Swami Mukundananda Launches Spiritual Retreat with Yoga Session

Chicago IL: Swami Mukundananda, founder of JK Yog and Bal-Mukund, launched his spiritual program in Chicagoland on Saturday, September 14, 2013, with a noon session of yoga, meditation, bhajans, and spiritual discourse titled “Body, Mind, Soul” at The Meadows Club, Rolling Meadows, Ill. Event sponsor and guest of honor Naren Patel who attended the event with his wife and sister, Lina Patel, welcomed the Swami with words of praise for his authenticity. Dressed in loose attire, attendees had brought long yoga mats for the exercises. The proceedings were conducted by Ajay Chandok. The Swami’s writings, songs, and other output were available in the form of books and digital media.

Swami Mukundananda led the assembly in performing an ordered sequence of asanas (physical postures) accompanied by regulated breathing, shifting of attention to different parts of the body, and creative visualizations. In every case, he explained the various benefits in precise medical terms not forgetting to mention precautions for those suffering from specific ailments or subject to special conditions. Beginning with sitting (frog, etc.) postures, they transitioned to reclining (crocodile, etc.) asanas, and ended up with a “subtle body relaxation” in the corpse posture (shavaasana) to detach the soul from the body and bring it into proximity with God. The visualization in this instance focused on making the body transparent, glowing golden with good health, and rise to the abode of Lord Krishna (the forest of Brindavana) to enjoy his Beauty.

For the Swami’s preferred expression of devotion was through Radha’s love for the divine flute-player. On his right side, the raised dais featured a decorated pedestal of flowers topped by a large photo of Radha and Krishna, standing side-by-side their bodies bent and with their heads graciously tilted towards each other. The yogic exercises were interspersed with the playing of recorded musical accompaniment to the Swami taking the lead in singing the lyrics of the kirtans to Radha-Krishna in a regional dialect of Hindi.

In an unexpected twist, the yoga session ended with participants being asked to form couples seated facing each other, close enough for their knees to touch, and laugh explosively with joy. Such “laughter yoga” was prescribed to flush out accumulated toxins, facilitate deep breathing, and rejuvenate the endocrine system. The “science of healthy diet” was announced as the topic of the next day’s lecture. The Swami cautioned against too much sugar and acidic food, emphasizing that for optimum health the body fluids must kept slightly alkaline (pH of 7.4).

Swami Mukundananda’s discourse was devoted to the subject of bhakti as a preferred mode of reaching God. Having distinguished it from the path of knowledge (jnaana), he defined “devotion” from multiple perspectives by citing the etymologies of bhakti (from bhajanam, bhaj, bhaav, etc.) given in different Hindu scriptures. He thereby integrated the notions of worship, love, service to humanity, etc., as complementary aspects of the same practice. “Bhakti is bestowed by God’s grace (siddha) and is also the result of devotee’s efforts (saadhana)” he declared, resolving the apparent contradiction between the two viewpoints. Saadhana-bhakti is the efforts we make to cleanse the heart, whereas siddha-bhakti is the rare grace of God that enslaves Him to the wishes of the supreme devotee, who has refused all lesser gifts. The Swami showed the audience his just published new translation of the Bhagavad Gita with a fresh and readily intelligible commentary.

The session ended with the traditional lamp-offering (aarati) to the deity and guru, followed by the distribution of blessed food (prasaad) to the queued up devotees. Because of the spiritual retreat being held in Chicago for the first time the following weekend, the Swami’s lecture series have been shortened from the usual 7 to 5 days.

Swami Mukundananda is a renowned spiritual teacher from India, and is the senior disciple of Jagadguru Shree Kripaluji Maharaj, and leads the mission in the USA. He is the founder of the Yogic system called “Jagadguru Kripaluji Yog”, widely known as JKYog. Swamiji is a unique renunciate (sanyaasin), with a distinguished technical and management educational background that complements his profound spiritual knowledge. Swamiji has been teaching yoga and meditation for over 15 years and personally practicing for over 40 years. He is a renowned expert on such techniques and has presented them to a worldwide audience in the last many years. He is also the author of many books and articles on these subjects.

Photo captions for Swami Mukundananda event (in order of priority):
#13 =Swami Mukundananda leads the yoga session.
#3985 = Event sponsor and chief guest Naren Patel offers a bouquet of flowers to Swami Mukundananda before the yoga session.
#4025 = Swami Mukundananda presents his new translation of the Bhagavad Gita with easy-to-understand commentary.
#14 = Attendees form couples to practice laughter-yoga.
#23 = Event sponsor and chief guest Naren Patel (R) addresses the audience after being introduced by MC Ajay Chandok (L)
#4010 = Swami Mukundananda discourses on the meaning and practice of bhakti-yoga