10:05 pm

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