Highlights in the Life of H.H. Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji Maharaj (Muniji)

AUGUST 2001 - 



As our world is plagued more and more by the tragedies of war, violence and animosity amongst religious traditions, the need is enormous for peace, harmony, understanding and universal brotherhood. These very values and principles lie at the foundation of Indian culture and Sanatan Dharma. Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam  (the whole world is one family), unity amongst diversity, and equality for all are inherent tenets of the Indian spiritual tradition and are universal messages of our divine scriptures. 

With the goal of spreading peace, love, tolerance and harmony, the Vishwa Dharma Yatra began its world journey in the Caribbean on July 16. Scheduled to cover fifty cities in forty countries over the next four months, this World Pilgrimage is carrying forth the wisdom, insight and universal truths of Sanatan Dharma for the benefit of all of humanity.

Select Dharma Gurus (spiritual leaders) are traveling the globe, not preaching Hinduism, but rather reaching people through Hinduism, teaching people through Hinduism and touching people through Hinduism. They are also carrying with them a sacred Kalash in which soil from each city is placed. At the end of the Yatra, this kalash, filled with soil from across the globe, will be carried back to India and kept there as a monument of peace, love and unity and as a testament to the ideal of the whole world as one family


August 17: -- Trinidad/Tobego: 

Organized by Hindu Leaders' Forum and sponsored by Dr. B.K. Modi, Shri M.L. Mittal, and local organizations in every city,  the Yatra was off to an auspicious beginning in Trinidad/Tobego on August 17.

(left to right): Pujya Swamiji, Pujya Shankaracharyaji Maharaj, Pujya Brahmadeo Upadhyayaji at the Center for Excellence Shri Basdeo Pandey, the Prime Minister of Trinidad/Tobego and Shri Raj Jadoo hold the sacred kalash, surrounded by members of the yatra team and distinguished guests

H.H. Pujya Shri Shankaracharyaji Divyanand Teerth Maharaj, H.H. Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati (Muniji), and H.H. Pujya Acharya Brahmadeo Upadhyayaji gave uplifting and inspiring pravachans at the Center for Excellence in Trinidad. The program was also attended by the Ambassador of India to Trinidad and Tobego, and the Chief Guest (as well as the recipient of the prestigious Hindu Vibhushan award) was the Prime Minister of Trinidad/Tobego, Shri Basdeo Pandey. 

H.H. Pujya Shri Shankaracharyaji gave an inspiring lecture on the Truth Is One. He explained how the existence of God could not be denied, and that the universal truth - although called by various names throughout the millennia - is and can only be One. 

H.H. Pujya Swami Chidanandji (Muniji) spoke on the topic of the World as One Family. He focused on first fixing our own, immediate families before moving forth and trying to fix the globe. He explained that our children are not useless, but rather they are used less; they are not careless, but rather they are cared for less. 

Additionally, Dr. B.K. Modi spoke about the Yatra itself, its purpose and its mission, and Shri M.L. Mittal spoke about the Hindu Leader's Forum, a new body formed of the top leaders of the Hindu community which is co-sponsoring the Yatra. 

All Hindu organizations came together in support of this program. All were present and all participated. These groups included the Sanatan Dharma Maha Saba, Seunarine Saba, RamanandSampraday, Kabir Panth, Bramha Kumari Raj Yoga, Swaha, Chimmaya Mission, Arya Samaj Sathya Sai Baba group, Tulsie Vedant Ashram and Ganapati Datta Treya etc.


August 18: -- Guyana: 

On the morning of August 18, we left by private plane for Guyana. One hundred and eight cars with bright flags met the plane and led the procession to the National Park Stadium -- a huge, outdoor stadium, filled with 15,000 people who - despite the blazing sun and excruciating heat - had waited nearly three hours for the arrival of the saints. 

The beautiful program was organized and presided over by Pujya Swami Aksharanandji, and was attended by Shri Reepudaman Persaud, the acting Prime Minister, Mr. Samuel Hinds, the acting President, Dr. Prakash Joshi, the High Commissioner of India to Guyana, Mr. Hamilton Green, the mayor, and Mr. Desmond Hoyte, the leader of the Opposition Party. 

Dr. B.K. Modiji and Shri M.L. Mittalji gave informative speeches regarding the purpose and goals of the Vishwa Dharma Yatra and of the Hindu Leaders' Forum, and they urged everyone to come forward and help lead the world toward peace, harmony and understanding through the universal tenets of Sanatan Dharma. 

Pujya Swami Chidanandji (Muniji) inspired the audience by telling them that, although the country is small,  small is always beautiful. He said the people can they can unite and bring about great change.


 He said that the wisdom of Mother Ganga is for all, not just for Indians and not just for Hindus. Rather, it is universal and they should join hands to bring about positive change in their karmabhumi, Guyana. 

