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6th Jul 2004, Lyon, France

Camping near Lyon We arrived at our spacious camping ground last night, supercharging the service stations along the way every time we stopped to practice our meditation and kiirtan in the motorway car parks of Germany and France...

Today, we will go out on the field walk that Baba took here. News to follow...
- Prema Sagar

3rd Jul 2004, Timmern, Germany

The Flag Drama

The walk that Baba took in Timmern

We have been enjoying the time here, in the warm surroundings of Timmern. The old buildings of the Training Centre carry a deep vibration and feel very homely to me. This is the place that I took Local Full Time volunteer training, nearly five years ago. It is set amongst fields of sugarbeet and golden corn, with sleek wind turbines turning in the breeze, and cosy, old Germanic houses of the village.

Today we had a drama with the local police - a clash of cultures: one ancient and one more recent. The orange banners that had been painted for the marquee tent at Glastonbury were hung on the outside of the building and the long orange flag - with a white swastika - was hung on a pole just inside the front gate.

The orange swastika flag The swastika is an ancient symbol - around 7000 years old. It is a symbol of spiritual victory, the ultimate and inevitable triumph of each individual in reaching their deepest goal. It is a very positive and inspirational symbol that was essentially hijacked in the 1930's by Adolf Hitler and the German Nazi party. The shame, fear and guilt from that era runs very deep in the collective German psyche to this day.

The purpose of hanging the orange swastika flag here, as well as every other place on the tour, was because this is a spiritual tour and the swastika symbolises the journey that culminates in elevation and liberation. It was also an effort to "reclaim the swastika" that has been abused and misunderstood for so long. It is time for the beauty and positivity of the symbol to appreciated for what it really is.

The police talk to Dada Divyalokeshananda about the flag Well, the police didn't like it. It is actually illegal to hang a swastika flag in Germany. Ironically, a few decades ago, it was illegal not to hang a swastika. They confiscated the flag and filed a court case, threatening a heavy fine. Dada Divyalokeshananda spoke with the police and hopefully the matter is resolved. Such a drama.

See Baba's comments on the swastika.

- Prema Sagar

1st Jul 2004, Timmern, Germany

Meditation in the Darshan Hall in Timmern

The old farmhouse at Timmern is one of the few places where Baba stayed outside of India that is still owned by Ananda Marga. The room where Baba stayed is kept as a silent space for meditation and it sparkles with a subtle spiritual vibration that is felt by many who do use it. I enjoyed a long peaceful meditation there this morning.
- Roshnii

30th Jun 2004, Den Bosch, The Netherlands

Sharing Music Inside A Prison

RAWA musicians with workers from the prison

Into the prison grounds we walk, doors are locked behind us, I feel the fear rise up into my chest and then subside again with the warm welcome by the prison workers Leon and Lenny. They tell us that there are thirty or more men are in this unit, each with special needs as a result of some kind of mental problem. Men of all colours and backgrounds, meander in and out of the room where we are going to play. Some are sitting, quietly waiting and receptive to what is happening while others are standing, folded arms and feet planted firmly on the ground.

After I give a short introduction, the music begins. Prem's beautiful, rhythmic and melodic songs reach out to touch the hearts and minds of the audience, although it is difficult, as many are in a half conscious state due to the medication.

Then Dada came in with his inspired classical music demonstration, on the violin and sitar. He gave them the opportunity to hear and see something uplifting and may inspire them Imagine, to know more about in future. Then myself, with help from Didi on backing vocals, Dada on violin and Prem on drums, coming in strong with a song inspired by the flamenco fire and devotional longings. Songs of the deep and gently healing Prabhat Samgiita followed, as we played together in unison. Then a request of something familiar to all, an old Beatles song "Imagine". An uplifting kiirtan ended the programme, with smiles and laughter all around.

