The Prime Minister of India, the Honorable Sri Narendra Modi, paid tribute to the lifework of Paramahansa Yogananda during a special ceremony in New Delhi on March 7, 2017.
The occasion was the release of a postage stamp (shown at left) by the Government of India commemorating the 100th anniversary of Yogoda Satsanga Society (YSS—the name by which Paramahansa Yogananda’s work is known in India). The date was chosen to honor the anniversary of Paramahansaji’s mahasamadhi, which took place on March 7, 1952.
Yogoda Satsanga Society of India had its beginning in a small ashram and boys’ school founded by Paramahansa Yogananda in Dihika, India, in March 1917. Today YSS has some 200 meditation centers and groups throughout India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.
(Note: Please excuse the transmission error that occurs from 15:56 to18:18 in the video.)
The Prime Minister unveiled the new stamp before an assemblage of more than 1,500 government officials and YSS members and admirers, in the spacious main hall of Vigyan Bhavan, the government’s convention center for official events. He then delivered an inspired address in Hindi, in which he characterized Paramahansaji as one of India’s greatest yogis and teachers—one whose life and work demonstrated for the world the tremendous value of India’s spirituality—and praised YSS for successfully maintaining the legacy and spirit of its founder in sharing India’s ancient heritage in the modern world.
Excerpts From the Speech by the Prime Minister:
“Today on March 7th, we are gathered together to commemorate a special occasion,” the Prime Minister said. “And I pranam to Sri Sri [Mrinalini] Mataji, for I am told that she is joining us in this ceremony from Los Angeles….
“Much courage and conviction is required to be able to turn oneself within and to embark on [the] inner journey. Some systems of Yoga require outer strength and suppleness, whereas [the path of] Kriya Yoga is that which asks for an inner commitment, and, imparting that courage, it takes you on a journey of deciphering the mysteries of life….
“[Paramahansa Yogananda] would often say, ‘I do not want to die on a bed in a hospital. I want to die with my boots on and speaking of my Mother India.’ And that means, even as he left the shores of India to spread the message of its ancient teachings to the Western world, there must not have been one fraction of a second wherein he felt detached or separated from his dear motherland….
“Removing rigid dogma, he made spirituality so approachable and tangible that in these hundred years since he started it, his work has become a worldwide movement, a perennial resource of spiritual understanding….[He] built and systematized his organization in such a way that it continues to fulfill its mission to this day. And today while receiving and partaking of his realization, his soul-bliss, his work continues to forge ahead. I think this is one of his biggest contributions.”
A Message From Sri Mrinalini Mata
Seated on the stage with Prime Minister Modi during the event were YSS General Secretary Swami Smaranananda and other members of the YSS Board of Directors, including Swami Vishwananda, a member of the SRF/YSS Board of Directors who had traveled from the International Headquarters in Los Angeles to be present. Swami Smaranananda gave the program’s opening address, after which Swami Vishwananda conveyed an inspiring message from SRF/YSS’s president and sanghamata, Sri Mrinalini Mata, who was watching the live webcast from Los Angeles.
Sri Mrinalini Mata stated in her message: “India’s greatest wealth and strength—today as throughout her long history—lies in her cherishing and actively expressing the eternal spiritual truths that her seers have perceived and bequeathed to humanity….That the Government of India has chosen today to honor the lifework of one such exemplary divine personage is a profound source of hope and inspiration not only for India, but for the millions worldwide who look to her for spiritual light in these troubled times.”