Pujya Swamiji with Mr. Samuel Hinds, the acting President of Guyana

Hundreds of people, out of the total crowd of 15,000 came out of the shelter of the bleachers, 
to withstand the noon day Caribbean heat in order to have closer darshan of the saints

Although the audience was originally seated in covered bleachers on the circumference of the stadium, hundreds of people came out onto the uncovered ground directly in front of the stage to have clearer, closer darshan of the saints. Standing under a noon-day sun with temperatures close to 100 degrees, they flocked with great devotion to have the divine darshan. 

August 19 -- Suriname: 

On the morning of August 19, the Dharma Yatra gave its moving program in Suriname, a country geographically part of South America, culturally part of the Caribbean and yet where Hindi is spoken fluently by nearly 50% of the population! The revered saints gave their pravachan in Hindi, extolling the audience for having maintained their matri-bhaasha even hundreds of years after leaving the land of their Matri-bhumi. 

Hon. Shri J. Rattenkoemar Ajodhia, the Vice-President of Suriname graced the occasion along with his dharmapatni. He was also the recipient of the Hindu Vibhushan award. 


Additionally, Shri Jagannath Lakshman, the Ruling Party President, attended. 

Right to Left: Pujya Shri Shankaracharyaji, Pujya Swami Chidanandji (Muniji), Hon. Shri J. Rattenkoemar Ahodhia, the President of Suriname, Mrs. Ahodhia

August 19 (evening) -- Trinidad:

We left Suriname in the afternoon, planning to make a quick stop over in Trinidad and then head for Barbados where there was a 6:00 pm program scheduled. 

However, due to unavoidable technical difficulties, by the time we reached Trinidad, it was impossible to catch a flight - private or public - to Barbados. The entire Yatra team was full of remorse at their inability to fulfill the promise to hundreds of devotees - as well as the Prime Minister of Barbados - who had already gathered in the hall. 

Back at the home of Shri M.L. Mittal, the saints spoke by phone (which was then broadcast over special loudspeaker) to the gathering in Barbados. His Holiness Shri Shankaracharyaji Maharaj gave an inspiring talk. Then, H.H. Pujya Swami Chidanandji (Muniji) led them through a divine meditation. Before the meditation, He told them, "You are living on an island in the middle of the ocean. However, do not feel alone. Do not feel separate. You must be like the lighthouse, which shines all night long, guiding the lost ships back home to the shore. So must you shine the light of your dharma upon all those whom you meet, guiding them back toward truth, toward piety and toward God." By the end of the meditation and prayer, the entire audience, as well as the small group of saints and devotees gathered at Shri Mittalji's home, were in tears. 


August 20 -- Miami, USA

On the morning of August 20, we flew from Trinidad to Miami where the USA portion of the Vishwa Dharma Yatra began. The Yatra team was joined by Her Holiness Sadhvi Ritambharaji who brought special Shakti and the divine touch of the Devi to the tour. Additionally, we were joined by renowned singer Shri Anup Jalotaji who filled the air each night with bhakti and masti!

The program on August 20 was held at the Coral Springs City Center for the Arts. Inspiring pravachan was given by H.H. Shri Shankaracharyaji, H.H. Pujya Swami Chidanandji (Muniji), H.H. Sadhvi Ritambharaji, and H.H. Acharya Brahmadeo Upadhyayaji

Pujya Swami Chidanandji (Muniji) was the first of the saints to speak and He spoke about the importance of Indian culture and how impressed he was to see the way that all the people in the Caribbean countries (and those of Caribbean origin living in Miami) maintained their Indian culture. 

The saints sit on the stage at Coral Springs City Center for the Arts in Miami

Next, Sadhviji captivated the audience with her beautiful, poetic speech, extolling the virtue and value of Hinduism and India. She also emphasized the importance of Divine Shakti and the Mother in the attainment of peace and happiness. 

H.H. Sri Shankaracharyaji emphasized the inherent "sameness" of the destination of all religious traditions. "The Truth is One but the Sages Call it by Various Names," was a focus of his enlightening talk. He also urged everyone to remember and manifest their Divine, Pure nature. 

Additionally, several dignitaries graced the occasion including Mrs. Eleanor Sober, the State Representative who lauded the Indian community and their contribution to the State of Florida. During Pujya Swamiji (Muniji)'s pravachan, he had told the Indian parents that "It's okay if your children want to wear jeans. That is no problem. But, while they are wearing jeans, they should not forget their genes!" In response to this poetic truism, Mrs. Eleanor Sober concluded her eloquent talk with, "Additionally," she said, "I think sarees are way cooler than jeans." 

Shri Bawa Jain, the divine soul who organized and ran the Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders at the United Nations, and an active international, inter-faith harmony leader also attended and gave a moving speech about the United Nations Summit and future plans. 

