Satchidananda Ashram –Yogaville is blessed with several sacred sites where prayer and worship services, holiday celebrations, and meditation sessions are regularly held. The holy vibrations that result from all the devotional and meditative activity fill the Ashram with healing energy, and an atmosphere of peace and harmony. This beautiful, serene environment attracts devotees, students, and spiritual seekers from around the world who come to recharge and progress on their path.
Sivananda Hall is named after Sri Swami Sivananda, the Guru of Sri Swami Satchidananda. Since its dedication on March 12, 1986, the hall has been used for multiple purposes including serving as the venue for our weekly spiritual gathering, known as “satsang”, which features: kirtan (chanting), a DVD of Sri Swami Satchidananda, a spiritual discourse by a guest presenter or senior member, and closing prayers for world peace. Sivananda Hall also serves as a venue for our annual spiritual celebrations such as Guru Poornima and the Jayanthi (Birthday) of Sri Swami Satchidananda, among others.
On August 19, 2002, Sri Gurudev attained Mahasamadhi, the term used to describe the final passage of a God-realized soul from the body. Beginning on August 22, 2002, and lasting for an entire week, Sri Gurudev’s body was interred according to traditional Vedic rituals inside Chidambaram, his special Mahasamadhi Shrine. In accordance with Sri Gurudev’s wishes, the ceremonies were conducted by a revered priest from the Perur Temple of South India.
Before his passing, Sri Gurudev spoke about the special blessings that would emanate from Chidambaram and told devotees: “I will always be with you in Spirit. Even if my body is not there, you will never be without me. When the day comes that I leave the body, you will be able to come here to receive the answers to your questions and the solutions to your problems.”
The Shrine is open daily for prayer and meditation. Special intentions and prayer requests are offered at the daily puja (worship service) every morning.
Dedicated on July 16, 1989, Guru Bhavan serves as the primary meditation hall at the Ashram. Located on the central area of the grounds, a meditation session is held at 5:00 am, followed by another session at 6:20 am. At 12 noon, Guru Bhavan serves as one of the three venues for silent meditation, along with LOTUS and Chidambaram. In the evening, there is a session held at 6:00 pm.
Guru Bhavan is also used for spiritual initiations, ordinations, graduations and memorial services.
The hall is lined with display cabinets containing memorabilia from the life and service of Sri Swami Satchidananda, including: artifacts from his personal life, gifts presented to him from devotees around the world, and hand-crafted items.
On the walls at the back of the hall are some of the many awards presented to Sri Swami Satchidananda honoring his dedicated service to humanity.
The magnificent Lord Siva Nataraja Shrine is situated at a lovely hilltop location overlooking theLOTUS Shrine, with a panoramic view of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance. Dedicated in 1991, the site is known as “Kailash,” named after the holy abode of Lord Siva in the Himalayas.
The seven-foot tall bronze Moorti, or sacred statue, that is installed within the Shrine was generously donated to the Ashram by Sri Dr. Karan Singh and his wife, Princess Yasho. Dr. Singh is a former Indian Ambassador to the United States and a well-known scholar and public servant.
Lord Siva Nataraja, the Lord of the Cosmic Dance, dances with a flaming halo symbolizing the Pranava OM or universal intelligence/energy. He “dances,” or rotates, every six hours for approximately ten minutes, at 12 noon, 6 p.m.,12 midnight, and 6 a.m. The Moorti is enclosed by glass on all sides.
At the feet of Lord Nataraja sits a beautiful Lingam (the universal symbol of Lord Siva) with smaller Moortis of Nandishwara Deva (Sri Nandi), Sri Ganesha, Sri Subramanyam (Lord Muruga), and Sri Sivakami Mata, His Consort.
Adjacent to the Shrine are additional enclosures housing marble Moortis of Lord Sri Ganesha, Lord Siva in His Aspect of Lord Sri Shankara, Lord Sri Krishna, and Sri Durga (Parashakti). These welcoming Deities were created in Jaipur, India and installed here in 1993. An additional bronze Moorti of Sri Swami Satchidanandaji sits a short distance away gazing toward Sri Nataraja.
Puja (Hindu ritual worship) is performed daily inside the Sanctum, generally at 11:45 a.m. On Pradosham (Lord Siva’s special holy day), puja is performed at dusk instead. The Sanctum is open only during pujas. Please check with the Ashram for exact timing and any timing changes.
Light Of Truth Universal Shrine – LOTUS
Perhaps the crowning glory of Swami Satchidananda’s interfaith work is the Light Of Truth Universal Shrine – an interfaith shrine built in Yogaville in 1986. LOTUS celebrates the unity behind the diversity of the world religions. Open to people of all faiths to meditate and pray, this shrine uses the universal symbol of light as the symbol of the Divine. It is the first shrine ever built to house altars for every major faith and also faiths less well-known and those not yet known. For in depth information including video clips, a virtual tour and much more please visit the official LOTUS website at www.LOTUS.org