An Early Christmas at Ananda

Christmas carols in the Common Dome, sung by (almost) all-English troubadors. L-R: Roger Hodgson, leader of the Supertramp rock band, Uma, Roger’s sister Carolyn (Cara) Hodgson, band member Frank Farrell, Mary McFadyen, Prita (not English; she got a pass for being Cara’s friend), band friend, and unknown. Click image to enlarge.

(Part 8 on our ongoing series, Swami Kriyananda on Art & the Artist.)

On Christmas Eve, we gathered in the Common Dome where Swamiji regaled us with his reading of a P. G. Wodehouse story. He had been introduced to this British humorist when he was a schoolboy in England, and had loved him ever since. Now he was sharing his enjoyment with us. He was a gifted mimic, and his accents sent us—and occasionally, him—into gales of laughter.

Then outward merriment gave way to inward joy, with Christmas carols and Swamiji’s songs. There were guests from Germany. As a child, Swamiji was as fluent in German as he was in English. Together they sang some of his favorite German carols. Instruments came out for an impromptu concert.

At the Christmas meditation the day before, Swamiji had played some recorded music in the afternoon. Most of his music was not suitable for the occasion, so he played favorite pieces from many traditions. Sitar and tabla from India, a European folk song, a duet from a French opera. Then he played The Blue Danube waltz, which Master had played for every Christmas meditation.

“Visualize yourself in the astral world dancing with the masters,” Swamiji said. When the piece concluded, he smiled mischievously, then said, “Master always played it more than once.”

We listened to it three more times. Swamiji stood near the altar, eyes closed, smiling blissfully, swaying gracefully, keeping the rhythm with a soft clap of his hands.

Earlier in the week, I had come to see Swamiji in the middle of the day, to discuss a business matter. When I arrived, he was making chapatis (Indian unleavened bread) for his lunch, and continued on without breaking his silence. In his lectures, Swamiji often referred to inner experiences devotees may have, but rarely made it personal.

Such an aura of holiness emanated from him as he quietly prepared his simple lunch. Even the smallest task, done for God, becomes an act of worship. (Swami Kriyananda: Lightbearer, 1974, p. 78)

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