The event was beautifully organized by Shri Ajay Joshi, Dr. Ram Prakash Agarwal, Dr. Ravi Gupta and Shri Shekhar Reddy. 

August 21: -- Atlanta: 

On August 21, the Yatra moved to Atlanta, where the festivities began with darshan at the Hindu Temple. Then, in the evening, we had the program at the Shree Shakti Mandir, which began with a beautiful Aarti to innumerable manifestations of the Divine Mother. H.H. Swami Sukhbodhanandji also graced the occasion and gave a beautiful, uplifting lecture about Indian Culture and Hindu Dharma. 

Additionally, a special occasion was the release of the US version of Pujya Swami Chidanandji (Muniji)'s new book, Grace in the Home: Wisdom for All Ages. The UK version was released on August 1, by Pujya Sant Shri Rameshbhai Oza in London, and the USA version was released by H.H. Sri Shankaracharyaji, H.H. Sadhvi Ritambharaji, Dr. BK Modiji and Shri ML Mittalji. 

In addition to the moving pravachan by the revered saints, Dr. B.K. Modiji, Shri ML Mittalji, Smt. Anjleeben Pandya and Dr. Mahesh Mehta all gave informative lectures regarding various aspects of the Yatra, the Hindu Leader's Forum and the work of VHP - Oversees. 

The sacred kalash is filled with soil from Atlanta

August 22: -- Washington, DC: 

On August 22, the city of Washington DC was graced by the presence of the saints. Upon arrival, everyone gathered at the home of Dr. Suresh Gupta for prasad. In the afternoon there was a special press conference and then the program took place at the Gaithersburg High School Auditorium in the City of Gaithersburg, Maryland. 

In addition to H.H. Sri Shankaracharyaji, H.H. Pujya Swami Chidanandji (Muniji) and H.H. Sadhvi Ritambharaji, two other revered saints gave their darshan and pravachan. These were H.H. Swami Dayanand Saraswatiji and H.H. Dr. Pranav Pandyaji. In addition to over 1000 devotees and dignitaries, the mayor of Gaithersburg attended the program. 

The program began with informative and compelling speeches by Dr. Modiji and Shri Bawa Jain. Shri Bawa Jain, the secretary general of the Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders, was a special guest and he spoke about the importance of Hindu leaders coming together in the interfaith movement. 

Left to right: Her Holiness Sadhvi Ritambharaji, HH Dr. Pranav Pandyaji, HH Shri Shankaracharyaji, HH Swami Dayanandji, HH Swami Chidanandji (Muniji) in Washington, DC

Dr. Pranav Pandyaji invoked the Goddess Gayatri and spoke about the universal nature of Hinduism and how the tenets and principles are beneficial to all. 

Next, Pujya Swami Chidanandji (Muniji) spoke, beginning with enchanting kirtan. He emphasized the need of all Indian groups to come together and to continue passing on the beautiful sanskaras to all the children. 

H.H. Sadhvi Ritambharaji gave a compelling speech filled with the fire of patriotism. She urged everyone to see God in all and to stand up in the name of Bharat Mata!

H.H. Swami Dayanand Saraswatiji underscored the "violence" inherent in religious conversion and intolerance. He also spoke about the importance of Gyan, and how we must commit ourselves to learning the true knowledge. 

Last H.H. Sri Shankaracharyaji gave a beautiful lecture on the differences between Western and Eastern thought and on the beauty and value inherent in the Eastern/Indian forms of thought, understanding and living. 

Shri Mittalji presented the Hindu Vibhushan to Prof. Inderjit Chopra.

Additionally, the honorable Mayor presented a special award to Dr. Modiji in honor of his commitment to this Yatra and to the Indian community. 

Dr. BK Modiji receives an award from the Mayor

August 23: -- Toronto, Canada: 

On August 23, the Yatra moved into Canada for a special program at the Vishnu Mandir in Toronto. Presided over by Dr. B. Doobay, the energy of the audience and the temple was superb. A packed temple, filled with vibrations of ardent piety and joyous devotion, was the location for this scene. 

HH Sadhvi Ritambharaji, HH Swami Chidanandji (Muniji), HH Dr. Pranav Pandyaji, divine musicians and 
Shri Anupji Jalota grace the stage of the Vishnu Temple

In the previous programs (from Miami through Washington), the saints had first given pravachan and then - when their program was over - Shri Anupji began his glorious bhajans. However, in Toronto a new precedent was set. Rather than having first lectures and then bhajans, the team worked together and the program alternated between the melodious inspiration and wisdom of the saints and then with the inspiring and wise melodies of Shri Anupji. 

Perhaps touched by the vibrancy of the crowd or perhaps due to the upbeat bhajans of Shri Anupji, the lectures given in Toronto were filled with divine fire, lifting the crowd to thunderous applause on several occasions. 

