A Message from Swami Chidananda Giri
A New League of YSS/SRF Kriyabans
One hundred years ago, in 1920, Sri Sri Paramahansa Yogananda departed from his beloved India for the United States to begin his divinely ordained mission of spreading India’s ancient science of Kriya Yoga worldwide. For more than thirty years, until his mahasamadhi in 1952, he laboured with pure divine love, tirelessly and joyously, in fulfilment of that mission.
It was a special joy during the centennial year of Paramahansaji’s international work to introduce another major milestone in the development of his worldwide mission. As I explained at the conclusion of the 2020 Self-Realization Fellowship World Convocation, the plan is to create a global league of YSS/SRF Kriyaban disciples who want to pledge a deeper commitment to 1) structuring their daily lives around the spiritual ideals (sadhana) he gave; and 2) giving freely of their time and resources to serve and support his YSS/SRF organization. In Yogoda Satsanga Society of India it will be known as the YSS Sevak League; and in Self-Realization Fellowship it will be called the SRF Voluntary League of Lay Disciples.
Our Guru devoted much time during the final years of his life to the formation of a vehicle or structure through which Kriyaban devotees of YSS and SRF worldwide could actively participate in the growth and progress of his work. Now that dream of his is coming to fruition.
Update on Schedule: 2021 Launch of the Sevak League
Our current plan is to inaugurate a YSS Online Dhyana Kendra on January 31, 2021. By this summer we hope to have a full website for the YSS Sevak League, and at that time we will be ready to start accepting applications to join. We will also publish an inspiring Handbook about the YSS/SRF path of discipleship, sadhana (spiritual practice), and guru-seva (service to the Guru) for those who enrol.
In the meantime, I am continuing the process of introducing the Sevak League through a new blog (of which this is the first post), to share with you some of the inspiring history behind this new initiative.
More on the Development of the YSS/SRF Sevak ProgrammeAs many of you know, two and half years ago we began exploring new ways for YSS/SRF devotees to help the sannyasis serve Paramahansa Yogananda’s worldwide work. One of the goals was to tap more extensively into the vast pool of talent within our international spiritual family to help advance our Guru’s mission. Under my direction, a small group of longtime householder disciples came together and eventually formed Yogananda Seva, a virtual community of Paramahansaji’s devotees from all over the world. They undertook several “pilot programmes” to explore and develop new service opportunities for Guruji’s non-monastic followers. Several important projects were successfully funded, launched, and managed by Yogananda Seva, including:
- The Self-Realization Fellowship Online Meditation Center, with dozens of group meditations and spiritual study conducted weekly in multiple languages and time zones, led by devotees as well as sannyasis and attended by thousands from more than 80 countries. (A similar Online Dhyana Kendra under the auspices of Yogoda Satsanga Society of India was also recently developed, to be launched on January 31, 2021.)
- An international Help Desk to provide devotees with one-on-one technical assistance with SRF’s online offerings, such as Convocation and Lessons registration.
- An online Volunteer Portal to maintain a database of devotees who wish to volunteer, including information about their availability and skills, so that we can find the best way for them to contribute their seva to our Guru’s mission.
- Initial planning for several other projects.
Paramahansa Yogananda’s Vision for the Sevak LeagueAs part of prioritizing the expanding role of devotee sevaks, which I believe will be vital as Gurudeva’s work continues growing, I delved deeply into Guruji’s thinking and the documented guidance he gave to those early disciples with whom he began to develop this initiative in the closing years of his life.
As I reviewed the work done by our revered Sri Sri Daya Mata and other first-generation disciples to implement these plans, what immediately became clear is that the time has now come for us take the spirit of guru-seva that has been cultivated at our ashrams and kendras for decades, and combine it with the digital communication and volunteer coordination methods with which we have been actively experimenting in our recent work with Yogananda Seva. This will make possible the formation of a truly global league of sevaks who — as part of their spiritual life and devotion to God and Guru (their sadhana) — will play a necessary and very meaningful role in the growth envisioned by our Guru for his society in the years ahead.
Over the past few months, a clearer understanding of Gurudeva’s vision has crystallized in the group of senior SRF and YSS sannyasis and devotees with whom I have been working to develop the organizational underpinning required to support this new global initiative. This important work is progressing rapidly, and we are all eagerly anticipating that we will be ready to open the new YSS Sevak League and SRF Voluntary League for enrolment in 2021.
What an auspicious way to begin the second hundred years of our Guru’s international work, in loving service to his mission of bringing a universal spirituality for the coming global civilization! I look forward to sharing more about the development of this inspiring initiative soon.
—Swami Chidananda Giri
Speaking to the SRF Lay Disciple Group at Guruji’s Hollywood Temple in 1963, Sri Daya Mata said:
“All of us in our own way are serving God — we in the ashram in one way, and you in the world in an equally important way. God’s message cannot reach the world without messengers like yourselves. You are the ones who come in contact with other people. And it is by your example primarily and by your understanding of Master’s teachings that you have a great opportunity to serve mankind.”