The inmates present us with a surprise gift, a wonderful and very colourful painting made by one of the inmates. We are very grateful at the love and awareness shared, the lessons learnt, the positive connections made, "See you next year," says Leon, "yes, why not", we reply. We hop onto the big orange bus and ride all the way back to Den Bosch, singing kiirtan to our hearts content.

The Refugee Centre Programme

Playing with children from the Refugee Centre

We all run into the room bursting with energy and joyful song and dance. There are many children I can see, around 30 or more. We sing a variety of children's songs while the clowns take the floor and lead the children into the dance and games. Everyone is enchanted with their humorous antics, and squeals of laughter spread throughout the room infecting everyone around.

We sing cultural and ecological songs, like "La Bamba" and our own versions of "She'll be coming round the mountain" with the children participating fully. Onto the deeply mesmerising Raktim kishalay, as the children become calmer and listen to the melody and rhythmic pulse. Near the end the sisters demonstrate "Tiny Green Island" with expressive hand movements, which the children follow beautifully. We then sing a rousing kiirtan, with "Baba Nam kevalam" echoing all around, followed by a guided meditation. It is amazing to see the little children sitting with their eyes closed and meditating so peacefully after such a short time.

On reflection, I feel it was an exhuberant, ecstatic experience for all. When we said goodbye I could see in the children's eyes that they had been touched by love and infused with a little more light than they had previously in the refugee centre. We also felt the grace of being given the opportunity to offer something to these children and to share in their lives even if only for a moment. We left feeling very inspired and energised for the long journey ahead.
- Jyotsna

30th Jun 2004, Den Bosch, Netherlands

Roshnii with a girl from the Refugee Centre near Den Bosch

Our last afternoon in the Netherlands brought us to a refugee centre near Den Bosch that houses 300 people from all around the world.

As soon as I realised we were to have an audience of children I got out my red nose and despite my lack of clown costume it brought a smile to their faces.

We sang some lively songs and danced with the children. Sarita, the other makeshift clown, and I, poked fun at each other and tried to look as ridiculous as we could. I have never really done any clowning before but it was so much fun to break all the normal boundaries and see the eyes of these children sparkling with laughter. At the end we sang kiirtan and then sat quietly reflecting on the idea 'Love is all there is'. We drove away in our big orange bus on the long drive to Timmern, Germany.
- Roshnii

30th Jun 2004, Den Bosch, Netherlands

A child from the Ananda Marga school with one of the residents of the Senior Citizens' Home

A few of us ventured with the children from the local Ananda Marga Kindergarten in Den Bosch to the local senior citizens' home. The children were from ages 2 to 4. They had gone to some trouble to make loving cards and artwork to give as presents to the elderly, as well as some fresh roses they picked from the garden.

The children's presence in the home was immediately, opened heartedly absorbed by the Omas and Opas (grandmas and grandpas). Although many were in the last phases of departing their bodies, many gave very positive reactions despite the limited capacity of their physical or mental ability.

The children performed traditional Dutch songs which instantly struck sentimental chords within the hearts of all. They then gave the gifts as open heartedly as they were lovingly received by the Omas and Opas. There was a beautiful exchange and interaction between the pure minds of both young and old.

We finished the session with some gentle mantra songs, all were wholly received and hopefully contributed a little peace and love to those in need, passing from this body; moving closer towards the Supreme.
- Lokesh

29th Jun 2004, Rotterdam, Netherlands

Madhuri & Anasvarii share stories of Baba's visit to Rotterdam in 1979

The drive from Den Bosch to Rotterdam provided the perfect opportunity for the members of the newly formed Bliss Bus family to get to know one another. After reaching the park where Baba had taken a field walk we pulled out the guitar and while singing kiirtan, we moved along the shady tree-lined path where our Baba had strolled 25 years ago.

We sat for a peaceful meditation at the edge a large lake, caressed by a cool, whispering breeze.
After meditation we sat on the grass and listened as Madhavi and Anasvarii, two senior Dutch margiis, told stories of their experiences with Baba when he stayed in Rotterdam in 1979. The stories left everyone smiling.