Left to right: HH Sadhvi Ritambharaji, HH Dr. Pranav Pandya, Shri Dev Misir, Shri ML Mittal, Dr. B. Doobay, 
HH Swami Chidanandji (Muniji), Dr. BK Modiji

Here the recipient of the Hindu Vibhushan award was Shri Dev Misir. 

August 24: -- Chicago: 

On August 24, the yatra moved to Chicago where the program was held at the Manas Seva Mandir. There was an estimated attendance of 2000 people, but by 8:00 pm, the MC announced that the packed gathering had just exceeded 2500. The program included the uplifting, inspiring, soul stirring and thought-provoking pravachans of H.H. Pujya Sri Shankaracharyaji Maharaj, H.H. Pujya Swami Chidanandji (Muniji), H.H. Sadhvi Ritambharaji and H.H. Dr. Pranav Pandyaji. 

The recipient of the Hindu Vibhushan award was the grandson of Henry Ford, Mr. Ford, or otherwise known by his adopted Indian spiritual name of Ambarish Prabhu. Mr. Ford, after graciously accepting the award, gave a beautiful speech about the divine influence of Bhagwan Krishna and Indian culture in our lives. 

Shri Mittalji and Dr. Modiji present the Hindu Vibhushan award to Mr. Ford, Ambarish Prabhu

In addition, Dr. Modiji and Shri Mittalji have informative speeches regarding the need for all Hindus to unite and to work together for peace, harmony and dharma. 

With the bhakti-filled song of Shri Anupji, the program continued until past 11:30 pm, with the audience rising from their seats numerous times to give thunderous standing ovations. 

Pujya Swami Chidanandji (Muniji), Pujya Dr. Pranav Pandyaji, Pujya Sadhvi Ritambharaji

August 26: -- Los Angeles: 

The program for August 25 in Vancouver was cancelled, so the Yatra team came directly to Los Angeles, where they concluded the USA part of the Dharma Prasaar Yatra.

The program on August 26 was at the Sanatan Dharma Mandir in Cerritos (South of Los Angeles). The mandir and adjoining hall were quickly filled to capacity and hundreds of devotees had to be turned away at the door due to lack of space. The program began at 5:00 pm with talks by local organizers. Additionally, Shri Bawa Jain was there and he gave an informative speech on the United Nations Summit. He also brought a beautiful video of the Summit and we all had darshan of all of the saints and dignitaries who had graced that occasion with their presence.

Divine pravachan was given by H.H. Sri Shankaracharyaji, H.H. Pujya Swami Chidanandji (Muniji) and H.H. Sadhvi Ritambharaji, in addition to the special presence of H.H. Shri Harbhajan Singh Yogiji who gave a beautiful lecture filled with humor and wisdom. 

Left to right: HH Shri Shankarcharyaji, HH Pujya Swamiji (Muniji), Smt. Bibiji, HH Shri Yogi Bhajan (Yogiji)

The Hindu Vibhushan award was given by Shri Mittalji to Dr. Doshi. 

The evening, and the USA Yatra, ended on a beautiful note with divine bhajans by Shri Anupji. 

Upcoming Events

September 7-17: Dharma Yatra across Europe and Russia. Pujya Swamiji will travel with His Holiness Sri Shankaracharyaji Divyanand Teerth Maharaj and other Dharma Gurus, spreading the message of Vasudaiv Kutumbakam and bringing the inspiration and wisdom of India to thousands of people. 

September 15-October 15: Purushottam Mas - A month full of special, divine activities. Pandit Shri Madan Mohan Shastriji will be delivering a month-long Bhagwat Katha At Parmarth Niketan. Write to to reserve your place.

October 9-15: Kundalini Yoga Camp - A special camp to energize and awaken the divine energy inherent in each of us, given by renowned Kundalini Yogini Gurmukh

October 14: Heart Camp -- Free Cardiac screening, testing and treatment for the local, indigenous and indigent population of the Himalayas, given by Dr. Kasliwal and the team from Escorts Heart Institute 



Pujya Swamiji's Itinerary
September - November 2001

1-3 San Francisco, CA 1-16 Rishikesh
4-5 Los Angeles, CA 17 Delhi
7 Leicester, UK 18-21 UAE -- Dubai, Muscat, Oman
8 London, UK 22 - 26 Delhi - Bombay - Porbandar
9 Paris, France 28-31 Rishikesh
10 Frankfurt, Germany    
11 Munich, Germany    
12 Lisbon, Portugal


13 Copenhagen, Denmark 1-30 Rishikesh
14 Oslo, Norway    
15 Amsterdam (the Hague)    
16-17 Moscow, Russia    
18 Delhi    
19-30 Rishikesh