Smriti Mandir Dedication Video
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the dedication of the Sri Sri Paramahansa Yogananda Smriti Mandir (memorial shrine) in Yogoda Satsanga Sakha Ashram, Ranchi. The Mandir stands at the sacred spot in the ashram precincts where Gurudeva, Sri Sri Paramahansa Yogananda, had a vision of going to America, exactly a hundred years ago in 1920. Describing this vision in his Autobiography of a Yogi, Paramahansaji writes:
“America! Surely these people are Americans!” This was my thought as a panorama of Western faces passed before my inward view.
Immersed in meditation, I was sitting behind some dusty boxes in the storeroom of the Ranchi school. A private spot was difficult to find during those busy years with the youngsters!
The vision continued; a vast multitude, gazing at me intently, swept actor-like across the stage of consciousness.
It was an epoch-making moment that led to Paramahansaji’s departure to America and subsequently establishing Self-Realization Fellowship for worldwide dissemination of India’s ancient science of Kriya Yoga. The details of this vision and the ensuing events have been recounted in Autobiography of Yogi. At the Smriti Mandir dedication programme Sri Sri Daya Mata, the third president and sanghamata of YSS/SRF, said, “We thank our beloved God for sending Gurudeva as his messenger of Truth. It is in the thought of Gurudeva’s deep love for God and the remembrance of his selfless life, lived entirely for the benefit of others that we dedicate this Sri Sri Paramahansa Yogananda Smriti Mandir.”
The place where Paramahansaji had the vision a hundred years ago, was a tiny storeroom. For a long time, a Dhyana Mandir, built at the same place, served as a sacred site for daily meditations. It was after years of dedicated planning, that this marble structure was constructed.
Not only does the Mandir have a deep spiritual significance, but also possesses an imposing architectural beauty. Set like a jewel in the middle of the ashram, one is immediately struck by this flawless white masterpiece and its innate simplicity — the marble dome against azure skies, the edifice itself surrounded by the green lawns, latticed with multi-hued flowers. The Mandir assumes a unique grandeur during Diwali when it is decorated with hundreds of candles. Every visitor marvels at the aesthetic splendour of this shrine and feels a palpable sense of peace; no one passes by without glancing at its impressive beauty. The magnificent life-size picture of Guruji on the altar appears to be full of life and love, which pours ceaselessly on the devotees entering the Mandir — a living testimony to the words inscribed above the entrance — “Only Love can take my place.” These words serve as a reminder of that divine life, epitomized by the Premavatar (Incarnation of Love), so that we too may manifest this love in our lives.
This iconic, all-marble, octagonal temple was dedicated on March 22, 1995, by Swami Anandamoy Giri, a direct disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda and a deeply respected YSS/SRF sannyasi, during a week-long programme of the Smriti Mandir Samarpan Sangam, which was held from March 20 to 26 in 1995. The programme was attended by around 1,200 devotees.
On the dedication day, Sri Daya Mataji said, “Our wish has been to build a fitting memorial here at Ranchi that would honour our beloved Gurudeva and the worldwide mission set in motion by the vision that he had here seventy-five years ago. Today that wish is fulfilled. Today we honour that sublime Guru, that great lover of God and mankind, Sri Sri Paramahansa Yogananda….May this beautiful marble shrine serve as a visible reminder that Gurudeva lived and walked on this earth, so that mankind may learn the true meaning of life; and so that we too might love God, commune with God and live in the conscious awareness of his ever-new love and joy. We dedicate this Sri Sri Paramahansa Yogananda Smriti Mandir where devotees may come individually to sit quietly in meditation and commune with God and Gurudeva.”
Holy places have a great significance, in that they retain the vibrations of the saint who lived and meditated in that spot, for ages to come. Guruji said, “When you go to a very spiritual place, you receive uplifting vibrations, and they will change you for the better. That is the value of pilgrimages to places where great saints have lived.” Countless devotees throughout the years attest to the divine experience of having a special communion with Guruji in this sacred spot. To the degree of one’s receptivity, Smriti Mandir offers solace, guidance, and love that every soul is seeking.
Here are some thoughts from devotees who visited the Smriti Mandir for the first time in 1995:
“On entering the Ashram so familiar to us for years, we were thrilled to see the beautiful marble shrine. The Smriti Mandir is a beautiful piece of architecture. The beautiful picture of our Gurudeva in the shrine appears to be full of life, his loving gaze pouring ceaseless blessings on devotees entering the sacred shrine.”
“It was like Guruji sitting before me watching how I am meditating.”
“Ranchi we had seen before, but this time it was different. Located in the centre is a beautiful marble construction with a lacy screen on all sides; a huge dome and the surrounding pillars make a very imposing picture when you first behold it. Then there is a huge portrait — Guruji coming right out of it just about wanting to greet you. And the vibrations in the Mandir! What can I say! It is as if Gurudeva himself has come down and stationed himself there.”
A few thoughts from devotees who have been visiting the Ranchi Ashram over the years:
“The moment I step into the ashram grounds, it gives me a feeling that I always belonged here. When I sit in the calm recesses of the Smriti Mandir, it fills me with gratitude that my Guru left the comfort of his homeland, braving the Western world, to bring these teachings to the world and me.”
“If Guruji was content with his thriving boy’s school, and if he did not have that vision in that storeroom, we would not have seen this day, where thousands of devotees are enjoying the benefits of Kriya Yoga.”
“Every time I enter Smriti Mandir, all my worries and anxieties exit from my being.”
“What a humble place to begin this great monument of an organization.”