I had a chance to work couple of weeks with Indian yoga monk, Acarya Bhavottarananda, in Finland. He has been teaching there yoga, meditation and yogic lifestyle since year 2012. He is speaking weekly on local radio, on lectures, in so called living libraries and participating in Bhajan evenings (singing spiritual songs) with other yoga groups. In the Easter time I attended a seminar, where he lead two days spiritual program with inspiring talks.
His smile never fails although he is working in a very different country than his warm and relaxed home country. India is in many ways quite opposite with its social and psychological outlook and political system than Finland. There are many examples how the Indian culture makes one to love it, but on the other hand one may feel more at ease in Finland. For example Finnish people are serious and take a meeting time exactly as it is, while in India one may end up waiting for 1-2 hours.
As a child Ac Bhavottarananda spent a happy childhood in a remote Indian village Madhya Pradesh, in AMLA province, where his father used to drive trains. The whole family, including five elder sisters and brothers, were strict Hindus and vegetarians. He became well known in surrounding villages as a member of successful volley ball team, but still he was missing some more meaning in his life. He decided to follow renunciate’s spiritual lifestyle and surprisingly his parents were quite supportive. He met at the age of 20 Shrii Shrii Anandamurti, who became his Guru and who inspired him to dedicate his life for service of humanity.
In 1988 while he then was in Training Center for monks in Varanasi, a very dangerous virus attacked the training center and all the 47 trainees became deathly sick with swollen muscles. The doctors gave them handfuls of medicines, but nothing was helping. One of the trainees died before their Guru sent them instructions what to do and he sent also some medicines.
He also explained that the virus came from other planet and that it could have had devastating effect on humanity if it was not stopped. The training center was some kind of testing ground for the virus to penetrate into earth. The whole place had to be abandoned and when their Guru´s medicines were applied on the trainees, they started to recover. Ac Bhavottarananda, still a trainee, was lucky to overcome the sickness on its beginning stage. He was then taking care of all others and administering the medicines.
When he became a monk, his Guru gave him duty to run three schools with 250 children. Then someone else replaced him and he got another duty of taking care of a collective farm. When he had made the farm project productive, he was re-posted to run a children’s home with a school. He had 25 children to feed and many more to educate.
Ac Bhavottarananda told me a very touching story how - when he went with three other monks to renew his passport, and to stay in his home village – a total about 3000 people came to see him within a week, after him spending 12 years in different areas of India without visiting his home place. Not only the relatives and his village people came to see him, but also people from 20 neighboring villages came to listen the talks, lectures and other programs that were arranged for him and other monks. People’s love and care was something he never could have expected. During that time the monks also gave mass initiations and many people joined the mission permanently.
After doing great job in India he was sent abroad, first to Korea, Japan and China and from there in 2012 to Finland in order to offer for western people a chance to become disciples of real yogic tradition. One of the principles of Ananda Marga is to practically learn how to deal with different cultures. Yoga monks work without salary and are posted on any corner of the world. Also other individual members are encouraged to get married with a spouse from different culture. One would think that such marriages would not last, but in reality they are often very successful, as the spouses are chosen according spiritual and psychic unifying qualities.
Ac Bhavottarananda loves to move every day, if he has no other program he sits with his disciples on the railway station in order to give glimpse of soothing meditation practices to passersby. Often people stop and take leaflets or start asking questions. Another way for him to do service is to cook and teach sentient cooking for others.
Bhajans documentary; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8z29yIRFOFA
My two weeks visit in Finland was really nice and I left with inspired mind to continue my effort to do service and bring yogic inspiration in other countries to those who feel need for that in this rapidly spiritually evolving world.