Madhavi said it was very special to be with us all, that in 1979 she could never have guessed this tour would be taking place in 2004. I thought, "but Baba knew we would come!"
- Roshnii

28th Jun 2004, Eindhoven, Netherlands

Arrival at Eindhoven Airport

The glorious bright orange Bliss Bus pulled into the car park of Eindhoven airport to a small, enthused crowd of Mystical Tourists with smiling faces. It looked so inviting, that the other travellers waiting at the public bus stop wanted to get aboard the sunshine bus too! We set off on our first drive to Den Bosch, singing Baba Nam Kevalam all the way. We were all exhausted by the time we arrived at the beautiful Zonnelicht school.
- Roshnii

27th Jun 2004, Glastonbury Festival, UK

Ananda Marga's "Baba Nam Kevalam Tent" at Glastonbury

Sunshine, showers, mud, smiles; immense crowds pulsing to a rhythmic beat from dawn till dusk till dawn. Glastonbury 2004.

Nestled in the heart of the tranquil "Healing Field" the Baba Nam Kevalam Tent stood proudly adorned with eye-catching orange banners. As we sang kiirtan passers by were drawn towards us, curious to know our story or wanting to listen to our song of infinity.

The festival brought many challenges to all who participated. Smiles and tears as with each day new struggles arrived. It brought us all closer together, laughing at the myriad of complexities caused by our elaborate plans to roll nearly one ton of oats into "energy ball" sweets that we sold to fundraise for the Bliss Bus Tour.

These "energy balls" invited a torrent of enquiries from a crowd used to purchasing illegal treats around the festival. We had to come up with creative ways of clarifying the fact that the energy in our goods was purely positive universal energy. So they also became known as "Love truffles" and "Bliss balls."
- Roshnii

27th Jun 2004, Glastonbury Festival, UK

The Nagar Kiirtan Procession

Sunday afternoon outside our 'Baba Nam Kevalam' tent, the sun is shining, Dada and one other have guitars at hand supported by a number of percussionists. I can feel the anticipation in the air; it's time for Nagar kiirtan.

Moving along the busy pathways this is our chance to share our favourite kiirtan tunes with the Glastonbury masses. It doesn't take long before we're all fully into it. With arms raised expressing feelings of joyous devotion, the mud is certainly not going to be an obstacle to our dancing.

What a wonderful feeling of unity, it seems that people can really sense it. Some join in our singing and everyone seems to be smiling, interested in who these colourful people are. Indeed we've even attracted the attention of a film crew!

Doing all of this is also a great opportunity to hand out leaflets so that people can find out all about the things Ananda Marga has to offer. Passing hundreds and hundreds of people we eventually come to the Yogi Mela Cafe where the team of yogis are working hard and of course they are only too happy to help us raise our kiirtan to even more ecstatic levels.

Making our way back to our area in the Healing Field it's hard to believe a couple of hours have passed. Though our physical bodies may be a bit tired our spirits are high. This has definitely been a highlight of the festival for me. When's the next one?
- Niilakantha

22nd Jun 2004, Manchester

Jazz Stage at Glastonbury Festival

Well, after much preparation, we will set off in a few hours to head for the Glastonbury Festival. It's been a real coming together of efforts and talents by many people. Banners are painted, flyers printed, cake ingredients bought and musical instruments tuned.

We'll arrive in the Glastonbury area tonight, then enter the site tomorrow morning. We may have internet access there, but otherwise we'll update you when we arrive in the Netherlands - where the bus will be waiting for us...
- Prema Sagar

29th May 2004, Stockholm

Ananda Marga's Gamla Stans Yoga House, Stockholm

The Friday evening programme in the hall where Baba gave darshan was very sweet - small and sweet. Well, just the thought that He was there is mind-blowing...

Saturday evening was a small bunch of people, with a very nice Prabhat Samgiita performance. Small but sweet is my summary.
- Rasamayii

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